Isaiah 54 & 55
This woman in
Isaiah 54 is
54 looks back to
54:1-5 ††Many children†† This section opens with gentle commands.
All the commands, such as enlarging the tent, rest on Who God is and what He has promised. They are not told to produce the children; God will do that. They are to enlarge the tent. Likewise, the Christian life is not an activity so that we may have an inheritance with Christ. That is a secure gift for each believer; we begin our lives as Christians with our inheritance firmly in place. Gospel truth replaces uncertainty with joyful singing.
Barren women without husbands do not produce children. This
double difficulty illustrates the threat to the continuation of the nation.
Christ brings many who will be His
seed! (53:10). The Father promised the Son a family. (In Hebrews 2:10-18,
Jesusí seed is referred to as: sons, children, brothers and family.) His
mission was to save many (53:11,12). Now 54:1-5 speaks of the many He will have
and the new problem of where to put them. The people of the God of Israel (v.5)
will become so numerous they will possess other nations (v.3). Their tent is
too small and so is their country! The ďmanyĒ to come are His and are also part
of the people of God. This Scripture will not allow the independent spirit that
they might be His, yet not part of His people. Christís seed (53:10) and
54:1 ††In some cultures, a barren woman is looked down on as a disappointment to her husband and one embarrassed in the eyes of other women (1 Samuel 1:3-8). The Lord promises what cannot happen, for nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), so the woman who cannot have children will have many. When Jews read this, they would probably think of barren Sarah who became their mother. (Genesis 11:30). This shows the supernatural working of God. Godís working did not cease with the resurrection of Christ (53:10,11); it continues in the children who are coming. The influx of the promised multitude is impossible for men; it is the powerful creation of Godís Spirit (John 1:13; 3:5-8), the reason for a song of joy.†
54:2,3† †Anyone enlarging a tent would look very foolish if the children did not come. This is not possible. It is not a conditional promise but a declared fact that their seed will spread out so much that they will possess nations.
54:4,5 ††The former shame (endured by some women
without children) will be gone.
54:6-10† †A reconciled husband†† We must be careful to discern why
Covenants were made in the context of a blood sacrifice. (In
fact the Hebrew idiom for making a covenant is to ďcutĒ a covenant.) This is
seen in Genesis 8 & 9 in the covenant with Noah. It is also how covenants
were made with Abraham (Genesis 15:10),
54:6 ††The gospel is in the completed events of chapter 53; the call to return continues in the preaching of the gospel. Isaiah 55:6,7 is a call to the world for them to repent; here God informs Israel of His response to the death that brought peace. He has called them back, and so they will come back, because Godís call is effectual (1Corinthians 1:9, 26-31; Romans 8:28-30).
54:7,8 ††God abandoned them briefly; that situation is now over. The moment of anger is replaced by everlasting kindness. Forgiveness means there will be no penalty, but there is more than forgiveness here; there is restoration. A criminal may be pardoned and then never seen by the one who gave the pardon. The situation here is of a restoration to intimacy.†
54:9 ††The promise to Noah is a tremendous parallel to the gospel. In anger God had destroyed the world with a flood except for eight persons. When His judgment was over, because His justice was satisfied, God declared that it was over; therefore a worldwide flood would never come from Him again. So now God swore for the same reason that He would never be angry with His people again [See Hebrews 6:16-20]. Just as Noahís flood is unrepeatable; so is the wrath poured out on Christ. He died for sin once (Hebrews 9:25-28; 10:10-14). That sacrifice was for His people; those who were not His were not spared from Godís wrath; it is still on whoever rejects the Son (John 3:36).
54:10 ††Mountains appear immovable, yet even mountains can be shaken; it is Godís covenant of peace that is eternal. Compassion, love, and kindness are what God has been determined to show His own. Only by means of the sacrifice has He been able to do this. It is not that the cross provokes Godís love; it was Godís compassion that provided the sacrifice, so He could show His favor.
The splendor of Godís holiness (Psalm 96:9) is now found in the city.
Once its silver was dross (1:22), but God had made it the City of
The beauty of
In John 6 when the Lord spoke of the inability of
unbelievers to come to Him (v.44), even as they heard Him in person (v.36), the
Lord quoted 54:13. Only if we are drawn by the Father will we come. For us to
learn, God must teach us, or we will never come. But if God is doing the
teaching, He will bring us to hear. All made to listen, come (v.45). Isaiah 54
& 55 speak of the response that fits the Servantís work in chapter 53. In
order to have a proper response, we are dependent on the mercy of the Lord to
teach us and cause us to believe. When sinners believe they are justified, so
they are established in righteousness (54:14), and all the benefits promised to
their new status is guaranteed to them. The sons of
Tyranny is oppression from within.
54:16,17†† God now explains why an enemy could not succeed against them. He is in control of all things: all weapons, events, and even the motivations of evil men. (See 10:5-19). Even the kingís heart is in the hand of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1). So when God says no enemy will succeed, no enemy will succeed. They will certainly try, but God will not be sending them to destroy His people.
54:17†† In history two things have been the chief tool of Satan against the church: a) persecution with bloodshed, and b) false doctrine. One threat is to the body and the other to the mind. (False doctrine has done more harm that the sword.) No weapon or device, no matter how ingenious, can overthrow the church. His church with no sword may appear weak, but the mighty Arm of the Lord looked very weak once too (53:1,2). Godís strength is shown in our weakness (2Corinthians 12:9), and His gospel is powerful even when men treat it with contempt and view it as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). Jesus did not die on the cross only to have His entire effort end up a failure. God is committed to His glory, to the success of His goals; it is His enemies who shall fail.†
Isaiah adds a word about being accused. His people on earth prior to the Second Coming of Jesus do have sins (1 John 1:8 Ė 2:2); however, those justified are cleared of all offenses. Their pardon is from the Lord God Who no longer accuses (Romans 8:1). Christ is our intercessor, so in Godís court no accusation against us can stand. It is impossible for God to decree opposite verdicts. He cannot condemn those He has already justified (Romans 8:31-34). If God no longer accuses us because of the blood of Christ, it does not matter when men or Satan do so. They will fail. Accusations would succeed if our righteousness were from ourselves. Such defective righteousness would be open to accusation appropriately, but our righteousness is not only from the Lord; it is the righteousness of the Lord Jesusí behavior as a man. God will never reject His gift to us of the perfection of Christís obedience. The resurrection is proof that God has viewed Christ as righteous. We have been represented by Him in His life and His death; by faith we are in Him and assured of a resurrection to life (John 14:19). Once we were enemies (Colossians 1:21); now God calls those who believe in His Servant, ďservantsĒ.†
55:1,2†† Those invited to come are those in need (Luke 19:9,10). Those who think they have no need will not take this invitation seriously. Those with false gods feed on ashes (44:20). This shows that God is kind to bring on early the painful consequences of sin, so that men may become alert to their plight. When the law of God creates guilt in the conscience, it makes men sense their thirst. Only those hardened in pride dare to say they have no need (Revelation 3:17,18). Besides the needy, the poor are invited also. Those who cannot pay are welcome. This follows Isaiah 53, so we should know Christ has already paid. What is promised is not just water for thirst, but the richer provision of wine and milk. For their need, sinners will seek satisfaction in some way, but none of the substitutes for Godís salvation are satisfying. God demands that His creatures listen to Him, and He promises the poor and needy the delights of having Christ.
55:3-5†† God offers more than waters; He now says, ďCome to me.Ē He presents Himself in Christ as the true delight of the human soul. When God makes a covenant, He is God; those in covenant with Him are His people. Because we are sinners, any covenant with God will lead to trouble for us. So the other element needed is a Mediator to represent covenant breakers. Christ is promised in the line of David in an everlasting covenant. What was promised to David was a son to sit on His throne forever (Psalm 89 & 2Samuel 7:11-29). Jesus is that Son (Luke 1:29-33). As the Son of David, He is king, but to have a people to rule over, there must be a people who are not destroyed under Godís wrath. A kingdom without people is not a kingdom. Psalm 110 says this king would also be a priest. He became a priest and offered Himself (Hebrews 9:26). He saves them and makes people to become His happy subjects forever. All who will listen and come to the Lord will have the kindness of God shown to them. They will have Christ to rule over them and their souls shall live. This explains the joy and singing at the end of the chapter.
Isaiah also speaks of Christ as a prophet. He is a witness, calling the nations to Himself (49:1). In His flesh He cried out to the thirsty to come and drink in John 7:37,38. He calls weary souls, burdened by oppressors, to come to Him and find rest (Matthew 11:28,29). For relief and salvation, the people of the world must recognize Christ as the Lord, the leader and commander God has appointed (Acts 4:12; 10:36; 17:29-31; John 8:24; 14:6; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6).††
God calls on men to listen to Him, that they may live; many will not do so. Our sin is so great we can ignore God. There is a general call: many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). And thankfully, there is also a summons so powerful it wakens to life (1 Corinthians 1:9). It is a call which brings to faith; it does not merely invite. †God has promised the nations to Christ (Psalm 2:7-12). So when Christ summons, God ensures that those given to Christ will respond (John 6:37). On the night He was arrested to go to the cross, He looked to the Father that He might have the ones promised to Him as His own (John 17:24). By His death He has secured their eternal life.††
The Father spoke to men of His Son in vv. 3,4; He speaks to the Son in v.5 and pledged to Him the nations. The Father draws them (John 6:44) by making the beauty of Christ to be seen. When nations are made to see Him, they will hasten to come, even though once He was the One they despised and rejected (53:2,3). He will be the One adored by men, as the Father glorifies His Son (John 8:54; 13:32). Kings rise in honor, and princes bow (49:7); those who have never known will believe (52:15). This fits Revelation 7:9; those who come will be of every nation.† ††
55:6,7†† A Call to Repent†† God may show kindness to sinners, but since He is holy, He will not permit fellowship with them. A return to God is another way to speak of repentance from sin. Jesus died for sins, not to allow sin to continue unpunished, but to save from it. It fits this part of Isaiah well for God to call for men to seek Him, and call on Him, forsaking wicked ways and thoughts. All who repent are promised the mercy of the Lord and a free pardon. It is free because we come as sinners, not with moral improvements, but in our sins to be forgiven for them and cleansed from them, as we repent.
55:8,9 ††God can never be known by men unless He allows us to know Him. He reveals what He chooses to reveal (Deuteronomy 29:29), thus we must accept His word. His ways are beyond us (Romans 11:33-36). No payment can be made to Him by us, even though He is the One we have offended. No one would expect that a reconciliation at Godís expense would grant a full pardon, with mercy promised to all who repent and seek Him, no matter how great their sin. Never would we imagine that the justice of God would be satisfied in the death of His Son. Sin Jesus did not commit was laid on Him by the Father, and He was pierced for it (53:5-10). The gospel is filled with surprise and mystery, yet it is true. It is what God thinks, and wants, and announces. It is a horror to reject it or change it. It is a mercy we will never fully comprehend. As the heavens are higher than the earth and beyond the reach of man, so the thoughts of God are beyond ours.†
55:10,11†† Rain and the Word of God†† Rain supports life on earth and is effective in doing so. In the same way, Godís Word powerfully accomplishes all He pleases. By that Word God created the world (Hebrews 11:3). By it He calls for repentance; by His Word He succeeds in producing it. All who carry His Word should be very comforted that God is active in using His Word as His instrument. It is God Who makes His Word effective, not us who preach or teach it. God has never failed to accomplish anything He desires, since He works everything in accordance with the purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He calls on men to repent, and as He pleases (Matthew 11:25-27; John 5:21) He grants repentance as a gift (Acts 5:31).
are the final words of this large section (Isaiah 38-55) on the work of Christ.
Just as Isaiah 35 ended with the joy of the redeemed, joy and peace are the
theme again in a fitting climax to the work of Christ. The transformation of
creation is so great it includes mountains and hills. Nuisance plants will be
replaced by beautiful ones, because God is the Redeemer of the entire earth.
When people ďgo outĒ, this is the language of liberation. The curse brought on
by manís sin will be removed from the earth. Nothing will be omitted in the
scope of Godís salvation; it will be like