It has been a while since our last lesson from the Book of Isaiah. I probably should not have spread it out so much, but because of its length and because itís a bit tedious in parts, I thought it would be best. We are almost finished with this major prophet and we will finish this book up next Sunday night. Tonight, we will begin by looking at the first 6 verses of Chapter 63.
Isaiah 63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength? -- "I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."† 2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?† 3 " I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes.† 4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come.† 5 I looked, but there was no one to help, And I wondered That there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; And My own fury, it sustained Me.† 6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, Made them drunk in My fury, And brought down their strength to the earth."
The first 6 verses stand by themselves in this chapter. Some critics even claim they seem to be out of place, but most scholars believe they are right where they should be. There are also different thoughts on† who is being talked about here. I will just mention the two most logical views because either view does no harm to the text. First, some believe that is simply referring to how God would be the one responsible for the fall of the Edomites. The second view is that our text gives us a glimpse of the judgment day as executed by Jesus. Both of these views picture the Father or Jesus as carrying out the judgment. Similar language is used in the Book of Revelation in chapter 19. Instead of trying to break this figurative language down and show which view is more correct, I just want to share the general message we can take from this regardless of which view is correct.
These verses show how God is in control and even when no man is there to carry out His will, God can still destroy His enemies. He is pictured as having his garments stained with the blood of the those who have opposed His way. No one, and I mean no one can stand against the wrath of God. Only God can provide salvation. So, whether our text refers to the Father carrying out His judgment on the Edomites by Himself or Jesus carrying out the judgment on judgment day, both views show God being in control and am capable of handing out judgment on His own and and shows that He can provide salvation for His people.
The rest of the chapter focuses on reminding the children of Israel of what God had done for them, yet they are in this rebellious state.
Isaiah 63:7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD And the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.† 8 For He said, "Surely they are My people, Children who will not lie." So He became their Savior.† 9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.†
This is so true because God loved His people. Since He was willing to save them from their enemies and did many great things for them, you would expect they would be faithful and loyal to God, but they were not. Starting from the time that God delivered them from their Egyptian bondage to this time in history, they rebelled against Him over and over again. They took His power and the blessings He gave them for granted. Many do this today as well.
Verse 9 really shows how involved God is with His people because it says that when they were afflicted, He was afflicted. Think about that for a min because this same principle applies to us today. God loves us and when He sees us hurt, He hurts. So, the next time you think you are alone in your suffering and that no one can understand the pain you are going through, God can and does. He is right there hurting with you. This same idea is expressed by Jesus in the later part of Mt. 25 because He talks about how when someone does something kind or not so kind to those that belong to Him, it is just like doing it to Jesus. When you really think about it that should make you feel really good as a Christian knowing that God feels your pain.
You will also notice in our text it talks about the Angel of His Presence saved them. I have presented several lessons on the indenty of the Angel of the Lord in the O.T. and showed that it was none other than Jesus before He came flesh. No, this does not mean that Jesus was a created angel, which is one possible meaning of the word, but when it refers to Jesus it simply means messenger of God. †So, I do not want anyone thinking that I am trying to downgrade Jesus to a mere heavenly angel because the Book of Hebrews declares that He is the Son of God and greater than these heavenly angels. If you would like to learn more about the Angel in the O.T. being the pre-incarnate Jesus, just let me know I will give you a copy of those lessons.
This Angel was used to help save the children of Israel from of the problems they faced and God did this because he felt sorry for His people. Again, this shows how compassionate our God is.
Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them.†
We just talked about God the Father, and the Angel being God the Son. Well, in verse 10, we have the Holy Spirit. So, we have all 3 members of the Godhead mentioned in this Chapter. When the children of Isreal rebelled against God it grieved the Holy Spirit. The same thing is said to grieve the Holy Spirt in the N.T. (Eph. 4:30). Though God loves His people, when they rebel, He is a just God, and He will work against His people. We see that happening many times throughout the O.T. God does not do this to be mean or to get revenge. It has an important purpose, which is to get His people to realize they need to change their rebellious ways. So, it is an act of love. The same principle is taught in the N.T.
Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;† 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."† 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?† 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.† 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?† 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.† 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Isaiah 63:11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: "Where is He who brought them up out of the sea With the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,† 12 Who led them by the right hand of Moses, With His glorious arm, Dividing the water before them To make for Himself an everlasting name,† 13 Who led them through the deep, As a horse in the wilderness, That they might not stumble?"† 14 As a beast goes down into the valley, And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest, So You lead Your people, To make Yourself a glorious name.
When it says ďhe remembered the days of oldĒ this is not referring to God but to the the children of Israel as whole. Once they rebelled against God and faced the consequences of their actions, like the Prodigal Son, they would start to remember how great God is and all that He had done for them both miraculously and through His providence. They will remember how all these wonderful things He did showed how glorious His name is.
This same thing happens to Christians today, because as life goes on and things are good, they tend to take God and His blessings for granted, but when something shakes them up and makes them open up their eyes to their condition, it will cause them to remember the goodness of God and all that He offers. It is a shame that we let ourselves go so far, but we should be thankful that God will always take us back as long we turn back to Him and turn away from our sinful ways.
Now, in the remainder of our verses, Isaiah †is praying to God to save His people because He is their Father:
Isaiah 63:15 †Look down from heaven, And see from Your habitation, holy and glorious. Where are Your zeal and Your strength, The yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me? Are they restrained?† 16 Doubtless You are our Father, Though Abraham was ignorant of us, And Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.† 17 O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways, And hardened our heart from Your fear? Return for Your servants' sake, The tribes of Your inheritance.† 18 Your holy people have possessed it but a little while; Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.† 19 We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled, Those who were never called by Your name.
Isaiah pleas for the Father of heaven to look down and take notice of their situation. The children of Israel can see that God has removed His protection because of their many sins, yet Isaiah wants a quick fix, but a quick fix is not always to be had because they are still going to have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Since the situation is so desperate, you see Isaiah asking where God is and why He is not doing anything about it. He knows that God has the power to save, yet we see God being blamed for hardening their hearts. You see him complaining about how they have not received the blessing of God long enough. The children of Israel would experience what it is like when God is not there to deliver them and uphold them.
How many times of Christians found themselves feeling this same way. They fall away from God and get wrapped up in sin, but when they finally decide to cry out to God, they expect Him to fix their problem right away. If their situation does not improve today, then they have a tendency to start blaming God for their situation or start accusing Him of not being able to do anything. I understand that we have a tendency to break down when times get tough and there seems to be no relief in sight. Whether you are a faithful Chrisitan or a fallen Christian turning back to God, we have to accept that God knows what is best. He will always do what is best in our lives, but we have to trust in His timing and His answers.
In our next chapter, we find Isaiah continuing to pray to God †and asking that the Lord not forsake His people. He confesses their sins to God and acknowledges that God is in control.
Isaiah 64:1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence --† 2 As fire burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil -- To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence!† 3 When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence.† 4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
Isaiah is pleading with God to make His presence known. In fact, He wants Him to come down in a big way like He did when Moses was at Mount Sinai. Isaiah is tired of seeing His people suffer under the hand of their enemies. He wants their enemies to see how powerful and strong God is so that they tremble at His presence. Isaiah points out how there is no other God like God almighty.
Isaiah 64:5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned -- In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.† 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.† 7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities.
Isaiah points out how God will be with you and help you when are living for Him and upholding the righteous way. James echoes this idea in:
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
I can promise you that God will let you do whatever you want to do. He will not force Himself on you because you have a free will. You have to choose to serve Him and live for Him. If you make the right choice, He will be there for you, but if you choose to ignore Him and the help He can provide, He will allow you to be on your own. The children of Israel made their choice. They were corrupt. They were stained with sin. They were unclean and like a filthy rag. Now if you want to know what this filthy rag is referring to, I will let you look it up on your own in Leviticus 15:19-30, but the point is that these people had become so full of sin that were unclean and unfit to be Godís people.
There is a principle here that shows the domino effect. If you think it is ok sin one time, then it will not be long till 2 or 3 or more sins will be acceptable in your mind. The longer this continues on the more buried in sin you become. The children of Israel were so far gone that they were not even praying to God to help them, but Isaiah is praying for them. The lesson here is do not play with sin or think that one sin will not matter that much because it will lead you down the wrong path. As Christians, we should treat each sin no matter how small it may seem in our minds as being something we must avoid so that we do find ourselves separated from God.
Also, we should never †allow ourselves to get to the point where we think we have messed up too much and so we think we might as well continue to drown in sin. While we may continue to face the consequences of our sins, we can become right with God. James tells us how in:
James 4:8 Ö Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.† 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.† 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Our chapter ends with verses 8-12. Letís look at verse:
Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
Isaiah is proclaiming that God is in control and he knows that God can do great things for His people. A great example of what is meant here about God being the potter and us being the clay comes from:
Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:† 2 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words."† 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.† 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.† 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:† 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!† 7 "The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, †8 "if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.† 9 "And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,† 10 "if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.† 11 " Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good." ' "
Of course, Jeremiah is teaching the same principle as Isaiah, which is God is in control. If you do evil, He will be against you and break you, but if you live righteously, He will mold you and protect you. Let us never forget this basic principle about God.
Isaiah 64: 9 Do not be furious, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look -- we all are Your people!† 10 Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.† 11 Our holy and beautiful temple, Where our fathers praised You, Is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste.† 12 Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD? Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?
One thing we must continue to remember that I should have probably reminded you of at the beginning of the lesson is that much of what Isaiah is revealing has not happened yet though many times he describes as if it had. As a prophet, he was given the ability to know what was going to happen. His book contains many prophecies about the future some that would happen soon and some that would happen around 800 years later. For example, the temple nor the city had been burned yet, but it was going to happen because of their sins.
Remembering this might give you a new perspective of why Isaiah was pleading with God so hard. Put yourself in his shoes. If you could see into the future and know that something devastating was going to help to your nation because of their sins, would you not do everything in your power to try and stop it or to try and get God to stop it? I think most people would and this is what Isaiah is trying to do. Could you imagine how stressful it would be to be Isaiah knowing what you knew?
Isaiah ends his prayer to God with several more questions wanting to know if God is really going to allow all these horrible things to happen to His people. God will make His response to what Isaiah has prayed in the next chapter, which we will look at next week.
One last point I want to make is that we are kind of like Isaiah. No, we are not prophets, but we do know the future about the lost because Godís Word tells us that the unrighteous will spend eternity in hell if they do not turn to God and obey His will. The question is, what are you doing about this knowledge? Does it motivate you to warn and plead with the lost? Do you spend time praying to God for how you might be able to get these sinful people to open their eyes before it is too late? Let us learn from Isaiah and the sinful people of his nation and the consequences of their sins of how important it us for us to do everything in our power to influence our communities and our nation to wake them up from their sinful ways before it is too late.