Where we are:
|Part 1: Judgment||Part 2: Historical Interlude||Part 3: Salvation|
|Chapters 1-35||Chapters 36-39||Chapters 40-66|
When this takes place:
Chapter 45 is part of the second major section of Isaiah and deals less with Judah’s immediate plight than with its future deliverance from Babylonian exile.
Isa. 45:12-13 – “I made the earth, and created man on it. It was My hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have raised him [Cyrus] up in righteousness, and will level all roads for him. He will rebuild My city, and set My exiles free, not for a price or a bribe,” says the Lord of Hosts.
Isaiah prophesies that Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, will be God’s chosen servant to free the Jewish exiles from Babylonian captivity and restore them to their homeland. The Lord, who “made the earth, and created man on it” (v. 12), will empower Cyrus to crush the Gentile nations for the benefit of Israel and the glory of God.
That the Lord controls human history is evident from His many declarations in this chapter, among them:
- “I will go before you and level the uneven places” (v. 2).
- “I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places” (v.3).
- “I call you by your name” (v. 4).
- “I will strengthen you, though you do not know me” (v. 5).
- “I make success and create disaster” (v. 7).
- “Woe to the one who argues with his Maker” (v. 9).
- “It was My hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host” (v. 12).
- “Israel will be saved by the Lord” (v. 17).
- “Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance” (v. 23).
So All May Know (Isa. 45:1-13)
In chapter 44, the Lord names the Persian king who will free the Jews from Babylonian captivity and return them to their homeland – 150 years before this king is born. Cyrus is called “My shepherd” in chapter 44 and now “His anointed” in chapter 45. The word “anointed” refers to the relationship between the Lord and Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David (1 Sam. 10:1, 16:6). Since Israel will have no king in exile, Cyrus will function in this role to bring about God’s blessings. “Like the Messiah (lit. ‘the Anointed One’) who would come after him, Cyrus would have a twofold mission: to free the people, and to bring God’s judgment on unbelievers” (John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, S. 1:1099).
Cyrus will conquer other nations with God’s help and fill his coffers with their treasures. His defeat of Lydia and Babylon are two examples. All of this is for the sake of God’s people and despite the fact that Cyrus does not acknowledge the Lord as the true God. This is an important lesson in history and contemporary culture. The Lord is sovereign over His creatures and is moving human history to its climax in the “glorious appearing” of Messiah. If He can enable Sampson to use the jawbone of a donkey to smite the Philistines (Judges 15:14-16), empower a donkey to prophesy (Num. 22:22-31) and write with His invisible hand on the wall of a king’s palace (Dan. 5:5), He can use a pagan king to rescue His people and restore them to their homeland. Never think that the success of the wicked is due to a twisted sense of justice on God’s part or His lack of interest in the affairs of mankind. The Lord is omniscient and omnipresent; nothing escapes His attention.
Verses 5-7 emphasize the uniqueness of God, a theme repeated often in chapters 43-46. The Lord is not universally recognized in Cyrus’ day, but the day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). The words “light” and “darkness,” “success” and “disaster” in verse 7 are Hebrew expressions of opposites suggesting all that is. Every event in human history comes from the Lord – not that He is the author of evil (James 1:13), but that He is able to turn mankind’s wicked deeds into ultimate good (Gen. 50:20). No one may trick God, or thwart His purposes.
Verse 8 provides a graphic glimpse of the Lord’s ministry during the millennium. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck write, “When the millennial kingdom is established on the earth the heavens, figuratively speaking, will rain down righteousness (God’s standards will be followed). And salvation, like a great harvest, will spring up. That is, people everywhere will know the Lord (cf. v. 6; 11:9; Hab. 2:14)” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, S. 1:1100)
In verses 9-13 it is clear that those who question the Lord’s sovereignty invite His woes. A potsherd, a broken and discarded piece of pottery, has no right to question the potter. Neither does a child have the right to question why her parents brought her into the world. In the same way, Israel has no justification for challenging God’s decision to raise up Cyrus as His “shepherd” and “anointed one” to deliver the Jews from Babylonian bondage. The people may inquire of God and seek to understand His ways, but they must never question His authority, as Maker, to direct human history. The Lord later reminds the Jews, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways…. For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).
Turn to Me and be Saved (Isa. 45:14-25)
In the millennium, the nations will realize that Israel’s God is the only true God, and they will acknowledge Him. People from Egypt and Cush – and even the Sabeans, known as majestic men of stature – will be subservient to the Jews and declare “there is no other God” (v. 14). Although Isaiah admits that the Lord, at times, seems to hide Himself, He is without a doubt the Savior of Israel. While those who worship false gods will be ashamed because their gods cannot save them, the Jews will never be ashamed because they will enjoy God’s presence throughout eternity. During their coming days in captivity in Babylon, God’s people can count on Him to send Cyrus to deliver them. The Lord offers two proofs. First, He is the Creator of heaven and earth, in complete control of kings and kingdoms. Second, He is truth (see also John 14:6); whatever He speaks is right. God’s people are assured of their redemption because God has determined it and has spoken truthfully that it will come to pass.
The Lord invites the Gentiles who will escape Cyrus’ sword to present their case before Him. The futility of praying to hand-made wooden gods will be exposed, and any case the pagans can muster in favor of idol worship will fall on the deaf ears of gods who “cannot save” and “have no knowledge” (v. 20). Which of the idols can name the Jews’ deliverer a century before his birth? And which of the carved wooden statues can save a nation from exile? Only the God who “announced it from ancient times.” He declares, “There is no God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no one except Me” (v. 21).
The final verses of this chapter mark God’s gracious call to all the world’s inhabitants to repent and be saved. The Lord affirms once again that He is the only true God and, as such, the only means of salvation. “Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance,” He states in verse 23. The New Testament boldly applies this passage to Christ, directly in Phil. 2:10-11 and indirectly in Rom. 14:9, 11:
- “… so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow – of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
- “Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living. But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God” (Rom. 14:9-11).
Even so, many people will continue to rebel against God. And while the Lord allows them to wallow in their sins for a while, ultimately they will be “put to shame” (v. 24). The apostle Paul warns unbelievers that one day they will stand before God “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). The apostle John provides more graphic details of the final judgment of the wicked: “And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
However, the redeemed of Israel will rejoice in being justified, or made righteous in the Lord. While this passage is a message of hope to the Jews under siege by the Assyrians, and facing future exile at the hands of the Babylonians, we are not to conclude that all Jews will receive eternal life just because of their nationality. Rather, Isaiah is speaking of a nation of redeemed Jews who have turned from unbelief and embraced their Lord and Savior. By the same token, we are not to assume that only Jews will be saved, for the Lord invites all the nations to turn to Him, and the apostle Paul makes much of the fact that Jews and Gentiles alike are grafted together to make up the people of God (Rom. 11:11-24). John confirms this in Rev. 5:9: “You redeemed [people] for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Matthew Henry writes: “All true Christians, that depend upon Christ for strength and righteousness, in him shall be justified and shall glory in that. Observe, First, All believers are the seed of Israel, an upright praying seed. Secondly, The great privilege they enjoy by Jesus Christ is that in him, and for his sake, they are justified before God, Christ being made of God to them righteousness…. Thirdly, The great duty believers owe to Christ is to glory in him, and to make their boast of him” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, S. Is 45:20).
Copyright 2010 by Rob Phillips
Apologetics 101: Part 1
This is the first in a 10-part series designed to help Christians defend their faith.
Christian apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of the Christian faith. More simply put, it is a reasonable defense of Christianity. The term “apologetics” is derived from the classical Greek word apologia and was used in a legal sense: The prosecution delivered the kategoria and the defendant replied with an apologia, or a formal speech to counter the charges. The verb form, apologeomai, means “to make a defense.” The Christian apologist is engaged in defending Christianity’s claims to the truth.
In Scripture, the apostle Paul uses the term apologia in his speech to Agrippa when he says, “I consider myself fortunate … that today I am going to make a defense before you” (Acts 26:2). Paul uses a similar term in his letter to the Philippians (Phil. 1:7, 16). And Peter tells believers they should be ready to give a defense or answer for their faith in 1 Peter 3:15. The term is used in a negative sense in Romans 1:20, where Paul says those who reject the revelation of God in creation are “without excuse.”
Why Christianity is a reasonable faith
Christian apologists throughout the centuries have appealed to eyewitness accounts (specifically having to do with the person and work of Christ), as well as to Scripture, history, philosophy, archaeology and other scientific disciplines. Many have suffered martyrs’ deaths, not because they clung foolishly to a blind faith, but because they were fully convinced of the truth of Christianity based on careful examination of the evidence.
Consider how these passages of scripture exhort Christians to use reason in defending their faith:
- 2 Cor. 10:4-5: …since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
- 1 Thess. 5:21: …but test all things. Hold on to what is good.
- Titus 1:9: …holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.
- 1 Peter 3:15: …but set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
- Jude 3: Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.
Why apologetics matters
There are at least three reasons apologetics is essential to Christians:
Our faith depends on it. William A. Dembski, research professor in philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of The Design Revolution, comments: “It’s worth remembering that until two centuries ago, most people in the West saw the Resurrection of Jesus in historically the same light as other events of antiquity, such as the murder of Julius Caesar. The Resurrection and Caesar’s murder were both regarded as equally factual and historical. Unfortunately, in the two hundred years since the Enlightenment, Christians have steadily retreated from seeing their faith as rationally compelling. Instead of being apologists for the faith, we have become apologetic about it” (Foreword to 5 Minute Apologist, p. 11). The Bible tells us to love God with all our “minds” (Matt. 22:37). Emotions and experiences are important gifts of God, but they are not compelling reasons for trusting in Christ, Muhammad, the Buddha, Krishna, Joseph Smith, or anyone else. We should be as the Bereans, who, upon hearing of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, “welcomed the message (of Paul and Silas) with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so…. Consequently, many of them believed” (Acts 17:10-12).
Our witness depends on it. Every major world religion and every major cult of Christianity has a high view of Jesus, yet fails to properly answer the question Jesus asked in Matthew 16:15: “Who do you say that I am?” Muslims, for example, teach that Jesus was a prophet, but they deny His deity and substitutionary death on the cross. Many Hindus readily accept Jesus into their pantheon of 330 million gods yet refuse to accept His uniqueness as the eternal Son of God. Mormons insist that Jesus was a man who became a god. If we truly believe, as Peter did, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), we need to know what that means and why it’s true.
Our future depends on it. Christianity is under attack on many fronts – from atheists who mock it (The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens) to charlatans who fleece the flock rather than feed it (see 1 Peter 5:2-3; 2 Peter 2). The apostle Paul warns that in the days before Christ’s return people will “depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). He further warns that a time is coming when people will “not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). In fact, Paul says there will be widespread apostasy (a standing apart from the truth) before the return of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:3).
“Never do we see a call to obedience and worship grounded merely on an appeal to blind, isolated faith,” writes Scott Pruett. “It is always set in the context of historical actions and objective knowledge; and God has given us an ample and defensible testimony of these things in which we are to invest our faith” (What is apologetics? www.lifeway.com/apologetics). Demski summarizes it well: “Yes, our salvation is ultimately due to the grace of God. But every act of divine grace presupposes the means of grace by which God makes His grace real to us. Christian apologetics is one such means of grace” (ibid., p. 12).
Copyright 2009 by Rob Phillips
Where we are:
Part 1: Judgment
Part 2: Historical Interlude
Part 3: Salvation
When this takes place:
Isaiah 24-27 forms a single prophecy. While it’s difficult to pinpoint the time in which it is given, it seems best to place it a short time before the attack by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, on Jerusalem in 701 B.C.
Isa. 24:21-22 – On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven above and kings of the earth below. They will be gathered together like prisoners in a pit. They will be confined to a dungeon; after many days they will be punished.
This section of Isaiah begins with an end-times perspective explaining how the Lord will judge the whole world and set up His kingdom on earth (Isa. 24:1-3, 19-23). “These prophecies reveal how God will finally deal with the rebellious nations of chaps. 13-23 so that he can bring an end to the pride and violent sinfulness that has polluted the earth. God will destroy the wicked and establish peace on the earth, and then the holy people who remain will worship God alone and sing songs to exalt him” (Gary V. Smith, The New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39, p. 405). Because of their description of the Tribulation and Millennium, chapters 24-27 are known as “Isaiah’s apocalypse.”
Notice Isaiah’s description of end-time events that are reinforced in New Testament prophecies. For example, the earth will be stripped completely bare and its inhabitants scattered (vv. 1-3; cf. Rev. 8:6 – 9:21), and the sun and moon will darken in preparation for the full revelation of Messiah’s kingdom (v. 23; cf. Matt. 24:29-30; Rev. 21:23).
The Tribulation (Isa. 24:1-13, 16b-22)
While the immediate context of this chapter may refer to the Assyrian invasion of Judah, or to the Babylonian captivity that will occur more than 100 years later, it seems to have its ultimate fulfillment in the Great Tribulation yet to come. H.L. Willmington offers the following observations:
A. The Great Tribulation–what it is (24:1-4, 6-13, 16b-22)
1. God himself will lay waste to the entire earth (24:1): The earth will become a great wasteland, and the people will be scattered.
2. All people and fallen angels will be judged (24:2-4, 21-22): No one will be spared from God’s wrath, and the fallen angels will be put in prison.
3. Very few will survive (24:6): A curse will consume the earth and its people, who will be destroyed by fire.
4. Happiness will no longer exist (24:7-13): All joy in life will be gone.
5. Evil and treachery will be everywhere (24:16b-18): People possessed by sheer terror will flee from one danger only to be confronted with something even more horrifying.
6. The earth will stagger like a drunkard (24:19-20): It will fall and collapse like a tent, unable to rise again because of the weight of its sins.
B. The Great Tribulation–why it occurs (24:5): Humanity has twisted the laws of God and has broken his holy commands (The Outline Bible, S. Is 24:5).
Isaiah uses the word “earth” 16 times in this chapter to emphasize the global impact of God’s intervention in human affairs, wielding judgment and exalting His glory. No stratum of society is spared and no portion of the earth escapes unscathed. The reason for God’s plundering of the earth is provided in verse 5: “The earth is polluted by its inhabitants, for they have transgressed teachings, overstepped decrees, and broken the everlasting covenant.” That covenant “probably refers not to the Abrahamic or Mosaic Covenants but to the covenant people implicitly had with God to obey His Word. Right from the very beginning mankind refused to live according to God’s Word (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-6; cf. Hosea 6:7). And throughout history people have refused to obey God’s revelation” (John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, S. 1:1072). Robert B. Hughes and Carl J. Laney add, “The ‘everlasting covenant’ must refer to the moral law of God revealed in his word and written in man’s heart (cf. Rom. 2:14-15)” (Tyndale Concise Bible Dictionary, S 263).
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that God is the one wreaking havoc on the earth. While people are responsible for their sinful actions, and these actions often produce great hardship for the perpetrators and for others in the process, the Lord of Hosts clearly is demonstrating His holiness and power in events that otherwise might be interpreted as a scorched-earth policy. After all, if God created the present heavens and earth out of chaos (Gen. 1:2) and judged the earth by water in the great flood (Gen. 6-9), He has every right to judge mankind’s sin in the latter days by reintroducing chaos to the created order. Ultimately, He will purge the heavens and earth of the last vestiges of sin by fire and create new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:5-13; Rev. 21-22). Even the imagery of Isaiah in verse 18 harkens back to the flood: “For the windows are opened from above, and the foundations of the earth are shaken” (cf. Gen. 7:11).
Matthew Henry summarizes well:
The Lord that made the earth, and made it fruitful and beautiful, for the service and comfort of man, now makes it empty and waste (v. 1), for its Creator is and will be its Judge; he has an incontestable right to pass sentence upon it and an irresistible power to execute that sentence. It is the Lord that has spoken this word, and he will do the work (v. 3); it is his curse that has devoured the earth (v. 6), the general curse which sin brought upon the ground for man’s sake (Gen. 3:17), and all the particular curses which families and countries bring upon themselves by their enormous wickedness. See the power of God’s curse, how it makes all empty and lays all waste; those whom he curses are cursed indeed (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, S. Is 24:1).
One final note should be made before moving on. Isaiah writes that the Lord will punish “the host of heaven above and the kings of the earth below” (v. 21). The “host of heaven” may refer to the spiritual forces opposed to God, specifically Satan and demons. The “kings of the earth below” no doubt are the earthly political forces facing God’s judgment. “Those powers in the heavens and on the earth will become like cattle when the Lord herds them together and places them like prisoners . . . in a dungeon. Their punishment after many days refers to the great white throne judgment after the Millennium when all the unrighteous will have to stand before God and be judged for their evil deeds and lack of faith in Him (Rev. 20:11-15)” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, S. 1:1072).
The Promised Kingdom (Isa. 24:14-16a, 23)
A few will escape these terrible judgments, just as a few olives or grapes may be gleaned after the harvest (v. 13). The survivors will rejoice, raising their voices in songs of praise that may be heard from “the ends of the earth” (v. 16). This singing seems to come out of the scattered remnant, which in the light of the gospel may be seen as Jews and Gentiles alike (cf. John 11:52). “Out of this terrible devastation … will come the glorious light of Christ in his millennial kingdom (24:23; see 60:19-20; Rev. 21:23; 22:5)” (Willmington’s Bible Handbook, S. 365). If the sun and moon are to lose their luster in comparison with the Messiah, what a surpassing vision of glory awaits all who trust in Him (see Rev. 21:22-27).
It’s important to keep in mind that the concept of a remnant is central to Isaiah’s teaching (see Isa. 1:9; 10:20-22; 11:11, 16; 14:22, 30). The believing remnant will view the earth’s devastation as the righteous act of a holy God; it will not be viewed in the way the people of Isaiah’s day see the Assyrian invasion – as cruel and unjust punishment. Those who receive Christ by faith today may joyfully anticipate His future physical and visible manifestation of power, glory and holiness.
Matthew Henry writes: “Those who through grace can glory in tribulation ought to glorify God in tribulation, and give him thanks for their comforts, which abound as their afflictions do abound. We must in every fire, even the hottest, in every isle, even the remotest, keep up our good thoughts of God. When, though he slay us, yet we trust in him-when, though for his sake we are killed all the day long, yet none of these things move us-then we glorify the Lord in the fires” (S. Is 24:13).
Copyright 2009 by Rob Phillips
Where we are:
Part 1: Judgment
Part 2: Historical Interlude
Part 3: Salvation
When this takes place:
Chapter 11 takes place during the reign of Ahaz, Judah’s wicked king.
Isa. 11:2: The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
The day is coming when Messiah, a descendent of Jesse, will reign with righteousness, uniting Israel, bringing justice to the oppressed, and striking the wicked. No harm will come to any creature, even animals, because “the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water” (v. 9).
Isaiah refers to the Holy Spirit more times than any other Old Testament prophet: Isa. 11:2 (four times); 32:15; 34:16; 40:13; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1; 63:10-11, 14).
Righteous reign of the branch (Isa. 11:1-10)
The Lord will cut down the tall trees and clear the forests (Isa. 10:33-34), that is, the armies invading Israel, but God’s kingdom will arise from a shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse, David’s father (see Rev. 22:16). No doubt, Isaiah has in mind God’s promise to David that one of his descendents will rule over his kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:16; see also Isa. 9:7). His rule will be unique in that the ruler himself is both divine and divinely endowed, being gifted in three ways: with “wisdom and understanding for government (cf. 1 Ki. 3:9-12), counsel and power for war (cf. 9:6; 28:6; 36:5), and knowledge and the fear of the Lord for spiritual leadership (cf. 2 Sa. 23:2)” (D.A. Carson, New Bible Commentary, S. Is 11:1). The giver of these gifts is the Holy Spirit, who falls on Messiah on the day of His baptism to inaugurate His earthly ministry and empower Him for His work of redemption (Matt. 3:16-17).
Warren Wiersbe observes: “The four Gospels describe ‘the Branch’ for us as follows: Matthew – David’s righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5); Mark – my servant the Branch (Zech. 3:8); Luke – the man whose name is the Branch (Zech. 6:12); and John – the Branch of Jehovah (Isa. 4:2). Thus Jesus Christ will one day fulfill the OT promises God gave to the Jews and will reign over His kingdom in glory and victory (Rom. 15:8-12)” (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, S. Is 7:1).
The title “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) is illustrated beautifully in verses 6-9 of chapter 10 as all God’s creatures live together harmoniously. But peace is hard won; it follows judgment and flows from Messiah’s righteousness. Just as Christ today transforms the human heart through the new birth, so one day He will restore the entire creation to its pre-Fall perfection (Rom. 8:19-25). There is some debate as to whether the animal kingdom will experience this full transformation during the millennial kingdom or after the creation of the new heavens and earth. In any case, we may be assured that God will fully reverse the effects of the Fall and restore His creation to sinless perfection one day (2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 21-22).
Verse 10 features several key truths:
- One day Messiah “will stand as a banner for the peoples.” While this likely pictures Jesus in His kingly role after His return, it is based on His finished work at Calvary, where He was “lifted up” (see John 3:14-16; 12:32).
- The Messiah is the Savior of the whole world, not only the Jews, and the day is coming when Gentiles (“nations”) will seek Him.
- “His resting place will be glorious.” Some see this as a reference to His work on the cross; others to His ascension, after which He sat down at the right hand of the Father; still others as the church, the body of believers over whom He is Head. In any case, it will be glorious because He has made it so.
The restored remnant (Isa. 11:11-16)
Some commentators find the phrase “a second time” significant (v. 11). Many Jews returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity, but a far more devastating dispersion, known as the “Diaspora,” occurred in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the Temple and the sacking of Jerusalem. So when Isaiah says “the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover,” this could be a reference to the re-establishment of Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948 as well as the blessings the people will enjoy when Christ returns and rules from the throne of David.
Isaiah looks forward to the day when the animosity between Israel’s northern and southern kingdoms will cease. Ephraim and Judah will live harmoniously as does the once-combative animal world (vv. 6-9). What’s more, the reunited Jews will defeat their neighboring enemies to the south and east. Finally, when the Jews return to their homeland at the beginning of the Millennium, God will dry up the Gulf of Suez and divide the Euphrates River into shallow canals to hasten their return from Africa and the lands to the east. They will be reminded of God’s work in ancient times, parting the waters of the Red Sea and enabling the Jews to escape captivity in Egypt.
Warren Wiersbe comments: “When Isaiah looked at his people, he saw a sinful nation that would one day walk the “highway of holiness” and enter into a righteous kingdom. He saw a suffering people who would one day enjoy a beautiful and peaceful kingdom. He saw a scattered people who would be regathered and reunited under the kingship of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’ (Matt. 6:10); for only when His kingdom comes can there be peace on earth'” (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, S. Is 9:1).
Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips