Isaiah 9:8 - 14:32

Frank Binford Hole

Comments On Isaiah

At this point the prophet resumed the denunciation of the people and their sins, which had been suspended that he might relate his vision of Jehovah of Hosts and give the prediction concerning Immanuel. We now learn how God's hand was stretched out upon them in anger and discipline. In Isaiah 5, woe was pronounced upon them six times, and now we get the hand of God stretched out in wrath four times over-verses 12, 17, 21, and Isaiah 10: 4. There seems to be an increase of severity as we proceed.

The ten tribes had been chastised with much destruction, but in their pride they declared that it gave them the opportunity to rebuild on a much improved scale. They spoke then just as men are speaking today as they view the destruction wrought in the recent war. The Lord warned them that their ally, Rezin of Syria, would be overthrown, a token of the overthrow coming upon themselves.

But again the people did not accept the discipline and turn to God who sent it. Consequently they would be deceived by prophecy that was false, and from the highest to the lowest face a cuffing off and disaster. But this too would fail of any true effect.

Hence further miseries would come upon them and inter-tribal strife. The wrath of the Lord would darken the land and yet be as a fire and the people as fuel. And still His anger would remain.

They would still practice deceit and treachery and oppression, and bring upon themselves what is described as "the day of visitation." Having forsaken their God, He would be no refuge for them in that hour of distress, and His hand would still be against them. This brings us to the Assyrian, in verse 5.

But we pause a moment to remark that, as so often in Old Testament prophecy, there is an ultimate fulfilment as well as a more immediate one, and this surely is the case here. For instance, there were prophets speaking falsely in Isaiah's day, but the very special "prophet that speaketh lies," who is "the tail" is a reference to the antichrist of the last days; just as "the day of visitation" looks on to that special day of trial that is yet to come. Similarly "the Assyrian," that now we are to consider, has this double application - the then existing great power centred in Nineveh, and also that "king of the North," which was Assyria, that we read of in the last days.

In Isaiah's day the power of Assyria was threatening all the nations. God had taken that people up as the rod of His anger to chastise many a nation that was far from Him - and Israel among them. Later God used the Chaldeans in the same way, and this it was that disturbed the mind of Habakkuk, and led him to protest that, bad as Israel might be, the Chaldeans, whom God was going to use against them for their discipline, were worse. We see here what we see also in Habakkuk; that God may use an evil nation to chastise His faithless people, but only under His strict supervision and control. God was now sending him, as verse 6 says, against an hypocritical nation-evidently the ten tribes and Samaria.

But the Assyrian himself did not realize this, and therefore, "he meaneth not so," but intended to ravage Jerusalem as well as Samaria, doing to them what he had already done to many of the surrounding peoples. As we know from the historical Scriptures, though he distressed and threatened Jerusalem he did not take it. As verse 12 intimates, he would be used to perform on Jerusalem that which God intended and then he himself would be punished and humbled. He was only like an axe or a rod in the hand of the Lord and could not dictate to the One who wielded him. The Holy One of Israel would consume him and bring down his pride and importance.

We know how all this was fulfilled in the days of Hezekiah. Samaria was led captive, but when Sennacherib attempted with proud boasts to take Jerusalem his forces received a conclusive blow directly from the hand of God, and he himself was shortly after slain by two of his sons, as we read in 2 Kings 19: 37.

The double application of the latter part of Isaiah 10 is, we think, quite evident. In verses 20-23, God pledges Himself to preserve a remnant though He was to permit a great consuming in the land, according to His holy government. This promise of a remnant covers the whole "house of Jacob," for it must have been given some years before the ten tribes were taken into captivity. God did preserve a remnant in those far-off days when the prophecy was given, and He will yet do so in the coming days at the end of this age.

So again, in verses 24-34, there was the plain assurance to the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they need not fear the Assyrian. He would afflict them as with a rod, yet God would destroy him eventually. This came to pass, as we have seen, though he would come to the very gates of the city and, "shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem." His progress through the towns, as he approached, is very graphically described. He would seem to be like a great cedar of Lebanon, stretching his mighty bough over the city, but Jehovah of hosts would lop his bough with terror.

All this also has an application to the last days, as is manifest when we commence reading Isaiah 11, for there is really no break between the two chapters. The Lord Jesus is the "Rod [or, Shoot] out of the stem of Jesse," and the "Branch," and the chapter presents Him in the power and glory of His second coming. That the Spirit of the Lord, in seven-fold fulness, rested upon Him at His first coming is very true, and when we read of our Lord that, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure (John 3: 34), there may be a reference to what is stated here, as also there is in "the seven Spirits," mentioned in Rev. 1: 4; Rev. 3: 1; Rev. 4: 5; Rev. 5: 6; and in this last reference they are "sent forth into all the earth," as will be the case when the Shoot of Jesse comes forth endowed with this seven-fold fulness.

We are reminded also of the candlestick in the Tabernacle with its six branches springing from the main stem. The oil, typical of the Holy Spirit, fed its seven lamps. The "Branch" is to grow or more accurately, "be fruitful," and when Christ in the plenitude of the Spirit fills the earth, fruit will abound for there will not only be wisdom, but the might to enforce its dictates, and all controlled by the fear of the Lord.

Moreover He will not be dependent, as are human judges, on external things; on what He sees or hears; since He will possess that "quick understanding," which will give Him that intuitive knowledge, which springs from His Divine nature, so that His actions, whether in favour of the poor and meek or against the wicked, will be marked by absolute righteousness. At last an age of righteousness will have dawned.

As the result of this, peace will descend upon the earth, so much so that all antagonism and ferocity will depart, even from the animal creation. The creature was made subject to vanity, not of its own will but by reason of the sin of Adam, and it is to be "delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Rom. 8: 20, 21); but the Apostle gives us a detail not made known to Isaiah, for it will be the time when not only the Shoot of Jesse will be manifested, but also the manifestation and glory of the sons of God.

The picture of millennial blessedness, presented to us in verses 6-9, is a very delightful one. Missionaries would tell us, we believe, that to slay and eat a kid of the goats is a special attraction for the leopard, just as the wolf naturally slaughters the lambs. All creation shall be at peace, all ferocity abolished; even the poisonous serpent deprived of its venom and its desire to bite. The earth in that day, instead of being full of the confusion and the conflicts created by the fall of man, will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. How do the waters cover the sea-bed? They do so completely, without one crevice being unfilled. Such is the lovely picture that is presented to us here.

And how can such wonderful things, not only for Israel but for all creation, be brought about? Verse 10, we think, sheds light on this, for there we discover that the Lord Jesus is predicted as the "Root of Jesse," as well as a "Shoot" out of his stem. We are reminded at once that in the last chapter of the Bible the Lord presents Himself to us as "the root and offspring of David;" an allusion doubtless to our chapter. Here "Jesse" is used we believe, to heighten the contrast, for David had become a name of great renown, whereas Jesse only reminds us of the otherwise unknown farmer from whom David sprang. From one small and unknown the great Messiah was to spring, and yet to be the Root from which Jesse sprang.

So, if as the Shoot we think of Christ in His holy Manhood, as the Root we have to think of Him in His Deity. In His Manhood He sprang out of Israel, and had special links with that people. Introduce His Godhead, and all men come at once into view. So it is, as often noticed, in the Gospel of John, where the word "world" occurs with great frequency; and so it is here for the word "people" in our version should be "peoples;" that is, the nations generally, to whom the Root will stand as an "ensign" or "banner," and to Him will the Gentiles seek: and "His rest will be glory," as the margin reads. Greed will go out and glory will come in. What a day for the earth that will be!

This wonderful prophetic strain continues to the end of Isaiah 12, and four times do we get the expression, "in that day." The first we have glanced at in verse 10, when the promised Messiah shall be manifested in His Godhead glory, and bring blessing to the remotest peoples. The second is in verse 11, for in that day there will be a re-gathering of Israel, and the predictions concerning this continue to the end of the chapter. We must not mistake the present migration of Jews to Palestine for this, since verse 11 speaks of what will be accomplished in the day of Christ's manifestation, and it will be an act of God and doubtless accomplished through Christ; for "Lord" in verse 11 is not "Jehovah" but "Adonai," the title used for instance in Psalm 110: 1, when David by the Spirit spoke of the coming Messiah as "my Lord."

Moreover, when that re-gathering is brought to pass, the division between the ten tribes and the two will have disappeared, and the nations that surround Israel will have been subdued, and there will be an alteration in geographical conditions both as to Egypt and Assyria. None of these things have yet come to pass.

But these things will come to pass, and "in that day," when they do, there will burst forth from Israel a song of praise far deeper and more sincere than that which was sung in Exodus 15. But let us recapitulate for a moment. In verse 10, Messiah appears in His Deity and glory as the rallying centre for all mankind. He draws all to Himself, according to John 12: 32. But this means, as the rest of the chapter shows, that Israel will get redemption blessing, far more wonderful than their past redemption from Egypt. Then follows, as Isaiah 12 opens, the triumph song of this new redemption. Jehovah had been angry with them, and rightly so in view of their past of tragic wickedness, but now He has become their Comforter, their Strength and their Salvation.

If verses 1 and 2 remind us of Exodus 14 and 15, verse 3 is reminiscent of Elim, which is mentioned in the last verse of chapter 15. The Elim wells were very welcome and refreshing but here is something far more wonderful, of which Elim was only a faint type, since the salvation that Israel will then receive will be not only of a temporal sort but also spiritual and eternal.

Our short chapter ends with praise in view of that which will be the very climax of their blessing - the "Holy One of Israel" in the midst of them. This was foreshadowed when, redeemed from Egypt, the Tabernacle was erected in their midst with the cloud of glory resting on it. This which will be brought to pass "in that day" will far exceed what was accomplished under Moses; With this striking prophecy a definite division of the book reaches its close.

What we have seen we might almost call, the burden of Jacob. Judgment has to "begin at the house of God" (1 Peter 4: 17). Israel was that of old time, but though their heavy guilt brings on them heavy judgment, a bright future waits for them at the end. The judgment having begun at them, we now find the surrounding nations judged. A burden lay upon them from the hand of God and as the prophet uttered the burden it lay also doubtless on his own spirit. Isaiah 13 begins the "burden of Babylon." The Spirit of God foresaw that this city would become the chief oppressor, and the original seat of Gentile. power when the "times of the Gentiles" should set in.

The predicted destruction will arrive when "the day of the Lord" sets in, as verses 6 and 9 show; hence the terrible overthrow, detailed in verses 1-10, will be witnessed in the last days, and be executed upon the proud Gentile power of which Babylon was the head and front, as we see in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. Verse 11 speaks of punishing "the world" for their iniquity, and of convulsions in the heavens as well as the earth, such as the Lord also predicted in His prophetic discourse. But in verse 17 the prophecy does descend to a judgment more immediate, which was executed by the Medes, as the book of Daniel records. It is in this connection that the statement is made that the destruction of Babylon should be complete and irremediable. The prediction has been fulfilled unto this day and still stands. Anything that might appear to be to the contrary applies, we judge, to the dominant Gentile power, which does still exist, and of which Babylon was the beginning, or to that "mystery" Babylon of Revelation 17, which represents the false professing church, left for judgment when the Lord comes for His true saints.

The first three verses of Isaiah 14 show that the judgment of Babylon clears the way for mercy to flow to Israel. This had a partial fulfilment in the days of Cyrus, as the opening verses of Ezra record. It will have a far greater and more complete one when the times of the Gentiles come to an end. Then, not only will Israel be established once more in their own land but they will be the supreme nation, ruling over the others who formerly oppressed them, and completely at rest themselves. In that day they will take up the proverb against the king of Babylon, that fills verses 4-23 of the chapter.

When Isaiah uttered this prophecy Babylon was still dominated by the Assyrian power. A century or so later it became "the golden city" under the great king Nebuchadnezzar, spoken of as the "head of gold" in Daniel 2: 38. With him the times of the Gentiles began, and they will close under the potentate, called "the beast" in Revelation 13, who is to be raised up and inspired by Satan, who is called "the dragon." All the world will worship the beast and the dragon who, though unseen, lies behind him.

Isaiah's prophecy in these verses applies first to the visible king - verses 4-11. The Lord will break his sceptre and cast him into hell as is more fully explained in Revelation 19.

[ Satan 's Original Sin]

But in verses 12-15, we seem to pass from the visible king to Satan, whose nominee he is to be. Satan, whose original sin was an attempt at self-exaltation unto equality with God, is to be "brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit," as we also see in Revelation 20.

Verses 13 and 14 are most striking. Notice the five-fold repetition of "I will." The very essence of sin is the assertion of the will of the creature against the Creator. In Genesis 2, God said to Adam, "Thou shalt not;" but in Genesis 3, tempted by Satan, Adam virtually said "I will." The complete contrast to this is found in Philippians 2, where the One who was "the Most High," whose throne was "above the stars of God," who could not "ascend," since there was no place higher than the one He occupied, descended and took the form of a Servant. Satan sought to exalt himself and is to be abased. Christ humbled Himself, and He is, and shall yet be, exalted.

In the succeeding verses we seem to come back to the judgment of the visible king, of his city, and of all those that follow him. It will be no partial or provisional dealing of God but a final judgment that will make a clean sweep of his power and kingdom, a judgment more severe than that which has fallen upon others.

At verse 24 we pass back again to the more immediate judgment of Assyria. Upon the mountains of Israel, which the Lord calls "My mountains," he should be broken. This had not been accomplished in the year that king Ahaz died, for that was the third year of king Hoshea of the ten tribes, and Samaria was carried captive by the Assyrian in Hoshea's ninth year. In verses 29 and 31 "Palestina" means apparently, "Philistia" the country to the south west of Jerusalem. At that moment all might seem peaceful, but their judgment was coming, and their only hope and trust was to be reposing in Zion.

Now Zion does not mean simply Jerusalem, for that city too would ultimately fall under God's judgment. Zion was founded by the Lord in His mercy when He intervened and raised up David, so that it has become a symbol of the mercy and grace of God. This we see in such a scripture as Hebrews 12: 22. In that grace, which Zion represents, the godly poor amongst the people will trust. They did so in days that are past. They will do so in days that are to come.

They are doing so today. Are we amongst them?

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