THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

Keep Looking Up

Isaiah 51 SCC 12/8/13

 

It is amazing how we forget God, His compassion, His care, His power and drift off into other options to rely upon. Keep praying, Keep walking in faith, Keep trusting and watch what He can do.

LISTEN AND LOOK BACK AT WHAT I HAVE DONE

51:1: The Lord appealed for the righteous in Israel to listen to Him. These were the Israelites who sincerely wanted to trust and obey God but found it difficult to do so because impending captivity seemed to contradict Godís promises. The Lord called them to consider their history, their origin.

51:2: Consider Abraham and Sarah, God counseled. From old Abraham and his barren wife God had

made a whole nation of people.

51:3: Even though the Babylonians would reduce the population of Jerusalem almost to zero, the God who gave Abraham numerous descendants could and would repopulate Zion. He would comfort His people, personified as Zion and reverse Zionís fortunes transforming her desert wilderness areas into another Eden. God would turn her sorrow and wailing into joyful singing and thanksgiving.

LISTEN AND LOOK UP AT WHO I AM

51:4: Again the Lord urged His nation to listen attentively to Him. What God would do for His people in preserving them and returning them to the land would be a lesson to the whole world. His justice in fulfilling His promises to the Israelites would lead many of the Gentiles out of their darkness and into His light.

51:5: The righteousness, salvation, and strong judgment that the Lord promised to bring would be larger than just Israelís emancipation from Babylon, however, because the nations would anticipate it. Cyrus brought deliverance to the Israelites from Babylon, but the Servant would bring salvation to the nations of the world. The farthest reaches of humanity wait expectantly for Godís delivering power in the sense that everyone wants someone to correct the mess we are in, not that they know how salvation will come.

51:6: The sky and the earth may appear to be permanent, but the really permanent realities are Godís coming abiding salvation and righteousness.

LISTEN AND LOOK OUT AT MY PROMISES

51:7: For a third time the Lord urged His people, who already knew something of righteousness, to listen to Him. They were the people who had received Godís instruction by special revelation and who treasured it in their hearts. They were the godly remnant in Israel. They could count on unbelievers reproaching and reviling them.

51:8: Their unbelieving critics would pass away in time, the product of natural decay. But Godís righteousness and salvation will last forever, and so will those who trust in Him who will bring them to pass.

GOD IS USED TO HEARING OUR CRIES FOR HELP

51:9: Israelís call for God to awake assumes that He had not been active in helping His people recently. Isaiah, speaking for the Israelites, described the Lordís delivering power in action for His people as His arm. His arm had defeated the Egyptians and Pharaoh in the Exodus in the past respectively as Rahab and the dragon, possibly part of the mythological lore of the ancient Near East. By using these names, Isaiah was undoubtedly stressing the Lordís ability to overcome all the pagan gods.

51:10: Isaiah pointed to God drying up the Red Sea in the historical Exodus as evidence that He could redeem His people again. Isaiah frequently used the image of God making a way, pathway, or highway for His people so they could enter into the blessings that He had planned for them.

51:11: The consequence of the Lordís arm again providing redemption for His people was that the exiles would return to Zion from Babylon with great joy. The joy at this return was only a foretaste of the joy His people would experience as a result of His redemption through the Servant and their return to the Promised Land in the Millennium.

THE LORD RESPONDS POWERFULLY TO THOSE CRIES

51:12: The Lord described Himself again as the only true, self-existent God. Such as one as He would indeed comfort His people. Who were the Israelites that they should fear the Babylonians, or any other human enemy? They were only mortals. The immortal God would defend them.

51:13: The Israelites had forgotten the type of person the Lord their Maker, the Creator, was or they would not have been afraid. To live in fear of humans is to have effectively forgotten God. That he is the one who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth, while continually living as though he can do nothing to prevent humans from doing ultimate harm to us.

51:14: God promised to free the exiles soon and to supply their needs. By saying they would not die in exile he meant that the nation would not cease to exist while in captivity. In fact, life in Babylonian exile was far from harsh for most of the Israelites so much so that most of them chose not to return to the Promised Land when they could.

51:15: The Israelites would not perish because of who their God was. He is the Lord Almighty, who causes movements among nations just as surely as He causes the waves of the sea to move.

51:16: He had put His words in the mouth of the Israelites. He had provided compassionate care for the nation but would do so in a special way for His Servant. He would use His Servant Messiah to create new heavens and a new earth literally at the end of the Millennium. And He would use the Servant Messiah to reaffirm His commitment to Israel in the future in response to those cries!

GOD WANTS US TO LIVE TODAY IN THE POWER OF OUR FUTURE HOPE

God now turned the tables on His people and called on them to awake. They needed to wake up to the fact that He would comfort them and punish their oppressors. A greater future redemption is also in view, namely, the one that the Servant would affect.

51:17: Jerusalem had drunk a powerful liquid at the hand of her God. He had given her punishment to

drink for her sins. Drinking a cup of wine is a figure of judgment. Jerusalem now lay in a state of stupor

but needed to arise because the Lord had a future for her.

51:18: She was unable to stand up and walk on her own so devastating had been the effects of the Lordís

judgment of her. Moreover, she had no children (inhabitants) to help her go home.

51:19: Widowhood and childlessness had befallen Israel and there were none to mourn for her.

Furthermore, devastation, destruction, famine, and the sword had overtaken her. Since she deserved her

punishment, the Lord could not comfort her as He could have if she had been an innocent victim.

51:20: The children were just as helpless as the mother. In one sense Israel had no children to help her.

This is one way of saying she could not help herself. But in another sense the children she did have, her

descendants, could not help her either. The children lay at major intersections of the city as exhausted as

an antelope caught in a net by its hunters. They too had suffered the wrath and rebuke of their God.

51: 21: Isaiah appealed to afflicted Israel to listen to Godís message. They had suffered the effects of

intoxication, not from drinking real wine but the wrath of God.

51:22 The God offering Israel a comforting promise was her master, the God who had taken her to

Himself, who consistently defends His people. He promised that the Israelite would never again

experience the outpouring of His wrath which had devastated Israel and Judah.

51:23 Instead. God would give Israelís enemies His cup of wrath to drink. They had walked all over

Israel, but that would end. The figure of walking on the backs of enemies stresses the victorís desire to

Humiliate the captives, not just to slay them.

 

SO WHAT?

1.Your confidence in God is determined on how you view His ability, His character, and His trustworthiness. If you waver on any of these your confidence in God diminishes.

2. So when you cry out to God for help, do so with the confidence that he is able, willing, and available to answer your cry for help.

3. A faithful devoted follower will understand that faith today requires confidence in God while gazing into a future hope He has planned for us eternally.