THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

Future Blessings for the People of God

Isaiah 54 SCC 12/29/13 

This chapter anticipates the salvation and restoration of Israel, begun in part at the restoration of the exiles from Babylon in 536 B.C. but for the most part yet in the future, for as this chapter unfolds it will become clearer and clearer that that return did not exhaust the promises. There yet remains the final culmination of all of God's covenant promises at the end of the age.  In fact, as these chapters progress to the end of the book, the vision gets more glorious, and so more eschatological in its scope. Isaiah 54 lays out some of the promised blessings, but does not say when they will be fulfilled in part or completely.

Once restored they will dominate the region 1-3

Verse 1: The nation of people is compared to a barren woman who is bereaved of her children and separated from her husband. The call is for these people to sing and to sing aloud, because of their restoration from exile.  God will restore them and they will sing. The married wife would have been Israel before the exile, in rebellion against God and bringing the judgment of God for sin; her children would have been those Hebrews living when Babylon attacked.  The Israelites some seventy years later, children of the desolate, will outnumber them greatly. It makes the point that the present and future population of Jerusalem will exceed what she had before.

Verse 2: anticipates the restoration of the nation by calling for an enlarging of the tents.  The returning exiles probably actually had tents or similar structures for a while.  The call to make the tents larger assumes that there will be an expanding population: the cause will be the restoration and multiplication, and the effect is their expanding their tents.

Verse 3: explains this call to sing.  The returning exiles will spread out to the right and to the left.  But there will be more than a population increase--they will possess the nations and rebuild the desolate cities. Future generations, from Isaiahís perspective, would dispossess the nations.

Once restored they will be in peace and safety 4-10

Verse 4: They would forget the shame of their youth and their widowhood.  The youth would refer to the Egyptian bondage; and the reproach of widowhood would represent the Babylonian exiles.  These two catastrophes will be remembered no more having no power over the people to cause fear.

Verse 5: The cause of this reversal of fortunes is the husband of this woman, God. He created her and redeemed her. Since He made her, He could remake her. He took up the role of the kinsman redeemer to provide children for this barren wife. He is the Almighty Lord, the Holy One of Israel the God over the whole earth.

Verse 6: The Lord called His people back to Himself even though they had been unfaithful to Him. He would transform their attitude from that of an abandoned and brokenhearted wife, because her sins had separated her from her God, to that of a new bride whose relationship with her husband was unstained.

Verse 7: The whole Babylonian captivity is referred to as a "small moment" when God forsook Israel.  In the plan of the eternal God that is what it is. The re-gathering is with tender mercies. The Lordís brief separation from His people because of their sins was short compared to the long relationship of intimacy that lay ahead for them.

Verse 8: God did not lose control of Himself when His people sinned, but He became very angry because sin destroys people and breaks the fellowship that He desires to have with them. He had to turn away from sinners hide His face from them because He is holy. But that distance was short-lived compared with the everlasting compassion that His loyal love

Verse 9: The announcement is similar to the Noachian Covenant; it is as if once again the Lord was hanging up His battle bow in the sky. So here too the Lord seals His promise with an oath, just as He did in the days of Noah. The Lordís restoration of His people to Himself would be permanent; they would never again experience estrangement from Him.

Verse 10: gives the nature of the promise.  God's loyal love and God's covenant of peace will remain with His people though the mountains depart and the hills be removed. It is an eternal covenant that will outlast the hills; it is based on the Lord God, whose character it is to show mercy. 

Once Restored they will be in splendor 11-14

Verses 11-12: Presently Godís people were wretched, but they would be redeemed. The building and the gems are literal--but with a spiritual meaning. Antimony was a black powder that masons added to mortar that held stones in place. It set off the beauty of the stones by providing a dark edging for them. Women also used this powder as mascara to color their eyes. Foundations of sapphires would be foundations of the highest quality and greatest beauty. The battlements Isaiah saw were bright red rubies. The gates were clear crystal, and the walls were a mosaic of other precious stones. This description recalls the picture of the New Jerusalem.

Verse 13: All the spiritual descendants of the redeemed then would be disciples of the Lord. They would follow Him faithfully, and they would enjoy the highest quality of spiritual life. A glorious new city made with all the precious gems would be in the age to come. But the gems would still signify the purity and the righteousness and the perfection of the Lord and His eternal holy place.

Verse 14: Then we read how the Lord will establish the city of Jerusalem--it will be with righteousness.  But why call it righteousness?  The reason is that righteousness is the cause of the victory--the righteousness of God who will judge the wicked oppressing nations, and the righteousness of the people who believe in the Lord and walk in His ways.  The righteous would be secure in the love and plans of God. Oppression and terror would not come anywhere near them, so they would not fear.

Once Restored they will have divine protection 15-17

Verse 15-16: If nations gather against Israel, it will not be by the Lord, and so they cannot succeed in their mission. God declares to Israel that both the one who makes the weapon and the one who uses it are under His sovereign control. No weapon brought against them will succeed, and no voice speaking against them will stand. The promise is for perfect peace. Obviously, these promises were not completely realized by the returning exiles. God's prophetic messages do not specify the time of the fulfillment.  That generation, with the opportunity for the new beginning and the great fulfillment, did not merit the complete promise.  Hebrews says that all of them died, not receiving the promise; consequently, the grand fulfillment is yet to come.

Verse 17: Even though opponents might arise, they would be ineffective against Godís invincible people. Hard steel or a hot tongue, two forms of antagonism that represent all forms of it, would not prosper. The Lordís vindication of His people would be the heritage of His servants then. That heritage would include restoration to intimacy with God and, for Israel, fulfillment of the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant.

SO WHAT?

1. It is clear that there are still aspects of these promises that are not yet fulfilled. They await a future time which is swiftly approaching. All discerning eyes are on Jerusalem.

2. Peter tells us that we are an elect nation, a holy priesthood, living stones built on the foundation stone, a people that has obtained mercy and will not be put to shame; and that we are to show forth our praise of Him as we live in righteousness before all people who will see our good works and glorify the Father (1 Peter 2:5-10). 

3. God has begun a new work in Christ and called us as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, a global interdependent network of households, displaying the mercy and righteousness of God.  Much like the Israelites tribal connections. Great promises of the blessings of peace, safety, prosperity and victory are held out to those who obediently walk in God's perfect will for their lives.

4. But this does not nullify the fulfillment of these verses at the end of this age and the dawn of the messianic age.  God will re-gather His people, and He will build His holy city, and He will make his servants into spiritual servants.  What the people of God do in the meantime will find its glorious culmination at the time of the coming of the Messiah.

THEREFORE:

(1) Step ahead. Look ahead. Each day must be lived fully but in the context of an eternal future.

(2) The spiritual reality of our relationship with Christ must govern our temporal living.

(3) Remain part of Godís faithful remnant committed to the will of God and walking worthy.

(4) Whether now or in eternity, holiness, righteousness, godliness, characterizes the faithful.