Isaiah 26

Isaiah 26  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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Then, in the opening verse of chapter 26, we get the jubilant song that will be heard in the land of Judah in that day. The prophecy still centers geographically in Jerusalem and mount Zion. The city will at last be strong inasmuch as its protection will be the salvation which God will have appointed. No other city has been besieged so often as Jerusalem, but at last its sorrows will be over, and its inhabitants be described as “the righteous nation which keepeth the truth”.
The sequence of thought here is to be noted. First, salvation; then, righteousness; thirdly, peace. But peace is to be enjoyed as the mind and heart is stayed in simple trust on the Lord. Hence the exhortation of verse 4, where the name of the Almighty is, so to speak, duplicated. It is “JAH-JEHOVAH”, to emphasize that He is indeed “the Rock of Ages” as shown in the margin of our reference bibles. Isaiah uttered this exhortation to the men of his day, before God’s delivering might was manifested. It is equally valid for us today; indeed more so, since to us God has been made known in Christ in a far more intimate way.
But this deliverance for the godly will involve the work of judgment upon the world of the ungodly, as verses 5-11 show. God is presented as the most “Upright” One in verse 7. He weighs the path of the just, which has a character in keeping with Himself. So, while the godly wait for His judgments to be made manifest, His name is the object of their desire and they are sustained by the remembrance of Him as He had been revealed to them. This saying is sometimes linked with 1 Corinthians 11:24-2524And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24‑25), “in remembrance of Me”, and not unjustly, we think. Only, their desires and remembrance will be directed to One who had made Himself known to them in the past by deliverance through judgment. We remember the One who expressed Divine love through death on our behalf, while our desire goes out for His return in glory.
This passage is in complete accord with the fact that the Gospel is being preached not to convert the world but to gather out of it “a people for His name” (Acts 15:1414Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14)). Favor has been “showed to the wicked” for over nineteen centuries, and unrighteousness is still as rampant, if not more rampant, than ever. The hour approaches when God’s judgments will be let loose in all the earth, and then at last those who come out of the judgments will have learned righteousness. Verse 10 also shows that what is wrong is not merely man’s circumstances but man himself. Put “the wicked” into “the land of uprightness” and still “will he deal unjustly”. Many an ardent Communist or Socialist agitates, and labors to improve the conditions under which the masses of mankind live, under the mistaken notion that granted right conditions all would be well. The fact is that the root of the evil lies in man, and the wrong conditions have been created by him. Put fallen man in his unconverted state into the most ideal conditions and he will overturn and mar them.
In verses 12-18, the prophet addresses the Lord on behalf of the remnant who fear Him. He confesses what a redeemed Israel will be brought to confess in the coming day. The peace that they then will enjoy is wholly the work of God. They will no longer speak of their works but of the works He had wrought on their behalf. Then as a result of this they are delivered from the old idolatrous powers that formerly lorded it over them. No other name but that of Jehovah will be on their lips, and the very memory of their dead idols will have perished. Then they confess that only under the chastisements that God inflicted on them have they turned to Him and been increased. Their own efforts produced no deliverance for themselves nor for the earth.
Verses 19-21 give the answer of God to this prayer of confession. “Thy dead shall live, My dead bodies shall arise” (New Trans.). Here we have in a brief statement what is given in more detail in Ezekiel 37, and alluded to in Daniel 12:2 The national reviving of Israel, when God raises up and gathers His elect. They had been dwelling “in dust” or, as it is put in Daniel, sleeping “in the dust of the earth” they were to awake and sing. It is worthy of note that, when proving to the Sadducees from Scripture the fact of the resurrection, our Lord did not quote these scriptures but went back to His words to Moses.
Though many Jews are now back in the land of their fathers this national reviving of a spiritual sort has not yet come to pass, nor will it until “the indignation” of verse 20 has taken place. We identify the “indignation” with the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:2121For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21), which in its most intense form will fall upon the Jew, though “all the world” (Rev. 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)) will come under the stroke. The God-fearing remnant, owned here as “My people”, are called upon to hide themselves during that terrible period, and this anticipates the fuller instructions given by the Lord in Matthew 24:15-2115When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: 17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15‑21).
The severity of that hour and its worldwide effects are stated in the last verse of our chapter. For well-nigh two thousand years the Lord has been in His place of mercy towards rebellious man. Then it is said, “The Lord cometh out of His place to punish”, not the Jew only but “the inhabitants of the earth” generally. Judgment is spoken of as His “strange” work, but it will come to pass in its season, and we must never forget it. Israel’s revival will take place when the tribulation is over. The believer today may look to be taken out of the very “hour” of the coming tribulation, according to Revelation 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10).