Isaiah 4

Isaiah 4  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The first verse of chapter 4 completes this grievous theme, and here we believe we do travel on to the last days. The destruction of male life will be so great that women themselves will be found advocating some kind of polygamy to cover the reproach of spinsterhood, prepared to be no real expense to the man whose name they take. This may read strangely to us, but when we consider the predictions of Scripture as to the strife and warfare which will mark the end of the age, we are not surprised. Read, for instance, the prediction as to the warfare “at the time of the end”, given in Daniel 11:40-4540And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. 41He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. 42He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. 44But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 45And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:40‑45).
The words “in that day” occur at the beginning of verse 2 as well as in verse 1, and here we see clearly that the “day” in question is the period that introduces the age to come, the time of the second Advent. The word translated “Branch” is used of our Lord five times in the Old Testament, and has the sense of a sprout “a Sprout of Jehovah for glory and beauty” (New Trans.). Here we see, though somewhat veiled, an allusion to the Deity of the promised Messiah. The figure used is that of a living tree putting forth a sprout which displays its own nature and character. And the living tree here is Jehovah Himself; while the words “for glory and beauty” carry our thoughts to the robes made for Aaron, and to their typical significance as stated in Hebrews 2:77Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: (Hebrews 2:7).
Twice in Jeremiah do we get the Lord Jesus alluded to as the Branch, or Sprout (23:5; 33:15); but there what is emphasized is righteousness. It is the character He displays rather than the Source from whence He springs. Again in Zechariah the expression occurs twice (3:8; 6:12). There the emphasis lies on the fact that though He springs forth from Jehovah, He is to take the place of the Servant, and enter into Manhood to serve. Reading the five occurrences in the fuller light of the New Testament, we see how full were these early predictions as to our blessed Lord. The one in our chapter is the first and deepest of them all.
We may remark that Isaiah 11:11And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: (Isaiah 11:1) presents the Lord Jesus as a “Rod [or, Shoot a different word from Sprout] out of the stem of Jesse”, and lower down in that chapter He is “a Root of Jesse”; two expressions which remind us of “the Root and the Offspring of David” (Rev. 22:1616I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16)). “Sprout” of Jehovah is what He was essentially. “Shoot” of Jesse and David is what He became in His holy Manhood.
Not only will Christ be thus revealed in that day but also a godly remnant will be found, spoken of as “them that are escaped of Israel.” This indicates how fierce and destructive of life will be the great tribulation that is elsewhere foretold. Verse 3 enforces the same fact, and from our Lord’s prophetic discourse, recorded in three of the Gospels, we learn that Judah and Jerusalem will be the very center of that time of trial and persecution, which will only he ended when the Lord intervenes in power at His second advent. Those that remain will be alive spiritually and holy, and enjoy the excellent fruits which will be produced by His presence.
But before this happy state of things can be produced there must be that work of cleansing of which verse 4 speaks, described as “a spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning”; that is, by fire. We may remember that John the Baptist said of our Lord, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matt. 3:1111I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)). He indicated also that it was the chaff that should be burned, while the wheat was gathered into His garner. In our chapter the wheat is described in verses 2 and 3. The burning of the chaff will purge and wash away the filth.
The cleansing of Jerusalem, indeed of the whole earth, will be by a work of judgment and not by the preaching of grace.
Once judgment has accomplished its cleansing work the presence of God can be restored to Jerusalem, dwelling not merely upon a special building, like the temple in Solomon’s day, but rather upon every dwelling-place and convocation. His presence will be signalized as of old by a cloud in the daytime and a flame by night. When that takes place, who shall be able to strike a blow at Jerusalem? The presence of God and the glory accompanying it will be protection. Who can strike through a defense like that?
The word translated “tabernacle” in verse 6 is not the one used for the tabernacle in the wilderness but for the feast of tabernacles or booths. Any extreme, either of heat or of rain, will be so slight that no more than a booth will be needed. Everything necessary will be found in connection with the presence of God in the midst of His people, redeemed by judgment.
The first of the minor sections of the book ends with chapter 4. Consequently we observe that though we have had before us from the outset a very dark picture of the sinful and corrupt state of the people, which would bring upon them the judgment of God, we are conducted at its close to Christ as the Sprout of Jehovah, in whom all hope is found. We shall find this feature repeated. The next section, chapters 5:1 9:7, ends with Immanuel. The third section ends, in chapter 12, with the Shoot and Root of Jesse, and the joy that He will bring to pass.
As we further consider Isaiah, we shall note some of those “things concerning Himself” which, when He expounded them on the day of His resurrection to the two disciples going to Emmaus, caused their hearts to burn within them. Considering them rightly, they will have the same effect upon us.
Chapters 5:1—9:7
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