Notes on Isaiah 27

Isaiah 27
This is the closing portion of the series that has been occupying us. It is “in that day.” Chapter 28 manifestly introduces a new part of the prophecy.
The great crisis is arrived. Not only does Jehovah come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth is compelled to disclose her deeds of blood, and her slain shall be covered no more; but there are yet greater things. For “in that day the Lord with sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan, the piercing serpent, even leviathan, that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” It is the execution of divine judgment on the power of Satan, figuratively set forth under forms suited to describe his hostility as at work against Israel among the Gentiles. (Ver. 1) “The day of the Lord” takes in not only the thousand years, but a little more.
Thence the Spirit turns to the Lord's ways with His own. “In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” (Ver. 2, 3) His care never failed, whatever the times that passed over His land and people. When earth comes once more into His view, and consequently Israel, His watchful goodness will prove itself unremitting on their behalf. “Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” There seems not a little obscurity in the language, if one may judge from the discrepancies of expositors, and the difficulty of suggesting such a sense as carries the unbiased along with it. But assuming that the substantial force is given in the English Bible, the Lord, on the one hand, challenges the adversaries and warns of their sure destruction; on the other He proffers His own protection as the only door of peace and safety. The next verse (6) is transparent: “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Such is the purpose of the Lord; and it shall stand.
It was not mere purpose, however: there was patient, persevering discipline in His ways with Israel. “Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is be slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up. Yet the defensed city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof. When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favor.” (Ver. 7-11) Thus, there was indeed a mighty difference in God's ways with Israel and their enemies. Faithfully did He chastise them in their pride, and rebelliousness, and unbelief; but it was not with the unsparing judgment which uprooted and destroyed His and their foes. There was slaughter too; but what was it in comparison of those that Israel are destined to slay before this day of retribution arrives? In their case, judgment was tempered with mercy; His dealing was measured. In His debate or controversy with Israel, He deigned to plead; and even when the sorest trial came, there was a gracious mitigation and arrest in favor of Israel; and not this only, but also moral profit, when every trace of idolatry should be ground like chalkstone to powder. They must not be surprised, then, if in such mighty changes the works of the men of the earth passed away, the defensed city was desolated, the habitation forsaken and left like the wilderness, only relieved by pasturage for the calf, and by withered, broken firewood for women to come and set on fire; for oh! the folly of the people and the ruin they bring justly, necessarily on themselves!
Yet here, as elsewhere, great tribulation is the immediate precursor of a greater deliverance. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.” (Ver. 12) The Judge of all the earth shall do right; but He shall interpose in saving, sovereign mercy. He shall sift out and gather the Israelites one by one. Nay more, “It shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” (Ver. 13) Those who have accompanied me thus far will have no trouble or doubt in determining the true application. It is the trumpet of Matt. 24, not of 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor. 15 The latter pair refers to the divine summons to the heavenly saints; our chapter, as well as the passage in the gospel, describes the call to Israel to re-assemble, from north and south, to worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.