The Known Isaiah: Isaiah 63:7 - 66:24

Isaiah 63:7‑66:24  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Founded on the vision of the judicial vintage, we have next the prophet's intercession on behalf of the Israel of God, the godly remnant as hateful to their godless brethren after the flesh as to the nations, indeed more so. Past mercies are re-called; their relationship to Jehovah pleaded; their sins confessed. Israel had destroyed themselves by their ungrateful, persistent, and shameless iniquity. Who had called them to be His own people? He was unchanged, if Abraham and Israel could not own them. Was not Jehovah better to them, ruined as they justly were, than even all their fathers? And the supplication was deepening and more urgent through ch. 64. which brings together the beginning of their national history on quitting Egypt with still more tremendous and comprehensive judgments that open their final deliverance and blessedness under their Messiah. Faith gives power to repentance; and mercy anticipated makes guilt hateful, as its accomplishment sharpens self-judgment to the uttermost. Hence the confession with which the plea is pressed on Him Who even from of old proclaimed Himself Israel's Redeemer. All goes far beyond any historic dealings, and requires us to look to the end of the age when Jerusalem shall be no more trodden down of the Gentiles, and those with whom the prophet identifies himself abase themselves in the dust before Jehovah. “The set time” will soon come.
Chapters 65. 66. are the answer to the supplication. Far from slight of Israel, Jehovah had meanwhile been inquired of by those that asked not—been found of those that sought Him not. It is the intermediate call of the Gentiles by the gospel. “I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day long unto a rebellious people that walk in a way not good, after their own thoughts.” The only true sense is that given by the apostle in Rom. 10:20, 2120But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. (Romans 10:20‑21): “Isaiah is very bold and saith. I was found of them that sought me not, I became manifest unto them that asked not of me. But unto Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” The evasive efforts of the Rabbies, as well as of Grotius, Gesenius, Hahn, Hendewerk, &c., are deplorable. Nor need any believer wonder at Dr. D.'s silence (Lit. O.T. 223); for the inspired interpretation seals the unbelief and folly of rationalism, ever retreating from the light of God into nature's darkness. To those who accept the apostle's comment as the end of controversy, the conclusion only falls in with and confirms what we have learned by many proofs in the prophecy itself; that here we are in presence of the Jews cast off, not for their idolatry only but for their rejection of the Messiah, and of Gentiles meanwhile called by sovereign grace, before mercy intervenes at the end of the age to restore Israel, when the Gentile, not continuing in goodness but high-minded, shall become the object of unsparing judgment. And the moment hastens.
But in that day it will be made apparent even to themselves that not all are Israel which are of Israel. Mere flesh will prove vain. Jewish antipathy to idols (so strong after the Babylonish captivity, stronger still after the Roman conquest, and seemingly stronger of all in presence of Popish corruption and persecution) will yield to the latter-day apostacy, with the yet worse enormity of worshipping Antichrist, as already shown. So we find here, not without Pharisaism. But Jehovah will bring forth a seed to possess His mountains, His elect, His servants, His people that have sought Him. Hence while those that forsake Jehovah shall be numbered to the sword, His servants shall sing aloud and triumph in the exaltation of His name. For all is to be made new, of which Jerusalem's joy is the proof and pledge, and her weeping is no more, death being the exception and then only as a curse. The connection with chaps. 11. 12. 24-27. and 35. is marked; all converge on the day when Jehovah reigns, earth is glad, and glory dwells in Israel's land.
To interpret all this of the return from the captivity is infatuation, which directly tempts such commentators to the sin of imputing exaggeration to the prophet. The root of all is the groundless limiting of prophecy to events close at hand. The truth is that the Holy Spirit, having convicted the favored people both of idolatry and of the rejection of Messiah, looks on to the catastrophe which closes their evil career, and brings out a generation to come, in the solemn end of the age. Then a voice from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of Jehovah that rendereth recompence to His enemies! There will be no more delay. But the day that sees a land brought forth, and a nation born at once in the godly Jewish remnant, whom their brethren hated and cast out for His name, shall behold Jehovah come with fire and His chariots like a whirlwind to render His anger with fury and His rebukes with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will Jehovah enter into judgment with all flesh. It is expressly the day come for the gathering of all nations and tongues, when they shall see His glory. The restoration of His people coalesces in time with His judgment of the nations. And the blessing thenceforth of Israel is to be permanent. “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, saith Jehovah. so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass from new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh. shall come to worship before me, saith Jehovah: And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence unto all flesh” (66.)
What has all this to do with the close of the exile? The prediction of the Messiah is incomparably fuller than of Cyrus, and the setting forth of His unparalleled humiliation and sufferings as a sacrifice for the sins of His people no less plain than of His exaltation over kings and peoples, His judgment not only of the nations but of the wicked in Israel, where Jehovah's hand shall be known toward His servants as surely as His indignation toward His foes. It is merely trifling with a serious reader and with scripture to say “that these chapters [40-66.] form a continuous prophecy, dealing throughout with a common theme, viz. Israel's restoration from exile in Babylon” (Lit. O.T 217).
There are distinct themes, as we have seen, in the three sections of this great prophetic strain. All three look to the triumph of divine grace in Israel on their recognition of overwhelming sin. The first section alone (40.-48.) notices Babylon, Cyrus, and the Return; but even it goes far beyond all that was then realized. The second (49.-57.) charges the people with wickedness worse than idolatry through the game evil heart of unbelief in departing from a living God. The third and last shows the terrible result for the wicked pursued to the end of the age, when Jehovah delivers and blesses the godly with glory in the land, as He punishes signally the apostate transgressors. It will be a day of judgment and of blessing for all flesh; and it is idle to deny that it still awaits fulfillment. Compare vers. 6-9, and 15, 16.
If one believes all this, the grounds for questioning Isaiah's authorship, and imagining another unknown prophet a century after, sink into total insignificance. The mainstay of the argument is disproved and excluded. The prophecy as certainly treats of the Savior's atoning death and exaltation in the second part as of Babylon's fall under Cyrus in the first. And the third part sets forth the judgment on the evil and the restoration of Israel, which are still future. “Where is the disputer?”
“The servant” is the key note to all three parts; and we thus learn why “the king” would not be so appropriate here. For in the first part we have Israel the responsible servant, but altogether failing; the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears, therefore become a prey and given to the robbers. Then in the second, Messiah is substituted for Israel, formed to be His servant, as indeed already said to be His elect in Whom His soul delighted. And if man despise and the nation abhor Him, and if Israel be not gathered, Jehovah has given Him to be for a light of the nations, His salvation to the end of the earth. The gathering of Israel awaits another day; and this comes out fully in the third part, where they discover their sins, and recognize in the Redeemer Who comes to Zion Jehovah's righteous Servant; and are owned themselves now at length as His servants, His elect, when He will recompense the iniquities of their brethren and of their fathers into their bosom.
It is perfectly certain that the Messiah is the King of Isa. 9:6; 32:16For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
1Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. (Isaiah 32:1)
, and the Servant of ch. 49-53; and it is quite true that the figure of the Servant rather than of King is here required, in order to give force to these three parts of this wonderful prophecy. Isa. 11:22And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; (Isaiah 11:2) and ch. 61. 1, if compared, show how the two truths meet in the power of the Spirit of Jehovah that rested on Him: a clear evidence of the unity of the entire book. It is in Him the perfection of a Servant was found in the face of contempt and hatred, suffering and death; it is through His grace that the faithless shall yet become faithful servants, in that day afflicted and contrite in spirit, and trembling at His word. They will behold the great High Priest emerging from the sanctuary. Ours is a better portion, for we in spirit follow where He is on high, believing the things which are now reported to us through those that preached the gospel to us by (4) the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven.