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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Isaiah 26

Verses 1-21

Shall we turn to Isaiah chapter 26 as we begin our study this evening.

Now Isaiah 26:1-21 goes right along with Isaiah 25:1-12 because it declares,

In that day ( Isaiah 26:1 )

In what day? In the day that the things are transpiring that he wrote about in chapter 25. And what are the things that he was writing about in chapter 25? What are the days that he was writing about? Verse Isaiah 26:8 , "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, 'Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" ( Isaiah 25:8-9 ). So it is the day that Jesus establishes His kingdom upon the earth. That day for which we've been praying when we pray, "Thy kingdom come" ( Matthew 6:10 ). So in that day when His kingdom is established.

this song will be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for the walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. For thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength ( Isaiah 26:1-4 ):

Beautiful verses of scripture. I love that promise! "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." In the New Testament Peter speaks about the peace that passes human understanding. The world cannot understand the peace that we have in Christ Jesus. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" ( John 14:27 ). And the effect of righteousness, the Bible says, is peace. There is one characteristic or quality that we as Christians should possess, and that is the peace of God in our hearts and lives.

Now in order to have the peace of God, it is first of all necessary to have peace with God and this is only possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. For the scripture said, "For He hath made peace through His blood" ( Colossians 1:20 ). He has made a basis for you to have peace with God by the shedding of His blood and thus the forgiveness of our sins. So that is first and basic that you experience peace with God. No longer rebelling against the law of God, but now seeking to submit to God's law. No longer running from God, but yielding to God. And you then have peace with God as you surrender and receive Jesus Christ.

But it is sad that there are many, many Christians who have peace with God that's been established through Jesus Christ, but they have never entered into that experience of knowing the peace of God as it keeps their hearts, their minds, their lives steadfast in Christ. So it is important that you have more than just peace with God; it is important that you experience the peace of God. Now this is a reference to the peace of God, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace."

How can I know that perfect peace of God within my heart living in a world that's so filled with chaos, turmoil, strivings? How can I know that peace? "Whose mind is stayed on Thee." Now you can't really experience the peace of God as you're getting, looking constantly at the things of the world. You have to look away from the trials. You have to look away from the madness of this world and looking to Him. Keep your mind steadfast upon Him. How many times the Lord has to bring my mind back to Him. I start getting all upset. I can so excited, in turmoil. "Look what they're doing! They can't do that. I'm not..." The Lord says, "Hey, wait a minute. Who's running this thing?" "You are, Lord." "Then what are you all excited about?" "I don't know. Just like to get excited, I guess."

But you learn to turn it. You bring the thoughts into captivity unto the obedience of Jesus Christ. And God so often will stop you. You start getting all disturbed over an issue. And God will stop you and say, "Hey, wait a minute. I'm on the throne. I'm in control." And as your mind is turned then towards Him, then the peace of Christ begins to fill your heart and fill your life. Oh, this is such a glorious experience, the peace of God. That perfect peace, that complete peace as my mind is stayed on Him. I just know He's going to take care.

So many, many times the Lord reminds me that this is His church. Problems will come up. I begin to wonder, "Oh, what are we going to do about this? Oh maybe we ought to do this, maybe we ought to do that." And the Lord will speak to me and say, "Whose church is it?" "It's Your church, Lord." He said, "Then just leave it alone. Let me run it. It's My church. Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it." All right! How easy can it be to pastor His church. If I try to pastor my church I'd go absolutely wild. It would be impossible! But it's His church, and as long as I remember that, I'm in good shape. When I forget it, then I really start in a tailspin until the Lord reminds me, "Whose church is it?" And we need to remember that. "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind..." It's His ministry. It's His work. "Whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in the Lord." And then the commandment, "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord Jehovah is our everlasting strength."

For he brings down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. For with my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness ( Isaiah 26:5-9 ).

So he begins to speak of the judgments of God. Now he looked forward to the Kingdom Age, the glorious day of the Lord. In that day the perfect peace that we will experience. But before that day of the Lord does come, there is coming a day of judgment, God's judgment upon the earth. And when God's judgments are upon the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. God is going to bring down in judgment those that dwell on high. And so he declares,

Let favor be showed to the wicked ( Isaiah 26:10 ),

And this isn't a request. It's actually just saying, "If you show favor to the wicked."

yet they will not learn righteousness ( Isaiah 26:10 ):

In other words, people, it seems, do not really grow so much in good times as they do in bad times. It seems that when people are blessed, when a nation is blessed, that they forget God. They no longer call upon the Lord. But when hard times begin to come, then people are turning to the Lord. It's so easy to trust in your material prosperity. It's so easy to look at a nation that is strong and prosperous and say, "Well, look at what free enterprise has done for the United States!" And begin to attribute the blessings of God to certain attributes of our nation. Our nation is strong, our nation is powerful, our nation is great because God made it strong and powerful and great; not because we have some superior system to the rest of the world. It isn't a victory of democracy over a dictatorship. And we make a mistake when we look to the characteristics of free enterprise or other things and say, "Well, that's why our nation is strong."

Now in the time of favor, in the time of blessing, the wicked really don't think about God. They don't turn to God. But it's in the time of adversity when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. So, "Let favor be showed to the wicked," that doesn't mean... that isn't a prayer. "Let favor be showed." Like that verse of scripture, "Spare the rod and spoil the child." My son thought that was a commandment. And when I started to use the rod, he said, "But the scripture says, 'Spare the rod and spoil the child.'" But that's a statement. If you spare the rod, you're going to spoil the child. It isn't something that... It's not a commandment, something you're supposed to do. It's a statement of what will happen if you spare the rod. And so here, this is just a statement. "If favor is showed to the wicked, he will not learn righteousness."

in the land of uprightness he will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD ( Isaiah 26:10 ).

He will fail to see the glory of God. He won't maintain righteousness.

LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them. LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name ( Isaiah 26:11-13 ).

Now this is Israel speaking to the Lord concerning God's dealing with Israel when God's judgment came in the land; He taught the people righteousness. In the time of their prosperity they forgot God. They turned their backs on God and they were devoured by their enemies. Now they are saying, "Lord, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us." They had been ruled over by other nations; other forces had come in. "But by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name."

For these nations [that once ruled over us] are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish ( Isaiah 26:14 ).

That is, the nations that once lorded over Israel. Now there are some people who use this particular verse to teach the annihilation of the wicked, that God is going to ultimately just annihilate them all. There are other scriptures which would seem to indicate otherwise, especially those in the gospels, the references that Jesus Christ made to Gehenna.

Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. LORD, in trouble have they visited thee; they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them ( Isaiah 26:15-16 ).

So in the time that God began to chasten them, they turned to God. They began to pray.

Like as a woman who is in travail, drawing near the time of the delivery of her child, and she cries out of her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen ( Isaiah 26:17-18 ).

Now God responds to them and declares,

Thy dead shall live, with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out her dead ( Isaiah 26:19 ).

Now this verse is difficult of understanding and that is why the translators have added some words which are written in the italics. But those words that are in italics are words that the translators have added in order to try to bring some understanding to this particular scripture. As God is responding and saying, "Thy dead," the translators have added men; "shall live," and they've added together with; "my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."

Now when Jesus died upon the cross, He descended into hell. This is what the scriptures declare to us in Acts the second chapter. For the promise of God was given to Him, "Thou will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you allow the Holy One to see corruption" ( Psalms 16:10 ). When they asked Jesus for a sign, He said, "A wicked and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" ( Matthew 12:40 ).

Paul the apostle tells us in Ephesians 4:1-32 that, "He who has ascended [Christ] is the same one who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. And when He ascended, He led the captives from their captivity" ( Ephesians 4:8-9 ). Now prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, until the price was paid for man's sin, those righteous of the Old Testament period could not enter into heaven when they died, but were kept waiting in the grave.

The best description for this is given to us in Luke's gospel, chapter 16, by Jesus Christ as He told us of a certain rich man who fared sumptuously every day. And the poor man that was brought daily and laid at his gate, full of sores, the dogs came and licked his sores and he survived off of the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. And the rich man died. "The poor man died," He said, "and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. Moreover, the rich man also died and in hell, he lifted up his eyes being tormented and seeing Abraham afar off. And Lazarus there, the man that he had recognized, the beggar that had been at his gate being comforted by Abraham."

He said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he might take his finger and dip it in water and touch my tongue. I'm tormented in this heat." Abraham said, "Son, remember you in your lifetime had good things. Lazarus evil. Now he is comforted while you are tormented. And beside this, there is a gulf that is fixed between us. And it is impossible for those that are here to come over there; or those over there to come over here." Now that's pretty straight statement for any of you that are hoping for a second chance after you're dead.

Jesus declared that it was an impossibility to cross that gulf once you were dead. And so he said, "I pray you then, if he can't come to me, send him back that he might warn my brothers. I don't want them to come to this horrible place." And he said, "They have Moses and the prophets. And if they won't believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one should come back from the dead." So Jesus describes to us what hell was like. The grave, Sheol, Hades.

Now when Jesus died, He descended into Sheol or Hades. And there He preached to those souls that were being held in prison. But here in Isaiah, chapter 61, a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ declares, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings to the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound" ( Isaiah 61:1 ). Those that were bound in the grave, in the prison, He proclaimed liberty to them. So when He ascended, He led the captives from their captivity.

You see, we are told that those men of faith in the Old Testament all died in faith but they did not receive the promise of resurrection. God having reserved some better thing for us that they apart from us could not come into the completed state. So Abraham and all of those of the Old Testament believing died in faith. But yet, because their sins were not put away, they couldn't enter into the heavenly scene. It took the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to put away sins. Now the blood of bulls and goats could make a covering for sin. It was a temporary covering that looked forward in faith to the work that God was going to do. But it was impossible that the blood of bulls or goats could put away sin. That took the blood of Jesus Christ. And so Jesus, when He shed His blood, made the provision for all men to come unto God and He went down and first of all took those who had died in faith believing and trusting God to send the Messiah and the Savior. He preached to them God's deliverance and God's redemption. And when He ascended, He led them with Him, the captives from their captivity.

And in Matthew's gospel, chapter 27, it said, "And the graves of many of the saints were opened; and they were seen walking through the streets of Jerusalem after His resurrection from the dead" ( Matthew 27:52-53 ). And so I believe that this particular verse is a prophecy that is making reference to that event. That beginning of resurrection when Jesus led the captives from their captivity. And "Thy dead shall live, with my body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out her dead." And that took place at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now the Bible says that, "He who lives and believes in Me," Jesus said, "He who lives and believes in Me shall never die" ( John 11:26 ). "Behold," Paul said, "I'll show you a mystery. We'll not all die, but we'll all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye" ( 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ). A metamorphosis is going to take place with each of us. "For we know that when the earthy tabernacles or the tents, the bodies in which we presently live, are dissolved, that we have a building of God, that is not made with hands, that is eternal in the heavens" ( 2 Corinthians 5:1 ). Now I'm living in this ragged, worn out tent. I'm getting tired of it. But that's all right. One day I'm going to move out of this ragged, worn out tent and I'm moving into a beautiful mansion.

Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions: and if it were not so, I would have told you. And I'm going to prepare one for you" ( John 14:2 ). And so Paul said we have a building of God, a mansion, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. "So then we who are in these bodies do often groan earnestly desiring to be delivered from them" ( 2 Corinthians 5:2 ). See, the Bible teaches that the real me is spirit, not the body. The body is only a tent in which I'm dwelling temporarily. But the real me is spirit. The body is the medium by which my spirit expresses itself. But I'm looking for the new body. The building of God not made with hands that is eternal in the heavens. "So we know that when this tent is dissolved, we have a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So then we who are in this body do often groan earnestly desiring to be delivered. Not that I would be an unembodied spirit, but that I might be clothed upon with the body which is from heaven. For we know that as long as we are in this body, we are absent from the Lord. But we would choose rather to be absent from this body, and to be present with the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 , 2 Corinthians 5:6 , 2 Corinthians 5:8 ).

So that glorious day when I move out of my tent into my house where I'm to dwell forever. A new building of God that cannot experience pain. Doesn't know what weakness is. Won't need sleep and many other things. So it's exciting to anticipate just what kind of a body will I have. Paul the apostle said, "Some of you will say, "But how are the dead raised and what kind of a body will they have?" And then he gives you the illustration of the difference between planting a seed and the body that comes out of the ground. He said when you plant a seed in the ground, all you plant is the bare grain. But God gives it a body that pleases Him. And the body that is to be is not the body that you planted. All you plant is a bare grain. God gives it a body that pleases Him. So the grain may be wheat or some other grain, but the body that comes forth is not the body that is planted. He said, "So is the resurrection from the dead. We will be planted in weakness but will be raised in power. We are planted in corruption, raised in incorruption. Planted a natural body, raised as a spiritual body" ( 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 ). And so it's quite exciting to me the anticipation of moving into this new house, the building of God that He's been preparing for me. That He's promised that He was going to come and receive me unto Himself. That where He is I can be, too.

Now I couldn't be there in this body. This body wasn't made for that. I wouldn't want to be there in this body to tell you the truth. I don't want to wear glasses forever. I hate glasses. And there's just a lot of things about... Now it's not... I appreciate the body that God gave me. God gave me a strong, healthy body and I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that I'm rarely ever sick and all. But I can see myself going to pieces. I can see the deterioration that's taking place. I don't have the same strength or stamina anymore. I'm just not what I was. But thank God I'm not what I'm going to be, either. For God has a new body, a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So this is a reference to that time of the resurrection of Jesus when He led the captives from their captivity and brought them on in to the glorious heavenly scene now waiting for us.

And so here is an interesting verse now in verses Isaiah 26:20 , and Isaiah 26:21 , as God said,

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain ( Isaiah 26:20-21 ).

Now this is definitely a reference to the Great Tribulation period, the last three-and-a-half years before the return of Jesus Christ. The period when the earth will be under the power and the control of the antichrist and God's wrath is being poured out upon this earth for its iniquity. "The Lord coming out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." Now what does God say to His people during this period of time? "Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee. Hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation [or the Great Tribulation] is over. For God is coming out of His place to [What? to] punish the inhabitants of the earth."

Now the fact that this time of God's indignation and wrath is a punishment of the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity precludes the church bearing a part of it. For we are told, "God has not appointed us unto wrath" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9 ). So when God comes out of His place to punish the earth for its iniquity, He tells His people, "Come into thy chambers. Shut the doors. Hide thyself for a little while until this indignation is over."

This can have one of two possible interpretations. It is possibly God speaking to the nation Israel, the faithful remnant of the nation Israel that He is going to bear down to the wilderness place that He has prepared for them where they are to be nourished for three-and-a-half years until the Great Tribulation is over. Or it could be a reference to the church. And there is no way by which you can possibly say it is one or the other unless you look at it with a presuppositional view that the church is going through the Great Tribulation and then you'd say it doesn't refer to the church, it refers to Israel. But that's only interpreting from a presupposition position, which I feel is wrong.

So having a presupposition that the Lord is going to take His church out before His judgments and His wrath are poured out upon the earth, I can possibly interpret this as a reference to the church. Where the Lord is saying, "Come, into your chambers! Shut the door." As in Revelation, fourth chapter, "And I saw a door open in heaven: and the first voice I heard was that an angel as of a trumpet; saying, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be after these things" ( Revelation 4:1 ). So hide yourself. And the church there with the Lord in heaven while the indignation and the wrath of God is being poured out upon the earth. That is very possible. There's no way you can deny that that is not true. It may refer to Israel. I don't know which it refers to. It could refer to both. But at any rate, a very fascinating passage of scripture whereby God indicates that the time of the Great Tribulation is a time of God's punishment for the iniquity.

Now God has punished my iniquities already. So it is not consistent that God would punish me for my iniquities, because He has already punished His Son for my iniquities. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we turned every one to our own ways; and God hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all" ( Isaiah 53:6 ). Christ bore the punishment for my iniquity. And therefore, it would not be consistent that God would punish me for my iniquities. That's what salvation and the gospel is all about. You don't have to bear the punishment of God for your iniquities. Jesus took it for you. That's the good news that we have for this dying world.

So, "Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut the door until the time of indignation is over. Hide yourself for a while." So I take great comfort in that. I take great delight and pleasure. Those who have a post-Tribulation view get no comfort, no pleasure, no joy out of that verse of scripture.


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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 26". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.