Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 4

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Verse 1

Begging of the Daughters of Zion

This verse belongs to the previous chapter and continues with the description of the consequences of the Divine judgment on the proud, wicked daughters of Zion. The expression “in that day” (cf. Isaiah 4:2) refers to “the last of days” (Isaiah 2:2), the end time, although there will be a pre-fulfillment at the destruction of Jerusalem by actual enemies.

It seems that the daughters of Zion became widows because of the destruction of the city (cf. Isaiah 3:25). There will be such a shortage of men – the ratio in the population between men and women will be one to seven (= many) – that the women will look for a man, which is an unnatural way, because normally the man is looking for a woman. Those who in better times have thought that several men would like to be flattered by each of them, will now compete with more than one at a time for the favor of the first man they meet.

They don’t care at all about wanting a man who could take care of them. They don’t have to because they will provide for themselves. They will voluntarily release that man from the obligation he has by law to care for his wife (Exodus 21:10). All they ask is to be allowed to bear his name, which would happen if he were to marry her. By marrying, a woman takes her husband’s name – also something that is no longer taken for granted in our time. She only wants him to marry her in order to get rid of the slander of being alone and unmarried (Isaiah 54:4). She is driven by pure selfishness.

Verses 2-3

Christ and Zion

Against the black background of the painting of the calamity of Zion because of the judgment a beautiful scene of restoration is shown here from Isaiah 4:2 onwards. After the first trial with His people, which is broadly measured in Isaiah 1, the LORD has already given a promise of restoration (Isaiah 2:1-Numbers :). That restoration is about the same time as here. Only in Isaiah 2 the glory of Zion is described from the point of view of the nations, while this is the glory of Zion from the point of view of the LORD.

Isaiah here again makes the great leap from the present to the glorious time under the reign of the Lord Jesus, for He is the LORD. As so often the expression “in that day” (Isaiah 4:2) refers to that time. That expression is also found in Isaiah 4:1 and describes there the terrible consequences of the judgment. That both Isaiah 4:1 and Isaiah 4:2 begin with it, accentuates the contrast.

Some translations have instead of “the Branch [or: Sprout] of the LORD” erroneously “what the LORD makes sprout out”. For it is not about a work of the LORD that He makes something to sprout, but about a Person, “the Sprout”, and that is the Messiah. The word ‘sprout’ contains the thought of the power of life (Isaiah 11:1). The expression ‘sprout’ is already seen by the Aramean Targum as an indication of the Messiah, that is the Lord Jesus.

Both the Hebrew word for ‘sprout’, tsemach, and the Greek word for it, anatole, also means (sun)rising. “Sunrise” is also a name of the Lord Jesus. This is how Zechariah, the father of John the baptist, calls Him (Luke 1:78). Only normally the ‘rising’ (sun) or the ‘sprout’ (plant) comes from the bottom to the top, while the Lord Jesus is the ‘Sunrise from on high’. He comes from above to below.

The name Sprout for the Lord Jesus we read about in different compositions and shows us each time a different glory of Him that we can connect with the Gospels. He is called:
1. “The Sprout [or Branch] of the LORD” (Isaiah 4:2). This is the Name that reminds us of the Gospel according to John. This Name speaks of His Godhead who is brilliantly described by John in his gospel.
2. “A righteous Sprout [or Branch]” (Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15). This is in connection with Him as the righteous King. This is how we see Him in the Gospel according to Matthew.
3. “My servant, the Sprout [or Branch]” (Zechariah 3:8). In the Gospel according to Mark we see Him as Servant.
4. “A man whose name is Sprout [or Branch]” (Zechariah 6:12). That brings us to the Gospel according to Luke, because in that Gospel He is presented as Man.

The Lord Jesus “will be beautiful and glorious” or, as can also be translated, He will “for glory and for beauty”. These words remind us of the description of the priestly garment (Exodus 28:2; Exodus 28:40). He is a glorious ornament for the remnant. It is a piece of jewelry of a completely different nature than the jewelry the conceited women of Zion adorn themselves with (Isaiah 3:16-:).

Also “the fruit of the earth” or “the fruit of the land” (that is Israel) is an expression we can apply to the Messiah. It shows Him as the immaculate Man, who sprouts up in the midst of all the death and destruction caused by the lineage of the first Adam. He is the “root out of parched ground” (Isaiah 53:2).

Here we see God’s wisdom as an answer to the problem of the sin of His people. For the first time in this book we see a Person Who will act on behalf of the remnant of the people. We will meet Him more often.

He connects Himself in splendor with those who are “of the survivors of Israel”, that is with the believing remnant, or the third part of the people who remain after the judgments (Zechariah 13:8). For them, He will be “the pride and the adornment [literally: glory]” at that time. He will free them from His enemies and be their Head. His glory will shine upon them. The fact that they ‘survived’ indicates how fierce and devastating the great tribulation will be, which is spoken about elsewhere.

Through His connection with them, this remnant will be called “holy” (Isaiah 4:3) and will be able to take the place of Israel. This goes beyond being holy, because it implies not only a separated place, but also a special relationship. It is similar to a girl who is called “holy” in the Hebrew language because of her union with her fiancé. That it is a remnant is strikingly expressed in the words “left” and “remains”. They have not perished in the judgments and may enter the realm of peace (cf. Matthew 24:40-Mark :).

Through the holiness that will characterize the remnant, Israel will respond to its original calling (Exodus 19:6). It is a chosen remnant consisting of all those who are written down in the book of God’s counsel in connection with Jerusalem (cf. Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 17:8).

This important theme is elaborated in detail in Isaiah 40-66. In that part, the place of Israel as the failing servant of the LORD – Israel who is deaf and blind – (Isaiah 42:19) is taken by the perfect Servant of the LORD, the Lord Jesus. He then makes Himself one with the believing remnant of Israel, through which Israel, then restored, will again be seen as the servant of the LORD.

It is also our calling to be completely separated for God. Because He is holy, so must we be: “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Therefore, we are exhorted to “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Verses 4-6

Zion Cleansed and Protected

The holiness of Isaiah 4:3 is the result of what the Lord (Adonai) is going to do in Isaiah 4:4. The people who first refused to listen to the commandment to cleanse themselves (Isaiah 1:16) are again called “daughters of Zion” (cf. Is 3:16), for in the coming day the Lord will cleanse them Himself. This cleansing is necessary because they have become dirty through sin. He will cleanse the people by judgment, by baptism with fire through the Spirit (Matthew 3:11). The Spirit is not only the Spirit of grace, but also of judgment and of burning. That is why that day – “burning like a furnace” (Malachi 4:1) whose heat is many times greater than that of ordinary fire – will come to burn and wash away all wickedness.

The “filth” points to their inner depravity camouflaged by their party clothes (Isaiah 3:16-Jeremiah :). “The bloodshed” refers to the violence against the poor and miserable of God’s people (Isaiah 3:13-Ezra :). Prophetically we see here a reference to the two great sins of the people of Israel: idolatry on the one hand and the rejection (blood guilt!) of Christ on the other hand. This is elaborated in Isaiah 40-66. Only after the cleansing of this can the LORD reveal His pleasure in this remnant to them.

He shows His pleasure in them by creating a kind of canopy over them, which is a canopy as it is placed above a groom or a throne in order to increase its splendor (Isaiah 4:5). The word “create” indicates that it is a splendor newly created by the LORD for this occasion.

It is a beautiful picture to paint the relationship between the LORD and Israel. Day and night, this beautiful canopy will cover that entire area. This is similar to the pillar of cloud and the pillar fire that accompanied Israel during the journey through the wilderness, when the LORD was also with them as a covering (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:19-Proverbs :; Numbers 9:15). He was also with them – only during the wilderness journey – as a pillar guiding them. At Zion, the people arrived at their final destination, as it were, and these divine symbols of protection remain present.

At the time of the first temple, the holy of holies was always filled with the cloud of God’s glory, the sign of His presence – only at the dedication of the temple did the cloud fill the entire building. Here the cloud is present over all of Zion – “over all the glory” – so that the whole of Mount Zion can be referred to as holy of holies, the place where God Himself is present.

The word “create” is also used in the story of creation in Genesis 1. Isaiah also uses this word several times in the second part of his book (Isaiah 41:20; Isaiah 45:8Isaiah 48:7; Isaiah 65:17-Job :). With this he indicates that the Creator is realizing His ultimate intentions in a new, ill-considered way.

Incessantly the LORD will find His joy in Zion and what is directly connected to her. Equally He rejoices when His people gather there to hold a feast for His honor. Since nature can give both heat and rain in the realm of peace, He has made a shelter for Zion for those circumstances as well (Isaiah 4:6).

With Isaiah 4 ends a part that begins with a dark painting of the sinful and depraved condition of the people, resulting in the judgment of the LORD. Then our eye is turned to the glory of the Branch or Sprout of the LORD in Whom all hope is found. This concludes this part. We will see such a development in the description more often.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 4". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.