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This chapter is an outburst of jubilation and cheer after the prophecies about the suffering of the Servant of the LORD, the bearing of sins by Him and His glory thereafter in the previous chapter. These are the glorious consequences of what has been described in the previous chapter, with the core being that the Messiah has suffered and died as substitute for His people. Therefore the consequences are in the first place for that people. We see here the offspring the Lord Jesus will see (Isa 53:10). As a first sign of the full redemption we hear the singing of the redeemed (cf. Exo 15:1).
Joy of the Barren One
Israel is called to rejoice with singing because her state of barrenness has changed into child bearing (Isa 54:1). The experiences of the barren and later still childbearing arch-mother Sarah are a foreshadowing of this. The desolate condition of the people and their land will not be forever. The time will come when her children will be more numerous than they were before she was the desolate one.
There is also an application for us, believers of the church. Paul makes the comparison between the Jerusalem above and the earthly Jerusalem in the present time and then quotes Isa 54:1 of this chapter in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 4:26-27).
The jubilation of Isa 54:1 will sound when the earthly Jerusalem is restored in her relationship with the LORD. This relates especially to the realm of peace. Therefore she is commanded to enlarge the place in front of her tent and to stretch out the curtains of her tent dwelling (Isa 54:2). She must enlarge her area in order to be able to accommodate the population explosion. This promise of increase is given to her (Isa 54:3). What is said here, we see in the aliyah or the return of the tribes from the scattering to the land.
Paul, who was – remarkably in this context – a tent-maker by profession (Acts 18:3), has also made his area for the spreading of the gospel ever larger (2Cor 10:15b-16). God is a God of expansion. With Him there is place for everyone who surrenders to Him. For example, in the Father’s house there are “many dwelling places” (Jn 14:2). Israel’s area will be larger than in the time of Solomon (Gen 15:18; Gen 28:14). They will become the head of the nations and rule over those who oppressed them (Mic 4:1-3). The cities destroyed by the king of the North will be repopulated.
Such are the ways of the Lord. Widening will follow diminishing when His discipline has done its work. If the disciplined believer learns more about the reality of what was accomplished at Calvary and bows before Him in self-judgment, spiritual expansion will be the sure consequence. Barrenness and impoverishment give way to fertility that erupts in abundance to the glory of the Lord and to the enrichment and blessing of others.
The section that follows now is full of the most tender promises and comfort. We read about the “everlasting lovingkindness” (Isa 54:8) of the LORD and of His “great compassion” (Isa 54:7) by virtue of His covenant and the glorious future that lies ahead for the people. Israel no longer needs to fear, for the people will no longer be put to shame (Isa 54:4).
It looked like she would be desolate forever, but that will turn out to be wrong. The shame of her widowhood will also be taken away. As desolate one and widow she will be restored, she will be accepted again and she will be married again. Her future will be so joyous that she will forget the shame of her youth, that is the time of her slavery in Egypt. There she is like a virgin bound by the LORD to Himself with a covenant of love (Jer 2:2; Eze 16:60).
She will also not remember the reproach of her widowhood, which is the time of her exile in Babylon (Jer 51:5), for her “husband” is none other than her “Maker” (Isa 54:5). He Who became her Husband also originated her. Her Creator entered into a love relationship with her. He is “the LORD of hosts”, Who commands the heavenly and earthly hosts what they must do.
He is also their “Redeemer” to Whom the whole earth belongs and Who is therefore also able to provide it with all that it needs. He is her Redeemer, Who has redeemed her from the power of all her enemies, gives her back the inheritance and connects with her in marriage. He is what Boaz was to Ruth, the Redeemer, Who is also her Husband (Rth 4:1-13; Hos 2:15).
Her relationship with Him has suffered greatly because of her unfaithfulness. But the LORD will call her back to Himself (Isa 54:6). He takes her back, just as a man takes back the woman he loved in his youth. She has displeased Him, but she is not like a hated one. To the LORD the time in which He had to forsake her, the time of her exile which seemed to her a long time (Lam 5:20), is “a brief moment” (Isa 54:7).
It may seem a long time to the remnant, but there will come an even longer period of time, an “everlasting lovingkindness” (Isa 54:8; Psa 30:5a; cf. 2Cor 4:17), in which they will enjoy God’s “great compassion” (Isa 54:7). This is in contrast to the brief moment of God’s “outburst of anger”.
An Unshakable Covenant
Then the LORD gives the assurance that He will never be angry with Israel again, just as He gave such an assurance to Noah concerning the flood (Isa 54:9; Gen 9:11). Just as a rainbow then underscored that assurance (Gen 9:16), so now He speaks of “My covenant of peace” as something that will never be taken away. That covenant can be there because the punishment that brings them peace was upon Him (Isa 53:5). The covenant cannot be broken. It is an eternal covenant because it is based on the blood of the new covenant He has shed.
Whatever may change or succumb, not His lovingkindness for His people, for He is “the LORD who has compassion” on them (Isa 54:10). Just as Noah and his family come to a new earth after the flood, so God’s redeemed people will enter after the great tribulation the blessing of the millennial realm of peace on a renewed earth.
These verses describe the future glory and happiness of God’s earthly people. This is done in a wonderful variety of ways that serve to present the coming deliverance and its consequences as opposed to the present misery. This last state we see in the beginning of Isa 54:11.
The “afflicted one” or the oppressed one shows how she has been under the antichrist in the great tribulation. “Storm-tossed” represents the hostile powers – the king of the North – who, under the leadership of satan, have battered God’s people to destroy them. “Not comforted” shows that she was without comforter. She had to undergo the judgment of Lo-Ammi, which means ‘not My people’ (Hos 1:9), and was therefore deprived of the comfort of God. But the LORD will make Jerusalem shine and give it an unshakeable foundation of precious stones. The stones are set in “antimony” and the foundation are laid in “sapphires.
The treasures of the earth, which man dulls to his own glory, reflect the features of God and of Christ and will serve for this purpose in the realm of peace. We see this, for example, in the “battlements of rubies”. The ruby has a blood red color and is a reminder of the blood of Christ and the work of reconciliation. Then all that has been created under the reign of the Lord Jesus fulfils its true purpose. The city will shine because of all the earthly glory that the LORD has given her and with which He adorns her like a bride (Isa 54:12; cf. Rev 21:18-21). All this glory is reminiscent of the glory of Christ.
In the reflection of the glory of Christ, the children of Jerusalem will be “sons” taught as pupils by the LORD (Isa 54:13). The stones are called “sons” here. As pupils of the LORD they shall resemble the true servant of the LORD, the Messiah, Who was also the true Pupil, or Disciple (Isa 50:4; cf. Isa 8:16). They will not need human education to behave like sons.
Taught by God (Jn 6:45; 1Thes 4:9), they will come to acknowledge sin and love will be their common feature after conversion. They will not have to teach each other about this (Jer 31:34). That teaching is given to them by directing their eye toward the perfect Pupil, or Disciple, the perfect Servant. All this happiness, all this salvation, all this blessing will be enjoyed on the basis of Divine righteousness (Isa 54:14).
They will no longer be oppressed by enemies. Oppression will be far away from them. They need not fear a repetition of their affliction by the hand of nations sent by the LORD, such as Assyria and Babylon. If the enemies attempt to attack them anyway, it will mean the fall of those nations themselves through the people of God (Isa 54:15). Jerusalem will be impregnable. All things are in the hand of the LORD (Isa 54:16). There is no power in the world that can go up against God, for that power was created by Him (cf. Est 7:6-10).
That may be of comfort to us. He is always stronger than the power that is against us. Therefore, no weapon formed against His people will be used successfully (Isa 54:17). He uses His creative power to defend His people. He will also give them the words to defend themselves against any accusation.
The closing lines of the chapter list all preceding promises and describe them as “the heritage of the servants of the LORD”. The Servant of the LORD, the Lord Jesus, has deserved everything; it is His righteous reward; the servants of the LORD, Israel, share in it by grace. He is entitled to it because righteousness is His own; they receive that right or that righteousness by grace.
While the true Servant Himself is the Righteous, the righteousness given to the people is based on grace: ““Their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD”. In this way Jerusalem will be established. Israel will not be able to claim anything as a result of its own merit, any more than we, who are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24), can.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 54". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13