THE REDEEMED NEED TO EXPRESS THEIR PRAISE TO GOD FOR HIS GREATNESS AND HIS SALVATION CULMINATING IN SWALLOWING UP DEATH FOR ALL TIME
I have commented before how providentially when we are studying through a book of the Bible we will come to a passage that is particularly appropriate for the given holiday season. So we don’t even have to pause in our studies in order to give that holiday its special focus. Such was the case here in our study of Isaiah. Last week was Thanksgiving weekend and our subject matter would have been Isaiah 25 if we had met. So consider today an extension of our Thanksgiving holiday weekend as well as the transition into the blessings of Christmas with the coming of the Messiah.
Short passage; relatively simple passage
TWO SONGS OF PRAISE — THE REDEEMED NEED TO EXPRESS THEIR PRAISE TO GOD FOR HIS GREATNESS AND HIS SALVATION CULMINATING IN SWALLOWING UP DEATH FOR ALL TIME
I. (:1-5) SONG OF PRAISE OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH – EXALTING GOD FOR HIS GREATNESS
Van Parunak: The song alternates between statements of praise and the reasons for praise. First Isaiah himself praises the Lord, giving as reason the Lord’s sovereign judgments. Then he states that those who were Israel’s oppressors will glorify and fear the Lord. This time the reason is the Lord’s protection of his people.
A. (:1-2) Greatness of God Seen in His Sovereign and Powerful Judgments
1. Expression of Praise – By Isaiah Himself
“O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name;”
Yahweh = covenant God of Israel
– based in a personal relationship
Make our boast in the Lord
– focused on exalting God
Lifting God up for His greatness
Support of monotheism and rejection of all forms of idolatry
– attitude of thanksgiving for Who God is and What he has done
Illustration of the 10 lepers who were healed; who comes back to actually express their thanksgiving – the others were happy as well but did not give thanks to the Lord personally
Luke 17:11-19 – it’s one thing to feel thankful; another to express it privately to God in your worship and publicly before God’s people in the fellowship of the saints
2. Explanation of Praise – The Lord’s Miraculous, Sovereign, Effective Judgments
a. (:1b) Nature of Those Judgments = Miraculous and Sovereign
“For Thou hast worked wonders,
plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”
Similar to the miracles associated with deliverance from Egypt –
Exodus 15:11 “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”
Psalm 78:12 “He wrought wonders before their fathers, In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.”
Is. 9:6 – “Wonderful Counselor” —
List of Wonders performed at Exodus:
– Aaron’s rod changed into a serpent – devoured the serpents of the Pharaoh’s wise men
-#1 – plague of water of the Nile (lifeblood of the region) turned into blood – “by this you shall know that I am the Lord”
– #2 – plague of frogs come up out of the Nile and cover the land – swarming into your house and into your bedroom
– #3 – plague of insects; dust became gnats;
– #4 – plague of swarms of flies
– #5 – plague on the livestock of the Egyptians – but sparing the livestock of Israel
– #6 – plague of boils – hitting home more painfully
– #7 – plague of thunder and hail – every man or beast left out in the field will die
– #8 – plague of locusts – devour everything in the land (you thought sicadas were bad)
– #9 – plague of darkness over the land – for three days
– #10 – plague of killing the firstborn
– miracle of the parting of the Red Sea and swallowing up Pharaoh’s army in the waters
He carries out His plans (made from long ago) with perfect faithfulness – He is reliable
Deuteronomy 32:4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”
Not just some knee jerk reaction to the surprises of the moment – but part of God’s overall eternal decree and purpose
Motyer: Perfect faithfulness has two related nouns in apposition … the use of two distinct forms is an idiom of totality and/or perfection, i.e. every imaginable faithfulness or perfect or quintessestial faithfulness.
b. (:2) Impact of Those Judgments = Effectiveness and Severity
“For Thou hast made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin;
a palace of strangers is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt.”
Young: A city is a place of organization and order, but God has changed it to a heap.
Constable: Vs. 2 — What did God do? He destroyed the city of man, the world of city-state culture (cf. 24:10), as He said He would. The city, since the time of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), was a biblical figure of self-salvation. In the Tribulation, God will humble the pride of man who seeks to save himself.
Men are so proud of their great cities – look at cities competing to host the Olympics – want to show off the greatness of their culture and their accomplishments – invest vast sums of money to get the exposure and the notoriety; God reduces the glory of man to a heap of worthless rubble
MacArthur: The prophet did not stipulate which city, but a prophecy of Babylon’s final destruction is in keeping with the context (21:9; cf. Jer 51:37; Rev 18).
B. (:3-5) Greatness of God Seen in His Protection of the Vulnerable and Domination of the Ruthless
1. (:3) Expression of Praise – By Judah’s Oppressors
“Therefore a strong people will glorify Thee;
Cities of ruthless nations will revere Thee.”
Constable: Vs. 3 — Strong people and groups of ruthless individuals will fear God and respect Him for what He has done. They will not necessarily become believers in Him, but they will acknowledge that He has done great things (cf. Rev. 9:20-21).
Young: We must not overlook the profound theological teaching that if the Gentiles are to worship God their own united power must first be destroyed. As long as the Gentile nations, represented in Isaiah’s day by the Assyrians and Babylonians, sought to control the world and to incorporate the theocracy within their own kingdom, there could be no hope for their salvation. Babylon and all that it represented must first be destroyed.
God needs to bring into submission the perceived strength of man; man must acknowledge that he is not in control (devotional from Jenny’s ladies tea yesterday at Capitol Hill Baptist); we are not in control; God is in control; we need to respond in fear of God and glorify Him
2. (:4-5) Explanation of Praise – The Lord’s Protection of His People and Domination of the Ruthless
a. Refuge for the Vulnerable From Extreme Oppression
1) Refuge for the Vulnerable – the Helpless / the Needy
“For Thou hast been a defense for the helpless,
A defense for the needy in his distress,”
This is why many of us support ministries like Compassion where we adopt a specific child who is helpless and needs support; this is why we support the orphanage in India under the ministry of Abraham Thomas – giving refuge and hope to young boys and discipling them to be soldiers of Jesus Christ; this is why our heart should respond in compassion to those who have severe physical needs and are in especially vulnerable situations
2) From Extreme Oppression: Image of Relief from Storm and Heat
“A refuge from the storm,
a shade from the heat;”
Oswalt: Isaiah uses two extremes of weather typical of the Near East to symbolize the difficulties from which God desires to defend us. They are the thunderstorm and the unremitting heat. In either the sudden intensity of the cloudburst or the steady, enervating heat, life is threatened. Unless one has a stronghold against the flood or a shade from the heat, there is no hope.
Beall: The Lord has also been their refuge from the storm, their shade in the scorching sun (for the theme of God as a refuge, see Ps 14:6; 27:1; 28:8; 31:4; 37:39; 43:2; 46:1, 7, 11; 48:3; 52:7; 57:1; 62:7-8; 71:7; 91:2, 9; 94:22; 142:4-5; Isa 4:6; 17:7; 27:5; Jer 16:19).
Ps. 37:39-40 “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.”
Is. 4:6 “There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”
b. Relentless and Ruthless Nature of the Attacks – Image of Intensity of Storm & Heat
“For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall – like heat in drought”
Beall: The reason the poor need protection is that the wicked are causing destructive storms (v 4c) and heat in an already dry place (v 5). The Lord, however, will intervene, and protect His people with a cloud which blocks the heat of the enemies; and the song of the ruthless will be silenced.
Young: A storm beating against a wall does not accomplish its purpose.
c. Resolution by the Dominant Power of the Almighty – Image of Storm & Heat
1) Subduing All Enemies
“Thou dost subdue the uproar of aliens –
Like heat by the shadow of a cloud,”
A cloud does not seem very powerful – but look at how it is able to provide relief from the heat
2) Silencing the Ruthless
“the song of the ruthless is silenced.”
Van Parunak: the branch [song] of the terrible ones shall be brought low.– Before, they sang in victory over their conquests. Now that song is ended, and they sing a new one, of submission to the Lord.
II. (:6-12) SONG OF PRAISE OF THE REDEEMED NATIONS – EXALTING GOD FOR HIS SALVATION
A. (:6) Victory Feast
“And the LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.”
Not just a Jewish salvation; blessing comes to all the nations
Beall: Vv 6-8 speak of a victory feast in which God announces His victory over all foes, even death. This feast was customary after the coronation of a new king (see 1 Sam 11:15; 1 Kings 1:9, 19, 25) or after a wedding (Judg 14:10). Here, both may be in view, as the Lord speaks of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” in Rev 19:9 to celebrate his victory over God’s enemies after Armageddon, and the marriage of God with His people. The celebrants come from all over the world to the mountain of God, i.e., Zion (see 2:2-4; 4:5; 11:9; 24:23; 65:25).
MacArthur’s note on Rev. 19:7, 9 – making a distinction between the bride = the church and all those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb – Isaiah is not making any distinctions here; speaking more in generalities – celebration of Victory for Deliverance and Salvation – entering into the blessings of the millennial kingdom
Difficult to imagine how people can claim that God demands that believers abstain from all alcohol – here God is serving up the finest wine – command is always to avoid drunkenness – assumes the possibility of over indulgence of a good thing
Some friends had their Christmas dinner for work last night at Ruth’s Chris Steak House – this will be a pretty good cut of beef that the Lord serves up in that great feast; it will be a lavish banquet – “a feast of fat things”
Oswalt: To a people who did not have to worry about cholesterol, the fat portions of the meat were the best (Ps. 36:8; 63:5). Thus it is not surprising that these were the portions of the sacrifices reserved for God (Lev. 3:3; 4:8, 9). But here God is giving the rich food to his people, as the host (Ps. 24:6).
B. (:7-8) Victory Details = Total Salvation Described
1. Salvation from Death
“And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time,”
MacArthur – remove the death shrouds
Young: swallow the face of the covering – language is evidently taken from the custom of wearing a veil in mourning or sorrow (cf. 2 Sam. 15:30; 19:5; Jer. 14:3ff). It is a veil that covers the peoples, and when this veil is removed, the cause of sorrow is also removed.
2. Salvation from Sorrow / Suffering – cf. Rev. 21:4
“And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,”
3. Salvation from Reproach / Shame
“And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;”
MacArthur: Israel will be the head of the nations and no longer the tail (Dt 28:13). [the leader rather than the one in submission]
4. Security of this Total Salvation:
“For the LORD has spoken.”
C. (:9) Victory Refrain = Deliverance was Worth the Wait
“And it will be said in that day,
‘Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the LORD for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.’”
Constable: Vs. 9 — The redeemed will rejoice that they are finally in the presence of the God, whose rule and care they had longed to be delivered to for so long (cf. Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-12). Finally, hope will have given way to sight, and Old Testament saints will rejoice because they are finally with their Savior (cf. Rom. 11:25-26; 1 Cor. 13:9-10, 12).
Oswalt: It is the kind of confident expectation that is willing to put the times in God’s hands and to believe in spite of a long interval. This kind of trust has forsaken that manipulation which seeks instant gratification, and it has demonstrated the reality of its commitment to God by refusing to make him vindicate himself according to a human timetable. When such confident expectation is satisfied, the result is, as here, jubilation, for the one who waits has proven the sovereignty of God. That jubilation springs from the certainty that God can save. What a relief and a delight that is, for without a sovereign deliverer, we are merely pawns of a cruel chance.
D. (:10-12) Victory Dominion – Over All the Nations
1. Condemnation of the City of Man — Contrast Between Blessing and Cursing – City of God vs. City of Man
“For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab will be trodden down in his place as straw is trodden down in the water of a manure pile.”
Constable: Vs. 10 — The reason for their rejoicing is that God’s hand of blessing that will rest on Zion then. In contrast, Moab, representing the godless nations antagonistic to Israel in the parallel oracle (chs. 15—16), will suffer judgment and humiliation under His foot. The mountains of Moab are visible to the east from the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.
2. Condemnation of Self Reliance
“And he will spread out his hands in the middle of it as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim,”
Constable: Vv. 11-12 — Moab would try to swim out of his predicament, as he had relied on himself and tried to save himself in the past, but the Lord will punish his clever pride. None of Moab’s defenses against divine judgment will work. The Lord will bring them all down.
3. Condemnation of Pride
“but the Lord will lay low his pride together with the trickery of his hands. And the unassailable fortifications of your walls He will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, even to the dust.”
Motyer: The same pride which held Moab back from seeking security in the divine promises in an earthly crisis (cf. 16:6) will exclude Moab from partaking of the heavenly promises. This is the ultimate tyranny of false choices.
As we move into the Christmas season, let’s take with us this attitude of thanksgiving and make every effort to give expression to our praise to God for His greatness, His mighty works – including His works of judgment – and His great salvation – which extends to the elimination of death and the wiping away of all of our tears. Hallelujah, what a Savior!