Isaiah 63

 

 

vs. 1-6 - A JUDGMENT ON IDUMAEA. Isaiah had already, in the

first portion of his prophecy, announced” a great slaughter in the land of

Idumaea” as resolved on in the counsels of God (Isaiah 34:5-10). He

now recurs to the subject, and represents Jehovah ,as a warrior with blood-

stained garments, fresh from the field of battle in Edom, where He has

trodden down His foes and taken a fierce vengeance on them. The

Idumaeans probably represent the world-power; and the “day of

vengeance seems to be still future, in which the enemies of God will feel

the weight of His hand.

 

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v. 1 – “Who is this?” He comes from Edom, from Bozrah  - a principal Edomite

city (following is the  comment on Isaiah 34:6 – “The Lord hath a

sacrifice in Bozrah” - This Bozrah, one of the principal cities of Idumaea, is

to be distinguished from “Bozrah of Moab,” which was known to the

Romans as “Bostra.” It lay in the hilly country to the south-cast of the

Dead Sea, about thirty-five miles north of Petra, and was one of the earliest

settlements of the descendants of Esau, being mentioned as a well-known

place in Genesis 36:33). The threats here uttered against it are repeated

by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:13), who says that Bozrah shall become a

desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; all the cities thereof [i.e. the

dependent cities] shall be perpetual wastes.” Bozrah is probably identified

with the modern El-Busaireh, a village of about fifty houses, occupying a

site in the position above indicated, amid ruins which seem to be those of a

considerable city (Burckhardt, ‘Syria,’ p. 407; Robinson, ‘Researches in

Palestine,’ vol. 2. pp. 570, 571) – “with dyed garments” or, rather, with

blood-red garments-garments incarnadined with gore. “Who is this,” again

he asks, “that is glorious (or, splendid) in His apparel” — the blood-stained

vesture of the conqueror was a glory to him (Nahum 2:3; Revelation 19:13) –

(“And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called

THE WORD OF GOD” -  as He travels” (or, “bends forward” ) in the

greatness of his strength” – exhibiting in His movements a mighty indomitable strength?

Who is it? The reply is immediate – I that speak inrighteousness,

mighty to save; i.e. I, whose every word is “holy, just, and true,” who alone am

able to “save to the uttermost all that come to me” (Hebrews 7:25). The answer

unmistakably indicates that the figure which has appeared to the prophet is that of

JEHOVAH!

 

vs. 3-4 -  “I have trodden the wine-press” -  The warrior replies. He

accepts the suggestion of the prophet; but metaphorically, not literally. He

has indeed been “treading a wine-press,” but it is the wine-press of his fury,

in which He has trampled down His enemies; and the stains upon His raiment

are, consequently, not wine-stains, but stains of blood (comp. Joel 3:13;

Lamentations 1:15; Revelation 14:19, 20; 19:15) - “ALONE” - . In

mine own might, with none to aid me. The literal wine-press was always

trodden by a band of men. Of the people; rather, of the peoples; i.e. of the

neighbouring nations none took part with God against the special enemies

of His people, the Idumaeans. All more or less sympathized with his

adversaries, and therefore participated in their punishment (see v. 6). For

I will tread them… trample them; rather, so I trode them trampled

them (Lowth, Rosenmuller, Delitzsch, Cheyne, by an alteration of the

vowel-points). The whole is a prophecy of the future; but the dramatic

form of the narrative requires that the verbs should be in the past. As “the

peoples” would not help God, but took the side of his enemies, they too

were placed in the winepress, and crushed under his feet – “Their blood”

 

v. 4 – “For the day of vengeance is in my heart-  Translate, for a day

of vengeance was in my heart (comp Isaiah. 34:8; 61:2). “A day” is time

enough for God to take vengeance, to kill, and to destroy. He hastens over

work that is necessary, but uncongenial. But He lengthens out the time of

release and redemption for his loved ones. The “day of vengeance” ushers

in the “year of redemption.” “Is come”; rather, was come

 

v. 5 – “And I looked and there was none to help…..therefore mine own

            arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me”

 

Out of all the many nations it was reasonable to suppose that some would have

chosen the better part and have been on the Lord’s side. But the fact was

otherwise (comp. v. 3) – “Mine own arm brought salvation unto me” - (comp.

Isaiah 59:16). Nothing more is needed. If God arises, His enemies at once

are scattered” (Psalm 68:1). “His own right hand, and His holy arm,

get Him the victory” (Psalm 98:1).

 

v. 6 - The destruction was to be utter, overwhelming, absolute — one from

which there could be no recovery (comp. Revelation 19:11-21, where

the simile of the wine-press, and the “vesture dipped in blood,” seem

introduced with a special reference to this passage).

 

vs. 7-14. — GOD PRAISED FOR HIS MERCIES. The address opens

with pure and simple thanksgiving of the most general kind, God being

praised for His loving-kindness, compassion, and sympathy with His people

(vs. 7-9). An historical survey is then commenced, and Israel’s

shortcomings contrasted with God’s mercies, but with a predominantly

thankful and even jubilant tone (vs. 10-14).

 

 

 

v. 8 - "so He was their Saviour"

 

v. 9 – “In all their affliction He was afflicted-  The “affliction” of

Israel began in Egypt (Genesis 15:13), probably not long after the

death of Joseph. It became an intense oppression, when the king “arose

who knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). God’s sympathy with Israel’s

sufferings at this time is strongly marked in the narrative of Exodus

(Exodus 2:23, 24; 3:7, 17). An alternative reading of the Hebrew text

gives the sense, “In all their affliction He was not an adversary; i.e. He did

not afflict them for their hurt, but for their benefit. But the reading

followed by our translators, and most moderns, is to be preferred. The

angel of His presence saved them” -  “The angel of his presence” occurs

nowhere but in this place. It is probably equivalent to “the angel of God”

(Exodus 14:19; Judges 6:12, Acts 27:23), or “the angel of the Lord”

(Genesis 16:7; Numbers 22:23; Judges 13:3), and designates either

the Second Person of the Trinity, or the highest of the angelic company, who

seems to be the archangel Michael. (For the angelic interpositions which “saved”

Israel, see Exodus 14:19; Judges 6:11-23; 13:3-21; 2 Kings 19:35) – “In His love

and in His pity He redeemed them-  The“redemption of this passage is

probably that from the bondage of Egypt (Exodus 6:6; 15:13; Deuteronomy 7:8),

which belonged to “the days of old”not the spiritual redemption from the

 bondage of sin, which was reserved for the time of the Messiah.  Having

redeemed them, i.e. delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and thereby,

as it were, purchased them to be His own, He bare them — “Carried them on

eagles’ wings” (Exodus 19:4), and brought them safely through the

wilderness to Palestine (comp.Deuteronomy 32:10-12).

 

v. 10 – But they rebelled. The rebellions of Israel against God

commenced in the wilderness. They rebelled at Sinai, when they set up the

golden calf; at Meribah (Numbers 20:24); at Shittim, when they

consorted with the daughters of Moab (Numbers 25:6). Under the

Judges, their conduct was one long rebellion (Judges 2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1;

6:1; 8:33; 10:6; 13:1). They rebelled in Samuel’s time by asking for a king

(1 Samuel 8:5, 19, 20). The ten tribes rebelled under Jeroboam, and set

up the idolatry of the calves at Dan and Bethel. Worse idolatries followed,

and in two centuries and a half had reached such a height, that God was

provoked to “remove Israel out of his sight” (2 Kings 17:23). Judah

remained, but “rebelled” under Manasseh, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and

Zedekiah, “transgressing very much after all the abominations of the

heathen, and polluting the very house of the Lord at Jerusalem

(2 Chronicles 36:14). These rebellions against God vexed his Holy Spirit”

provoked him,” “grieved him,” “limited the Holy One of Israel (Psalm

78:40, 41; 106:43) – “Therefore he was turned to be their enemy” (comp.

Jeremiah 30:14; Lamentations 2:4, 5). Judah had “filled up the

measure of her iniquities,” had gone on “until there was no remedy” (2

Chronicles 36:16). God’s indignation was therefore poured out upon her

without let or stint. “He cut off in His fierce anger all the horn of Israel: He

drew back His right hand from before the enemy; He burned against Jacob

like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He bent His bow like an

enemy; He stood with His right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were

pleasant in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion; He poured out His fury

like fire. The Lord was as an enemy” (Lamentations 2:3-5). He fought

against them; rather, He Himself fought against them. God Himself, though

they were “His people,” yet fought against them and for the Chaldeans in

that final struggle. He “gave the city into the hand of the King of Babylon

(Jeremiah 34:2).

 

They "vexed His Holy Spirit!"

 

 

v. 11 - "where is He that put His Holy Spirit within Him?"

 

The “him” of this passage undoubtedly refers to “the people”. God gave to the

people in the wilderness “His good Spirit to instruct them” (Nehemiah 9:20),

and guide them (Haggai 2:4, 5), and govern them (Numbers 11:17).

 

v. 12 – “To make himself an everlasting name” - (see Exodus 15:11-16). It

            was one of the main purposes of the entire series of miracles wrought in

            Egypt, that God’s Name might be declared throughout all the earth”      

            (Exodus 9:16).

 

vs. 15-19 - A PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE FROM SIN AND

SUFFERING. From thanksgiving and confession, the people betake

themselves to prayer, and beseech God to look down from heaven once

more, to have compassion on them, to acknowledge them, and to save

them alike from themselves (v. 17) and from their adversaries (vs. 18,

19). “It is difficult to overrate the spiritual beauty of the prayer contained

in this passage. We may admit that the most prominent motive urged by the

speaker has a nationalistic air; but behind this, and strengthening it, is a

sense of the infiniteness of the Divine mercy, and of the strong vitality of

the union between Jehovah and his people” (Cheyne).

 

 

 

v. 16  - "Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our

            Redeemer;  thy name is from everlasting"

 

This is the ground of their appeal to God. As their Father, He must

love them, and must be ready to listen to them. Abraham and Isaac, their

earthly fathers, were of no help as all our forefather are:  (Suffice it

that they did for us when they were alive by “teaching us the way of

the Lord and by living the example” – CY 2009)

 

 

v. 17  - “When men have scornfully and obstinately rejected the grace

            of God, God withdraws it from them judicially, gives them up to

            their wanderings, and makes their hearts incapable of faith.   If the

            process has not gone very far, God may relent, and “return,” and

            soften the proud heart, and renew in it “his fear.” This is what Israel

            now entreats him to do.   Remember that The fear of the Lord is the

            beginning of knowledge” – Proverbs 1:7

 

Compare how God works  - "For this cause...." Romans 1:24,26,28

 

v. 19 – “We are thine-  There is no “thine” in the original, and so

important a word cannot possibly be supplied from without. Translate, We

are as those over whom thou hast not ruled from of old, as those upon

whom thy Name has not been called; i.e. we have lost all our privileges —

we have become in God’s sight no better than the heathen — He has

forgotten that we were ever His people.

 

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

 

vs. 1-6 - Pride was the sin by which Satan and his evil angels lost heaven;

and no sin is more hateful to God or more characteristic of His enemies.

Of the Idumaeans it is said, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,

thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rocks… that saith in his heart,

Who shall bring me down to the ground?” (Obadiah 1:3); and again,

“Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thy heart”

(Jeremiah 49:16). “Pride was the root of Edom’s

sin,” says a recent commentator on Obadiah — pride of an unnatural kind,

since God had assigned to Edom a low estate. Now “a low estate,

acquiesced in by the grace of God, is the parent of lowliness; when

rebelled against, it generates a greater intensity of pride than greatness,

because that pride is against nature itself and God’s appointment. The pride

of human greatness, sinful as it is, is allied to a natural nobility of character

… The conceit of littleness has the hideousness of those monstrous

combinations, the more hideous because unnatural, not a corruption only,

but a distortion of nature” (Pusey, ‘Minor Prophets,’ pp. 234, 235).

 

Edom shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in

the time of their calamity” (Ezekiel 35:5). When the Babylonians were

besieging Jerusalem, they stood in the crossway, to cut off those that did

escape (Obadiah 1:14), shutting them up with the enemy, driving them back on

their pursuers. Not only did they rejoice in Judah’s destruction, and speak

proudly in the day of her distress (Obadiah 1:12), but they flew upon

the spoil, entering into the gates with the conquerors and laying hands

upon the substance of the conquered (Obadiah 1:13). Such fugitives as

escaped and settled among them they slew (Joel 3:19). Such captives as

they could induce the Philistines or the Phoenicians to sell to them they

also put to death (Amos 1:6, 9, 11). It was their earnest desire that Israel

should be no more a nation, and they therefore made every effort to

exterminate it. Next to extermination, they desired complete subjugation.

Hence the support which they lent to the Syrians against the heroic

Maccabee princes. Idumaea’s fate should be a warning to the enemies of

God.  Her reward returned upon her own head. As she had done, so was it

done to her (Obadiah 1:15). By the time of Malachi, Edom’s mountains and

heritage had been “laid waste for the jackals of the wilderness”

(Malachi 1:3). She was “impoverished;” her cities were thrown down;

she strove to rebuild them, but was unable – called “The border of

wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation

for ever” (Malachi 1:4). A century later her territory, or great part of it,

was occupied by the Nabathaeans, who made Petra their capital

(Diod. Sic., 19:94-98). After suffering various defeats at the hands of

the earlier Maccabee princes, the Edomites were finally conquered,

and incorporated into the Jewish nation by John Hyrcanus. The last

that we hear of them is in the Roman war, when a body of twenty

thousand, admitted into Jerusalem by John of Giscala, filled the

city with bloodshed, and ending by pillaging it. Thenceforth they disappear

from history. The greater part perished in the terrible siege conducted by

Titus. The remainder, confounded with the Jews, were sold into slavery.

Idumaea became “a geographical expression.”

 

THIS SHOULD BE AN ADEQUATE WARNING FOR THOSE WHO

OPPOSE ISRAEL TODAY! – CY – 2009)

 

 

vs. 15-19 - The right of God’s people to address him with complaint and

expostulation.

 

No doubt the ordinary attitude of God’s people towards their Maker and

Ruler should be one of the most profound resignation and submission to

His will. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Yet on occasions it is allowed them to “speak with him as a man speaketh

with his friend” (Exodus 33:11), to plead, expostulate, complain; even,

in a certain sense, to reproach. Job pleaded with God at great length, and

God was not angered, but “accepted” him (Job 42:9), and testified in

his favour that he had “spoken right “(Job 42:8). In the Psalms David

pleads, complains, expostulates. “Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? Why

hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). “How long wilt

thou forget me, O Lord? For ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from

me? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1, 2).

“Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions

… Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me… For

they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters … This thou hast

seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me. Stir up thyself,

and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord’

(Psalm 35:17-23). “Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps

declined from thy way; though thou hast sore broken us in the place of

dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten

the name of God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; shall not

God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Yea, for thy

sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the

slaughter. Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for

ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our

oppression?… Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake”

(Psalm 44:18-26). Such expostulations as these do not anger God, but,

on the contrary, are pleasing and acceptable. They show earnestness,

confidence, faith, a trust in His goodness, a conviction that He will surely

show Himself on the side of truth and righteousness.

 

 

God best knows what is best for us, and will assuredly do what is best for us.

We are safe in His hands. In His own good time He will give us all that we

need. Let us not be impatient, or imagine ourselves wiser than He. If He

delays to give us that which we desire, we may be sure that there is a

reason for the delay. In quietness and confidence should be our strength.

(Isaiah 30:15)