Isaiah 27

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

27:1.  “In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing (twisting) serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent: and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”


Leviathan is Satan, who is also called “the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan,” Revelation 20:2.  His destruction mentioned here will come at the conclusion of the Millennium, during which time he will be shut up in the bottomless pit, see Revelation 20:2-3, but then released for a brief period, to be finally “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever,” Revelation 20:7-10.


The sea is one of the Biblical symbols of earth’s unconverted masses, see, e.g., Isaiah 57:20-21, “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked,” so its being said that leviathan “is in the sea” is simply another way of saying that Satan’s evil activity is in the great sea of humanity.


27:2.  “In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.”


“... that day” is the Millennium, in which the nations will sing praises in honor of converted Israel, describing her as “a vineyard of red wine,” i.e., a people who will bring delight to God’s heart; for as “wine maketh glad the heart of man,” Psalm 104:15, so will converted Israel gladden God’s heart in that day.


27:3.  “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.”


This declares God’s unceasing loving care for Israel whose disobedience has all too often provoked his chastisement, but it is to be remembered that His chastening is that of a loving Father, as declared in Job 5:17, “Happy is the man whom God correcteth,” and again, “For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth,” Proverbs 3:12.  See also Hebrews 12:6-8, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”  See also Hebrews 12:11, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them, which are exercised thereby.”


God’s love for the Church is no less than it is for Israel, the assurance of that love being declared in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it ....”


God’s watering it “every moment” is accomplished through the written Word, as it is written, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:26.  We however, are responsible to submit to that cleansing by reading and obeying the Word every day, as it is written, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 3:18.


We do well to note the reason for the continuous watering: “lest any hurt it.”  When we neglect to read and obey the written Word we render ourselves vulnerable, for neglect of that reading and obedience makes us easy prey for Satan, of whom we are warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” 1 Peter 5:8.


27:4.  “Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle?  I would go through them, I would burn them together.”


Taylor has rendered this verse, “My anger against Israel is gone.  If I find thorns and briers bothering her, I will burn them up.”


That day of Israel’s blessedness will not be until the Tribulation judgments have brought her to penitent obedience.  In the ensuing Millennium God will pour out His blessing upon her, elevating her to the pinnacle of glory and supremacy over the nations.  “Briers and thorns” are used here figuratively to describe any harm others might seek to inflict upon her, God’s warning to her enemies being that any such injury will be visited with His instant fiery destruction.  God’s love for Israel is nowhere more clearly declared than in Zechariah 2:8, “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple (pupil) of his eye.”


27:5.  “Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.”


The Jerusalem Bible translates this, “... if they would shelter under my protection, let them make peace with me.”


Since God is omnipotent He cannot be successfully opposed, hence the imperative of being reconciled to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, as Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God,” 2 Corinthians 5:20.


The dreadful alternative to being reconciled to God is to die in unbelief, and suffer eternal torment in the lake of fire.


27:6.  “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”


Taylor’s translates this verse, “The time will come when Israel will take root and bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with her fruit.”


Since Jacob refers to the nation as an earthly people; and Israel as a spiritual, the double name here points to the fact that while the Millennium will begin with her as a believing people, the children of  those believers will be like all others born into this world: they will be unbelievers requiring a spiritual birth to fit them for heaven when the Millennium ends, so that as the Millennium progresses the world population will consist of a mixed multitude of believers and unbelievers, those unbelievers being allowed to live only as long as their rebellion remains covert.  The moment it becomes overt they will die.  The eternal duration of believing Israel is declared in the assurance that she “will take root and bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with her fruit,” that same assurance being given also to the believing Gentiles.


27:7.  “Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? Or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?”


This question is purely hypothetical.  God has not smitten disobedient Israel as hard as He has those who have smitten her.  While He has utterly destroyed some of those who sought her destruction, His smiting of her has been the loving parental chastisement designed to secure the obedience that ensures blessing.


27:8.  “In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it; he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.”


The ambiguity of this KJ translation is clarified by other renderings, e.g., “He has expelled them into exile, taking issue with them, sweeping them off with a blast that blows hard from himself,” Moffatt.  “You have punished it with expulsion and exile; he pursued it with a blast as fierce as the wind from the east,” Jerusalem;He hath removed them with his rough blast in the day of the east wind,” ASV.


The east, incidentally, always has an evil connotation, there being not a single good reference to it in the whole Bible.  It is always associated with sin and departure from God, note e.g., Genesis 3:24 relative to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden.


27:9.  “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”


By His chastisement God seeks to bring men to repentance and blessing, Jacob/Israel here being the outstanding example.  By destroying the altars, groves and images associated with their idolatry He sought to remind them that He, the omnipotent Jehovah, was alone to be worshiped.  Nor is it different today: the gods worshiped by our modern world being money, education, pleasure, political power, art, music, sport, etc.  But all of these things will be left here on earth when death transports the deluded devotees into the eternal torment of hell and the lake of fire.  Only then, and too late for repentance, will the worshipers discover that their gods and shrines were as worthless as Israel’s chalkstone altars, groves, and images.


27:10.  “Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.”


That desolation occurred when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.


While the description may be of Israel suffering Divine chastisement in the past, the ultimate application seems to be to the desolation, not just of Israel, but of the whole world following the now imminent Great Tribulation judgments.  Many of earth’s great cities will become abandoned overgrown ruins, with animals as the only inhabitants.


27:11.  “When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favor.”


Another translation of this reads, “They are a foolish nation, a witless, stupid people, for they turn away from God.  Therefore, He who made them will not have pity on them or show them His mercy,” Taylor.


The description is of rebel Israel, who in spite of countless manifestations of God’s love and kindness, had turned her back on Him to join their heathen neighbors in the worship of idols; and only the willfully blind will refuse to see that the Gentiles, to whom God has similarly revealed Himself during this present dispensation of grace, have been guilty of the same willful rebellion.  Except for the small minority of true believers, the so-called Christian world has been equally assiduous in its efforts to banish the true knowledge of Christ from the earth, its so-called worship being a mere religious ritual which glorifies man rather than God.


The gathering and burning of the literal dead branches speaks symbolically of the ultimate end of all unbelievers.  They will be cast into the eternal torment of the terrible lake of fire.


Romans 11 should be studied carefully relative to this breaking off of the Jewish “branches.”  A day is coming in which they will be grafted in again.


27:12. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.”


Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “Yet the time will come when the Lord will gather them together one by one like handpicked grain, selecting them here and there from His great threshing floor that reaches all the way from the Euphrates River to the Egyptian boundary.”  The area mentioned was virtually the known world of that day; and the gathering of the seed, grain by grain, speaks of God’s gathering those individuals who through faith belong to Him.  (“the stream of Egypt,” incidentally is not the Nile, but the much smaller stream called The River of Egypt, and which is the southern boundary of Israel).  The gathering of them “one by one” may be a picture of God’s calling home to heaven by way of death, the believers of this present age of grace; and everything points to the imminence of that day when the last believer will be called home just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation.


27:13.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount of Jerusalem.”


“that day” is further described in Matthew 24:27-31, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be .... Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”


“... that day” will be the Millennium, during which Jerusalem will be the center of the world’s worship and government, Israel being the chief amongst the nations.

[Isaiah 28]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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