Isaiah 52

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 2007 James Melough

52:1.  “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.”


This continues the account of Israel’s supremacy and honor in the Millennium, her power being declared in the words “put on thy strength,” and her honor and glory being portrayed in “thy beautiful garments.”  The absence of “the uncircumcised and the unclean” point to her coming moral purity as a converted nation.


This is also an oblique reminder to believers that we too are beautifully attired as declared in Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness ....” for that same description fits also every believer; and 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 warns of the need to preserve that purity by keeping ourselves separate from the things of this evil world, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”


The “uncircumcised and the unclean” represent the unconverted.


52:2.  “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from thy bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.”


The command to Jerusalem to shake off the dust is related to the custom of putting dust on one’s head as a sign of mourning.


“... arise, and sit down” is also translated “arise, sit on thy throne,” assuring us again that Israel’s destiny is to rule the Millennial nations; and reminding believers of this present dispensation that we are destined to reign eternally with Christ, as it is written, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him ...” 2 Timothy 2:12.


52:3.  “For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.”


The NT counterpart of this is Romans 7:14, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin,” Conybeare’s translation of this verse being, “But for me, I am carnal, a slave sold into the captivity of sin,” and relative to our being “redeemed without money,” we are assured that we have “not been redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot ....” 1 Peter 1:18-19.


52:4.  “For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.”


Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “My people were tyrannized without cause by Egypt and Assyria, and I delivered them ....”

God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt on the night of the Passover needs no comment, nor does His further deliverance of them out of the hand of the Assyrians as recorded in 2 Kings 19:35, “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”  See 2 Peter 2:9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations (adversity) ....”


52:5.  “Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.”


The KJ version “make them to howl” is ambiguous, other translations making it clear that it is Israel’s captors who howl with laughter.


“... blasphemed” in the present context means despised, reviled.


52:6.  “Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.”


The fulfillment of the events foretold here will be the incontrovertible proof that it is God Who speaks.  Only He can foretell the future, the exact fulfillment of the larger part of Biblical prophecy leaving no doubt as to the realization of the small part yet remaining.  As has been noted already, the handbook of no other religion has dared to prophecy.


52:7.  “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”       


This verse needs no comment, except perhaps to note what is written in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”


52:8.  “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.”


This anticipates the long expected return of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish the Millennial kingdom, but the expectation of believers of this present age of grace is more immediate: we look for His coming to rapture us to heaven as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.  In a moment in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed,” and 1 Cor 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known,” and again,“ Hebrews 9:27-28, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”                           


52:9.  “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”


Jerusalem has been laid waste in the past, but the fulfillment of this particular prophecy is now near.  The imminent rapture of the Church will be followed by the seven-year Tribulation era, during the latter half of which Jerusalem and much of the world will be devastated by war, famine, disease, and death; but the Lord’s return will end that terrible time, and bring the inauguration of His long-awaited Millennial kingdom.


52:10.  “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”


Fulfillment of this will follow the Great Tribulation when Christ will cast the Beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, see Revelation 19:20, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that had wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image.  These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”  At that same time  Satan will be imprisoned for a thousand years in the bottomless pit, see Revelation 20:1-3, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.  Following that “little season” Satan will be cast into the lake of fire for ever, see Revelation 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was 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.”


52:11.  “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing, go ye out of the mist of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.”


This Divine injunction is age-abiding, applying to us as much as to those addressed by the prophet, see 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God had said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”


This prohibition embraces every area of life: marital, social, and business.  The believer is not to link himself in any way with an unbeliever.


Those who bore the vessels of the Lord were the priests, and we should remember that faith in Christ has made us a “a royal priesthood,” as it is written, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9.


52:12.  “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.”


The NEB translates this, “But you shall not come out in urgent haste / nor leave like fugitives.”  This describes not just the passage of redeemed Israel from the Tribulation into the Millennium, but the transition of all believers.  It will be a joyous occasion for all of them.


52:13. “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.”


The description is of Christ ruling in glory, as King of kings and Lord of Lords over the millennial earth, 1 Timothy 6:15-16, “... who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”


Having plumbed the depths of ignominy at Calvary the Lord Jesus Christ has been exalted to the acme of glory at His Father’s right hand in heaven, Acts 5:31, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”


52:14.  “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:”


The Jerusalem Bible renders this, “As the crowds were appalled on seeing him - so disfigured did he look - that he seemed no longer human.”  The brutality which the Lord suffered on that awful night preceding His crucifixion is an appalling demonstration of the animosity of the natural heart against God, an enmity which man seeks to cloak under the guise of a Christless religion.  Consider for example what Christians suffered at the hand of religious Rome during the years of the iniquitous Inquisition.


52:15.  “So shall he sprinkle [purify] many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.”


“... kings shall shut their mouths at Him” is also rendered “stand speechless before Him ... in silent awe,” a variant translation of the latter part of the verse being, “... having never been told what they now see and never understood what they now hear,” The New Berkley Version in Modern English

[Lord willing, next week, Isaiah 53]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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