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

63:1. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

The question is rhetorical, for the one asking it is clearly the Lord Jesus Christ, and He himself answers it. Some take it to be a reference to Calvary, but that conclusion is excluded by the fact that He is speaking of a judgment which He executes, whereas at Calvary He bore the judgment due to us. The judgment here is that which He will execute against Satan and the Beast and his armies at the end of the Great Tribulation. The dyed garments are His, stained not with His own blood, but with that of His slain foes.

Edom, meaning red, was the land over which the rebel Esau ruled; and Bozrah, meaning a fold, was one of its principal cities. They typify this world as Satan’s domain.

The last sentence of the verse emphasizes Christ’s righteousness, and His power to save all who trust Him as Savior and Lord. “His righteousness” reminds us that our salvation rests on a basis of perfect righteousness. The believer’s sins are not just “swept under the rug” as it were. Christ has suffered the sentence of death which is the concomitant of sin, thus enabling God, on a basis of perfect justice, to pardon every believer.

63:2. “Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?”

This question will be asked by all who behold His return to establish His Millennial kingdom at the end of the Great Tribulation.

63:3. “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.”

It is a lop-sided gospel that presents the Lord only as described in the children’s chorus “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Thou wast once a little child.” It is a deficient gospel that emphasizes only His meekness, and omits mention of the fact that He will rule in righteous power, and banish into hell all who refuse to accept Him as Savior.

63:4. “For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”

Taylor’s translation of this verse renders additional comment unnecessary, “For the time has come for Me to avenge My people, to redeem them from the hands of their oppressors.” The reference continues to be to the inauguration of Christ’s Millennial kingdom, and His response to the question of His suffering saints as recorded in Rev 6:10, “... How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”

It is to be noted that the call for vengeance is appropriate for Jewish believers in what will be a predominantly Jewish age preceding the Millennium, but it is not suitable for believers of this present age of grace.

63:5. “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.”

The description continues to be of Christ omnipotent as the mighty Lion of Judah.

63:6. “And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.”

The portrait is of Christ, not as the Lamb of God Who has borne away the sin of the world by His death, but as the Lion of Judah ruling with a rod of iron in the Millennium. In that glorious era overt sin will bring instant death.

63:7. “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.”

This introduces a new section in which Isaiah lauds the Lord’s great love and kindness to Israel, and which ought to elicit even higher praise from us who are the recipients of infinitely greater blessings procured at incalculable cost: His sin-atoning death.

63:8. “For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior.”

God’s high expectation for Israel has not yet been realized, as is clearly demonstrated in their reply to Pilate relative to the Lord Jesus Christ, see John 19:15 “But they cried out, Away with him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” No greater lie has ever been told. Israel is His earthly people; He is their King, but it will take the terrible Tribulation judgments to open their blinded eyes, and evoke the acknowledgment that He is their King and their Savior.

Whether he be Jew or Gentile he is a wise and blessed man who confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is his Savior and his King, and who confirms the reality of his confession by an obedient life, for it is written, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Sa 15:22.

63:9. “In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.”

His empathy with them was such that what hurt them hurt Him also in the same measure, and for an example of His saving them by His angel see 2 Ki 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 and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”

That deliverance however, is insignificant compared with what He did to redeem your soul and mine. He died a terrible death at Calvary to expiate our sin, and make it possible for God the Father, on a perfectly just basis, to pardon every repentant believer, and bestow His gift of eternal life. And His leading Israel through the wilderness for forty years before bringing them into Canaan is a symbolic picture of His care for believers during this age of grace as He leads them home to heaven through the wilderness of this world.

63:10. “But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.”

God’s being described as the enemy of Israel is hyperbolic. He was never their enemy; but their rebellious conduct compelled Him to act toward them as such in order to chastise them, and bring them back to repentant obedience so that He might bless them. His chastisement of believers today has the same objective. He wants to bless us, but He cannot and will not bless disobedience.

63:11. “Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?”

Taylor has translated this verse, “Then they remembered those days of old when Moses, God’s servant, led His people out of Egypt and they cried out, “Where is the One who brought Israel through the sea, with Moses as their shepherd? Where is the God who sent His Holy Spirit to be among His people?”

The same rebellious spirit that prompted the murmuring of the generation which the Lord had delivered from Egyptian bondage, and which prolonged their wilderness wandering unnecessarily for forty years, still lurks in the hearts of even believers today. The testings by which He desires to refine our faith and bless us, are all too often viewed as harsh and unnecessary, so that our rebellion thwarts the blessing He meant us to enjoy.

63:12. “That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?”

63:13. “That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble?”

63:14. “As a beast goweth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.”

The description continues to be of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and of His dividing the waters of the Red Sea to permit them safe passage, and then closing those same waters again to drown the pursuing Egyptians, see Exodus chapter 14.

63:15. “Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? Are they restrained?”

Isaiah continues to importune God on behalf of Israel, his persistence reminding us of the need to be equally persevering in presenting our pleas, the need of that persistence being declared in the assurance that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” James 5:16.

“... the sounding of thy bowels” may also be translated “thy compassion.”

63:16. “Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.”

Even though their conduct was such as would have caused their fathers Abraham and Israel (Jacob) to disown them, and though Jehovah might chastise them, yet He would never cast them away, see Ps 103:13-14, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

He had become their father by redeeming them, and we should never forget that we have been redeemed, not “... with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ ....” 1 Pe 1:19. The inestimable worth of the that precious blood indicates how very precious we are to God. That knowledge ought to preserve us from ever questioning any of His ways with us. They are all a part of the process by which He conforms us to Christ’s image, hence the need of our obeying His command recorded in Ro 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,”

“... thy name is from everlasting” reminds us of God’s eternal existence, and ought to remind us that the new life we receive at the moment of conversion is also eternal, for it is His life with which we are now imbued.

63:17. “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.”

The ambiguity of the KJ version is removed by other translations, e.g., RHM “Wherefore shouldst thou suffer us to wander O Yahweh from thy ways? Wherefore shouldst thou let us harden our hearts past revering thee? Return thou for the sake of Thy servants, the tribes thou thyself hast inherited.”

James 1:13-15 makes it clear that God does not tempt anyone to sin, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

Neither will God compel any man to live righteously. He has given man a freewill, and He leaves with man the right to choose whether to do good or evil, see for example Josh. 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

63:18. “The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.”

The NEB translation of this verse reads, “Why have wicked men trodden down thy sanctuary, why have our enemies trampled on thy shrine?” The answer is very simple: Israel had very quickly turned away from Jehovah, and through intermarriage with the surrounding heathen, had prostrated themselves before the idols of those whom God had commanded them to exterminate, see Judges chapter 2.

The separation from the surrounding heathen nations enjoined by God is an OT type of the separation to be maintained between believer and unbeliever during this present age of grace, “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 hath 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,” 2 Cor 6:14-18.

63:19. “We are thine; thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.”

Again the KJ version is ambiguous. The NAB translation is, “Too long have we been like those you do not rule, who do not bear your name,” and Taylor has translated it, “O God, why do You treat us as though we weren’t Your people, as though we were a heathen nation that never called You ‘Lord’?”

The dismal picture is an all too accurate portrait of today’s professing, but apostate Christendom, described in Rev 3:14-22 as Laodicea, and meaning the people’s rights, a portion of Scripture that every believer ought to read carefully.


[Isaiah 64]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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