Selected Prophecies from the Book of Isaiah, Part 9
by Karl Kemp
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We continue the verse-by-verse study of Isaiah 45:14-25 here in Part 9, starting with verse 24.
(24) They will say of Me, "Only in the LORD [Yahweh] are righteousness and strength." [[The Hebrew would be more literally translated, "HE [my emphasis] will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD [Yahweh] are righteousness and strength.' " Or probably better yet, "HE will say, Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength FOR ME [my emphasis].' " ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: The Amplified Bible has, "Only in the Lord shall one say, I have righteousness...and strength...." The singular forms ("He will say" and "for me"; also the following verb "He will come") apparently build on the singular verbs at the end of 45:23 ("will bow" and "will swear allegiance").
I'll quote a sentence from what A. R. Fausset said under this verse ("Commentary on the Old and New Testaments" by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Vol. 2 [Eerdmans, 1984 reprint], page 709), "Literally, 'Surely,' or 'Only in the Lord (there are) to me (shall [one] say) righteousness (i.e., all righteousness, imputed, as also imparted, so as to be inherent) and strength' (for enabling me to obey God).")) The humbled remnant of the nations will then know that righteousness, strength, truth, salvation, and everything else that is good come from God, that these things can be found only in Him.
Here in Isa. 45:24 we are told that the remnant of the nations will have learned that "righteousness" can be found only in Yahweh. In the next verse we are told that the offspring of Israel (which, as we have discussed, includes the remnant of the nations) will be "righteous" with the "righteousness" of God (see under the next verse).]] Men will come to Him [[Again, in agreement with the more literal translation of the Hebrew suggested for the first words of this verse, the more literal translation here would be, "HE [my emphasis] will come to Him." ((I had a footnote: I'll quote the translation of Edward J. Young ("Book of Isaiah," Vol. 3 [Eerdmans, 1972], page 215) for the first half of Isa. 45:24, "Only in the Lord have I, he says, righteousness and strength; unto him shall he come....")) Anyway, whether we translate the Hebrew as "Men will come" or "He will come," the context shows that it is the remnant of the nations that are coming to God.]], And [or, But] all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. [[I assume that these words speak of people who never do repent who will be removed in God's end-time judgment of the world (cf. Isa. 41:11); they won't be left as part of the remnant of the nations (or as part of true Israel). These same people were spoken of in Isa. 45:16, which starts out with the same Hebrew verb, "They will be put to shame." ((I had a footnote: Some think that the words "And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame" speak of the same people mentioned in the preceding line (people who come to God). Some with that viewpoint think that these people will repent and be saved; others with that viewpoint think that none of them will repent and be saved. The use of the same Hebrew verb in 45:16, where the rest of the verse strongly suggests that they won't repent and be saved, is strong evidence that these people mentioned here in the last line of Isa. 45:24 won't repent and be saved. The fact that the Hebrew verb switches back to the plural here (with the verb "will be put to shame") from the singular ("He will come") fits the idea that this last line of 45:24 is speaking of different people."))]] (25) In the LORD [Yahweh] all the offspring of Israel Will be justified [Will be righteous] and will glory.' " [[We discussed the identity of the "offspring of Jacob/Israel" under Isa. 45:19. The "offspring of Israel" includes all the members of God's true Israel (those that will be reigning with Him forever). It also includes the elect of the nations. To "be justified" through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is a big part of what salvation is all about. Isaiah 53:11 (in a passage that speaks of the atoning death of the Lamb of God) says, "...the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify [or, "will make righteous"] the many, as He will bear their iniquities [with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)]." (I had a footnote: Significantly, Isa. 53:10 mentions the "offspring" of the Lamb of God, which speaks of all those that are saved through His atoning death (true Israel and the elect of the nations).) As I discussed in some detail in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ," I believe a translation like "will make righteous" would be better than "will justify" in Isa. 53:11. ((I had a footnote: See pages 26-29 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" for a start. For further study on this very important topic see the chapter titled "A Study on the Meaning of Justify/Justification as These Words Are Used in the New Testament" in that book. F. Delitzsch ("Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 7, page 231) translated "shall become righteous" here in Isa. 45:25.)) To be made righteous includes being forgiven and being made righteous and holy new creations by the powerful blood of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with God's Word, by grace through faith. Hebrews 11:13-16, 39, 40; 12:23 confirm that the believers from Old Testament days (who are all part of true Israel) are saved through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. (I had a footnote: Hebrews 11:39, 40; 12:23 are discussed on pages 166, 167 (with pages 158, 159) of "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.")
Significantly, those who are made righteous through Christ, which includes the end-time remnant of the nations (excluding any who don't submit to Christ in faith), are made righteous by partaking of the righteousness of God, which was just mentioned in Isa. 45:24. Those who are "in the LORD [Yahweh]" are made righteous with His righteousness. All the people who will have a place in God's new earth will have been made righteous through Jesus Christ and His atoning death. Revelation 21:27 (with Rev. 21:24-22:3) confirms that the elect of the nations are saved through the Lamb of God as much as true Israel is. The sin problem will have been solved for them by Christ Jesus - there's no room for sin in God's eternal kingdom. ((I had a footnote: The potential for sin will still exist for the (unglorified) remnant of the nations during the millennial kingdom (cf. Dan. 7:12; Zech. 14:16-19; and Rev. 20:7-10), but there won't be any room for sin in the eternal state that follows the millennial kingdom.)) This doesn't mean that God's salvation plans for the elect of the nations is the full equivalent of His plans for true Israel. Clearly they aren't: True Israel will reign.
Let's briefly discuss the words "and will glory." The NIV translates "and will exult." The Hebrew verb used here (the hithpael stem of "halal") fits the idea of boasting
in God with rejoicing and thankfulness (cf., e.g., Isa. 41:16). J. Alec Motyer speaks here of "the righteous respond[ing] with exultant praise" ("Isaiah" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1999], page 293).
ISAIAH CHAPTER 49.
"Listen to me, O islands [or, coastlands (see under Isa. 42:4 in this paper)], And pay attention, you peoples [plural of "leom"] from afar. [God the Son, the Messiah, is speaking here. What He says applies to mankind worldwide.] The LORD [Yahweh] called Me from the womb [cf. Jer. 1:5; Gal. 1:15]; From the body of My mother He named Me. [[The Lord Jesus (the name "Jesus" means "Yah saves"; there is widespread agreement that "Yah" is an abbreviated form of "Yahweh") fulfills these prophetic words (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:31; and 2:21). Also see Isa. 7:14; 8:8, 10; and Matt. 1:23. We have already learned of the deity of Messiah in the book of Isaiah (see under Isa. 9:6 in this paper) and of His humanity (e.g., Isa. 7:14; 9:6; and 11:1-3). Isaiah chapter 49 confirms His humanity, but it also makes it very clear that He is much more than just a man.]] (2) He has made My mouth like a sharp sword [See under Isa. 11:4 in this paper.], In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me [[Even today, some two thousand years after the birth, earthly ministry, atoning death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishing of the Christian church, most people (including many who consider themselves to be Christians) don't begin to see the awesome significance of this Person and of His all-important work of saving and judging, not to mention His work of bringing forth God's new heaven and new earth at the proper time. Before long His time of partial concealment will be over. Every knee will bow before Him, one way or another (e.g., Phil 2:9-11), not that all will worship Him.]]; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver. [[The words "select arrow," as with the words "He made My mouth like a sharp sword," demonstrate His awesome power to destroy and remove those who persist in rebellion. The last words here, "He [God the Father] has hidden Me in His quiver" are parallel in meaning with "He has concealed Me."]] (3) He said to Me, 'You are My Servant [On "Servant," see under Isa. 42:1 in this paper; cf. Zech. 3:8.], Israel ((I had a footnote: "Israel" is an important name; I'll briefly comment on its meaning. The use of this name here in Isa. 49:3 for the Messiah makes the name a lot more important. Genesis 32:28 (with 32:24-32) explains how Jacob was given the name "Israel": "He said, 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven [or, persevered] with God [Hebrew "elohim"] and with men and have prevailed.' " The Hebrew word "Israel" ["Yisrael"] is a combination of two words. The first word was formed from the Hebrew verb ("sarah"), the verb that was translated "you have striven [with]" in Gen. 32:28; "el" is a word for God. The meaning then is something like "he strives with God." (Some take it to mean "God strives.") Based on the meaning of the Hebrew verb sarah given in the BDB Hebrew Lexicon, we could understand Israel [Yisrael] to mean "he perseveres with God," which sounds better to me.)) [[It's quite significant that the Servant of God, the Messiah, is called "Israel." He is the heart, the foundation, and the Savior of God's true Israel. Furthermore, He is the only one who can do what Israel was called to do, that is, to bring light and salvation to the nations (ultimately including bring forth the new heaven and new earth, with its new Jerusalem). In that God's Servant is to be the Savior of Israel/Jacob (Isa. 49:5-7), it is clear that the word "Servant" here doesn't refer to the nation of Israel.]], In whom I will show My glory.' [God manifests His glory through Messiah as Savior and as Judge.] (4) But I said [Christ is still speaking.], 'I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD [Yahweh], And My reward [or, "wages" earned for His faithful work] with My God.' [[Although it looked, in some ways, like Christ's mission was a failure when He was rejected, even "abhorred," by the nation Israel (Isa. 49:7) and put to death (e.g., Isa. 52:13-53:12), this was part of God's salvation plan. When Christ submitted to the cross (and all that came with it), He knew that He was doing the Father's will, and He knew that payday was coming (cf. Heb. 12:2). He knew that He was overthrowing sin, spiritual death, and the devil through His atoning death and that He was earning the right to save the elect, and He knew that He would be resurrected on the third day (cf., e.g., Matt. 26:28; John 2:19-22; 10:11-18; 12:31-33). This doesn't mean, however, that His mission was easy for Him, far from it (cf., e.g., Matt. 27:46; Luke 22:42, 44); He (and God the Father) paid a very great price, an infinite price, to save us. This is a spectacular prophetic passage!]] (5) And now says the LORD [Yahweh], who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him [[Compare Isa. 11:11-16; 27:12, 13. The NIV translation is better, "to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself." The names Jacob and Israel are used interchangeably here (and in the next verse), as they often are.]] (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD [Yahweh], And My God is My strength [For one thing, He was anointed by God (e.g., Isa. 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; and Acts 10:38).]), (6) He [God the Father] says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel [[These words are essentially the equivalent of what was just said in verse 5, except that here we have the important added words, "the preserved ones of Israel." The NIV has "...to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept." "The preserved ones of Israel/those of Israel [that God has] kept" speaks of the often-mentioned elect remnant of the nation Israel that God will leave after His end-time judgment of the world.
((I had an endnote: God's end-time judgment of the world and the remnant of mankind (the remnant of Israel and the remnant of the nations) left after this judgment play a prominent role in almost every passage we are studying in this paper. (And there are many other similar passages that we are not discussing in this paper.) Here in Isaiah chapter 49 there are strong allusions to God's end-time time judgment of the world in verse 2 (with Christ's "mouth" being made like a "sharp sword" and His being made a "select arrow"); in verse 3 (God's "glory" will be manifested in His end-time judgment of the world); in verses 22, 23 (the remnant of the nations will be submissive to God, as they are pictured in these verses, after His end-time judgment of the world); and in verses 24-26 (these verses speak of God's end-time judgment of the nations). Although verses 22-26 speak only of God's end-time judgment of the nations (excluding Israel), other passages in Isaiah make it clear that Israel will also be judged (and reduced to a repentant remnant) in God's end-time judgment of the world (see, for example, Isaiah chapters 2; 24; Zech 13:8; 14:1, 2; and Rom. 9:27-29).))
On this end-time remnant of Israel/Judah, see (in this paper) under Isa. 11:11, 12; 27:12, 13 (including the sections titled "Isaiah 10:20-23 and Romans 9:27-29" and "Isaiah 59:19-21 and Romans 11:25-27" toward the end of the chapter on Isaiah chapter 27 [Isaiah chapters 24-27 are not included in this paper; see the paper on my internet site]). This remnant will submit to Christ in faith, starting about the time of His mid-week return, but not in time to be taken in the rapture.]]; I will also make You a light of [or, to/for] the nations [[Hebrew "goyim." "The nations" here (in this context) don't include Israel. The NIV has "for the Gentiles." Compare Isa. 42:6 (which is discussed in this paper); Isa. 51:4; Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47; and 26:23.]] So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth [cf. Isa. 42:4, 10].' [In addition to bringing salvation to the end-time remnant of Israel, Christ will also bring light and salvation to the remnant of the nations left after His end-time judgment of the world. This theme permeates almost every passage we are studying in this paper, but Isaiah chapter 42 probably has the most in common with chapter 49. Also, there is a very important partial fulfillment of these prophetic words when Jews and Gentiles are saved and become part of God's true Israel throughout this present age (cf., e.g., Acts 13:47; 26:23).]] (7) Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], the Redeemer of Israel [cf. Isa. 48:17] and its Holy One, To the despised One [cf. Psalms 22:6-8; 69:7-9; and Isa. 53:2, 3], To the One abhorred by the nation [[The Lord Jesus Christ was "despised" and "abhorred" by the nation Israel at His first coming. Most of the leaders rejected Him, as did most of the people of Israel, and throughout this age the rejection has continued. It is also true that much of the Gentile world has rejected Christ. It will be different after His end-time judgment: The end-time remnants of Israel and of the nations will submit to Him. It is also true, of course, that some Jews and Gentiles have submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ throughout this present age.]], To the Servant of rulers [The following words prophesy regarding the GREAT REVERSAL that follows the rejection of Christ spoken of earlier in this verse (and inferred in 49:4).], 'Kings will see and arise [cf. Isa. 52:15], Princes will also bow down, Because of the LORD [Yahweh] who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.' [[The remnant worldwide (the remnant of Israel and the remnant of the nations), including the kings and princes, will worship the Lord Jesus Christ (the one formerly despised and abhorred) after His end-time judgment of the world (e.g., Isa. 66:23). This worship will take place in a much fuller sense in the eternal state (following the millennial kingdom) when all the elect will have been glorified. Also, there is a very important partial fulfillment of these prophetic words during this present age when Christians, including some kings, princes, presidents, and prime ministers, submit to and worship the Lord Jesus Christ.]] (8) Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], 'In a favorable time ["In the time of my favor" NIV] I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You [[It is probably better to translate the verbs here with the English future tense with the NIV, "I will answer [You]" ((I had a footnote: John N. Oswalt ("Book of Isaiah," Chapters 40-66 [Eerdmans, 1998], page 295), for example, comments, "This verb and the next one are in the perfect tense [in the Hebrew], but are taken as 'prophetic perfects,' ["I will answer"] as indicated by the imperfect form of the remaining verbs in the sentence [in the Hebrew].")) and "I will help [You]." The primary fulfillment of these prophetic words will take place when the Lord Jesus Christ ("You" refers to Him here) comes to judge the world at the end of this age, which will lead to "salvation" for the remnant of Israel and the remnant of the nations (cf., e.g., Isa. 49:6; 59:16-21; and 63:1-6). The emphasis of this verse and on to the end of this chapter is on the salvation of the humbled, repentant Israelites, but it is clear that light and salvation also come to the humbled, repentant remnant of the nations (e.g., Isa. 49:6). The following verses, in agreement with many other verses, emphasize the subordinate status (but gloriously saved status) of the remnant of the nations with respect to Israel.
Second Corinthians 6:2 confirms that there is a very important partial fulfillment of these prophetic words for true Israel (Christians) in the present age. These words of 2 Cor. 6:2 about "the time of God's favor" and the "day of salvation" fit the idea of God's greater Jubilee (time of release) through Christ Jesus (cf. Isa. 61:1-3 with Luke 4:16-21). Although it is clear that the day of salvation is here now (in a preliminary stage), I believe it is also clear that the primary fulfillment of these prophetic words will not take place until Christ judges the world at the end of this age and saves the remnant of the nation Israel and the remnant of the nations.]]; And I [God the Father] will keep You [the Lord Jesus Christ] and give You for a covenant of [to/for] the people [[The Hebrew here is exactly the same as the Hebrew of Isa. 42:6, where the NASB translated, "and watch over you [You], And I will appoint [give] you [You] as a covenant to the people." As with Isa. 42:6 (which is discussed with all of chapter 42 in this paper), I assume that these prophetic words will receive their primary fulfillment when "the people" (speaking of the remnant of Israel left after God's end-time judgment of Israel) are saved by and through the Lord Jesus Christ. ((I had a footnote: Note the plurals "the peoples," which refer to the peoples of the nations (excluding Israel), in Isa. 49:1, 22. The singular "people" is often used in the Bible to refer to (true) Israel (God's chosen people/nation); "peoples" and "nations" (in the plural) are often used to refer to the peoples/nations excluding Israel.
There is a very important partial fulfillment of these prophetic words when Jews and Gentiles throughout this present age submit to the new "covenant" established on the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ and become Christians, part of God's true Israel. Those believers will be glorified, along with all the believers from Old Testament days, when Christ returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.]], To restore [establish] the land, to make them inherit the desolate [cf. Isa. 49:19] heritages [[These words speak of the elect worldwide remnant of Israel inheriting the desolate land of Israel after God's day of judgment; Israel, then the earth, will be restored/established through the work of Christ (e.g., Isa. 11:1-9). The "desolation" came as a result of God's judgments against sin.]]; (9) Saying to those who are bound, "Go forth," [[In this context these words are aimed at the end-time remnant of Israel, but all mankind is bound by sin and spiritual death (cf. Isa. 42:7; 61:1; and Luke 4:18). There is a very important partial fulfillment of the words of this verse (as with many of these verses) for those who become Christians throughout this present age. Also, as we'll see as we continue with this chapter, the end-time remnant of the nations will also be set free, and they will come to God and His kingdom.]] To those who are in darkness, "Show yourselves." [[The NIV translates "Be free!" The point is that they are no longer living in "darkness" because Christ has become a "light" for the elect remnant of Israel (as He will for the nations [cf. Isa. 42:6, 7; 49:6; and 61:1]).]] Along the roads they will feed, And their pasture will be on all bare heights. [[The end-time remnant of Israel are coming from the ends of the earth; they are coming to Jerusalem/Israel. More importantly, they are coming to God Himself, having repented and submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith.]] (10) They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them And will guide them to springs of water [cf. Isa. 41:17, 18]. [[I understand these last words to refer first, and foremost, to the springs of the water of salvation and of spiritual life. The ultimate manifestation of this glorious water of life is pictured in God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:6; 22:1, 2). Revelation 7:16, 17 speak of these glorious things coming to pass for those members of true Israel who are raptured from the earth at the time of Christ's mid-week return.]] (11) I will make all My mountains a road, And My highways will be raised up. (12) Behold, these will come from afar; And lo, these will come from the north and from the west, And these from the land of Sinim.' [[The east and south aren't mentioned, but they will be included (cf. Isa. 43:5, 6). One common view is that the "land of Sinim" refers to China. Another common view is given by the translation of the NIV, "the region of Aswan" (in southern Egypt). It doesn't make much difference where the land of Sinim is; the end-time remnant of Israel will be coming from the ends of the earth (and the remnant of the nations will be with them).]] (13) Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD [Yahweh] has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted. [[In this context "His people" and "His afflicted" refer to the end-time remnant of Israel. We have already learned that it is also Biblical to speak of the end-time remnant of the nations as God's "people" and as His "afflicted" (see under Isa. 14:32; 19:21-25 in this paper). Part of the reason that the creation should rejoice is that the salvation and glorification of true Israel in the last days will signal that it is time for the creation itself to be glorified, first in the millennial kingdom, then in the full sense in the eternal state (cf. Rom. 8:18-22).]] (14) But Zion [Jerusalem/Israel] said, 'The LORD [Yahweh] has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.' [[In the days when the Assyrians had carried the northern kingdom into exile and the Babylonians had carried the southern kingdom into exile, after destroying Jerusalem and the temple, it may have seemed that God had forsaken and forgotten Israel/Judah, but His judgments were only temporary. In the days of the apostle Paul, when most of the sons of Israel were rejecting the Messiah, it may have seemed that God had forsaken and forgotten Israel/Judah, but the apostle Paul informed us in Romans chapters 9-11 that this state wouldn't continue forever [I had a footnote: See the discussions on Romans 9:27-29; 11:25-27 toward the end of the chapter on Isaiah chapter 27 in the paper on Isaiah on my internet site. Also, Romans chapters 9-11 are discussed in a paper on my internet site.].]] (15) 'Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you [cf. Isa. 44:21]. (16) Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls [the walls of Jerusalem] are continually before Me. [These words speak of God's tender concern for His city and His people, (true) Israel.] (17) Your builders [or, probably better, "sons," with the NIV, NKJV.] hurry; Your destroyers and devastators Will depart from you. [[As we have discussed in this paper, things will begin to change for the end-time remnant of Israel when they submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, starting about the time of His mid-week return. The "destroyers and devastators" (which will center in Antichrist and his "world" kingdom) won't depart and the rebuilding/glorifying of Jerusalem/Israel won't begin, however, until Antichrist and his forces have been destroyed at the end of Daniel's 70th week.]] (18) Lift up your eyes and look around [cf. Isa. 60:4]; All of them gather together, they come to you [cf. Isa. 43:5-7; 49:12; 54:7; and 60:4]. As I live,' declares the LORD [Yahweh], 'You will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride. [[The ones coming to the land of Israel are the end-time remnant of Israel after God's end-time judgment of the world. (I'll say more regarding the Israelites that will come to Zion in the last days under verses 20, 21 below.) Zion will put them on, so to speak, as a bride might put on jewels.
Verses 24-26 show that the nations must be judged before they will permit the Israelites to return to their land. Verses 22, 23 show that the humbled, repentant remnant of the nations will even bring the sons of Israel to God at Jerusalem (see under Isa. 11:11, 12 in this paper).]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Isaiah chapter 49 in Part 10, starting with verse 19.
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