Isaiah 54-56

 Isaiah 54

Isa 54:1-8: Imagery of marriage relationship used to describe God's relationship with Israel
  • Israel as a barren, childless woman (v. 1)
    • This was even more shameful in ancient culture because of the pure practical benefits of having children to help with tasks.  Children were viewed as a sign of God's blessing.
  • Israel as a widow (v. 4)
  • God (husband) taking Israel as a wife (v. 5)
    • As a woman who was once refused (v. 6)
Spoken to Israel in her captivity, she can now rejoice because she has been reunited with her husband and therefore is no longer ashamed (v. 4) because she appeared abandoned, widowed, and barren.  Rather, she will now have many children (v. 1-3) and will need to enlarge her dwellings to house them
  • Isa 54:3 - "Descendants will inherit the nations" - God's kingdom will be worldwide (including all nations) and not limited to just the physical nation of Israel
Contrast of the temporary judgment vs. the everlasting mercy
  • Isa 54:7 - forsaken for a "mere moment"  ||  "great mercies"
  • Isa 54:8 - "a little wrath... for a moment"  ||  "everlasting kindness... mercy"
Paul further expands on this theme in Gal 4:21-31, and quotes Is 54:1
  • There were two sons of Abraham, and two covenants:
  • Ishmael
    • Born of the bondwoman
      • According to the flesh
    • Represents covenant of Sinai - the law, which brings death (Rom 7:6-14)
      • Mount Sinai, Jerusalem - which is in bondage
  • Isaac
    • Born of the freewoman
      • According to promise
    • Represents covenant of the Spirit
      • The Jerusalem above - heaven; the mother of us all
  • So, Is 54:1 does not just refer to a generic barren woman, but alludes back to Sarah who was barren waiting for the promised son, Isaac
  • And as the son of the flesh persecutes the son of the spirit, so it is now (Gal 4:29)
    • There has always been, and will always be (on this earth) the tension between those of the flesh and those of the spirit
    • It started back when Sarah cast our Hagar and Ishmael (Gal 4:30, Gen 21:8-13)
    • In fact, Muhammad and the Muslims claim that he was a descendent of Ishmael.  We don't know if this is true or not, because the descendants of Keturah's sons (Abrahams second wife) and Esau's descendants also inhabited the Arabian Peninsula
      • Ishmael was sent away by Sarah, but God did promise that he would become a great nation too (Gen 21:13)
      • But also that he would be at enmity with everyone around him (Gen 16:9-12)
    • And just as Ishmael was cast out, all who try to justify themselves by the law will be cast out from God's presence - we need to embrace the new covenant of promise
Is 54:9-12 - Physical descriptors of God's restoration of Israel.
  • Waters of Noah - God provided a passage through, though there was great destruction, and then promised never to flood the earth again (v. 9)
  • God's kindness and peace will be more steadfast than even the mountains (v. 10) 
  • God lays firm foundation stones that will not be tossed by the tempest (v. 11-12)
    • Christ is the living cornerstone, and we are being built as stones into a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:4-5)  cf. Is 28:16-17
    • Built with "precious stones" - as described also in Rev 21:9-11, 18-21
  • We can conclude this is referring to the Millennial Kingdom, not Israel's immediate future, because the nation would fail and be rebuked many more times between now and then.
The "covenant of peace" - also referred to in Ez. 34:25-31, 37:26-28, where we get even more description.

Is 54:13-15 - There shall be righteousness and peace (cf. Rev 21:22-27)
  • "Taught by the Lord" - as God draws those whom will be saved (John 6:43-45)
Is 54:16-17 - Reiterates God's sovereignty over the works of man
  • People cannot create, spoil, fight, or speak unless allowed by God