Isaiah 54


‘Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.’ Isaiah 54:1-3

The Future Glory Of Zion

In this chapter, we read of Jerusalem and the servants of God glorified.

Here we read of the new Jerusalem, the church of the Lord. Paul used these opening words in Galatians 4:26-27 and applied them to the church, but it had its root in physical Jerusalem and here we have to look to get the proper understanding.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The church is often in the Bible compared to a female, and the connection between God and his people is often compared with that between husband and wife, Isaiah 62:5 / Ezekiel 16 / Revelation 21:2-9 / Revelation 22:17.’

Jerusalem was barren, living apart from her husband while Israel was captive, but now she was to rejoice because she would produce more children than the wife living with her husband.

Jerusalem would need to be enlarged, and she finds her antitype in the church which is universal in scope, Matthew 28:19-20. Her seed, spiritual Israel, Romans 2:28-29, would be through all the nations and cities.

‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.’ Isaiah 54:4-8

Here, Jerusalem is pictured as a widow. The encouraging promise is continued but is applied to Jerusalem while she is in captivity. She was a widow, with no husband, at that time. It was no real widowhood but only an apparent one, Jeremiah 51:5, because God was still alive.

God now renews His relationship with Jerusalem. Though for a short time God hid His face from her while she was in captivity, that time would pass and she would remember it no longer, 2 Corinthians 4:17. Israel was God’s ‘wife of youth’ until the bride, the church, was brought forth.

God’s displeasure toward Jerusalem passed quickly, and the love which manifested itself later was more intense and lasting. God had not divorced Zion, though He allowed her to be punished with temporary captivity.

Israel must never forget that God isn’t the God of Israel alone, He is God of the whole earth.

‘To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.’ Isaiah 54:9-10

Here we read the reason for God’s kindness to Israel. The present turning point resembles in God’s mind the days of Noah.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘God appeals to this not only because the oath and promise had been made, but because it had been kept, Genesis 8:21-22.’

As the flood left a small remnant, so did the exile. As the righteous were saved by the flood from sin, so were the righteous Jews saved from idolatry by the exile. As Noah was saved by grace and mercy, so was Jerusalem.

He promised redeemed Israel that He would never again allow her to be taken into captivity, Genesis 9:12-17. God’s love is more enduring than the hills and mountains.

Rawlinson, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Much as the Christian Church has suffered from the world, it has never been with them like it was with captive Jews in Babylon. Here the prophet views the Jewish Church as absorbed and continued in the Christian Church, into which all the better and more spiritual members passed at the first preaching of the Gospel.’

‘Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.’ Isaiah 54:11-17

We read here of the restoration of Israel is to be glorious. In exile, Jerusalem is desolate and afflicted, but the restoration will be glorious for her. The outward glory of the city is only the manifestation of the spiritual glory of those who dwell within.

The final application is the Gospel age, John 6:44-45.

De Hoff, in his commentary, says the following.

‘One cannot become a child of God unless the Gospel is preached to him. He is informed, reformed, and made conformable to the death of our blessed Lord. Then all of his life he is transformed as he treasures the truth of God’s Word in his heart and in his everyday life.’

Jerusalem will stand against all enemies, which finds its final application in the church, Daniel 2:44 / Matthew 16:18 /  Hebrews 12:28. In the new Jerusalem, the church, God would always be present wherever the church existed.

His presence wouldn’t be identified by a physical structure, John 4:19-24. His presence would be identified by those with whom He dwelt, Luke 17:20-21.

The church will be kept so long as she remains pure. Those who fight against the servants of God will not prosper. God’s servants may be exposed to the attacks and false accusations of evil men, but as someone once said, ‘In the end, everything will be alright’. Safety is the heritage of God’s servants.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the last verse.

‘This is the righteousness, or the justification which they obtain of me, this is that which I impart to them as their justification.’ The idea is not that their righteousness is of him, but that this justification or vindication from him is a part of their inheritance and their portion.’

Isaiah himself surely didn’t understand what he was saying and writing, 1 Peter 1:10-12.

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