Bible Study: Isaiah 54:1-17
In today’s lesson, God speaks to the nation of Israel as a divorced wife who will be redeemed.
Isaiah Chapter 54
Lessons from the text
Making the Desolate Plentiful
God has the wonderful ability to take that which is unfruitful and make it productive. In chapter 34 He uses the image of making the desert bloom. Here the image is a barren woman bringing forth so many children that the couple must build a bigger house! Is God promising that every barren wife will have many children? No. He is talking about something far more wonderful.
The Jews were given a special covenant through Abraham and the laws of God through Moses. They were to be a light to all nations, teaching everyone about the ways of God and showing them the way of forgiveness of sin. Did they? No. The Jews, almost immediately after being liberated from Egypt, began turning to idolatry (Exo. 32:1-4). While they have had some success stories through Joshua, David, Hezekiah, and Josiah, for the majority of their time the Jews have been in sin and a cause for the name of God to be blasphemed by other nations (Eze. 36:20-22). They are in producing children of God.
What did God do? He gave them one last chance to follow Him with the appearance of His Son. But after they chose to crucify Christ, God left trying to draw Israel back to a right relationship with Him and instead used them to reach all the other nations of the world. He used the persecution of the early church to force believers into the Gentile nations. He used the fanaticism of the Jews to chase believers in the Gentile nations to make them constantly move from city to city, thus spreading the Gospel further. God took the failure of the Jews to obey Him and used it to bring about salvation through the crucifixion of Christ and to reach all the world through forcing the believers to flee Israel.
Ultimately, God is talking about turning a failure into a success.
No matter how terribly you have failed in life, God can turn you into a success. God can work with you no matter what your current situation is. He can mold you into something beautiful and worthy of God’s praise. Consider Paul; he was zealously killing the saints until God appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8), and God used him to write 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. God is so wonderful that He can take our failures ad turn them into successes.
The Bible defines success as obeying the commandments of God (Josh. 1:7, I Ki. 2:3). When we follow the will of God for our lives, then we are fulfilling the purpose of our existence by performing the roles for which we were created. There is no greater success then to be exactly who we were designed to be. Note that this has nothing to do with monetary gain, power, or popularity.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 See Galatians 4:26-28. Even though the Jews as a whole reject Christ and are thus barren in producing children of God, salvation originated in Jerusalem. All the Gentile convert are the adopted children of Israel, converted by the Jewish Apostles into a covenant relationship with Christ. Although the Jews are barren among their own people, they have an abundance of children through the Gentiles. In addition, during the final days the Jews will turn to God and acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, finally bearing fruit from their own people.
2-3 When Israel brings forth children it will enlarge its borders. This is not referring tot he church age because then the Gentiles would be joining with Israel instead of giving way to the Jews. To date, the Jews do not possess all the land which was promised to them in Numbers (34:1-12). God is saying that He has not forgotten His promise but that it will be fulfilled in the future.
4-8 Under the new covenant, believers are espoused to Christ (Eph. 5:25-32). Christians are set aside for the day of marriage, which is the redemption of our bodies to external life in the presence of Christ (Rom. 8:23-25). Israel, however, is already wedded to God. Because of their sins they are momentarily separated from Him. In their rejection of Christ, God has turned His attention to the Gentiles, but He will return to them, forgive the nation, and will bring them back into a restored marital state. Their idolatry will be forgotten as the sins of their youth.
9-10 With Noah, it rained for forty days and thirty nights. It took almost a year for the waters to dry up (Gen. 7:11-12, 8:13). During that time Noah was trapped in the boat, but after the flood was over, he was given full reign over the earth with God's blessing and promise to never create such a flood again (Gen. 8:20-9:1).
The Jews, if they endure their affliction in the safety of God's structure, will come out on the other side with God's blessing. Just as God has kept His promise to Noah to never again destroy the earth by water, so too will He keep His promise to never forsake Israel. Even if for a while they are removed for their sins, God will return to them.
11-12 In the midst of the storm, God will lay a solid foundation on which one can stand. For the Jews, this means that while their nation is unstable God will build and strengthen their borders into what is sturdy and beautiful. Historically, since Jesus’ day the Jews have been persecuted by the Gentiles. While today they have their own nation, they still do not inhabitant all of the land promised them by God and still are engaged in territorial disputes with the Muslims for the land they currently possess. So, while God is building the nation, He has not yet solidified it. This verse is thus being fulfilled over a long period of time.
13 When Israel is fully established by God as a grounded nation, then all the Jews will be knowledgeable in Him. While now they have the Laws and Torah, they lack the personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When they finally receive this knowledge, they will have great peace.
14-15 When God is being taught, righteousness abounds. In a close relationship to Him, the Jews will be free from oppression and fear. Whoever gathers against them will be destroyed; they will be untouchable.
This promise is strictly to the Jews. It is not applicable to the Christian. Instead, the born-again believer has this statement:
The Christian is not free from persecution. Instead, the Christian has the promise that offenses will come. God does not promise to destroy in this life the one who afflicts the Christian, but Scripture clearly states that no wickedness will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9, Rev. 21:27). While the enemy of Christ may flourish on the earth, they will be rejected in the next life. The Christian is only promised freedom from persecution after death when God will wipe away their every tear (Rev. 21:4).
16-17 While man may think that he has invented weapons of war, God is the one who created man. He has given man the ability to design, forge, and use these weapons. That is, if God had not given man an imagination, man could never have formed the weapons. If God had not given him skill of hands, man could never have acted on his imagination.
Ultimately, God is responsible for all things for He created all things. Such is how that when one of His creations turns to use the gifts of God for evil, God is able to undermine and overthrow that person and creation. The source of all power, wisdom, and life, God can at anytime destroy an evil person.
Why does He not do so? Why does He allow wicked men to persecute and oppress? Because in mercy He is giving even them space to repent, for it is not the will of God that any should perish in hell but that all should inheritance eternal life through Christ (II Pet. 3:9).
For the Jew, when God has redeemed the nation, they will stand in righteousness with Him and be able to rebuke all the wicked. They have the special promise that in this life they will one day be able to judge those who have wrongly judged them.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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