Isaiah: New *Heavens and a New Earth

God’s *Messiah Beats God’s Enemies

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Isaiah chapters 56 to 66

www.easyenglish.info

Gordon Churchyard

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

The words in square brackets, [ … ], are not in the *Hebrew Bible. They make the book easier to understand in English. Isaiah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language. The words in round brackets ( … ) are explanations.

 

Isaiah chapters 56 to 66: God’s *messiah beats God’s enemies

Here is a list of the main sections in the Book of Isaiah.

·  Chapters 1 to 5 - Isaiah describes the people that live in Judah and Jerusalem.

·  Chapter 6 - God makes Isaiah into a *prophet.

·  Chapters 7 to 40 - God’s king rules God’s people.

·  Chapters 41 to 55 - God’s servant saves God’s people.

·  Chapters 56 to 66 - God’s *messiah beats God’s enemies.

The fifth (5th) and last main section of the book begins here.

About the *messiah

*Messiah is a *Hebrew word. Isaiah wrote his book in the *Hebrew language. The original *Hebrew word is masah, which can have these meanings:

·  To paint, which means to cover the surface of something.

·  To anoint, which means to pour oil onto something.

·  To appoint, which means to give somebody a job.

Our word *Messiah combines the second and third of these meanings. When God’s people, the *Jews, gave someone the job of king or priest, they poured oil onto him. This oil was from a fruit called the *olive. *Messiah describes the person who has become a king or a priest. The priests were God’s special servants at the *temple (God’s house) in Jerusalem. So all the kings of Judah and all the priests were *messiahs.

But the *Messiah in Isaiah chapters 56 to 66 is more than a king and a priest. His job is to defeat all God’s enemies. The *Jews expected that the *Messiah would come. Andrew said to Peter, ‘We have found the *Messiah’ (John 1:41). The woman at the well said to Jesus, ‘The *Messiah will come’ (John 4:25). But they expected that the *Messiah would defeat the Romans. The Romans were people from the nation called Rome, which ruled the *Jews in Israel at that time. Many *Jews believed that the *Messiah would defeat the Romans. Then he would rule the *Jews. The Romans would no longer rule them. When Jesus went up to heaven, his disciples (special students) asked him this: ‘Will you now give back the *kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6) A *kingdom is a country that a king rules. But Jesus’ job was not just to defeat Rome. It was something that is much bigger. It is to beat all God’s enemies. The last 11 chapters of Isaiah tell us something about this defeat.

Chapters 56 to 57

There are 2 sections in these chapters.

(1) Isaiah 56:1-8. These verses are about God’s people. The important thing to notice is this. God’s people can come from anywhere. They do not have to live in Israel or Judah. They do not have to be *Jews. Jesus used words from verse 7 to describe the church. It is ‘a house of prayer for all nations’. Read the verses in the section ‘Something to do’ after chapter 56. They will help us to understand this idea.

(2) Isaiah 56:9 to 57:21. These verses are about people that do not really love God. They do not obey him. They are not part of his people. They are not *Jews that love God. And they are not part of the Christian church. The first part, 56:9-12, is about bad leaders. The second part, 57:1-21, compares the good people of 56:1-8 with the bad people of 56:9-12. Together, the two chapters teach this important lesson. You cannot be a good leader if your private life is bad.

Chapter 56

v1 This is what the *LORD is saying [to you]. ‘Always be fair. And do what is right. [Do this] because of the safety that I [will give to you]. It is very near. Also, I will soon show [everybody] that I am *righteous (very, very good).

v2 [God] will *bless the man that does this. He is the man that really does this. He *keeps the *Sabbath and he does not spoil it. And he does not allow his hand to do anything that is evil.

v3 [A foreigner] may have promised to obey the *LORD. Do not let that foreigner say this. “The *LORD will certainly not let me join his people.” Do not let any *eunuch complain. [Do not let him say], “I am only [like] a dry tree.” ’

v4 The *LORD says this to the *eunuchs who [do these things].

·  ‘They *keep my *Sabbaths.

·  They choose to do what pleases me.

·  They really obey my *covenant.

v5 Then I will give them these things inside the walls of my *temple.

·  Something to [make people] remember them.

·  A name that is better than sons and daughters.

I will give them a name that will always remain. Nobody will cut it off (remove it).

v6 [This will happen] to foreigners who [do these things].

·  They promise to obey and to serve the *LORD.

·  They love the name of the *LORD and they *worship him.

·  They all *keep the *Sabbath and they do not spoil it.

·  They hold firm to my *covenant.

v7 I will bring them to my *holy mountain. And I will give them joy in my house of prayer. I will accept what they offer. [I will accept] what they burn as *sacrifices on my *altar. [This is] because [people will] call my house, “A house of prayer for all nations”.’

v8 The *LORD, [who is] *Lord, says this. He [is the God] that gathers the *exiles of Israel together. ‘I will gather even other [people] to them. [This will be] in addition to those that I have already gathered.’

 

v9 [God says this to wicked people]. ‘Come here, you wild animals [that live] in fields! Come to eat everything, you wild animals [that live] in the forest!

v10 [Israel’s] men that watch for danger are [like] blind people. They do not know anything. They are all [like] dumb dogs. They cannot bark. They lie about and dream. They love to sleep.

v11 They are [like] dogs that love to eat a lot. And they never have enough. [Also], they are [like] *shepherds who understand nothing. They all turn to their own way. Each one [tries] to gain [whatever he can for himself].

v12 [Each one of them] cries, “Come, let me get wine! Let us drink as much beer as we can! And tomorrow will be like today. It might be much better!” ’

Notes

Verse 1 ‘*LORD’ is God’s special name. In the *Hebrew language it is YHWH. It probably means ‘always alive’. Only God is really very, very good. But he wants his people to be good also. He wants them to be fair. Notice the word ‘soon’. This verse refers to when Jesus, the *Messiah, first came to the earth. It also refers to when he will return to the earth. Jesus’ last words in the Bible are, ‘Certainly I will come soon’ (Revelation 22:20).

Verse 2 ‘This’ refers to what God says at the start of verse 1. ‘That really does this’ is ‘holds it firmly’ in the *Hebrew Bible.

The ‘*Sabbath’ is the 7th day of the week, or Saturday. The *Jews had special rules by which they ‘*kept the *Sabbath’. ‘*Keep the *Sabbath’ means ‘do what the rules allow on the *Sabbath’. In this way, the *Jews did not spoil the *Sabbath. They kept it as a special day for rest and prayer. For Christians, it is Sunday that is important, not the *Sabbath or Saturday. This is because Jesus came alive again on Sunday, the day after the *Sabbath.

‘His hand’ is a *Jewish way to say ‘himself’. We usually do things with our hands. So, this man does not allow himself to do anything that is evil.

Isaiah used two different *Hebrew words for ‘man’ in this verse:

·  ‘*bless the man’ has ‘enosh’ for man. This word means a man with all human weaknesses.

·  ‘the man that really does this’ is ‘ben adam’ in the *Hebrew Bible. This means, the ‘son of man’. It is any man from any country in the world. It is not only *Jews.

Verse 3 No person, from any country, should say, ‘The *LORD will not allow me to join his people’. Exodus 12:48-49 tells us that anybody can join the *LORD’s people. A *eunuch is a man without the sex parts of his body. Someone had cut them off, perhaps as part of an evil religion. *Eunuchs could not join the *LORD’s people, Deuteronomy 23:1. But here, the *LORD (through Isaiah) changes this rule. Anybody that lacks some part of their body can join the *LORD’s people! ‘A dry tree’ means a dead tree that cannot therefore produce any seeds. It is a picture of a *eunuch, who cannot have children.

Verse 4 A *covenant is what people agree to. In God’s *covenant with his people, they agree to love and to obey him. He agrees to be their God, and to take care of them. ‘Really obey’ translates the same *Hebrew word as ‘really does this’ in verse 2.

Verse 5 It was important for *Jews to have ‘a name’. In other words, they wanted people to remember them. And because of that, they considered it important to have children and grandchildren. They would make sure that people did not forget their parents or grandparents. But God promised more than this. He promised these things.

·  People would remember them in his *temple. The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. For Christians, it is the place where God is king, or the church.

·  They would have a name better than just sons and daughters. Revelation 2:17 says that all God’s people will have a new name!

·  Nobody will remove this name. The verse says ‘cut off’. This would mean a lot to *eunuchs, because people had ‘cut off’ their sex parts.

Verse 6 This verse tells us what we must do to ‘hold firm to my (God’s) *covenant’. ‘*Worship’ means ‘to tell God that we love him’. We do this because he is so great and wonderful.

Verse 7 The ‘*holy mountain’ was *Zion. The *Jews built God’s house, or *temple, on *Zion. There was an *altar there. This was a special table outside the building. The priests burnt animals there in order to please God. Also, they did it to obey his rules in the Book of Leviticus. These animals were the *sacrifices. Jesus used the end of the verse in Matthew 21:13.

Verse 8 The two words for *LORD and *Lord are not the same in the *Hebrew Bible. ‘*LORD’ in the *Hebrew language probably means ‘always alive’ and ‘*Lord’ means ‘master’. The word ‘*exiles’ here means the people of God that lived in another country. They are not only *Jews. They are people that have gone away from God. This verse emphasises that God will help people from other countries, not just people from Israel. They will come together in the place which Jesus has prepared for them, John 14:2.

Verse 9 The *Hebrew word is the same each time, ‘wild animal’. The writer uses that word to describe wicked leaders. God tells them to ‘eat everything’ like wild animals. Here, God invites foreign armies to defeat Judah.

Verse 10 It was the job of certain men to watch for danger. When they saw danger, they told their people about it. But the men in Israel that had this responsibility were not carrying out their work properly. God describes them as blind people. They could not see danger. So, Israel’s leaders were not protecting their nation.

Verse 11 Here is a second special description of Israel’s leaders. They are not only like men that should warn people about danger. They are also like *shepherds (people that look after sheep). They should provide what their people need. But instead, they try to gain things for themselves. The *Hebrew word for ‘gain’ means ‘get [things] in a bad way’. Notice that in verses 10 and 11, the leaders do not do their jobs properly. The reason is that they prefer to look after themselves, and not other people. They do whatever they want to do in their private lives.

Verse 12 The leaders did not care what would happen tomorrow. Only today mattered!

Something to do

1. Think about ‘the *Sabbath’. The *Jews lost nearly everything when they lost their land. But they still had the *Sabbath. Now, for Christians, Sunday may be one of the few things that make them different from everybody else!

2. Read the account that is in Matthew 21:12-16. Of which verse in Isaiah chapter 56 does it remind you? Now read John 2:13-22. Note especially John 2:21. Isaiah was probably writing about two different *temples! One was in Jerusalem, the other was Christ’s body, the church, Ephesians 1:22-23.

3. Pray that God will gather to himself people from your own town and country.

4. Read part of Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8:41-43. Here, Solomon prays that everybody will come to God’s *temple, not only *Jews.

Chapter 57

v1 When a very good man dies, nobody really thinks about it. [Death] takes away men that [God] loves. But nobody understands why [death] takes them away. It is to protect the very good man from trouble that will soon come.

v2 [When a good man dies] he goes into *peace. They rest on their beds. He is the man that walks in the right [way].

 

v3 But you, come here! [You are] sons of a woman that does magic. [You are] the children of an *adulteress. [You are the children of] a woman that sells her body for sex.

v4 Whom are you laughing at? Whom are you insulting? You stick your tongue out of your mouth! You are a crowd of people that do not obey [God’s] rules. You are the children of a lie.

v5 Your feelings make you have sex among the big trees. Also, [you have sex] under every tree that spreads out [its branches]. You kill and burn your children [for false gods]. [You do this] in the steep valleys and under the rocks that hang over [the sides of hills].

v6 Your place is among the smooth [stones] in the steep valley. Yes, they, they are your part. Yes, you have poured out drink, to offer it to them. And you have offered [them] grain. Because of this, I, [God], will not change my mind.

v7 You have made your bed on a high and tall hill. You went there to offer things to your [false god].

v8 You have put your sign behind your door and your doorway. But you left me and you uncovered your bed. You climbed into it and you opened it wide. You made an agreement with those whose beds you loved. You saw a hand [to help you].

v9 You went to the king with *olive oil and you increased your *perfumes. You sent your officials far away and you went down to *Sheol.

v10 All your journeys wore you out. You would not say, “It is hopeless.” You found new strength and so you did not give up.

v11 Now, who frightens you, so that you are not loyal [to me]? Also, of whom are you so afraid, that you do not remember me? Neither have you thought about me in your hearts. Are you not afraid of me because I have been silent for a long time?

v12 I will show [everybody what you think is] your good character and your works. And they will not benefit you.

v13 When you cry out for help, let your collection [of false gods] save you! The wind will carry them all off. [Somebody’s] breath will blow them away. But anyone that comes to me for help will have the land. [He or she] will possess my *holy mountain.

v14 He will say, ‘Build up [a road]! Build [it] up, prepare a road. Remove the things that prevent my people’s journey along the road.’

 

v15 Now this is what the High [God] is saying. He is the [God] above [Everything]. He [is the God that] will always be alive. His name is *holy. [He says], ‘I live in a high and *holy place. But [I will live] also with anyone who has a humble and *lowly (humble) spirit. I will make the spirit of the humble person live on. I will also make the heart of the *lowly (humble) person live on.

v16 [I will do this] because I will not always accuse [man (people)]. I will not always be angry [with man]. Otherwise, [his] spirit would become weak in front of me. I gave breath [to him] when I made man.

v17 He wanted more than he really needed. That was a *sin. It made me angry and I punished him. I was angry and I hid from him. But he continued to do what he wanted to do.

v18 I have seen what he is doing. But I will cure him. Then I will guide him and I will give him back his comfort.’

v19 [God] will create *praise on the lips of the people that are sad with him. The *LORD says, ‘[I will give] *peace, *peace to the people that are far away. [And I will give *peace, *peace to the people] that are near. And I will cure them.

v20 But wicked people are like a sea that is not still. It cannot be calm. Its waves throw up mud and dirt.

v21 There is no *peace’, says my God, ‘for wicked people.’

Notes

Verse 1 ‘Really thinks’ is ‘thinks in their heart’ in the *Hebrew Bible. The *Jews believed that you thought with your heart. An English way to say this is ‘take it to heart’. Notice the series ‘man … men … man’. Isaiah wants us to understand that this happens to people in general. But also, that it happens to each person. Isaiah uses a similar technique in verse 2 also. Notice also:

·  ‘very good man’. The *Hebrew word for ‘very good’ is ‘tsedek’. Only God is really ‘tsedek’, or ‘very, very good’. But God declares this. People that love him are ‘tsedek’ also. So, they must try to live good lives and they must trust him to help them. In most English Bibles, the translation of ‘tsedek’ is ‘*righteous’. It means very, very good. That is how we translate it in Isaiah 56:1.

·  ‘men that [God] loves’. The *Hebrew word for ‘loves’ is ‘hesed’. It is a love that never fails. It is the love with which God loves his people. So, a better translation is ‘men that [God] never fails to love’. If the love came from God, the people must share it with other people. Several Bible translations have ‘devout men’ instead. That means ‘men who love [God]’. God has given ‘hesed’ (love that never fails) to them. So now they show real love both to God, and to other people.

·  the word for ‘trouble’ means ‘evil’ in the *Hebrew Bible. ‘Evil’ in the *Old Testament often means bad things like storms, floods and strong winds, battle and war.

Verse 2 Notice again the ‘he … they … he’ series. While the truth is general, it is very important for each person. Here, *peace means the absence of trouble. The *Hebrew word for ‘rest’ is the same word as ‘lie about’ in Isaiah 56:10. Perhaps Isaiah is contrasting the bad leaders with the very good servants of God! As the very good man is dying, we could translate ‘bed’ as ‘grave’. ‘Walks in the right way’ means this: ‘He lives in a manner that God approves of.’

Verse 3 The word ‘but’ contrasts the very good people of verses 1-2 with the bad people of verses 3-13. Isaiah may have written these words when there were false religions in Judah. These false religions used magic and sex. An ‘*adulteress’ has sex with a man who is not her husband. ‘Sons of’ and ‘children of’ is a *Hebrew way to say ‘people that do this’. As an example, a ‘son of sport’ would mean somebody that does much sport. Here, it means that people used magic and sex in false religions.

Verse 4 They are probably laughing at these people.

·  The very good men of verses 1-2.

·  The good leaders like Hezekiah and Isaiah.

·  Most of all, God.

The lie is probably that the false gods are real. After the *exile in Babylon, the *Jews did not *worship (serve) false gods. The *exile was the period when the *Jews had to live away from their own country as a punishment.

Verse 5 Here are two more things that they did in false religions:

·  They had sex under the large green trees. They believed that the false god Baal made their crops grow better because of this. God did not want the people to do this, Numbers 25:1-5.

·  They killed and burned their children. They believed that the false god Moloch wanted them to do this. But God did not want this, either, 2 Kings 23:10.

Verse 6 In verses 3-5, ‘you’ and ‘your’ are male words in the *Hebrew Bible. But in verses 6-13 they are female words. The *prophet is now writing about ‘the woman that does magic’, verse 3. Hosea 4:12 and 5:4 tells us that this is not a woman as such. It is an evil spirit. It makes people do bad things. So God, through Isaiah, is telling people why they do bad things. Something outside themselves makes them do bad things. It is ‘the woman that does magic’. So even the men are called ‘you (female)’ in this section. It is the men that offer drink and grain to the false gods.

The ‘smooth [stones]’ is just ‘smooth things’ in the *Hebrew Bible. Bible students think that Isaiah meant special stones. They were the shape of false gods. The rain and river water had made the stones into these shapes. That was where the bad people should be; that was their place or part. Psalms 16:5 and 119:57 tell us that the *LORD is the true believer’s part. ‘Part’ here means ‘place in life’ or ‘what life has given to you’. Motyer, in his book on Isaiah, says this. ‘They, they are your part’ probably means ‘take a chance with them’. Verses 12 and 13 tell us what God will do.

Verses 7-8 The bed in these verses means this. ‘The place where the men had sex with women who were not their wives’. They were not ashamed of this. It was part of their religion, so they let everybody see it. Two things in verse 8 are puzzles for Bible students.

·  The doorway sign. This may mean the sign of a false god. But it probably means the sign of the one true God, Deuteronomy 6:9. They pretended to serve God, but in practice they served false gods also. But you cannot really serve two gods. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 6:24. There he said, ‘You cannot serve God and money.’

·  The hand. Some Bible students think that it means a male sex sign. But in 1 Samuel 15:12 the word hand means a monument. That is a stone that people remember things by. Such stones made people famous. Or, it could just mean ‘strength’. They thought the false gods would make them strong.

The word ‘agreement’ probably helps us to understand these verses better. Although the *Jews did all these bad things, they were a sign of something else. All through his book, Isaiah had warned people not to trust foreign kings. He told them not to make agreements with Egypt, or Syria, or Babylon. Yet Hezekiah became very friendly with the son of the king of Babylon, Isaiah 39:1-2. Hezekiah thought that it would make him stronger. There is an English phrase ‘give a hand’. It is a special way to say ‘give some help’. So the ‘hand’ in this verse, which follows the word ‘agreement’, could mean ‘give a hand (help)’. Perhaps Hezekiah thought that Babylon would ‘give him a hand (help)’.

Verses 9-10 In these verses, Isaiah explains clearly some of what he means in verses 3-8. They had sent gifts to a foreign king: *olive oil and *perfumes. People use *olive oil to cook with. People use *perfume to make them smell nice. They sent officials with the gifts. The officials probably asked the foreign king to help them (or ‘give them a hand’). It was as if they had gone to the special place called *Sheol! The *Jews thought that dead people went to *Sheol. The agreement with the foreign king would lead them all to *Sheol. Some Bible students think that ‘king’ should really be ‘Molech’. Those words are the same in the *Hebrew language. This would link it with verse 5. But it would not explain the ‘agreement’.

Verse 11 Isaiah makes a list of four things that the people in Judah have done.

(1) They have not trusted God, so they are afraid of the future.

(2) They have not been loyal to God, so they have not obeyed his laws.

(3) They do not remember all that God has done for them in the past.

(4) They do not think about God in their hearts (minds), which is an insult to God.

God then asks the reason why they are not afraid of him. Perhaps it is because he has been ‘silent’ for a long time. The *Hebrew word for ‘silent’ usually means ‘has not done anything’. They are complaining that God has not done anything to help them. But they have forgotten - see number 3 above.

Verse 12 Here, the *Hebrew word for ‘good character’ is the same word, ‘tsedek’, as in verse 1. But it does not mean here the good things of which God approves. It means the things of which their false gods approved! It is an example of a special kind of humour. In that case, you say the opposite of what you really mean! They considered their character ‘good’ because of the way that they had served their false gods. But God considers those actions to be evil, not good. So God will show everyone how ‘good’ they are. In other words, he will show that they are completely evil! That is what God really means here.

Verse 13 ‘Cry for help’ probably refers to the ‘trouble (evil)’ of verse 1. False gods cannot help in any trouble. But God can and will help people that trust in him. They will be part of God’s ‘collection’ (see Isaiah 56:8) in his land and in his *holy mountain. For Isaiah, this meant Judah and Jerusalem. For Christians, it means heaven, where they go at death.

Verse 14 Isaiah does not say who ‘he’ is. It may be God, or it may be a future servant of God. It remains a mystery. But the words are to those people that are part of God’s ‘collection’, verse 13.

Verse 15 ‘High One’ and ‘Above One’ (or ‘One Who is Above’) are names of God. Our translation has ‘High [God]’ and ‘[God] Above [Everything]’. Like all God’s names, they describe him. There are not many words for ‘god’ in the *Old Testament. Even the word Elohim, which we usually translate ‘God’, really means ‘powers that be/are’. (In other words, ‘Someone powerful that rules.’) Although God has his home above the highest heaven (2 Chronicles 6:18), he also lives with the lowest people. That is, with the people who choose to be humble in front of him. He considers their humble attitude to be wonderful (Numbers 12:3; Micah 6:8; Matthew 18:4). God does not explain his change from anger to kindness in verses 15-18.

Verse 16 ‘Man’, ‘he’, ‘his’ and ‘him’ in verses 16-18 mean everybody … men, women and children. The word ‘breath’ is plural in the *Hebrew Bible. So it really does mean everybody!

Verse 17 ‘He wanted more than he really needed.’ That means more than just ‘greedy for food’. It means ‘greedy for everything, especially money and power’. ‘Hid from him’ means that God did not seem to do anything for his people.

Verse 18 ‘Cure’ in this verse does not mean ‘cure an injury’. It means ‘cure from *sin’. We are guilty of *sin when we do not obey God’s laws. Notice that this verse links with Isaiah 61:2.

Verse 19 ‘*Praise’ means the words that people use to give honour to God. ‘*Praise on their lips’ is a *Hebrew way to say, ‘They praise God with their mouths.’ ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God that only his people use. When the *Hebrew Bible uses a word twice, it means ‘very, very much’. Here, it promises, ‘*peace, *peace’ to those people that are both near and far away. This *peace is not ‘no war’. It is ‘*peace with God’. That is, a right relationship with God.

Verses 20-21 The mud and the dirt are like the bad things that wicked people do. There is no *peace for them because they are fighting God.

Something to do

1. Make sure that you enjoy ‘tsedek’ and ‘hesed’, verses 1 and 2. Ask God to forgive you and to make you a good person. Also, share God’s love with the people round you. Do not ‘take a chance’ with bad people, verse 6.

2. Read Psalm 1 which is about the right and wrong ways or roads.

3. Read the chapters of Isaiah which warn against agreements with:

·  Egypt … Isaiah 30:1-7

·  Assyria … Isaiah 7:1-9 (with 2 Kings 16:5-9)

·  Babylon … Isaiah 39:1-8

Chapter 58

*Feast or *Fast?

v1 ‘Shout with [your] voice, do not hold back [the sound]! Make your voice sound like a *trumpet! Declare to my people that they have not obeyed me. Also, [tell] the house of Jacob about their *sins.

v2 [Do this] because every day they look for me. And they seem eager to know my ways. They are like a nation that does the right things. And [they are like a nation] that has not turned away from the commands of their God. They ask me to decide fairly. And they seem eager for God to come near to them.’

v3 [They say this.] ‘We have *fasted and you, [God], did not see it. We made ourselves humble and you did not notice it.’ [God answers], ‘Look! On the day when you *fast, you please yourselves. And you are cruel to all the people that work for you.

v4 Look! While you *fast, you quarrel. Then you fight. And you strike each other wickedly with your fists. You cannot *fast like that today if you want [God] to hear your voice in high [places].

v5 I did not want you to do these things when you *fast.

·  A man makes himself humble [only] for a day.

·  [A man] only lowers his head like a plant.

·  And [a man] lies on rough cloth and ashes.

But you do these things when you *fast. [Do you think] that the *LORD will accept this? [Certainly not!]

v6-7 This is the way that I want you to *fast.

·  Loose the chains that wrongly bind [people].

·  And untie the strings [that hold] the *yoke.

·  Let those people go free [who suffer because of your] cruelty.

·  And break every *yoke.

·  Share your food with hungry people.

·  And provide shelter for the poor wanderer.

·  When you see naked people, give them clothes.

·  And do not turn away from your own family.

v8 Then your light will flood out like the dawn and you will soon appear to be healthy again. Then your *righteous (very, very good) [God] will go in front of you and the *glory of the *LORD will guard your backs.

v9a Then you will call and the *LORD will answer [you]. You will cry for help and he will immediately say, “Here I am.”

v9b-10a [You must do these things.]

·  Remove the *yoke.

·  Do not point the finger [at people] and say evil things.

·  Use all your energy to give help to hungry people.

·  Some people are suffering because of cruelty. Give to them the things that they need.

v10b Then your light will shine in the darkness and your night will be like midday.

v11 The *LORD will always guide you. He will satisfy you in a country where the sun is burning [everything]. And he will make your bodies strong. You will become like a garden which has plenty of water. [You will be] like a *spring whose waters never fail.

v12 You will rebuild the old [places that the enemy] destroyed. And you will raise up (erect) the ancient buildings. [People] will call you “The One that Repairs Broken Walls”. And [they will call you] “The One that Rebuilds Streets with Houses”.

v13-14 If you [do these things], then you will find your joy in the *LORD.

·  Do not do wrong things on the *Sabbath.

·  Do not do what pleases you on my *holy day.

·  Call the *Sabbath a delight.

·  Call the *LORD’s *holy day honourable.

·  Respect [the *Sabbath] and do not go your own way.

·  [On the *Sabbath], do not do things that please you. And do not speak foolish words [then].

[If you do these things,] I will also cause you to ride on the high places in the country. And you will *feast on what your father Jacob gave to you.’

[This is so] because the mouth of the *LORD has said [these things].

Notes

Verse 1 Verse 14 tells us that the voice here is the voice of God. He spoke his words through Isaiah. A ‘trumpet’ is a musical instrument that people blow into. It can play very loud music. The loud voice tells God’s people that they have not obeyed him. The ‘house of Jacob’ is another name for God’s people, the *Jews. ‘*Sins’ are thoughts and acts that do not obey God’s laws.

Verses 2-4 The word ‘because’ at the start is important. It explains why God calls them *sinners in verse 1. They seemed to do everything that they should do for their religion. But two things were wrong:

·  They did not behave themselves as their religion told them to behave. They fought among themselves. They forced their workers to work too hard. They did not pay their workers properly. They pleased themselves; they did not please God.

·  They copied some wrong things that other people did for their false religions. An example is in verse 4. They *fasted to make God listen to them. ‘In high (places)’ means where God is. It is either in heaven or in his house in Jerusalem. In many false religions, people thought that they could force their false gods to listen to them. But it is very wrong to behave in that manner towards the real God. We must respect God. We cannot force him to do the things that we want him to do. Look again at the notes on the end of chapter 57.

This chapter says a lot about the right and the wrong way to *fast. ‘To *fast’ means ‘not to eat food for a period of time’. It is a way to be humble in front of God. In many religions, people *fast often. But God only asked his people to *fast for one day every year, Leviticus 23:26-32. Isaiah chapter 58 seems to show that they *fasted more often than this.

Verse 5 The plant is probably one that grows near water. The tops of these plants bend over. The rough cloth was what people made sacks from. They wore that same kind of cloth when they were very sad. They also put ashes on their heads. God would accept the people if they really were humble. But God did not accept the people because they were not sincere!

Verses 6-7 Here is a list of what God wants his people to do. There are really just two things:

·  Verse 6. ‘Chains’, ‘*yoke’ and ‘cruelty’ mean one thing. They mean that the masters deal with the people in a cruel manner. They behave as if their workers are prisoners or animals. A ‘*yoke’ is a piece of wood. It binds two animals together as they pull a plough. Here the *yoke binds people together. They become slaves to their masters. Their masters are cruel to them. If the masters are really *fasting, then they must prove it. They must break the *yokes and they must let the prisoners go free. That would prove that the masters were really *fasting.

·  Verse 7. People need food, clothes and shelter. Some poor people did not have these things. If people were really *fasting, they would give food, clothes and shelter to poor people. This was especially true for people in their own families. Where we have ‘families’ in this verse, the *Hebrew Bible has ‘flesh and blood’. That is a *Hebrew way to say ‘family’. ‘Flesh’ is the meaty part of our bodies.

Notice the structure of verses 6-12:

Verses 6-7

Verses 8-9a

Verses 9b-10a

Verses 10b-12

What God’s people must do to *fast properly.

What will happen when they do this.

What God’s people must do to *fast properly.

What will happen when they do this.

‘a’ means the first part of a verse; ‘b’ means the last part.

Verses 8-9a If they obey God, God will listen to them. God will now do good things to them, or *bless them. God promises four good things, or *blessings:

·  Their lives will begin again. This is what ‘your light will flood out like the dawn’ means. The dawn is the beginning of the day. They will make a new start.

·  God will cure their injuries. That includes injuries both to their bodies and to their homes and families.

·  Their *righteous (very, very good) God would go ahead of them. Only God is really very, very good. But he calls his people ‘*righteous’ (good), too, if they obey him. The fact that they are *righteous (good) protects them.

·  The *glory of God is what makes him so great. It is as if he shines more brightly than the sun!

Verse 9b-10a Compare these verses with verses 6-7. We ‘point the finger’ when we blame somebody.

Verse 10b-12 Here is another list of the good things that God will do. A ‘spring’ is a place in the ground from which water flows out. In verse 12, ‘you’ probably means their children, when they have grown up. ‘Raise up’ is another word for ‘rebuild’.

Verses 13-14 The word ‘*feast’ near the end of verse 14 is important. In most of chapter 58, God has told his people how they should *fast. A ‘*fast’ is not to eat food, often because of your religion. A ‘*feast’ is the opposite of that! A *feast was a happy occasion when people ate plenty of food. We could call this chapter ‘*Feast or *Fast?’ Verses 13-14 are about the *Sabbath. The ‘*Sabbath’ was the 7th day of the week. It was God’s ‘*holy day’. Christians have their *Sabbath on Sunday instead. On that day, Christians remember these two things:

1) God raised Jesus up from death on the day after the *Jewish *Sabbath.

2) God said that it was good to rest (not to work) on one day of the week.

The *Hebrew words for ‘do not do wrong things’ are these. ‘Do not let your foot break the *Sabbath’. Here is what they mean:

·  ‘Do not let your foot’ means ‘do not go’;

·  ‘break the *Sabbath’ means ‘where you will not obey the rules of the *Sabbath’.

So, ‘do not go where you will not obey the rules of the *Sabbath.’ In English, we say, ‘Do not put a foot wrong.’ This means, ‘Do not make a mistake.’ So, the *Jews must have said something that was similar! They must not do whatever pleased them. To do that was to go their own way.

Notice the link with Jacob in verse 1. ‘What Jacob gave you’ were God’s promises to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. The people should enjoy those promises as if they were enjoying a meal. What God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their people would now enjoy. But they would only enjoy the benefit of those promises if they obeyed God. ‘Ride on high places’ probably means ‘rule your own country’.

Chapter 59

v1 Look! The hand of the *LORD is not too short to save you. Neither is his ear too deaf to hear you.

v2 But the wrong things that you have done have separated you from your God. Your *sins have hidden [his] face from you, so that he will not listen [to you].

v3-4 [This is true] for these reasons.

·  Blood stains your hands.

·  The wrong things that you do are [like marks] on your fingers.

·  Your lips have spoken lies.

·  Also, your tongue quietly says evil things.

·  Nobody asks for a fair decision.

·  Nobody claims honestly for his rights.

·  People give reasons that mean nothing.

·  People speak lies.

·  People *conceive trouble and they give birth to evil [things].

v5 They *hatch the eggs of snakes and they are always making *spider’s webs (silky nets to catch flies). People that eat such eggs will die. And when they break an [egg], a [worse] snake will *hatch out.

v6 They cannot use [*spiders’] webs (silky nets) [to make] clothes. They cannot cover themselves with the things that they make. The things that they do are evil. And they use their hands to hurt people.

v7 Their feet hurry to do bad things. They rush to spill innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts. They ruin and destroy things wherever they go.

v8 They do not know the way to *peace. Their paths are never honest. They have bent their roads. Nobody that walks on them will know *peace.

 

v9 So, [God’s] laws are far away from us! Therefore, goodness does not reach us! We look for light, but everything is darkness. [We look] for a glimpse of light, but we walk in dense shadows.

v10 Like blind people, we feel [our way] along the wall. We feel our way like men without eyes. At midday, we fall over as if the light was poor. We are like dead people among strong people.

v11 We all make angry noises, like bears [make]. And we make sad noises, like [birds called] doves make. We look for [people to obey God’s] laws, but we do not find any. [We look] for [people] to help us, but they are far away.

v12 [This is] because we have done many wrong things in your sight, [God]. And our *sins give evidence against us. The wrong things that we have done are always with us. And we know about our *sins.

v13 We have not obeyed the *LORD and we have not been loyal to him. We have turned away from our God. We have spoken about [these things]:

·  [We could be] cruel [to other people].

·  [We could] fight against [God].

We have spoken the lies that we have thought about in our hearts.

v14 Therefore, we have sent away [God’s] laws. Good character [is like someone who] stands a long way away. Truth [is like someone who] has fallen over in the streets. And honest character cannot enter [our society].

v15a [People] cannot find truth anywhere. Also, [it is dangerous for] a person to avoid evil [behaviour]. [Whenever someone does that, bad people] hunt that person to kill him.

 

v15b And the *LORD looked [at his people]. And it did not please him that [people did] not obey [his] laws.

v16 He saw that there was nobody to do anything [about it]. And he considered it terrible that there was nobody to act [in this matter]. So his own arm [brought about] salvation (freedom) for him. And his own very great goodness made him strong.

v17 He put on very great goodness as [a soldier wears] something strong to protect his upper body. And [he put on] salvation (rescue and safety) as [a soldier puts on] something strong to protect his head. He put on clothes [to help him] to fight against his enemies. And he was so eager [to fight them] that it (his eager attitude) was like a coat all round him!

v18 He will give back to people what they deserve.

·  There will be anger against the people that fight against him.

·  [There will be] a fair punishment to his enemies.

·  [There will be] a due payment to the islands.

v19 In the west, people will be afraid of the name of the *LORD. And from where the sun rises [in the east], they will respect his *glory. [This is] because he will rush along like a river. The Spirit of the *LORD will push him along.

v20 ‘The *Redeemer will come to *Zion. [He will come] to the people from Jacob’s [family] who are sorry for their *sins’, declares the *LORD.

v21 ‘Now I, I have this *covenant with them’, says the *LORD. ‘My Spirit is upon you and I have put my words into your mouth. They will not go from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their children. This will be [true], now and always’, says the *LORD.

Notes

Verse 1 ‘Too short’ means ‘too weak’. ‘Too deaf’ means ‘would not listen’.

Verse 2 ‘*Sins’ are the wrong things that we do. They include our evil words and our evil thoughts. These verses tell us that *sins are like a fence between us and God. They separate us from God.

Verses 3-4 These verses contain a list of the *sins that had separated God from his people. ‘The people’ means the leaders and many of the ordinary people. The verses probably mean:

Blood stains your hands.

They have killed people, perhaps because these people served God. In the *Hebrew Bible, ‘hands’ here means [what you] ‘gripped’.

The wrong things that you do are [like marks] on your fingers.

The word ‘fingers’ emphasises that they have involved themselves personally.

Your lips have spoken lies.

‘Lips’ here means ‘mouths’.

Your tongue quietly says evil things.

‘Your tongue’ also means ‘mouth’. Together, lips and tongue mean ‘everything that you say’.

Nobody asks for a fair decision.

‘Nobody’ means the evil people that do these bad things. They do what is unfair. They ask judges to make judgements that are unfair and wicked.

Nobody claims honestly for his rights.

Again, ‘nobody’ means the bad people. They do not speak honestly. They tell lies to get what they want.

People give reasons that mean nothing.

‘People’ means the bad people. Their untrue words have no value. In English, we call those ‘empty words’.

People speak lies.

Again this means the bad people. The lies are probably the ‘reasons that mean nothing’.

People *conceive trouble and they give birth to evil [things].

‘*Conceive’ means ‘have sex to make a baby’. Here it means that they do things in order to make trouble for other people. They do not ‘give birth’ to a real baby here. Instead of a baby, the result of their actions is that even more bad things happen.

Verses 5-6a An egg ‘hatches’ when the baby animal inside it comes out (‘hatches out’). Before that happens, the mother animal sits on the egg. We use the word ‘hatches’ for both actions: the egg hatches out, and the mother hatches the egg. The link with verse 4 is the word ‘*conceive’. Here, the baby animal means something very nasty that happens to the people. A ‘*spider’ is like an insect that cannot fly. Actually, an insect has 6 legs, but a *spider has 8 legs. A *spider catches its food in a net called a web. It makes that out of a very thin silky string that comes from its body. One way to understand these verses is to change the order of the words.

            They *hatch the eggs of snakes. People that eat their eggs will die. And when they break one, a [worse] snake will *hatch out.

            They are always making *spider’s webs (silky nets to catch flies). They cannot use their webs to make clothes. They cannot cover themselves with the things that they make from them.

‘They’ means the people in verses 3-4. They do two things. One is dangerous, the other has no use.

1) Bible students are not sure what kinds of snakes Isaiah meant. But the snakes poison people when the snakes bite them. The second snake is probably more poisonous than the first snake. Isaiah probably means this. What people do in verses 3-4 will make things go from bad to worse! In other words, the situation is already bad, but it will become even worse.

2) People cannot make clothes with *spider’s webs (silky nets to catch flies). In the same way, what people do in verses 3-4 will be of no use. They will not make things become better!

Verse 6b-7 Everything that they do is bad! ‘Their feet hurry’ and ‘rush’ to do these things. This means that they do these bad things quickly. They do not wait to think about what they are doing. ‘To spill innocent blood’ means ‘to kill people that have done nothing wrong’. So, ‘blood stains their hands’, verse 3.

Verse 8 ‘Way’, ‘path’ and ‘road’ all mean the same. They mean the rules that we use to decide what to do. An English phrase for this is ‘life-style’. The life-style of the leaders (and, probably, many of the people) did not bring them *peace. This does not mean ‘no war’. It means their life-style did not satisfy them. They were never really content.

Verses 9-11 These verses describe how some people feel, including Isaiah. ‘Goodness’ means the good things that God and his people do. Here, it means a fair and honest society. ‘Light’ in verse 9 probably means God, or the leader that God will send. Isaiah often uses ‘light’ to mean God or God’s *Messiah. The ‘*Messiah’ was a special leader that God promised to send to his people. For Christians, Jesus is the *Messiah. Look at number 5 in the section ‘Something to do’. There you can see some verses in Isaiah about light and the *Messiah. Notice four things in these verses:

1) People look for just a glimpse of light, but they see none. The ‘glimpse of light’ probably means ‘a small thing that God does for them’.

2) People feel like people that are blind. They feel as if they can see nothing. The darkness means that the nation is not obeying God’s laws.

3) People feel as weak in the situation as if they were ‘dead’. The people that do not obey God are ‘strong’.

4) That makes people both angry and sad. A bird called a ‘dove’ makes a sound like somebody that is crying quietly.

Verse 12 This verse is like something in a court of law.

The people agree that they are guilty.

We have done many things that are wrong in your sight. (‘In your sight’ means ‘as God looks at them’.)

Their *sin is the lawyer that accuses them.

And our *sins give evidence against us.

We know that the lawyer’s words are true.

The wrong things that we have done are always with us.

The people know all about their *sins.

And we know about our *sins.

Verse 13 ‘Turned away’ means that they have not obeyed God. They refused to serve him and they neglected his law. The people thought that they could be cruel to poorer people. ‘Have thought about’ translates the same *Hebrew word as ‘*conceive’ in verse 4. We could translate the last line as: ‘we have spoken the lies that our hearts *conceived.’

Verses 14-15a These verses end this section (verses 9-15a). They say what is wrong with society as a result of people’s *sins. The worst thing is at the end. Society opposes the people that want to obey God’s laws! People have good character when they obey God’s laws continuously.

Verse 15b-16 God does do something to answer the prayer in verses 9-15a. That was the prayer of the few people who are still loyal to God. Only they still love and obey God. ‘Do anything’ really means ‘come between’. There was nobody to ‘come between’ God and his people, in order to give them a right relationship with himself. Or, there was nobody to ‘come between’ them and their enemies, to save (rescue) them. So God decided to do it himself! ‘His own arm’ is a phrase that means: ‘God is doing something.’ For Christians, it often means Jesus Christ, even in the *Old Testament. Read the note on Isaiah 53:1. ‘Salvation’ here means that he ‘makes his people free’. The *Hebrew word for ‘salvation’ is the word from which we get the name ‘Jesus’.

Verse 17 These words describe what God wears in battle. He does not use guns and swords like our soldiers. He uses his *righteousness (very great goodness) to bring salvation (rescue and freedom) to his people.

Verse 18 But those things, *righteousness (very great goodness) and salvation (rescue and freedom), will still punish God’s enemies. That is because God is very, very good. He is so good that he has to punish people for *sin. We do not know exactly how God will do that. But there will be punishment for people that are not sorry for their *sins. The verse compares that to a loan. The punishment is like a payment that God ‘gives back’ to them. The ‘islands’ are the countries outside the boundaries of Judah.

Verse 19 ‘Be afraid of’ means the same here as ‘respect’. God’s *glory is his greatness. The Bible often describes God’s glory as a shining light that is more splendid than anything else. God shines more strongly than the sun! Bible students differ in how they translate verse 19b. They are not sure what the *Hebrew words there really mean. Here are some examples.

 

King James Bible

Buksbazen

(a writer who is a *Jew)

New International Version

When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the *LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

For distress shall come like a pent-up stream, driven by the Spirit of the *LORD.

For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the *LORD drives along.

·  ‘standard’ here means ‘flag’.

·  ‘distress’ means ‘trouble’.

·  ‘pent-up’ means when something has to stay in one place. In the end the pressure is so great that it rushes out.

·  ‘driven’ means that the Spirit of the *LORD will push it along.

·  ‘pent-up’ means when something has to stay in one place. In the end, the pressure is so great that it rushes out.

·  ‘drives’ here means ‘pushes along’.

That text has a note that the verse can also be similar to the King James Bible.

This part of the verse could therefore mean two things:

1) When there is trouble, God will do something to help his people. (King James)

2) The Spirit of God will come like a flood against his enemies in verse 18. (Buksbazen)

The New International Version gives both translations. Both are true! In our translation, ‘he’ and ‘him’ mean ‘the *LORD’.

Verse 20 ‘*Redeemer’ is a name for God and his *Messiah. There are notes on the word ‘*redeem’ at Isaiah 43:1. The ‘people from Jacob’s [family]’ is a name for the *Jews.

Verse 21 A ‘*covenant’ is an agreement. Here, it is a special agreement between God and his people. They agree to love God and to obey him. They will serve him as their God. God agrees to be their God and to protect them. He will show his love to them. Here, the *covenant is probably what God has just said in verse 20.

Something to do

1. Read Isaiah 1:10-20. Compare it with Isaiah chapter 58. Both passages say that religion is not enough. People must also obey God’s laws.

2. Study Isaiah 52:12, Romans 13:12 and 2 Corinthians 6:7. Compare them with Isaiah 58:8b.

3. Read Exodus 13:20-22. Of which verse in Isaiah chapter 58 does that passage remind you?

4. Read Genesis 2:1-3, which tells us about the beginning of the *Sabbath. Also, read Exodus 20:8-11.

5. Find these verses in Isaiah: 2:5; 5:20 and 5:30; 9:2; 10:17; 30:26; 42:6 and 42:16; 45:7; 49:6; 51:4; 58:8 and 58:10; 60:1 and 60:3; 60:19-20. Decide which of these refers to the *Messiah.

6. Pray for your country as Isaiah prayed for his country in 59:9-15a. He did not say that they have done wrong things. Instead he said that we have done wrong things.

 

Chapter 60

The first song of the *Messiah

v1 Rise up and shine! [Do that] because your light has come! And the *glory of the *LORD has risen over you.

v2 Look, because darkness covers the earth. And deep darkness is over the people. But the *LORD will rise up above you and [the world will] see his *glory over you.

v3 Then, people that are not *Jews will come to your light. Also, kings will come to the bright light that begins to shine over you.

v4 Open your eyes and look all round you. Everybody is gathering and [everybody] is coming to you. Your sons will come from far away and [you will] carry your daughters in your arms.

v5 Then you will look and you will shine! And your heart will beat and it will become larger [inside you]. [This will happen] because they will bring the wealth from over the seas to you. The rich [things] from the nations will come to you.

v6 Groups of camels will cover your [land]. Young camels [will come from] Midian and Ephah. And everybody from Sheba will come. They will carry gold and *incense. Also, they will talk about how great the *LORD is.

v7 [People] will gather all the farm animals from Kedar [and they will bring them] to you. They will offer the male sheep from Nebaioth to you. I will accept them when people offer them [to me] on my *altar. So, I will make my wonderful *temple beautiful.

v8 These are the people that [seem to] fly along like clouds. They come like birds to their nests.

v9 [They do this] because the [people on the] islands are expecting me. The ships from Tarshish are at the front of [the people that are coming]. They bring your sons from far away. And they bring silver and gold. They will come to the name of the *LORD your God. [He is] the *Holy [God] of Israel. [They do this] because he has made you beautiful.

v10 And the sons of strangers will rebuild your walls. Also, their kings will serve you. I struck you when I was angry. But I will be kind to you now that I am favourable [to you].

v11 Your gates will always be open. [People] will never close them, during the day or during the night. Then, people can bring in [to you] the wealth of the nations. Their kings will come with them.

v12 Because the nation or the *kingdom that will not serve you, [somebody will] destroy it]. [That nation] will ruin itself completely.

v13 The *glory of Lebanon will come to you. [Its *glory is] pine trees, fir trees and cypress trees. They will make my *temple beautiful. And I will put my *glory where my feet touch the earth.

v14 The people that have been cruel to you will come. They will bend down in front of you. And everybody that hated you will come. And they will bend down on their knees at your feet. And they will call you, ‘The City of the *LORD. [You are] *Zion, [you] belong to the *Holy [God] of Israel.’

v15 People have avoided you and they have hated you. Now, everybody will always be proud of you. Although nobody travelled through you, everybody will [always] be happy because of you.

v16 And you will drink the milk of nations and royal breasts will *nurse you. Then you will know that I, the *LORD, am your Saviour (Rescuer) and your *Redeemer. I am the very strong [God] of Jacob.

v17 I will bring you gold instead of *bronze (hard yellowish-brown metal). And [I will bring you] silver instead of iron. And instead of wood [I will bring you] *bronze. And [I will bring you] iron instead of stones. And I will make peace your ruler and very great goodness will govern you.

v18 You will not hear in your country [the noise that] fierce people make. Nobody will ruin or destroy anything inside your borders. And you will call your walls Safety and your gates *Praise.

v19 The sun will not give you light in the day again, neither will the moon shine brightly on you. And the *LORD will always be your light and your God will be your *glory.

v20 Your sun will never set again and your moon will never disappear. [That is] because the *LORD will always be your light. And your unhappy days will end.

v21 Then all your people will be very good and they will always possess the land. They will be the shoot [small new branch] that I have planted. [They will be] the work that my hands have made to display my beauty.

v22 The least [person] among you will become a thousand and the smallest [person] will become a strong nation. I am the *LORD. When it happens, I will do it quickly.

Notes

The 1st Song of the *Messiah

Verse 1 This verse follows God’s promises in Isaiah 59:15b-20. Isaiah tells the *Jews, ‘Rise up and shine!’ This is because God has come to them. The light is another name for God or his *Messiah. The ‘*Messiah’ is a special leader that God promised to send to his people. For Christians, it means Jesus. ‘*Glory’ is what makes God great. It means that God shines brighter than the sun! This verse tells us that we must be like God! In other words, because God is good, we also must be good. ‘Shine’ does not mean here that God shines on us. Instead, we shine because God is inside us! Read number 2 in the section ‘Something to do’. ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God.

Verse 2 Darkness here means places where people do not obey God’s laws. It means people in Judah and people in the rest of the world. What God does for his people Israel, he will do for everybody!

Verse 3 ‘Kings’ means rulers. ‘People’ means the people that they rule. It means everybody. The ‘bright light’ is the place where God himself is.

Verse 4 People will come to the *LORD from every part of the world. They will include *Jews that do not live in Judah. They also include people that are not *Jews. Some people will come from beyond the seas, read verse 9. Some will be weak, so they will need nurses to carry them. Neither distance nor weakness will prevent them. Everybody can come to where the *LORD is!

Verse 5 ‘Your heart will beat and it will become larger’ means that you will feel very, very proud. The wealth and the rich things will come to *Zion when the *LORD returns to the earth. *Zion is another name for Jerusalem. Here it means the New Jerusalem that we read about in Revelation 21:2. For Christians, the New Jerusalem is Heaven.

Verses 6-7 These verses tell us that people will come to the *LORD from many directions.

Midian and Sheba are in the south.

Ephah, Kedar and Nebaioth are in the north and east.

Tarshish (verse 9) is in the west.

Isaiah is telling us that people are coming from many places to *Zion, the New Jerusalem. These people will come to serve God. They will say that he is great. They will offer their animals on God’s *altar. This is a place where they burnt animals to obey God. Christians think that this is only a word-picture. In ancient Judah, people gave animals in this manner in order to praise God. In the New Jerusalem, there will be other ways to do this. They also burned *incense, which made a special smell. The important thing to notice is this. Everybody will praise God, not only the *Jews! The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. It was on a hill called *Zion.

Verse 8 The birds are the ones called doves. They make a noise like someone that is crying quietly.

Verse 9 Only God can give to people what they want, or expect. So, they come to him when they get the opportunity. ‘Me’ in this verse is God, who is speaking. The islands are countries outside Judah. ‘Come to the name’ probably means ‘give honour to the name’.

Verse 10 The ‘sons of strangers’ means ‘foreigners’. But they are not foreigners now! The New Jerusalem is their city, as well as the city of the *Jews! ‘Walls’ probably means ‘everything that makes the city safe and strong’. The *Hebrew word for ‘serve’ here means what the *Levites (special servants of God) did for the *Jews. They told the *Jews about God.

Verse 11 The gates are always open, because no enemy will ever attack them. There will be complete security for the people in the city. Also, people that bring gifts will always be able to enter through the gates. Bible students are not sure about the correct meaning of the phrase ‘their kings will come with them’. It may mean:

·  the kings will come in as prisoners; or

·  the kings will come in as leaders to give the wealth to *Zion.

Verse 12 A *kingdom is a country that a king rules. This verse, which is at the centre of this chapter, is very important for the meaning of the whole chapter. *Kingdoms that will not serve ‘you’ will not continue. ‘You’ means *Zion and its God. The country that opposes *Zion and its God will ruin itself. That country will destroy itself. This is because it will not serve God. Only in *Zion will such a *kingdom find the love of a God who forgives people.

Verse 13 In verse 1, ‘*glory’ was what made God great. Here, it is what makes Lebanon great. The verse tells us what it is. It is their wonderful trees. The three trees called pine, fir and cypress are beautiful trees with leaves that are always green. ‘My *temple’ is God’s house in Jerusalem. This verse would remind the *Jews that King Solomon used wood from Lebanon. He used it to build the *temple on the hill called *Zion in Jerusalem. Look at number 3 in the section ‘Something to do’.

Verse 14 These people were Judah’s enemies. But now, they want to love and to serve God in *Zion. Notice that they want to serve God, not the *Jews!

Verse 15 The important word in this verse is ‘always’. There is a great change. This is because people come to God, not just to Israel. Remember, this Jerusalem (*Zion) is the one in Revelation 21:2.

Verse 16 Only God can make this happen! The relationship between *Zion and the world is the same as that between mother and baby! It is a very close relationship.

Verse 17 ‘*Bronze’ is a metal. It is a mixture of two metals called copper and tin. It is not as valuable as gold. In each example, something better replaces something that is less good. Only God can give real peace (‘no war’) and very great goodness. So, this verse tells us this: when God rules, everything will become better!

Verse 18 There will be no crime in the country. It will be a safe place. ‘*Praise’ here means the words that we use to praise somebody. Some Bibles translate ‘safety’ as ‘salvation’. Salvation also means safety, but especially after we die. Therefore many Christians think that this chapter is about the New Jerusalem. The walls and gates belong to the new city. Look at number 5 in the section ‘Something to do’.

Verses 19-20 Notice this. These verses do not say that God is the sun. He is greater than the sun, which only shines in the day. He is greater than the moon, which only shines at night. God never stops shining, in the day or in the night.

Verse 21 Only God is really very, very good, but he calls his servants very good also. That is how they display God’s beauty. God’s light does not only shine on them (verse 19), it also shines from them (verse 1)! Notice the word ‘shoot’. It means a small new branch from a plant. The shoot grows into a bigger plant. Isaiah uses the word 3 times: 11:1, 14:19 and here. In 11:1, it is a name for the *Messiah, the leader that God will send. As God’s people will be like him, so they too will be his ‘shoots’, like the *Messiah! They will grow to be like him.

Verse 22 Here is God’s promise to Abraham: ‘I will make you the father of many nations’, Genesis 17:5. It is possible to translate ‘I will do it quickly’ as ‘I will enjoy it’. God wants to enjoy heaven as much as we do!

Something to do

1. Compare Isaiah 60:1 with Matthew 5:16.

2. Read 1 Samuel 14:27-29, where Jonathan’s eyes ‘shone’.

3. Read about Solomon and Lebanon in 1 Kings 5:1-12.

4. Study the use of the words ‘*glory’ and ‘beautiful’ in this chapter. Decide where they mean:

·  the light from God himself;

·  the beauty that God has given to something else.

5. Compare Isaiah 60:17-21 with Hebrews 12:18-24 and Revelation 21:10 to 22:5.

 

Chapters 61 and 62

The 2nd and 3rd Songs of the *Messiah

Chapter 61

v1 ‘The Spirit of the *Lord, [who is] *LORD, [is] upon me. [This is] because the *LORD has *anointed me to declare good news to poor people. He has sent me to bind up the hearts [that circumstances have] broken. [He has sent me] to tell the people in prison that they are free. And [he has sent me] to tell the prisoners that they can come out of the darkness.

v2 [He has sent me] to declare [that now is] the year of the *LORD’s kindness. Also, [to declare] that the day when God will punish people [is near]. [He has sent me] to comfort everybody who is very sad. [They are so sad] that it makes them weep.

v3 [He has sent me] to do [these things]. [I will do them] for all those people in *Zion whose spirits are aching.

·  [They will have] flowers on them instead of ashes.

·  [They will have on them] oil that will make them glad. Then, they will not weep.

·  [They will have] a cover of *praise instead of their spirit of despair.

People will call them large trees of very great goodness. They will be [as trees] that the *LORD has planted. They will display his beauty.’

v4 They will rebuild what [enemies] ruined long ago. And they will make places new again [that enemies] destroyed in the distant past. They will repair cities that [somebody] ruined. [Someone] destroyed [the cities] when their grandparents were alive!

v5 Foreigners will stand and they will be *shepherds to your animals. People from abroad will work in your fields and in your *vineyards.

v6 And [people] will call you ‘priests of the *LORD’. Your name will be ‘servants of our God’. You will have the wealth of nations. And you will tell everybody about how rich they [have made you].

v7 Instead of your shame, [you will have] double [the amount]. And [instead of] disappointment they will sing aloud about what [God has] given [to them]. Therefore, they will possess a double [amount] in their land. And they will always have joy.

v8 [This is] because I, the *LORD, love *justice. I hate people that steal from the gifts on my *altar. And I will give them a reward because I am loyal [to them]. I will make a *covenant with them that will never end.

v9 And the nations will know their seed (*descendants). People [from all the nations] will know their children. Everybody that sees them will agree this. They are the seed (*descendants) that the *LORD has *blessed.

 

v10 ‘I have great delight in the *LORD. My spirit is very happy in my God, because he has put the clothes of salvation (rescue and safety) onto me. He has dressed me in the clothing of very great goodness. [I am] like a bridegroom, with a very beautiful special hat like a priest’s. And [I am] like a bride whose *jewellery makes her beautiful.

v11 So the *Lord, [who is] *LORD, will make very great goodness spring up in front of every nation. And he will make *praise spring up in front of every nation. It will be like the soil that makes the young plant come up. And [it will be like] a garden that causes seeds to grow.

Chapter 62

v1 I will not be silent, for the benefit of *Zion. For the benefit of Jerusalem, I will not remain quiet. [I will be like this] until [Jerusalem's] great goodness shines out like the dawn. [I will be like this until Jerusalem’s] salvation (rescue and safety) burns like the brightest torch.

v2 Then, the nations will see your great goodness and every king [will see] your *glory. And they will call you by a new name. The mouth of the *LORD will give it to you.

v3 And you will be a splendid crown in the *LORD’s hand. [You will be] a very beautiful royal hat in the hand of your God.

v4 They will not call you ‘Alone’ again. The name of your country will not be ‘Desert’. But they will call you ‘Hephzibah’ and they will call your land ‘Beulah’. [This will happen] because the *Lord will have delight in you. And because your land will be [like someone who is] married.

v5 Even as a young man marries a young woman, so your sons will marry you. As a bridegroom is happy with his bride, so your God will be happy with you.

v6 I have put guards on your walls, Jerusalem. They will not be silent, through all the day and through all the night. Those [people] that remember the *LORD, do not rest.

v7 And do not let [the *LORD] rest, until he establishes Jerusalem. And until he makes [Jerusalem the place] that all the world praises.’

 

v8 The *LORD has promised [these things] by his right hand and by his strong arm.

‘I will never again give your grain to your enemies for food.

And never again will foreigners drink the new wine that you have worked hard to make.

v9 But the people who harvest it will eat it. And they will praise the *LORD. And those [people] who gather the *grapes will drink it. They will do it in the *courts that are round my *temple.’

 

v10 Pass through, pass through the gates. Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway (important road). Remove the stones. Lift up a *banner for the people [from the nations].

v11 Look! The *LORD has declared this to the furthest parts of the earth. ‘Say to the Daughter of *Zion, “Look! Your salvation (rescue) is coming! Look! His reward is with him! He is bringing with him what he will repay.” ’

v12 Their name will be the *Holy People. [They are the people] whom the *LORD has *redeemed. And people will call you [by these names]. ‘[The People whom Somebody) Searched For’ [and] ‘The City that Nobody Avoids’.

Notes on the 2nd Song of the *Messiah

Notes on chapter 61

Verse 1a Notice the different meanings of the words that we translate *Lord and *LORD here. ‘*Lord’ means ‘master, someone with authority’. God has authority over everything in heaven and on earth. ‘*LORD’ is his *covenant name. This is a name that only his people should use. They are the people that have agreed to accept God’s *covenant. Because God cares about them, they agree (make a *covenant) to love him. And they agree to obey him. ‘Anoint’ means ‘pour on’. The *Jews poured oil on their priests and kings at the start of their careers. Here, God is ‘pouring oil’ onto his special servant at the start of his career. The oil that the *Jews used came from a fruit such as the *olive. The ‘oil’ that God used means his Holy Spirit. Luke 3:21-22 and 4:16-21 tell us about how Isaiah 61:1 came true in the life of Jesus Christ. Our word ‘Christ’ comes from a *Greek word. It means that someone has ‘*anointed’ him. The *Hebrew word for that is ‘*messiah’. When God *anointed Jesus, Jesus became *Messiah with a capital M.

Verse 1b-3a God’s *Messiah will declare good news to poor people. They are people who cannot get any advantages in their lives. This is because other people or circumstances will not allow it. An old English word for ‘good news’ is ‘godspel’. That word has now become ‘gospel’. Here is Isaiah’s ‘Gospel’ (good news)!

Here are 7 things that the *Messiah will do.

·  He will bind up hearts that the circumstances of life have broken. ‘Hearts’ here could mean anything in our lives that makes us unhappy. It could be illness of body or mind, or a bad conscience. ‘Bind up’ means ‘put a bandage on’. God’s *Messiah will give people personal attention! Because of the *Messiah’s work, people will become new again, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

·  He will declare to people in prison that they are free. He will tell prisoners that they can come out of the darkness. People that come out of the darkness can see again, Isaiah 9:2 and 42:7. ‘Prisoners’ means people that an enemy has caught. It also means slaves. ‘You must make the 50th year special. You must declare “freedom” through all the land and to everybody that lives in it. It must be a special 50th year for you. You must give back to every man his possessions. And you must send every man back to his family’, Leviticus 25:10.

·  He will tell people about the time. Now is the time for God to be kind to some people, but to punish other people. Notice this. The *LORD is kind for a long time (a year), but he will punish for a short time (a day). The rest of this section concentrates on the year, not on the day! Look at number 1 in the section ‘Something to do’.

·  He will comfort the sad people who are weeping. There is a link here with Isaiah 57:18. Here are verses 17 and 18.

v17 ‘He wanted more than he really needed. That was a *sin. It made me angry and I punished him. I was angry and I hid from him. But he continued to do what he wanted to do.

v18 I have seen what he is doing. But I will cure him. Then I will guide him and I will give him back his comfort.’

‘*Sin’ is when we do not obey God’s laws. The link between the verses shows why these people are sad. It is mainly their *sin that makes them sad. Their *sin makes them weep. The next promise also agrees with this. But the people could also be weeping because of unhappy things in their lives (Genesis 50:10-11).

·  He will put flowers on them instead of ashes. People put ashes on their heads to show when they were very sad. At such times they also wore clothes that they made from rough cloth. It was the same kind of cloth from which they made sacks. They did those things when something bad happened. Or they did them when they had done something very wrong. But the good news is this. *Messiah would take away the ashes from their heads. He would put a circle of beautiful flowers there instead!

·  He will put on them oil that will make them glad. Then they will not weep. Oil was a sign of happiness, as in Psalm 23:5, ‘You *anointed my head with oil.’ God has *anointed not only the *Messiah. He has also *anointed those people that follow him! As the ashes go from their heads, so the sad faces go as well. Then there is beauty and happiness.

·  He will cover them with *praise instead of their spirit of despair. ‘*Praise’ here means the words that we use to praise someone. ‘Cover’ means to put on the kind of long clothes that go all over people. Every part of them praises God!

Verse 3b The verse ends with some of the results of the *Messiah’s work. They will have a new name. The new name is ‘large trees that are very good’. Previously in Isaiah, large trees have been where people *worshipped false gods, 1:29 and 57:5. Now, as a result of the *Messiah’s work, God’s people are called ‘trees of very great goodness’. Only God is really very, very good, but he gives that quality to his people too. As God has *anointed his people like the *Messiah, so they become very good like their God. That is how they can display his beauty.

In verses 3-9, Isaiah used the words ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘you’ and ‘your’. They all refer to ‘those people in *Zion’, verse 3. Notice how Isaiah changes from ‘their’ to ‘your’ at the start of verse 5. Then he changes back again in the middle of verse 7. This is part of Isaiah’s style, and translations should not change it. It tells us that Isaiah wrote with a real sense of excitement. So he changed from second person (you, your) to third person (they, their, them) and back again!

Verse 4 God’s people will be new, with a new name, verses 1-3. Also, we now discover that their land will become new again. They will rebuild what people destroyed many years before. Isaiah does not say who the enemies were. They probably included Syria, Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. It is not important. The important thing is the new earth, Isaiah 66:22. This tells us about the future. In the past, Judah’s people returned to a country that Babylon’s army had destroyed. That was a sign; in other words, that event tells us about the future. It was a sign of how God’s people will come to the New Jerusalem. But God’s people will come to a New Jerusalem that God has already built!

Verse 5 A *shepherd is a sheep farmer. A vineyard is a field where *vines grow. *Grapes grow on *vines. People make wine from *grapes. In Micah 5:4, the *prophet says that the *Messiah will ‘stand and be *shepherd’. The word ‘stand’ means that they will be responsible for the animals. These foreigners are not slaves. They are people who choose gladly to help God’s people. This is their delight, and not just a duty.

Verse 6 ‘Priests of the *LORD’ reminds us of:

Exodus 19:6. ‘You will be to me a *kingdom of priests and a *holy nation.’ This was an ideal state that had never happened. A *kingdom is a country that a king rules. Here, the king would be God.

1 Peter 2:5. ‘You are a *holy group of priests.’ This is a description of Christ’s church, that is, all genuine Christians. Every Christian is one of God’s priests. What Judah and Israel failed to be, God expects his church to be.

‘Servants of God’ reminds us about the *Levites’ work. We can read about that in Numbers 8:5-22.

Verse 7 This verse starts with 3 *Hebrew words which mean:

1

2

3

(instead of)

(your shame)

(double)

It continues with 3 more *Hebrew words which mean:

4

5

6

(and disappointment)

(they will be happy)

(what they have)

Words 1, 2 and 3 fit well into the end of verse 6. A good translation of ‘double’ will then be ‘plenty’. Also, the ‘your’ fits well with ‘you’ in verse 6.

The *prophets often change from ‘your’ to ‘their’ when they mean the same people. This is another example. In words 4, 5 and 6, ‘and’ will include the ‘instead of’ from word 1. ‘What they have’ means ‘what the *LORD has given to them’. Again, ‘double’ at the end of the verse also means ‘plenty’.

Verse 8 ‘*Justice’ is what a court of law considers to be right and proper. An *altar is a special table. Priests burnt animals on it to obey God. The first word ‘because’ is very important. It tells us this. Everything in verses 5-7 happens because God loves *justice. But he hates it when people steal. Here, people are stealing things from what the priests burnt on God’s *altar. It hurt God! God wants everything from his people, not just a part of it. He himself is so loyal to his people, that he keeps nothing for himself. The *covenant gives them everything from God that they need.

Verse 9 ‘Seed’ is an important word here. It means more than ‘*descendants’. *Descendants are children, children’s children and so on. ‘Seed’ links with many other verses in the Bible. Therefore it is important that we translate the *Hebrew word as ‘seed’ and not as ‘*descendants’. This is because here it is a technical word, not just a description. In Something to do number 4 are some of the important verses where the Bible uses ‘seed’ instead of *descendants.

Notice that Isaiah used two different words for God’s people: seed and children. This is because he wrote *Hebrew poetry. One type of poetry was ‘words which meant the same’. So, children here means the same as ‘seed’ in the line before, and ‘seed’ in the line after.

And the nations will know their seed.

All the peoples will know their children.

The plural word ‘peoples’ usually means foreign people in the *Old Testament. So our translation says ‘people [from all the nations]’.

The work of the *Messiah and the work of the church

Isaiah 61:1-3 tells us about the work of Jesus, the *Messiah. Jesus himself repeated some of these words when he started his work, Luke 4:16-21. Isaiah 61:4-9 tells us about the people that the *Messiah came to. Isaiah described it as if God’s people were coming home to Judah from Babylon. Foreign people like Cyrus helped them. But many Bible students think that it describes the work of the church. It will end when Jesus rules the new *Heavens and the new Earth. That is, when God gives the New Jerusalem for his people to live in, Revelation 21:2.

Notes on the 3rd Song of the *Messiah

Verse 10 When people marry, they wear special clothes. Because of those special clothes, everybody can see what they are doing. We can read that in Isaiah 59:17.

v17 He [God] put on *righteousness (very great goodness) to cover his body and [he put on] salvation (rescue and safety) to cover his head. He put on [special] clothes [to help him] to fight against his enemies. And he was so eager [to fight them] that it was like a coat all round him!

It tells us about the clothes that God would wear to save his people. Those clothes were *righteousness (very great goodness) and salvation (rescue and safety). In Isaiah 61:10, the *Messiah wears the same clothes! Notice that salvation (rescue and safety) links him with God’s people. And *righteousness (very great goodness) links him with God. He is the perfect answer to Job’s prayer, in Job 9:33! But the beautiful clothes also remind us of the wedding between Christ and his church (his people). This will happen when he returns to the earth. The bridegroom wears a very beautiful special hat. Read the note about verse 3 again. There, the special hat is a circle of beautiful flowers. ‘*Jewellery’ means small objects that people wear to make themselves look beautiful. Those objects often contain a very valuable stone, such as a diamond.

Verse 11 The *Messiah is also happy because his people will be very good. Also, they will be full of *praise to God. ‘Soil’ and ‘garden’ are places where seeds grow well. ‘Seed’ here means the seed of a plant. It does not mean the same as ‘seed’ in verse 9.

Notes on Chapter 62

Verse 1 The word ‘silent’ also means ‘without action’ in the *Hebrew language, as in Judges 18:9 and Psalm 107:29. In many other places, it means ‘no words’, as in Psalm 28:1, Psalm 39:3 and Isaiah 42:14. ‘Remain quiet’ means ‘be without action’. The verse means that *Messiah will continue to pray (not be silent). He will also do things (not remain quiet). He will do this until there is *righteousness (great goodness) and salvation (rescue and safety) in *Zion.

·  ‘Salvation’ means that God will save *Zion from its enemies. *Zion is another name for Jerusalem. In history, it means that God saved Jerusalem from the enemy Babylon. This happened when King Cyrus defeated Babylon in 538 *B.C. Then, Cyrus was acting as God’s special servant, Isaiah 45:1. Cyrus sent the *Jews back to Jerusalem and Judah. But for Christians, Jerusalem means the New Jerusalem. The *Messiah will save the people that trust him from the last enemy, death. They will live in the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:1-2. We could translate ‘salvation’ by the simpler word ‘rescue’ or ‘safety’.

·  ‘*Righteousness’ means goodness. In other words, the city will be full of people that do right and good things. It will be full of goodness. The New Jerusalem will be full of people that reflect God’s great goodness (called *righteousness).

Verse 2 ‘*Glory’ is the splendid beauty of the character of someone who is great and good. It is a quality that seems to shine from inside a person. God’s *glory shines from inside God. His people will be similar. The new name means a new character.

Verse 3 This is an excellent example of *Hebrew poetry, where the two lines mean the same. There is a similar, very beautiful hat on a person’s head in Isaiah 61:10. Notice this. A crown means that the wearer is a king. God’s people are a crown: they mean that their God is king!

Verse 4 In English, the word ‘desert’ has several meanings. One is a dry, sandy place. Another is ‘to leave somebody alone’. So, here it has the second meaning. But the first meaning would also fit! ‘Hephzibah’ means ‘My delight is in her’. ‘Beulah’ means ‘married’.

Verse 5 Here are the two parts of a marriage: the wedding and married life together.

·  Alone becomes Hephzibah. Hephzibah means ‘my delight is in her’.

·  Desert becomes Beulah. Beulah means ‘married’.

Verses 6-7 The *Messiah has put guards on the walls of Jerusalem. When the *Jews returned from Babylon, there were no walls. But Isaiah imagines that there are! They are people that will pray for salvation (rescue and safety) and *righteousness (very great goodness) to come to *Zion. Before Jesus came to earth the first time, there were probably many such people. Refer to number 5 in the section ‘Something to do’. The best guards of God’s city pray about it. These verses describe their prayers.

Verse 8 ‘Right hand’ and ‘strong arm’ are descriptions that both tell us two things about God.

 

Right Hand

Strong Arm

First meaning

(Before Jesus came to earth)

 

God himself

 

The power of God

Second meaning

(After Jesus came to the earth)

 

The Holy Spirit

 

Jesus Christ, the *Messiah

Verse 9 ‘Harvest it’ links with ‘grain’ in verse 8; ‘gather the *grapes’ links with ‘new wine’. Often, an enemy would take the crops in the fields. There would be nothing for the people that worked hard to plant them. God’s promise is that this would never happen again. ‘*Grapes’ are the fruits that make wine. ‘*Courts’ were the open spaces, or yards, round the *temple. The ‘*temple’ was the house of God in Jerusalem.

Verse 10 The people are returning to *Zion, that is, Jerusalem or the new Jerusalem. But who are the people? The *Hebrew word for ‘people’ appears twice in this verse. The first time, it means ‘the people of God, the *Jews’. The second time it means ‘the peoples of God, from the rest of the world’. (‘Peoples’ means people from many nations.) This probably means that Isaiah is writing about the New Jerusalem. The way is easy. The road is clear of stones. The command is to build it into a highway (main road). The road called a ‘highway’ was higher than the land round it. The gates of the city are open. Everybody can come in! A *banner is a piece of material. People wrote words or drew pictures on it. They held it up between two poles. Then, everybody could see it and read it.

Verse 11 ‘Daughter of *Zion’ is a special *Jewish way to say ‘the people that live in *Zion’. The word ‘look’ appears 3 times in this verse. They tell people to make a careful note of what the *prophet wrote.

Look at what the *LORD has declared in verse 10.

Look at the salvation (safety) that the *LORD will bring to the whole world.

Look at the reward, another name for the people that the *Messiah brings with him.

Verse 12 Here is a structure with the pattern a-b-b-a. Students call it a *chiasmus.

a

*Holy People

Always true

b

 

People whom the *LORD has *Redeemed

What the *LORD has done. He is their nearest relative.

Read the note on Isaiah 43:1

 b

The People Whom Somebody Searched For

What the *LORD has done

 a

The City that Nobody Avoids

Always true

We may ask: ‘Who is the “Somebody” who searched for Jerusalem?’ First, it was the *Lord. He searched for Jerusalem because he wanted to show kindness to its people. But then everybody desired Jerusalem, because God shows his kindness there!

Something to do

1. Study Luke 4:16-21. Notice that Jesus did not use all of Isaiah’s words. Why did he stop where he did? The answer is in John 3:17.

2. Read about people to whom God gave (or will give) a new name. Genesis 17:5; Genesis 32:28; Isaiah 62:4; Matthew 16:17-18; Acts 13:9; Revelation 2:17 and 3:12.

3. Read Revelation 1:6, 5:10 and 20:6. Of which verse in Isaiah chapter 61 do they remind you?

4. Read the verses in the *table below. Notice when ‘seed’ means ‘Christ’. And notice when it means ‘God’s people’ (*Jews or Christians). Note that Isaiah sometimes used the word ‘*remnant’ for ‘seed’. (For example, Isaiah 1:9, when he means ‘God’s people’.)

Bible Verse

What the word ‘seed’ means in this verse.

Genesis 3:15

‘Her seed’ means Jesus Christ.

Genesis 22:18

Acts 3:25 explains what ‘your seed’ means here.

Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 15:5,

17:8, 24:7

 

Galatians 3:16 explains what ‘your seed’ means in these verses.

Genesis 21:12

Romans 9:6-8 explains what ‘seed’ means here.

 

Isaiah 1:9, 10:22-23

In Romans 9:29, Paul changes ‘*remnant’ to ‘seed’. That is because he repeated the words from the *Greek *Old Testament.

 

5. Read about the people who prayed in Jerusalem before Jesus’ birth. They are in Luke 2:25 and 2:36-38.

6. Study Isaiah 62:6-7. Make a list of how the guards prayed.

Chapters 63-64

The 4th Song of the *Messiah and Isaiah’s prayer

Chapter 63

(The Song)

v1 Who is this that is coming from Edom and from Bozrah? A bright colour stains his clothes. Who is this that is wearing splendid clothes? He marches forward with great strength. [He says], ‘I am speaking [to you]. I am very, very good. I am strong enough to save you.’

v2 Why are your clothes red? They are like [the clothes] of somebody that has worked in a winepress (place to squeeze juice for wine).

v3 ‘I have worked in the winepress (place to squeeze juice) alone. From [all] the nations, nobody was with me. I walked on them because I was angry. And I put them under my feet in my anger. Their blood went all over my clothes and I stained all my clothing.

v4 [I did that] because the day of *vengeance was in my heart. Also, the year of the people that I have *redeemed had come.

v5 I had looked, but there was nobody to help. And I was very anxious because nobody supported [them]. Therefore my own arm did the work to save them and my own anger supported me.

v6 I walked on the nations in my anger. I was so angry that I made them [seem] *drunk. Then, I poured their blood onto the ground.’

(The Prayer)

v7 I will tell [people] about the kind things [that] the *LORD [has done]. [I will talk about] how people praise the *LORD, because of all that the *LORD has done for us. He has done many good things for the family of Israel. [He did them] because of his great pity. And [he did those things because of] his great kindness [towards those people].

v8 And he said, ‘Certainly, they are my people. [They are] sons, who will be loyal to me.’ So he became the one that saved them.

v9 In all their trouble, he shared their trouble. And the *angel, that was present with him, saved them. And because of his love and because of his *mercy, he *redeemed them. Also, he lifted them up and he carried them. [He looked after them,] as he had done in former times.

v10 But they did not obey him and they made his Holy Spirit angry. So, he turned against them and he became their enemy. He fought against them.

v11 Then he remembered the former times. [He remembered] Moses and his people. [He said] ‘Where is he that brought them up out of the sea, with the leaders of his group? Where is he that put his Holy Spirit on him?

v12 [Where is he] that made his beautiful arm to go at Moses’ right hand? [Where is he] that divided the waters [of the River Jordan] in front of them, to make his name always famous?

v13 [Where is he] that led them through the deep places?’ As a horse [runs] in open country, so they did not fall.

v14 The Spirit of the *LORD gave them rest, as cows and sheep that go down to their fields. This is how you guided your people. [This is how] you made for yourself a famous name!

 

v15 Look down from your *holy and wonderful house in heaven and see [us]. Where is your desire [to do what you have promised] and your strength? [Where is] the love that is inside you and the pity? You are not giving them to us!

v16 But you are our father, even if Abraham does not know us. [You are our father] even if Israel does not recognise us. You, *LORD, are our father. Your name is our *redeemer, from days long ago.

v17 *LORD, why did you let us wander from your ways? [Why did you let us make] our hearts so hard, so that we do not respect you? Come back to us, on behalf of your servants. [We are] the families that belong to you!

v18 Your *holy people will possess [their land] for a short time. Our enemies will walk all over your *holy place.

v19 For a long time, we are as people that you have not governed. [People] did not call us by your name!

Chapter 64

v1 Oh, that you had split the skies and come down! Then the mountains would have trembled in front of you.

v2 [It would have been] like when a fire burns up bits of wood. And [it would have been] like a fire that boils water. [This would have happened] when you came down. And you would have made your enemies know your name. The nations would have shaken in front of you.

v3 [It would have happened] while you did terrible things. They were things that we did not expect. [It would have happened] while you came down. And the mountains would have trembled in front of you.

v4 And, for a long time, nobody has heard of, or thought about, such a God as you. Nobody has seen [such a God]. He acts on behalf of those [people] that wait for him.

v5 You help the people that are happy to do the right things. They [are the people that] remember your ways. But you are angry because, for a long time, we have *sinned against your ways. So, can [anyone] save us?

v6 We have all become like someone who is *unclean. And all the good things that we do are like dirty bits of cloth. We all dry up like a leaf and, like a wind, our *sins sweep us away.

v7 And nobody calls out your name or tries to contact you. [This is] because you have hidden your face from us. And you have made us slowly to lose our strength, because of the power of our *sins.

v8 But *LORD, you are still our father. We are [like] the *clay and you are [like] the *potter. Your hand made all of us.

v9 Do not be too angry with us, *LORD. And do not always remember our *sins. But look! Help us again, we are all your people.

v10 Your *holy cities will become a desert. *Zion will be a desert and Jerusalem will be full of rubbish.

v11 Our fathers praised you in our *holy and wonderful *temple. [But then], fire will burn it. [An enemy will] ruin everything that is of value to us.

v12 After all this, *LORD, will you still do nothing? Will you remain silent and continue to punish us?

Notes on Chapter 63

Notes on the 4th Song of the *Messiah

Verses 1-6 are the fourth (4th) Song of the *Messiah. Here, the *Messiah tells us that he has punished his enemies. The colour of their blood stains his clothes. It makes him look as if he has been jumping on red *grapes! *Grapes are the fruits that people use to make wine.

Verse 1 Isaiah 62:11 says, ‘Look! Your salvation (rescue) is coming.’ In this chapter, it (or, actually, he) arrives. Compare this verse with Isaiah 52:8, and Isaiah chapter 53. But who is coming? And why does he come from Edom?

Edom was a country east of Judah. Its capital city was Bozrah. In the Bible, it is a typical enemy of God. It often appears when the Bible describes Jesus’ return. It appears where writers describe the end of the world. But here and in verse 2, words that are similar mean different things. In *Hebrew, the words for ‘Edom’ and ‘red’ (verse 2) are nearly the same. The writer uses that technique again with ‘Bozrah’ here and ‘winepress’ (place to squeeze juice from *grapes) in verses 2 and 3. ‘Bozrah’ is similar to a word that means ‘wine’ in *Hebrew!

It is God’s *Messiah who is coming from ‘the red place’. He has punished the people there who were God’s enemies. It has made his clothes red (verse 2), as if he had worked in a ‘winepress’ (verses 2-3).

Verse 2 A ‘winepress’ is where people squeeze the juice out of *grapes with their feet. They jump up and down on them! They then make wine from the juice of the *grapes. The red *grapes make the clothes of the workers red.

Verse 3 Notice the word ‘stain’ here and in verse 1. His clothes were not red. His work stained them red. He did the work alone. Nobody helped him, see also verse 5. As an English Christian song says,

There was no other good enough

To pay the price of *sin.

He only (in other words, he alone) could unlock the gate

Of heaven, and let us in.

‘*Sin’ is our thoughts, words and deeds when we do not obey God. Christians see the red colour here as the blood of Jesus. He not only saved his people when he died. He also punished his enemies!

Verse 4 ‘In my heart’ was a *Hebrew way to say ‘in my mind’. ‘The day of *vengeance’ was the day when God was going to punish people. Isaiah 61:2 also refers to ‘the day of *vengeance’. Our translation there has ‘the day when God will punish’. ‘*Vengeance’ means ‘do to somebody the unpleasant things that they have done to you’. God’s ‘day of *vengeance’ is the time when he will punish his enemies. He will punish everybody that does not obey his laws. So, in this section, there is a picture of God. He is doing two things. He is punishing his enemies. But at the same time, he is *redeeming his people. There is a note on ‘*redeem’ in Isaiah 43:1-3.

Verse 5 This is similar to Isaiah 59:16: ‘He saw that there was nobody to do anything [about it]. And he considered it terrible that there was nobody to act [in this matter]. So his own arm [brought about] salvation (rescue and safety) for him. And his own very great goodness made him strong.’ ‘Them’ is ‘the people that I had *redeemed’ in verse 4.

Verse 6 ‘Seem *drunk’ is like Isaiah 51:22, ‘Therefore, hear this, you people that [God is] hurting. You are *drunk, but not with wine.’ They had not drunk too much wine, so that they were *drunk. God had punished them, so that they seemed *drunk! They did not know ‘what had hit them’!

Isaiah’s Prayer

From here, to the end of chapter 64, is one prayer.

·  First, Isaiah remembers the past (63:7-14)

·  Then he confesses his people’s *sins to God. He prays that God will forgive them. (63:15 to 64:12)

Verse 7 There is an ’*inclusio’ in this verse: it starts and ends with words about ‘kindnesses’. These kindnesses are the love of God which never fails. ‘*LORD’ is the name that God used in the *covenant. The ‘*covenant’ was the agreement between God and his people. He agreed to look after them and to be their God. They agreed to love, serve and obey him. We translate the ‘house of Israel’ as the ‘family of Israel’. That may mean the people or the king’s family. Verse 8 tells us that it probably means the people from Israel.

Verse 8 Exodus 14:30 tells us, ‘So the *LORD saved Israel that day.’ That was the day when he saved them from Egypt. He saved them many times after that, up until when Isaiah was alive. Verse 9 tells us about this. He expected them to be loyal to him. That means, to do what they had promised, verse 7. The *Hebrew text actually has ‘sons, who will not be disloyal’. ‘Disloyal’ means the opposite of ‘loyal’. So, ‘not disloyal’ actually means ‘loyal’!

Verse 9 An *angel is a servant of God in heaven. But this *angel is probably the ‘*Angel of the *Covenant’, which may be another name for God himself. The *Hebrew Bible actually calls him ‘the *angel of his face’. ‘*Mercy’ is ‘kindness when you do not have to be kind’. There is a note on ‘*redeemed’ at Isaiah 43:1 and 43:3. Here, it emphasises the family connection in verse 8: ‘my people … sons’. They were the people that God had brought up out of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:21-22.

Verse 10 God had hoped that his sons would ‘be loyal’, verse 8. But they were not loyal. They did not obey God. In fact, they insulted God! This made God’s Holy Spirit angry. Paul warns Christians not to do that in Ephesians 4:30.

Verse 11 Notice the three statements.

·  But they did not obey him. (Verse 10)

·  So he turned against them. (Verse 10)

·  Then he remembered the former times. (Verse 11)

In the *Hebrew Bible, all three words are ‘and’. This shows us the connection. Our translation shows us the story. While God fought against his people, he suddenly remembered the past! He remembered the Red Sea experience. This does not mean that God had forgotten it. It means that he decided to act again. He saved them long ago, and he would do it again. He would rescue his people, his family, see verse 8. Therefore ‘then’ (or ‘and’) in verse 11 means the time when he decided not to punish them too much.

In the original language, ‘leaders of his group’ is ‘leaders of his flock’. ‘Flock’ actually means a ‘group of animals’, especially sheep. God’s people are often called ‘sheep’ (Psalms 23:1, 100:3, Isaiah 40:11 and John 10:11).

Isaiah imagines that God is asking himself questions! ‘‘Where is he?’ means ‘where is the God?’ Notice the *inclusio:

·  verse 11 starts in the water of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:22

·  but verse 12 ends in the water of the River Jordan, Joshua 3:14-17.

In both incidents, God divided the water, and his people crossed on dry ground! They were as safe as a horse that ran on hard, dry ground, verse 13.

Verse 12 Again, notice ‘his beautiful arm’. This is a word-picture for God’s special servant in Isaiah 53:1. In the Bible, the arm of the *LORD often means Jesus; and the hand of the *LORD often means the Holy Spirit. Notice also the reason why God did all this. It was ‘to make his name always famous’.

Verse 13 ‘The deep places’ are the Red Sea and the River Jordan. The word ‘desert’ does not only mean ‘dry, sandy country’ in the Bible. It also means open country, where horses can run safely. So, God’s people ‘did not fall’ on the journey from the Red Sea to the River Jordan. They went safely from Egypt to Canaan.

Verse 14 Here is a beautiful special description. Farmers led their groups of sheep from high ground down to grassy fields. There the sheep had plenty of food. So the Holy Spirit led God’s people from the dry desert to Canaan, where there was plenty of food.

Verse 15 The prayer really starts here. We call it ‘the prayer proper’. We can divide the prayer proper into 7 sections.

A1  63:15-16  God, you do not seem to be showing love to your people.

            B1  63:17-19  Why is this, because we are still your people?

                        C1  64:1-3  If you had done something, the nations would have trembled in front of you.

                                    D  64:4-5  But now, is there really any hope for us?

                        C2  64:6-7  We are dying because of our *sin. You are not helping us.

            B2  64:8-9  But we are still your people!

A2  64:10-12  God, will you continue to do nothing?

Notice that the A sections are similar, as are the sections B and C. This leaves the central section, D, as the important one. Is there any hope for us? This is an example of an *inclusio that includes many verses.

Verse 15 reminds us of King Solomon in 1 Kings 8:30. The *LORD’s desire makes him want to do what he has promised. His strength makes him able to do it. His love is something inside him that makes him do it. His pity is his love that flows out from him. God has always shown these qualities in the past. Isaiah wants to know why God chooses not to show these qualities now. This is what ‘not giving them to us’ means.

Verse 16 This verse is an *inclusio in itself:

father  -  Abraham  -  Israel  -  *redeemer

All four words are family words. But Abraham and Israel are dead. They cannot help their people. The note on *redeemer (Isaiah 43:1 and 43:3) tells us that a *redeemer is a member of your family. God is not dead. He is still their father. The trouble is that he is not helping his people! The end of chapter 63 ends (verses 17-19) asks God why he does not help.

Verse 17 ‘Let us wander’ does not mean that God was responsible for their *sin. Rather, that he let them wander as a punishment. The result of *sin is often its own punishment. A hard heart is a special *Hebrew way to say something. It means an attitude that a person will not change. Only God can change this sort of attitude. That is why Isaiah prayed, ‘Come back to us.’ Only if God returns to his people will he change their hard hearts. Isaiah gives the reason for his prayer: family. God is their father and their *redeemer (verse 16).

Verse 18 In Isaiah 39:6–8, there are these words. During Hezekiah’s life, Isaiah already knew that his people would go to Babylon. Isaiah knew that this would be the punishment for his people’s *sin.

Isaiah chapter 39

v6 ‘ “This is what will certainly happen. [Soldiers from Babylon] will take everything [that is] in your palace to Babylon. They will take everything that your *ancestors have stored here until now. They will leave nothing [here]”, says the *LORD.

v7 “And some of your own sons, your grandsons [and their sons, too], will go [to Babylon]. [Soldiers from Babylon] will force them to go there. And they will become *eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” ’

v8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The words that you said from the *LORD are good.’ But what he really thought was, ‘There will be *peace and security while I am alive.’

The important thing is that Isaiah wrote 63:17-19 before the *exile. The *exile was the 70 years when the *Jews had to live in Babylon, away from their own country. It was between 606 and 536 *B.C. Isaiah wrote 39:6-8 while Hezekiah was still alive. Hezekiah died about 690 *B.C. So, the ‘short time’ was between Hezekiah’s life and 606 *B.C. ‘Our enemies’ (in Isaiah 63:18) would be the soldiers from Babylon. The ‘*holy place’ was Jerusalem, but especially God’s house there, that is, the *temple.

Verse 19 God had ‘not governed’ his people because they had not obeyed his laws. They did not seem like his people any longer!

Notes on Chapter 64

Verse 1 Many translations of the Bible make this in the future. But by the rules of *Hebrew grammar, it is probably in the past. God had not come down to help his people. He had done nothing in the last 15 years of King Hezekiah’s rule. He did nothing in King Manasseh’s rule, 690-640 *B.C. There is a tradition that Manasseh’s servants sawed Isaiah in half to kill him. Notice another *inclusio in verses 1-3: ‘come/came down’ and ‘trembled’. The Bible often uses words like that when God ‘comes down’ to the earth. There are examples in Exodus 19:18 and Psalms 18:7 and 68:8.

Verse 2 It does not take long for a fire to burn away wood. A fire soon boils water. It would not have taken God long to make Israel’s enemies shake with fear. But God had not ‘come down’!

Verse 3 Isaiah emphasises that the nations would soon have shaken with fear. It would have happened while God was coming down. It would have happened while the earth trembled. It would have happened suddenly! God would have done something that nobody expected. And his enemies would have become very afraid, immediately! But God had not ‘come down’.

Verses 4-5 For a long time, nobody has thought about God. The people have continued to *sin against his ways (which means ‘his laws’). But he is the God that helps these people:

·  the people that wait for him. ‘Wait’ here means ‘to expect him to do something’.

·  the people that obey him. Those people do what is right.

But, for a long time, people have not done these things. So, can anyone (which means ‘God’ here) save us? At this part of his prayer, perhaps Isaiah expected people to answer, ‘No!’

Verses 6-7 Compare these verses, C2 in the *inclusio above, with C1. In C1, it is the enemies of God, from other nations, that may have trembled. In C2, it is God’s people that ‘tremble’. Isaiah did not say ‘tremble’. But he might have done, when he described their *sin and its results.

·  ‘We have become like someone who is *unclean.’ The ‘someone’ is the person that the writer describes in Leviticus 13:45. That person has a serious disease called ‘leprosy’ in his or her skin. Therefore, the rules in the Book of Leviticus said that he was not a suitable person to praise God in God’s house. Also, he cannot live with God’s people. That is what ‘*unclean’ means here. It does not mean that he has not washed himself!

·  ‘The good things that we do are like dirty bits of cloth.’ These are not any old ‘dirty bits of cloth’. They are the *underclothes that a woman makes dirty by her blood once a month. This links it with the *sin of Adam and Eve. We call it ‘original *sin’. We are all ‘original *sinners’, because we all have Adam and Eve as our original father and mother. And we are therefore all like Adam and Eve; we are all *sinners. So, even if we do good things, our original *sin cancels them out. We cannot earn God’s love and kindness!

·  ‘We all dry up like a leaf, and, like a wind, our *sins sweep us away.’ Death is the result of our *sins. Isaiah often wrote about ‘leaves and things that die’ as a picture of people. Look at number 7 in the section below called Something to do. Psalm 1:4 has a similar picture. It says: ‘Wicked people are like *chaff that the wind blows away.’ ‘*Chaff’ is dead parts of a plant which people have taken the grain from.

·  ‘Nobody calls out your name or tries to contact you.’ *Sin causes death. But we become dead to God before our bodies die! Our spirits die to God. In Ephesians 2:1, Paul calls it ‘dead in *sins’. As a result, we do not try to contact God. We have no real relationship with God.

‘You have hidden your face from us. And you have made us slowly to lose our strength, because of the power of our *sins.’ This is God’s punishment for *sinners. But will God do something, even if his people forget him? ‘Read on’, as they say!

Verse 8 Isaiah prays to God about three things.

·  A father is always a father, whatever his children have done. So, God is still the father of the people from Judah.

·  ‘*Clay’ is a type of earth. A person called a ‘*potter’ makes pots from it. God is like the *potter, and his people are like the *clay. If there were no *potter, there would be no pot.

·  God showed his skill, like an artist, when he made people. If there were no artist, there would be no art.

Isaiah does not blame God for bad children, bad pots and bad art. He just explains the relationship between God and his people. He made them. So they are like a father’s children, a *potter’s pots, or an artist’s art.

Verse 9 Now Isaiah reaches the main part of his prayer. He does not want God still to be angry. The *Jews are God’s people. Therefore, he wants God to take care of them again.

Verse 10 Again, Isaiah ‘sees’ (read the note on Isaiah 1:1) what will happen. The ‘*holy cities’ means the whole of the country called Judah.

Verse 11 The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. It was ‘*holy and wonderful’ because it was the house of God on this earth. And God was present there in a special way.

Verse 12 Isaiah now asks the important question. What will be God’s reply to his prayer? It is not only Isaiah’s prayer. It is the prayer of everybody who agrees with Isaiah’s prayer. The answer is in chapters 65 and 66.

Something to do

1. Compare the 4 Songs of the *Messiah with the 4 Songs of the Servant. The *table below tells you where to find them.

 

Servant Songs

*Messiah Songs

1

Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah chapter 60

2

Isaiah 49:1-6

Isaiah 61:1-4

3

Isaiah 50:4-9

Isaiah 61:10-62:7

4

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Isaiah 63:1-6

2. Study the verses in the book called Revelation that are about:

·  the anger of the ‘Lamb of God’ (which means Jesus) (Revelation 6:15-17); and

·  the winepress (place to squeeze juice out), which God’s anger was like (Revelation 14:17-20 and 19:15).

Of which verses in Isaiah chapter 63 do they remind you?

(A lamb is a young sheep and the ‘Lamb of God’ is a special name for Jesus. God *sacrificed him because of our *sins, as people *sacrificed a young sheep because of their *sins.)

3. Read Psalm 78 and compare it with Isaiah 63:10-14.

4. Make a list of the various *inclusios in Isaiah chapters 63 and 64. They are not all in the notes!

5. Our translation of Isaiah 64:1 is in the past. But many English translations put it in the future. Perhaps you too want God to do something more than he seems to be doing. Then pray the words in the future tense!

6. Study some of the other great prayers in the *Old Testament. Here are some examples: Ezra 9:6-15; Nehemiah 1:5-11; Daniel 9:3-19. All these came after the prayer in Isaiah 63:15 to 64:12. They also come after the *exile to Babylon.

7. Read the verses in Isaiah about ‘leaves and things that die’. They are in Isaiah 1:30; 24:4; 28:1; 34:4 and 40:7.

8. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9. It says, ‘No eye has seen it. No ear has heard it. No mind has thought about it. [What is it?] The things that God has prepared for the people that love him.’ This repeats words from Isaiah 64:4. We may ask why they are not the same. The answer is because Paul did not use the *Hebrew *Old Testament. He used the *Greek translation of the *Old Testament. God can speak through both the original Bible and the translations of the Bible for the people that read them.

Chapter 65

The New Earth

v1 ‘I introduced myself to people who did not ask for me. People who did not look for me found me. I said, “Here I [am], here I [am]!” [I said it] to a nation not called by my name.’

 

v2 ‘All day long I hold my hands out to people who will not listen [to me]. They continue to walk in ways that are not good. They still do what their thoughts [tell them to do].

v3 They are people that continue to annoy me. [They do it] in front of me! They offer gifts in [their] gardens [to false gods]. They burn them on bricks.

v4 They sit among the graves and they watch all night in secret places. They eat meat from pigs and dishes of soup [that they made] from *unclean meat.

v5 They are people that say, “Keep away from me, and do not come near me. I am too *holy for you!” Such people are like smoke in my nose! [They are like smoke] from a fire that burns all day.

v6 Look! The words are [in a book] in front of me. I will not remain silent. But I will give to them a punishment that is completely equal [to their *sin]. I will pay (give) that equal punishment to them completely, into their hands.

v7 [I will punish] both your *sins and the *sins of your fathers’, says the *LORD. ‘[I will do that] because they burned gifts [to false gods] on the mountains. And they insulted me on the hills. And, firstly, I will measure into their hands complete payment (punishment) for what they have done.’

 

v8 This is what the *LORD says. ‘Sometimes people find juice in a heap of *grapes. Then men say, “Do not destroy it, because there is something good in it.” I will do something like this on behalf of my servants. I will not *destroy them all.

v9 I will make sure that there are still *descendants in Jacob’s family. There will be people in Judah to possess my mountains. The people that I have chosen will possess them. And my servants will live there.

v10 And Sharon will become a field for groups [of sheep]. Also, groups [of cows] will rest in the Valley of Achor. [They will be places] for my people who are looking for me.’

 

v11 ‘[This will happen] to you [people] who go away from the *LORD. And [it will happen to you people] that forget my *holy mountain. Also, [it will happen to people] who put food on a table for [the false god called] Luck. And [it will happen to people] who fill bowls of wine for Fate.

v12 Your “luck” will be that a sword [will kill you]. And you will all bend down for death. Because I called, but you did not answer. I spoke, but you did not listen. You did evil things in front of me, where I could see them. And you chose [to do things] that did not please me.’

 

v13 Therefore the *LORD [who is] Master says this. ‘Look! My servants will eat [food], but you will be hungry. Look! My servants will [have something to] drink, but you will have nothing to drink. Look! My servants will be very happy, but you will be ashamed.

v14 Look! My servants will sing because there is so much joy in their hearts. But you will cry because there is so much pain in your hearts. You will weep because your spirits are so sad.

v15 And you will leave your name as a *curse to the people that I have chosen. And the *LORD [who is] Master will kill [each one of] you. But he will give to his servants another name.

v16 Whoever asks for a *blessing in the land will do it by the God of Truth. Whoever makes a promise in the land will do it by the God of Truth. [This is because God] will forget former troubles. Really, [something] will hide them from my eyes.’

 

v17 ‘Listen, because I will create new *heavens and a new earth. And [people] will not remember the former things. They will not even [be ideas that] come to their minds.

v18 But rather, be glad! And always, [yes], always be very happy about what I will create! [Do this], for these reasons.

·  The Jerusalem that I will create will be a delight [to me].

·  The people that live there will be a joy [to me].

v19 Then, I will be very happy with Jerusalem and I will have great delight in my people. [People] will not hear the sound of crying [in Jerusalem]. People will not weep there again.

v20 There will never again be [in Jerusalem] a baby that only lives for a few days. [Nor will there be] an old man that does not live a long life. But [if] a man dies at a hundred [years old], people will call [him] a youth. And [maybe] a man does not live to be a hundred [years old]. Then they will consider that a *curse is upon him.

v21 People [in Jerusalem] will build houses and they will live in them. They will plant *vineyards and they will eat the fruit from them.

v22 They will not build houses for other people to live in. They will not plant things for other people to eat [the fruit]. [This is] because the days of my people will be as the days of a tree. The people that I have chosen will enjoy the works of their hands for a long time.

v23 They will not work in vain. Neither will they have children that will have bad experiences. [This is the reason.] They are the [special] *descendants that the *LORD will *bless. [He will *bless] them and their *descendants with them.

v24 Before they call [me], I will answer [them]. While they are still speaking, I will hear [them].

v25 The wolf (animal like a large wild dog) and the young sheep will feed together. And the lion will eat straw like the cow. But the food of the snake will be dust. They will neither hurt nor destroy [anything] on all my *holy mountain’, says the *LORD.

Notes

Verse 1 ‘Introduced’ means that these people could now know God. These people were not *Jews. They were not called by God’s name. They were from other nations in the world. Some Bible students change Isaiah’s words, ‘not called by my name’. They change them to ‘did not call my name’. That makes these people into *Jews! These Bible students say that it links better with verses 2-7 like this. But Isaiah’s own words link well with Isaiah 66:18-21. Isaiah’s message is that God wants people from every country in the world to know him.

Verse 2 This verse starts a section (verses 2-7) about the *Jews. ‘Hold my hands out’ is what the *Jews did during prayer to God. Now God is praying to them! Or, perhaps we should say that he is ‘appealing’ to them. But they will not change their minds. They continue to do bad things. In other words, ‘they follow their own thoughts’. They ‘do what their thoughts tell them to do’.

Verse 3 As long as God ‘prays’ (appeals) to them, verse 2, they continue to annoy him, verse 3. Exodus 20:25 says that they must burn gifts on stones, not bricks. Also, they probably should not do it in their gardens, Leviticus 17:5.

Verse 4 They are doing other things that they should not do. These two things are more serious.

·  Deuteronomy 18:9-14 is a list of what people do in some false religions. Some people ask the spirits of dead people what will happen in the future.

·  Leviticus 11:7 says that they must not eat meat from pigs. *Unclean meat means meat that the religion of the *Jews does not allow them to eat, for example Leviticus 19:7.

Verse 5 These people think that their (false) religion makes them better than everybody else. To God, they are like the nasty smell of smoke!

Verse 6 The words are probably those of verses 6 and 7. The punishment for the *sin that the people did will be as serious as the *sin itself. The *Hebrew word for ‘hands’ here and in verse 7 really means ‘laps’. A ‘lap’ here is part of long clothing like a dress. People fold it in a special way so that they can carry things in it. At the time when Isaiah was alive, both men and women wore long clothes.

Verse 7 Notice the change in how Isaiah refers to the people. Verse 6 has ‘give to them a punishment’ and verse 7 has ‘your *sins’. That is part of Isaiah’s technique. He does it here to emphasise that people are guilty. Read Isaiah 1:29 where you will find the same technique. You will also find another reference to gardens, as in verse 3 above. ‘*Sins’ are the wrong and evil things that people do. Many places in the *Old Testament tell the *Jews not to serve false gods on mountains. For example, Leviticus 26:30; Jeremiah 7:31; Numbers 33:52.

Verse 8 People make wine from *grapes. To do this, they squeeze the juice from the *grapes. Then, the sugar in the juice slowly changes into alcohol. But sometimes, in Judah, when they picked the *grapes, the juice was already changing into alcohol! That is what the word ‘juice’ means in this verse. They thought that this juice made a very special wine. They did not destroy (or squeeze) the *grapes. They just collected the juice! Perhaps ‘Do not destroy it’ was a *grape-harvest song. Several psalms have ‘Do not destroy it’ in their titles. We think that this was an instruction about their music. They are Psalms 57, 58, 59 and 75. Here, it is a word-picture of God and his people. Before he *destroys them, he picks out some of them. They are the people that have not done the things in verses 2-5. They are the *remnant, or the people that will remain.

Verse 9 For ‘*descendants’, the *Hebrew text has the word ‘seed’. It is a technical word here. It does not mean everybody in Jacob’s family. It means the *remnant in verse 8 and many other verses in Isaiah. Look at our note on verse 23.

Verse 10 Sharon was in the west of the country, and Achor in the east of it. So, these two include the whole country. There would be places for the *remnant and their animals.

Verses 11-12 Notice the reference to ‘my *holy mountain’. This was *Zion, a hill in Jerusalem. It contrasts with the mountains and hills of verse 7. ‘Luck’ was the name of the false god called Gad. The word is in both verses: but their ‘luck’ would be death. They would bend down to allow the sword to kill them. The *Hebrew word for ‘fate’ is ‘meni’. It is similar to the *Aramaic word that Daniel used in Daniel 5:25.

Verses 13-14 Notice the four words, ‘Look!’ They are there to emphasise the difference between God’s people and his enemies. God’s people are his servants. They are the people that he has not *destroyed, verses 8-10. God’s enemies are the people in verses 2-5 and verses 11-12. They are people that have gone away from the *LORD. They now serve false gods.

Verse 15 A *curse is a bad prayer that you make about somebody. You ask for something bad to happen to them. The name of God’s enemies will be as a bad prayer to God’s servants! Some Bible students think that the new name for God’s people here will be ‘*Jews’. People did not use the word ‘*Jews’ before the *exile to Babylon. Notice that ‘you’ in verses 13-15a is plural. But in 15b it is not plural. This reminds us that God is judge of nations (plural ‘you’) and of each separate person. 15a is the first part of verse 15; 15b is the second part.

Verse 16 A ‘*blessing’ means ‘good things that God does to you’. Here, the ‘land’ probably means the whole world. In the *Hebrew language, the word for ‘Truth’ here is ‘Amen’. So God is the ‘God of Amen’. People say often the word ‘Amen’ at the end of their prayers. It means ‘We agree!’ Paul also tells us that one of God’s qualities is ‘Amen’, 2 Corinthians 1:20. He is the God that likes to say ‘Yes!’ God will do what he has promised to do. ‘By the God of Truth’ means that God will actually give the *blessing by his great power.

Verse 17 In the *Old Testament, only God creates things. People make but God creates. ‘*Heavens and earth’ mean everything, as they do in Genesis 1:1. The ‘former things’ are the ‘former troubles’ of verse 16. As God forgets the bad things, so will his people! Verse 23 says who these people are.

Verse 18 ‘Always’ comes twice in this verse. This helps to contrast the permanent new *heavens and earth with the old ones. The old ones are not permanent. Notice that the words ‘I will create’ come three times in verses 17-18. They are words that God loves to use!

Verse 19 Notice the change from ‘the people’ in verse 18 to ‘my people’ here. The note on verse 23 explains who these people are. What God creates will satisfy him.

Verse 20 There will be no *sin nor death in the new *heavens and earth. God calls this new earth ‘Jerusalem’ in verses 18 and 19. We have added it in verses 20 and 21. It really means the place where God’s people will live. It does not mean the actual city of Jerusalem. We cannot understand a world without *sin or death. So in verse 20 we have a picture. It uses ideas we do understand. People live in a city, a ‘Jerusalem’. Children will not die, and people will live for a very long time. If there were *sinners there, the *curse would find them! A ‘*curse’ means that bad things will happen to a person. Here, the ‘*curse’ means death. But as there is no death there, there can be no *sinners there!

Verse 21 A ‘vineyard’ is a field where people grow ‘*vines’. ‘*Vines’ are plants. *Grapes grow on them. People make wine from *grapes.

Verse 22 ‘The days of’ is a special *Hebrew way to say ‘how many days a person will live’. In other words, it means ‘length of life’. A tree can live 1000 years or more. Again, here is a special description of something that we cannot understand very well otherwise. It emphasises what verse 20 tells us.

Verse 23 Our translation says, ‘They are [special] *descendants that the *LORD will *bless’. ‘*Descendants’ means ‘children, children’s children, and so on’. Again, it is a special description. In the new earth, people will not marry and have children, Matthew 22:30. But because life will have no end, there will always seem to be children!

A more accurate translation than the word ‘*descendants’ would be the word ‘seed’. ‘Seed’ is a very special word in the Bible. We could translate this part of the verse like this. ‘They are the people whom the *LORD will *bless’. But that does not tell us who these people are. Verse 19 tells us that they are ‘my people’, or ‘God’s people’. But the word seed tells us more about them. Here are some important verses about ‘the seed’.

Genesis 17:7-8. ‘I will establish my *covenant between me and you and your seed after you, for all of time. It will be a *covenant that will never end. I will be God to you and to your seed after you. And I will give to you and to your seed after you the land where you are a foreigner. [I will give you] all the country called Canaan. You will always possess it. And I will be their God.’

God spoke these words to Abraham. His name was Abram until Genesis 17:5-6. Here, seed does not mean all Abraham’s children. It did not include other sons that Abraham had with Hagar and Keturah, Genesis 16:15-16 and 25:1-4.

Genesis 21:12-13. ‘And God said to [Abraham], “Do not be sad because of the boy (Ishmael) and your servant (Hagar). Listen to everything that Sarah has said to you. [Do this], because Isaac’s [children] will be called your seed. Also, I will make a nation of your servant’s son, because he is your seed.” ’

Here, we find two meanings for the word ‘seed’. The son of Abraham’s servant, Hagar, is Abraham’s seed. Here it means child. But Isaac’s seed, or child, is that special sort of seed that Genesis 17:7-8 refers to. Hebrews 11:18 and Romans 9:7 support this. Romans 9:7 says this. ‘Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children. But Isaac’s (children) will be called your seed.’ Even Isaac’s son Esau was not part of Isaac’s seed in this way.

Isaiah 53:10 refers to this special sort of seed as the seed of the *LORD’s servant. It says this. ‘[The *LORD] caused [him] to suffer. And although the *LORD made his life an offering for *sin, he (the servant) will see his seed.’ This makes it clear that the special sort of seed has a connection with the special servant of the *LORD, Jesus.

Romans 9:8. ‘The seed means the children of the promise.’ The promise is the words of the *covenant in Genesis 17:7 above. The special sort of seed are the people that believe God. They put their trust in him. They do not have to be *Jews. They can come from any country in the world! Isaiah chapter 53 describes Jesus’ death. That death makes everybody that wants it one of the ‘children of the promise’.

Galatians 3:16. ‘Now [God] gave the promises to Abraham and to his seed. [The Bible] does not say, “And to the seeds”, as if there were many. But it [says it] about one. “And to your seed”, who is Christ.’ So here is a very special sort of seed, Jesus Christ. Christians also believe Genesis 3:15 is only about Jesus Christ. It says, ‘And I will make you and the woman enemies, and your seed and her seed. He (the seed) will bruise your head and you will bruise his foot.’ Again, like Genesis 21:13, here seed means two things. But the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 17:7-8 was really to Jesus Christ. So we can only claim the promise for ourselves if we are ‘in Jesus Christ’. ‘In Jesus Christ’ means ‘Christian’.

But what does seed mean in Isaiah? Here is a story to help us to understand it. Many years ago, there was a farmer. He grew a field of wheat. There was a good crop. He made bread from most of the corn. But he kept the best corn. Next year, he used the best corn as seed and he grew another field of wheat. He did this every year! Isaiah meant ‘the best corn’ when he wrote about ‘seed’. For centuries there would be people that obeyed God. There may not be many of them, but there would always be some. In other parts of his book, Isaiah called them ‘the *remnant’, as in Isaiah 1:9.

Verse 25 This verse is like Isaiah 11:6-9. That passage also describes the rule of God’s *Messiah. He brings peace between enemies. On the New Earth, even the weakest person or animal has no reason for fear, because the *Messiah is ruling there.

Chapter 66

More about the New Earth

v1 This is what the *LORD is saying. ‘Heaven is my throne [king’s seat]. And the earth is the place where I rest my feet. Where is this house that you will build for me? Where will the place be that I will rest?

v2 My hand has made all these things. That is how they happened’, says the *LORD. ‘This is the person that for me has value. He will be humble and he will have a humble spirit. And he will tremble when he hears my word.

v3 Some people kill a *bull [for me]. Some people kill a man. Some people offer [me] a young sheep. Some people break a dog’s neck. Some people offer grain. Some people offer pig’s blood. Some people [burn] *incense for a memory. Some people *worship *idols. Some people have chosen their own ways. Their spirits have delight in awful things.

v4 So I will choose hard punishments for them. And I will send to them the things that will make them very afraid. [This is] because nobody answered my call. And when I spoke, nobody listened. They did evil things [even as] I watched them! And they chose [to do] things that did not please me.’

v5 Listen to the word of the *LORD, you people that tremble at his word. ‘Your brothers hated you. They do not let you belong [to the people in Judah]. They do this because of my name. They said [to you], “Give honour to the *LORD. Then we will see that you are happy.” But [your brothers] will be ashamed.

v6 A voice: [it is] a roar from the city! A voice: [it is] from the *temple. A voice: the *LORD [is] giving his enemies all that they deserve.’

 

v7 ‘Before she has *labour, she has a baby. Before the pains come to her, a son is born!

v8 Nobody has ever heard of such a thing. Nobody has ever seen things like this. A country cannot be born in one day. Nor can a nation have birth in a moment. But as soon as *Zion has *labour, her children are born!

v9 When I bring [someone] to the moment of birth, then the baby is born.’ This is what the *LORD is saying. ‘I do not close up the *womb before the baby is born’, says your God.

v10 Be happy with [the people in] Jerusalem and be glad for her (Jerusalem). [Do this], everybody that loves her. Be very happy with her, everybody that cries for her.

v11 [She] will nurse you and satisfy you. Her breasts will comfort you. You will drink [her milk] deeply. And you will be *delighted with the *glory that flows from her.’

v12 [This will happen] because the *LORD says, ‘Look! I will extend *peace to her like a river. And the wealth of nations will flood in like a stream [of water]. She will nurse you and she will carry you by her side. And you will sit on her knees.

v13 I will comfort you as a mother comforts her child. Your comfort will be because of Jerusalem.

v14 And when you see [this], your heart will be very happy! And your bones will grow easily, like grass. The *LORD will make his servants to know that his hand [is good]. But he will show his great anger to his enemies.

v15 Look! The *LORD will come with fire. His *chariots will be like a powerful wind that goes round and round. He will bring down [from Heaven] his very great anger. He will speak against [his enemies] with flames of fire.

v16 And so the *LORD will be the judge of all people with fire and with his sword. Then the *LORD will kill many people.

v17 Some people separate themselves to their gods. And some people make themselves pure for their gods. They go into the gardens. They follow the people who eat the meat from pigs and *rats and other nasty things. They will all come to an end together’, says the *LORD.

v18 ‘And I will come and I will gather [the people from] all nations and languages. [I will do this because] of their actions and their imaginations. And they will come and they will see my *glory.

v19 And I will put a sign among them. And I will send some of those people that escape [my anger] to the nations. [They will go to]:

·  Tarshish [in Spain].

·  The people in Libya.

·  The people in Lydia, who are famous arrow shooters.

·  Tubal.

·  Greece.

·  Distant islands that have not heard of my name or seen my *glory.

The people [that escape my anger] will tell the nations about my *glory.

 

v20 And they will bring all your brothers to my *holy mountain in Jerusalem. [They will bring them] from all the nations to offer [them] to the *LORD. [They will come] on horses, in *chariots and wagons, on mules (animals like small horses) and camels’, says the *LORD. ‘They will bring them as the *Jews bring grain. [This is what] they offer to the *LORD in the *temple. [The grain is in] the special bowls that are suitable for sacred purposes.

v21 And I will choose some [brothers] to be priests and *Levites (special servants of God)’, says the *LORD.

v22 ‘The new *heavens and the new earth that I will make will last always’, declares the *LORD. ‘Similarly, your name and [the names of] your *descendants will remain.

v23 Everybody will come. And they will bend down on their knees in front of me’, says the *LORD. ‘[They will come] from one New Moon to the next [New Moon] and from one *Sabbath to another.

v24 And they will go out [of the New Jerusalem]. And they will look at the dead bodies of the people that did not obey me. Their worm (animal like a tiny soft snake) will not die and their fire will not go out. And everybody will see how nasty they are.’

Notes

Verses 1-2 A ‘throne’ is a special seat that a king or queen sits on. The earth is so small, God can rest his feet on it! The questions probably mean that there is nowhere big enough for God! My hand means ‘God’. He made everything, heaven and earth. Then God describes the person that really has value for him. Proud people do not impress God. He approves of the person who is humble.

Verse 3 The first part of the verse contrasts good and bad things that people did. A *table helps us to understand this.

Good things

Bad things

Kill a *bull for me.

Kill a man.

Offer a young sheep to me.

Break a dog’s neck.

Offer grain.

Offer pig’s blood.

Burn *incense for memory.

*Worship *idols.

The good things are what their religion told them to do. *Incense made a good smell when they burned it. God is not saying that their religion is wrong. God had told them to do it! But because they were not sincere, it meant nothing to God. The good things that they did were like the bad things. God gives a list of these bad things that other people did. They did these bad things when they *worshipped *idols. An *idol is a false god. To *worship someone you do these things. You love them. You obey them. You bend down on your knees in front of them. You tell them that they are great and wonderful. Only the real God deserves such honour. But they were *worshipping *idols. And the people who were *worshipping God were not doing it in a sincere manner.

Verse 4 The word ‘chosen/choose’ (verses 3-4) contrasts what bad people do with God. The *Hebrew words say, ‘As for them, they chose [this]. As for me, I will choose [that].’ The people chose not to obey God. So God chose to punish them!

Verse 5 The *Hebrew word for ‘listen’ really means ‘listen and obey’. The people that ‘tremble at his word’ are the good people in verse 2. Their ‘brothers’ were the *Jews that did the bad things. They pretended that they were serving the *LORD. But they were not, so God will punish them, as in verse 6. But notice this. The advice that they gave was actually correct! If we give honour to the *LORD, we will be happy.

Verse 6 Three times Isaiah says, ‘A voice’. This may be a *Hebrew way to say ‘Hear it!’ But the voice speaks the word of God. The three times *holy God (Isaiah 6:3) speaks: from the city (Jerusalem), from the *temple and from where his enemies are. They are the ‘brothers’ that did bad things in verses 3-5.

Verse 7 ‘*Labour’ describes the pains that a woman has before and during the birth of a baby. ‘She’ in this verse means the city called *Zion, that is, Jerusalem. Cities are usually female in the *Old Testament.

Verse 8 The ‘thing’ is probably the birth without pain in verse 7. The ‘things’ are probably the birth (beginning) of a country and a nation in this verse. God promises to do what is impossible. The new *Zion will come suddenly. It is part of the new heaven and the new earth in Isaiah 65:17.

Verse 9 What God starts, he will finish! Notice the two words, ‘saying’ and ‘says’. They are not the same tense in *Hebrew. ‘Saying’ means that God is always saying it. ‘Says’ means that his promise will not fail. The ‘*womb’ means the place where a baby is inside its mother before its birth.

Verse 10 Notice again that the city, Jerusalem, is female. So ‘her’ means Jerusalem. This verse is ‘now’, but verse 11 is ‘then’, in the future. So ‘now’ we must cry with God’s people who are in trouble. Look at Something to do number 3. But in the future, when Jesus will return to the earth, things will be different!

Verse 11 Here is a word-picture of the people in Jerusalem as a child with its mother. As a mother satisfies her children with milk from her breasts, so Jerusalem will satisfy her people. The people are called ‘you’ in this verse. ‘*Glory’ means the wonderful things that will be in Jerusalem. Remember, Jerusalem in this verse is the New Jerusalem of Hebrews 12:22.

Verses 12-13 The word ‘because’ emphasises that people can trust in the *LORD. Isaiah wrote about ‘*peace like a river’ in 48:18. ‘If only you had listened to my commands, then your *peace would be like a river. Also, your goodness would be like the waves of the sea.’ These two verses continue the word-picture of verses 7-9. There, people are ‘born again’ in the New Jerusalem. Read Psalm 87. Here, the New Jerusalem acts like a mother.

Verse 14 ‘Heart’ and ‘bones’ mean the complete person. God’s ‘hand’ means that God himself is doing these things. Verses 15-17 are about God’s anger against his enemies.

Verse 15 Fire is a word-picture for the fact that God is *holy. A chariot is a special cart that soldiers use. Horses pull *chariots. The strong wind that goes round and round is called a ‘whirlwind’. It is so powerful that it blows everything away. The *chariots and *whirlwind are things that show God’s great power.

Verse 16 Genesis 3:24 tells us about the first time that God was judge of his people. He used fire and sword there also! Notice the three word-pictures in verses 15-16:

 

Word-Picture

What it means

 

 

Fire

God is *holy

 

 

*Chariots and *whirlwind

God is powerful

 

 

Sword

God is fair

 

Verse 17 This verse tells us about God’s enemies. They are the people that his fire, *chariots, *whirlwind and sword will kill. Isaiah has referred to them before in chapters 65 and 66. They are not foreigners. They are *Jews who have other religions than to love and to serve the *LORD. These verses describe them: 65:2-7; 65:11-12; and 66:3-4. But verse 16 also includes people who are not *Jews. It says that ‘the *LORD will be the judge of all people’. The *Hebrew word for ‘come to an end’ is similar to the *Hebrew word for ‘*whirlwind’ in verse 15.

Verses 18-24 The final section of Isaiah is not about the *Jews. It is about the people that the *LORD will gather into the New Jerusalem. It is about the time between the first and second *comings of Jesus Christ to the earth. The first *coming was when he lived on earth as a man. The second *coming is when he will return to earth as God.

Verse 18 Bible students do not know how to translate this verse. Maybe some words that should be there are not there. Or maybe the verse contains an unknown special way to say something in *Hebrew. Our translation is one among many that are possible! But we can be sure of one thing in this verse. God’s purpose is to gather people from every nation in the world into his New Jerusalem.

Verse 19 The sign in this verse probably means the Christian sign. That is, the cross on which Jesus died. Isaiah may have known this. We are not sure. The people that God sends are obeying Jesus’ commands in Matthew 28:19-20. The names are places in many parts of the world. Today, our world is bigger than the world that Isaiah knew! This is what ‘distant islands’ means. Tubal was a long distance north from Judah. Spain was in the west. Libya was in the south. So, God would gather people from all directions!

Verse 20 ‘They’ are ‘the people that escape my anger’ in verse 19. ‘Your brothers’ are people from other nations. Here, Jerusalem means the New Jerusalem. This can mean two things. It is the Church in Heaven, Revelation 21:2; and it is the Church on Earth, Hebrews 12:22-23. (By ‘the Church’ here, we mean all God’s people.) Between the first and second *coming of Jesus, as here, it means the Church on Earth. This verse reminds us of John 11:52. The ‘people that escape my anger’ offer to God ‘your brothers’. Their gift is like the grain that they offered to the *LORD in the old *temple in Jerusalem. That old gift was a picture of the new gift!

Verse 21 Not only *Jews would be priests and *Levites (special servants of God). People from other nations would be as well! This shows how close the *Jews would be to their new ‘brothers’ (God’s people from other nations). A *Jew would be equal to someone that was not a *Jew (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Verse 22 The word for ‘*descendants’ means ‘seed’ in *Hebrew. Notice that it means more than ‘children’ and ‘children’s children’. It means this. Everybody that came to be together with the *Jews would belong to the same family. They would be the *descendants (seed) of Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18). Read the note on Isaiah 65:23 above.

Verse 23 Isaiah started his book with New Moon and *Sabbath meetings. He said that the *Jews were not sincere in those meetings (Isaiah 1:13-14). The *Sabbath was the seventh day of each week, our Saturday. But now the people were sincere. That included *Jews. And it also included people that were not *Jews. The people’s lives followed the *LORD’s timetable, not their own. They would come to the New Jerusalem. Here, it means the Church (the people of God).

Verse 24 The section ends with a notice of danger. The notice is the graves of the people that did not ‘tremble when [they] hear my (God’s) word’, verse 2. God has punished these people. The fire is God’s punishment. A ‘worm’ is a small animal. Some worms live under the ground. Other worms destroy dead bodies. This punishment will never end.

Something to do

1. Read about people who had another name: Genesis 17:5; Genesis 32:28 and 35:10; Ruth 1:20; Matthew 16:17-18; Acts 13:9; Revelation 2:17.

2. Read Isaiah chapter 4 again. Compare it with Isaiah 65:17 to 66:24.

3. Make a list of your Christian friends that have trouble or problems. Then read Hebrews 12:22 to 13:3. Pray for your friends. Visit them if you can. Help them if you can.

4. Read Mark 9:43-48. Of which verse in Isaiah do these verses remind you?

Word List

adulteress ~ a woman who has not been loyal to her husband, because she has had sex with another man.

altar ~ a special metal table where people burnt animals and corn to please God.

ancestor ~ a past member of your family, perhaps in previous centuries.

angel ~ a special servant of God in *heaven.

anoint ~ to pour oil on someone. This is an ancient ceremony to appoint someone to do an important task (for example, to be a king or a priest). That person is then called ‘the anointed’, ‘the *messiah’ (in *Hebrew) or ‘the Christ’ (in *Greek).

Aramaic ~ the official language in ancient Syria. It was the language that government officials used.

banner ~ a special flag.

BC ~ years Before Christ came to the earth. Some books have B.C.E. instead. This means Before Common Era. The common era means the last 2000 years.

bless ~ to declare good things for someone; to show that person special kindness.

blessing ~ the good things that God does for someone.

bronze ~ a hard yellowish brown metal. It is a mixture of two metals called copper and tin.

bull ~ a male animal of the same kind as a cow.

chaff ~ the dead bits of a plant after people have taken the grain from it.

chariot ~ a cart that soldiers rode in.

chiasmus ~ a technique that a poet may use. The poet repeats his ideas in the opposite order. For example, we may call ideas by the letters a, b and c. If the poet uses a chiasmus, he may use the form a,b,c,b’,a’. That is, a and a’ are similar; and b and b’ are similar.

clay ~ the soft, sticky earth that people use to make pots.

coming ~ arrival. Especially, we use this word to describe the time when Jesus was born as a baby (his first coming). And when he will return as king (the second coming).

conceive ~ to have sex so that a baby will be born.

courts ~ the open spaces or yards round the *temple.

covenant ~ the agreement between God and his people. In this agreement God agrees to help and to protect his people. His people agree to love and to serve God. Or, an agreement between nations.

curse ~ a bad prayer that you make about somebody.

delighted ~ very happy.

descendants ~ future members of a family.

destroy ~ to carry out a very serious punishment against a person or nation. If the punishment is against a person, that person will die. If it is against a nation, that nation will not still exist.

drunk ~ the state of someone who has drunk too much alcohol.

eunuch ~ a man who cannot have sex. This is because somebody has cut off a certain part of his body. And that part is necessary in order to have sex.

exile ~ a person whom enemies force to live away from his own home or country. Or, the place where that person has to live.

fast ~ a period of time when people do not eat, usually because of their religion. Or, to refuse food for a period of time.

feast ~ a period of time when people eat plenty of food. Especially, the occasions when people do this because of their religion. Or, to enjoy plentiful food and drink.

glory ~ something that shines and is wonderful. Especially, it is God’s splendid beauty.

grape ~ a fruit that grows on a *vine.

Greek ~ the language that people spoke in Greece.

hatch ~ how a bird keeps eggs warm until the young birds leave the eggs.

Heaven ~ the home of God.

heavens ~ another word for ‘skies’. It can also mean the place where God lives and the skies above us.

Hebrew ~ the language that Isaiah spoke.

Holy [God] ~ a special name for God that Isaiah used.

holy ~ very, very good. Only God is really holy. He is so holy that he is separate from everybody else.

idol ~ a false god that people made.

incense ~ a substance that makes a sweet smell when people burn it.

inclusio ~ ‘something to do’ after Isaiah chapter 1 explains this word.

jewellery ~ pretty objects, for example precious stones and gold, that people wear.

Jewish ~ a description of something that has a relationship to the *Jews.

Jews ~ the people that lived in Judah (which sounds like ‘Jew-dah’) and Israel.

justice ~ what a court of law rightly decides to be fair.

keep ~ to obey rules.

kingdom ~ a country that a king rules.

labour ~ the pain that a woman suffers when she gives birth to a baby.

Levites ~ the special servants of God who helped the priests in the *temple. They belonged to the family of Levi, who was one of Jacob’s sons.

LORD ~ LORD is a special name of God. In the *Hebrew language, it is YHWH. It may mean ‘always alive’. So LORD is a sign that the *Hebrew word is YHWH.

lord ~ master. When it has a capital L (that is, ‘Lord’), it is a name for God.

LORD of Everything ~ a name for God. Some people translate it ‘*LORD of *Angel Armies’.

lowly ~ humble.

mercy ~ kindness when you do not have to be kind.

messiah ~ a leader such as a king. With a capital M (that is, ‘Messiah’), it means Jesus for Christians.

nurse ~ to give milk; as a mother does to the baby at her breasts.

Old Testament ~ the earlier part of the Bible.

olive ~ a fruit that gives oil.

peace ~ a calm and content attitude. The word often means simply that there is no war. But ‘peace’ especially means the calm and content attitude of a person who has a right relationship with God.

perfume ~ a substance that has a beautiful smell.

potter ~ a person who makes pots out of *clay.

praise ~ *worship of God; the words that we use when we praise God.

prophet ~ someone who says what God is saying.

rat ~ an animal that is like a large mouse. It is unclean and it spreads disease.

redeem ~ a member of your family buys you from an enemy.

remnant ~ a small part of something that is larger. In Isaiah, it often means the few people that still obeyed God.

righteous ~ very, very good. Only God is really righteous (always right) but he calls his people righteous too.

righteousness ~ great goodness.

Sabbath ~ the 7th day of the week (Saturday), when the *Jews *worshipped God. It was a day for rest and prayer.

sacrifice ~ something that the priests put apart (or separated) for the *LORD. Usually it was an animal. They killed it and burned it.

Sheol ~ death. Many people thought that your spirit went to a place called Sheol after the death of your body.

shepherd ~ a person who looks after sheep.

sin ~ not to obey God. Or, what you do when you do not obey God.

spider ~ a tiny animal that seems like an insect. However, unlike insects, spiders have 8 legs and they cannot fly.

spring ~ a place where water comes from the ground.

table ~ a way to set out information in a series of boxes.

temple ~ God’s house in Jerusalem. False gods also had temples.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument that people sound when they blow into it. It is very loud.

unclean ~ not acceptable for the purposes of religion; unable to *worship God in his *temple; foods that God did not allow the *Jews to eat.

underclothes ~ the clothes that a person wears underneath their normal clothes, against the skin.

vengeance ~ when someone does to people the bad things that they have done to other people.

vine ~ *grapes grow on vines. People make wine from *grapes.

vineyard ~ a field where people grow *grapes.

whirlwind ~ a strong wind that goes round and round.

womb ~ the place where a baby grows, inside its mother.

worship ~ to tell God (or a false god) that he is wonderful; and also, to tell him that you love him.

yoke ~ this went across the shoulders, with loads which hung on each end.

Zion ~ a name for Jerusalem.

 

© 2012, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

December 2012

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