About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Isaiah 63

ch. 63:1-7   ch. 63:7-19

God's Day Of Vengeance And Redemption  (ch. 63:1 – 6)


Isaiah 63 opens with a question. It is. "Who is coming from Edom, from Bozrah …?  First of all, we need to answer who or what is Edom.  Edom is a nation of people that descended from Esau, Jacob's brother.  Therefore, you might say that Edomites are cousins to Israelis.  The name "Edom" means "red".    You can learn more about this from my commentary on Genesis concerning Esau. 


Concerning Edom, or Esau, they were fighting with each other from birth as the Genesis account states.  Modern day Arabs are actually descendents from a mixture of Edomites and Ishmaelites.  Esau, the father of the Edomites took an Ishmaelite wife, thus mixing the two groups of people together.  


Bozrah was the leading city in Edom.  In Greek, it is called Petra. It is about twenty five miles southeast of the lower part of the Dead Sea, in present day Jordan.


Before I go any farther, I want to refer you to Daniel 11:41.  This verse concerns the anti-Christ who will attempt to bring the whole world under his control.  Daniel 11:41 tells us that Ammon, Moab, and Edom will not fall under the control of the anti-Christ.  These three nations are now what we know as modern day Jordan.  This is important to know in order to understand what is coming next in Isaiah.


The final words in the question posed in verse 1 are, "with His garments stained crimson".   There are two questions we need to ask concerning this verse.  One, who is being talked about here.  Two, what does the words "with His garments stained crimson" mean? 


Concerning who is being talked about; there are only two possible answers according to the context.  It could be God Himself.  If it were God, then I would suggest the language used here is symbolic.  The other answer is that the one being talked about here is Jesus, and that is who I believe is being talked about here.  IF this is so, then the wording in this passage is not symbolic but literal.


Verse 1 continues.  "Who is it"?  Isaiah is being asked who is the one being talked about here. 


The words "striding forth in greatness and strength".  Whoever this is, has just returned from Bozrah of Edom with garments of crimson and is marching along in greatness and strength.  He has been victorious.  The crimson garments in this verse do not express weakness.


Verse 1 ends by saying, "it is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save".  From this sentence we know for a fact that the one being spoken of here is at least God Himself.  It is He who is speaking to Isaiah and no one else.


Verse 2 and beyond helps us clarify who this one is being spoken of here with greater clarity.  Isaiah asks, "why are you garments red …?  The answer to this question, at least in my mind, tells me exactly who this one is.


Verse 3 says, "I have trodden down the winepresses alone, from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath. Their blood splattered my garments, and I stained my clothes". When people work the winepresses, squeeze the juice from the grapes, often their clothes get stained with the juices.


The picture that is painted for us here is the picture of Jesus returning from the battle of the nations.  For this reason, I believe the one who is being spoken of here is Jesus, returning from battle at the end of this age. 


Matthew 24, Revelation 12, Micah 2, and other passages suggest that at the end of this age, when the nations of this world come to demolish Israel , the remnant of Israel who survive will flee to the mountains, and probably the mountains of Bozrah.  For this reason, it is my opinion at present that the one being spoken of here is Jesus returning from getting His people in Bozrah and fighting on their behalf.


Concerning the time line.  Some people feel Jesus will come back to earth first to the Mount of Olives, fight against the nations of the world, then go and get Israel from Bozrah.  Others see these events happening in just the opposite order.  At the moment, I'm not sure what side of the fence to be on.    


Note that all the nations of the world are in the fight, that many feel is the battle of Armageddon.    


The blood that is being spoken of here is not the blood from the cross, but the blood from this last great battle.  Concerning this blood shed, we should understand that the land promised to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant had now been purchase with blood.  By virtue of the fact that God is Creator, the whole earth belongs to Him, but the Old Testament clearly states that this particular parcel of land that God gave to Israel belonged to God.  At the end of this present age, God will redeem the land as well as His people with blood, but not His blood this time.  The blood of the nations who have tried to take this land from Israel over the centuries will be the redemption price for this land. It's important to know that not only Jews are redeemed, but their land as well.   


Verse 4 doesn't sound like the Jesus most people want to think about.  He says, "the day of vengeance" was in His heart and that  is why His clothes are stained with blood.  The day of vengeance is that day when Jesus Himself will defeat the nations of the world who have been in opposition to Him.  When you see the term "the nations of the world" in the Bible, the context is always concerning them and their opposition to Jesus, except in the new earth as seen in the book of Revelation, where the nations of the world will bring their splendor into the New Jerusalem.


We need to realize that the day of vengeance is first towards Israel and then to the nations of the world for their sin and for their treatment of Israel.  The Biblical principle is always, "to the Jew first and then to the Gentile", and that applies to God's judgment as well.  Zechariah 13:8 tells us that two thirds of the Jews will be killed in judgment.  The remaining one third is the redeemed remnant of Israel who will call out to Jesus in repentance and ask Him to return, which He does. 


Throughout the Bible we see the phrase "vengeance is mine says the Lord".  The last seven years of this age is the time when God avenges the whole  world.  This is why it is not our place to avenge our enemies.  God will do that, and He will do a much more thorough job than we can ever do.   


On the other side of vengeance is redemption.  This verse  also speaks of the day of redemption.  The days of redemption spoken of here is the redemption of Israel , when Israel finally and forever returns to their God at the end of this age, after the Great Tribulation brings them to their knees.  We should not confuse this redemption with the redemption of Christians in the church. 


Verse 5 is both interesting and sad.  Jesus looks, but there is no one that will help Him.  He said that He was "appalled" that no one gave Him support.  The whole world, and even His own people were against Him, just as it was when He came to earth the first time. Some people suggest that this is a case for a pre-tribulation rapture, since there was no one that would support Him in this matter.  If the church was on earth, you would think it would support Him in His fight against the nations of the world.  On the other hand, what human support could really help Jesus defeat the nations of the world?  I've often said that the Lord can't depend on humans to really accomplish His work so He has to do it Himself.  The cross is one clear example of this.  The thousand year rule of Christ is another.  The Jews failed prior to the cross.  The church won't do much better, so, Jesus will show both Jews and the church how His will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven.    


Because there was no support for Jesus, He says that "His own arm supported Him.  It was by His strength alone that defeated the world.  He also says that "His own wrath supported Him".  That is interesting.  There are lots of things that help support people, but we don't often think of wrath supporting people.  Not so with Jesus at the end of the age.  One very important means of support was the wrath that was in His heart against the nations of this world.  Wrath drove Jesus to do what needed to be done, at least in part.


At this point I need to point out the difference between anger and wrath as seen in the Bible.  Wrath is a stronger form of anger.  It's really an explosion of anger, as if anger has been stored up and can no longer be contained.  It just explodes out all over the place.  Actually the Hebrew word translated as "wrath" in the Old Testament comes from the root word meaning, "to pour".  This is why you often see the words "poured out" in relation to God's wrath.  God pours out His wrath.  It explodes all over the place.  This is what is happening here and in the book of Revelation.


Verse 6 tells us that the wrath of Jesus, or, the "wrath of the Lamb", as we see it in the book of Revelation, trampled the world.  His wrath made them drunk and He poured the blood of the nations on the earth.  This is not the Jesus that most people think of when thinking of Jesus.  Yes, Jesus is loving, but He is more than that.  He is just, and those who are unjust will be judged by Him. 


The phrase "His wrath made them drunk" paints the picture of the nations of the world in that last great battle.  They will be in total fear.  They will fight against themselves because of mere confusion and fear.  They will not know what to do.  It's like they will be in a  drunken stooper.


All this, which we would call bad and negative, must take place before Jesus redeems His people and the world.  Before anything can be restored, that which is old and falling apart must be torn down.  Then, and only then, can it be rebuilt. The same applies to Israel, the nations of the world, and the earth and even the universe.       


Praise And Prayer (ch. 63:7 - 19)                       


Verse 7 begins with the words "I will tell of the kindness of the Lord…"  Who does the pronoun "I" refer to.  It's clearly not God.  In context, "I" refers to Israel , but not Israel in Isaiah's day.  This is Israel after the judgment and the restoration spoken of in the first six verses of this chapter.  This is redeemed Israel, at the end of this age and into the thousand year rule of Christ on earth.  Yes, Israel will finally be the nation she was meant to be all along. 


Verse 7 also states that Israel will praise their God for the good deeds He has done for them.  You might ask, "what good deeds is Israel speaking of".  Well, to answer this question you'd probably start at the most recent deeds, and that would be their deliverance from the nations of the world at the end of this age.  Then, you would have to say the cross of Christ, which the Jews would have finally accepted and believed in.  Then beyond that, there are all the good deeds done in the Old Testament, such as their deliverance from Egypt and Babylon.  These Jews might even call the judgments of God done to them as good deeds because they were done in compassion, as verse 7 also states.  These judgments led them to their knees, so in the long run, they were good.


Verse 8 speaks of the return of Israel to their God.  God, or Yahweh, will say once again at the end of this present age, that Israel is His people.  I don't believe we can know just how this will make God feel when He utters these words.  When Israel hears these words from the lips of their God, probably through Jesus, their hearts might just well melt.  What a glorious day that will be when Israel is reunited with their God.  This has got to be one very overwhelming experience for both God and the remnant of Israel.


Verse 8 also speaks of sons not being false to their God any more.  All of the past falseness will be over for good.  Israel will truly be obedient and faithful sons of God, and not just for a while as was often the case, but for all eternity, as the Abrahamic Covenant states. 


We see the heart of God in verse 9.  It reads, "in all their distress, He was distressed".  Israel was distressed because God caused things to happen to them that made them distressed, but He did not fell good about this.  The only reason why He allowed tragedy after tragedy after tragedy to come upon Israel was to bring them back to Him.  It distressed Him beyond what we can know to see His people have to go through such hard times. This is how God feels about Israel right now, and will feel even worse when the most horrible of times come on Israel in the Tribulation of the end of this age.


Some people say that God simply allows these tragedies to come on the Jews, and really, in people in general.  I don't believe that. I think it is clear from this passage and many others that God Himself initiates these troubles, trials, and calamities.  Another Biblical name for the Tribulation that ends this age is called "Jacob's trials'.  The trials are meant to lead Israel to repent. 


All of that being said, there is some textual difficulties with this verse which I will not go into at this time.  I will simply make my comment based on the NIV Bible.


We also see the term "angel of His presence" that saved Israel in verse 9.  Some scholars feel this is an angel, possibly Michael.  Most, however, view this phrase as Messianic, meaning pre-incarnate Jesus, who shows up quite often throughout the Old Testament.


"He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old" is also seen in verse 9.  "All the days of old" in my thinking, would refer back to Old Testament times.  Remember, these words are prophetic of a future time.  So when these words are actually spoken, the Old Testament days would certainly be days of old.  Throughout the Old Testament, even when in exile, or when Israel wandered from God, she was not far from the heart and eyes of God.  He constantly kept watch on them as a parent keeps watch over a wayward child.


Verse 10 says, "yet they rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit".  You do not see the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Old Testament as often as you see Him mentioned in the New Testament, but here He shows up.  As wayward Christians grieve the Holy Spirit today, so did Israel grieve Him in Old Testament times.  God can be grieved.  Grief is not just a human emotion.  I maintain that all emotions that humans express first can be seen in God because we are created in His likeness and image.


Verse 10 says that because Israel rebelled against God, He turned on them and became their enemy and fought against them.  Some people struggle over this.  They try to get around their struggles by saying that God simply allowed bad things to happen to Israel .  He didn't really initiate them, but that's not true.  This is one verse that proves this.  God did become the enemy of Israel, and He did fight against them.  He used national enemies at times to do His fighting, like Hitler and others.  He used natural calamities as well, and sometimes He stretched out His own arm of wrath against them.


In verse 9 I noted that the term "days of old' was in reference to the Old Testament days.  Here in verse 11 the same phrase is used which proves my point.  The days of old in this verse is explained by the days of Moses.  As I said earlier, these words will be spoken at a future date, therefore, the Old Testament days are the days of old.


In verse 11 we see mention of the Holy Spirit again.  In this context we note that the Holy Spirit was with Moses when they were delivered from Egypt.  Even though we don't see the Holy Spirit mentioned as often in the Old Testament as we do in the New Testament, He was active in the nation of Israel.  In verse 14 we see the Holy Spirit mentioned again, but here He is called the Spirit of the Lord.  It might be possible that there are numerous references to the Holy Spirit in this chapter is because when these words are being spoken, they are in the future.  They are in New Testament days where He actually lives within His people.


In verse 12 we see the word "renown".  This is in reference to the Holy Spirit who worked along side of Moses as they fled the Egyptians.  We see here how the Holy Spirit worked along side people in Old Testament days.  Now, in New Testament days, He still works along side the believer, but He also works within the believer as well. 


We see the term "glorious arm" in this verse.  This phrase pots up a number of times in the Old Testament.  The Holy Spirit is seen as God's arm.   


Throughout verses 10 through 14 Israel is remembering the good things that their God had done for them in times past.  This is something that Christians should do often as well.  Throughout the Old Testament we see God telling Israel to remember the good things of the past that came from their God and tell their children about them.  Christians should do the same.  This is meant to be a means of encouragement.  The one reason why one generation slips farther away from the Lord than the previous generation is because such memories are not passed on to the next generation.


These verses begin to show us how Israel is beginning to feel at the end of this age.  Because of the horrible events of the Tribulation, they are now beginning to think of their past.  They think of their past because they are now in the beginning stages of repentance.  Israel today for the most part is a secular state. They have very little understanding of their God, but that will change as they feel the pressure from God in the Tribulation.  They first remember their past.  We will see later that this makes them wonder about God, and eventually leads to repentance. 


Note in verse 14 the phrase, "to make for yourself a glorious name".  This is ultimately why God does all things.  We should have the same thinking concerning the name of the Lord.  We represent that name to the world and we should not misrepresent it as we often do. How the world views our Lord is often a result of how they view us and the way we live.  If we fail to live as Jesus wants, we do not uphold His name.  We do His name great harm.  The third commandment tells us not to take the name of the Lord in vain.  This has nothing to do with using bad language.  This has everything to do with representing the name of our Lord as we should.


In verse 15 we see God sits on a throne, at least symbolically speaking. Jesus Himself sits on a throne in heaven as well, but He will also sit on a throne in Jerusalem when He rules from that city for one thousand years.


Verse 16 needs some thought.  All along in this part of Isaiah 63 we have seen the many good things God did and will do for Israel .  Yet verse 16 seems to say that they aren't experiencing these good things.  Verse 16 is an appeal for God to show goodness and kindness to Israel.  At this point in Israeli history, they have now acknowledge the existence of their God.  They have not quite repented yet, but they will.


If you study Biblical prophecy, you will note that Jesus will return to this earth at the end of the seven year tribulation when the Jews repent and asks Him to return.  I believe the sentiment shown in this verse is how they will feel at the future date when they repent and ask their Messiah to come to them.


The same sentiment carries on to verse 17.  Israel asks, "why do you make us wander from your ways"?  Of course, it is not God that makes Israel wander.  It is themselves that wander and stray from God.  In this wandering, the next phrase comes into play.  Israel simply asks God why He hardens their hearts.  We see God hardening people's hearts throughout the Bible.  This is not a one time thing.  This is how He hardens people's hearts.  First, a nation or person rebels against God.  In this sense, they first harden their own heart.  Then God often brings calamities to that person or nation, which makes their hearts even harder.  God does not reach into someone's heart, turn some kind of screw, and make his heart hard.  The calamities that come to that person causes that person to make his own heart hard.  God does not do something against our fee will.  We harden our own hearts.  This is the way it was with Pharaoh and others.


We see the words "return for the sake of your servants".  Here are the words that Jesus has been waiting for all these centuries, and now, He finally hears these words.  They are words of repentance, and when Jesus hears these words, He will come immediately.


How God feels about these words cannot be understood by us.  The whole climax of Jewish history, and even world history, has now come.  His people want Him back.  Wow.  That is worth thinking seriously about.


Verse 18 says that "for a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now your enemies have trampled down your sanctuary".  If you view Isaiah 63 as in the future, then to be consistent, you should view this verse to be futuristic as well.  Some view this as Israel possessing their promised land with temple worship in Old Testament days.  Futurists would see this verse as being a future temple that would be built in Jerusalem that the anti-Christ will defame.  This is what Jesus spoke about when He quoted from Daniel concerning the "abomination that causes desolation".  I believe this is what this verse is speaking of.


Verse 19 is an admission on Israel 's part.  Even though Israel was God's people, God was not allowed to rule over them.  You might wonder why the word "them" is used in this verse and not the word "us".  It might well be that Israel in the future, once repenting and recognizing their sin is disassociating themselves from the Israel of the past.  This is true repentance.  The word "repent" is a word fast falling out of favour in our modern Christian vocabulary.  That should not be the case.  One cannot find faith in Jesus without repenting of one's sin, no matter how much he claims to have faith.




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