The end of Isaiah 61 described God’s people rejoicing in the Lord and finding there joy as workers in God’s kingdom because God has set us free from our sins (61:1-3). We rejoice in the Lord because he has clothed us with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. God takes sinful people and makes them beautiful, planting them as oaks of righteousness for his own glory. This idea continues in Isaiah 62.
The Transformation of Zion (62:1-5)
God is pictured as being restless for his people. He will not keep quiet and will not stop until Zion has righteousness and salvation going forth in brightness like a burning torch. Zion represents God’s people in this section of Isaiah (see 59:20 “those who turn from transgression”). When the Servant/Redeemer comes bringing salvation, Zion will be completely changed. Rather than being full of sins, they will possess righteousness and salvation. This is not a deserved righteousness. We have not seen any picture that Zion would be righteous by their efforts and works. Through the work of the Servant, God will declare the status of God’s people to be righteous. This is the righteousness and glory that the nations will see. They will not see our perfect works, for that cannot happen. Rather, the nations are going to see people who are transformed and living different lives because God has called them righteous and saved them from their sins. The people will be so radically transformed that God says that these people will be called by a new name (62:2). This indicates the people have a new character and a new relationship with the Lord. In Christ we are new creatures with a new relationship with God.
The picture continues in verse 3. We will no longer be defiled and filthy because of our sins. God has saved us so that we are pictured as a beautiful crown in the hand of the Lord. We are possessed by God. We belong to him and are in his hand. A beautiful picture of God’s relationship with us. The point is that God has made us glorious. We have been transformed from filthy sinners to a beautiful crown in the hand of the Lord. Verse 4 continues to describe this new relationship that we will have with the Lord because we have been forgiven. We will not longer be forsaken or desolate. Think about how God would make this promise to his people that he would not leave them and would be with them wherever they went. This was visualized when the people were in the wilderness and God led them with a pillar of fire and cloud. God was with his people for their journey to the promised land. In the same way, we see this same promise given to us.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5–6 ESV)
Rather than being forsaken, we will have two new names. The land will be called “Married.” This is a picture of the covenant relationship we are in with our Lord. We are possessed by God. It is useful to note that the Hebrew word for married is “Beulah.” If you grew up in the pews you might have sung the song “Beulah Land.” As a kid, I never understood what we were singing about. It was a nonsensical song to me to sing about Beulah Land. But this song comes from Isaiah 62:4. The land will no be desolate or forsaken because we are married to the Lord.
The other description for us is also found in verse 4. “You shall be called My Delight Is In Her.” How amazing that the Lord will find his delight and joy in us! Do we grasp this? Do we recognize this? God delights in you! The New Testament says the same thing about us, though we may have missed this important truth.
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 ESV)
The Lord delights in his people, not because we are perfect or sinless, but because he has clothed us salvation and righteousness which is transforming us into his image. Notice that verse 5 drives this thought home even deeper. “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Marriage is a joyful, glorious day. This is the joy God has for us to belong to him and be his people. How amazing it is that the all-sufficient God finds joy in us!
Call On the Lord To Do It (62:6-9)
The Lord says that watchmen are set up in Jerusalem. But they are not to be watching for enemies to attack. This was the usual function of the watchmen. They would sound the alarm when armies would approach. But this is not the purpose for these watchmen. These watchmen are pictured as calling on the Lord day and night until God accomplishes this promise of salvation and righteousness. Keep calling on the Lord to accomplish his promises. God will do but give him no rest until he does. What a great picture that God offers us! God will do it because he promised it. But pray for it anyway! Pray for God do accomplish his promises. Do not give God rest until he does. Think about how often God tells us to be persistent in prayer (cf. Luke 18:7; Philippians 4:6; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2). Keep praying because it will keep us hopeful in the promises of God. Keep praying because it will call to our minds the promises of God. Friends, we are given authority by God to wear him out in prayer. God tells us to persist in prayer and not lose heart. Even though we believe that God will do, keep praying about it day and night. Pray to the Lord to do it! What hope we have in prayer! How amazing that God calls on us to pray, pray, and pray even more!
Your Salvation Comes (62:10-12)
Again the call goes through the land to the people to get ready. Prepare the way for the people to come to the Lord because salvation is coming. God is removing our sin obstacles so that we can come to him. Salvation is coming. You shall be called “The Holy People,” “The Redeemed of the Lord,” and “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” This is a picture of God’s love. God went after us. God was not going to give us up even though we were enslaved in our sins. You are not forsaken. God has come to your rescue. God has redeemed you. God has made you holy and you belong to him. Lift up your eyes and see that your Savior comes. Here comes your salvation!
Here He Comes! (63:1-6)
Isaiah 63 opens with the arrival of the Savior who brings salvation to his people. Here he comes in splendid, glorious apparel (63:1). Notice that he comes from Edom. Bozrah is the capital city of Edom. Recall back in Isaiah 34 that Edom was the symbol for the world, the enemies of God, and the people opposed to God’s people. So observe the picture. The Savior, the one who speaks in righteousness and is mighty to save, comes from Edom, where the enemies of God and his people dwell, wearing splendid apparel. But also notice that his clothing is red. The question is asked in verse 2, “Why is your apparel red?”
His answer is that he has trod the winepress alone. He trampled them in his anger and wrath and their lifeblood has splattered on his garments, staining his apparel. The reason why is that it was the day of vengeance (cf. 61:2) and the year of redemption (61:2). Remember in Isaiah 61:2 we saw that the Spirit of the Lord is on Christ and he was bringing the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance. This year of favor is the fulfillment of the year of jubilee shadow where the people were released from their debts and their inheritance restored. Isaiah 63 pictures the Christ doing this very thing. We noted in Isaiah 61 that the day of vengeance was not negative to the people of God, but the good news. God’s enemies would be judged and God’s justice would arrive. The day of vengeance is bad for God’s enemies, but for God’s people the day of vengeance is the day of God’s deliverance.
Verse 5 parallels what the Lord declared in 59:16. Notice the similarity:
I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. (Isaiah 63:5 ESV)
He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. (Isaiah 59:16 ESV)
Remember in Isaiah 59 the Lord looks and was amazed that there is no one to save, so he himself used his own might and brought salvation to his people. In the same way, the Lord looks and see that there was no one to help his oppressed people. Therefore, he himself used his own might and brought salvation by destroying the enemies of God’s people. The situation before the Lord demanded a divine response. God’s people were oppressed and God desired to do something. No one else could do anything about it but God himself. Only God can save, which inevitably involves divine judgment. For there to be salvation, there must also be divine justice and judgment. Think about the history of Israel which is a picture of this truth. When God saved Israel from Egyptian slavery, the nation of Egypt was judged and destroyed. When God saved Israel from Babylonian captivity, the nation of Babylon was judged and destroyed. When God saved his people from the persecution of the Jewish nation, Jerusalem was judged and destroyed in 70 AD. When God saved his people from the persecution of the Roman Empire, God judged and destroyed the Roman Empire. This is the hope for God’s people! God judges our enemies and brings his vengeance for our salvation. This is why the book of Revelation uses this exact image of our Savior that is found here in Isaiah 63 over in Revelation 19.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11–21 ESV)
Jesus our Savior went to war against the Roman Empire in that image and pictures its judgment and destruction because they stood against God’s people. God did this because he promised that he will never forsake his people. The Lord delights in us and we are not called desolate or forsaken.
Here’s the great picture. Jesus has gone to war against our greatest enemy: Satan. This is pictured in Revelation 20 where Jesus casts him into the abyss to no longer deceive the nations. Then he will cast him in the lake of fire where he will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Jesus has gone to battle and won on our behalf. Jesus is Faithful and True and he makes war and judges in righteous. But there is more to this picture. Jesus goes to war against all of our enemies. Isaiah 63 predicts it and Revelation 19 validates this promise for us. Jesus will strike down the nations and rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15). He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Think about this: he rules the nations in righteousness. This is our hope for the future. God will deal with the armies of wickedness and darkness. As we look throughout the world and see the growth of evil, God has promised that the Savior will bring justice and have his day of vengeance. Evildoers are always judged. We may suffer at the hands of evildoers. But God has promised vengeance on those who harm us. This knowledge is what frees us to be oaks of righteousness and shine as lights in this dark world.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17–21 ESV)
God delights in you and fights for you. He has solved our greatest need by saving us from our sins. Trust in the Lord through suffering and difficulties. Trust in the Lord through mistreatment and evil. Be watchmen praying day and night to bring salvation to his people. God will do. Every evildoer will receive justice. Hope in God.