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Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.
Category - Bible Commentaries
Having completed the prophecies of the judgment upon the nations, Isaiah then breaks into songs of praise for God’s deliverance in chapters 25-27 before turning his attention to the judgment and exile of Israel and Judah.
Isaiah 25:1 begins, saying,
1 O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness [ohmen].
The prophet praises God for His wonderful miracle (pele) and acknowledges that He had planned this “long ago.” We know that the blueprint for history was planned from the beginning. Nothing in history has taken God by surprise, nor was each outcome ever in doubt.
The plans were “formed long ago with perfect faithfulness” (ohmen, from aman, “truth, faithfulness”). We should also note that all things were established long ago by the principle of the amen, that is, by the law of the double witness. The Father spoke truth (light), and the Son repeated it, bringing it into existence. All things come into existence by the word of God long before they manifest on earth.
Isaiah 25:2 says,
2 For you have made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin; a palace of strangers is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt.
Isaiah does not name this “city,” for it represents all cities that fight against the city of God (the New Jerusalem). Spanning history, the city of Nineveh and the city of Babylon both fell into ruins and mounds, or heaps. The “palace of strangers” refers to foreign capitals that were to fall and “never be rebuilt.”
I cannot help but wonder if Jeremiah, a century later, read these words and was inspired to use the same terminology in regard to the earthly Jerusalem in Jer. 19:10, 11,
10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired’; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial.”
Though Isaiah gave no direct indication that Jerusalem would be included in the rebellious cities of the nations, we must understand that no single prophet was given the entire spectrum of truth. Revelation is progressive, and each prophet receives his portion. To understand the full picture, one must study the revelation of all the prophets, the gospels, and the epistles of the New Testament.
So Jeremiah 19 tells us that Jerusalem was a rebellious city, while other prophets tell us that Jerusalem was no longer a City of Peace (as its name indicates) but was instead the City of Bloodshed (Ezek. 22:2; Nahum 3:1). It was where the prophets were killed and finally even the Messiah Himself (Matt. 23:34, 35).
Paul saw Jerusalem as Hagar and its citizens as spiritual Ishmaelites, or children of the flesh (Gal. 4:25). Hence, even as Ishmael persecuted Isaac (Gal. 4:29), so also did the people of Jerusalem persecute the prophets, the Messiah, and the church as a whole.
Hagar-Jerusalem, then, will NOT be the capital of the Kingdom of God, nor will it be the mother of the church, nor will its children inherit the Kingdom. Instead, it will be “cast out” (Gal. 4:30).
John categorized Jerusalem along with the oppressive cities such as Babylon, Sodom, and Egypt (Rev. 11:8) which have revolted against the rightful rule of Jesus Christ. All flesh will fail, and all fleshly cities too will fail in the end.
So whereas Isaiah’s prophecy was incomplete, we can clearly see how the truth emerged and was clarified by later prophets. Just as Babylon and Nineveh were to go into ruins and never be rebuilt, so also is it with the earthly Jerusalem. All of these capitals will be replaced by the New Jerusalem, the heavenly capital of the Kingdom of God.
Isaiah 25:3 says,
3 Therefore a strong [az, “strong, hard, cruel”] people will glorify You; cities of ruthless nations will revere You.
The prophet assures us of the outcome of the divine plan. All of these “ruthless nations,” who are “strong,” will reverence the true God of Israel in that day. The Hebrew word yara is correctly translated “revere,” but the word is usually translated “fear,” such as the fear of the Lord. That is a Hebrew idiom that means the people recognize His right to rule. It is about respect, not terror.
All those who “fear the Lord” will advocate God’s right to rule His creation. Most people today are more concerned with their own rights or “human rights” rather than God’s rights. Most seem unaware that America was founded on the idea that governments are established under God to protect our God-given rights from ungodly governments.
Fortunately, God does not leave it up to man to decide whether they will submit to the rule of Christ or not. He states plainly that all men and all nations will indeed swear allegiance to Jesus Christ. The “people will glorify You,” and “cities of ruthless nations will revere You.” This is a statement of fact, and we know that whatever God speaks comes into existence. This already exists, but it has yet to manifest visibly to the people. Meanwhile, we who walk by faith see it as a sure word of prophecy that must surely come to pass.
Isaiah 25:4, 5 says,
4 For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat, for the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall. 5 Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens [zur, “alien, one who turns aside”]; like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced.
During the time of earth’s rebellion against God, the nations have set up kings that rule by the Hagar principle of the bondwoman. They have enslaved the people. Kings seek allegiance from men and ask men to die for them. But Jesus came to die for us, earning Him the right to rule all men, for He alone is the personification of love. He alone is worthy. He alone can be trusted to rule with equal justice for all and with mercy, grace, and love.
Isaiah pictures the unjust rule of men as an oppressive heat. The rebellion is said to be an “uproar,” that is, a noisy tumult coming from people who have turned aside from God. The word zur usually refers to foreigners but it literally means those who have turned aside or who have departed. Hence, a foreigner is not really based on one’s race or genealogy. They are foreigners from the Kingdom of God, not because they are descended from non-Israelites but because they (as a whole) have turned aside from following the true God.
Conversely, when foreigners return to God, they are no longer foreigners but fellow citizens, as Paul says in Eph. 2:19, 20,
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.
The basis of their change of status is not genealogy but their faith in Christ Jesus, which gives them legal citizenship in the Kingdom.
Believers themselves are part of God’s household, much like Abraham’s household, in which were found 318 men of war who were “born in his house” (Gen. 14:14) but none of whom were the physical children of Abraham. These faithful ones provided Paul with the phrase, “the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10, KJV).
These believers, though strangers and pilgrims among the nations, are part of God’s household and are therefore under His protection. God is their defense, “a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat,” as Isaiah tells us, even as the ruthless ones sing their triumphal songs in their vain belief that they will rule the earth forever.
Though God allows them the illusion of power and victory, the New Covenant promise of God stands as a rock that cannot be moved, altered, or modified in any way, for it is not based upon the will of man but of God alone. Hence, we who are built upon that sure foundation stand on a rock that cannot be shaken.
This is our defense, Isaiah says.