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Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 4

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

Isaiah 25, 26: Songs of Praise

Chapter 12: Removing the Reproach

Isaiah 25:8 says that “He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth.” What exactly was to be removed? Was God saying that He would stop people from disparaging His people? No doubt that is part of it, for His people have always been maligned and persecuted for their righteousness.

The Hebrew word is cherpah, which means “scorn, dishonor, shame, disgrace, reproach.”  The specific cause of such reproach must be supplied by each context, because there are many causes for this. In Gen. 30:23, when Rachel gave birth to Joseph, she said, “God has taken away my reproach,” that is, the shame of having no children.

In 1 Sam. 11:2 having one’s right eye gauged out was also said to be a “reproach.” In Neh. 2:17 it was a “reproach” that Jerusalem was exposed to danger, having no walls.

The word cherpah comes from the root word charaph, which means “to expose, strip, pull off, pluck off.” To shame someone is to expose them. So also we read in Isaiah 47:3,

3 Your nakedness will be uncovered, your shame [cherpah] also will be exposed…

The question is how the prophet was using the term prophetically in Isaiah 25:8. To remove the veil that is spread over all nations is seen in a positive light, because it removes the Old Covenant veil that hides the truth. To remove the veil is to remove the reproach of blindness.

Heart Circumcision Removes the Reproach

It is likely that Isaiah was thinking of an event in Joshua 5:8, 9, which says,

8 Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in the places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal [“wheel, rolling”] to this day.

The Israelites had not been circumcised during most of their sojourn in Egypt and in the wilderness under Moses. It was only when Joshua led them across the Jordan River that the men were circumcised, and so “the reproach of Egypt” was a euphemism for the foreskin that was being removed or pulled off. Physical circumcision was a sign of the Old Covenant; the veil too represented the Old Covenant.

Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, while Caleb was of Judah. Between the two of them, they represented Christ in both of His manifestations. We should understand that when Jesus came the first time of Judah, He was not to bring us into the Promised Land but to prepare the way for His second appearance as Ephraim-Joseph. Hence, when Jesus comes as Ephraim, the fruitful one, He then circumcises the hearts of His people in a New Covenant manner (Rom. 2:28, 29).

Physical circumcision is a sign of the Old Covenant, while circumcision of one’s heart and ears is a sign of the New Covenant. It is only when hearts are circumcised that the reproach of Egypt is truly cast off. Moses himself prophesied of heart circumcision this way in Deut. 30:6,

6 Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live [i.e., be immortal].

One might say that physical circumcision causes us to change our behavior, according to the Old Covenant, while heart circumcision is what God does to change our nature according to the provisions of the New Covenant.

It appears, then, that Isaiah was suggesting that the veil spread over all nations, preventing men from seeing the truth, was represented by the foreskin, which was pictured as a physical “veil” preventing men from begetting the sons of God by the gospel, the word of truth.

This is why the Hebrew word for “gospel” (or “good news” in Isaiah 61:1) is basar, which is also the word for “flesh.” We are begotten physically by the flesh (basar), but the New Creation Man is begotten by the gospel (basar). The quality of one’s begetting depends upon which covenant has authorized the begetting. Jesus thus said to Nicodemus in John 3:6 (translated correctly),

6 That which is begotten of the flesh is flesh, and that which is begotten of the Spirit is spirit.

Hence, to understand Isaiah’s prophecy about removing the reproach from His people, we must connect it to the removal of the reproach of Egypt in the time of Joshua, and we must see the difference between the two covenants and the types of circumcision. Only then can we understand that when God removes the veil from all nations at the end of the age, their hearts will be circumcised to love God with all their heart and soul.

Moses says in Deut. 30:6, “so that you may live.” Isaiah 25:8 says, “He will swallow up death for all time.”  It is only by the New Covenant that the reproach of corruption and mortality can be removed. When the nations see the truth about the nature of the only true God, then they will be able to say, “This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His Yeshua” (Isaiah 25:9).

This Mountain

Isaiah 25:10 says,

10 For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain [New Jerusalem], and Moab will be trodden down in his place as straw is trodden down in the water of a manure pile.

The introductory word “for” links this statement to what was said previously. The nations will “rejoice and be glad in His Yeshua, for the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.” The mountain of the Lord, as we have said, has shifted from Zion to Sion, and from the earthly Jerusalem to the heavenly city. The failure of the Old Covenant, Zion, and Jerusalem has required a new “mountain” for the people of God to attain salvation and immortal life.

Moab in the Manure Pile

The “manure pile” (NASB) is also called “the dunghill” (KJV). It is more than just “manure,” for it also includes all trash that is discarded. The valley of the son of Hinnom (Greek: Gehenna) was Jerusalem’s city dump, or “dunghill.” It was the place where Jeremiah broke the clay vessel, when he prophesied that “this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter” (Jer. 19:6).

The prophet foresaw the day when the earthly Jerusalem would be cast into Gehenna, the city dump. It was to be discarded, never to be rebuilt (Jer. 19:10, 11).

Isaiah 25:10 also spoke of Moab in similar terms. Moab here represented all idolatrous nations and their earthly systems of idolatry where men swear allegiance to false gods and to leaders who are in rebellion against the Creator Himself.

Moab means “of his father” in the sense of an illegitimate birth (from an incestuous relationship with Lot). Isaiah uses Moab’s name as a type of the old man of flesh, which is illegitimate insofar as the inheritance is concerned. Paul says, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). Why? Because it is illegitimate and incapable of achieving the nature of Christ.

Isaiah’s prophecy should not be viewed as a prohibition against Moabites, as if to say that no Moabite can be saved. Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:22) but her faith made her an Israelite and a mother in the genealogy of Christ Himself.

Anyone who is of the flesh is disqualified to inherit the Kingdom of God, regardless of which particular type of racial flesh they possess. We all must come to God in the same manner, having the faith of Abraham, who is the father of those who share his faith in the promises of God (Rom. 4:21, 22).

In the end, not only Moab but all fleshly nations must discard their rebellious notions and give up their claim to sovereignty. They must “cast their crowns before the throne” (Rev. 4:10) and declare Christ to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Isaiah 25:11 says,

11 And he [Moab] will spread out his hands in the middle of it [the manure pile] as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim, but the Lord will lay low his pride together with the trickery [orobah, “deceit, trickery, ambush”] of his hands.

The prophet paints a picture of someone swimming in a cesspool or in a polluted lake. He says that “the Lord will lay low his pride,” in that God causes him to sink. The swimmer’s pride in his ability to swim is thus turned to shame. Though he extends his hands as he swims, he finds that his hands have tricked him—or ambushed him. An ambush involves trickery and deception in time of war. In this case, the works of the man’s hands will deceive him and be his downfall.

Isaiah 25:12 concludes,

12 The unassailable fortifications of your walls He will bring down, lay low and cast to the ground, even to the dust.

This tells us that the work of his hands is actually “the unassailable fortifications of your walls.” Though they build fortified cities that appear to be “unassailable,” or impregnable, the walls will be cast down. Moab is deceived into a false sense of security, because they cannot defend themselves from the judgment of God that has been decreed.

Yet keep in mind that Moab is not the only nation that will be judged. The prophet used Moab as an example on account of its name. But this prophecy of destruction goes beyond the borders of Moab and also includes the destruction of the fleshly city of Jerusalem.