God's Kingdom Ministries
Serious Bible Study



Isaiah 48-53: The Great Redeemer: Chapter 16: My People Comforted

In Isaiah 51:12, 13, 14, 15 God declares,

12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, 13 that you have forgotten the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. 15 For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name).”

God was speaking to the “exile,” that is, Israel, in reference to the latter-day deliverance that was sure to come. In comforting the nation, God essentially tells them that He will pour out His Spirit upon them at the time of deliverance, after their sentence has been accomplished.

There would be many outpourings of the Spirit along the way, most notably at Pentecost in Acts 2; however, the deliverance of Pentecost, mighty as it was, will not compare to the deliverance when the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled. Pentecost shook the religious leaders in Jerusalem, but Tabernacles will shake the entire world.

Meanwhile, however, the exiled Israelites had “forgotten the Lord” and were continually fearful of their Assyrian oppressors. They would not live to see the outpouring of the Spirit. Many generations would pass before the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and even then, few would hear of it. Peter preached to a few of these exiles of the diaspora (1 Peter 1:1, 2; 2:9). James wrote them a letter (James 1:1). But the vast majority remained in darkness.

Hence, “the exile” in verse 14 above was a collective exile, the nation itself, not individual Israelites as such. And when this great deliverance from modern Mystery Babylon is completed, many others who were gathered along with the original remnant of Israel will also be delivered. In fact, this is what happened also when the original city of Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus. The Persian king set free all the exiles. Judah was just one of many nations that had been uprooted and exiled. This too prophesied of the great deliverance yet to come.

Therefore, God admonishes exiles everywhere not to fear but to trust God. The One who created the heavens and the earth has no chance of failing when He promises deliverance. Men fear only because they do not recognize the sovereignty of God or the wisdom of His plan or the power of His love. Getting to know Him is the only way to eliminate all fear.

My People

Isaiah 51:16 addresses God’s people, saying,

16 “I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people’.”

In order for God to “establish” the new heavens and “found” (establish) the new earth, He puts His words in the mouths of His people. It is evident that the Creator was not referring to the original heavens and earth, for that had already been created. Instead, He looks forward to another creation, which is explained more fully in Isaiah 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.”

Just before speaking of this new creation, Isaiah 65:16, God reveals the law on which this new creation is based:

16 Because he who is blessed in the earth will be blessed by the God of truth [Heb., amen]; and he who swears in the earth will swear by the God of truth [amen]; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hidden from My sight!

The “amen” is a double witness. The law, being an expression of God’s nature, requires a double witness to establish all things (Deut. 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1). In the original creation, Christ provided a double witness to the word of the Father, and it came into being. Hence, He is called in Rev. 3:14, “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.”

Yet in creating the new heavens and the new earth, God puts words into the mouths of His people, making them His witnesses. He is raising up an “Amen” people, for this is how God intends to accomplish this new work. He does not intend to do it apart from His people, and His people are those on earth who are in agreement with Him. As such, they bear witness on earth as it is in heaven, and when they speak what they have heard, matter is changed, history is changed, and God wins.

How to Be God’s People

When Israel was called to Mount Sinai to covenant with God, Exodus 19:5 says,

5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.

To be God’s people under that covenant required them to be obedient. This was repeated in Lev. 26:12, where, if the people were obedient, they would be His people.

12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.

We know that they failed, and so, forty years later, God made a second covenant with them (Deut. 29:1). This second covenant was unlike the first, in that God is the One who took an oath to make them His people. Deut. 29:12, 13 says,

12 that you may enter into the covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath which the Lord your God is making with you today, 13 in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In that Israel had failed to be obedient during the entire forty years in the wilderness, they had failed to become His people. Therefore, they needed a better covenant, one based upon the oath of God Himself, who alone is capable of keeping His word fully. This is, of course, the main feature of the New Covenant, and so He likens this Deuteronomy covenant to the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The point is that to be “My people” is conditional upon obedience. It is not based on biology or genealogy but upon the law being written on their hearts. God’s promise was not to confirm them as “My people” while they were yet in sin, but to perfect them by the power of the Holy Spirit who was writing the law within their hearts. Hence, when they become “My people,” God also becomes their God.

No one is “My people” apart from faith in God, and no man can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Peter affirms this in Acts 4:12,

12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

It is for this same reason that Paul says in Rom. 11:7 that being “chosen” is not based upon one’s genealogy but upon the condition of one’s heart. In the days of Elijah there were only 7,000 “chosen” ones in all of Israel.

Hence, the “Amen” people are also “My people” as God defines it. They are not yet perfect in the absolute sense, but they are led by the Spirit in that direction. By faith in God’s ability to keep His oath, righteousness is imputed to them, even as it was imputed to Abraham (Rom. 4:21). The imputation of righteousness means that God calls what is not as though it were (Rom. 4:17) and makes us His people even before we are actually righteous.

This is no lie, because God’s declarations become an immediate reality in that when God speaks, creation responds to the Creator’s voice. The time it takes to become visible is not relevant. God’s word gives existence to whatever is declared. Therefore, New Covenant faith brings righteousness into existence, even if it is not yet visible to the human eye. So again, Isaiah 51:16 says,

16I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people’.”

When God says to Zion, “You are My people,” He was declaring the end from the beginning.

Zion and Sion

Zion refers to the seat of government in the Kingdom of David. Zion was a type of Sion, which is Christ’s seat of government. Those who remain in an Old Covenant mindset have difficulty understanding that the types and shadows do not represent reality. Such people insist that the promises must be fulfilled in the prophetic types rather than in the antitypes that they represent. But the New Testament affirms that true believers are no longer gathered to Mount Sinai as under Moses but to Christ at Mount Sion. Neither are they gathered again to David at Mount Zion but to Christ at Mount Sion.

Hebrews 12:18, 19, and 22 says,

18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them… 22 But you have come to Mount Zion [“Sion,” KJV] and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels.

Mount Sion was literally Mount Hermon (Deut. 4:48) and was the place where Jesus was transfigured in Matt. 17:1 and 2. Jesus was not transfigured on Mount Zion, nor was Mount Zion the seat of government for the heavenly Jerusalem. We gather around the transfigured Christ at Mount Sion, which represents “the heavenly Jerusalem.” Sion is the place where the promises of God are fulfilled in us and where we receive the same glory that Christ received.

Isaiah 51:16, then, is no longer about Zion but Sion. The earthly Jerusalem could not fulfill the requirements necessary to receive the pronounced blessing, “You are My people.” The earthly Jerusalem was a bondwoman who could not give birth to the inheritors but only to slaves (Gal. 4:24, 25). The bondwoman must be cast out, not enthroned (Gal. 4:30), for God has something much better in mind for us than to become immortal slaves.