God's Kingdom Ministries
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Isaiah 48-53: The Great Redeemer: Chapter 17: The Cup of Wrath

Isaiah 51:17 says,

17 Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the Lord’s hand the cup of His anger.

The Lord speaks directly to “Jerusalem” without specifying which Jerusalem. None of the Old Testament prophets clearly make this distinction, except in their descriptions. There are, of course, two cities by that name, and this is made clear by the fact that Ierushalayim, translated “Jerusalem,” is a Hebrew dual that means “two Jerusalems.” The language has both plurals and duals. In this case it is a dual.

While the ancient rabbis discussed this among themselves, they had no revelation about the heavenly Jerusalem. The heavenly Jerusalem was revealed only in the New Testament. Both Paul and John had the answer. John took the Old Testament prophecies of “Jerusalem” and applied them to the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. We see this clearly by comparing Isaiah 60:3-7, 11, and 19 with Rev. 21:4, 23-26.

Because the Old Testament prophets themselves are unclear, we know that God did not intend for them to understand this prior to the greater revelation of the Pentecostal Age. Hence, when reading Isaiah, we must always ask ourselves which Jerusalem was being referenced, for the prophets do not tell us clearly.

As a general rule, whenever the prophets speak of Jerusalem in terms of its sinful condition and under divine judgment, it refers to the earthly city. Whenever the prophets speak of Jerusalem in terms of its future glory, they speak of the heavenly city.

So the Apostle Paul identifies the earthly Jerusalem as “Hagar,” and “the bondwoman,” who is incapable of giving birth to “Isaac,” the inheritors of the Kingdom (Gal. 4:22-25). Likewise, “Sarah” is “the Jerusalem above” and “is free” and “is our mother” (Gal. 4:26). Those who follow Christ under the New Covenant are therefore “like Isaac” (Gal. 4:28).

Isaiah 51:17 instructs “Jerusalem” twice to “Rouse yourself !” On the surface, Isaiah was telling the city to wake up to the revelation of God and to repent of its sin and carnality. Earlier, the prophet had told the city to “Awake, awake, put on strength” (Isaiah 51:9). If directed to the heavenly Jerusalem, such commands would have been unnecessary, for the heavenly city was always enlightened and could never fall into sin.

Hence, this is directed at the people living in the earthly city who were in need of repentance.

The Cup of Divine Anger

Further, the prophet says that Jerusalem has “drunk from the Lord’s hand the cup of anger” and from “the chalice of reeling.” The word for “cup” is kos, which has a double meaning. It is both a cup and an owl. An owl was an unclean bird of prey. This suggests that to drink of the cup of divine judgment, by the “eye for eye” law of equal justice (Exodus 21:24), the city was to receive judgment according to its own uncleanness and wickedness.

When Jerusalem was finally judged a century later, Jer. 51:7 tells Jerusalem,

7 Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore, the nations are going mad.

This judgment has been evident for 2½ millennia, but in our own time the Babylonian world rulers have often represented themselves by the symbol of the owl. We see this in the ceremonies of the Bohemian Grove, where many of them meet in California once a year.


It is also hidden on the US $1 bill.


These world rulers, of course, use the owl as a symbol of wisdom, because they believe themselves to be wiser than the rest of humanity. Their wisdom is said to give them the right to enslave the ignorant, which, in their view, includes all of humanity except themselves.

We must always keep in mind that Babylon has never had ultimate control of the earth, regardless of their arrogant claims. Jeremiah tells us clearly that “Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord.” Babylon had no power to enslave Jerusalem until the city fell into sin. When God gave Judah’s scepter to Babylon, Babylon also received the divine right to rule the world during the time of judgment (Jer. 27:6-8).

That time ended in 2017 after “seven times” of judgment, according to the laws of tribulation. We are now seeing the fall of Babylon. The earthly Jerusalem set the time of judgment for the world; the heavenly Jerusalem sets the time of resurrection and glory.

As with mankind, that which dies is not that which is raised up. The “old man” dies; the “new man” is raised to glory as a “new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17). So is it also with Jerusalem. The old Jerusalem dies; the new Jerusalem is raised to glory as a “new creature.” They are not the same city.

Jerusalem’s Devastation

Isaiah 51:18 continues,

18 There is none to guide her [earthly Jerusalem] among all the sons she has borne, nor is there one to take her by the hand among all the sons she has reared.

Did Jerusalem not have a king to lead her? Did she not have priests to guide her? Who are the “sons she has borne”? The earthly city was “Hagar,” Paul says, and her children are those who are “born according to the flesh” (Gal. 4:23), and she is seen “bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar” (Gal. 4:24). Children of the flesh are not proper guides, for they can only lead the city into bondage and ultimately to destruction.

All of this is an allegory of the two covenants, Paul says in Gal. 4:24. He was not teaching about racial distinctions but of men’s faith in different covenants. Everyone born of fleshly parents are children of the flesh under the Old Covenant until they are begotten by the Spirit and change their identity from the old man to the new man. Hence, a Jew who is born of Hagar-Jerusalem is not doomed to remain in perpetual slavery.

Isaiah 51:19 says,

19 These two things have befallen you; who will mourn for you? The devastation and destruction, famine and sword; how shall I comfort you? 20 Your sons have fainted, they lie helpless at the head of every street, like an antelope in a net, full of the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.

The two things that have befallen Jerusalem are (1) destruction with no comfort, and (2) helplessness in the face of God’s “wrath” and “rebuke.”

So when the time came for Jerusalem’s downfall, God raised up Jeremiah to prophesy of the city’s destruction. The prophet was told to go to the city dump, the valley of Ben-hinnom (or Gehenna in Greek), and smash an earthen jar with a prophecy of destruction. The jar represented the earthly Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 19:10, 11 says,

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’…”

We find no word of comfort or hope in the entire chapter. Hence, Jeremiah does not dispute Isaiah’s statement, “how shall I comfort you?” The words of comfort are reserved for those born of the heavenly city, while the children of the earthly Jerusalem “lie helpless… like an antelope in a net.”

It is only by coming under the New Covenant that they can be saved, but to do so, they must renounce Hagar as their mother and declare Sarah to be their mother. As the book of Hebrews teaches, they must immigrate from the Old Covenant to the New.

The word “Hebrew” means “immigrant.” The book shows how the sons of Hagar-Jerusalem must immigrate with Christ “outside the camp, bearing His reproach, for here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:13, 14).

The Cup Given to Babylon

Isaiah 51:21, 22, 23 concludes with a word of comfort to the sons of the New Jerusalem,

21 Therefore, please hear this, you afflicted, who are drunk, but not with wine: 22 Thus says your Lord, the Lord, even your God who contends for His people, “Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, the chalice of My anger; you will drink it again. 23 I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you.’ You have even made your back like the ground and like the street for those who walk over it.”

When Judah was exiled to Babylon, both believers and unbelievers were sent into captivity. Throughout Jerusalem’s captivity, there were believers and unbelievers. All paid the price alike for the sin of Jerusalem, except, of course, that God had given favor to believers such as the prophet Daniel.

The original captivity was for 70 years, but this was only the first phase of a much more extensive captivity to four beast empires. Their time to rule the earth expired at the feast of Tabernacles in 2017 after ruling “seven times” (7 x 360 years). I explained this history in my commentaries on Daniel, Prophet of the Ages.

We now stand at the brink of a new era in time, a climactic end to the earthly Jerusalem and the rise of her replacement, the heavenly Jerusalem. So also, Isaiah lifts up his eyes to see the distant future when it would be Babylon’s turn to drink of “the cup of reeling, the chalice of My anger.”

No longer will Babylon walk on the backs of the sons of “Jerusalem.” No longer will they torment (i.e., imprison) the sons of “Jerusalem.” Yet to understand this prophecy, we must understand that the bondwoman herself will not be set free, nor will she ever replace Sarah, the free woman.

The process by which God sets the people free is well established in the New Testament. The old dies and the new is raised. This is pictured in baptism, where the old man dies, and the believer, having changed his identity in the process, rises to newness of life.