Isaiah Chapter 51: The Holy Remnant Saved in Jacob’s Trouble, Beginning of the Kingdom, Messianic ProphecyJun 24th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Isaiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Isaiah Chapter 51: The Holy Remnant Saved in Jacob’s Trouble, Beginning of the Kingdom, Messianic Prophecy
Isa. 51:21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
Isa. 51:22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
Isa. 51:23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
At the height of Jacob’s Trouble, at the moment of their direst extremity, when they have drunk the cup of woe to its dregs, God will say to the Holy Remnant: “No more will you have this experience.” God will remove the cup forever and turn the destruction against Gog (the Assyrian, the hammer or battle-ax), as shown when the gallows Haman designed for Mordecai were used on himself. And so the “gallows” that Gog and Magog plan to use to exterminate the Jew will boomerang.
Note: The cup must be drunk to the dregs before it can be removed.
Isa. 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Isa. 52:2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
“Zion,” “the holy city,” “Jerusalem,” and “captive daughter” all refer to natural Israel. What an encouraging picture! “Awake, awake” is a call that will be given in the future. This dramatic, exhilarating wording will probably be set to music.
“Loose the bonds from your neck” (RSV). The shackles will be broken and the prisoners set free from the experience of Jacob’s Trouble. Natural Israel (the Holy Remnant) will be released from their hopeless plight.
Isa. 52:3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
“Ye have sold yourselves for nought.” God overruled conditions so that the Israelites went to Egypt to get food during the famine. After Joseph’s brothers realized that he was in the high position of prime minister, the entire family was invited to Egypt as guests and to live in the Land of Goshen.
God told Abraham that he and his posterity would be afflicted by another nation (Egypt) for four generations. “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; … But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again” (Gen. 15:13,16).
Hence Abraham died not receiving the promise; the only land he got was a little piece of ground in which to bury Sarah and himself. But he knew that four generations hence, they would be liberated. Abraham passed that information on to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, and Jacob to his children. Thus Joseph knew and had great faith.
Isa. 52:4 For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
The first part of the verse is one time setting: “My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there.” The last part of the verse is a different (and later) time setting: “The Assyrian oppressed them without cause.” The statement about the Assyrian is a form of sarcasm, for the Jews were so despised by the Assyrians that they were not even sold but were given away. The Jews were treated worse than cattle. Their families were divided as a spoil and no compassion was shown for the family unit. When God redeems Israel in the future, He will do the same in reverse fashion. He will not require a price of the antitypical “Assyrian” for their redemption. In other words, God has purposed to redeem Israel, no matter what.
In past ages, the Egyptians and the Assyrians both oppressed Israel without proper justification. The Israelites were permitted to have suffering experiences because God saw they needed them. During the famine Pharaoh invited the Israelites into Egypt, but in time, when they began to multiply, a succeeding Pharaoh got nervous, thinking it was just a matter of time until the Israelites outnumbered the Egyptians. Taskmasters were instituted.
Isa. 52:5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
Isa. 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
When God delivers Israel from Jacob’s Trouble, He will speak in an authoritarian voice, “Behold it is I,” and Israel will know that they are God’s people and that God has spoken.
Isa. 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Down through history, Bible translators (Catholic and Protestant) have put a paragraph break here in order to spiritualize verses 7 and 8, but there should be no break. These two verses are related to and connected with previous verses. “Zion,” mentioned in verses 1, 2, and 7, is natural Israel. Although “Zion” often refers to spiritual Israel, the context determines the usage, and the context here is about natural Israel.
Through experience and study, when we find that a certain application is true in Bible interpretation, we tend to use that precedent as a hard-and-fast rule for other passages. For example, let us consider Isaiah 40: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins” (Isa. 40:1,2). “Jerusalem” is natural Israel, who had “received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins” in 1878 when the time period of disfavor was fulfilled. This message has been given and is being given in the Harvest period. Now to continue on in Isaiah 40: “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isa. 40:9,10).
This message is also being given, but it has not yet been fulfilled. Verses 9 and 10 are good news about what will happen, whereas from one standpoint verses 1 and 2 are good news about what has already happened. God has not yet come with a “strong hand”; His arm does not yet rule for Him. The purpose of this advance information is to encourage and strengthen the right-hearted Jew.
Nahum 1:15 is also pertinent: “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” Again this is future good news (but spoken of as having occurred in the past). At this time the wicked shall no longer be in Judah. This message will be given in the future after Jacob’s Trouble.
Q: What is the thought behind “O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts”?
A: The New Law Covenant will have many features that are similar to the Old Law Covenant. Ezekiel speaks about the changes in sacrifices. Although slightly different, they will pertain to the Feast of Tabernacles, etc.
In regard to Isaiah 52:7, the following portion of that verse merits careful consideration: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him.” In Revelation 1:10–15 the Apostle John heard a great voice saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last … What thou seest, write in a book.” John then turned to see the voice that spoke with him and saw a personage “like unto the Son of man” clothed with priestly garments. “And his feet [were] like unto fine brass.” Whose feet? The feet of Jesus, the Son of man, the One who identified himself as Alpha and Omega. Moreover, lessons about Jesus’ feet were given to the Church of Thyatira: “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass” (Rev. 2:18). Since the message was given at the beginning of the Gospel Age and it applies to the fourth period of the Gospel Age (that is, long before the feet members of The Christ are on the scene at the end of the Gospel Age), the “feet” of Revelation 2:18 also apply to the feet of Jesus.
Consider 1 Corinthians 15:27,28. “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” “All things” will be put under Jesus’ feet. The “Son” is Jesus.
Zechariah 14:3,4 uses “feet”: “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Verse 3 clarifies that the “feet” here are God’s. In that day God’s feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives. The “feet” cannot refer to the last or feet members of the body of Christ because the whole Church will reign with Christ and, in setting up the Kingdom, will establish their authority on the earth as the representatives of God. Therefore, The Christ are the feet of Jehovah in Zechariah 14:4. This order of authority is shown in the Tabernacle where the supernatural light or shekinah glory over the Ark of the covenant pictures God, the lid or mercy seat of the Ark pictures Jesus, and the coffer underneath pictures the Church (the lid and the coffer being one article of furniture). Jehovah will not actually come down to Jerusalem, but He will cause the Mount of Olives to literally split for several reasons, one being that it will produce a theatrical effect and a psychological effect on the Holy Remnant. (Of course there is a spiritual meaning as well, but the literal is very forceful and should be given primary emphasis.) God will establish His authority on the earth through The Christ. He will purge away ungodliness out of Jacob through the “Deliverer,” called “saviours” plural in Obadiah 21: “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.” The figurative “feet” of Jehovah that will come down on the Mount of Olives are a picture of God’s authority. He will make the earth His footstool.
When Jehovah puts His feet on the Mount of Olives, He will establish His authority in the earth and say, “Be still and know that I am God.” In the day when the Mount of Olives is split by a great earthquake and all kinds of miracles occur in nature, the people will know it is God who is saying, “Behold, it is I.” They will realize that the God of nature, the God of Israel, is speaking and that they must be still and listen.
The point is that the word “feet” does not have to apply to the feet members. When we see the word “feet” in Scripture, we must analyze whose feet and what time period are being discussed. Jesus’ feet? God’s feet? The feet members?
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.” “Publishing” can be done in many ways, not just with a printing press. For example, a message can be announced on television, on radio, in person, etc.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that … saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The Third Volume, entitled Thy Kingdom Come, contains a chapter title that uses this Scripture: “Thy God Reigneth.” In explaining this text, the Pastor spoke of it as being fulfilled. He said the Lord’s Prayer is answered, but is it? Has the Kingdom come? Is the Lord’s will being done on earth today? Does God reign now? If the Kingdom is already here, why do we continue to pray for it? The Pastor, as a pioneer, was bubbling with such enthusiasm over this gem of present truth that he wrote like a poet, and in his idealism he put that which is future in the present. God does this too; He sees future events as if they are present. For example, He says He is not a God of the dead but a God of the living and then uses Abraham as an illustration. The implication is that Abraham will be called forth from the tomb. Because of the certainty or surety of that event happening, God speaks of it as having already occurred.
Verse 7 is addressed to the nation of Israel. When will their God reign? When Israel is delivered from Gog. At that time the nation will immediately know God is reigning, and they will know Him from that day forward. In other words, there is a specific date in history in which the nation will be converted and know that the God of Israel has delivered them. “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward” (Ezek. 39:22). How blessed are the feet of God that will make this announcement: “Behold, thy God reigneth!”
Isa. 52:8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
Israel’s “watchmen” will sing and “see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion,” ie, after Jacob’s Trouble. This phrase is sometimes wrongly applied to the early years of the Harvest period. Proponents say that the brethren all saw eye to eye back there, that they were in mental agreement and they cooperated enthusiastically with each other. While that may have been true for a while, it was not characteristic of the whole period of the Pastor’s life. Since the brethren knew the Scriptures declare, “Blessed is that servant,” many were afraid to say anything else. But as soon as the Pastor died, mayhem developed (of course he had some very difficult experiences during his life too).
To refute this wrong application, notice the context and time setting of verse 8. The watchmen will see eye to eye when God delivers Israel and brings her out of captivity (“when the LORD shall bring again Zion”). “Zion” is natural Israel here; it is not a reference to when the sleeping saints are raised.
Let us consider some examples of how the word “watchman” or “watchmen” is used in Scripture:
Isaiah 21:11,12 reads: “The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.” In these verses the “watchman” (singular) is the Pastor.
Daniel 4:13,14,17 reads: “I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit…. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” The “watcher” and “holy one” (singular) is the Logos. The “watchers” and “holy ones” (plural) are the holy angels.
Down through Israel’s history, God stationed watchers to make sure His plan was carried out and not spoiled by the Adversary. God allows evil to seemingly triumph, but it can go only so far.
Daniel 12:1 reads: “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people [ie, for Israel, Daniel’s people].” Michael will stand up—in other words, he will watch out for them.
Song 5:7 reads: “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.” These “watchmen” are natural Israel, who will smite the Great Company in the future.
As can be seen from these examples, the words “watchers” and “watchmen” must be considered in context in order to properly identify them. The “watcher(s)” (singular or plural) can be in heaven or down here, and they can be in the present life or beyond the veil.
Now to return to Isaiah 52:8, the verse under discussion: “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; … together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” Who are these “watchmen”? Prior to the Gospel Age, God’s people were natural Israel (“You only have I known of all the families of the earth”—Amos 3:2). Now God’s primary people are the Church. When the Little Flock is complete, the Great Company will be God’s chief concern. After that, His people will again be natural Israel, and that is the time setting of Isaiah 52:8. Verses 1 and 2 tell when God will “bring again Zion”; it will be when the shackles and bands are removed from natural Israel, ie, when God delivers the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble. Natural Israel will then return to the seat of God’s favor, which is the position they occupied but lost when the crown was taken off Zedekiah (Ezek. 21:25,26). When God thus reinstates Israel, the New Covenant will be in operation (Jer. 31:31–33). Thus verse 8 is talking about the resurrection of Zion to the position previously lost.
The “watchmen” are The Christ, who will be concerned for Israel. But will Jacob’s Trouble occur the moment the feet members are taken into glory? No, a period of time (about three years?) will elapse between the change of the last members in persecution and God’s deliverance of the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble. And the Great Company must be completed during that time. Satan will be in a frenzy—like a person out of control with a bad temper or a temper tantrum. When he realizes he is losing the battle, he will want to bring the house down with him.
Comment: Since Satan will again try to deceive the people at the end of the Millennium, that means he will not have given up even at that point. Therefore, he certainly will not surrender peaceably at the end of the Gospel Age.
Reply: During the Kingdom, Satan will be incarcerated, but he will not reform. Only those with the divine nature will be able to contend with him.
When the Time of Trouble is occurring down here, the members of The Christ (as the “watchmen”) will be careful not to let matters get so out of control that they interfere with the divine plan. Nevertheless, the Lord wants the people to be humbled and brought to their knees, so He will not rescue them right away. First stationed like guards to keep things from getting out of control, the watchmen will subsequently be given a free hand. At that point the Adversary will be summarily dispatched and imprisoned. The Church will perform a defensive act until the signal is given to overwhelm Satan and the fallen angels. Kingdom blessings will follow as The Christ assume their roles as kings and priests.
“When the LORD shall bring again Zion” is the time when the reign of Christ will begin, the New Covenant will go into effect, and the Kingdom will be established. All of the living shall then KNOW that the time has come.
In our own little localities, we are like miniature “watchmen” now, in the present life. In judging us to see whether we are fit for His Kingdom, the Lord, among other criteria, looks to see if we are concerned (if we are watchmen) about His Word, His truth, His people, His cause.
In summary, a number of events must take place between the going of the last members and the establishment of the Kingdom. During this interim The Christ will watch—but they will break forth in joyful singing when the Kingdom comes and they can get involved as kings and priests.
Isa. 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem” is natural Israel here. These sentiments will be said to the Holy Remnant at the time of their deliverance in the near future. The great horde of Gog will cover the land right up to the “neck” (right up to Jerusalem), capture the city, and be victorious long enough to take half of the people into exile, but the Adversary will be stopped at that point, for God will then fight for Israel as He did in times past (Isa. 8:8).
Isa. 52:10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
“The LORD [Jehovah] hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem” (verse 9). “The LORD [Jehovah] hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” The fulfillment of these verses is FUTURE. God has not “made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations,” let alone in the eyes of His own people, the nation of Israel. Jesus is the “arm” of God, His mighty power. Only a fragment of that power has been exercised in the past. Jesus is the arm, the branch, of the Lord.
When Jesus raised the dead, healed lepers, opened blind eyes, etc., he did it by the “finger” of God (Luke 11:20). All of these miracles pertained to individuals. When national and international events are involved, God’s wrist or hand is used. But the use of His arm will end all discussion. All will know it! The age of faith will be over and the Kingdom will be in operation.
Isa. 52:11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.
Isa. 52:12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.
Verses 11 and 12 are a different, new, and separate message from the beginning and end of Chapter 52. In other words, verses 1–10 are one picture, verses 13–15 are another picture, and verses 11 and 12 are a separate message.
The command is to depart out of the midst of “her,” a symbolic woman. This woman is related to Revelation 18:4, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
In Revelation the “woman” is mystic Babylon. Jews were captives in the ancient literal city of Babylon for 70 years, ie, from 606 BC until 536 BC. All of a sudden God sent word through His prophet to the captives in the city to get out, for the enemy was coming. Those who had faith obeyed the call to leave, forsaking homes, furniture, etc. And the Jews who lived in the city were generally more prosperous than those in the suburbs. Thus leaving the city of Babylon required sacrifice as well as faith, and relatively few responded. The Jews who waited too long to leave the city were killed.
The woman is Papacy, the international “mother” church. Papacy considers Protestant churches to be her alienated “daughters.” The papal system reasons that Protestants like Luther left the true fold to establish the Methodist, Baptist, etc., churches. It is the desire of the Roman Catholic Church to have the fratelli separati come back into the one fold again, thereby having only one church of Christ. The international woman of Revelation 17 is pictured sitting on many waters (nations, peoples, and tongues).
In proportion as we are enlightened, we are responsible to hearken to the Lord’s message and to come out of the nominal system. God is calling His people: “Come out of her, my people.” To be enlightened in regard to mystic Babylon is a blessing and an indication of God’s favor. Therefore, it is an individual responsibility to come out of Babylon, and we should not rant and rave about others.
“Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.” In other words, do not be involved in the plagues that will come upon Babylon.
“For the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.” God guards in the front and protects at the rear. This statement in verse 12 is an allusion to the Exodus. God was both in front of and behind the Israelites when they left Egypt. When Moses led the Israelites down to the water, the Egyptians said, “Oh, those fools! They have hemmed themselves in between the mountain ranges on each side.” With the sea in front of them and the pursuing Egyptians behind them, the Israelites appeared trapped. At that point Moses said, “Stand still and see the salvation of your God.” When he lifted up his rod and beckoned to the water, the Red Sea miraculously opened up before them. Thus what Pharaoh thought was a deathtrap became a means of salvation.
The cloud canopy that had been over the 2 million Israelites as they walked from Rameses to Succoth to Pihahiroth to Migdol to the Red Sea continued with them. A little pillar extended downward from the cloud so that the host would know the direction of travel.
This pillar (called “the angel of God” in Exodus 14:19,20) was in front of Moses, and Moses was in front of the Israelites (Israelites Moses cloud pillar). The host could not see Moses, but they could see the pillar. At the Red Sea the cloud lifted up and changed position; ie, it moved from in front of the Israelites to behind them and there dropped like a curtain. As the pursuing Egyptians with their chariots entered the Red Sea to chase the Israelites, the cloud acted like a black curtain that the Egyptians could not see through. At the same time, the front part of the cloud curtain reflected light ahead for the Israelites, and the back side of the cloud curtain reflected darkness backward to the Egyptians.
(Exod. 14:19,20) “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.”
Comment: The implication in Exodus 14:19,20 is that it took all night for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea.
Reply: Yes, and they crossed a major part of the Red Sea, not at a narrow point or on a sandbar.
The Exodus was ancient history at the time of Isaiah’s ministry, but he alludes to this event in Israel’s past in connection with the Harvest of the Gospel Age. Just as back there when Israel left bondage in Egypt, God miraculously assisted and delivered them, so those who by faith obey His voice at this end of the age and leave mystic Babylon will be miraculously safeguarded as new creatures.
There is a difference, however. “For the LORD will go before you [the spiritual Israelite]; and the God of Israel [the same God who delivered the nation at the time of the Exodus] will be your rearward.” Back there the Israelites left Egypt in haste following the tenth plague with the death of the firstborn of all those not under the blood. The Egyptians beseeched Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave lest they all perish. Pharaoh, whose own
household was affected, said, “Be gone!” The very next morning, after the Israelites had eaten the Passover lamb, they rallied at Rameses and left from there according to Moses’ instructions for an orderly march. Isaiah 52:12 states that those who leave mystic Babylon during the Harvest will not go in haste: “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.” In literal Babylon, the prophet’s warning gave the Israelites almost a two-year notice to think about leaving, but even so, the sacrifice of worldly goods was involved. However, for the truly consecrated who do not leave mystic Babylon voluntarily during the Harvest, there will be a forced flight in haste at the time of Babylon’s fall. Although the Great Company will be rescued, they will suffer loss. By leaving earlier, they would have had the full favor of God with many compensatory blessings.
The Lord gives the advance warning, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of … her plagues.” He reasons with the Christian: “Do you want to be loyal to me or to your family or to some other man or institution? Which do you prefer?” Jesus said that no man could be his disciple if he loved father, mother, etc., more than him. That is the price one should think of when counting the cost of consecration. If your relationship with God would be impaired, you would have to forsake that person and not just obey what he or she told you to do. In regard to forsaking Babylon, those who delay and hesitate to leave the system will experience some suffering.
Q: Does the admonition to “not go out with haste” mean there should be some deliberation about leaving Babylon?
A: Yes, one should consider the cost, but once the decision is made, there should be no dilly-dallying. However, when Babylon is about to fall, one should get out in haste in order to receive any blessing at all. Those who wait will suffer loss.
All of us will die sometime, and for most people death entails suffering and is not pleasant. Which is better—to die suffering for God in the knowledge that you tried to live, serve, and obey Him, which brings peace of heart, soul, and mind, or to die with uncertainty?
Verses 11 and 12 are instructing God’s people that to please Him, they should not dilly-dally in leaving Babylon, but they should carefully consider the step they are taking. For those who obey this commandment, God has promised to be both in front and in back of them. God says, “Come out of her, my people.” He does not say, “Come out of her, everybody.” In other words, He is instructing those with a hearing ear to leave. And to even hear that call—whether or not it is obeyed—is an honor. For every step of obedience, God takes a step closer to the individual.
Q: Wouldn’t the thought of not departing Babylon in haste also include the idea of giving some type of explanation for leaving? Not only would this strengthen the individual, but the explanation might help others in the congregation who might have a hearing ear.
A: That would depend upon the circumstances. Certainly the individual’s family and best friends would be informed, but the main responsibility is the individual himself, the principle being “he that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.”
Q: Isn’t “Babylon” broader than just Papacy? Wouldn’t it include all systems that teach God dishonoring doctrines?
A: Yes, Babylon is a system of both mother and daughters.
The Book of Revelation is all spiritual regarding Babylon, whereas Isaiah is both natural and spiritual. Isaiah had a partial application back there to the natural Jew and also has a fulfillment pertaining to our day.
Isa. 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
Verses 13–15 are a new and separate section—a radical change. After the text said, “Depart ye, depart ye, … touch no unclean thing,” verse 13 begins, “Behold, my servant …” God’s “servant” is Christ, who will “deal prudently, … be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” (The Jews think that they are the suffering “servant.”) Proofs that the servant is Jesus will be considered with the next verse.
Isa. 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
“Astonied” means astonished; ie, they were so awestruck that they were frozen (as stone) with amazement.
The rest of verse 14 furnishes clues that an individual is referred to here, not the Jewish nation. “His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” And this person whom God loves is an obedient servant who will one day be greatly extolled and honored. However, at the time of this vision, the servant was in his period of humiliation.
Jesus’ visage (face) was “marred more than any man” at the time of his crucifixion. During his earthly ministry, multitudes followed him (5,000 men plus women and children on one occasion, 4,000 on another occasion, etc.). The people desired his company then, but not when he was crucified. Prior to his crucifixion it was said of Jesus that he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Having no food or sleep for 36 hours; being scourged, spit upon, interrogated, buffeted, etc.; and then being nailed naked to the Cross, Jesus was a pitiful sight.
Why does Isaiah say that Jesus’ face would be marred beyond that of any other man and his form more than that of all the other sons of men, especially when many others suffered the death of crucifixion? (1) Because Jesus was a perfect human being in all aspects, the contrast when he hung on the Cross was more noticeable. (2) Events happened suddenly. At the height of his popularity, after the people had hailed him “Hosanna to the highest” and were ready to crown him, he was apprehended at night in the Garden of Gethsemane while he was praying, tried secretly at night, condemned by the priests, and taken to Pilate early in the morning to be executed. When the people saw him carrying the Cross, they asked, “How could this be?” Immediately they began to lose faith in him as the Son of God. In other words, in view of his previous profession to be the Messiah, the great Savior of the nation of Israel, his crucifixion, with his body twisted and hanging in such a pitiful state, seemed more dreadful than that of others who did not make such a profession. And how did the people react? They turned on him and mocked him: “If you are the Son of God, show us. Come down from the Cross.” The evidence seemed to contradict Jesus’ profession—until the earthquake, the tearing of the Temple veil, the raising of some sleeping saints, his resurrection, and his ascension.
Psalm 22 recorded in advance Jesus’ thoughts while on the Cross. Verse 6 describes his thoughts as he looked down at his body: “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” When a worm is held up, it is naked, twisted, and distorted; it has no arms or legs, no rosy cheeks. When Jesus hung on the Cross, he was completely naked, and his body was twisted out of joint (those who drove in the spikes did not exercise care and consideration for his position). He saw his bones dislocated and sticking out grotesquely. Imagine how the Son of God felt being exposed to such shame!
The public could now look upon him in his nakedness, upon the One who had been perfect. He was a worm not only from the standpoint of humiliation but because he had no covering of clothing.
Psalm 22:14 reads: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” Jesus’ heart burst and this verse is saying he felt the heart attack coming on. His heart was getting weak like wax. Shortly after this experience, he cried out, “It is finished!” When the centurion pierced his side with a sword, both blood and water gushed out, showing that the heart sac had ruptured.
Isa. 52:15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
RSV: “So shall he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.”
One might ask, “Doesn’t everyone know about Jesus and about his being crucified?” But the answer is no, for hundreds of millions of people do not know either his name or about the Crucifixion. Heathen religions outnumber the Christian religion by far! Hence many will hear about Jesus for the first time in the Kingdom. Some have heard just a little about him, and others have heard more but have not thought about him. Verse 15 is saying that in the future when movies of the actual Crucifixion are shown, the people will be shocked! Then all will know what Jesus endured for them and that he is the true Savior. They will be amazed to realize how much love Jesus manifested as well as how much humiliation he suffered. They will be startled to know that Jesus could have come down from the Cross but chose instead to submit to the experience out of his love for God and for the human race.
The great ones of earth, those who boast in their accomplishments, are worshipped and reverenced in the present age. But when the people truly know about Jesus, they will say, “All glory be given to him!”
Individuals who allow others to do homage to them in the present life will be greatly shamed in the future. Blasphemy means to accept to oneself the honors, emoluments, and praise that belong to God or Jesus.