Isaiah Chapter 49: Messianic Prophecies, the Holy Remnant is Saved

Mar 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Isaiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Isaiah Chapter 49: Messianic Prophecies, the Holy Remnant is Saved

Isa. 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

“Listen, O isles, … hearken, ye people, from far.” The “isles … from far” would be republics that are a great distance from Israel, that is, the Western world.

Who is the speaker, the one who was called from the womb by Jehovah? There are three applications in Chapter 49, although not every word applies in each case. Jesus is the speaker in a primary sense, the Church in a secondary sense, and natural Israel in a third sense.

If Jesus is considered the speaker, the one whom God called from the womb, then who would his “mother” be? “From the bowels of my mother [the Sarah Covenant] hath he [God] made mention of my [Jesus’] name.” Sarah is the “mother of us all”; that is, Sarah in her covenant relationship to Abraham pictured Jesus and the Church (Gal. 4:26). In a lesser sense, Jesus was called from the womb of Mary, for after he was born of Mary, his name was particularly recognized. God mentioned that this Son to be born of Mary was to be called Jesus, the one who would save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

Isa. 49:2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;

God made Jesus’ “mouth like a sharp sword.” Jesus spoke with power. With the scribes and Pharisees, he had a sharp, penetrating tongue. Jesus had a fullness of the Holy Spirit, and Hebrews 4:12 tells that the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” And out of Jesus’ mouth “went a sharp twoedged sword [the Word of God]” (Rev. 1:16). (The two edges of the sword cut the user of the sword as well as those it is used against, and Jesus was in perfect harmony with the sword of Holy Writ.)

“In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me.” Why is this illustration of an archer inserted here? The words that come forth from Jesus are like arrows from a quiver. The shaft, or main stem, of an arrow with its rightly aligned feathers is polished for a smooth, straight flight to the target. The Father made Jesus “a polished shaft”; in other words, He prepared and schooled Jesus for his ministry. As the Logos at the Father’s side, Jesus received schooling. As a human being during the First Advent (from his youth as a perfect boy through his manhood and crucifixion), all the experiences of life prepared him for his future work.

“In his quiver hath he hid me.” The time setting of this chapter is primarily future, when all will hear of Jesus (verse 1). In the future in the Kingdom, Jesus will reveal his power and authority,  but at present he is still hidden in the quiver. Jehovah has been preparing Jesus for his work in the Kingdom. In the meantime, this “polished” individual, with his wonderful background of divine power, wisdom, love, and justice, is still in preparation.

Psalm 45 is a prophecy of the Kingdom. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s [God’s] enemies; whereby the people fall under thee” (Psa. 45:3-5). When Jesus takes unto himself his great power and reigns, when he manifests his authority in the earth, when the world sees that he truly is the Messiah, then his words, his arrows of conviction, will be very penetrating. When all who previously were his enemies are figuratively shot in the heart with arrows of conviction, their consciences will be affected and they will cease to be enemies. They will fall prostrate and die as enemies. (The incorrigible will “die” literally; the sincere will die figuratively. In both cases, they will cease to be enemies.) Unto Jesus shall every knee bow, and every tongue shall confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God (Phil. 2:10,11). Jesus will then “ride prosperously.”

Isa. 49:3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

God was speaking. Of course when He fights for Israel, He will be glorified in them. But the word “Israel” has a variety of meanings; that is, it can refer to a group of individuals, to spiritual Israel (nominal or true), to fleshly Israel (nominal or true), to the nation, or to Jacob (the individual whose name was changed to Israel). Hence “Israel” is like the word “sheep” in that both terms can be singular or plural depending on context. “Israel” means “prince of God”; this title of honor was given to Jacob because he contended for the blessing (Gen. 32:28).

Similarly God will reward the Christian in the next life for trying to do His will and fighting the good fight of faith in the present life. In one sense, Jesus as an individual is also a “prince.” For example, Daniel 12:1 calls him Michael, “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people [Israel].”

Isa. 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

Jesus said, “I have laboured in vain.” The most perfect one ever to live on this earth had a Gethsemane experience. Jesus feared death (permanent extinction) in that he wondered if he had obeyed God perfectly (Heb. 5:7). Therefore, he did have doubts and even asked, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But this was not his general attitude. He had an inner peace except when God was testing him to the core. At times, the Church also feels that labor has been in vain, and so does natural Israel.

Isaiah 65:23 uses the word “labour” in the sense of a woman in travail: “They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.” If a woman goes through all the birth pangs and has a stillborn, her efforts are for nought. All the rigors connected with childbearing do not result in the birth of a healthy baby. That basic thought is extended to the farmer who labors for weeks harrowing the ground, planting seed, cultivating the ground, etc., and then something occurs to destroy his crop. Thus his labor in bringing forth is in vain. With agriculture, therefore, the thought of laboring in vain pertains to not bringing forth fruitage. Isaiah 65:23, being a Kingdom promise, states the opposite: mankind will not labor in vain.

We will consider some verses in Isaiah 53. The same thought of labor in the sense of a woman in travail is expressed in verse 11: “He [Jesus] shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Verse 10 shows that God tested Jesus with suffering: “It pleased the LORD to bruise him [Jesus]; he [God] hath put him [Jesus] to grief: … thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Chapter 53 describes the last moments of Jesus’ earthly life when he was made a spectacle before the nation. He grew up as a tender plant and was comely, wise, and outstanding as a natural man, but at the end of his earthly career, he appeared to be the opposite. He looked like an outcast, a sinner; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, wounded, given stripes, spat upon; he was crucified and forsaken by his followers (“we esteemed him not”—verse 3). “He opened not his mouth” while being led to the slaughter (verse 7), for he knew it was his time to die; he did not try to brilliantly defend himself but submitted to the humiliation. He made his grave with the wicked. It pleased God to reveal to us (and later to the world of mankind) what a wonderful, obedient Son Jesus was—and that he was worthy to be elevated to the right hand of power (Rom. 8:34; Matt. 26:64).

The statement “he shall see of the travail of his soul” shows how deep Jesus’ sorrow was. In fact, it was so deep that he began to wonder if he had been faithful (Heb. 5:7). During his ministry, he did not doubt, but he experienced this anguish and loneliness briefly at the end.

Many Christians have similar experiences of loneliness and doubt as a final test before they die. The Adversary tries to convince them they will never make their calling and election sure; discouragement is one of his chief weapons. At times, Jews have questioned if their struggle is worth all the suffering, and the temptation is to lose their identity as Jews and to become Gentiles. Once again, all three—Jesus, true Christians, and natural Israel—have similar experiences.

“Yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.” Jesus’ attitude, expressed in advance, was “into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Even though at that time, Jesus did not fully understand the reason for the experience, he left the matter with his Father. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). Job did not know the purpose for his sufferings, but he showed faith, trust, and patient endurance by trusting God and not giving up.

Isa. 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

Isa. 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Comment: Verse 5 seems to tie in with the mention of Jacob in verse 3. “And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him….”

Reply: But verse 5 is a little different, and that is the clue along with verse 6. These verses reveal that the mysterious personage will be a “light to the Gentiles” and that he will restore Jacob and Israel. Therefore, the mysterious personage of verses 1-6 cannot be natural Israel, for Israel will not restore itself. God appoints this “Israel” as “his servant.” The “servant,” or mysterious personage, is Jesus, the “messenger of the [New] covenant” (Mal. 3:1).

Isaiah 49 is primarily a prophecy of Jesus and his schooling and preparation for the future work God has set before him. In a secondary sense, it can be considered a prophecy of the body  members, for in their association with Jesus, they will participate in his work and be a light to the Gentiles. In a third sense, the prophecy has a bearing on natural Israel. Jesus, the Church,and natural Israel all have some similar experiences. Down through history, it has been a paradox that the true Christian and fleshly Israel have suffered.

As an example of the prophecy being primarily of Jesus, secondarily of the Church, and in a third sense of natural Israel, consider the statement in verse 2, “in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me.” All three fulfillments are hidden truths today, as follows:

1. Jesus’ role as Savior is hidden.

2. The identity of the true Church—and particularly the mysterious calling of The Christ during the permission of evil—is hidden.

3. Israel’s future prominent status in the earthly phase of God’s Kingdom is hidden.

How many today believe that natural Israel will become the capital of the world and that orders will go forth from Jerusalem? Those will be startling events and/or revealments. Most forcibly and pointedly, however, the hidden truth applies to Jesus.

God said, “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved [the Holy Remnant] of Israel.” As a people, Jews have a lot of doubts and hard experiences, but basically they do not want to lose their identity. At times, it seems to them that God has hidden Himself.

God continued, “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” In other words, He was saying to His Son, “It is too little an honor for you to just save Israel. My plans for you are much grander, namely, the conversion of the whole world.”

Isa. 49:7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

God identified Himself as the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel. He was talking “to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers.” In the primary sense, God was addressing Jesus, who was “despised and rejected of men” (Isa. 53:3). Jesus is the one whom the Jewish “nation abhorreth.” Even today some Jews spit or curse when his name is mentioned. During his earthly ministry, it was particularly the religious leaders who hated him and were jealous of his popularity with the common people.

At his First Advent, Jesus was “a servant of rulers.” He instructed his followers to be meek and humble servants, and as an example, he washed their feet. Jesus said the Gentiles wanted to be lords and rulers, and their greatness was measured by the number of servants they had, but the Christian would be great in the Kingdom if he was the servant of all in the present life. Except where conscience would not allow, Jesus was submissive to the authorities. He paid taxes to Caesar, obeyed his mother until he came of age at 30 and was baptized, etc.

In the Kingdom, “kings shall see [Jesus] and arise, princes also shall worship [him]” when they see that he really is the Messiah. They shall worship Jesus “because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel.” “He [God] shall choose thee”; that is, God will choose Jesus because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity, because he humbled himself even to the death of the Cross, etc.

Isa. 49:8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

Verse 8 is primarily addressed to Jesus. (With slight changes but similar principles, all of these verses apply first to Jesus, secondarily to the Church, and in a third sense to Israel.) God will give Jesus for the New Covenant in that Jesus will mediate and administrate the covenant to make sure the people come into harmony with God’s wishes. As queen, the Church will share in that mediatorship with their King. God will give Israel “for a covenant” in the sense that they will be the blesser nation under the New (Jewish) Covenant.

“I will preserve thee.” As God preserved Christ, so He preserves The Christ and the nation of Israel lest they be wiped out.

Isa. 49:9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

The “prisoners” of death, the “prisoners” of the grave, will be awakened out of “darkness,” out of the shadow of the tomb, into light.

Isa. 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

This verse applies to the world of mankind because the context (verse 9) pertains to all coming forth from the grave. In the Kingdom, the people “shall not hunger nor thirst.” In the present life, the world has had unsatisfied longings (“hunger” and “thirst”). The permission of evil has been a time of affliction, misery, and much unhappiness for those who do not know Christ. Another application would be a “hunger” and “thirst” for the Word of God, for a hope of salvation, life, and relief from problems. These longings will cease in the Kingdom when the “desire of all nations shall come” (Hag. 2:7).

“Neither shall the heat nor sun smite them” in the Kingdom. In Scripture, the “sun” can picture persecution (Matt. 13:3,5,6,21). The “sun” can also be a symbol of God’s searching Law. A person who is looking for God feels his or her own shortcomings and undone, sinful condition. “Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isa. 33:14).

“For he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” In the Kingdom, God will lead the world with truth, with “springs [plural] of water.”

More than just the Bible will be available at that time. The spoken word will be used as well as the written Word. For example, the most serious problems will be taken to Jesus, somewhat lesser ones to the Church, and other problems to the Ancient Worthies. In other words, those on each level of instruction will recognize any deficiency they might have and refer the problem to the next higher level for light and guidance.

Revelation 22:17 is related: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The water that will come from under the Third Temple teaches the same lesson. Water symbolizes not only truth and instruction but also life, health, and refreshment.

Isa. 49:11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.

In the next age, God will make all His kingdoms (“mountains”) and all His highways a way to holiness. In the present evil world under Satan’s control, all the “highways” are broad roads to destruction. In the Kingdom, all the media will be conducive to uprightness and instruction in holiness. All the stumbling stones will be removed. “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there” (Isa. 35:9). The “way” will be for the redeemed. “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (Isa. 35:8). There will be no such thing as a wayfaring man who does not know where he is going. In the Kingdom, there will be no danger of lack of knowledge.

Isa. 49:12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.

“Sinim” is a mysterious word that appears in this form only once in Scripture. “North” and “west” are mentioned, but two points of the compass are missing. Is Sinim to the south or to the east? There are two theories, neither of which can be proved conclusively.

1. Sinim is to the south. Ezekiel 29:10 and 30:6 mention Syene, which is near Aswan, the outpost of civilization in Isaiah’s day. Ezekiel 30:15,16 suggests that the root word “Sin” is related to a city of Egypt. Sinai is also related, being the Wilderness of Sin (Sin means moon and refers to the moon god). Sinai, Egypt, and Aswan are all to the south.

2. Sinim is to the east. The prefix “sino” refers to China and the Orient.

“These [the dispersed Israelites] shall come from far” back to Israel after Jacob’s Trouble. If this verse refers to the Holy Remnant from other lands returning to Israel, they will be shipped back from the north, west, and east (India, China, etc.). Later the Gentiles will also go to Israel for instruction and enlightenment. Thus there is hope for Israel when the Lord takes control, and the sorrow of both Jew and Gentile will be assuaged.

Isa. 49:13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

Verse 13, although a related subject, is somewhat a change of pace. (Note the paragraph mark in the KJV.) “Sing, O heavens; … O earth; and … O mountains.” In the Kingdom, the powers, whether civil or ecclesiastical, will be under divine control and authority. While to a certain extent, the various nations will retain their identities, they will all be under the New Covenant.

Isa. 49:14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

“Zion” being natural Israel here, verse 14 is a throwback to Israel’s thoughts during Jacob’s Trouble—that is, prior to the deliverance of the Holy Remnant. Specifically, the fulfillment of this verse will be when Jerusalem is captured, the houses are rifled, the women are ravished, and half of the inhabitants are in exile (Zech. 14:2). During this interim of time, the Lord’s deliverance will be delayed, resulting in much discouragement. The Jews will think they are forsaken when they are not delivered suddenly and gloriously according to their expectations.

With their situation appearing to be a defeat, they will feel helpless and hopeless and cry out to God for help. God will delay the deliverance temporarily until they reach the utmost point of their extremity. Why the delay? To demonstrate conclusively that the destruction would have been complete and final if God had not intervened. In no sense of the word will Israel’s own arm of flesh or the arm of flesh of the Gentiles be involved with the deliverance.

Isa. 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

A woman, a mother, hardly ever forgets her nursing child, but God will never forsake Israel.

Isa. 49:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Israel means so much to God that the nation is engraved on His palms. Thus a remembrance of them is in His sight continuously.

“Thy [Israel’s] walls are continually before me [God].” God was saying that He is deeply involved with Israel’s circumstances. Their safety is always on His mind, even when the nation needs punishments. Of course in Jacob’s Trouble, God will be a wall, a means of protection, to Israel (the Holy Remnant), but in His own due time. “For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee [severely] in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished” (Jer. 30:11).

Isa. 49:17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.

The RSV reads, “Your builders outstrip your destroyers, and those who laid you waste go forth from you.” The NIV has, “Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.” When Gog (Israel’s “destroyers”) is defeated, the one-sixth survivors will return to their homelands. Surviving Jews in other countries will return to Israel.

Isa. 49:18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.

Israel was told to lift up her eyes and look about her. What will she be experiencing at this time? She will see other nations coming to her to worship God. “The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side” (Isa. 60:3,4). These verses in Isaiah 60 harmonize with Isaiah 49:12, already considered: “Behold, these shall come from far.” There will be two parts to the “coming from far”: first, the “sons” and “daughters” (the dispersed) of Israel will come back, and then, right behind them, will be Gentiles, “strangers,” to help rebuild Israel in the Kingdom. “And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee” (Isa. 60:10).

“As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.” In the Kingdom, God will “clothe” Israel with material goods. “The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee” (Isa. 60:5). The “forces” are the same as the “clothing.” The armaments used against Israel in Jacob’s Trouble will be melted down into farming implements. It will take seven years for this conversion of “swords into plowshares” and “spears into pruninghooks” (Isa. 2:4). In addition, Gentiles from other nations will send gifts and wealth.

What blessed promises for the Jews if they only knew their Scriptures! Great faith would be inculcated to endure hardship and to wait for the Lord and His promised Kingdom. The Holy Remnant, though relatively few in number, will have such faith to sustain them to go through the trouble, but that faith will be greatly tried, just as with the Christian. The Holy Remnant may be given a lot of light, but they also have crucial experiences that test them to the core—in God’s time and way, and when they can take it, by His grace.

Incidentally, Ezekiel 20:37 about passing “under the rod” refers to the practice of every tenth animal being a tithe for the Lord: “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” This verse seems to indicate that only one out of ten Jews will survive as the handpicked Holy Remnant.

Isa. 49:19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.

The “waste” and “desolate places” in Israel have not yet been developed; they remain desolate even today. An example is the Negev Desert. That is one type of desolation, whereas “the land of thy destruction” refers to the desolation that will occur when God delivers the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble—desolation from earthquakes, great hailstones, etc. Jerusalem will be leveled by an earthquake, for example. All this land will be reclaimed and built up.

As the Israelites come forth from the grave (as well as from other lands), the borders of Israel will be too small, “too narrow by reason of the inhabitants.” The land will seem like a straitjacket to them. Hence they will want more land, and they will get it.

“They that swallowed thee up shall be far away.” Israel’s enemies and oppressors will be off the scene in this peaceful time of reconstruction under God’s direction in the Kingdom.

Although mankind has been on the earth for more than 6,000 years, several factors affect the multiplication of the human race and, therefore, the total number that will be resuscitated in the general resurrection. For instance, relatively few will be resurrected from the period of 1,656 years before the Flood for two reasons: (1) many were of the hybrid race that will not come forth from the tomb, and (2) the people lived much longer prior to the Flood. Other factors are famines, captivities, plagues, and wars.

Zechariah 10:10 provides information about Israel’s future expanded borders: “I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them.” The people will come forth from the grave either to the place of their nativity or in the area in which they formerly lived. This will be true of Jews also, except that they will subsequently be transported back to Israel. But notice that two places (Gilead and Lebanon) are mentioned in Zechariah 10:10 as being part of Israel in the Kingdom. Since Gilead is located in present-day Jordan, much of Jordan will be within Israel’s borders in the Kingdom.

Assyria embraces eastern Turkey (Anatolia, Armenia), Syria, and part of Iran. Of course the boundary lines of many countries have fluctuated throughout history. Hence in the Kingdom, the Lord will determine national boundaries.

Isa. 49:20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.

God was speaking to the nation of Israel. Who are “the children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other [previous children]”? In the time setting of the Kingdom, children will have been lost in Jacob’s Trouble and/or the Diaspora. But after Jacob’s Trouble, Israel will have more children, and they will say, “The place [Israel] is too strait [too small] for me.” The “children” after Jacob’s Trouble include both (1) the surviving Jews in other lands who will be shipped back to Israel by the Gentiles and (2) those who will be raised from death. In verse 21, the question is asked, “Where did these [Jewish] children come from?” Verse 22 gives a partial explanation: from Gentile lands.

“Strangers” who settle in Israel in the Kingdom will be Gentiles who, in the present life, were born in Israel. These strangers will be given an equal inheritance in Israel, even though the land was especially deeded to the Jews. Hence truly dispossessed Palestinians will get an inheritance.

Isa. 49:21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?

The general experience of Israel over the centuries is that they have been dispossessed from their homeland by Gentiles. However, Jacob’s Trouble will epitomize that circumstance. Here Israel reflects back on that experience, for at that time, they will feel forsaken and unwanted. From a glorious beginning, their state will be pitiful. But in their extremity, those with faith will pray to God for help—and receive it.

Unfortunately today, the nation of Israel looks to the United States and the United Nations for help instead of to God. Based on Old Testament history, they should have had two or three days of national fasting with earnest prayer.

Isa. 49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

“The Lord GOD … will lift up … [His] hand to the Gentiles, and set up… [His] standard.” Just as Christians are attracted to the Cross in the Gospel Age, so in the Kingdom, the Jews who are miraculously delivered will want to return to their homeland. God’s standard is a rallying point. The illustration of an army helps to explain the concept of a “standard.” Men may be sitting in the field at rest and having their dinner, but when the time for battle arrives, standard bearers put down markers (a pole with an emblem on top). Each battalion or company then rallies to its particular insignia and performs the assigned task. When God sets up His standard, it will beckon the Gentiles to come. But what is that standard, and how will He lift it up?

Isaiah 60:1,2 enunciates the principle from one standpoint: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD [Jehovah] is risen upon thee [Israel]. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” Just as the plagues in Egypt were literal, so the plagues that God will use to deliver Israel at the end of the age will be every bit as literal and marvelous. Pestilence, the eyes of animals and people burning in their sockets, the slaying of one another in confusion like the Midianites in Gideon’s day, hailstones like those in Joshua’s day, etc.—all of the past deliverances will be used (on a smaller scale, of course) in the land of Israel.

The Israelites were baptized by Moses in the Red Sea with the cloud as a covering. When Moses lifted up his rod, the waters parted, the depths of the sea congealed, or froze, to provide a pathway, and the Israelites walked over dry-shod, going through a tunnel, as it were, with the cloud as a canopy over their heads. That tunnel was God’s providential protection as the nation went through the Red Sea. (At Succoth in Egypt, the cloud first began to cover the entire host of Israel like a blanket and the pillar of the cloud started to lead them.) As the Israelites entered the Red Sea, the pillar withdrew and, instead of going in front, went behind them, providing light ahead for them all night but darkness and confusion behind for the pursuing Egyptians.

As a result, the Egyptians were slowed down until the Israelites safely reached the far shore— and then the Lord allowed the waters to come together and drown the Egyptians.

The point is that just as God previously used miracles in nature to deliver His people, so at the end of the age, the miraculous deliverance of Israel in Jacob’s Trouble will be the “standard,” or sign, which the Gentiles will recognize and rally to. Just as other nations witnessed how God protected Israel during their 40 years of wilderness wanderings (Josh. 2:9-11), so nations will (representatively) witness what happens in Israel at the end of the age, and the Gentile survivors will return to their homelands with eyewitness accounts. Therefore, as the cloud over the nation was like His presence on behalf of Israel, protecting, shielding, and saving them in the Red Sea experience, so His glory will again be manifested. “Then [in Jacob’s Trouble] shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle [in Old Testament times]” (Zech. 14:3). God’s glory on behalf of Israel will be the ensign, or standard, that will cause the Gentiles to ship the surviving Jews in their lands back to Israel after Jacob’s Trouble. “I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people [saith the Lord God]: and [then, as a result] they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders [back to Israel].”

Isa. 49:23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

It will not be just the common people who are sympathetic and appreciative of what has happened and want to be instructed of the Lord in the Kingdom, but former great leaders will be ashamed and put their faces down in the dust in humiliation and the realization of their nothingness. The word “kings” includes particularly prominent individuals in all realms of activity: political, religious, financial, sports, business, etc. (Psa. 72:10,11). Psalm 72 is a prophecy of the Kingdom, as are a lot of the Psalms past the middle of the book (many earlier Psalms are prophecies about Jesus).

Notice that the Gentile leaders will “lick up the dust of thy feet [the feet of the Jews]” in the beginning of the Kingdom. How different from conditions today where, for instance, the United Nations voted almost unanimously to equate Zionism with racism! (They even spelled Zionism with a lowercase “z.”) Hence we know that God’s deliverance of Israel will be MOST STARTLING in order to make present-day “kings” and “queens” so penitent! They will realize that the very God of nature, the God of heaven, has manifested Israel as His people. Jehovah’s demonstration will be SO STRONG AND SO CONVINCING that the great ones who currently despise Israel will grovel in the dust before the Jews, bring presents, and provide free transportation back to the Holy Land.

“And thou [O Israel] shalt know that I am the LORD.” Imagine Israel’s humiliation too when they realize the one they rejected is truly their Messiah! They will recognize Jesus and know that he is God’s Son. Not only will God lift up His hand to the Gentiles and set up a standard for them, but the surviving Jews will be dumbstruck with the turn of events on their behalf.

Verse 23 ends with an interesting clause: “for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” In other words, the Holy Remnant will not be ashamed to recognize Jesus. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa. 110:3). This clause in verse 23 suggests a measure of enlightenment to the Holy Remnant. Those Jews who exercise faith and obedience will live through Jacob’s Trouble. But even with this faith and obedience, the Holy Remnant will be startled and dumbfounded when the miraculous events actually occur. In a somewhat similar vein, suppose we die and wake up as one of the 144,000. That is the lifelong hope of the consecrated, but to actually end up as one of the Little Flock would result in great surprise and joy. Imagine KNOWING that we made it! Therefore, for the Holy Remnant to “wait” and not be ashamed does not mean they will not be startled with the revelation. The reality of the experience will be one of wonderment.

Isa. 49:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?

Isa. 49:25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

Isa. 49:26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

These verses show that Chapter 49 is one coherent, harmonious theme. “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” For example, when a lion captures a lamb and is holding the lamb in its mouth, who would suppose that the weak prey could be rescued? No one! The lion simply has to close its mouth and the lamb will be dead. But God will save little Israel, the weak prey, from a seemingly hopeless state in the hands of mighty Gog.

At first, it will appear that God has forsaken Israel, for Gog will be victorious in capturing Jerusalem. It will seem as if the Jews are no longer God’s people. If there is a God, and if He is the God of Israel, it will seem that He is not interested in them and that they are going to be extinguished in their own land. The enemy host of Gog will go right up “to the neck” (Jerusalem) and be temporarily victorious (Isa. 8:8; 10:27). Can Israel be delivered under that circumstance? “Yes, surely,” saith the LORD. “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children [the Holy Remnant]. I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (RSV and NIV).

How will God feed Gog with their own flesh? Every man’s hand will be against his neighbor in tremendous confusion as those of the enemy try to save their own lives. It will be like the consternation that resulted when Gideon and the 300 men broke their pitchers. The Midianites slew one another, devouring themselves in a panic and frenzy. “Sweet wine” confuses the mind, and so Gog will act “drunk,” that is, without reason.

The theme of Jacob’s Trouble is repeated over and over in Scripture. We often say that restitution is spoken of by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets (Acts 3:21), but Jacob’s Trouble is spoken of by nearly all of God’s holy prophets. And just like restitution, the theme is veiled with “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10).

(1976–1981 Study)

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