Wednesday, April 10, 2024

2024.04.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 51:17–52:12

Read Isaiah 51:17–52:12

Questions from the Scripture text: With what double command does Isaiah 51:17 begin? And what command in verse 17b? What has Jerusalem drunk (verse 17d–e)? From whose hand (verse 17c)? Who cannot do what for Jerusalem (Isaiah 51:18)? What have come to Jerusalem (Isaiah 51:19)? What doesn’t she have anyone to do? Why can’t her sons help (Isaiah 51:20)? Who will help her instead (Isaiah 51:21-22)? Whom will He afflict instead (Isaiah 51:23)? What command is now renewed in Isaiah 52:1? What is she to put on? Who will no longer come to her? From what is she to rise (Isaiah 52:2)? From what to be loosed? What have they done to themselves (Isaiah 52:3b)? But what will the Lord now do for them (verse 3c)? What afflictions/oppressions doe He refer to together in Isaiah 52:4? What did their oppressors have in common (Isaiah 52:5)? What will the Lord take this as an opportunity to make known (Isaiah 52:6)? To whom? How (by whom) will He make this known to them (Isaiah 52:7)? What four things will this preacher proclaim to them? Who will receive this message, and how will they respond (Isaiah 52:8)? What command does Isaiah 52:9a give? To whom (verse 9b)? Why (verse 9c–d)? What does YHWH do in bringing this salvation (Isaiah 52:10a)? Before whom (verse 10b–c)? So what double command comes to them in exile (Isaiah 52:11)? In what manner won’t they go (Isaiah 52:12a–b)? Why not (verse 12c–d)? 

How will the return from exile anticipate ultimate redemption? Isaiah 51:17–52:12 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the return from exile anticipates ultimate redemption by displaying God’s glory in saving us. 

Three double commands give literary shape to our passage: “Awake, awake!” (Isaiah 51:17). “Awake, awake” (Isaiah 51:1). And “Depart! Depart!” (Isaiah 51:11). Zion’s restoration from exile in the near term in this passage will exemplify several things about the Lord’s establishing her in the new heavens and new earth (cf. Isaiah 51:16).

Man cannot do it, but the Lord willIsaiah 51:17-23. All affliction and misery comes, ultimately, from the Lord’s wrath against sin (Isaiah 51:17). This is why mere man can never, ultimately, deliver (Isaiah 51:18-20). Marvelously, the very God from Whose wrath we need deliverance is the One Who will do the delivering (Isaiah 51:21-22). And any injustice done to His people, even by those instrumental in chastising them, will be avenged by the Lord (Isaiah 51:23). 

This is how the Lord makes His glory known, Isaiah 52:1–10. This second section is in two subsections. In Isaiah 52:1-6, the message itself is described. In Isaiah 52:7-10, the relaying of that message, and response to it, are dramatized. The message is one of strength and beauty (Isaiah 52:1) emerging by resurrection (Isaiah 52:2a) and emancipation (verse 2b–d). They had played the harlot (“sold yourselves for nothing,” Isaiah 52:3b), but the Lord will redeem them at no cost to themselves (verse 3c), bringing them into this new strength, beauty, and liberty. Assyria’s oppressing them (just as with Egypt before them, Isaiah 52:4) will become the canvas upon which YHWH paints the disclosure of His Name to His people (Isaiah 52:6). This is how He has been pleased to declare Himself.

The second subsection has been made gloriously famous by Romans 10:15. The lovely-footed runner races to Jerusalem to announce their own covenant God is sovereign over all and bending all unto their salvation (Isaiah 52:7). In Isaiah 52:8, they are arriving at the city, where the watchmen receive them and their message, responding in song. In Isaiah 52:9, the message now gets relayed to the whole city, which still bears the marks (“waste places”) of her punishment, but now joins the rejoicing and singing of the watchmen. Just as YHWH has said (Isaiah 52:6), His saving His people is a display (making bare) of His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10a), not only for one nation to rejoice over, but for all nations and all ends of earth to see and know the salvation of God.

So His people ought to respond with holiness and confidenceIsaiah 52:11-12. The holiness that Isaiah 52:11 commands, and the confidence/dignity that Isaiah 52:12 commands, both come from the fact that the Lord has redeemed His people for Himself. Because they are drawing near YHWH, bearing His vessels (Isaiah 52:11e), they must maintain holiness. Because YHWH goes in front and behind them (Isaiah 52:12c–d), they must be steady and confident, rather than panicked and anxious (verse 12a–b). Holiness and hopefulness both rest upon the fact that our salvation is more about our Lord even than about ourselves.

How have you been learning that your salvation is ultimately about the display of God and His glory? How does that help you respond with holiness of life? How does it help you respond with hopefulness and confidence?

Sample prayer:  Lord, give us to wake up to Your saving us. Forgive us for sleepwalking through life. Give us to put on beauty and strength as Your people. Forgive us for taking Your Name upon us lightly. Give us to rejoice over Your good news and appreciate the loveliness of Your proclaiming it to us. Forgive us for how thoughtlessly and unfeelingly we have received the preaching of the gospel. Give us to touch no unclean thing and maintain separation from the world. Forgive us for how easily we mingle with the worldlings around us. Give us to live as those who have a sure hope. Forgive us for the hastiness and fearfulness that often marks our lives. Grant this all, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

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