A Study in the Word – Isaiah 51:1-23


Isaiah addresses people in Jerusalem who genuinely seek the righteousness of God. There is no clearer example of God’s initiative than that of Abraham and Sarah. Isaiah points to Abraham as the “rock of faith” from whom Israel was called into being (51:1; Gen. 15:6). God multiplied Abraham into a great nation upon a solid foundation of trust (51:2). That same promise holds true now for Jerusalem (51:3).

The truly faithful will listen and follow the word of God in two ways. Justice in Israel will be restored and draw the admiration of nations (51:4-5). Second, Israel need only look around to see the old is passing away and deliverance is coming (51:6). Therefore, those of Israel who “know” righteousness have no need to fear difficult circumstances. God’s salvation will stand forever (51:7-8).

The “arm of the LORD” pictures the irresistible power of Yahweh to accomplish His desire. In the past He defeated Rahab, a personification of great evil (51:9; 30:7). He led Israel out of Egyptian bondage (51:10). The redeemed exiles will be returning to Zion in a second Exodus marked by “gladness and joy.” The conditions are remarkably parallel between the people Isaiah is addressing and those to whom Moses spoke. The people are in dire need of deliverance, from themselves as sinners and from those who have taken advantage of them. Both require a journey to a land of promise; and in both cases, a Savior must lead them (51:11).

Jerusalem’s fears fixate on merely human powers (51:12). They fear a spent force (51:13-14). Their captor will be soundly defeated. The Servant will exercise creational power and deliver to the faithful God’s victorious message: “You are My people” (51:15-16).

The exile will come; God has not withdrawn that decision. He has seen nothing in Israel to indicate a change of heart (51:17). Judah’s leadership and sympathy have vanished (51:18-19). Even the young who represent the strength of the nation lie helpless under the wrath and rebuke of Yahweh (51:20).

Despite overwhelming destruction, Yahweh has designed that it is not ultimate. Over the din of chaos and ruin, He speaks to the faithful a word of hope (51:21-22a). Destruction will end, never to be visited in like manner upon them again (51:22b). Babylon has treated Judah in an insulting and degrading manner. The Lord will make them drink from the “chalice of anger” for oppressing His people (51:23).

Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: dm5867se@outlook.com


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