origin from past history; Israel’s outlook for the future; outline of
Israel’s present conditions
is impossible to read this chapter without realizing that God has a future
purpose for the nation Israel—just as He has a future purpose for the church
and for you and me.
Let me remind you that the final verse of chapter 50
concluded with a warning, which might lead you to an amillennialist
interpretation. And God doesn’t want us to hold the view that Israel as a
nation has been set aside permanently and that when He speaks of Israel, He
means the church. My friend, when God says
Israel, He means
Israel. If He had meant the church instead of
Israel, somewhere along the line He would have said, “I hope you understand
that when I say Israel I mean the church.” No, He makes it very clear that
He means Israel. Just as Israel has had a past rooted in a very small
beginning, just so today they are small and set aside. But this does not
mean God has forsaken them.
To illustrate this I use the figure of a train. God is
running through the world a twofold program: One of them is expressed in the
words, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:6)—that
train will be coming through later, but now it is on the side-track. On the
main track He is “… bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10), which refers
to believers (or the church). When this train has come into the Union
Station on time, God will put back on the main track the program of Israel
and the gentile nations which are then upon the earth. And He is going to
bring that train through on time also.
God’s time piece is not B-U-L-O-V-A or G-R-U-E-N, but
I-S-R-A-E-L. In this chapter God turns on the alarm to awaken those who are
asleep that they might know that the eternal morning is coming soon. In
Romans 13:11–12 we read, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high
time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we
believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast
off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”
FROM PAST HISTORY
Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye
that seek the Lord: look unto
the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged
unto me,” is God turning on the alarm. This is a call to every sincere heart
in Israel that longs to be righteous and desires to know God. He says, “Wake
up! Hear Me! I have a plan.”
Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that
bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him [Isa.
God is saying, “I called Abraham when he was over in
Chaldea in idolatry, and look what I’ve done through him! Now I want to move
in your heart and life.”
FOR THE FUTURE
Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my
nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest
for a light of the people [Isa. 51:4].
my nation” is Israel. This is a word of glorious anticipation for them.
My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth,
and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on
mine arm shall they trust [Isa. 51:5].
“My righteousness is near”—righteousness is Christ. He is
made unto us “righteousness.”
“The isles” are all the continents which are inhabited by
the human family. God says, “I have a salvation which I will send out to
“On mine arm shall they trust—the arm of God, as we shall
see in Isaiah 53, is His salvation. The question is asked, “to whom is the
[bared] arm of the Lord
revealed?” (Isa. 53:1). God wants that bared arm of redemption in Christ to
be revealed to the lost world. Therefore He is sending out this message that
this bared arm will deliver Israel in the future.
Therefore the redeemed of the
Lord shall return, and come
with singing, unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they
shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away [Isa.
“Zion” is a geographical location (in Jerusalem) on
earth. We need to
understand that God means what He says here.
The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and
that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
But I am the
Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The
Lord of hosts is his name
Just as God brought their father Abraham from the ends of
the earth, God intends to bring Israel back to the land. This is what the
prophet Jeremiah is saying: “But, The
Lord liveth, which brought up
and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and
from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their
own land” (Jer. 23:8). The day will come when Israel will no longer remember
the deliverance out of Egypt, so great will be their deliverance in the
future. My friend, this is tremendous! You can’t just set it aside and
ignore it. God is saying, “Wake up! This is what I’m going to do.”
ISRAEL’S PRESENT CONDITIONS
present conditions of Israel ought to tell us something. God is still
telling us to wake up.
Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk
at the hand of the Lord the
cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and
wrung them out [Isa. 51:17].
All you have to do is look at Jerusalem today. It is a
city in turmoil. I have no desire right now to stay there permanently,
although it was a favorite spot of David, and it is also God’s favorite spot
on earth. But God has yet
to make it beautiful. He has yet
to bring His people there. God is saying, “Wake up, O Jerusalem. I am going
to make you a great city.”
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. 51:22].
God has been pressing the cup of fury to their lips
because of their rejection of Christ, but the day is coming when He will
remove the cup. The day will come when God will take away judgment and bless
them. How can you say that God is through with the nation Israel? Even
poetic justice demands that after all these years of judgment upon the land
and upon the people, God should bless them. God will get the victory, and
that is what He is telling us here.
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
The enemies of Israel will not escape the judgment of
God. Every nation that has majored in anti-Semitism has fallen: Egypt,
Persia, Rome, Spain, Belgium, and Germany. This chapter should alert the
believers today that God will yet choose Israel, and that the events in the
Near East indicate that we are fast approaching the end times, although no
specific prophecy is being fulfilled in this hour.
McGee, J. Vernon: Thru the Bible
Commentary. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997,
c1981, S. 3:306-307