- God Can Always Forgive
- Pushing God Away
- No Peace for the Wicked
- Finding the Light
- Group Think
- Armor of God
- The Coming Light
- The Black Israelite Theory in Isaiah
- Flocking to a People
- Flying as a People
- Beulah & Hephzibah
- The Future
- Spirit of the Lord
- Ask for Justice
- A Person from Edom
- A Plea for God's Presence
- Lost and Found
- Sins of the Hypocrites
- Communing with the Dead
- Unclean Food
- New Heaven, New Earth
- Zion Brings Forth a Child
- Fire and Chariots
- References and Footnotes
- Other Pages to View
Isaiah 59-66 is full of prophecy that describes how the world will be once peace is restored. There are other little tidbits, like the new name of Israel, God's ability to forgive, and the armor of God, but most of the narrative centers around God's coming Kingdom. I'll highlight some of the interesting points below.
God Can Always Forgive
Sometimes we feel like we've done things that are absolutely unforgivable—and sometimes we think other people are unforgivable. However, God can always save and forgive; there is no limit to His power. The problem is that when we walk away from God, we cause separation. Think about the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After they sinned, it was not God who hid from them but them who hid from God. Before we can return to God and resume conversation, repentance is necessary.
Pushing God Away
God describes the type of people who are separated from Him; these people are the unrighteous. Included in this group are:
- those who revel in sin
- those who speak perverse things
What's beautiful about Isaiah's description of the unrighteous is that it does not stop with those who commit injustice or who lie, but includes those who sit by idly without intervening. When we know lies are being taught; when we know injustice is being done, if we sit by and allow it to happen, we might as well be the liar or the inflict-er of injustice ourselves.
No Peace for the Wicked
Throughout Isaiah, we are reminded that peace is only for those who surrender to God. Remember, peace is actually a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). So the more you turn away from God, the more you turn away from peace. The people who refuse God will be troubled. Guilt from their actions, as well as, the punishments they receive, will keep them from experiencing true and lasting peace. Isaiah describes this as stumbling in dark.
Finding the Light
Speaking of darkness, God is light. The Messiah is the Light of the world. When we find God, we find light to get out of the darkness. Have you been in a dark room fumbling for a light switch before? It's hard to find the light when you can't see where you're going. God recognizes this, and that is why He sent His Son as an intercessor. Without His mercy going off like a flare, we would never be able to find the light in our darkness; we would simply wander about hopelessly.
Isaiah tells us that people trying to do right in the world will be mocked and persecuted. Any time you go against the grain, we we see this. In college I took a class called "Science and Technology in Society," one of the questions posed was that of giving up weapons or giving up the internet.
Countries that are told to disarm are always reluctant or downright defiant, because why should they be defenseless when everyone else has weapons of mass destruction? We could all agree that weapons are evil in nature, but as long as everyone else has weapons, we feel the need to not only keep ours but to have better weapons.
The same dilemma plays out with the internet. When I started college, I didn't have a Facebook account and I never knew what was going on. That's generally the case today if you aren't on the "hippest" social media platform. I can live with being out of touch socially, but if I gave up the use of technology all together I wouldn't be able to function in society at all! First, as a computer scientist I spend 90% of my day on a computer, probably 75% of what I do requires access to the internet. So, I wouldn't be able to do my job. Almost every job uses email. In school, I had to submit assignments through portals on line. We live in a society where it would be almost impossible to not use the internet at all; despite the fact that people lived without it for thousands of years.
This is how society works. We are bound to certain structures to fit it. As we get closer and closer to judgment day, they things that bind us to society get further and further from God. Eventually the things we need to survive in the world will be downright blasphemous. Being about to participate in society will require taking the Mark of the Beast and we will have to make the choice to stand out. While Isaiah could be talking about any time in history, because the pressure to conform has always been and will always be in society, I think this is also a prophecy of what is to come.
Armor of God
You're probably familiar with the armor of God. Most people site Ephesians 6:10-17 as their reference for this, but Isaiah talks about the armor of God in Isaiah 59:17 as well. To the right is a comparison. In the future I'd like to do a whole post dedicated to the armor of God. For now I think it's enough to say that because we live in a fallen world, reclaiming peace is a battle and maintaining peace requires the ability to defend your ground (sanity). As such you must prepare with the proper armor. Isaiah calls out the breastplate, helmet, attire, and coat you wear specifically.
The breastplate is important because it protects your vital organs (i.e., heart, lungs, etc.), whereas the helmet protects your brain (i.e., mind and thoughts). Clothing is your outward apparel; it serves multiple functions. It keeps you from being naked, but it also says something about you. It's what other people see first, and while it may be wrong, it usually sparks assumptions about your character to those who view you. The additional layer of a cloak or coat is to protect you from the elements. This garment provides warmth in the cold as well as protection from wind and/or rain.
From a spiritual perspective it is easy to see how righteousness can protect your heart and salvation can protect your mind. What you fight for, or rather what you take vengeance for, says a lot about who you are as a person, and you need zeal to protect you when the world is against you.
As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord;
The Coming Light
The more sin takes over our world, the more it is enveloped with darkness. The only way out of the darkness is with the Light, which is promised to Israel. Indeed the Messiah is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Isaiah tells us that even though this Light will be given to Israel, the Gentiles will benefit from the Light as well. The Gentiles seek out the Light and flock to Israel.
The Black Israelite Theory in Isaiah
If you've read my post on
Flocking to a People
In Isaiah 60:2-3, what stood out to me is not just that the Gentiles are drawn to the Messiah (the Light), but that they are drawn to Israel. Throughout the book of Isaiah, we see that Israel is a standard for other nations. If you look at pop culture, not just in the US but around the world, much of it is actually heavily influenced by black people. When I heard rap loudly blasting from the speakers of a car, 99% of the time the driver is not black. I just left Spokane where I saw the same 3 Black people for a whole week, and yet the style of many of the people I saw pass by was that which is associated with black culture. Even my coworker, who is Indian, wore a different pair of Jordans to work each day. Whether it's good or bad, whether they like black people or not, society seems to flock toward black culture.
Flying as a People
In Isaiah 60:8, Isaiah asks about people flying like doves. It's obviously a metaphor, but the first thing that popped into my head after reading this was a book I loved as a child:The People Could Fly. It's a collection of short stories, myths, and sayings from black culture. black culture is (or at least used to be) rooted in storytelling (remember God told the Israelites to pass everything down to their children verbally!). One of the stories in this book is the titular "The People Could Fly," and it's about a group of slaves who simply flew to freedom. Flight has always been a representation of freedom, but it struck me as odd that Isaiah is talking about the Israelites who are "flying" like doves, and black folklore includes stories about people who can fly!
Beulah & Hephzibah
Isaiah 62:8, God says He will give His people a new name. The name "Israel" was given to God's people by God Himself, and if you follow the Black Israelite Theory, His people have been called by the names men have given them for centuries. They have been disassociated with their original name. (Even if you don't believe the Black Israelite Theory, this would still be true for the lost tribes of Israel). God is promising to reunite His people and in doing so, He gives them a new name. One of the names applies to the people themselves, but the other refers to their land. The two names are Hephzibah and Beulah.
Hephzibah means "My Delight Is In Her." God delights in His people.
Beulah means married; we are married to Christ, so this name makes sense after some thought. What's interesting about this particular name is that at the end of American slavery, many Black women were named Beulah. It was a popular name. These people would not have been permitted to read a Bible—to learn how to read at all. They were being taught that all the people in the Bible were white, like their masters. How did this become a popular name in our community without divine intervention?
I wanted the exact stats of the name Beulah, and found so much more than I was looking for:
- Beulah is the name of a city in Mississippi. The population is 97% Black; only .6% of the population is White.
- It was definitely more popular during my grandmother's era (among both white and black people).
Isaiah prophesies about a wonderful future. In this future there is no need for the Sun or the moon because God will provide the Light. There is no darkness, no mourning, no violence. Only peace and righteousness prevail in this world.
The kingdom is built not by the strong, however, but by the small. I dug into the words originally used in Isaiah 60:22, that give us the English "little one" and "small one." These words are from the root words קָטָן (qatan) and צָעִיר (tsair), respectively. Both mean young, unimportant, and insignificant. So it will be the young and insignificant that bring about this new kingdom for God.
Spirit of the Lord
Isaiah mentions the Spirit of the Lord, or the Holy Spirit, quite frequently. When we are touched by the Holy Spirit, we should exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), but Isaiah gives us more tangible descriptions of what we should look like. He says we should:
- Preach good tidings to the poor
- Heal the broken hearted
- Proclaim liberty to the captives
- Open prisons
- Comfort those who mourn
For I the Lord love judgment,
Ask for Justice
God is ready to fight on behalf of Israel. We are told that we should never stop asking for His justice. In short, we should be praying for the day of judgment when evil is done away with and only peace and righteousness remain. Most Christians are not praying for this because we have not fully surrendered and aren't sure we will be part of His new kingdom.
A Person from Edom
After reading Isaiah 63, I was a bit confused. A person comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Borzah. Edom was the sworn enemy of Israel; nothing good ever came to Israel from Edom. This person coming from Edom, sounds like a warrior. The description of this warrior is interesting because he wears red garments. First, the fact that his garments are dyed means they are not pure. Red dye harkens back to blood, sacrifices, and violence. Even more, red is heavily tied to Edom because Edom is the nation descended from Esau, which means red. Borzah is a place in modern day Jordan. Many believe this is where the remnant will be hiding during the last days. For them, this is a vision of the Second Coming, when the Messiah comes to save those in hiding.
A Plea for God's Presence
Isaiah pleas for the return of God's favor and for Him to make His presence known in Isaiah 64. Remember, in making His presence known, justice must be carried out so this is really a plea for justice. When we call upon God, we aren't calling upon a genie and asking for a new car or a good job, we are calling upon the Most High God and asking for deliverance from sin and the end of all evil!
What is interesting about Isaiah's plea is that it includes an admission of guilt. In order to obtain forgiveness from God, we have to repent which includes the admission of our guilt. We must be aware that we have strayed and be truly ready to return to His flock. Isaiah demonstrates this beautifully in his plea to God.
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Lost and Found
God's people are lost, and in many cases not even aware they are lost. Even when we aren't seeking Him, He will find His people! We always have the choice to answer His call or ignore it, but the call will be there.
Sins of the Hypocrites
In Jesus' day, there were people who proclaimed themselves holy but were doing their own thing and not following God. Isaiah describes the same problem for the end times. The specific sins he calls out are the following:
- fellowshipping with the dead
- eating pork
- consuming the broth of abominable things
These sins have both spiritual and literal fulfillments.
Communing with the Dead
In Deuteronomy 18:11 we are told not to try to communicate with the dead. So why are these people sitting among the graves? The literal statement here is that these people will spend their time trying to communicate with the dead, through mediums or just sitting at the grave talking to the dead person. Many people today do this. However, the spiritual implication could be that this person surrounds themself with people who are spiritually dead. Instead of fellowshipping with believers, they remain stagnant with those who are lost.
Once again, the literal meaning is that they are worshipping someone or something other than God. They have actively and knowingly placed an idol above the Most High God. However, many people try to avoid this behavior, so it's more likely that this is a subconscious thing. We idolize people and objects without even knowing. So too, these people have let money, career/success, fame, etc. cloud their thinking and push them away from God.
The final sin is the consumption of unclean foods. This is repeated in Isaiah 66. I have many posts on the blog about how God never gave us permission to eat unclean animals, and both Isaiah 65 and Isaiah 66 reiterate the fact that unclean food is unclean, even in the end. Isaiah is speaking of people literally consuming animals in which they are not to eat (pork is one of the most popular meats in the U.S.). However, he may also be speaking spiritually. We don't just consume food, we consume media. We allow ourselves to be defiled by unholy TV shows, movies, songs, etc. This is just as dangerous as defiling our body by eating unclean meats.
New Heaven, New Earth
Most people think that in the end we're going to Heaven. We forget that what actually happens at the end is the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth. God is restoring His original design with man ruling over a wonderfully created Earth, where everything is good. There are several passages that speak of this new Heaven and new Earth (e.g., 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1), Isaiah 65:17 is one of them. This is the passage that talks about carnivores and herbivores living in peace because the carnivores have become herbivores. This is also a return to God's original design. If you reread Genesis 1:29-30, you will see that in the beginning, God created us to be vegetarian.
Zion Brings Forth a Child
Isaiah 66:7-9 parallels Revelation 12. Here, Zion (a.k.a. Jerusalem) gives birth to a son (the Messiah). This process wasn't exactly overnight; Mary had to carry the baby to term (9 months) before He was born, and it took 30 years for Him to start His ministry. However, in the grand scheme of things, He built a kingdom based on salvation overnight.
Fire and Chariots
The description of God's return in Isaiah 66 is what the people expected at the coming of the Messiah. They didn't understand that Isaiah spoke of 2 comings. What's interesting is that now that the Messiah has come as the Lamb and is set to return with fire, many people expect a peaceful return. It seems as though we're always looking for the wrong thing.
Isaiah ends his prophecy/appeal with a declaration about worship. Isaiah tells us that we will come to worship God from Sabbath to Sabbath and from new moon to new moon. This could be translated as week to week and month to month. At the end of all things, all people will come to bow before the King of Kings and worship.
References and Footnotes
- Ree Hughes. “”. PSALMS to God. June 18, 2016Deuteronomy 27-30: The Third Address
- Ree Hughes. ““. PSALMS to God. June 19, 2016Deuteronomy 28: The Curse of Israel & The Black Israelite Theory
- "Isaiah 60:22". Bible Hub; visited June 2019
- "6996. qatan". Bible Hub; visited June 2019
- "6810. tsair". Bible Hub; visited June 2019
- "Hephzibah meaning". Abarim Publications. May 31, 2011
- "Beulah meaning". Abarim Publications. May 31, 2011
- "Beulah Demographics Summary". Mississippi Demographics; visited June 2019
- Mike Campbell. "Beulah". Behind the Name; visited June 2019
- Jay Mack. "The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Bozrah 63: 1-6". The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack; visited June 2019
- "12.6.1. Sheep in Bozrah". Bible Study Tools; visited June 2019
Other Pages to View