Dr J Vernon McGee called Isaiah 51 the ‘alarm clock’ chapter. In this chapter, God exhorts the Jews to wake up. As for the rest of us, if there was ever a time when the world needs a wake-up call it is now.
Father, give us understanding as we read your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 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.
The Holy Spirit is consistent throughout Scripture. We need to look to Jesus. (Num 21:8 cf Jn 3:14; Isa 45:22; Heb 12:2) Jesus is the Rock. (1 Cor 10:4)
2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
Abraham is the father of all them that believe (Rom 4:11). If you happen to be Jewish, Abraham and Sarah are your father and mother pertaining to the flesh, but John the Baptist said God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Matt 3:9) In Hebrews 11, Abraham is noted for his faith; then in Hebrews 12:2, the text pivots to Jesus and tells the reader to look unto Jesus.
3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
4 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.
5 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.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
If you have received salvation by faith alone (Eph 2:8,9 et al) then the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to you. (Phil 3:9 et al) That being the case, you have nothing to fear. In Psalm 2 and other places, God tells us not to worry about the wicked. They might seem big and scary now, but the meek will inherit the earth. (Ps 37:11; Matt 5:5)
9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
In verse 9, Isaiah is asking God to awake. God never sleeps, of course (Ps 121:4), but nevertheless, Isaiah longed for the mighty miracles that God performed in the days of the Exodus. In those days, God cut Egypt (or Rahab) and wounded the dragon (Satan). In Isaiah 30:7, rahab is translated as ‘strength’ to describe Egypt. Rahab is used poetically to describe Egypt in Psalm 87:4 and Psalm 89:10 as well.
10 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
11 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.
12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. (Nahum 1:7) When you know the Lord you have nothing to fear. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 Jn 4:18)
14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
15 But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name.
16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
17 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.
18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
19 These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
22 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:
23 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 chapter ends with a promise to Israel that one day they will no longer be afflicted. Unfortunately, Israel will have to go through the great tribulation period before the promise is fulfilled.
Although this chapter was addressed to Israel there is still an application for us. We need to lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. Could you explain to a child why the Bible is true? Or a college professor? Do you have a good handle on how to tell whether or not a news item is likely to be true? Or do you believe everything they tell us on the evening news? Do you know why the US has such high rates of infant mortality and autism (behind lesser developed countries)? Do you know what the signs are that indicate Jesus is coming back soon? If you need a wake-up call I recommend reading these two books: Where Did All the People GO? — The Great Escape — The Coming Apocalypse and its sequel Dragon Slayer Jesus Christ — The Rise of the New World Order. Every day the headlines scream that it is time to wake up. The signs are all around us—Jesus is coming. Are you ready?
Father, help us all to be awake so that You will not catch us sleeping. May we all be ready for You when You send your Son for us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.