Isaiah 51:7-23

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 19, 2000


We’re going to do things a little differently today by starting with the last section of our study. The reason I want to do this is to show you the time period that this prophecy seems to point to the most. You see the time period clearly at the end. Then we’ll bounce back to the beginning of today’s section.

:17-23 Wake up call for Jerusalem

:17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem

The remnant had asked God to wake up (vs.9), now God asks Jerusalem to wake up.

:17 which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury

Jerusalem is pictured as a person who has drunk too much wine and has staggered, fallen, and now needs to get up. God’s wrath is compared to wine because it confuses those who experience it and makes them fall. (cf. Rev. 14:9-10)

:17 thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling

dregs – The last bits of sediment at the bottom of the cup.

:18 There is none to guide her among all the sons

The picture is that Jerusalem is drunk (vs. 17) and has no one to guide her in her drunken state. It would be hard to see this as the Jews being under God’s wrath during the Babylonian captivity because they had Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra, and Nehemiah to guide them.

:19 These two things are come unto thee …

two things – I think there is a sense of Hebrew poetic parallelism here. Desolation pairs with famine for one thing, destruction pairs with the sword for the second thing.

:19 who shall be sorry for thee?

Zechariah records that at the time of the end, the world will be disgusted with Israel and will gathered together to destroy the nation (Zech 12:1-3).

:20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets

There are no warriors remaining to defend the city. They’re all dead.

:20 as a wild bull in a net

wild bull[email protected]'ow – wild ox, antelope, oryx; perhaps an extinct animal, exact meaning unknown

:22 thou shalt no more drink it again:

God would no more allow His people to experience His punishment. Both NIV and NAS read "You will never drink it again."

:23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee …

Bow down, that we may go over

bow down – in ancient times, the conquerors would often make their enemies bow down so they could step on their necks.

God is promising to bring judgment on those who tormented the Jews.


A lot of commentaries seem to apply this section (:17-23) to the time when the Jews had been conquered by the Babylonians, and God would bring them back to Jerusalem. But there’s something that doesn’t fit. It’s the "no more" of verse 22. The Jews would be conquered again by the Romans and Jerusalem would once more be destroyed. We can’t even say that this is where the Jews are today because there is still yet one more time of affliction ahead of them.

During the Great Tribulation, the antichrist will make a treaty with the Jews, and then turn on them and try to destroy them, causing them to flee Israel into the wilderness of Jordan (Rev. 12:6,14). John records that during the Great Tribulation, Jerusalem will be turned over to the Gentiles (Rev. 11:2b). Zechariah records that before Jesus comes back, Jerusalem will surrounded by the world’s armies gathered against it (Zech. 12:2-3).

This promise of never again experiencing God’s fury would seem to apply to the time after Jesus comes back. That means that these verses for a time just around the corner from us.

:7-8 Fear of man

:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness,

This is the same group of people addressed at the beginning of the chapter (51:1).

:7 the people in whose heart is my law;

It’s interesting that God speaks like this. This is not a typical description of an Old Testament Jewish person. For the Old Testament person, God’s law was written on stone tablets. But God promised a time when He would write His laws on the hearts of people instead. This is the "New Covenant", the "New Testament":

Jer 31:33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

That means that these verses apply DIRECTLY to us. Even though most of us are Gentiles, us believing Gentiles are a part of the New Covenant.

:7 fear ye not the reproach of men …

reproachcherpah – reproach, scorn; taunt

revilingsgidduwph – revilings, reviling words

Do we face persecution?

Right now it’s mostly emotional trauma that we face, name calling, ostracizing. We don’t have to face anything like what Christians are currently facing in places like the Sudan, China, India, and the Moslem countries.

But there are some slightly disturbing things stirring in the U.S.

Evangelism is starting to be looked at as a hate crime. When the Southern Baptists started planning an evangelistic outreach in Chicago last year, there was a flurry of reports in the press with quotes from the "Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago", saying that "hate crimes" might result. They are saying that evangelism is an expression of "intolerance". In truth, evangelism is an act of love. I you don’t love people, you’ll want them to go to hell. If you love them, you want them to be saved.

Though I believe very strongly that we believers will be taken out of planet earth before the time known as the Great Tribulation starts (Rev. 3:10; 1Th. 5:9), there’s no guarantee that we as Christians in America won’t be facing persecution before that time.

:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment

garment – one of the ways a person’s wealth was measured in ancient times was by their clothes, the number of garments they owned. And yet this symbol of wealth could easily be ruined by a little moth. We can look at people and consider them as such a significant influence in the world. Yet people will come and go. God can easily remove any person.

God is encouraging them not to be afraid of people. People aren’t permanent.

(Mat 10:28 KJV) And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him (God) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

:9-11 Prayer for help

:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD

This is a cry of God’s people for God to help them.

:9 Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?

Rahab – a name used symbolically to represent Egypt (Is. 30:7 NIV; Ps.87:4; 89:10)

dragontanniyn – dragon, serpent, crocodile. Probably a reference to the Pharaoh –

Eze 29:3 … Behold, I [am] against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers …

God’s people are calling out to God to deliver them like He did during the Exodus from Egypt.

:10 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea

A reference to Israel crossing through the Red Sea (Ex. 14)

:11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion

Therefore – the pilgrims are coming with joy because the Lord would have delivered them from their enemies. I believe this is when the Jews who have been fleeing from the persecution of the antichrist return to Jerusalem to meet King Jesus.

redeemedpadah – to ransom, redeem, rescue, deliver. The concept of "redemption" in the Bible is similar to the idea of purchasing a slave and setting them free.

When we say that God has "redeemed" us, we’re saying that God has purchased us from being a slave to sin, and God has set us free to love and follow Him.

How has God redeemed us?

(1 Pet 1:18-19 NLT) For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. {19} He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

God paid for you by having His own Son die on a cross in your place. Jesus paid for the penalty of my sins. He paid with the price of His own blood.

singing unto Zion – it was customary for pilgrims coming to Jerusalem to be singing songs. Psalms 120-134 are the "Psalms of Ascent", the songs that the Jews would sing as they hiked up the hill to Jerusalem.

As I was studying, I thought I’d read quickly through these Psalms, and they came alive in a whole new way, thinking of them being sung by the persecuted Jewish believers as they return in triumph with Jesus back to Jerusalem at the fall of the antichrist. I’d encourage you to read through them sometime soon, but here are a few of the gems:

(Psa 120:2-3 KJV) Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. {3} What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?

The Jews will be praying this in regards to the antichrist as he tries to wipe them out.

(Psa 121:7-8 KJV) The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. {8} The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

The Jews will be clinging to the Lord to keep them safe. And He will.

(Psa 122:1-5 KJV) A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. {2} Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

Will the Jews be glad when they can go back to Jerusalem with King Jesus? YES!!!

(Psa 126:4-6 KJV) Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. {5} They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. {6} He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

God will turn their sorrow into joy.

(Psa 132:11 KJV) The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

King Jesus, THE son of David, will return to rule in Jerusalem.

:11 and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

gladnesssasown – gladness, joy, exultation, rejoicing. The word speaks of human happiness and abounding delight (TWOT).

joysimchah – joy, mirth, gladness; gaiety, pleasure. It speaks of being glad or joyful with the whole person since it is associated with the heart (Ex. 4:14), the soul (Ps. 86:4), and the lighting up of the eyes (Prov. 15:30) (TWOT). Many things can bring joy such as perfume (Prov. 27:9), a wise son (Prov. 15:20) or a kind word (Prov. 12:25), but the best source of joy is the Lord (Ps. 5:11).

It is the joy of the Lord that can give us strength.

(Neh 8:10 KJV) Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

everlasting joy shall be upon their head – a picture of something visible and real, like the anointing oil being poured over their head.

John Gill writes, " …seen in their countenances, and by the lifting up of their heads; and which oil of gladness, is poured upon them, and diffused all over them, like the ointment on Aaron's head"


Joy comes from right living.

Heb 1:8-9 But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, [even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

This is a quote from Psalm 45:6-7, saying that it refers to the Son, Jesus. God "anointed" Jesus with the "oil of gladness" because He loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

We can see this principle of joy coming from "right living" in the life of David. David felt like he wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to his capital city of Jerusalem and made plans to move it.

(2 Sam 6:3-15 KJV) And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.

It’s good that David wants to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, his capital, but he’s doing it the wrong way. The Law of Moses required that the Ark always be carried by Levites (Num. 4:15), not carried on an ox cart. David isn’t doing God’s will in God’s way. He’s trying to accomplish the will of God by doing things in a worldly manner, after the manner of the Philistines, because that was how they had moved the Ark when they had captured it for a time (1Sam. 6:11).

{4} And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. {5} And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

Sounds like they had a pretty cool band put together.

{6} And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. {7} And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. {8} And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. {9} And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me? {10} So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. {11} And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household. {12} And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness.

gladnesssimchah – joy, mirth, gladness, the "total" kind of joy.

David saw God’s blessings on Obededom and decided he wanted those same blessings.

{13} And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.

We’re told in 1Chronicles 15 that it was more than just adding sacrifices. They realized that they had not been doing things correctly by using an oxcart, and they ordered the priests and Levites to carry the Ark (1Chr. 15:13)

{14} And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. {15} So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

When did David "dance unto the Lord"?

When he learned to do things the right way. He had a measure of joy before, but he had greater joy when he was walking correctly.

Don’t be afraid of giving up the ways of the world as if you’re going to lose all your happiness. God will give you an even greater measure of happiness in return.

:12-16 God’s promise to deliver

:12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you

This seems to be God’s response to the prayer of verse 9.

:12 that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die

God is on our side, what are we afraid of? (Rom. 8:31-32)

(Rom 8:31-32 NLT) What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? {32} Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?

:13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth;

We find comfort (51:12) in remembering our Almighty God.


Comfort comes by remembering God’s greatness.

It’s when we lose sight of God’s presence and great power that we become discouraged.

That great chapter, Isaiah 40, began with, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people". It went on to give us one of the greatest reminders of God’s great power and knowledge.

(Isa 40:12 NLT) Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed out the mountains and the hills?

Don’t forget how powerful He is. Don’t forget He loves you.

:13 and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor …

God is encouraging the people that with Him on their side, they don’t need to be afraid of those who are persecuting them. For the Jews in the Tribulation, this is going to apply to the antichrist. They don’t need to be afraid of their human enemies because they’re only temporary (51:7-8)


Persecution or just desserts?

Be careful that you don’t take this concept of persecution wrong and develop a "persecution complex".

Sometimes we can misapply verses like this in applying them to anyone we tend to disagree with or have trouble with.

A friend tells you something that you don’t want to hear, and you decide that he doesn’t like you anymore and that he isn’t a nice person.

A husband and wife can’t agree on something and they both quote to themselves verse 8, "the moth shall eat them up like a garment!"

(1 Pet 4:12-19 NLT) Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. {13} Instead, be very glad--because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world. {14} Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. {15} If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. {16} But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name! {17} For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin first among God's own children. And if even we Christians must be judged, what terrible fate awaits those who have never believed God's Good News? {18} And "If the righteous are barely saved, what chance will the godless and sinners have?" {19} So if you are suffering according to God's will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.

:14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed …

(Isa 51:14 NIV) The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.

I think this could be talking about the Jews who have fled to the wilderness to hide at the rock city of Petra (Rev. 12:6,14; Is. 16:1-4; Mat. 24:15-16). They will be hiding in the wilderness for 3 ½ years.

:15 that divided the sea, whose waves roared:

or, "that terrify the sea so that the waves roar."

It’s probably talking about the parting of the Red Sea. It speaks of God scaring the sea into parting itself. Could this be an encouragement to surfers? J

:15 The LORD of hosts is his name.

LORD of hosts – or, "Lord of Sabaoth" – the "hosts" are the armies of heaven, and God is the head of His armies.

Jas 5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

: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.

coveredkacah – to cover, conceal, clothe; overwhelm.

plantnata’ – to plant, fasten, establish; setting up heaven like the setting up of a tent.

In the more literal translations (KJV, NAS) there seems to be a purpose stated here. God has put His words in our mouth and put His hand on us, for the purpose of building heaven and earth, and for the purpose of saying to Zion that they belong to God.

As God uses us to bring others to Him, it’s like we’re building heaven (1Pet. 2:4-5). I think God wants to use us to say to the Jews and all the world, "God wants to know you!" Go and tell them.