Isaiah 54:11-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 7, 2000


We’ve seen the description of the Suffering Servant (52:13 – 53:12).

Last week we saw the Bride of the Servant, the people of God, and how they would be changed by their Husband, their Maker (54:1-10). They would be taken from a place of shame, and led into a place of grace and prosperity. They were encouraged to "enlarge the place of they tent" (54:2) to get ready for all blessings that would come to them. God would never again be angry with them, but would continue to love them with an everlasting love. We continue in the same theme.

:11-12 New building of beauty

:11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted

afflicted`aniy – poor, afflicted, humble, wretched

tossed with tempestca`ar – to storm, rage

not comfortednacham – to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted

God is speaking to Jerusalem, to the Jews, who would have gone through many, many difficult times.


Life is difficult

Sometimes we get caught off guard when we go through difficult times. Especially for a person who is a new Christian, when they’ve just gotten used to the idea of how much God loves them, and then they go through a difficult time.

Peter writes,

(1 Pet 4:12 NLT) Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.

:11 behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours

fair colorspuwk – the paint (stibium) with which Eastern women painted their eyes, like mascara. The picture is of bright colored stones set against a black background.

Even though Jerusalem would go through a time of devastation, God promised to one day rebuild the city with wonderful, colorful, precious stones.


God turns sorrow into joy

I stumbled across an interesting parallel with the ideas of hope and colorful stones. When David was old, he had wanted to build a temple for the Lord. Even though God said, "No", to David, he was allowed by God to collect all the materials for the building of the temple. We get a list of some of what he collected:

(1 Chr 29:2 NKJV) "Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might: gold for things to be made of gold, silver for things of silver, bronze for things of bronze, iron for things of iron, wood for things of wood, onyx stones, stones to be set, glistening stones of various colors, all kinds of precious stones, and marble slabs in abundance.

Very similar picture to Isaiah 54:11-12. David never actually got to see the temple built. He only was able to look to the hope that it would be built.

It is generally regarded that David wrote Psalm 30 for the dedication of this same temple, even though David wouldn’t have been there.

(Psa 30:1-5 KJV) A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David. I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. {2} O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. {3} O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. {4} Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. {5} For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

(Psa 30:11 KJV) Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

David saw his dream of a bright, shiny, colorful temple as something of hope. It was a picture to him that God had a future for him. It was picture that God had turned his weeping into joy.

:12 And I will make thy windows of agates …

windowsshemesh – better, "battlements". A battlement was a parapet wall that surrounded the flat roofs of houses to keep people from falling off.

agateskadkod – a precious stone (maybe ruby, agate)

carbuncles'eben – stone; common stone; precious stones, stones of fire

all thy borders – everything else.

I see images throughout the Bible of these kinds of stones being used to build things.

It may be that the idea is just to convey that God will give prosperity to Jerusalem, building it with expensive, precious stones. But I believe there’s more here. I believe we’re seeing a glimpse of heaven here.

We see shiny, precious stones in the description of God’s throne when Moses and the elders have a sort of "dinner" with God (Ex. 24:9-11).

(Exo 24:9-11 NLT) Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the leaders of Israel went up the mountain. {10} There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a pavement of brilliant sapphire, as clear as the heavens. {11} And though Israel's leaders saw God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they shared a meal together in God's presence!

We see a fuller use of the precious stones in one of the articles of clothing that the high priest was to wear, the "breastplate of judgment" (Ex.28:17-21). I believe one of the ideas involved in the imagery is something along the idea that the high priest was to carry a reminder of heaven with him.

(Exo 28:17-21 KJV) And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. {18} And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. {19} And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. {20} And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their enclosings. {21} And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

The clearest place you’ll see these stones is the description of the New Jerusalem in heaven, where the foundations of the city wall are made up of these same stones (Rev. 21:19-20).

(Rev 21:19-20 KJV) And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; {20} The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

Lesson #1

Hang on for the hope of heaven.

God’s promise, the thing meant to bring comfort to the people in the middle of the storms, was to point them toward the heavenly things.

Don’t keep waiting for this life to be better. It may never be better.

For us, some may have financial difficulties, others may have very difficult health problems, others have difficulties at home or in relationships. We can tend to put our hope into these things getting better, which they may. But I wonder if we’re putting our hope on the wrong things.

What about the Christians in China, pastors who have been sitting in prison for preaching the gospel? Do they put their hope in being released?

What about the Christians in Northern India who are being persecuted and killed by zealous Hindus? Do they put their hope in being released?

What about the Christians in Sudan, many of whom have been captured and made slaves by the Muslims? Do they put their hope in being released?

I’m not saying all this to dash your hopes of your awful life situation to ever get any better. I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t work hard at changing your situation if you can.

I’m concerned that we don’t put our hope in the wrong thing.


While campaigning for the presidency in August 1928, Herbert Hoover said, "We are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us. We have not yet reached the goal, but we shall soon be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation." There seemed little reason then for Americans to disagree with this rosy appraisal of the nation’s future, and Hoover was elected by a landslide. Less than a year later, however, the stock market crashed, beginning the Great Depression.

They hoped in the wrong thing. Only one hopeful thing is sure.

Keep your eyes on heaven.

(2 Cor 4:16 – 5:2 KJV) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. {5:1} For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. {2} For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

Paul is talking as if he didn’t expect his earthly life to get any better, but he saw that the hard times in this present life worked to produce good things for that life on the other side. He looked forward to his new body that he’d receive in heaven.


There was knew an old Glasgow professor named MacDonald who, along with a Scottish chaplain, had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines. They were put in a prison camp. A high wire fence separated the Americans from the British, and the Germans made it next to impossible for the two sides to communicate. MacDonald was put in the American barracks and the chaplain was housed with the Brits.

Every day the two men would meet at the fence and exchange a greeting. Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, something more precious than food in a prison camp. Every day, MacDonald would take a headline or two to the fence and share it with the chaplain in the ancient Gaelic language, indecipherable to the Germans.

One day, news came over the little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks.

Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. When the German guards finally heard the news three nights later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, Brits and Americans walked out as free men. Yet they had truly been set free three days earlier by the news that the war was over.

-- Ray Bakke, Chicago, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 2.

We’re like those men in the prison camp. The war is over. Jesus has won. We need to simply wait out the remaining days until we experience our complete freedom in heaven.

Lesson #2

You are the stones.

We’ve seen these kinds of stones used in the temple Solomon would build. And in heaven, there is no real temple because all of the New Jerusalem is really one big temple, all built out of these stones.

(1 Pet 2:4-5 NLT) Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God's temple. He was rejected by the people, but he is precious to God who chose him. {5} And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are God's holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.

God wants to build the church. We are the stones. Precious stones. He has made us of great value. There’s a sense in which we are to bring the beauty of heaven into the world around us.

He wants to build us up. He wants to build us together.

:13-14 Peace promised

:13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD

(Isa 54:13 NIV) All your sons will be taught by the LORD

Jesus quotes this in John 6:45

(John 6:44-45 NIV) "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. {45} It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

Jesus used this verse to teach that those who come to Him and believe in Him are being drawn by the Father, or, "taught of the Lord". Jesus said that this verse was being fulfilled in the lives of those who were paying attention to what God was saying to them, and responding by coming to Jesus.

This is a part of the "New Covenant", or, "New Testament".

(Jer 31:33-34 KJV) 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. {34} And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

We’re in the "New Testament", the New Covenant right now.


God wants to teach you.

(1 John 2:26-27 NLT) I have written these things to you because you need to be aware of those who want to lead you astray. {27} But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you all things, and what he teaches is true--it is not a lie. So continue in what he has taught you, and continue to live in Christ.

(back to Isa. 54:13) – shall be taughtlimmuwd – taught, learned, discipled

I don’t think this just speaks of someone who has sat in the classroom and slept while the teacher lectured. This speaks of someone who has learned in the classroom, someone who has passed the test at the end of the semester.

(Rev 2:7 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches

Are you listening to what God has been saying to you? I’m not talking about what I’ve been saying to you. I’m not God. I’m talking about the things that God has been speaking to your heart. Some of it may come through a Sunday morning message, but some may come in your daily Quiet Times, some may come through godly friends, some may come be a gentle, quiet whisper that God speaks to your heart. Are you listening? Are you being taught by the Lord?

:13 and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Speaking of the Messiah’s reign on earth.

:15-17 Protection Promised

:15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me:

Sometimes, the enemies coming against Israel were sent by God, as with Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar. But here, people will be gathered against Israel, but God would not be the one that sent them.

:16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals

God has created the man who makes the weapons and the one who uses the weapons, so Israel doesn’t need to worry when an enemy comes against them because God is in control.

:17 every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.

An image from a court of justice. The one who accuses you will in turn be accused.

:17 and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

or, "their vindication will come from me"

righteousnessts@daqah – justice, righteousness; righteousness (as vindicated), justification, salvation

This may be talking about how the world will see that God’s people were right because He will protect them.

I can’t help but think that it is also saying that our righteousness, our sense of being worthy to enter heaven doesn’t come from our own good life, but comes from God.

(2 Cor 5:21 NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;

Ultimately, we’ll see this verse totally fulfilled when Jesus comes back, but could it also be for us today as well?

This is a verse that sometimes brings me great joy, and sometimes gives me the shivers. The reason this verse can cause concern for me is when I see a person using this verse almost like a "good luck charm" to ward of evil. Does this make us "invulnerable"?

Lesson #1

Victory is related to obedience.

God promised Israel that if they would do the things He asked them, that He would protect them and take care of them.

In Leviticus 26, God tells His people what will happen when they choose to do what He’s commanded them. Part of His promises include:

(Lev 26:7-8 KJV) And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. {8} And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

If you continue in the passage, you’ll see that disobedience also leads to defeat.

There is a sense in which if you want to see God’s victory in your life, you need to pay attention to what He’s told you to do. Don’t ignore God’s Word. Don’t try to fight against what God has for you.

Lesson #2

Even obedient people will see difficult times.

Look at the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11, the "who’s who" of faith, is as much a list of those gaining great victories as it is about those who died for their faith.

Look at the apostles. All but John died violent, horrible deaths. John had his own troubles. Was this because they lacked faith? I don’t think so.

Lesson #3

Difficult times don’t have to defeat you.

God can help you be victorious, even by going through the fire.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were young men who stood up for what they believed. They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol:

(Dan 3:17-18 KJV) If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. {18} But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

As a result, they were thrown into the furnace. God didn’t keep them from the furnace, but God stayed with them in the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar’s guard told him:

(Dan 3:25 KJV) …Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

The victory God gives is in the attitude we choose to adopt when we go through our difficult times.


In the third century, Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage, wrote to his friend Donatus: "It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of life. They have found a joy and wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians... and I am one of them."


An enthusiastic believer in Christ, Dan Richardson, lost his battle with cancer. But his life demonstrated that even though the physical body may be destroyed by disease, the spirit can remain triumphant. This poem was distributed at his memorial service:

Cancer is so limited...

It cannot cripple love,

It cannot shatter hope,

It cannot corrode faith,

It cannot eat away peace,

It cannot destroy confidence,

It cannot kill friendship,

It cannot shut out memories,

It cannot silence courage,

It cannot invade the soul,

It cannot reduce eternal life,

It cannot quench the Spirit,

It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

Don’t give up the fight.