God’s Vengeance on the Nations
Isaiah now turns to the vengeance of the Lord in his prophecy. He speaks of Edom where the Lord has already judged first, and now the Lord turns to Israel. The Lord travels in His glory and arrives with His strength. Bozrah was the capital of Edom. “The important city of Bozrah is singled out because its name means ‘grape-gathering,’ and Isaiah developed a detailed comparison between treading grapes and pouring out blood.” (Wolf) With dyed garments from Bozrah is also significant. Bozrah was the capital city of ancient Edom, “The important city of Bozrah is singled out because its name means ‘grape-gathering,’ and Isaiah developed a detailed comparison between treading grapes and pouring out blood.” (Wolf) “God’s act of judgment against Edom is clearly conceived to be a putting right of the wrongs done to Zion, especially since the Edomites took advantage of Judah’s weakness after the Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.” (Grogan)
The Lord replies to the question and identifies Himself as the One who speaks in righteousness. It is the Lord who is mighty to save. Even in the midst of His judgment, His glory, and His strength. The Lord is mighty to save not only to judge.
Isaiah asks of the Lord why His garments are red and the Lord gives him an answer. “I have trodden the winepress alone . . . their blood is sprinkled upon My garments” This prophecy is answered at the return of Jesus and we see the same thought in Revelation 19:13 and 15. “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” (Revelation 19:13, 15)
The work of judgment belongs to Jesus alone. But the saints will be apart of the heavenly armies that are with Him. “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” (Revelation 19:14) This point is emphasized and made clear by Isaiah. “From the peoples no one was with Me . . . My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me.”
The plan of God to accomplish His purpose has two things that Jesus must do alone. Alone He atoned for our sins. Alone He hung on the cross bearing the weight of our sin. And Jesus judges the world alone. God does not need a man to judge that is left to God alone. “You will hear one say, that such-and-such a good man was punished for his transgressions; and I have known believers think that their afflictions were punishments sent from God on account of their sins. The thing is impossible; God has punished us, who are his people, once for all in Christ, and he never will punish us again. He cannot do it, seeing he is a just God. Afflictions are chastisements from a Father’s hand, but they are not judicial punishments. Jesus has trodden the wine-press, and he has trodden it alone: so we cannot tread it.” (Spurgeon)
Words spoken prophetically by Jesus seem hard for us to take. Seldom do we think of Jesus and vengeance together. But Jesus said the Father Judges no one but has committed all judgment to the Son. “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22)
The Messiah can say this, “vengeance is in My heart.” It is not that God loves punishing sinners but that He loves vindicating His redeemed. There is a comparison here worth noting that it is a day of vengeance and a year of His redeemed. These are but points in time but God uses a day of vengeance and a year of grace.
God’s Ancient Mercies Recalled
Isaiah places a prophetic prayer in the mouth of the Babylonian exiles. This prayer goes on to mention the agony the people experienced but first, he praises the Lord for His loving kindness. This is the example of how we should pray to the Heavenly Father and enter into His courts with praise and thanksgiving. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4) The one who is troubled should first praise the Lord for His goodness, His love, His pity on us, how He has carried us, and that He became a Savior for us. If this is the prayer of one who is afflicted, then what excuse can we have for not praising the Lord?
It is the same as the Prophet Habakkuk who wrote this. “Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17)
Isaiah knows that when His people are afflicted the Lord is also afflicted. The Lord God is not a distant observer who is without compassion for His people. The Lord also suffers when His people suffer. This is also a reason why anti-Semitism is so wicked. When the Jewish people are afflicted and persecuted they are also persecuting the Lord also. This is why the Christian people should not ignore the needs of the Jewish people, as they afflict His people they afflict their Lord too.
The Angel of His Presence refers to the work of Jesus among the Old Testament Israelites and those especially delivered from Egypt. “The angel of His presence is the Messiah . . . Calvin sees in this angel merely a serving angel. But of this Angel it is said that He by His love and pity saved Israel; this can hardly be said of a created angel. It is the Christ who is meant here.” (Bultema) “Angel of his presence: literally ‘of his face’. We recognize people by face; ‘face’ is the Lord’s very one presence (Psa_139:7), among them in the person of his angel – that unique ‘Angel of the Lord’ (as in Genesis 16:7 f; Genesis 21:17; Genesis 22:11; Genesis 22:15; Exodus 3:2; Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20-23) who speaks as the Lord and is yet distinct from him.” (Motyer)
In spite of the Lord’s love and mercy, His people responded with rebellion and unreceptive hearts. The Lord God had to deal with His people so He fought with them. “In these few verses, we hear from God the Father (My people, children who will not lie), God the Son (the Angel of His Presence), and God the Holy Spirit (His Holy Spirit). Clearly, “There are Trinitarian overtones in the passage.” (Grogan)
In the midst of God’s judgment upon the Babylonian exiles, the one who prayed remembered the old days. He remembered the mighty hand of the Lord and knew that the Lord would raise His hand once again for His people. He remembered what the Lord had done in the days of Moses and Exodus. This is relevant to the present while they are exiles in the land of Babylon. The Lord would deliver them from the Babylonians as He did from the Egyptians. The one who prayed saw how the works of the Lord had meaning for the time of the now.
Isaiah is speaking of the ease of the progress Israel made during the Exodus. He is confident that the Lord will again regather and restore His people. “In both these verses, there is an allusion to the Israelites going through the Red Sea in the bottom of which they found no more inconvenience than a horse would in running in the desert.” (Clarke)
“You Are Our Father”
In this prayer, the Prophet asks where the zeal and strength of the Lord is. Sometimes it feels as if the Lord is very far away from us and when that happens we should do as the Prophet and cry out to the Lord.
“The word ‘return’ may suggest the return of the Shekinah glory to the temple as the symbol of God’s dwelling among his people (as in Ezekiel 43:6-12).” (Grogan)