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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Isaiah 27

 

 

Verse 1

The defeat of Israel"s enemies27:1

Leviathan was something very horrific ( Job 3:8). It seems to have been a water beast either in reality or in myth ( Job 41). The psalmist used it figuratively to describe Egypt, a powerful and deadly enemy of Israel ( Psalm 104:26). Thus Leviathan was a symbol of the immense power arrayed against the Lord"s people. It was also a figure in Canaanite mythology. Isaiah"s reference to it does not mean he believed in the Canaanite myth. He simply used a term used in mythology to illustrate. Similarly, Christian preachers sometimes refer to fictional characters without believing that they really exist. [Note: See John N. Day, "God and Leviathan in Isaiah 27:1 ," Bibliotheca Sacra155:620 (October-December1998):423-36; and Meredith G. Kline, "Death, Leviathan, and the Martyrs: Isaiah 24:1-27:1 ," in A Tribute to Gleason Archer, pp229-49.] Here Leviathan"s descriptions suggest that this dragon-like creature glides swiftly (possibly through the air, as a spirit being), that it is a deadly foe (like a coiling serpent), and that it inhabits the sea (a place notoriously uncontrollable by humans). In short, it seems to stand for the strong spiritual enemies of God"s people. Some interpreters believe Isaiah had in mind Satan himself (cf. Isaiah 24:21)-who occupies the air, the land, and the sea; he infests the whole creation. God will punish Satan and his host in the future (cf. Isaiah 24:22-23). [Note: Motyer, pp221-22; Dyer, in The Old . . ., pp547 , 549.] Another view is that the swift serpent is an allusion to the fairly straight Tigris River, the coiling serpent to the more twisting Euphrates River, and the dragon by the sea to Egypt (the Nile River). Thus Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt are in view. [Note: Grogan, p170; cf. Archer, p627.] Still other interpreters favor taking the monsters and locations as representing all of Israel"s human enemies. [Note: E.g, Young, 2:234-35. Cf. Delitzsch, 1:454-55.] I think the passage pictures God"s punishment of Israel"s enemies at the Second Coming. [Note: See also J. Martin, p1076.]


Verse 2

Isaiah , speaking for the Lord, announced that a delightful vineyard that produced wine was in view, and that the news about it was so good that the hearers could sing about it. The vineyard was an ancient and popular figure of the nation of Israel that Isaiah used earlier ( Isaiah 5:7).


Verses 2-11

The future blessing and former discipline of Israel27:2-11


Verse 3

Yahweh had been its keeper, faithfully meeting its needs and vigilantly warding off its enemies (cf. Isaiah 5:1-4; Psalm 121:4-5; Matthew 21:33; John 10:11-13).


Verse 4

He would not be angry with Israel in that future day (cf. Romans 3:21-26; Romans 5:8-11), as He had been in the past. If enemies tried to damage His vineyard, He would destroy them (cf. Isaiah 5:6).


Verse 5

Enemies of the vineyard could come to the Lord for His protection and He promised to provide it (cf. Isaiah 16:4-5). Peace would be possible for any enemies of God"s people. In the Hebrew text the emphasis is on "with Me" in the first "Let him make peace with Me" and on "peace" in the second.


Verse 6

In the past, Israel had been a wild vine (cf. Isaiah 5:2; Psalm 80), but in the future it would prove healthy and extremely productive. In fact it would be so vigorous that it would fill the whole earth with its goodness (cf. Genesis 49:22). Israel will have a positive influence on the whole world during the Millennium (cf. Isaiah 35:1-3; Isaiah 35:6-7; Genesis 12:3; Amos 9:13-14; Zechariah 14:8).

"We can certainly see a spiritual fulfillment of this in the progress of the gospel throughout the world, for the Messiah is himself the true Vine ( John 15:1-8) and his disciples the fruit-bearing branches. In this way God"s purpose for Israel finds its expression in the supreme Israelite and those who are joined by faith to him." [Note: Grogan, p171.]

Grogan did not believe, however, that this interpretation exhausts the fulfillment of this passage that God intended, as many amillennialists do. He believed, as I do, in a literal future regathering and flourishing of Israel as a nation.

The figure of the vineyard ends here, and God"s method of dealing with Israel follows.


Verse 7

Rhetorically Isaiah asked if the Lord had ever dealt as harshly with Israel as He had with Israel"s oppressors. He had not, of course. He had always demonstrated special care and restraint when He dealt with His chosen people.


Verse 8

The Lord had scattered His people when they needed punishment, but He had not destroyed them. Since Isaiah used a feminine suffix here, it is possible that he alluded to a husband sending his wife away in divorce. He had let the fierce winds of His anger blow on them, but, as with the sirocco, His anger eventually subsided.


Verse 9

God would forgive Israel"s iniquity in the same restrained fashion. He would provide for the pardoning of Israel"s sin. This is a wonderful expression of salvation by grace. Consequently, Israel would not pursue idolatry any longer. Neither would there be any more need for sacrificial altars.


Verse 10-11

At that time the city of the world ( Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 24:12; Isaiah 25:2), notable for its fortifications, will lie overthrown and isolated. Some premillennialists regard this as a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in586 B.C. [Note: See J. Martin, p1076.]

"Ruins testify to a commercial and militaristic civilization that has now become quietly pastoral." [Note: Watts, p350.]

The prophet pictured the deserted condition of that city: calves grazing there and stripping the vegetation without human restraint, and women gathering dry wood for fires. Normally these activities took place outside cities. Dry limbs reflect a desolate condition since normally trees in cities were alive. The reason for the destruction of this city is that its inhabitants did not have discernment. They did not see their need to humble themselves and submit to God, even though He took great care to form them as His creatures.


Verse 12

The Lord would assemble the remnant of His people from the Promised Land as a farmer gathers up (gleans, cf. Isaiah 24:13) his crops. Not only will He destroy His enemies then, but He will also gather redeemed Israelites into His kingdom (cf. Matthew 24:30-31; Revelation 14:15-16).


Verse 12-13

The gathering of Jewish and Gentile believers27:12-13


Verse 13

That day will prove to be the greatest Day of Atonement of all time (cf. Isaiah 27:9). A trumpet blast will summon all the redeemed from distant parts of the earth, not just Jews from Palestine (cf. Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 24:31). They, too, will come to Jerusalem and enter the millennial kingdom (cf. Isaiah 19:24-25). Amillennialists typically interpret this gathering as a reference to the conversion of Gentiles to Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:10). [Note: See Young, 2:252.] Isaiah used Assyria and Egypt here as he used Edom earlier (cf. Isaiah 25:10), namely, as representative in his time of those areas of the world in the future.

"These verses provide a fitting climax to chs24-27 with their emphasis upon God"s sovereignty over the nations and his intention to restore his people from the nations. In this respect this is the second of three such passages. The others are Isaiah 11:12-16 and Isaiah 35:1-10. Each of these occurs at the end of a major segment. This fact suggests something about the structure of the book. ... chs7-12make the point that if you trust in the nations, the nations will destroy you. Nonetheless, God will not leave his people in destruction; he intends to deliver them from the nations. But this raises the immediate question: Can he deliver them from the nations? Chs13-27 answer that question with a resounding affirmative. They do so first in a particularizing way, showing that all nations, including Israel, are under God"s judgment (chs13-23). Then chs24-27 make the same point in a more generalized way, asserting that God is the main actor in the drama of human history. These things being Song of Solomon , God can deliver his people, and the promise is reaffirmed in these two closing verses." [Note: Oswalt, p500.]

"Chapters1-12reveal God"s saving purpose for Judah and Israel. Chapters13-27 reveal his saving purpose for the whole world." [Note: Ortlund, p144.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 27:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-27.html. 2012.

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