Is. 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
I have read this section in several translations, and it makes sense to understand that it is Jesus, the Son, still speaking. Now He is speaking to the peoples across the sea, the people in lands far away. Jesus knew that He was destined to come to earth as a man and that the Father would announce His coming to His earthly mother and tell her what to name Him.
Luke 1:26-33 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary….And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
“Jesus” = savior, deliverer
Is. 49:2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
Is. 49:3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Jesus knew that His word would be compared to a sharp sword and that it would be able to reveal truth and discern the motives of one’s heart.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Jesus knew from the beginning that He would be a special instrument in the hand of His Father and that He would bring great glory to His Father. In fact, He would be the testimony to the nations of the power of God in the life of a person or a nation that was obedient to the commands of the Father. He represented the true Israel (one that prevails with God) that would follow God in faith and obedience. Jesus was the Father’s beautiful secret weapon brought forth at just the right moment in time to defeat the enemy.
Is. 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
As the Creator looked upon the response of His people to Him and His work on their behalf at the time of this revelation to Isaiah, things looked pretty bleak indeed. It would seem that His work had failed. Even when He comes to earth and His people reject Him as the Messiah, Jesus is confident in the judgment (the verdict concerning his ministry) of YHWH and knows that His work in obedience to His Father will be successful. Why? Because His word will not return to Him void, and Jesus is the Word made flesh (cf notes on 48:16).
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Is. 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
Is. 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Jesus’ mission when He first came to earth was to Jacob, the rebellious house of Israel.
Matthew 15:21 & 24 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon….But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Jesus also knew before He ever came that Israel would reject Him. In spite of their rejection, He knew He would be honored in the eyes of His Father for His faithfulness and obedience, and that God would strengthen Him through all the trials and temptations He would face as a man.
Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus became the source of salvation for all of mankind that would choose to turn to Him in faith. He became a “light to the Gentiles.” When Simeon gave his blessing over the baby Jesus in Luke 2, he prophesied of this very purpose.
Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Before returning to heaven, Jesus commissioned His followers to continue this mission through the sharing of the gospel “unto the ends of the earth.”
Acts 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Mark 16:15 & 19 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Is. 49:7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
I had to read this verse several times in several translations before it started to make sense. The added “and” was not helpful. Again, I wish I knew Hebrew. It makes sense to me that the same speaker is continuing, Jesus, and that He is referencing the nation of Israel as “him whom man despiseth…a servant of rulers.” Again, I liked the translation from The Complete Jewish Bible.
“Here is what ADONAI, the Redeemer of Isra’el, his Holy One, says to the one despised, whom the nations detest, to the servant of tyrants.“ When kings see you, they will stand up; princes too will prostrate themselves, because of ADONAI, who is faithful, the Holy One of Isra’el, who has chosen you.”
History confirms the truth of this verse regarding the attitude of the nations toward Israel. When Jesus returns as King to claim the throne of David, Israel will occupy a place of prestige and honor among the nations. This will be the result of God’s faithfulness and the obedience of the Holy One of Israel, the Savior. God’s calling is without repentance (Romans 11:29). When God called out Abraham as the father of the nation of Israel and made His covenant with him, the fulfillment of that covenant was certain. God has revealed more about the fulfillment of that covenant through the prophets. Israel will inherit the whole of the “promised land” here on earth (Ezekiel 47-48) and will experience the blessing of fellowship with the Messiah the King as His chosen people. The blessings promised to physical Israel in no way takes away from the blessings promised to spiritual Israel (which includes the church).
Is. 49:8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
Is. 49:9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
YHWH continues to show that He is in control. He determines the times in which His plans and purposes will be fulfilled. His promise is sure—the nation will be preserved; He will personally ensure that it does. The nation of Israel will yet be the instrument that God uses to bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. Their greatest gift to the nations as God’s chosen people was the privilege of bringing forth the Savior, Jesus, the Redeemer of all mankind. They have also been the chosen instruments to share the revealed Word of God, the scripture, with the nations. In the millennial kingdom they will be the benefactors to the nations; those who are the source of blessing to the nations through the provision of their King.
Is. 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
Food and water sustain life. Heat represents that which drains and weakens life. When Jesus takes His throne in Jerusalem, the world will experience a time of plenty, both physically and spiritually, as never before. The enemy will be bound in the bottomless pit and the environment on earth will be restored to Eden-like conditions. The blessings of the kingdom age will be described more completely in the later chapters of this book.
Is. 49:11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
Is. 49:12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
Since the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, the Jewish population has continued to grow. There are still millions of Jews dispersed among the nations of the world who are comfortable where they are and have no desire to return. In the time of the kingdom, when the Messiah is on the throne, that will all change. The Jewish people will want to be in Israel, and the Lord will facilitate their return.
I decided to try to identify “Sinim.” I have always connected it to the Chinese. I think the context would be making reference to somewhere in the east as the bookend reference to the west. I found the following quote in support of this view at http://www.febc.edu.sg/VPP44.htm.
“The land of Sinim, according to Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, from the context, must have been the extreme south or east of the known world.2 The LXX favours the view that a country in the east is intended, and some modern commentators have identified Sinim with China, the land of the Sinae. The ancients’ view that Sinim refers to China is attested overwhelmingly by continuing modern Hebrew usage. My English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English lexicon by Prof M Segal and Prof M B Dagut, says China is /ys (Sin) and Chinese is ynys. The root of “Sinim” is “Sin,” so “Sinim” points most assuredly to China and not to Aswan, which is translated from a different word hnws as stated above. Thus, one who is well-versed in Chinese is called a sinologue and sinology is the study of Chinese language, history, customs, etc; and the war between China and Japan was called the Sino-Japanese war.”
Is. 49:13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
It would seem that Isaiah gets so caught up in the thought of the blessings to come that he breaks out into praise for the Lord who will be the source of such great blessing to His people. I thought it was interesting that the Hebrew for the word comfort included the word “avenge.” The Lord will avenge the treatment of His people and will love them with great compassion. The Hebrew for the word mercy states “to fondle,” which Webster defines as “to treat or handle with tenderness or in a loving manner.”
Is. 49:14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
Now the prophet speaks on behalf of the land, for Jerusalem, and would include the people who live there. Jerusalem has certainly experienced great destruction, neglect and war throughout history. It is supposed to be God’s special place on earth. It’s like the city is saying, “What about me?”
Is. 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Is. 49:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
The Lord paints another word picture through the prophet. Can a woman ignore the needs of the baby she nurses? Sadly, human nature has proven that she can do just that. To most people that would seem impossible, but the Lord speaks with truth. Even though a mother might ignore her infant, God will never forget Jerusalem.
God’s word instructs that we are not to make tattoos or carvings in our flesh.
Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
This command was given because these were practices associated with idol worship. In verse 16 the phrase “graven thee upon the palms of my hands” is a picture of occupying a treasured position that can never be lost or changed. The walls represent the security and protection of the city. God has always been concerned with the preservation of His people. His plans for Jerusalem and His people are proceeding according to His purposes (which are beyond our understanding).
Some of my favorite verses (and the lyrics of a beautiful song by Marty Goetz) are Isaiah 62:1-2 & 6-7.
Isaiah 62:1-2 For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
Isaiah 62:6-7 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Can Jerusalem be more vividly graven on the hands of the Savior than shown by the scars He carries from the cross? I can’t believe I haven’t made reference to that truth before now. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord speaks as though it has already happened because as far as He’s concerned, it has? That is another declaration of the surety of His Word.
Is. 49:17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
Is. 49:18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
Is. 49:19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
The time is coming when the Jewish people are going to be eager to go home to Israel. The enemies of Israel are going to finally get out of the land. The land of Israel is going to overflow with the descendants of Abraham, and the enemies of Israel will no longer be a threat.
Is. 49:20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
Is. 49:21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
The promise to Abraham that his seed would be as the sand of the sea will be fulfilled. Though many of this chosen people of God will be lost because of rejection of God and His Messiah, rebellion and ensuing judgment, the kingdom age will be a time of physical fruitfulness; and they will be calling out for more land to accommodate them. The people of Israel will be amazed at how populous they have become. Those who enter the kingdom will have fresh memories of the tribulation associated with “Jacob’s trouble.” They will be amazed at their position of blessing when they remember the desolation and sorrow they experienced while waiting on the King to come.
Is. 49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
Is. 49:23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
The nation of Israel, which has been so despised and used by the nations, will finally occupy a position of prestige and honor on planet earth. These verses seem to be saying that the Gentiles will respond to the call of the Lord to help the Jewish people return to their homeland. They will recognize the authority of the Messiah King and will be ready to serve Him and His people in any way possible.
Israel will finally understand once forever that YHWH is The I AM, the one and only Almighty God. Those who have placed their faith in Him and patiently endured by claiming the promises of His Word will be rewarded. The Hebrew for the word ashamed means “to pale.” This would indicate to me that those who have waited on the Lord in faith will be just the opposite—they will be bright and shining with honor along with their Savior.
Is. 49:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
Is. 49:25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
Is. 49:26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
No matter how strong or powerful the leader, he cannot stand up to the power of Almighty God. Satan seems to be winning the war from my perspective here on planet earth. The Antichrist and his armies will seem to be invincible. Obviously, Satan is our most powerful enemy, and the sad thing is that we chose to give him that position of power and authority. Still, he is no match for the LORD.
This message is directed to the people of Israel. The last part of verse 25 seems to be a restatement of God’s promise to Abraham—“I will curse them that curse thee.” (Genesis 12:3) God has consistently revealed to the prophets that He would preserve a remnant of the people and eventually restore the nation to fellowship and blessing. Paul tells us in the book of Romans that eventually “all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26)
Those who try to destroy the people of God will end up destroying each other. The day is coming when ALL flesh will acknowledge YHWH as the Savior, Redeemer and Mighty One of Jacob/Israel.
I may not be Jewish, but I’m just as excited about seeing these promises of God come to fulfillment as I am about occupying my place of blessing for eternity. The fulfillment of these promises will bring much glory and honor to the Redeemer, and I long to see Him on the throne. I feel very much like David when he said,
Psalm 84:10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.