Isaiah 25:1-10a - EXEGESIS
ISAIAH 24-27 CONTEXT: Most scholars treat chapters 24-27 as a unit. The theme of chapter 24 is sounded in its opening words: "Behold, Yahweh makes the earth empty, makes it waste, turns it upside down, and scatters its inhabitants" (24:1a). That chapter tells of God's judgment on an earth that "is polluted" and whose inhabitants "have transgressed the laws" and broken covenants (24:5). It tells of terrible things-"fear, the pit, and the snare" (24:17)-a world that "is utterly broken" (24:19)-the "armies of the high one on high" and "the kings of the earth... gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in a pit" (24:21-22).
The purpose of those cataclysmic events is found in the last verse: "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Yahweh of Armies will reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his elders will be glory" (24:23).
The note of judgment continues in chapter 25 (our text). It speaks of Yahweh making "the city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin" (25:2). It speaks of Moab "trodden down in his place, even like straw is trodden down in the water of the dunghill" (25:10b, which is not included in the lectionary reading).
But this note of judgment is counter-balanced by praise to Yahweh for doing wonderful things (25:1). Yahweh is a refuge to the poor and provides shade from the heat and shelter from the rainstorm (25:4). He offers hope, not just to Israel, but to "all peoples" (25:6). He "will swallow up death forever" (25:7)-and "will wipe away the tears from off all faces" (25:8).
Chapter 26 is a song of victory to "be sung in the land of Judah" (26:1). It speaks of resurrection, saying, "Your dead shall live. My dead bodies shall arise" (26:19), expanding the thought of death being swallowed up that was introduced in 25:7.
Chapter 27 opens with the promise of Yahweh punishing Leviathan and killing "the dragon that is in the sea" (27:1)-an act that will make it possible for Israel to sit in a pleasant vineyard and sing about Yahweh's victory over evil (27:2). That chapter ends with a promise that Yahweh will gather the scattered people of Israel, so that "those who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and those who were outcasts in the land of Egypt, shall come; and they will worship Yahweh in the holy mountain at Jerusalem" (27:13).
This section is sometimes known as the Isaian apocalypse, because of its apocalyptic themes (judgment, devastation, the eschatological banquet, and victory over death).
In summary, these chapters speak of Yahweh's victory over evil and the blessings that will accrue to Israel and "all peoples" (25:6) as a result of that victory.
ISAIAH 25:1-5. YAHWEH, YOU ARE MY GOD
1Yahweh, you are my God (Hebrew: elo·hay). I will exalt you! I will praise your name, for (Hebrew: ki) you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago, in complete faithfulness and truth. 2For you have made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin, a palace of strangers to be no city. It will never be built. 3Therefore a strong people will glorify you. A city of awesome nations will fear you. 4For you have been a stronghold (Hebrew: mah·seh) to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat, when the blast (Hebrew: ru ah-breath or spirit) of the dreaded ones is like a storm against the wall. 5As the heat in a dry place will you bring down the noise of strangers; as the heat by the shade of a cloud, the song of the dreaded ones will be brought low.
"Yahweh, you are my God,"(elo·hay) (v. 1a). This chapter begins with this very personal affirmation that Yahweh not only is God but is "my God." Other nations might worship or fear their gods, but Israel is alone in this sense of personal relationship with God-an emphasis that has continued into the Christian faith.
"I will exalt you! I will praise your name" (v. 1b). A God who invites this kind of personal relationship is
deserving of praise-and praise comes naturally to a person who feels this kind of kinship with God. The
prophet goes on to express this exaltation throughout the balance of this chapter.
"for (ki-because) you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago, in complete faithfulness and truth" (v. 1c). The prophet offers two reasons for praising Yahweh, and introduces each of these reasons with the little Hebrew word ki, which means "for" or "because."
• The first reason for praising Yahweh is that Yahweh has done wonderful things. He has not thought up these wonderful things "on the fly" in response to new situations, but has done them according to plans that he "planned long ago"-plans that are "faithful and sure."
• Yahweh had a plan for the world in the beginning. It began as a beautiful garden watered by "a stream (that) would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground" (Genesis 2:6)-a garden full of trees bearing good fruit. God planned the garden for the couple's enjoyment and sustenance, but their sin ruined their paradise. But God has a plan for redeeming humans from sin. This is an old plan-conceived along with the conception of the earth in the beginning-a plan that is "faithful and sure."
"For (ki) you have made a city into a heap, the fortified city a ruin, a palace of strangers to be no city. It will never be built" (v. 2). The second reason for praising Yahweh is that he destroyed the evil city. The city's fortifications did it no good-it is now a ruin. The "palace of aliens"-the building that stood as a symbol of the evil city-lies in ruins. The evil of this city will not return. The palace will never be rebuilt. There are a number of theories concerning the identity of this city:
• Given the destruction of Jerusalem in 586-587 B.C., some scholars have proposed that it is Jerusalem. This seems unlikely on two counts. First, its crowning architecture was "the palace of aliens," which is wholly unlike the crowning architecture of Jerusalem-God's temple. Second, verse 2 makes it clear that this evil city was destroyed permanently, but verse 6 suggests that Mount Zion-Jerusalem-will be the site of the great "feast of fat things" (25:6). Also, we know that the Israelite exiles were finally able to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple.
• Others have proposed that the evil city was Babylon. However, Cyrus conquered Babylon without the kind of violence suggested by verse 2.
• Others have suggested that the city represents cities in general-places where money and power are the coin of the realm-places where the rich live in luxury and the poor often live in miserable circumstances-places where attitudes about sin and evil are highly casual at best and supportive at worst.
• Or the city could be a metaphor for evil wherever it might be found-and evil is to be found in every great city and tiny village.
• Whatever the intent regarding the identity of the city, this verse praises Yahweh, because he has destroyed the evil that the city represents-destroyed it totally and permanently.
"Therefore a strong people will glorify you. A city of awesome nations will fear you" (v. 3). Because Yahweh has demonstrated his power to destroy evil, people who considered themselves strong will glorify him and ruthless nations will fear him. It stands to reason that ruthless nations should fear this powerful God who deals ruthlessly with evil, but we are surprised to see that strong peoples will glorify him. The implication seems to be that, having seen a convincing display of Yahweh's power, some of those who might subject to Yahweh's wrath will repent of their evil and begin to worship Yahweh.
"For you have been a stronghold (mah·seh) to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress" (v. 4ab). This image of God as a refuge is common in the Old Testament (Psalms 14:6; 46:1; 104:18; Proverbs 14:26; Isa. 4:6; 28:15, 17; Jeremiah 17:17; Joel 3:16; etc.). The idea, of course, is simply that God provides protection for those who are unable to protect themselves.
"a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat" (v. 4c). The people of that time and place were subject to
the whims of nature and weather in ways that we are not. Most of us are not genuinely threatened by weather except in extreme circumstances such as hurricanes or tornadoes. We might feel ourselves threatened in extreme cold or hot weather if a power failure disables our ability to heat or cool our houses. But there are people living among us who understand the significance of shelter from rainstorms and shade from the heat. Homeless people come to mind. Elderly people who cannot afford air conditioning come to mind. Third-world people by the billions come to mind. Heavy rains have the potential to wash away people's livelihoods. Heat waves routinely kill elderly or otherwise vulnerable people. The people to whom the prophet was writing would know the danger represented by weather. They would appreciate the significance of life-giving shelter and shade.
"when the blast (ru ah-breath or spirit) of the dreaded ones is like a storm against the wall. As the heat in a dry place will you bring down the noise of strangers; as the heat by the shade of a cloud, the song of the dreaded ones will be brought low" (v. 4d-5). The division between verses 4 and 5 was obviously misplaced here. Verse 4d goes with verse 5. These verses repeat the thought expressed in verse 4a-c, but they personalize the danger. It is "the dread ones" who are "like a storm against the wall." It is "the noise of strangers" that is "as the heat in a dry place." In other words, the rainstorm and heat in these verses is a metaphor for evil people. But Yahweh sends a cloud to provide life-giving shade from the heat. He silences the song of ruthless people. He protects his own.
ISAIAH 25:6-8. A FEAST OF FAT THINGS FOR ALL PEOPLES
6In this mountain, Yahweh of Armies (Hebrew: yhwh seba·ot-Yahweh Sabaoth) will make all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of choice wines (Hebrew: sema·rim), of fat things full of marrow (Hebrew: sema·nim), of well refined choice wines. 7He will destroy in this mountain the surface of the covering that covers all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. 8He has swallowed up death (Hebrew: ham·ma·wet-the death) forever! The Lord Yahweh (Hebrew: ado·nay yhwh) will wipe away tears from off all faces. He will take the reproach of his people away from off all the earth, for Yahweh (Hebrew: yhwh) has spoken it.
"In this mountain, Yahweh of Armies (yhwh seba·ot-Yahweh Sabaoth) will make all peoples a feast of fat things" (v. 6a). We first heard of the mountain of the Lord in chapter 2, where Isaiah son of Amoz saw a vision that "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it" (2:2). That mention of "all peoples" fits with the mention of "all peoples" in 25:7.
• This verse introduces an entirely new vision-that of a great banquet hosted by Yahweh, the Lord of hosts. First, Yahweh will rid the world of evil and then he will host a great banquet. He will invite not only Israel, but "all peoples." The Old Testament focuses on the Israelites as the people of God, but it also includes sun-breaks that allow light to shine on others as well. This is one of those sun-breaks.
"Yahweh of Armies" (yhwh seba·ot-Yahweh Sabaoth) (v. 6a). Sabaoth means "hosts" or "armies." Yahweh Sabaoth could mean that Yahweh is the Lord of Israel's armies-or it could mean that Yahweh is the Lord of the hosts of heaven-or it could mean both. The basic idea is that Yahweh is Lord of all.
• While the name of this mountain is not specified (except that it is the mountain of the Lord of hosts), the last chapter promised that "Yahweh of Armies will reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem" (24:23), so it is likely that "this mountain" is Mount Zion.
"a feast of choice wines (sema·rim), of fat things full of marrow (sema·nim), of well refined choice wines (sema·rim)" (v. 6b). Note the word play between well-ages wines (sema·rim) and marrow (sema·nim).
Unlike today, rich food was not an everyday staple in that time and place. People ate simply, and most people
could enjoy meat only occasionally. Typically, they would eat a light meal at midday and a larger meal at the end of the work day. Bread was the staple food-vegetables are mentioned only occasionally in the Old Testament. People raised olives for oil, and enjoyed grapes, both fresh and dried, as well as wine made from grapes. "Rich food filled with marrow" and "well-aged wines strained clear" would be rare and prized.
• Most people would be able to enjoy the kinds of food mentioned in this verse only on special occasions, such as a wedding banquet. On such occasions, the host would spend as freely as possible to provide guests with abundant quantities of food and wine. For most people, hosting this sort of banquet would be a budget-buster, so they devised ways of stretching their funds to make them go as far as possible. For instance, when Jesus turned water into wine at Cana, the chief steward, not knowing where the wine came from, said to the bridegroom, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!" (John 2:10).
• Kings and other wealthy people could serve lavish banquets, but only for their closest friends and associates. Even a king as rich as Solomon could not afford to host a grand banquet for "all peoples"-nor would a king be inclined to do so if he could. Great banquets were one of the things that distinguished kings from common people, and kings are always interested in maintaining those kinds of distinctions.
• But the feast mentioned in this verse is not a banquet hosted by an ordinary family. It isn't even a banquet hosted by a king. It is a banquet hosted by "Yahweh of Armies"-the one who created all that is-the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). The Lord of hosts can afford to serve the finest foods and wines from beginning to end. The Lord of hosts can afford to provide fine foods for "all peoples" ¬¬-and that is exactly what the Lord of hosts intends to do.
• A wedding feast hosted by an ordinary family would typically last for a week. A wealthy family might host a wedding feast for two weeks. The prophet gives us no idea how long the Lord's feast might last, but we should assume that it will be a very long party.
"He will destroy in this mountain the surface of the covering that covers all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations" (v. 7). We might wonder about the meaning of "the covering that covers all peoples" and "the veil that is spread over all nations," but the third part of this verse explains. Yahweh of Armies "will swallow up death forever." In fact, the wording is stronger than that-Yahweh of Armies "will swallow up THE death forever." There will no longer be a need for burial shrouds-the kind of shrouds now required for "all peoples"-because all peoples die. The Lord of hosts will bring an end to death.
• The next chapter gives a further glimpse into this triumph over death. It says: "Your dead shall live. My dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth will cast forth the dead" (Isa. 26:19).
• The New Testament continues with this theme. The Apostle Paul says that because of the work of Jesus Christ, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54).
• But Seitz sees the shroud and sheet as "symbols of the vast destruction that God has wreaked on all nations and peoples, but is about to remove" (Seitz, 190).
"He has swallowed up death (ham·ma·wet-the death) forever! The Lord Yahweh (ado·nay yhwh)will wipe away tears from off all faces" (v. 8a). These will certainly include tears associated with mourning, because death will be no more (v. 7). However, people shed tears for a host of reasons-illness, financial problems, natural disasters, frustrations, marriages gone wrong, children gone wrong-the list is nearly endless. But the Lord God will wipe away all these tears at his mountaintop banquet-will wipe them away from the eyes of "all peoples" (v. 6).
• The author of Revelation alludes to these verses when he says that God "will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
"He will take the reproach of his people away from off all the earth" (v. 8b). While it is not clear when this chapter was written, the book of Isaiah is centered on the exile of the Israelites in Babylon-a fifty-year exile in which they became vassals of the Babylonian conquerors. When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, they destroyed the city and killed most of its inhabitants. They took those whom they permitted to live to Babylonia to serve as slaves. The disgrace of Israel could not be more complete.
• We should note that those things happened according to Yahweh's will. The people sinned, and Yahweh allowed them to be conquered and humiliated as the first step toward their redemption.
• But now the prophet describes what the redemption will look like. The Lord of hosts will make a great feast on Mount Zion, not just for Israel, but for all peoples (v. 6). He will destroy death (v. 7), will wipe away tears (v. 8a), and will remove the disgrace of his people (v. 8b).
"for Yahweh has spoken it" (v. 8c). This is the clincher. Yahweh has spoken these words, so we can be assured that the events pictured in these verses will come to pass. God's word had the power to create the heavens and the earth, so God's power is certainly able to do the things described in these verses. Furthermore, God is faithful, and can be counted on to do what he promises.
ISAIAH 25:9-10. BEHOLD, THIS IS OUR GOD!
9 It shall be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God! We have waited for him, and he will save us! This is Yahweh! We have waited for him. We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation!" 10a For in this mountain the hand of Yahweh will rest.
"It shall be said in that day, 'Behold, this is our God! We have waited for him, and he will save us! This is Yahweh! We have waited for him. We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation'" (v. 9). "In that day" refers to the day of the great feast hosted by the Lord of hosts. The prophet doesn't specify who will say, "Behold, this is our God." At first reading, we would expect it to be Israel. However, we have been told that the Lord of hosts will welcome "all peoples" to his great feast, so surely all those who have been invited to the table will "be glad and rejoice in (Yahweh's) salvation"-Christians as well as Jews.
"For in this mountain the hand of Yahweh will rest" (v. 10a). We use our hands to make things and do things, so we associate hands with power. "The hand of Yahweh" is a common phrase in the Old Testament-found more than 100 times. In this verse, the hand of the Lord resting on this mountain means that Yahweh has established his power and authority on this mountain. The fact that mountain is singular in this verse-and that Moab is named as the verse continues-suggests that the mountain in question is Moab's mountain. If this is correct, then there is a dramatic contrast between the feast hosted by the Lord of hosts atop the mountain of the Lord in verse 6 and the punishment to be meted out by the hand of the Lord on Moab's mountain in verse 10.
EW Commentary Isa. 25:1-10a
A. Praising God for what He has done.
1. (25:1) Introduction: For You have done wonderful things.
O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
a. O LORD, You are my God: Isaiah 24 spoke of the judgment to come upon the world, especially in the Great Tribulation. During that time, those who have come to trust in the LORD will praise Him, even in the midst of His righteous judgment. They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea (Isaiah 24:14). This song shows the kind of heart that praises God in the midst of tribulation, even in the midst of the Great Tribulation.
b. O LORD, You are my God: Knowing that the LORD - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God revealed in and by Jesus Christ - is our God makes us want to praise Him. When someone or something other than the LORD is our God, we are guilty of idolatry.
c. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name: The worshipper here makes a decision to praise God (I will). Worship is never to be just a feeling, even if it is an intense feeling. We are to worship God with a decision.
i. "If I did not praise and bless Christ my Lord, I should deserve to have my tongue torn out by its roots from my mouth. If I did not bless and magnify his name, I should deserve that every stone I tread on in the streets should rise up to curse my ingratitude, for I am a drowned debtor to the mercy of God - over head and ears - to infinite love and boundless compassion I am a debtor. Are you not the same? Then I charge you by the love of Christ, awake, awake your hearts now to magnify his glorious name." (Spurgeon)
d. For You have done wonderful things: When we think about all the wonderful things the LORD has done, it is pretty easy to make the decision to worship the LORD. God wants our worship to be filled with thought and remembrance of God's great works, not only an emotional response.
e. Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth: When we remember the greatness and permanence of God's word, it makes us what to praise Him. What is more reliable, more everlasting, more enduring than the word of God?
2. (25:2-3) Praising God for His righteous judgment.
For You have made a city a ruin, A fortified city a ruin, A palace of foreigners to be a city no more;
It will never be rebuilt. Therefore the strong people will glorify You; The city of the terrible nations will fear You.
a. For You have made a city a ruin: We can worship God for His judgment because we have confidence in His fairness. As was the case with Sodom and Gomorrah, God will never make a city a ruin unless the judgment is deserved, and God has made provision for the righteous.
i. Which city is referred to? No specific city, but in reality, every city. "There is a complete lack of any specific national reference, and none of the activities which are pursued within the city differentiate it any special way. It can best be understood, therefore, as a pictorial description of the body of organised human society, a type of 'Vanity Fair,' which is to be subjected to the divine judgment. When God asserts his will in judgment he will bring to an end the existing human order, so that in a sense every city will be brought to chaos." (Clements, cited in Grogan)
b. The strong people will glorify You: The people of the LORD see His work and glorify Him. This is the first of two effects of the judgment of God. Second, the city of the terrible nations will fear You. The unrighteous fear God when they see His righteous judgment.
3. (25:4-5) Praising God for His goodness to the weak.
For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. You will reduce the noise of aliens, As heat in a dry place; As heat in the shadow of a cloud, The song of the terrible ones will be diminished.
a. For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy: God is worthy of our praise because He brings strength to the poor and needy.
b. A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat: This is a wonderful reason to praise God, and even the strangers (aliens) are blessed by His goodness. God will even quiet the song of the terrible ones.
B. Praising God for what He will do
1. (25:6) A glorious feast for God's people.
And in this mountain. The LORD of hosts will make for all people. A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines on the lees.
a. In this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast: In several places, the Bible speaks of what is sometimes called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:9 says, blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! According to Isaiah 25:6, we might say that this great feast takes place on earth, not in heaven.
b. A feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. For God's people, this will be the "victory banquet" or the "awards banquet" when the final battle is over. What a feast that will be.
i. Jesus is really looking forward to this banquet. He said to His disciples at the Last Supper, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom (Matthew 26:29). In this, Jesus spoke of His longing expectation for the day when He would take communion with His people at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Jesus is excited about this event; are you?
2. (25:7-8) The destruction of evil.
And He will destroy on this mountain. The surface of the covering cast over all people, And the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people. He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.
a. The veil that is spread over all nations: This is what the LORD will destroy. The picture is that there is a veil that is spread over all nations that keeps them from seeing God, loving God, and obeying God. In this glorious day, the LORD will destroy that veil.
i. In the New Testament, Paul speaks of Israel being blinded by a veil: But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart (2 Corinthians 3:15). In Isaiah's day, it was more apparent that the nations were veiled. In Paul's day, it was more apparent that Israel was veiled. But for both the nations and for Israel, the remedy is the same: Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:16).
b. He will swallow up death forever: The LORD will also destroy death. The day will come when death is powerless. Death was introduced by Adam's rebellion (Genesis 2:16-17) and will one day be completely eliminated by God.
i. Paul knew this and looked forward to this day. He proclaimed in 1 Corinthians 15:54: Death is swallowed up in victory. This will be true for every believer when death is defeated by resurrection. A resurrected body is not a resuscitated corpse. It is a new order of life that will never die again.
ii. Freud was wrong when he said: "And finally there is the painful riddle of death, for which no remedy at all has yet been found, nor probably ever will be." Compare that sad statement with Isaiah's triumphant declaration, He will swallow death up forever.
iii. "Ever since death ran through the veins of Jesus Christ, who is life essential, it is destroyed or swallowed up; like as the bee dieth when she hath left her sting in the wound." (Trapp)
c. And the LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces: This is how glorious the tender mercy of God is. It isn't just that He takes away the things that made us sad, or even that He gives us a handkerchief to dry our eyes. Instead, He gently and lovingly will wipe away tears from all faces.
d. The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth: Now, we need God's rebuke of His people. If God did not rebuke and correct us, we could drift further and further from Him. But there will come a day when we are no longer troubled by sin, no longer in a place to rebel. In that glorious day, the rebuke of His people He will take away. We thank God for that coming day, and we also thank God for the faithful rebuke of His people until then.
3. (25:9) The testimony of God's people.
And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
a. Behold, this is our God: We will proclaim it then because we have proclaimed it now. We are those who were unafraid to confess Jesus before men on earth, and we will be blessed to hear Him confess us before our Father in heaven (Luke 12:8).
b. We have waited for Him, and He will save us: It is a wonderful thing to wait on the LORD, and to see Him bring His salvation. God sometimes seems distant or cruel when we must wait on Him, but God's ways really are best, and will be shown to be the best.
c. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation: If it is our salvation - in the sense of a salvation of our own making, of our own creation, then there is nothing to be glad and rejoice in. But since it is His salvation, there is everything to be glad and rejoice in.
d. And it will be said in that day: Each one of these things - confessing He is our God, the fulfillment of patient waiting, and rejoicing in His salvation - each of these will be ultimately fulfilled in that day. But they can be substantially fulfilled right now! We can praise God for these things right now! And as we do, we bring some of the glory of that day to pass in our lives right now.
i. "To be rapt in praise to God is the highest state of the soul. To receive the mercy for which we praise God for is something; but to be wholly clothed with praise to God for the mercy received is far more. Why, praise is heaven, and heaven is praise! To pray is heaven below, but praise is the essence of heaven above. When you bow in adoration, you are at your very highest." (Spurgeon)
4. (25:10-12) The LORD resolves all things.
For on this mountain the hand of the LORD will rest,
a. For on this mountain the hand of the LORD will rest: The LORD will settle His hand of favor, power, and glory on Mount Zion. After the Great Tribulation, when Jesus Christ reigns from Jerusalem, the whole creation will know that the hand of the LORD does rest on this mountain. "The powerful and gracious presence of God (which is oft signified in Scripture by God's hand) shall have its constant and settled abode; it shall not move from place to place, as it did with the tabernacle; nor shall it depart from it, as it did from Jerusalem." (Poole)
Isa. 25 PULPIT COMMENTARY
Isaiah 25:1: O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Verses 1-12. - ISAIAH'S SONG OF PRAISE ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GOD'S KINGDOM. AS in Isaiah 12, after describing the first setting up of Christ's kingdom and the call of the Gentiles, the prophet broke out into song, through joy at the tidings he was commissioned to announce, so now, having proclaimed the final establishment of the same kingdom in the heavenly Zion, he is again carried away by the sense of exultant gladness into a fresh Lobgesang, which he utters in his own person - not, as the former one, in the person of the Church. His song divides itself into three sections:
(1) vers. 1-5, a thanksgiving for deliverance;
(2) vers. 6-8, a commemoration of blessings granted; and
(3) vers. 9-12, exultation in the security obtained.
Verse 1. - Thou art my God; I will exalt thee (comp. Exodus 15:2 and Psalm 118:28). To Isaiah the "Song of Moses" seems to have been a pattern thanksgiving, from which he delighted to draw his phrases when he was bent on formally singing praise to God. Compare the following: Exodus 15:2 with Isaiah 12:2, "He is become my salvation;" the same with Isaiah 25:1, "He is my God; I will exalt him;" Exodus 15:6 with Isaiah 13:16, "Hath dashed in pieces;" Exodus 15:7 with Isaiah 47:14, "Consumed them as stubble;" Exodus 15:11 with Isaiah 46:5, "Who is like," etc.? the same with Isaiah 25:1, "Doing wonders;" Exodus 15:16 with Isaiah 8:13, "Fear and dread;" Exodus 15:18 with Isaiah 24:23, "The Lord shall reign." Wonderful things; thy counsels of old are, etc.; rather, thou hast wrought wonders, counsels of old, faithfulness and truth. The wonders for which God is praised were decreed in his counsels from all eternity; their accomplishment shows forth God's "faithfulness" and "truth."
Isaiah 25:2: For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.
Verse 2. - Thou hast made of a city an heap. No particular city is pointed at. The prophet has in his mind the fate of all those cities which have been enemies of Jehovah and persecutors of the saints upon earth. A defended city; i.e. "a fenced, or fortified, city." A palace of strangers. As the "city" of this passage is not an individual city, so the "palace" is not an individual palace. All the palaces of those who were "strangers" to God and his covenant have ceased to be - they are whelmed in the general destruction (see Isaiah 24:20). They will never rise again out of their ruins.
Isaiah 25:3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.
Verse 3. - Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee; rather, strong peoples. God's judgments on the nations specially hostile to him would cause some among the heathen peoples to range themselves on his side. Perhaps Persia is mainly intended (see Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1, etc.; and comp. Ezra 1:1-4; Ezra 6:3-12, etc.). The city of the terrible nations; rather, cities of terrible nations. Though the noun is singular, the verb is plural, showing that the word "city" is again used distributively.
Isaiah 25:4: For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
Verse 4. - The poor... the needy. The "poor and needy" are especially the afflicted saints, whom the ungodly of the earth have so long injured and oppressed. God is ever a "Strength" and "Refuge" to such (comp. Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 29:19; and see also Psalm 72:12-14). A Refuge from the storm (comp. Isaiah 4:6; and the Psalms passim). A Shadow from the heat. The idea is a little enlarged in Isaiah 32:2. Its germ is, perhaps, to be found in Psalm 121:5, 6. No writer accumulates striking images with such force and beauty as Isaiah. Primarily, the entire imagery has reference to what God will have done for his people when the final consummation arrives. Secondarily, a precious encouragement is held out to all who are undergoing their earthly trial and probation, who are taught where to look for a sure refuge in time of trouble.
Isaiah 25:5: Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.
Verse 5. - Thou shalt bring down. The past foreshadows the future. What God had done in "bringing down" the enemies of his saints, he would do again and again. He could as easily bring to naught the clamorous uprising of heathen nations (strangers) against his people, as temper the sun's heat by the interposition of a thick cloud. The branch; rather, the song (comp. Isaiah 24:16; Job 35:10; Psalm 95:2; Psalm 119:51). The exultant chant of triumph which the ungodly are sure to raise as they deem their victory over the people of God complete, will be stopped in mid-career, and "brought low," or reduced to silence, by the crushing overthrow predicted in Isaiah 24.
Isaiah 25:6: And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
Verses 6-8. - The blessings of the final state are now touched upon, as a special subject for thanksgiving. They are not enumerated; but a certain number are set forth, as specimens from which we may form a conception of the general condition of the "saved." These are:
(1) a heavenly feast, in which they will all participate (ver. 6);
(2) a removal of the "veil," or "covering," which is in this life over all things, causing men to have an indistinct vision, and an erroneous estimate of their value;
(3) the abolition of death, which will no longer hang over them as a thing to be feared; and
(4) the cessation of tears, or the entire freedom of the saved from all sorrow. Verse 6. - In this mountain; i.e. the heavenly Zion - the "mountain of the Lord's house" (Isaiah 2:2; comp. Isaiah 24:23). Unto all people; rather, unto all peoples. There is no restriction of salvation to any particular race or nation.
Isaiah 25:7: And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.
Verse 7. - He will destroy... the face of the covering. According to some, the "covering cast ever all people" is death, and the second clause of the verse is a mere repetition of the first. But, though the heads of criminals were covered when they were led to execution (Esther 7:8), yet death itself is never elsewhere called a "covering." May not the prophet have in view that "veil" or "covering" of misconception and prejudice, whereof St. Paul speaks as lying "on the hearts of the Jewish nation," and preventing them from discerning the true sense of Scripture (2 Corinthians 3:15)? Certainly one of the great curses of humanity while here is its inability to see things as they really are - its colored, distorted, prejudiced, views of life and death, of this world and the next, of self-interest, duty, happiness. This "veil" is certainly to be done away; for "now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now we know in part, but then shall we know even as we are known" (2 Corinthians 13:12).
Isaiah 25:8: He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Verse 8. - He will swallow up death in victory; rather, he will abolish death forever. Hosea, a contemporary, was inspired to write! "Will ransom Israel from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction" (Hosea 13:14); but otherwise this was the first announcement that death was to disappear and to cease to be a possibility. It was an enormous advance on the dim and vague conceptions of a future life hitherto current (Job 19:25, 27; Psalm 17:15) to have such an announcement made as this. Hitherto men had been "through fear of death all their life subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15). Now they were taught that, in the resurrection-life, there would be no tear, no possibility of death. The joyous outburst of the apostle, when he quotes the present passage (2 Corinthians 15:54), is the natural thanksgiving song of reassured humanity, on recognizing its final deliverance from the unspeakable terror of death and annihilation. The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. A recent commentator asks, "What place is left for tears?" But surely death is not the only cause of human mourning. Our own sins, the sins and sufferings of our dear ones, are the main provocatives of our tears. When it is promised, as here and in Revelation 7:17 and Revelation 21:4, that "there shall be no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying," the revelation is made that there shall be no more sin; for where sin is, sorrow must be. The rebuke of his people shall he take away.
Isaiah 25:9: And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Verses 9-12. - After thanksgiving for deliverance in the past, and commemoration of blessings in the present, confidence is expressed in the future.
(1) The redeemed declare their joy that they have "waited for God," trusted in him, and looked to him for salvation. They feel that they "have their reward."
(2) The prophet declares his conviction that the enemies of God's elect are henceforth powerless. They are personified under the name of "Moab," and regarded as still animated by sentiments of hostility; but their absolute impotency for working evil is insisted on (vers, 11, 12).
Verse 9. - It shall be said; literally, one shall say; i.e. the redeemed generally shall thus express themselves. We have waited for him. During all the weary time of their oppression and persecution, the godly remnant (Isaiah 24:13-15) was "waiting fur the Lord," i.e. trusting in him, expecting him to arise and scatter his enemies, won-daring that he endured so long the "contradiction of sinners against himself" (Hebrews 12:3), but content to abide his determination of the fitting season for coming forward as their Avenger, and now quite satisfied that he has avenged them in his own good time and in his own good way.
Isaiah 25:10: For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.
Verse 10. - In this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest. The protecting hand of God will ever be stretched out over the spiritual Zion - the Church of the Redeemed - to defend it and keep it safe throughout eternity. Moab shall be trodden down. Various reasons have been given for the selection of Moab to represent the enemies of the redeemed. Perhaps, as the Moabites were, on the whole, the bitterest of all the adversaries of the Jews (see 2 Kings 24:2; Ezekiel 25:8-11), they are regarded as the fittest representatives of the human adversaries of God. For the dung-hill; rather, in the water of a dung-pit. The image is, perhaps, selected with conscious reference to Psalm 83, where the psalmist prays that the "children of Lot" and their helpers may become "as the dung of the earth" (ver. 10).
Isa. 25:1-10 APPLICATION QUESTIONS
God sees time, history, the past and present and future much differently than we. It's hard for us to imagine the life awaiting for us based on our senses and references to this life. But the most important fact in this regard is that we don't have to imagine the future, but aspire to it by the way we live in the present.
Read verses 1-5
Q: To whom are these verses addressed? What does that make these verses?
A: These verses are addressed directly to God; therefore these verses are either a prayer or a hymn of praise.
Q: What four things are specifically mentioned for the worshipper to do in verses 1 & 3?
A: To exalt the Lord and to give thanks to His name (v.1); to glorify and revere Him (v.3).
Q: There are 3 phrases that begin with "For You...." They refer to the reasons to exalt, to give thanks, and to glorify the Lord. Can you name them, as well as identify other reasons?
• "For You have worked wonders...." (v. 1b)
• "For You have made a city into a heap" (referring to overthrowing fortified cities; v. 2)
• "For You have been a defense for the helpless...." (v. 4)
• "...You subdue the uproar of aliens (strangers)...and the song of the ruthless is silenced" (v. 5).
Q: What is the common theme in verses 1-5 for which the worshipper can worship the Lord?
A: The Lord has carried out His plans formed long ago (v. 1b) to overthrow all wickedness and powers on the earth so that God's people can rest in peace.
Q: Therefore, what time in the future are these verses set?
A: In order to determine what point in time these verses refer to, we have to look generally at the whole section of Scripture. It is clear that this section is referring to the Millennial Kingdom that will be established when Christ returns.
[Note: Chapters 1-11 referred to judgment against Judah; chapter 13-23 referred to judgment against the nations, and chapters 24-33 have to do with judgment against the whole earth. Historically, all but the last third have taken place.]
• What things do the people of God have to look forward to?
• What items in our lives would we get rid of if these events took place now?
• How would the government be spending its money if it didn't have to spend it on...defense & military?...law enforcement? ...Medicaid?
• Would we have to lock our doors at night? Would we be afraid of kidnappers? rapists? murderers?
The whole point is that when the Lord sets up His kingdom on earth, it is hard for us to imagine today how we might then live.
Read verses 6-8
Q: In verses 6-8, what five things are listed that the Lord will do in that day for His people?
1. He will "prepare a lavish banquet"
2. He will "swallow up the covering...over all peoples" (probably referring to their spiritual blindness)
3. He will "swallow up death for all time"
4. He will "wipe tears away from all faces"
5. He will "remove the reproach of His people"
Application #1: Discuss each one and try to imagine what that will be like.
Application #2: In what way are these things partially applicable to the believer today? How does God's working of these things in the present life teach us something of the life to come?
Read verses 9-12
Q: Compare verse 9 with Matt. 24:13, 42-46; 25:14-28. Who will be able to rejoice?
A: Those who have endured to the end and have obeyed the Lord while waiting. This will not happen unless a person actually believes that He is coming back.
"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved
― Matthew 24:13
"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
― Matthew 24:42-46
"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
"Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.'
"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'
"Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.'
"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'
"And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'
"But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'"
― Matthew 25:14-28
Application: What areas of our lives do we need to improve on today to be ready for tomorrow?
Q: In verses 10-12, who or what does Moab represent? Can you take a guess by referring to Numbers 22?
A: This reference to Moab refers specially to those who try to tempt God's people away from worshipping God. The trickery referred to was the sin of Balaam.
Application: What things today take us away from being wholly dedicated to the Lord?