From Isaiah 23-27
Today’s passage is a song which follows the restoration of Judah (Is 25.1-12) after a predicted long period of punishment (Is 24.1-23). When the LORD restores her, this is what will happen.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
26 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. (Is 26.1-2)
They will sing a song of praise and remembrance for what the LORD has done. Salvation is likened to a city with walls. The gates are opened and the righteous enter in. The righteous nation is obviously God’s chosen people. A characteristic of God’s righteous nation is that they keep faith. Its an ongoing faith, a persistent trust that marks them out.
Keep faith in God.
3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
5 For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
6 The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.” (Is 26.3-6)
One of the benefits of trusting the LORD is that he sets our minds at ease. Trust banishes doubt. Trust is unafraid and is secure. The song implores the people to trust in the LORD forever because he is unchanging. steadfast, solid and will not move.
Trust in the LORD.
He is also powerful as he has conquered the other nations. The poor and needy walk over those he has conquered. They are utterly defeated.
7 The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
8 In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
10 If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord. (Is 26.7-10)
The LORD directs the paths of the righteous. He makes their way level. Which means without obstacle, easy to navigate and without stumbling blocks. He is alluding to sin. The LORD guides the righteous away from sin and wrongdoing. He makes their way level. The singer years and seeks for the LORD.
Seek the LORD and he will guide you.
The LORD teaches righteousness. His people receive his teaching and learn from him. The wicked reject what he has to teach and remain corrupt. They do not respect him as king.
11 O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.
12 O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
13 O Lord our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
14 They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.
15 But you have increased the nation, O Lord,
you have increased the nation; you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the borders of the land. (Is 26.11-15)
The LORD has treated his people differently from other nations. They have ignored him and been consumed. They have died and will not arise. I suspect this is an allusion to resurrection. The LORD however, has shown zeal for his people. He has given them peace. Not only peace with him, but peace with all the nations around them because they have been destroyed. The LORD has increased his people amongst the other nations in his creation.
16 O Lord, in distress they sought you;
they poured out a whispered prayer
when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
who writhes and cries out in her pangs
when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
18 we were pregnant, we writhed,
but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead. (Is 26.16-19)
The song depicts a fruitless labour. Judah strived to bring something of note into the world but failed to accomplish anything. The song suggests they were hoping that what they would ‘give birth to’ would accomplish their own deliverance and conquer their enemies. But nothing came of it and they died. The song then alludes to resurrection again. This time he will raise his people from the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
21 For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain. (Is 26.20-21)
The song now seems to focus on their present situation. Under threat from foreign nations. They are instructed to stay in their homes and wait, till the wrath of the LORD in punishing the world has passed and everyone is dead.
Story of Israel
Today’s passage is contains one of the few Old Testament references to the resurrection of the dead. The others that I know of are by David in Psalm 16,
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (Ps 16:10)
and at the end of Daniel,
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12:2)
13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come. (Job 14.13-14)
Its probable over time Israel and Judah increasingly believed there would be a resurrection from the dead.
Story of Jesus
And we can see this belief in the New Testament when Paul defends Christianity and talks about the Jews to the ruler Felix.
14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Acts 24:14–16)
Paul will later speak about Christ’s resurrection from the dead in his famous chapter on resurrection. First Corinthians 15.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Co 15:20–28)
If you believe in Christ, God will also raise you from the dead in the end times just as he did to Jesus in the gospel.
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