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Lowell Brueckner

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Joy Comes in the Morning


46. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 50 and 51

Chapter 50

Jesus, speaking on behalf of His Father, showed that divorce was never a divine consideration (Mt.19:3-6). Isaiah is going back in time to the calling of God upon His people (in referring to “the mother”), to assure the Jew of his day and in the future that there is no breaking of the marriage contract at any point. Paul enforces the divine principle: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Ti.2:13). Divorce is contrary to His nature of endless faithfulness, though His offspring may be severely disciplined or cut off for a time: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away?” In what way have I reneged on My responsibility towards you?

Due to extreme poverty and an inability to pay a debt, children were sometimes taken from their parents in payment.  We have a case during Elisha’s ministry in 2 Kings 4:1-7. Here, God continues to reason with the Jew, “Which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?” Any concept of poverty or faithlessness on God’s part are equally ludicrous. Whatever the people may suffer, being carried away captive from their own land into another, is strictly a result of their sins (v.1). Sin results in separation and indebtedness towards God.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid in the garden and God came looking for them. Once again, He comes to Judah and finds no one; He calls and no one answers. The question posed now, after they have sinned, is…  Does the Lord have no power to redeem them… to buy them back? Can He not deliver them, who have fallen into the hands of their captors? A simple, yet great, song came to my attention a few days ago:

Come ye sinners, lost and hopeless,
Jesus’ blood can make you free…
And I know, yes, I know,
Jesus’s blood can make the vilest sinner clean.

“By my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert… I clothe the heavens with blackness…” (v.2,3). The Red Sea and the Jordan River yielded to the hand of God Almighty and His people were given passage. Dense darkness covered the land of the Egyptians. Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves and saved the life of His fearful disciples. He is able to bring His people back from the bondage caused by their sin:

To the faint He giveth power,
Through the mountains makes a way;
Findeth water in the desert,
Turns the night to golden day.

Continuing on from chapter 49, where the Messiah’s mouth is made a sharp sword and is equipped like a polished arrow, He refers again to the power of His word, taught by the wisdom of heaven. “That I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.” He speaks with divine authority, not His own doctrine, but that which is taught by the Father (Jn.5:30; 7:16): “Morning by morning he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear…” (v.4,5). Isaiah beautifully enriches the gospel account.

Christ speaks of His sufferings: “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (v.6). The prophetic word, concerning the work of redemption mentioned in verse 2, becomes more intense. See the literal fulfillment of this verse in Matthew 26:67; 27:26,30; Mark 14:65; 15:19 and John 18:22.   

The Christ is sure of His divine appointment and does not shirk the duty that lies before Him. “I have set my face like a flint” (v.7). Luke reports the fulfillment (9:51): “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Christ shared it with His disciples: “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished” (Lk.18:31).

Bring on the adversaries! All opposition is pointless; men and devils have no plot that can thwart the plan of God. The enemies, by their worst efforts, only carry out that which has been pre-determined by the Father. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Ac.2:23).

All their efforts to shame Him only glorify the Father. All contention is vindicated by Him. Judgment against Him only aids to carry out God’s eternal purposes. Christ’s opponents are temporal and “will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up” (v.9). They are raised up only to further the unfailing and everlasting word: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Mt.26:53-54).

Seven hundred years in advance, the Lord shows these things to Isaiah and inspires him to write them, that future generations may see that the earth-shaking events, which occur later, had been ordered long ago. The Spirit of God searches, from that day to the present, for those who are brought to fear, as they discover the sovereign mind behind these words: “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (v.10).

Even so, there is a warning. Beware not to see by your own fire and try to find the way by kindling a human-lit torch! If you do, you have the sure word from the same God, who has spoken and fulfilled all that we have studied in this chapter: “You shall lie down in torment” (v.11). All has been designed and written to bring the reader to trust Him.

Chapter 51

The Lord turns to the one who is in pursuit of righteousness and truth, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt.5:6). Words cannot be found to express how blessed you are! Here is His counsel: “Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug” (v.1). He is not presenting us with a difficult puzzle to unravel; he is simply appealing to our confidence, that we should place our trust in God and learn His ways.  

Take the example of Abraham and Sarah. That is where it begins and there we begin to learn spiritual principle. God is about to build a nation and beyond that nation, He has the intention of building a spiritual kingdom of countless multitudes (v.2). He starts with one… a man with a wife, who has a sterile womb and who is 90-years-old! Please learn the lesson and please don’t look for any method outside of that taught throughout the Bible. Read 1 Corinthians 1 and 2; memorize it, if you must, but don’t expect anything from God outside of that, which man deems foolish and weak… even non-existent. As we read in the last chapter, don’t light your own fire!

You are seeking righteousness? This is righteousness… God’s right way of doing things. He is Jehovah, the God of the small country of Judah. He has no prominence for Mt. McKinley or Mt. Everest. He speaks comfort for those, who dwell on the small hill of Zion and in her waste places, “make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord”. True joy and gladness can only be found in thanksgiving to the One, who works in this way (v.3). 

Zion will be the world’s lawgiver and a light for all the nations (v.4). That will be the fountain of Christ’s kingdom of righteousness and salvation. It holds the throne of universal justice for the hopeless coastlands that have known, up to that time, the disillusioning government of men. They have long awaited the limitless abilities of the Prince of righteousness and salvation (v.5).

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment… but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.” His kingdom will endure through the Millennium and throughout eternity. Begin now to experience His righteous reign in the personal depths of your heart. You will not be disappointed now, throughout His 1000-year kingdom, or in an eternity without end (v.6).  An old song said,

“There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s all that He’s promised to be;
His love and His care, comfort me everywhere,
He is no disappointment to me.”

Among a remnant in Isaiah’s time, as is true of the remnant that makes up His true church, there is personal knowledge of a righteousness of the heart. Paul defines it as the righteousness of faith, because it is only experienced by those, who have put their trust in Christ and His righteousness. His law is written in their hearts; that is another way of saying that they have received a new nature, through new-birth, which longs to obey and be pleasing to the Lord. Paul echoes the doctrine of Isaiah, taught in this verse 7: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts…” (Ro.2:15).

Witnessing the leprosy of King Uzziah, before his ministry began, Isaiah had things to say about human mortality and corruptibility. Just in the last chapter, he used a metaphor, comparing enemies to moth-eaten garments, in order to show the foolishness of taking man’s criticism or opposition to heart. He does the same in verse 8, adding a similar depiction of a worm-eaten fleece. Why, then, should we allow men the slightest influence upon our lives? Seek that, which is eternal… His righteousness and His salvation.

“O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago.” Bible people set up memorials to remember the mighty moving of God in their history. Don’t let anyone discourage you from yearning for it. Read the book of Acts with a hungry heart. Find books on revival in church history. Let them stir in you an intense desire to see the same in our day. See in them the wonderful victories over enemy forces (v.9), as we read in chapter 37. The Lord not only calms the sea towards the protection of His own, but uses its fury to the destruction of the enemy (v.10).

Zion and its joy lies ahead for those, whom He has ransomed. David said, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps.30:5). The future could not be more positive for the redeemed of the Lord. Sorrow and sighing flee; gladness and joy will remain (v.11). True comfort only comes from above and the prevailing theme of the “Gospel” of Isaiah continues, “Who are you that are afraid of man… the wrath of the oppressor?” The Lord is salvation! How can we forget the One “who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth”? Men, regardless of earthly authority, are simply fellow-creatures, but He is the Maker of all (v.12-13).

Hear His promise and receive His comfort. “He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit” (v.14). “I am the Lord your God…” and this is what He says. “The Lord of hosts is his name.” He has the armies of heaven and earth at His disposal. Will you listen to the lies of men and devils? (v.15)

“The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God,” Paul wrote (Ro.3:2). They established the Old Testament canon, accepted and honored by Christ and His apostles. He has not removed that calling from them. In fact, Jerusalem will awake to a greater day, in which she will stand up and teach the nations: “I have put my words in your mouth” (v.16).

In the next verses, the Lord presents the severity of the wrath, which He has appointed. Different from all the judgment that has come upon them in past history, He has given no judge or king to bring deliverance: “Who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath… There is none to guide her… Devastation and destruction, famine and sword – who will comfort you? Your sons have fainted… they are full of the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.” (v.17-20).

“Therefore hear this…” (v.21) He speaks to them, showing that He has not abandoned them. All that has happened to them is discipline, and that means that there is something to be learned from it. It has a purpose and it has an end. Now, He promises that light shines ahead and the heavy hand of punishment has been lifted: “Thus says the Lord… who pleads the cause of his people: Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering: the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more; and I will put it into the hand of your tormentors.” They have tread upon Israel, having “made your back like the ground and like the street for them to pass over” (v.22-23). The long night is ended, the Lord assures them, and it is time to awake to a new day.

Today, the Jew returns to his native land and is self-governing. Yet one more Great Tribulation lies ahead. It will be the severest of all, but only will last for a few years (3 ½), cut short for the elect’s sake. Then one thousand years of honor will be theirs, followed by eternity. Certainly, as the apostle from the tribe of Benjamin teaches, the affliction is light, compared to the weight of glory.     


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