Isaiah 51 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
III. Salvation (poetry), ch. 40-66
A. Peace assured through knowing the LORD God... (The God of Peace), ch. 40-48
B. Salvation procured by the Suffering Servant (The Prince of Peace), ch. 49-57
  1. The Holy One, Israel's Redeemer, is also the Salvation of the gentiles, 49:1-26
  2. The Redeemer is rejected by sinful men, 50:1-11
  3. The Redeemer is sure Redemption for the Remnant that trust in Him, 51:1-52:12
    This good news of redemption needs to be heard. This section divides accordingly:
    1. Hearken: spoken to religious Jews, re: their self-righteousness (51:1-3).
    2. Hearken: spoken to the nation of Israel, re: the LORD's eternal purposes (51:4-6)
    3. Hearken: spoken to the believing remnant, re: their persecution (51:7-8)
    4. Awake: O LORD (spoken by the believing remnant), re: the need for deliverance (51:9-16)
    5. Awake: O Jerusalem (spoken by the LORD), re: the disposition of judgment (51:17-23)
    6. Awake: O Zion (spoken by the LORD), re: the glories of His Salvation (52:1-12)
    Is it any wonder that some refer to this as "the alarm clock chapter"? The alarm sounds not only for Israel, but for all believers who observe God dealing with her, for "Israel is God's timepiece." Rom 13:11
1. Hearken {HB=shama', listen with perception} to me,
ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD:
look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn,
and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged.
2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bare you:
for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places;
and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
hearken to me, ye that follow after {pursue} righteousness, ye that seek the LORD... -
Three times, in v.1-8, the LORD calls Israel to hear and believe His Word. Each time that He says "Hearken," He directs His message to a somewhat different group, with a specific emphasis for those, in that group, who will hear.
     Here, He addresses religious Israelites, emphasizing that their religious works and self-righteousness cannot save them (cp. Rom 10:1-4). Only through faith in the Word of God can they enter into spiritual life. Only through feeding on that Word will that life be sustained (cp. 1Pet 1:23; 2:2).
...look unto the rock whence ye are hewn...- The LORD is Israel's Rock.
Deu 32:18; Psa 18:31; 61:2; 62:5-8; cp. Isa 45:22; 55:6
...look unto the hole of the pit whence ye are digged {dug out, extracted}...-
Israel, was lifted out from among earth's fallen humanity, to be separated unto the LORD as His own people. Yet, Israelites share the same sinful fleshly nature as all men. cp. Deu 7:7,8; 9:4-7; Eze 20:5-10-f; Titus 3:3-7
...look unto Abraham...-
The experience of Abraham and Sarah illustrates the LORD's message that Israel must look to Him, to receive righteousness by Grace through faith.
     Abraham lived in a pit of idolatry, before the LORD called him and brought him out (Josh 24:2-4; Deu 26:5). God Himself called, blessed, and increased the nation, while the nation consisted of one man (Abraham "alone" v.2), and while Abraham and Sarah, in the weakness of the flesh, were unable to have children (Rom 4:1-4,13-25).
     Likewise, the nation, like Abraham, must look in faith to the LORD, their Rock, to receive His righteousness and become His holy people (cp. Rom 9:31,32). For those who trust the LORD, the promised blessings are sure, because He will do as He has said (as described in v.3).
4. Hearken {HB=qashab, be attentive, incline your ear} unto me, my people;
and give ear
{HB='azan, listen to be obedient} unto me, O my nation:
for a law shall proceed from me,
and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
5 My righteousness [is] near;
my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people;
the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath:
for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke,
and the earth shall wax old like a garment,
and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner:
but my salvation shall be for ever,
and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
hearken unto me, my people... O my nation...- Here, the LORD addresses Israel as a nation,
admonishing them to be very attentive to His Word, for He is about to do something which the nation at large was not expecting.
...for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest...-
Isa 42:1-6; Rom 8:2-4; Heb 1:3; 10:11,12 (Having judged sin in Himself, He rested.) righteousness is near... (v.5)- Deu 30:14; Isa 46:13; Rom 10:6-11 salvation is gone forth...- Isa 49:6; Rom 1:16,17
...mine arms shall judge {ie., govern} the people...-
Acts 17:31; Isa 11:1-5,10; 42:4; Psa 117:1,2
...on mine arm shall they trust...-
The Messiah is the arm of the LORD (Isa 53:1;), by whom He secures righteousness and salvation, for Jew (the people) and Gentile (the isles), alike. Rom 15:8-12
look... for the heavens shall vanish away... the earth will wax old... (v.6)-
The LORD illustrates the necessity of salvation, by instructing the nation to observe the temporary nature of the things which are seen, so that they will see the importance of heeding His Word.
     Today, a great deal of attention is given to preserving the earth and its ecology. But the LORD tells us to attend to a matter of eternal consequence, namely the need for true righteousness, which He provides for those who receive "My salvation {HB=Yeshuah}." Mat 24:35; 2Cor 4:18; 2Pet 3:10-13; Rev 20:11-15
7 Hearken {HB=shama', listen with perception} unto me,
ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law;
fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment,
and the worm shall eat them like wool:
but my righteousness shall be for ever,
and my salvation from generation to generation.
hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness... in whose heart is my law...
...fear ye not the reproach of men...-
Here, the LORD encourages those who have 'believed unto righteousness' (Rom 3:22; 10:9,10), and whose new nature seeks to please Him (Jer 31:33,34; Heb 10:16; 1Joh 3:9,10), for they will experience opposition and persecution (cp. Mat 5:11,12; 10:28).
for the moth shall eat them up...-
The LORD illustrates His message of encouragement, with moths and worms.
Though among the weakest of creatures, worms will consume the fearful enemies of God's people (cp. Isa 66:24; Mark 9:44). But those, who receive His gift of true righteousness, will continue living for ever (cp. v.6; 2Cor 4:17,18).
9. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD;
awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.
[Art] thou not it that hath cut Rahab, [and] wounded the dragon?
10 [Art] thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep;
that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return,
and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy [shall be] upon their head:
they shall obtain gladness and joy; [and] sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
awake {HB='uwr, stir up, rouse up}... - This word appears seven times in this passage (v.9,17; Isa 52:1).
It is the sound of alarm, and an urgent call to action.
awake... put on strength, O arm of the LORD...-
Here, the redeemed of the LORD call upon the arm of the LORD (the Messiah), asking Him to deliver them from the enemy, just as He once delivered Israel from Egypt in the days of Moses.
     The name 'Rahab,' meaning 'arrogant boaster,' is emblematic of Egypt (eg., Ex 5:2), which was broken by the LORD's power (Psa 89:10). When the LORD delivered Israel from Egypt, the dragon, the spiritual power behind the gentile nations (Eze 29:3), suffered a defeat, which foreshadowed the day when he would be 'wounded' {HB=chalal, pierced, mortally wounded} by the arm of the LORD (Joh 12:30-33). Pharaoh's fall depicts the end of Satan's reign, in Eze 31:18.
     Though time has passed, that wounded enemy continues to trouble God's people. Thus, they appeal to the LORD to finish His work of salvation (Isa 27:1; Rev 12:9). Confident of His response, they immediately rejoice in anticipation of promised eternal blessings (v.11; cp. Isa 25:8; 35:10).
12 I, [even] I, [am] he that comforteth you:
who [art] thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man [that] shall die,
and of the son of man [which] shall be made [as] grass;
13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker,
that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth;
and hast feared continually every day
because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy?
and where [is] the fury of the oppressor?
14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed,
and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
15 But I [am] the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared:
The LORD of hosts [is] his name.
16 And I have put my words in thy mouth,
and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand,
that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth,
and say unto Zion, Thou [art] my people.
I, even I, am he that comforteth you...- cp. Isa 40:1; The LORD speaks to Israel,
chiding them for their fear of man, and for their ignorance of their God.
who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man, which shall be made as grass? -
Notice that their fear is not of mankind, but of "a man... the son of man... the oppressor..." (v.12,13)
They are in fear for their lives (v.14) because of the Antichrist. But, like grass, he will not last long (cp. Isa 40:7,8). if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury {ie., indignation} of the oppressor?-
The Antichrist, for all of his blasphemous threatenings, cannot go beyond the bounds that God has set for him. The time of trouble and the troubler will pass away. cp. Isa 26:20- 27:1; Dan 11:36,45
but I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea...-
Though Israel had forgotten Him, the LORD is still powerful to deliver them, just as He had done, when they feared because the sea blocked their escape from the Egyptians. He, who established heaven and earth, and set bounds for the sea, will not fail to establish Israel. cp. Jer 31:35-40; 51:54,55
I have put my words in thy mouth {cp. Isa 59:21}, and I have covered thee {cp. Isa 26:20}...-
These things will be fulfilled in Israel, because they were first fulfilled in the true Israel (the Messiah, Isa 49:1-9; Deu 18:18,19).
Among the words, which He will put in their mouth, is their appeal to Him, in faith (v.9-11).
that I may plant {fix, establish} the heavens,
and lay the foundations of {ie., establish} the earth {HB='erets}...- cp. Isa 65:17; 2Pet 3:13
and say to Zion, Thou art my people.-
The LORD is speaking to Israel, the people of Jerusalem, of their restoration, as a nation, to the earthly Holy City, in the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah.
     The heavenly blessings of the church are not in view here. The redeemed nation will return to the city from which they were dispersed (v.11). Only one Person has come from heaven and returned there (Joh 16:28; 1Tim 3:16). Someday, the Lord will take the redeemed of the Church to heaven with Him. However, since they have never been there before, it cannot be said that they will 'return' to Zion. But the LORD will bring Israel back to their land (Jer 23:7,8).
     "Thou art my people." (cp. v.4,16) - Lo-Ammi {'not my people'} will become Ammi {'my people'} when the LORD's redemption of Israel is complete, and they are brought together under "one head" (the Messiah) following the day of Jezreel (ie., the Tribulation period and its closing battles). See Hos 1:9- 2:1
17. Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem,
which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury;
thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, [and] wrung [them] out.
18 [There is] none to guide her among all the sons [whom] she hath brought forth;
neither [is there any] that taketh her by the hand of all the sons [that] she hath brought up.
19 These two [things] are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee?
desolation, and destruction
{ie., loss of property},
and the famine, and the sword
{ie., loss of life}:
by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets,
as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God [that] pleadeth the cause of his people,
Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling,
[even] the dregs of the cup of my fury;
thou shalt no more drink it again:
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee;
which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over:
and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
awake... O Jerusalem, which hast drunk... the cup of his fury...-
In answer to Israel's call to awaken Him (v.9), the LORD sounds the alarm for Jerusalem to wake up and understand the cause and the end of the tribulation, which they have been enduring.
thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling at the hand of the LORD...-
Their suffering was not because He has been inattentive to them. Rather, it was because they had turned from Him. Their staggering like drunken men, without effective leadership and under terrible losses (v.18-20), was not the effect of alcoholic beverage, but of His wrath.
Thus saith thy Lord {HB='adon} the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people...-
In that future day, when Israel turns back to Him, that He should be their "Lord" {absolute Master}, He will be free to do what He has waited to do: to contend for them, rather than against them. cp. Psa 35:1; Jer 50:34; Joel 3:2
Behold, I have taken out of thy hand the cup of trembling... thou shalt no more drink it again...-
Instead, the nations that afflicted Israel will know God's wrath, for their abuse of His people.
cp. Psa 75:8; Jer 25:15-17; Zech 12:2; Rev 14:10; 18:6
which have said to thy soul {HB=nephesh, living being, that which breathes}...-
The demands of Israel's enemies threatened the very existence of the nation.
  • bow down {HB=shachah, prostrate yourselves (before a superior),
    be in submission, make concession}
  • that we may go over {HB= 'abar, pass through, overflow}...
    Don't the nations make such demands of Israel, today?
and thou hast laid thy body {ie., back} as the ground {HB='erets, land} and as the street {HB= chuwts, the outside, the outward areas}, to them that went over {HB= 'abar, passed through, overflowed}.-
Under pressure from her enemies, Israel has had little choice, but to yield, in humiliation of her people, and with loss of territory. But then, the LORD will contend in her behalf, and call her to "stand up" in His strength (v.17; cp. same word in Isa 52:2, 'arise' ).
[This section continues into the next chapter (in 52:1-12).]

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