Isaiah 63:7-64:12

  1. 63:7-14. How does the suppliant begin his prayer? What has Israel learned of God’s mercy and love in her past? What lesson is here for us when in our need we pray to God? Cf. Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:3; 4:6; Col. 1:3.
  2. What five pleas are found in 63:15-19? In 64:4, 5, the suppliant begins to advance another plea. What is it, and why is he unable to continue it (6, 7)? Do you know how to plead with God? What pleas can we rightly make?

Notes

  1. 63:10, 11, 14. The references to the Holy Spirit in this prayer are strikingly clear and full.
  2. 63:17a. The prolonging of the suffering was tending to increase the ungodliness.

 

Isaiah 61:1-63:6

  1. How would you summarize the teaching of chapters 61 and 62 regarding the Lord’s purpose of good for Zion? What do we learn, for example, about: (a) the relation to God into which God’s people will be brought (61:6, 8, 9; 62:4, 12) and (b) the response of God’s people to his promised salvation (61:10)? Is your experience of this kind?
  2. In chapter 61 the coming salvation is proclaimed in 62 it is prayed for (verses 1, 6, 7). If the gospel is to prevail on earth, are not both the proclamation of it and prayer concerning it still necessary? Cf. Rom. 10:14, 15; 2 Thess. 3:1. What characteristic of prevailing prayer is emphasized here?
  3. In Luke 4:17-21 our Lord says that the opening words of chapter 61 were spiritually fulfilled in his own ministry. Why did he cut his reading in the synagogue short in the middle of 61:2? Meditate on the scope of our Lord’s ministry as revealed in these verses.

Notes

  1. 61:2. ‘A new name’: the symbol both of a new character, and of a new relation of a God. Cf. Rev. 2:17; 3:12.
  2. 63:4. The day of redemption is also a day of judgment. Cf. 61:2; John 3:17-19.

Isaiah 60

An inspired vision of Zion, when God shall have fulfilled towards her all his purposes, and clothed her with his glory.

  1. Try to build up the picture of the glorified Zion as given in this vision. Gather out the references to God and observe carefully the place he occupies in Zion. Has he this central place in your life and in your Christian fellowship?
  2. Consider how many of the features of beauty and glory in the Zion of this chapter are to be found, in their spiritual counterpart, in a life dwelling in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. See especially verses 2, 5, 7 (last clause), 13 (last clause), 16b, and 17-21; and cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6; 6:16; Eph. 3:14-21.

Notes

  1. Verses 8, 9. The ships coming from the west, with their white sails, looking like a flock of doves.
  2. Verse 13. ‘The place of my sanctuary’: i.e. the temple called also ‘the place of my feet’.
  3. Verse 21. ‘For the display of my splendor’: compare ‘he has endowed you with splendor’ (verse 9) and ‘I will adorn my glorious temple’ (verse 7; so also verse 13). Where God is glorified all else is glorified in Him. Cf. 2 Thess. 1:12.

Isaiah 59

This chapter in its opening verses is an exposure of the sins that separate us from God (verses 1-8). In verses 9-15a the people describes their sorrowful state, and make confession. But they feel that if action on God’s part is to be forever restrained by their sinfulness, the position seems hopeless indeed (see Note 2 on ‘justice’ below).  Then in the closing verses of the chapter comes the triumphant divine answer (verses 15b-21). God is not baffled, and when there is no human help he himself comes to the rescue, in judgment upon evil-doers on the one hand, and in redemption for the penitent on the other.

  1. Verses 1-15. What various sins are mentioned here, and what are the consequences in the personal, social and the spiritual life of the people? With verses 1, 2 cf. 1:15-17; Mic. 3:4.
  2. What is the motive of God’s intervention as described in verses 15b-21? What is its twofold purpose, and what its worldwide issue? When does St Paul look for this to be fulfilled to Israel (Rom. 11:25-27)? Yet, for us who believe on Jesus Christ, is it not in part fulfilled to us now, and not least verse 21? Cf. John 14: 16, 26.

Notes

  1. Verses 5, 6. The plan and plots of evil-doers working fresh evil, and giving no useful result.
  2. Verse 9. The word ‘justice’ is used in these verses in two senses: (a) as right done by men (verse 8, 15b), and (b) as divine judgment, exercised on behalf of Israel against her oppressors (verse 9, 11, 14) the people’s lament was that the later was withheld because the former was lacking.

Isaiah 58

  1. Has fasting itself any value in God’s sight? What does he look for in his people, and why is such conduct called ‘fasting’? In verses 8-12, what promises of spiritual blessing does God give to those who are right in spirit towards himself and their fellow men?
  2. Examine your own attitude to Sunday in the light of verses 13, 14.

Notes

  1. Verse 4. ‘Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife’: fasting, if not done in the right spirit, is apt to make men irritable and contentious, quick to use their fist.
  2. Verse 9. ‘The pointing finger’: probably a gesture of haughty contempt.
  3. Verse 13. ‘If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbtath’: i.e, regard it as holy ground, not to be profaned by common business. Cf. 56:2; Neh. 13:15-21.

Isaiah 56 and 57

The good tidings of Jehovah’s purpose to bring back the exiles and to restore Jerusalem produced many repercussions among different classes of hearers. In the opening verses of today’s portion the prophet replies to the questionings of two special groups: (1) non-Jews, who had joined themselves to Israel (56:3a, 6-8, and (2) eunuchs, who feared God (56:3b-5). Might they also participate in the promise deliverance? The Lord’s answer is that if they fulfilled the conditions of the covenant, they would be welcome to a full share in its blessings. In 56:9 – 57:14 the prophet rebukes two other groups: the leaders of the community in Jerusalem (56:9-12), and those who were openly practicing idolatry (57:1-14). There follows a striking description of the kind of persons with whom God will dwell, and of his purposes of grace towards his people (57:15-21).

  1. What were the spiritual conditions on which the Lord would recognize a man, whether a Jew or not, as being one of his own people? See 56:1-8. How does this anticipate the New Testament offer of the gospel to all, and how does it fall short of it? With verse 7, cf. Matt. 21:13; and with verse 8, cf. John 10:16.
  2. What do these two chapters, and more particularly 57:15-21, teach us about God?
  3. Consider the sad picture in 56:9 – 57:14 of a community whose leaders were unworthy, and whose members were forsaking the Lord for idols. What warnings for ourselves can be found in it?

Notes

  1. 56:3b-5. In the new community, physical and racial disabilities would be no longer be a ground of exclusion. Cf. Deut. 23:1, 3-8.
  2. 56:10. ‘Watchmen’: i.e., the leaders of the community, also called ‘shepherds’ (verse 11). They loved ease, gain, and drunken carnivals.
  3. 57:3. A reference to their idolatrous practices; so also in verses 7, 8.
  4. 57:11. ‘You went on fearlessly, in faithlessness, giving no thought to me, in your indifference. Is it not so? I said no word, I hid my face from you, and on you went, fearing me not’. (Moffatt).

Isaiah 55

  1. Is the appeal in this chapter ant less applicable or less urgent in our day than it was to the Jews living in Babylon?
    Are you then proclaiming it to those around you?
    Try to state its argument in present-day language.
  2. In verses 8-13 what do we learn about:
    (a) man’s inability to comprehend God;
    (b) God’s word of promise;
    (c) the future for God’s people?
    How ought we to act in response to such truths?