The Restoration of the Wife of the LORD

54: 1-17

    As a result of the Servant’s sacrifice on the cross, and Isra'el’s national confession of sin, this is a far eschatological prophecy pointing to Israel’s national regeneration at end of the Great Tribulation and return to the Land in peace and security during the Messianic Kingdom. This passage shows us the heart of the gospel of Christ. ADONAI has reconciled His lost world to Himself. He has not waited for us to find a way to bridge the gap between Him and us, as He certainly could have in His own righteousness. After all, we are the ones who created the breach between Him and ourselves, so let us find a way across it. But of course, there is no way from our side. For God to wait in the lonely isolation of His moral perfection for us to come to Him would be to wait for all eternity. Our sinfulness makes it impossible to get ourselves to a place where we can stand before His blazing purity and survive because the soul who sins will die (Ezekiel 18:4).

    Yet, the amazing thing about ADONAI is that He gets no satisfaction from the richly deserved death of the sinner (Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11). Some of the family members of the victims of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh were disappointed when they were prevented from seeing him die. They wanted that satisfaction. Not so with God. Not even the death of the most heinous criminal brings a grim smile of satisfaction to the face of the LORD. Rather, there is grief in His heart like the grief of David who cried: O Absalom, my son, my son, over the death of his rebel son, who would have killed his father without a second thought.

    So what did God do as an expression of His unfailing love, His everlasting kindness, and His covenant of peace with the nation of Israel? What did He do so the barren Jewish woman could be surrounded with laughing children, the Jewish widow could be married to the most wonderful husband in the world, and the rejected Jewish divorcee could know that the rejection was only for a moment while the acceptance was forever? He took all of her pride, all of her self-sufficiency, and all of her sin on His body on the cross. This is the true face of ADONAI – not the stern, cruel Judge dispassionately rehearsing the endless list of her crimes and our crimes, and in the end grimly giving out exactly what we have deserved. No, He will go to any lengths to see that she and we receive mercy. In fact, the Judge has taken the judgment.224

    But even with this understanding, it is important to realize that there is a difference between Isra'el being the wife of the LORD, and the Church being the bride of Christ. Here is an outline of their relationship to Him.

    The first stage is the marriage contract, which is the book of Deuteronomy. It should not merely be looked upon as a duplication of the previous teaching of the Pentateuch. Deuteronomy is God’s marriage covenant with Isra'el. It contains all the elements of an ancient marriage contract. After the initial marriage contract, which took place at Mount Sinai, Isra'el went through a lengthy second stage.

    The second stage was one of spiritual adultery. Israel failed to keep her promise of faithfulness, which she committed herself to in the original Marriage Contract. That eventually led to the third stage.

    The third stage was the separation that took place between Israel and God. It lasted about 100 years. Many Israelites were complaining that the LORD was withholding the material blessings He had promised in the marriage contract. Therefore, it looked to them as if God had divorced His wife. But ADONAI asks them in Chapter 50 to produce a bill of divorcement. But there was no bill of divorcement at this stage. The reason that material benefits had been withheld was because of Israel’s adultery, because the material benefits guaranteed in Deuteronomy were based on the condition of faithfulness.

    The fourth stage of this relationship is the divorce itself. In Isaiah’s day there was no bill of divorce. But a century later when Jeremiah was a prophet, there was a bill of divorcement. In fact, the book of Jeremiah is that bill of divorcement, just like Deuteronomy is the marriage contract. The first four stages are all historical.

    The fifth stage is the stage of punishment. Prophets like Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, and to a small degree Isaiah, prophesied about this stage. Israel is undergoing a lengthy period of punishment because of the divorce. The dispersion is part of the punishment, and persecutions in the dispersion are also part of the punishment. Any time these prophets talk about the punishment of Israel, they keep emphasizing that the punishment is not for its own sake. There is a purpose to this punishment. The goal of the punishment is to bring Israel back to God. Someday there will be a sixth stage.

    The sixth stage will be the remarriage. A new contract will be entered into, but this time it will be based upon the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). What we have in Chapter 54 is a discussion of the sixth stage. It is a far eschatological prophecy of the national regeneration in the last days of the Great Tribulation, and return to the Land in peace and security during the Messianic Kingdom.225

    It is not unusual for Isaiah to alternate between different time periods. Normally he alternates between near historical and far eschatological prophecies. But here, Isaiah begins to alternate between far eschatological prophecies and prophecies about the Suffering Servant. The way you can distinguish between the two is the context.

    A far eschatological prophecy about the final restoration of Zion (49:14-26)

    How the Suffering Servant died (50:1-11)

    A far eschatological prophecy of comfort to the last Jewish generation before the return of the Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation (51:1 to 52:12)

    Why the Suffering Servant died (52:13 to 53:12)

    A far eschatological prophecy pointing to Israel’s national regeneration (54:1-17) and the offer of salvation to the Gentile nations during the Messianic Kingdom (55:1 to 56:8).

 

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