The Gentiles and the Return of Isra'el

49: 22-26

   DIG: These verses present a military image where the conquered bring their spoil and bow down before the victor. How does that fit in with the LORD’s work in the world (also see 45:22-23)? What is the ultimate purpose of it all (also see 49:23b and 26b)? What response is God looking for in Israel?

   REFLECT: Is the freeing of the Jews by ADONAI at all like what Jesus has done for you? How so? When have you had to wait on the LORD for something you desperately needed? Did you wait? Or did you take matters into your own hands? Was God late in answering your prayers? How does 49:25 illuminate Jesus’ comment about binding the strong man (Matthew 12:29)? How have you been retrieved from the fierce? What is one thing that convinces you that the LORD, and not some other god or force, is indeed the one you can trust? When is the last time you admitted God into the equation of your life? Did you trust ADONAI with His answer? Why?

    These verses provide the answer to the question: Who brought these up (49:21)?  God says that He is the One who has brought these Jewish descendants back to her. He is Adonai ELOHIM (49:22a). If He decrees it, it will happen because He is the One who controls history.

    Here in this far eschatological prophecy Isaiah declares that righteous, or sheep Gentiles (see my commentary on Revelation Fc – The Sheep and the Goats), will aide in the return of Jacob to the Land during the Great Tribulation. See, I will beckon the Gentiles (62:10), I will lift up My banner to the Gentile peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders (49:22b). Earlier, ADONAI called the nations to come and plunder Israel and Judah, and He would do so by lifting up His banner (30:17). But here, God says that He will lift up His banner, so that all the Gentile nations near and far will see and understand that they need to aid in the return of Israel. These righteous Gentiles will protect the Jews as they return and will be in subjection to Israel (see my commentary on Revelation Fi - The Government of the Messianic Kingdom).

    Israel had suffered much at the hands of the Gentile peoples, but in the final analysis, it will not be the nations who hold Israel’s destiny in their hands. It was, and is, and will be, ADONAI. He will make sure that the high and mighty of the earth bring the children of the LORD home.

    Therefore, it is ironic that the Gentile nations, before whom she had once groveled in an effort to gain support, and who had mockingly turned against her, humiliating her for her false trust, will come crawling to her feet, bringing with them her children from around the world (also see 11:11-12, 66:20). Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground, begging for mercy for the wrongs that had been done. They will lick the dust at your feet (49:23a). We must remember that this is figurative language. What at first glance seems to be subservience is, in reality, spiritual indebtedness. The point here is that God’s people should never fear the power of Adonai ELOHIM, because He is the author of history.

    What will Zion learn from what God is going to do for her? Then she will know ADONAI, and realize the value of waiting on His timing (49:23b NKJ). When we wait on the LORD, we need to understand that He will probably act on His own timetable. But He will act! When we take matters into our own hands, we only end up with wood, hay or straw on the Day of Judgment (First Corinthians 3:12-15). As a result, to wait is to demonstrate faith, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The LORD says to the Ahaz in all of us: Don’t be afraid (Because when we wait in our humanness, we are afraid that things are not going to turn out the way we want). He is saying, “Will you believe that I am with you, and let Me do it My way (7:1-14)? When we allow God to work, and only act when He says to act, we will not be disappointed (49:23c). For those who wait on the LORD (NKJ) with hopeful expectancy will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (40:31).

    God will fight for the liberation of Israel against the all-powerful nations who want to destroy her during the Great Tribulation. ADONAI knew that those Jews sitting in Jerusalem would have a hard time believing this promise because of their lack of faith. He could hear them saying, “Look, the antichrist and his armies rule the world. No one would even dare challenge them. We know that You have limitless power, but let’s talk reality here. How can we defeat all the armies of the world? What is going to change?” For those in “the real world” this is a roundabout way of saying that the LORD’s power has no effect on our regular day-to-day life as we experience it. This, of course, directly contradicts the classic definition of faith in the book of Hebrews. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). If Jacob would admit God into the equation (as Isaiah had tried to get Ahaz to do in 7:4-14), everything could be changed. The Jews will be returned to the Land and the antichrist and his armies will be defeated at the end of the Great Tribulation; the Servant will defeat sin and bring Israel and the world back to ADONAI.

    Today, many Christians are afraid to hope for something, or say they have faith in the LORD to accomplish certain things in their lives for fear of disappointment. They are saying that ADONAI's power has no effect on their regular day-to-day life as they experience it. They are afraid to admit God into the equation of their lives because they don’t want to be disappointed, or even worse, be accused of lack of faith or sin in their lives by those like Job’s three “friends,” Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar! How do we respond? Can the LORD move mountains (Matthew 17:20)? Yes, but only if He chooses to do so. We cannot play God and order Him around. Because ADONAI stands outside of time, He knows what will be in our best interests. What we must actually believe is that when He says, “No,” it is for our benefit. We must really have faith that He loves us, even in the midst of a trial.

    Calling Zion’s children home involved, first, breaking the powers that holds them. So ADONAI asks rhetorically: Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce (49:24)? Then the LORD answers positively and Isaiah uses one of his many Hebrew wordplays to say, The taken thing will be taken from them. But this is what God says: Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce. I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save (49:25). No, from a human standpoint Israel will not be able to defeat the antichrist and the armies of the world. But that will not mean that her deliverance cannot occur. In the strongest possible figurative language the LORD makes the point that those who plundered His people will themselves be plundered.

    In graphic imagery, ADONAI makes the point that those who had once figuratively feasted on the blood and flesh of those whom they had conquered will then turn on themselves. I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine (49:26a). In no sense is God commanding cannibalism. He is simply illustrating the fact that those who violate His people will themselves be violated.

    Millions and millions of Gentiles will survive the Great Tribulation and will enter into the thousand year reign of Yeshua Messiah (Revelation 20:1-6). They will have one hundred years to either make a decision to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior or die (see Kg – The Wolf and the Lamb Will Eat Together, and the Lion Will Eat Straw Like the Ox). During that time all mankind will recognize who the LORD really is: Israel’s Savior, their Redeemer, and the Mighty One of Jacob (49:26b). Therefore, God’s eternal power and divine nature will be clearly seen, so they will be without excuse (Romans 1:20b). This concludes Chapter 49 and the mission of the Servant (see Hl - The Cone of Isaiah). His ultimate purpose is to bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles, and to bring about the final restoration of the Jewish nation.


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