Awake, Awake, O Zion,

Put on Your Garments of Splendor

52: 1-6

   DIG: What is the context of these verses? Why did Zion need to be aroused? When will Jerusalem be pure and undefiled? When will the uncircumcised and defiled never enter Jerusalem again? When is the only time that Zion can be clothed with strength? When will she put on her holy garments of splendor? What are the promises given to Israel here? When will she truly know the name of the LORD?

   REFLECT: What spiritual awakening have you had lately? In what sense are you clothed with the strength of the LORD today? As a believer, do you wear a robe of righteousness (61:10)? How are you freed from the chains of sin? What does it mean to have an uncircumcised heart (see Romans 2:28-29a)? What is the root problem of an uncircumcised heart? Is your heart, circumcised or uncircumcised? How do you know? What can you do about that?

    Chapter 52 is a far eschatological prophecy to the believing remnant living at the end of the Great Tribulation. The context (especially the next file Ix - How Beautiful on the Mountains are the Feet of Those Who Bring Good News), and content drives our interpretation. We see that the uncircumcised and the defiled will never enter her again (51:1). When will Isra'el be pure and undefiled? It certainly did not happen when she returned from the Babylonian Captivity, nor did it happen when Isra'el rejected Messiah on the grounds of demon possession (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Ek – It is only by Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons, that This Fellow Drives Out Demons). And it definitely is not true today as Isra'el is a secular nation. No, Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (see my commentary on Revelation An – The Times of the Gentiles). The time of Gentile domination over Jerusalem began when the Babylonians defeated the City and then took the nation into captivity in 586 BC. Jerusalem will once again fall under Gentile domination in the Great Tribulation (Zechariah 14:1-2).209 Consequently, the faithful remnant will be comforted when they look to their ultimate deliverance in the messianic Kingdom.

    The context of these verses reveals the death of the Servant on the cross, and as a result, Israel’s national confession at the end of the Great Tribulation (53:1-9). Consequently, we need to consider the question, “When will all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God” (52:10)? This can only be at the Second Coming.

    The call will go out to the believing remnant to awake and use His strength for their deliverance. Five actions are required of her as she awakens from her spiritual sleep. First, awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength (52:1a). Jerusalem needed to awake not only because the antichrist and the armies of the world were destroying them, but they needed to be encouraged with the reality that very soon they would be freshly clothed with strength and new garments of splendor. We can be confident of our interpretation because this command would not have been very encouraging to the exiles returning from the Babylonian Captivity. The reality of it could never happen in their lifetime. However, that believing remnant of the end times will be desperate for this message.

    Secondly, put on your (holy NKJ) garments of splendor (52:1b). Israel was pictured sitting in sackcloth and ashes in a state of mourning. The ideal of a priestly people had never been realized (Exodus 33:26; Numbers 8:5-22), but, on awakening she found her priestly garments of splendor laid out for her (Exodus 28:2). Isaiah calls Jerusalem the holy city. The requirements of God’s holiness were met in 51:17-23; now the divine holiness of ADONAI is shared with His people. We learn more about these holy garments of splendor later in the book when reading about the restoration of Israel. There she says: I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness (61:10a). These holy garments could only be put on a holy people, and that can only happen after Israel’s national confession of sin (53:1-9), her regeneration and entrance into the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-6).

    Thirdly, he says to shake off your dust (52:2a). This meant to stop mourning. Dust on one’s head was a sign of mourning (Job 2:12). The mourner is exhorted to rise from the dust and take a higher position; not to sit down again in the dust. The language seems to embrace the idea of a throne, or a high seat. The mourning was to be changed to rejoicing.210

    Fourthly, rise up and sit enthroned (52:2b). Instead of being called to sit down in the dust as Babylon had (47:1), the Daughter of Zion will be called to rise up from it. The Targum reading, “sit on a throne of glory,” probably catches the essence of what is intended. Babylon will have to go down from the throne to sit in the dust, but Jerusalem will rise from the dust to sit on the throne.

    And fifthly, she will need to free herself from the chains on her neck, O captive Daughter of Zion (52:2c). Although Zion’s deliverance is entirely the work of ADONAI and not her own, she is not merely an observer. Those whom the LORD calls must exercise their own will and effort in response to what God has already done on their behalf, as this verse makes plain. Jerusalem is not merely lifted from the dust, but is called to get herself up and shake the dust off. In addition, she must free herself from the chains on her neck. We cannot break the chains that bind us, only the LORD can do that. But after the chains are broken, we must remove them, and only we can do that. This is the crucial moment in any recovery; the moment when we stop seeing ourselves as a captive, that is, a victim, a helpless molecule traveling down the river of life, and begin to realize that the LORD has placed an opportunity before us that we may take hold of, if we dare.

    As far as Jerusalem is concerned, today the Arab is there. Many of the sacred spots are covered with churches – Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and the Church of All Nations – they are all over the place! But Jerusalem needs to be freed from religion, and released from her own sin. For twenty-five hundred years Jerusalem has been trampled on by the Gentiles, but a Day is coming when the chains on her neck will be removed. It will come during the Messianic Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6).

    The result will be that the uncircumcised and defiled will not enter Jerusalem again (52:1c). Uncleanness will finally be a matter of the spirit, not the flesh. Israel’s problem was much more than the persecution in the second half of the Great Tribulation; that was a result. The root problem was sin, or having an uncircumcised heart. This is what the arm of the LORD would deliver them from. No, if they were going to be a holy people living in the holy City, something must happen to cure them of their rebellion and uncleanness (Revelation 21:27).

    As important as circumcision was to the Jews, the Apostle Paul reminds us that it was only an outward symbol. It was a constant reminder of their sinfulness and obligation to obey the Torah (Galatians 5:3). The prophets had made it clear that mere physical circumcision had no spiritual power or benefit (Jeremiah 9:25-26); disobedient circumcised Jews were under the same judgment as uncircumcised Gentiles (Romans 2:26-27).

    Paul said that the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly; true circumcision is not only external and physical. On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly and; true circumcision is of the heart, by the Holy Spirit, not some written code (Romans 2:28-29a). Only those Jews and Gentiles with circumcised hearts by the Holy Spirit would be allowed to enter Jerusalem during the Messianic Kingdom. This could only happen with the redemption of Israel (see my commentary on Exodus Bz - Redemption).

    As stated above, this is a far eschatological prophecy to the last Jewish generation before the coming of Yeshua Messiah and points to their ultimate redemption. For this is what the LORD says: You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed (52:3). Earlier ADONAI said that she was sold, but not for money. Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of My creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away (50:1). Israel had been complaining that the LORD had divorced her and sold her into slavery. But ADONAI said that was not true. If there was a divorce, produce a certificate of divorce. There wasn’t any. Furthermore, according to the Torah, if a man got into debt he could sell his sons into slavery to pay it off. But to whom was the LORD indebted? No one. God owed money to no one. The Jews were sent into captivity because of their sin. Because of your sins you were sold. That was the background here. Isra'el was sold for nothing and God gained nothing financially. In the same way, it will be without money that Isra'el will be redeemed (35:9b-10). He does not say how they will be redeemed (That will be his theme in the next chapter. It will be by the death of the suffering Servant of the LORD).

    Then ADONAI briefly reviews the history of the nation in slavery. For this is what Adonai ELOHIM says: Long ago My people went down to Egypt to live there as aliens and more recently (in Isaiah’s lifetime) Assyria had conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel and oppressed them (52:4 CJB). The point is clear that if in the beginning of her history God delivered them from Egypt when they had gone there of their own free will, how much more likely will He be to deliver them from the antichrist when they were being taken against their own will.

    Two things move ADONAI: the misery of His people and the honor of His name. “And now what do I do in this situation?” declares the LORD. For My people have been taken away by force and without cause, and those who rule them mock” (52:5a). What hurts them hurts Him. Now an even greater power, the antichrist and the forces of Satan, rule over and mock her. And all day long My name is constantly blasphemed (52:5b). It will seem to the watching world that Israel’s belief in ADONAI was a rip-off. Either He wasn’t even real or He had been forced by superior gods to surrender His people. This is the same point Ezekiel 36:19-20 makes; God’s reputation, His name, is blasphemed because of His clear inability to protect His own. The seriousness of the contempt is emphasized by its continual nature: all day long. But the allegations will be false. ADONAI had not failed His people and their pain was not the result of His inability to deliver them. Hence the opening question of this verse: And now what do I do in this situation? The LORD’s response is expressed in two statements of consequence, both prefaced with the word therefore.

    Therefore, My people will know My name (52:6a). Like the exodus, ADONAI will show His power in the face of His enemy; then, with Pharaoh, in the Great Tribulation, with the antichrist. He will do so in a way that the truth of His character and His nature cannot be missed. Although Ezekiel is more specific about what the LORD will do to honor His name, the point is exactly the same (Ezekiel 36:21-32). The evidence will need to be displayed in the life of Isra'el. This was not true on her return from the Babylonian Captivity, nor is it true now. Today Isra'el is a secular society and ADONAI is not generally reflected in the lifestyle of her people. Those who love Yeshua Messiah are the exception, rather than the rule. But during the messianic Kingdom, all His people will know His name.

    Therefore, on that Day they will know that I, the one speaking - here I Am (52:6b CJB). The repetition of therefore expresses emotional intensity. At the exodus, the LORD sent Moses as a mediator to speak for Him, but in this coming Day He Himself will speak for Himself. This world has rejected Jesus. It doesn’t know Him. But one day He will say to this Christ-rejecting world: Here I Am, and it will be to late for the multitudes that have rejected Him (see my commentary on Revelation By – The Rapture of the Church). They will have to go through the wrath of the Great Tribulation.


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