The earlier posts (Isaiah 1 The Gospel of Isaiah, pt. 1 pt. 2 pt. 3 pt. 4 pt. 5 pt. 6 pt. 7 )will be a good preliminary for this post; Isaiah chapters 2-5 are a single prophecy, as I have mentione; a lot of the themes are quite the same throughout with each section of the prophecy giving further clarity to the overall message, which in a nutshell is: Messiah’s reign will come in ‘the last days,’ and the previous order of His temporal kingdom will be judged. These events have already taken place when Jesus came, and shortly thereafter. Before His death, Jesus Christ pronounced judgment on Jerusalem (Matt 23), which was the same judgment that Isaiah predicted (Isaiah 3); we know historically that both Isaiah’s prediction, and Christ’s pronouncement of judgment were fuflilled to a ‘T’ in thedestruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Even prior to Christ’s final pronouncement of judgment on Jerusalem, He quoted the parable of Isaiah from the first seven verses of this chapter. Just as Jesus quoted Isaiah at the outset of His earthly ministry, declaring Himself to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:17-21, so also He was declaring the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 2-5 (specifically the parable of Isaiah 5:1-7) to be taking place by quoting Isaiah 5 to the religious rulers.
Now, it is certain that not all of the prophecies of Isaiah are yet fulfilled as Isaiah prophesies both the first and final comings of Christ, yet it must also be realized that Isaiah’s prophecies (and those of the other prophets) are of Christ. Extracting Jesus Christ from these prophecies to see them an Old Testament promise of land (or anything else apart from Christ) is a misapprehension of the text (not to mention a clearly anti-Christ (removing Christ from something expressly speaking of Him)) interpretation. The land was promised to the natural seed of Abraham on the basis of the promise of the coming SEED of Abraham – that is: the land was necessary so that Christ could come, and the promise was on the basis of that. Once Christ came, He established not land, nor an earthly nation, but the kingdom of God in the hearts of men. YOU are the land of Israel if so be that you have been born again; YOU are the ‘holy land’; YOU are the habitable dwelling for Emmanuel (God with us), not an earthly government which rejects and rejected Messiah. The Old Testament promise of land (which perishes) was for the intention of sending Messiah, which purpose ended when He finnished His work. In the following verses Isaiah prophesies that in the last days, peoeple will look to the land… and makes clear the error of looking to the land in these last days.
The following passage is to a large degree the summary of what has already been discussed in the prophecy. As our focus is the Gospel revealed, I don’t want to skip over the ‘Good News’ [Gospel] portion of prophecy (mainly found in v.26-30), but not to denegrate the warning of judgment (which, while somber, is the more important for us because a great deception regarding earthly Israel is at current being promulgated [promoted] both in the church, and in the world) we will need also behold the example having gone before us. (‘Behold therefore [both] the goodness and severity of God…’ (Rom 11:22))
8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
Recall the context: preceeding these verses is the parable of the vineyard which speaks of he house of Israel. God is still speaking to the vineyard, and must therefore be speaking of Palestine. Here Isaiah begins speaking of the land, and of the Vineyard’s sense of entitlement to it; Joshua led the Israelites into the land, and alotted the whole of the land as family inheritance, so… were they not entitled to so fill the land that there be no place for anyone else than the Israelite families? But Isaiah says: ‘Woe to them’ that take up and utterly fill the land ‘that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.’ Hopefully I won’t strike the bell of controversy too hard when I point out that Isaiah is describing a scenerio which is clearly also a modern political reality in the land of Palestine (in case you missed it, Trump recently signed an executive order forbidding free speech on the matter at university campuses; are the laws of the world’s governments begining to forbid the message of the prophets – or discussing their implications – yet?)
According to the book of Hebrews Joshua’s ministry (the allotment of land) did not fulfill the promise to begin with:
Hebrews 4:8-11 – For if Joshua [KJV transliterating the Greek form reads ‘Jesus’] had given them [the people of God] rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. [i.e. the ministry of Joshua in the distribution of land DOES NOT FULFILL THE REST OF GOD.] 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. [The land was only a foreshadowing of the True rest of God.] 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. [It is only after the Messiah (whom Joshua prophetically signified) entered into His rest that we could enter into rest with Him – spiritual/heavenly, not earthly/land.] 11 Let us labor herefore to enter into that rest, lest we fall under the same example of unbelief.
Those that did not enter the land were an example of those who did not attain salvation. Its a prophetic type because obviously, land is not salvation. Isaiah points out that those whose goal is to fill the land have lost the point, as though the land itself were their salvation. Isaiah said woe to them.
9 In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah.
Reliance on the land will not yield results, but poverty. The land holds no salvation, and looking to it as such will not yield help.
11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.
A common issue to man in place and time of security is complacency; rather than continuing to look to the Lord in a blessed, or happy situation, if we see the natural blessings themself as having ‘arrived,’ rather than continuing to labor to enter into the rest of God we fall into this complacency, and begin to pursue pleasure.
13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
The people go into captivity because they have no knowledge: they thought the land was the purpose of God, rather than eternal salvation for their souls. As I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, the sanhedrin decided to kill Jesus because they wanted to preserve the land (John 11:48); the land was an idol they wanted more than Messiah.
14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
The destruction of Jerusalem was decreed by Christ (Matt 23:37-39), who is justified in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
‘The lambs shall feed after their manner’ when the Lord would mete out judgment, those who followed Him would be fed in the inheritance of the kingdom. The land would be [and was] consumed by strangers.
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
Here is a mockery described of Christ, a mockery made in every age of His physical absence, but even also in His presence. Compare the above verse with the ridicule cast at Christ by the chief priests at the cross: ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. (Matt 27:42)
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
These things they did by degrees through the course of Christ’s ministry until in the end they decided to kill Him.
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
These are things that Christ decried the judges of His day for. In the end they proved it true by doing literally this in that they released Barrabas, and strove to paint Jesus a criminal.
24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
They cast away the law for the traditions of men, and the spirit of the law for legalism, and fully despised the word of Messiah.
25 Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Here he says that even after the initial destruction of the land, His hand remains stretched out against them. There again, this is on the basis of the rejection of Messiah, who declared the judgment: ‘Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ That is, His hand is stretched out until we recieve the Messiah. This is true of all mankind, we are of the race (humanity) of those who murdered Jesus, we must recieve Christ, and until we do we are enemies of God.
26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
Verses 26-29 have a double meaning. Just as Christ’s coming was judgment to the religious system founded in his name, it was also the establishment of the kingdom of God in the earth: the implementation of the establishment of Christ’s reign. These verses on the one hand signify the judgment of God by foreigners on the earthly nation of Israel. But they also declare that God will call the nations of the earth to Himself who will become a mighty spiritul army of Christ’s kingdom. He raised up the ensign of the cross, and called the gentiles to Himself; in Christ’s own words from His retelling of Isaiah’s parable: ‘The kingdom of God shall be… given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.’ (Matt 21:43)
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
Here again, Isaiah points out the error of the land; this portion of the prophecy (5:8-30) has shown the error, and pitfalls of seeing the land as the inheritance rather than salvation; the implication of the prophecy is that it would lead to complacency that would result in rejection of Messiah. Interesting, as we have already seen that these were the very dynamics which led to their ultimate decision to kill Jesus.
Recall that the begining of this prophecy speaks of the establishment of New Jerusalem (Is 2:1-4), using typological language for Christ’s spiritual kingdom. Interestingly he rounds off the prophecy with this clear warning that the meaning of the prophecy IS NOT LAND. He is not prophesying that the Jews will return to Israel, he is prophesying that earthly Jerusalem will be destroyed, and that the Messiah will establish His heavenly kingdom.
Those who look to the land – according to Isaiah – will inherit only darkness and sorrow. Believe that the spiritual kingdom is in the land? No, according to the prophet even the light in the heavens of it are darkened. If Isaiah is a prophet, don’t go looking for miracles in the ‘holy land.’ Jesus Christ in YOU is the only hope of glory (Col 1:27).