The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 51

Isa 51:1

ROCK... QUARRY: The tomb in which Christ was buried, and from which he arose on the 3rd day -- this being the "birth" of the spiritual nation of Israel. From these "stones" God raises up "children" (Mat 3:9)!

Isa 51:2

ABRAHAM... SARAH: Poss // with v 1: Abraham = the rock, and Sarah = the pit. As if the two ends of the tunnel under Zion were named after these two characters, and their joining together was the salvation of Israel (Wordsworth, cited by WIsa 442)! And a ref also to spiritual Israel, the true children of Abraham and Sarah (Gal 3:29).

ONE... MANY: Out of one comes many! The cornerstone of God's call to Abraham: "I will make you into a great nation" (Gen 12:2). "I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted" (Gen 13:16). "You will be the father of many nations" (Gen 17:4,5). "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore" (Gen 22:17).

Isa 51:3

ZION: In the symbolism of this ch, Zion is equated with Sarah (as in Gal 4:22-31).

DESERTS... EDEN... WASTELANDS... GARDEN: Re Sarah, a picture of the barren woman becoming fruitful (Isa 54)! Similar also to Isa 40:1; 52:9.

Isa 51:6

HEAVENS WILL VANISH LIKE SMOKE...: The passing away of the old Mosaic system (Psa 102:26; Heb 1:12).

THE EARTH WILL WEAR OUT LIKE A GARMENT: To be replaced by an incomparably better garment -- Christ, whom believers may "put on" (Gal 3:27; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10).

Isa 51:9

ARM OF THE LORD: Isa 40:10; cp Isa 53:1; 63:5.

RAHAB: Sig lit "pride" or "boasting". (1) Egypt, in Psa 87:4; 89:10; Isa 30:7. (2) Apparently, a mythological sea-monster in Isa 51:9; Job 9:13; 26:12. Poss ref to the crocodile of the Nile, sym of proud Egypt and her gods. See Lesson, Rahab (Egypt). Poss ref to the chaos monster at the time of creation, to Egypt at the time of the Exodus, or to a fusion of both.

Isa 51:10

Isa 51:10

WHO MADE A ROAD IN THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA: Ref to the Exodus, and v 11 to the new Exodus, the return of the exiles from Babylon. See also Isa 35:9; 11:15,16.

Isa 51:11

EVERLASTING JOY WILL CROWN THEIR HEADS: Or, poss, their "Great Head", ie Christ! The Heb plural of greatness and majesty.

"Israel will sing the song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb, who will have given them such a mighty deliverance from all their enemies. Being now 'the ransomed of the Lord, they shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.' The prophet 'like unto Moses,' mightier than Joshua, and 'greater than Solomon', will conduct them into the Holy Land; and, having delivered to them the New Covenant, will 'settle them after their old estates.' Having 'wrought with them for his own name's sake,' and by them as his 'battle-axe and weapons of war' subdued the nations, and brought them to his holy mountain, he will 'accept them there,' and 'there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land,' as one nation and one kingdom under Shiloh 'serve the Lord God' " (Elp 405,406).

Isa 51:13

Do not forget that God -- the Creator of all things -- is always in control: cp Isa 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12. Thus all testing situations are put in their proper perspective.

Isa 51:16

I HAVE PUT MY WORDS IN YOUR MOUTH: Spoken of Moses (Deu 18:18), who brought about the first great deliverance from slavery.

HEAVENS... EARTH: The founding, or planting, of a new creation, patterned after Sinai (Exo 19:5,6).

Isa 51:17

AWAKE, AWAKE! RISE UP, O JERUSALEM: The city of Jerusalem awakes from the stupor of drunkenness, brought on by God's judgments (cp vv 21-23).

Isa 51:19

THESE DOUBLE CALAMITIES: In Hezekiah's day: Assyrian invasion AND the king's deadly disease!

RUIN AND DESTRUCTION, FAMINE AND SWORD: "The catalogue of sufferings... is hopelessly irrelevant to those who had had 70 years of settled prosperity in Babylon. And if the ref be to Jerusalem, then only the first of these 4 items was relevant in the time of Cyrus" (WIsa 446,447). But quite appropriate to what befell Israel and Judah in the days of Sennacherib and Hezekiah.

Isa 51:20

YOUR SONS HAVE FAINTED; THEY LIE AT THE HEAD OF EVERY STREET: Tragedy as repeated in Rev (Rev 11:8; cp Psa 79:2,3).

Isa 51:23

The death-warrant of Nineveh is signed by the prophet of the LORD.

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