10/08/2015

God's Ultimate Purpose for His People (Isaiah 27)

Isaiah 27:2-13

"In days to come, Jacob will take root. Israel will blossom and bloom and fill the whole world with fruit" (Isa 27:6, HCSB).

Isaiah 27 closes this section (ch.24-27--the triumph of God over the nations). It summarizes and illustrates God's sovereignty regarding Israel and the nations. The result of God's sovereignty will be redemption. In contrast to the earlier songs in this section (Isa 24:9; 25:5; 26:1), 27:2-13 is more personal and intimate. It praises God for delivering his people. Isaiah 24 and 25--the first two songs--declare universal judgment and universal salvation. It is hyperbole to emphasize the point regarding God's universal judgment and salvation. In Isaiah 26--the third song--the people proclaim their trust in God, and also confess their inability to deliver themselves and fulfill their ministry in the world. In Isaiah 27, God confirms his promise to deliver them. God himself is the singer of this final song of the apocalypse. His people sing to him (Isa 24:14-16; 25:1-5; 26:1-6), and now he sings over them. The Lord and his people are one, and their joy is complete (Zep 3:17).


As ch.24-27 draw to a close, Israel comes back into focus as the nation which stands at the center of God's purposes for the world (Ex 19:5-6) as summed up in Isa 27:6, which is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (Gen 12:2-3). This notion is basic to the whole book of Isaiah: God has a plan which embraces all nations, and Israel is destined to play a central role in that plan. But before it can fulfill its calling it must be cleansed.
  1. The Lord's vineyard (2-6): The vineyard people. The future.
  2. Cleansing versus destruction (7-11): The work of the Lord. Destruction of the Lord's enemies. The present.
  3. Restoration (12-13): The jubilee harvest, the great trumpet. Return from the nations. Summary conclusion of ch.24-27. The future.
27:2-6 matches the vineyard song of 5:1-7. In both songs/passages the vineyard is Israel and the farmer is God. In 5:1-7 the emphasis was on what Israel, the Lord's people made of his vineyard. In 27:2-6 it is on what the Lord will make of his people. They are also a contrast in that in 5:1-7, the farmer (God) abandoned the vineyard (Israel) to the wild, while in 27:2-6 God has not forsaken her utterly. His care for her has never ceased and now flows unimpeded. This expresses a fundamental truth for all times: God's wrath and judgment never supersedes his care. Behind the wrath the care continues unabated. It requires only repentance and change of heart to experience it again.

27:7-11, in contrast to 27:2-6 jolt us back, in Isaiah's characteristic fashion, to present realities. She was in the midst of the cleasing process, when the Lord had broken down the wall of the vineyard and allowed it to be overrun, as graphically described in Isa 1:6-8. This goes back to the painful waiting period because of the judgment (cleansing) of God, which so much of Isaiah 26 takes up. Three things are said about this judgment:
  1. It is less severe than what God had exercised against Judah's enemies (Isa 27:7).
  2. It is carefully controlled (Isa 27:8), with no more severity than is required to achieve the desired end.
  3. That end is atonement--the removal of what is offensive to God so that forgiveness can become possible (Isa 27:9).
All the strands of this major segment of Isaiah converge on a single point: worship--God being acknowledged for who he is. Such worship is not an escape from reality but a return to it, and it is in returning to reality that the world, so long out of joint, will finally be made whole (Isa 66:22-23).