Isaiah 61-63

Isaiah 61-63…The Servant of the Lord

The Messiah must come as the ideal Israel, fulfilling Israel’s vocation to be a light to the world, dying an atoning death for His people, and rising again to rule creation in perfect righteousness (Isa. 9:6–7; 42:1–7; 49:1–7; 52:13–53:12). Isaiah 61 reinforces this point in its first-person description of the one who comes “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor” (61:1–3). Although some commentators have said otherwise, the speaker cannot be the prophet himself. Isaiah nowhere else describes himself in such lofty terms or in a manner that ascribes the same kind of authority to himself as the preacher here. More importantly, there are numerous conceptual similarities between the figure of Isaiah 61:1–3 and the messianic figure described elsewhere by the prophet. Consider, for example, the parallels between the preacher of Isaiah 61 and the Davidic king of Isaiah 11. The Spirit of the Lord rests upon both individuals (11:2; 61:1). Righteousness adorns the Son of Jesse in 11:5, and in 61:3, the preacher’s work effects righteousness in the people. Both figures speak words of immense power (11:4; 61:2).

We have, then, in Isaiah 61, what one commentator describes as the “climactic representation” of the Servant of the Lord. This Servant is the ideal Israel, the Davidic Messiah who frees His people not only from the captivity of human enemies but that of sin and death. In so doing, He gives eternal beauty to His own (61:3).

Isaiah 61:3 indicates that one result of the Messiah’s work is to make His people “oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD.” This is an image of permanence, of life in God’s presence forever. John Calvin comments, “There is no other way in which we are restored to life than when we are planted by the Lord.” If we trust in Christ, we are planted in righteousness forever, and will be preserved by His hand for the sake of His eternal glory.

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Joshua 10-12

Joshua 10-12…Various conquests of Israel.

Gibeon was an important city in the days of Joshua, but even its rulers knew from the destruction of Ai and Jericho that they were no match for the Lord. Yet since the other kings of Canaan beyond the Jordan had formed an alliance against the Israelites, they feared the loss of Gibeon’s might and took steps to regain it. So the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon went up against Gibeon to regain the city for the Canaanite inhabitants.

What followed was a great battle between the forces of Joshua and the Canaanites, a battle in which the Lord intervened on behalf of Israel. Having defeated their enemies, Joshua and the Israelites then put their feet on the necks of the defeated kings as a symbol of their utter subjugation and defeat before putting them to death.

The events of this chapter and the rage of the Canaanites against God and His people call to mind Psalm 2 and its description of the kings of the earth warring against the anointed Davidic ruler. That anyone would think he could successfully fight the Almighty is foolish indeed, so the Lord laughs each time the arrogance of mankind displays itself in that manner. God has pledged to give the nations to the son of David as his heritage and the ends of the earth as his possession.

This psalm is fulfilled ultimately in the son of David who is also the only begotten Son of God. Like Joshua, He will put His feet on the necks of His enemies who will all submit to Him whether they want to or not. Some will honor the Son willingly and find refuge in Him, others will be forced into submission with His rod of iron, but all people will bow to the King of kings and Lord of lords (Phil. 2:10).