“The spirit of my Lord YHWH is upon me, because YHWH anointed me to declare good news to the meek. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the ones bound; to proclaim the year of YHWH’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all those who mourn, to provide for those mourning Zion, to give them beauty instead of ash, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a despondent spirit.”1
Who is speaking here? It is surely the same “one whom the nation abhorred” spoken of earlier by Isaiah, to whom YHWH said: “In a time of favor I have answered you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you,” the one who was given “for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, and to reapportion the allotted inheritances of the desolated ones.” 2
This anointed one has a message with many purposes, but it is focused on “the year of YHWH’s favor” and “the day of vengeance of our God.” And now Isaiah describes the ones who listen to this servant’s message:
“And they will be called rams of righteousness, the planting of YHWH, so he can show his beauty. And they will build the deserted places of old, and they will raise up the formerly desolated places, and they will repair the deserted cities, those that lay desolate for generation after generation.
And foreigners will stand and feed your flock, and sons of a foreigner will be your farmers and vinedressers. And you will be called priests of YHWH. They will call you ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their glory you will boast.” 3
These are the remnant of Israel, those who listen to YHWH’s anointed one. Here is an indication that the nature of the priesthood has changed, for all of them are called “priests of YHWH” and “ministers of our God.” Either the priesthood is no longer through Levi, or these ones are priests in a different manner, just as YHWH’s despised servant becomes a priest, but in a manner that is beyond the Law covenant. They are a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” led by YHWH’s anointed one.
Isaiah continues: “Instead of your shame, a double portion; and for dishonor they will rejoice in their portion. Therefore, in their land, they will possess a double portion. Everlasting joy will be theirs. For I, YHWH, love judgment and hate robbery as a burnt offering.
And I will give their wages in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their offspring will be known among the nations, and their children in the midst of the peoples. Everyone seeing them will recognize them, that they are the offspring blessed by YHWH.” 4
What is this “everlasting covenant” YHWH makes with them? For the law covenant has already been made with their ancestors. It must be the same covenant that YHWH spoke of a little earlier, that YHWH’s spirit and words would not be removed from them or their offspring, “from now on and forever.”
They are the remnant, the people made up of YHWH’s chosen ones, and their offspring, led by the redeemer, YHWH’s anointed servant.
And now it seems as if one of the remnant speaks: “I will greatly rejoice in YHWH. My soul will be joyful in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation. He covers me with a robe of righteousness, like the bridegroom making himself priestly in his beauty, and like the bride adorning herself with her adornments.” 5
These ones do not dress in garments of violence, but in a symbolic sense they wear clothing like a priest and also like a bride. And now Zion herself is glorified, and becomes “married” to her children:
“No more will it be said that you are forsaken, and no more will it be said that your land is a desolation. For you will be called ‘My Delight Is In Her,’ and your land ‘Married.’ For YHWH will take delight in you, and your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, your sons will marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, YHWH will rejoice over you.” 6
And now YHWH swears “by his right hand,” and “by the arm of his strength” that no more will Zion’s enemies take her food or foreigners her wine.7 But what is missing from this beautiful picture? Zion is still missing her king!
But YHWH says to her: “Look! YHWH has proclaimed to the ends of the earth: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look! Your salvation is coming. Look! His reward is with him, and the wage he pays is before him.’’” 8
By this point, YHWH’s message regarding Zion’s salvation has been proclaimed “to the ends of the earth,” so that even Gentiles can marvel when her salvation arrives. And here, even Gentiles are commanded by YHWH to say to the daughter of Zion, “Look! Your salvation is coming.”
As for the one coming, YHWH says: “Look! His reward is with him, and the wage he pays is before him.” This exact phrase is used just twice in the book of Isaiah. The first time, it was used to describe YHWH’s arm that would rule for him.9 It was said to come “like a shepherd” who “will feed his flock.” But now, the second time the phrase is used, YHWH’s arm is about to come with vengeance for Zion!