Letter To The Jews / Chapter 33

previous chapter | next chapter
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

33: The Day Of Vengeance

And now, Isaiah sees something even more remarkable. He does not recognize what he sees, and so has to ask, “Who is this?”

“’Who is this coming from Edom, with fermented garments from Bozrah; this one in his glorious clothing, marching with great power?’

‘It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty in saving.’

‘Why is your clothing red, and your garments like one treading in the winepress?’

‘I have trodden the winepress alone, and there was no man with me from the peoples. I tread them in my anger, and trample them in my fury, and their strength is spattering on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing.’” 1

This must be YHWH’s means of salvation, his anointed servant. He is the one who has YHWH’s words in his mouth, and so speaks in righteousness. It is he who would be “mighty in saving,” even a “Mighty God.”

This redeemer continues by saying: ”For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed ones has come. And I looked, but there was no one helping, and I was appalled that there was no one offering support. So my own arm brought salvation for me, and my own fury, it supported me. And I trampled the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my fury, and brought down their strength to the earth.” 2

Once again, just when salvation is needed the most, there is “no one offering support.” This is unusual, considering Israel is awaiting her king, unless the language is meant to convey that Zion cannot save herself here.

Perhaps there is also something cryptic being suggested. For this theme of “no man” seems to have been developed by YHWH through Isaiah. There was “no man” when YHWH came to Zion, but then a man spoke, a man who gave his back to the ones striking, and his cheeks to the ones plucking at his beard.

There was also “no man” when the people were full of sin and injustice, and so YHWH’s “arm” put on armor and became YHWH’s salvation, even in the form of a man, the despised servant, the “man of pains.”

And now, in a final scene of Zion’s salvation by YHWH’s arm, there is “no man with me from the peoples.” And yet, in the grand finale to Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, he sees a “son of man” who comes on the clouds, and all nations serve him. If this is the same one who comes from Edom, then it is no wonder that no man is with him; for men cannot naturally reach up into the clouds unless they have been brought there by YHWH!

We can recall that YHWH’s despised servant was said to “spatter many nations.” While this may be a reference to his own blood being used to validate the “covenant of the people,” this one from Edom is also spattering peoples by trampling them down! He is “coming from Edom,” because he has just finished trampling it.

In this particular prophecy, “Edom” and “Bozrah” are probably symbols for the whole people who are trampled, because “Edom” means “red,” the same color as this one’s clothing, and “Bozrah” has been variously interpreted to mean “sheepfold,” “fortress” or even “unapproachable place.” Certainly, if he were trampling them from heaven, it would be an unapproachable place for other humans.

A parallel vision seen earlier by Isaiah, to confirm the truth and certainty of this later vision, also suggests that “Edom” in the “day of vengeance” is something more than just the ancient nation of Edom:

“For the anger of YHWH is upon all the Gentiles, and his fury is against all their army. He will devote them to destruction and give them to the slaughter.”

And again: “All the army of the heavens will rot away, and the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll, and all their army will fall, like the leaf falls from the vine, and as the falling from a fig tree. For in the heavens my sword will be drenched. Look! It will descend upon Edom, and on the people devoted by me to judgment.”

And again: “For it is the day of vengeance of YHWH, and the year of repayments for the cause of Zion.” 3

Since YHWH’s anger “is upon all the Gentiles” in this vision, it seems likely that “Edom” here is a symbol for all the people who come against Zion, and Edom was chosen as the symbol because it bordered Israel, and it means “red.” The word is also similar to “Adam,” and so perhaps Edom represents all the sons of Adam who fight against YHWH and his people in the “day of vengeance.”

That YHWH’s sword is drenched in the heavens, and descends upon Edom, would again fit with why there is “no man” with him from the people. This is action from heaven, perhaps by the “son of man” who is YHWH’s arm.

After talking about the one from Edom, Isaiah gives a further clue as to the identity of this one who is “mighty in saving.”

“In all of their affliction he was afflicted, and the messenger of his presence saved them. In his love and in his mercy he redeems them, and he bears them and carries them all the days of eternity.” 4

Isaiah seems to be suggesting that the one from Edom may also be the same “messenger of his presence” who redeems YHWH’s people.

Now, let us compare all of this with Jacob’s prophecy, given while he was on his deathbed, in reference to Judah:

“As for you Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. The sons of your father will bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub. From the prey, my son, you go up. He crouches and sits like a lion, and like a lioness, who will rouse him?

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the lawmaker’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and for him is the hope of peoples. Tying his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he will wash his garments in wine, and his robe in the blood of grapes. Dark red are his eyes from wine, and white are his teeth from milk.” 5

While this is a prophecy about the whole tribe of Judah, its focus is on the Messiah, the king, cryptically called “Shiloh.” Like Joseph, who had a dream that implied his brothers would bow down to him, the sons of Jacob would bow down to this one.

It indicates the timing of his appearance when it says the lawmaker’s staff will not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes, which staff departed at the nation’s destruction by the Romans.

The prophecy also focuses on two key aspects of the Messiah. He ties his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, which is fulfilled when the king comes on a donkey; and he washes his garments in wine, fulfilled when he tramples the winepress of Edom on YHWH’s behalf. The prophecy suggests it is the same person who does both.

1 Isaiah 63:1-3. 2 Isaiah 63:4-6. 3 Isaiah 34:2,4,5,8. 4 Isaiah 63:9. 5 Genesis 49:8-12.

previous chapter | next chapter
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Download And Share In PDF Format