The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 50 Part 1

Isaiah

We go on to a short portion: Isaiah 50:1-3

In order to make the right decisions or choices we must rely upon G-d’s truth – His Word. Our decisions have eternal consequences – either for joy or for sorrow. 

In this chapter (which many see as a Messianic chapter) G-d uses a symbol. He speaks about His covenantal relationship with the children of Israel as a marriage. This is not a literal marriage but is spoken of symbolically. In this chapter we also need to deal with the subject of divorce. In Biblical Hebrew the word for divorce is made up of two words. The first word is the word for a book or a document. The second word has to do with the concept of cutting off, cutting apart or disavowing. It is literally a document of annulment. According to the Torah, if a man divorces a woman and she marries another it is then forbidden for that woman to be reunited in a marriage covenant again with her original husband (Deut 24:1-4).

In Jeremiah 3:8-25 we are told that G-d gave Israel a divorce decree, but shortly thereafter G-d is imploring Israel to return to Him and He will receive her. This would not be allowed according to Deuteronomy. G-d, however, is using this concept of marriage and divorce between Him and Israel symbolically. In Isaiah 50 G-d is speaking about the divorce decree, but He is asking Israel where their one is – they never literally got one. 

v1: Where is the certificate of…divorce: This certificate would not be found, as Isaiah is implying that there was none. 

  • Your mother: This is referring to the children of Israel who were in the previous generation. Prophetically the exile had already happened (from G-d’s perspective, although it had not yet happened from a human perspective in Isaiah’s day) and G-d is speaking to those in the exile who are of the younger generation – it is time for them to leave Babylon and go back to Judah. This younger (future) generation needs to renew their covenantal relationship with G-d. 
  • Which…To whom I have sold you: Biblical slavery (being a bond servant) is very different to the concept of slavery that we know today. People in Israel were sold as slaves to pay off a debt that they could not pay. They had to then be indentured servants for a maximum period of six years. In the seventh year they could go free (Ex 21:1-11). A contract with the creditor was put into place, with the terms of agreement stipulated, before the service of the bond slave began. Did G-d have an agreement with Babylon? Had He sold His people to them? Absolutely not! No such document was in place. 
  • Your iniquities…your transgression: This was their problem. This is what caused them to be separated from G-d – not a document or a contract. 
  • Sold…put (sent) away: Although the children of Israel went into exile, and there seemed to be a breach in their relationship with G-d, G-d never totally forsook His people (Ezekiel 11:16-20). There was always an expectation that G-d and the children of Israel would be reconciled, and that the children would be brought back to the land of Israel. 

v2: This verse speaks of G-d and His work of redemption. In many ways, what G-d said to the people in exile is the same message He has for the Jewish people in the last days. 

  • Why: G-d uses this word to introduce a question. He wants the people to think about something. To think of an answer. 
  • When I came: Although this was written before the birth of Yeshua, many scholars see this as referring to His first coming and to the work that He did.
  • Why…was there no man: People did not respond to or receive Yeshua in the way that they should have. Yeshua’s work of redemption and salvation was, not totally but for the most part, ignored by the Jewish people. 
  • Cannot redeem…no power to deliver: G-d wants to know if they did not respond to Him because they thought He was inadequate. 
  • Deliver: To rescue, to save. 
  • With My rebuke (punishment) I dry up the sea: The people need to reconsider and think about what G-d has done and what He can actually do. The people need to remember that G-d has great power, and His power can bring about great change. G-d can dry up rivers, but He also has the power to restore. 

v3: Clothe the heavens with blackness: Many commentators see this as referring to the time when Yeshua was crucified on the cross (Matt 27:45 – the sixth hour was noon time, the ninth hour was 15h00). This darkness was, like sackcloth, for the purpose of saying that repentance was being done. 

  • Sackcloth: An image of the call to repentance.

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