The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 51 Part 1

Isaiah

Our last portion for this week: Isaiah 51:1-6

In this chapter G-d begins to address His people in a very specific manner – and He does so by giving them commandments. Many believers are not interested in the commandments as they think that they belong exclusively to the Old Testament. Yeshua, however, gave numerous commandments to His disciples, as did Paul, Peter etc to the New Testament churches. This is a very important principle: the commandments position us in G-d’s will. If we are not in G-d’s will, and doing His will, then we cannot expect to be the recipients of His blessings. 

v1 (literally): “Listen to Me, pursuers of righteousness, you who seek the L-rd; Look unto the rock from which you were hewn, and to the puncturing of the cistern that was dug up.”

  • Listen to Me: This is the first commandment that we come across in this chapter. If we are pursuing righteousness (or seeking the L-rd), this is a commandment that we should heed. 
  • Pursuers of righteousness: What are we chasing after in our lives? Are we pursuing righteousness? In the Scripture there is an inherent relationship between G-d’s will and righteousness. When we walk in truth, we will be doing righteousness. When we submit to the anointing of the Holy Spirit we walk in the spirit of righteousness. 
  • Pursuers of righteousness, you who seek the L-rd: One of the main characteristics of Hebrew poetry (and frequently prophecy is written poetically) is parallelism. These two phrases (pursuers of righteousness and seekers of the L-rd) are parallel to one another. This means that if we are seeking G-d, we will be pursuing righteousness.  
  • Look unto the rock: This is the second commandment in this passage. This phrase is speaking about understanding our foundation as the people of G-d. 
  • Puncturing: The entrance or the hole (the beginning place)
  • Cistern: The place where water was kept. Water, so frequently in the Scripture, is a reference to G-d’s blessing. 
  • Look unto the rock from which you were hewn, and to the puncturing of the cistern that was dug up: G-d wants us to understand our history – the foundation of G-d’s work with His people (this is borne out within the context). 

v2: (Look to the rock)…Look to Abraham: These are parallel concepts. 

  • Abraham your father: Abraham was indeed the foundation (the beginning) of the Jewish people. 
  • I called him alone: Abraham was just one man. He was the one who believed in G-d and his faith brought him into a covenantal relationship with G-d. Being in relationship with G-d gave Abraham a call. As he pursued that call, he walked towards G-d’s blessing – becoming a recipient of the promises of G-d. The Jewish nation began with only this one faith filled man and his wife. 

Note: Like Abraham we are called to seek G-d and to pursue righteousness. We need to understand the foundation from which we have come (Eph 2:20). We need to walk in that same faith that Abraham displayed.   

v3: The L-rd will comfort Zion: The Jewish people lived in a time of uncertainly during Isaiah’s lifetime. The northern kingdom (Israel) had already been taken captive by the Assyrians and those in Judah were also on the brink of exile. G-d, however, promised that He was going to restore them and comfort them. 

  • Zion: A Kingdom word. It is a word of promise and a word of a future hope. 
  • Comfort: When Yeshua began His earthly ministry, He left Nazareth and relocated to Kfar Nahum (Capernaum – village of comfort). The word used here for ‘comfort’ is a word that speaks of G-d being comforted. When G-d brings about a restoration (moving in the lives of His people) He is going to be comforted. In Judah’s current condition they were headed toward exile (not toward a Kingdom reality), but G-d is encouraging them to have faith through this time. G-d has promised them a restoration and that they could get through the exile if they had hope, if they could cling to the promises of G-d. 
  • Waste places: Ruins. The cities and the countryside were destroyed and desolate, but G-d was going to restore even these. 
  • Make her wilderness like Eden: The desert is going to become a place of fruitfulness – a place that resembles the garden of Eden. 
  • It: Referring to Zion (in G-d’s Kingdom). 
  • Voice of melody: Singing. Praise. 

v4: My people: In Isaiah 51:1 we read that G-d’s people are those who know that the way to seek G-d is by pursuing righteousness.

  • Give ear: In Hebrew three primary words for listening are used in this passage. Each word alludes to a slightly different aspect as far as listening or hearing is concerned. To ‘listen’ (in Isaiah 51:1) means to hear and to respond, to the word spoken, by faith. The second word used regarding listening is used in this verse. This is a word that means to pay attention – to gather understanding of the revelation that is being spoken. The third word used here in regard to listening (giving ear) is a word that alludes to listening and responding to G-d for the purpose of being close to Him (near enough to Him that He can speak the word directly into our ear). This last word for hearing is a word of intimacy or closeness. 
  • Law will proceed from Me: Micah 4:2. This is a very significant phrase as it begins to make us aware that this chapter is Messianic and that it is a chapter geared toward the end times – the second coming of Messiah and the establishment of His Kingdom. 
  • Justice: The law and G-d’s justice are parallel. In this context this is not speaking of G-d’s judgment in terms of punishment, but it is speaking about Him rendering a verdict – upholding that which is right, true and proper. The law is the instrument that gives us the perspective to know what is right and what is wrong so that justice can be mediated out.
  • Rest: We are only going to be at peace (experience comfort or tranquillity) as an outcome of the law being upheld and fulfilled. Messiah fulfilled the law (Matt 5:17-20). As we follow Him, walking in obedience and being led by His Spirit, we are going to demonstrate (in the same way that He did) an adherence to G-d’s instructions/commands. 

v5: Arm: In Hebrew the word used here, written in the masculine) is the word for a seed (a male offspring – a Son). It is also a word that can speak of the upper portion of the arm. The upper portion of the arm was the desired portion to sacrifice. This is the same term used for the Passover lamb that is sacrificed. It is very likely that this verse is alluding to the sacrificial Son of G-d who does the work of redemption. He is the One who brings forth salvation to the peoples. 

  • Coastlands: Islands. The distant, remote places.
  • Wait…trust: These words show that there is a Messianic expectation. The people are waiting for the Son to come. 

v6: Lift up your eyes to the heavens: When Messiah comes to fulfil what this passage is speaking about, He will come from the heavens. 

  • Look on the earth beneath: Yeshua is coming back to earth. 
  • Vanish: Dissolve. Melt away, evaporate.
  • Vanish…grow old…die:  A change is coming to this world and to its inhabitants. If we belong to this world then we are going to die (physically and spiritually). 
  • My salvation will be forever…My righteousness will not be abolished: G-d‘s righteousness is going to be established. 

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