The audience for this chapter is defined in verse 1: Those who follow after righteous, who seek the Lord. (This picks up where the last chapter left us, that if we are trying to do what’s right and we still in darkness, then place your trust in the Lord and turn your thoughts, feelings, energy and actions towards Him. It will be impossible to remain in darkness with our faces towards His light.)
(What’s more, I need the Spirit of the Lord to understand these verses better.) Zion spoken of in verse 3 represents a people who are willing to bear one another’s burdens. They shall be comforted. The inhabitants of Zion are not land owners, but rather are stewards, possessors of an endowment that they have covenanted to maintain and improve upon. They may “own” land, but for what purpose or intent do they possess it?
New day, I’ve been glossing over verse 2, where the Lord invites us (inhabitants of Zion) to consider our foundation: Abraham and Sarah. But then the Lord says look at how I blessed him, and gave him increase. The Lord is asking us to consider the man as a model for our emulation.
What are the themes that we are discussing in this chapter? Fearing God or rather trusting in His righteousness and salvation verses fearing the oppression of men. Men and their dominions are of such short duration. Understanding the nature of God and his power over all the earth. There is so much more going on in my head right now, from this study and parallel studies of Zion and stewardship and inheritances and the such. Temporal possessions are only a small part of the purpose of this life, but they can also constitute our stewardship given to us of the Lord.
A new day, and I am now honing in on the purpose of this chapter: The Lord has a law, his way of doing things, which are the eternal principles upon which all of life and the universe hangs in the balance. This law constitutes His righteousness and His salvation. Man, or the world, stands in contrast to this law. Their opposition is both real, vocal, and attempts to be enforced through fear.
The Lord’s judgment is upon those that insist that the ways of man are right. Yet, in these verses it feels like the Lord’s judgment is actually a tool to aid those that do right:
…and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people… mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.Verses 4 -5
(Maybe a better way of saying this is that the Lord’s judgment is against those that oppose His law.) This is a significant shift, because there will be judgment, the righteous have wherewith to hope for something better. This is not a tool to restrain the wicked in their deeds of unrighteousness. No, the arms of the Lord will judge the people… that same arm is in whom the righteous also trust and put their confidence. In the arm of God we trust, in God’s judgment we trust. God’s judgment is against the wicked because it upholds the principles of the righteous, validating the way of life and light.
Given the history of Israel and Jerusalem, it is understandable how the Jews could be fearful of their oppressors. Fury is the word that is used at 5 times in this chapter: the fury of the oppressor….
There is a significant prophecy in these verses about two “things” that come to the Jews.
And then there is a promise at the end of this chapter: the cup of fury that the Lord had given to the house of Israel will eventually be given to those that oppressed them. Their oppression will end.
A footnote on verse 13 has caused me to consider apathy this morning. I am concerned that in my own efforts I have been too apathetic towards others. (Yet, I know that this is not truly the case.) Apathy also describes the state at Jerusalem when the two prophets referred to in verse 19 will come forth.
(This study –on June 7th– ended with the Spirit of the Lord stating, “I need you.” I don’t know what this means, but I am willing to search this one out.)
I am still in this chapter (it’s been a couple of weeks), but this morning I was brought back to 3 Nephi 23, which is where I started my study of the book of Isaiah a season or two ago. I have had no problems, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, in understanding clearly what the first 50 chapter of Isaiah have meant. My understanding has been expanded, or rather deepened, on the many things that Isaiah has discussed as it pertains to the house of Israel, but more particularly, the work of the Lord. There are great promises and blessings associated with the covenants of the Lord with his people. Some events only have context in consideration of these covenants.