6.43 Isaiah -- Exile and Restoration

Early on, Isaiah announces,

          They have no regard for the deeds of the LORD,
               no respect for the work of his hands.
          Therefore my people will go into exile
               for lack of understanding (Isa 5:12-13).

Later, after Jerusalem was delivered from Assyria, Hezekiah received Babylonian envoys, and the prophet told him that one day everything in his palace would be taken there (Isa 39:5-7).    Disaster will not be averted.  Like Elijah and Amos, to name just two, Isaiah emphasized that the Lord was sending a devastating judgment, something far beyond a mere correction.  God will perform a terrifying work of cleansing and humbling.

         

Yet divine judgment on Judah is not terminal, though it may have seemed so to Jeremiah's generation.  God says,   

    

           "O my people who live in Zion,
                 do not be afraid of the Assyrians,
           who beat you with a rod
                 and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.
           Very soon my anger against you will end
                 and my wrath will be directed to their destruction" (Isa 10:24-25).

           We see a pattern in God's outpouring of wrath: use the foreign nations to overthrow the Davidic dynasty and destroy the political Kingdom of God, and then punish the destroyers themselves. 

          

And the third stage is restoration for Judah.  Nowhere else in the Old Testament is this hope so completely and lavishly described as in Isaiah.  We can only give a sample of the types of oracles referring to Judah's future:

           Nations will take them and bring them to their own 
                  place.
           And the house of Israel will possess the nations
                  as menservants and maidservants in the Lord's
                  land.
           They will make captives of their captors and rule over
                  their  oppressors (Isa 14:1-2).

        On this mountain he will destroy
                  the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
                  the sheet that covers all nations;
                  he will swallow up death forever.
        The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all
                  faces;
                  he will remove the disgrace of his people from all
                  the earth.
        The Lord has spoken (Isa 25:7-8).

        Every valley shall be raised up,
                 every mountain and hill made low;
                 the rough ground shall become level,
                 the rugged places a plain.
        And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
                 and all mankind together will see it.
                 For the mouth of the Lord has spoken" (Isa 40:4-5).

         No longer will violence be heard in your land,
                nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
                but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates
                       Praise.
         The sun will no more be your light by day,
                       nor will the brightness of the moon shine on
                       you,
                       for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
                       and your God will be your glory (Isa 60:18-19).

          Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
          The former things will not be remembered,
                      nor will they come to mind.
          But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,
                      for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
                     and its people a joy (Isa 65:17-18).

          The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
                     and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
                     but dust will be the serpent's food.
          They will neither harm nor destroy
                     on all my holy mountain,
                     says the Lord (Isa 65:25).