New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Isaiah 12:1 In that day you will say, I will give thanks to You, Yahweh; for though You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away and You comfort me- God fantasizes about the words which the repentant remnant of Is. 11:10-15 will say. Their recognition of the existence of God's wrath is tantamount to recognizing the guilt of their sins; they would come to appreciate that indeed "the wrath of God is the love of God". "Turned away" is the same word used for repentance and return; they will perceive that their repentance has triggered the turning away of His anger. But this scenario didn't happen at Hezekiah's time, for soon after his death we read that God did not turn away from His anger, and Judah were sent into captivity (2 Kings 23:26 s.w.). Even though Hezekiah himself urged repentance so that Yahweh's anger would turn away (s.w. 2 Chron. 29:10; 30:8), as did Ezra (Ezra 10:14). He tried to bring these words to fulfilment, but his reformation failed, overall. The comfort ("You comfort me") offered by God in Is. 40:1 was also largely rejected at the time of the restoration. And so Isaiah often laments that His anger was not turned away, and therefore His hand was still stretched out- both in inflicting judgment, and seeking to thereby bring about repentance (Is. 5:25; 9:12,17,21; 10:4). The exiles thought that God's wrath would be turned away simply because He realized they had not actually sinned and were innocent (Jer. 2:35).

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust, and will not be afraid; for Yah, Yahweh, is my strength and song; and He has become my salvation-
These were the intended words of the repentant remnant; but they fit Isaiah personally, as their representative. For his name means 'Yah saves', and is a form of Yehoshua, Jesus. "Yah is my strength" is 'Hezekiah'. He was the potential Messiah figure who could have been their salvation; but he failed in this, and the destruction of the Assyrians was done by an Angel and not by him personally. In the final fulfilment of this, Judah's repentance and rejoicing in salvation will be because of their acceptance of the Lord Jesus as Christ. But the whole verse is a quotation of Ex. 15:2, the song of triumph of Moses after the salvation of Israel at the Red Sea: "Yah is my strength and song. He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him". The song of Moses is put in the mouth of every redeemed Israelite; all would be as Moses. Judaism saw and sees Moses as an icon of unapproachable spirituality; but here, his rejoicing is to be the experience of every redeemed individual.

Isaiah 12:3 Therefore with joy you will draw water out of the wells of salvation-
The allusion may be to how after the song of Moses, the people came to the wells of Rephidim, which Isaiah presents as representing the water of salvation, of eternal life. And perhaps the idea is also that when the returned exiles came to Jerusalem, they would do what all pilgrims were supposed to do and drink her spring water (Ps. 87:7), representing eternal life. But Judah turned down such great potentials. And so t
his is applied by the Lord to the present experience of the believer in Him (Jn. 4:14; 7:38). But Isaiah 12 continues to explain how the joy of that experience will lead to men saying: “The Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation [as He was for Israel at the Red Sea, cp. our baptism experience]... Praise the Lord, proclaim his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted”. The exaltation of the Yahweh Name, the wonder of it, the sheer height of who Yahweh is, these things and our personal part in them is an unending imperative to witness these things world-wide. Men did not confess Jesus to others, despite nominally believing in Him, because they did not love the concept of the glory of God (Jn. 12:43 RV). To perceive His glory, the wonder of it all, leads to inevitable witness to others. For we are offering people the water of life eternal.

Isaiah 12:4 In that day you will say, Give thanks to Yahweh! Call on His name. Declare His doings among the peoples. Proclaim that His name is exalted!-
Isaiah foretold that when Israel know their forgiveness and salvation, they will therefore quite naturally “declare His doings among the peoples”, and invite the Gentile peoples to call themselves by His Name. This will be the motivation for Israel’s witness to the world after the Lord's return. They will fill the face of the world with spiritual fruit – and this will be the fruit of the taking away of their sin, and their experience of repentance (Is. 27:6,9 RV).

Isaiah 12:5 Sing to Yahweh, for He has done excellent things! Let this be known in all the earth!-
This continues the allusion to the Song of Moses (Ex. 15:1,25). See on :2. The desire of the forgiven and redeemed exiles and repentant Gentiles would be to spread the knowledge of their great salvation to all the earth. This is a natural response to salvation, and should be the root motivation for all our evangelism. Beholding these "excellent things" is pictured as the reward of the faithful remnant in Is. 26:10; they would then see Yahweh, which is the promise of Is. 12:6.

Isaiah 12:6 Cry aloud and shout, you inhabitant of Zion; for the Holy One of Israel is great in the midst of you!
- The prophetic vision was of Yahweh Himself dwelling in Zion, so that the city would be called "the Lord is there" (Ez. 48:35). But the exiles failed to rebuild Zion and operate the services there as commanded in Ez. 40-48, and so this literal dwelling of God amongst His redeemed people is alluded to in Rev. 21,22 as being only fulfilled at the return of the Lord Jesus to earth.