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Deeper Commentary

Isaiah 25:1 Yahweh, You are My God. I will exalt You!- This is an allusion to the Song of Moses; and there are many others (Is. 12:2; 25:1 =  Ex. 15:2; Is. 13:16 = Ex. 15:6; Is. 47:14 = Ex. 15:7; Is. 46:5 = Ex. 15:11; Is. 8:13 = Ex. 15:16; Is. 24:23 = Ex. 15:18). Following on from the vision of a radical supernatural Divine judgment of the entire eretz / land promised to Abraham, Isaiah feels it is as if the world (cp. Egypt) has been permanently judged and now Israel are free to inherit the land and kingdom; see on Is. 27:1. But as explained on Is. 24, that was a potential scenario which didn't then come about. The fall of Babylon or Assyria (cp. Egypt) was intended to coincide with the freedom of Judah / Israel from captivity; but most of them didn't even want to leave.


I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago, in complete faithfulness and truth- Isaiah perceived that the destruction of both Judah and the surrounding nations was to bring about the Kingdom of God in Israel which He had long planned in the promises to the fathers ("faithfulness and truth" often alludes to these); he comes to a very mature understanding of the problem of evil. All those painful judgments were the "wonderful things" of the Song of Moses (Ex. 15:11). For the judgments of Is. 24 which lead up to this hymn of praise were major and would mean the destruction of all which Isaiah and his people had once held dear. But he can wholeheartedly praise the God who was to do this, because he perceives its place in His far greater plan. They were all for the sake of the eternal salvation of the remnant who wanted that great salvation.

Isaiah 25:2 For You have made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin, a palace of strangers to be no city; it will never be built-
Jer. 50:26 speaks of Babylon being turned into heaps, and "never be built" again is the language of the prophecies against Babylon too. The impression is given there that the famed storehouses of Babylon were to be opened at the same time as she was turned into heaps with nothing left. But this didn't happen when the Medes took the city. It was only some time later that Cyrus further demolished parts of Babylon's wall, and there was a rebellion of Babylon at the time of Darius Hystapses. The deportation of some of the population happened even later in the time of Seleucus Nicanor. But the impression is given that all this would happen immediately at Babylon's fall. It didn't, because the preconditions related to Judah's repentance didn't come about. And so the prophecies were reapplied and rescheduled to the last days, and are alluded to throughout Rev. 18 with reference to the fall of latter day Babylon; which appears to not refer to the literal city of Babylon.

Isaiah 25:3 Therefore a strong people will glorify You, a city of awesome nations will fear You-
The LXX focuses upon the way that the humbled, poor remnant, even if they were injured from the judgments, would be the ones led to eternally glorify Yahweh: "
Therefore shall the poor people bless thee, and cities of injured men shall bless thee". The city in view may be Babylon, which was the city of :2. What was envisaged was the repentance of a remnant from there, and this likewise was the prophetic vision of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. But as Ezekiel demonstrates, the first generations of exiles were worshipping the idols of Babylon; they made no witness to Babylon. And so the potential scenario didn't work out.

Isaiah 25:4 For You have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat, when the blast of the dreaded ones is like a storm against the wall-
This is the same scene as in Is. 4:6 about the restored Zion: "There will be a pavilion for a shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a refuge and for a shelter from storm and from rain". "Shade from the heat" is the same phrase. The "heat" in the last days could refer to some kind of localized nuclear holocaust. Zion will become the shelter for the repentant remnant of the Gentile nations in the eretz, even if they have themselves been damaged and injured during the terrible judgments poured out; hence LXX
"a shelter of them that thirst, and a refreshing air to injured men". I noted on :3 the recurrence of this phrase "injured men" in the LXX. Salvation for the "poor [and] needy" was to be a feature of the Messianic Kingdom (Ps. 72:13 s.w.). This blessing of the poor and needy was to come about when Babylon fell (Is. 14:30), which was the time when the repentant exiles were supposed to leave Babylon and reestablish God's Kingdom in Judah. Babylon fell, but not as dramatically as prophetically envisaged; and Judah weren't repentant. And the Jewish leadership abused the "poor and needy" (Am. 4:1; 8:6). The storm or rivers of judgment was to that to come upon Israel at the hands of the Assyrians (Is. 28:2 s.w.). The Messianic figure of the time was to be a covert from this storm (Is. 32:2), and to bring forth a "storm" of judgment against the Assyrian (Is. 30:30,31 s.w.). The "blast of the terrible ones" uses the same word as in Is. 37:7 about the Angelic "blast" sent upon the Assyrians, outside "the wall" of Jerusalem. The collateral damage of all this was to be huge. But the restored Zion was to be the place of safety from all this. The potential fulfillments all failed; Eliakim could have been the Messianic figure at the time of the Assyrian invasion but he failed (see on Is. 22:25); Hezekiah turned away from Yahweh in his later life. And so it shall all come to final fulfillment at the Lord's return.

Isaiah 25:5 As the heat in a dry place will You bring down the noise of strangers; as the heat by the shade of a cloud, the song of the dreaded ones will be brought low-
This may refer to the cloud of glory to appear over the reestablished Zion (Is. 4:6), which was to be a refuge for the repentant remnants of the various nations of the land. The reference seems to be to a supernatural heat which would be so intense that the mocking noise and songs of the invaders would be brought to nothing. I have noted through Is. 13-23 that the judgments upon Judah and the surrounding nations all featured supernatural Divine intervention after the pattern of His judgment of Sodom; and also there is an appeal for repentance to all of them. The prophetic potential was that a remnant from all those nations including Judah was to repent, although the majority would be destroyed. Those remnants would then unite together in a multiethnic revived Kingdom of God in Judah led by a Messianic figure. That scenario was potentially possible, but didn't come about.

But the LXX  has particular relevance to Isaiah and the faithful in a Jerusalem surrounded by the Assyrians: "We were as faint-hearted men thirsting in Sion, by reason of ungodly men to whom thou didst deliver us".

Isaiah 25:6 In this mountain-
Sometimes the artificial chapter breaks (which were added by man) break up a parenthesis. Is. 24:23 speaks of how "the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem"; the following first five verses of Is. 25 are a parenthesis; and then Is. 25:6 continues: "in this mountain... He will destroy...". If we fail to realize the parenthesis, and if we only started reading at chapter 25:1, we would be thinking: "Which mountain?". But if we realize the parenthesis, and if we disregard the chapter division, all is plain: " Mount Zion and in Jerusalem (Is. 24:23)... in this mountain... (Is. 25:6)".

Yahweh of Armies will make to all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of choice wines, of fat things full of marrow, of well refined choice wines- The future Kingdom of God was spoken of as a meal on a mountain, “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, for all peoples” (Is. 25:6-8). Then, death itself will be on the menu and God will swallow it up (:8). It is pictured as an eternal feast which will last eternally.   People from all nations of the earth are to be God’s guests. No one is to be excluded. The records of the feeding miracles are presented in terms of this Messianic banquet. The Messianic banquet was "to all peoples"- the repentant remnants of all the Gentile nations around Judah, eating together in celebration of entry into the new covenant. This didn't happen at the time, but in essence is realized in the breaking of bread service today; and will come to literal fulfilment at the Lord's return.

One of the many ways to understand the breaking of bread meeting is as a victory celebration. The parables of Luke 14 and 15 speak of eating with Jesus as being a celebration of the salvation of the lost and as a celebration of marriage. Jesus spoke of how in the Kingdom, He would dine with the faithful (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 13:28,29); and He clearly had in mind the Kingdom prophecies of a Messianic banquet found in Is. 25:6-8 and Zech. 8:7-23; 9:16. I have elsewhere pointed out that the feeding miracles, with the crowds described strangely as “reclining” as if at a feast, also has this final banquet in mind. But that banquet is a victor’s celebration; the breaking of bread clearly has elements of this within it.

Isaiah 25:7 He will destroy in this mountain the surface of the covering that covers all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations-
This may be a reference to the vision for the restored temple and kingdom of God in Israel, described in more detail in Ez. 40-48. In Ezekiel’s system there is no veil; as well as no Laver (see Ezekiel 36:24-27, John 15:3); no Table of Shewbread (see Micah 5:4, John 6:35); no Lampstand or Menorah (see Isaiah 49:6, John 8:12); no Golden Altar of Incense (Zechariah 8:20-23, John 14:6); and no Ark of the Covenant (Jer. 3:16, John 10:30-33). But the returned exiles didn't build that kind of temple as specified. They installed a veil- for it tore when the Lord died.

The veil and covering may be paralleled with death in :8. "Destroy" is the same word as "swallow up" in :8, and is another allusion to the Song of Moses (see on :1), as it is also the word used of how the Egyptians were 'devoured' or swallowed up at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:12). And Zion will be the place where it is removed, finally because it is there the Lord Jesus will judge men and immortalize His people from all nations. The word for "destroy" or "swallow up" is also used of the 'covering' ['swallowing up' by hiding from vision] the things of the tabernacle (Num. 4:20). "Covering" is parallel with the "veil" which is "spread", a word also used for the covering of the tabernacle furniture (Ex. 37:16). The overall idea is that the swallowing up of death through the work of the Lord Jesus was the hidden message of the tabernacle, and this will then be openly revealed. It will be revealed to the nations in that no longer will the tabernacle system be solely for the Jews and their priests. It was clearly demonstrated in the rending of the veil when the Lord Jesus died, opening up the Most Holy to all men of every nation.

The LXX reflects the obvious need for Isaiah and all of us to share this good news with the nations: "they shall anoint themselves with ointment in this mountain. Impart thou all these things to the nations; for this is God's counsel upon all the nations".

Isaiah 25:8 He has swallowed up death forever! The Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces-
These phrases are all interpreted in the New Testament as referring to the resurrection from the dead to immortality at the last day (1 Cor. 15:54; Rev. 7:17; 21:4). And this will be done by God through His work in His Son, the Lord Jesus. In some way, these things were all capable of fulfillment in Isaiah's time, had the judgments of Is. 24 come upon the earth. I noted on Is. 22:25 that Eliakim could have been the Messiah figure in Isaiah's day, but he failed; and his name means "God of raising / resurrection". Perhaps he could have been used for even this. Such huge potential was wasted. But God's saving plan is not to be ultimately frustrated; it will come true in the last days through the Lord Jesus.

He will take the reproach of His people away from off all the earth, for Yahweh has spoken it- This only has power if we read it as meaning that Israel's reproach was to be permanently removed. But that didn't happen in Isaiah's day. It will be fulfilled when Israel eternally enter a new covenant, and the nations who once mocked them are eternally converted to Israel's God.


Isaiah 25:9 It shall be said in that day, Behold, this is our God! We have waited for Him, and He will save us! This is Yahweh! We have waited for Him-
The restored Zion would have Yahweh literally living there (Ez. 48:35), and Revelation states simply that the faithful will then see His face. "Our God" is a phrase sometimes used to contrast Yahweh with the idols of the nations (e.g. Jer. 3:23). This is the confident message of the redeemed remnants of Judah, Israel and the nations to whoever is left in the world who still hasn't accepted Yahweh. All idols of whatever kind will be declared eternally nothing compared to Yahweh. Twice they exult that they "have waited for Him", and this was exactly the position of Isaiah's family and school of prophets (s.w. Is. 8:17). That righteous remnant would finally have their faith and expectation rewarded.  

And we too by grace shall be there and feel these same things. Then our fuller mental comprehension of the Father will be reflected in our physical vision of Him. There is a  parallel between physically seeing God and having the veil of our present incomprehension removed. The fuller understanding which we will then have will be reflected in our literal seeing of God.

We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation!- This situation could have arisen at the restoration (s.w. Ps. 14:7; 53:6; Is. 66:10). But the exiles returned in fear of what might meet them on the journey, and were soon disappointed and sad that there was a famine in the ruined land they had come to. Their impenitence and self-seeking precluded this joy. And so it will happen fully in the fuller salvation of the last day.

Isaiah 25:10 For in this mountain the hand of Yahweh will rest-
Yahweh's hand speaks of His activity and protection; and it will "rest" permanently there, fulfilling the prophecy inherent in the Sabbath. Never again will God's people be in fear. His activity will be focused in Zion, His eternal dwelling place in the transfer of heaven to earth spoken of in the final chapters of Revelation.

But Moab will be trodden down in his place, even like straw is trodden down in the water of the dunghill-
We wonder why Moab is singled out. Perhaps they were
seen as the bitterest of all the enemies of the Jews (2 Kings 24:2; Ez. 25:8-11).  The dunghill connects with the prophecy of Ps. 83:10 concerning the destruction of  the latter day invaders of Israel, including Moab as one of the "children of Lot". The Hebrew for “dunghill” is a play on the Moabite name Madmen (Jer. 48:2); and also resembles the word for “straw”.

Isaiah’s love for the Gentiles whom he condemned (see on Is. 16:7) is remarkable. For as Moab cried out like a three year old heifer (Jer. 48:34), so did Isaiah for them (Is. 15:5). All this was done by Isaiah (and later by Jeremiah), knowing that Moab hated Israel and is singled out for His specific condemnation here. But all the same they loved them, in the spirit of Noah witnessing to the mocking world around him. Our knowledge of this world’s future means that as we walk the streets and mix with men and women, our heart should cry out for them, no matter how they behave towards us, and there should be a deep seated desire for at least some of them to come to repentance and thereby avoid the judgments to come. Particularly is this true, surely, of the people and land of Israel. It ought to be impossible for us to walk its streets or meet its people without at least desiring to give them a leaflet or say at least something to try to help them see what lies ahead.

Isaiah 25:11 He will spread out his hands in its midst, like one who swims spreads out hands to swim, but his pride will be humbled together with the craft of his hands-
The idea is that Moab will desperately seek to swim to survive the lethal
water of the dung-pit (:10); but in vain. All attempts to avoid Divine condemnation will fail.

Isaiah 25:12 He has brought down the high fortress of your walls, laid them low and brought them to the ground, even to the dust-
The language of Jerusalem's humiliation is here applied to Moab (e.g. Is. 26:5). Finally, what was done to Zion and Israel shall be done to those who did it, and Moab is singled out as representative of them all. This is the extended message of Revelation; the seals of judgment upon the land brought about by her invaders are then poured out upon those invaders, as the vials.