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Isaiah 27:1 In that day, Yahweh with His hard and great and strong sword- The sword of Yahweh will come down in judgment upon the peoples of the eretz and perhaps on the resurrected former abusers of His people (see on Is. 26:21). But His sword comes down as part of His 'pleading with all flesh' (Is. 66:16). This can be read as an allusion to judgment; but there is still the idea of pleading. The threat of the sword descending is His appeal, His pleading for repentance.

Will punish leviathan, the fleeing serpent, and leviathan the twisted serpent; and He will kill the dragon that is in the sea- Is. 24-27 has rightly been described as the little apocalypse. The total destruction of all on the eretz in Is. 24 leads to the repentance of remnants of the various Gentile nations as well as God's people. Is. 26 speaks clearly of the resurrection of the dead, and these remnants unite in a multiethnic Kingdom of God in Israel. All the persecutors of God's people are judged, presumably requiring their resurrection to judgment. Now Isaiah speaks of them as three beasts, one of which is a beast of the sea. There likewise appear to be three types of beasts in Revelation (Rev. 20:10). These ideas are developed in more detail in Daniel and Revelation. The identity of the beasts therefore morphs over time, as potential possibilities for human response to God's claims on men rise and fall. The dragon in the sea was originally Egypt (Ps. 74:13; Ez. 29:3; 32:2; Is. 51:9). What God did to Egypt in the Red Sea is to be the prototype of what He will do to all future persecutors of His people; hence Isaiah's fondness for allusions to the Song of Moses, putting his words of triumph in the mouths of God's finally triumphant people; see on Is. 25:1.

The initial application was to the Assyrians slain outside the walls of Jerusalem, and the three beasts here would then be different snapshots as it were of that power. In a restoration context, Isaiah comforted Judah that God would destroy “Leviathan the gliding serpent; He will slay the monster of the sea” (Is. 27:1). The real ‘monster’ faced by Judah in exile wasn’t a supernatural being; it was a concrete kingdom of men on earth, namely Babylon. And Job 26:13 uses the phrase for "fleeing serpent" and states that Yahweh has created this. He is in complete control. The language is intended to deconstruct pagan myths to the effect that Judah's misfortunes had been at the hands of the deities of their invaders. Baal was temporarily conquered by Mot, and the Ugaritic poem about their conflict which was found in the Ras Shamra texts speaks of how Baal was made a “slave forever”. This very language is picked up in Job 41:4, where God mocks that in no way would He become a “slave forever”. The allusion shows that the one true God is in no way Baal. He is greater than Baal. Unlike Baal, He is in no conflict with Mot nor anyone. The poem challenges Baal to “Pierce through Lotan the serpent, destroy the serpent the seven headed tyrant”. Yet this is exactly the language picked up in Is. 27:1. Yahweh’s utter supremacy over any other god is so great that it makes all ideas of cosmic conflict simply laughable.

Isaiah 27:2 In that day, sing to her, A pleasant vineyard!-
The "day" in view is that of :13, the last day. Is. 5 has presented Judah as a vineyard that didn't work out and failed in its potential. But "in that day" she will be a fruitful vineyard, now that the "briers and thorns" have been removed and burnt (:4). I would therefore take :3 to be retrospective upon God's continual care for that vineyard to bring it to that point of fruitfulness. To become fruitful, Judah had taken hold of God's covenant of peace (:5), and then :6 concludes the song by repeating the thought of this opening verse. She will be "a pleasant vineyard" because she has blossomed and filled the face of the earth / land with fruit. This means that the song of Is. 27:2-6 follows a chiastic structure typical of Hebrew poetry.

The LXX of :2-6 is quite different, presenting this as a repetition of the lament over the failed vineyard which was to be besieged and taken, although starting and closing with the sure hope that eventually the vineyard will function perfectly after the judgments poured out: "In that day there shall be a fair vineyard, and a desire to commence a song concerning it. I am a strong city, a city in a siege: in vain shall I water it; for it shall be taken by night, and by day the wall shall fall. There is no woman that has not taken hold of it; who will set me to watch stubble in the field? because of this enemy I have set her aside; therefore on this account the Lord has done all that he appointed. I am burnt up; they that dwell in her shall cry, Let us make peace with him, let us make peace, they that are coming are the children of Jacob. Israel shall bud and blossom, and the world shall be filled with his fruit".

Isaiah 27:3 I, Yahweh, am its keeper-
In the sense that He "kept" (s.w.) covenant and mercy (Ex. 34:7), keeping His covenant people in perfect peace (s.w. Is. 26:3). The same word however carries the idea of a watchman guarding, as is translated "besieged" (Is. 1:8). Yahweh besieged them with protection even as they were being besieged- a great encouragement in Isaiah's time, when Jerusalem was besieged by the Syria-Ephraim confederacy and then by Assyria.

I will water it every moment- The contrast with the vineyard song of Is. 5 is that there, God withheld water from it (Is. 5:6). That time of judgment and exile was now over. Or perhaps this is recalling how prior to that judgment, God had watered them so carefully. He is involved "every moment" in the life of His people, even if for some moments He hides His face (s.w. Is. 54:8); Job, presented as the suffering exiles, came to realize this (Job 7:18 s.w.). And yet the prophecy here is of the eternal state of the vineyard "in that day" (:2), when Yahweh will eternally "water" His people who once were in the dry desert of exile (Is. 43:20 s.w.).

Lest anyone damage it, I will keep it night and day- "Damage" is the term usually used for 'punish' (s.w. :1 "punish"). God's people would not be further punished for their sins- God's wrath was over (:4).


Isaiah 27:4 Wrath is not in Me- I take this as meaning that God has no pleasure in the death and judgment of the wicked, but all the same He has to destroy the wicked out of the earth / land in order to save the righteous remnant and transform them and the earth into His Kingdom. At this stage He has trampled the nations in His "wrath" (Is. 63:6), but that wrath is not eternal. All ideas of "hell" as a place of God's eternally burning wrath are totally out of step with the consistent revelation of God's character- that His anger is but for a moment and does not last eternally.

 Hosea dreamt or fantasized about the day when, he hoped, Gomer [cp. Israel] would return to him. And we find God through the prophets doing this often, as an expression of His love for them. He dreamt of how Israel as His vineyard would again be fruitful: “In that day: A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!... I [will] guard it day and night; I have no wrath” (Is. 27:2,3). He had wrath, and yet at the thought of Israel’s blessed future with Him, He could say “I have no wrath”. The God who spoke of slaying Israel with thirst in Hosea could then comment: “I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man… and I will not come to destroy” (Hos. 11:9).

But if I should find briers and thorns, I would do battle! I would march on them and I would burn them together- Briers and thorns is an allusion to the curse upon the garden of Eden- another reason for understanding Eden as eretz Israel, from whom likewise Israel were to be exiled to the east. "Briers and thorns" is a term used by Isaiah about the aggressive, thorny nature of Judah (Is. 9:18; 10:17). Their whole land was to become like them (Is. 5:6; 7:23-25); and so their judgment was but an extension of their own behaviour. Sin was its own judgment. Although God's wrath has passed from Him concerning His people at this stage, this doesn't mean He has lost all moral compass. If there were to be sin in the land as there had been previously, then He would judge it.

Isaiah 27:5 Or else let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he will make peace with Me-
As noted throughout Is. 13 onwards, the judgments upon the Gentiles in the land are only because they have refused to repent. God's desire was that the Gentile and Jewish "briers and thorns" upon whom He would march (:4) would "take hold" of Him and make peace with Him, entering into covenant with Him as He offered. Is. 56:6 likewise speaks of this latter day 'taking hold' (s.w.) of Yahweh by the remnant of the judged Gentiles. In the last days, this making peace with God is only through accepting His Son as Messiah (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14), although potentially it had been possible through some Messianic figure who could have appeared at the time of the Assyrian invasion (Mic. 5:5).

Isaiah 27:6 In days to come, Jacob will take root-
Or as AV "He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root". The returned, repent exiles would be caused by God to take root; whereas previously they had been sown but hadn't flourished to harvest (Is. 17:11). But now God as it were will force through His plan with any who come to Him.

Israel will blossom and bud; they will fill the face of the world with fruit- Isaiah foretold that when Israel know their forgiveness and salvation, they will therefore quite naturally “declare his doings among the people” (Is. 12:1-5). This will be the motivation for Israel’s witness to the world. 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). This is the 'budding' of the waste places of the land foreseen in the Kingdom prophecies of Is. 35:1,2; 66:14.

Sometimes God speaks as if He has rejected Israel, and other times as if they will eternally be His people. Such is the extent of His passionate feelings for them. And the Son of God entered into this- He said that no man would eat fruit of the tree of Israel for ever (Mk. 11:14), when in fact Israel one day will fill the face of the earth with fruit. We too, in the spirit of the prophets, are to enter into these feelings of God. God’s threats to punish His people and His desire to forgive them don’t somehow cancel each other out as in an equation. They exist within the mind of God in a terrible tension. He cries out through Hosea of how His many ‘repentings’ are “kindled together” as He struggles within Himself to give up His people as He has threatened (Hos. 11:8). And this struggle was reflected within the emotions and through the speeches / writings / poetry of Hosea. Hosea’s speeches have an air of turbulence and struggle about them, which reflected the spirit / mind of the God who inspired him.

Isaiah 27:7 Has He struck them as He struck those who struck them? Or are they killed like those who killed them were killed?-
The "them" I suggest refers to God's people. He did not strike Israel as hard as He struck those who abused them. The death of God's people was not such a hard death as that of the Gentiles who had attacked them. So it was not 'measure for measure'; Judah were punished less than their sins deserved (Ezra 9:13), although God counted it as if they had been punished double for their sins (Is. 40:2). The balance of things was weighted in Israel's favour because of God's grace.

Isaiah 27:8 In measure, when You send them away, You contend with them. He has removed them with His rough blast in the day of the east wind-
God's people had been judged, Yahweh had contended with them in judgment; that was to be the point in God's summary conclusions at the last day. He had "sent them away... removed them" into exile, He corrected them "in measure" but didn't leave them "altogether unpunished" (Jer. 30:11; 46:28). 

Isaiah 27:9 Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be forgiven, and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: that he makes all the stones of the altar as chalk stones that are beaten in pieces, so that the Asherim and the incense altars shall rise no more-
The very terms iniquity taken away and sin forgiven are found in Is. 6:7; Isaiah is set up as representative of Judah. His cleansing could have been theirs. These things would happen if Judah were repentant and destroyed their idols. But they didn't, and so the vision of glory and of the glorified suffering servant couldn't save them.

Israel are often called 'Jacob' in passages concerning idolatry. The historical Jacob and idolatry go together. Jacob's destruction of his idol altars, pounding them back to the surrounding chalk stone from which they were constructed, permanently destroying the Asherim so that they would never be revived... this was the fruit of Jacob's sin being taken away. Note the sequence. Forgiveness of sin doesn't come after repentance and the bearing of fruit. It comes first, by grace, and then the fruit of destroying idols in response comes as a result of that gracious forgiveness. Repentance and not just forgiveness is therefore "given" by grace (Acts 5:31; 11:18). This is the grace of the new covenant God will offer to Israel and the world in the last days, and it is offered to us today.

Isaiah 27:10 For the fortified city is solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness. The calf will feed there and there he will lie down and consume its branches-
This continues the theme stressed in :8. God had not allowed His people to escape judgment. Justice was in that sense done. It seems the desolation of Jerusalem is in view here, with so few people that there weren't even shepherds for the animals, and the flocks would be left to wander freely over the desolated city. LXX: "The flock that dwelt there shall be left, as a deserted flock; and the ground shall be for a long time for pasture, and there shall flocks lie down to rest". But this didn't happen at the time of the Assyrian invasion; for Jerusalem didn't fall. And at the time of the Babylonian invasion there was not this level of absolute desolation. Ezra 9:7 is clear that it was "our kings and our priests [who] have been delivered" into captivity. The Babylonians saw no economic purpose in bringing masses of unskilled peasant farmers into captivity in their cities. It's been estimated that at least 90% of Judah were peasant farmers; and these, the impoverished masses, were left in the land and not deported (Jer. 52:16; 2 Kings 25:12). See on Ez. 11:15. The Babylonian policy regarding deportation and management of conquered lands is described in N.P. Lemche, Ancient Israel: A New History of Israelite Society (Sheffield: JSOT, 1988) and D.L. Smith, The Religion of the Landless: The Social Context of the Babylonian Exile (Bloomington, IN: Meyer Stone, 1989). God did not therefore scatter all the people quite as He intended. There is archaeological evidence for continued agricultural activity in the land after the deportations. And Jer. 41:5 seems to speak of men coming to the Jerusalem temple from Shechem and Shiloh, in the ten tribe area, in order to offer grain offerings at the site of the temple. We could say that this prophecy of total destruction looks forward to a latter day fulfilment; or in terms of Jer. 18:8-10 it could be that there was enough repentance and intercession for God to as it were change the extent of His intended judgments.

Isaiah 27:11 When its boughs are withered, they will be broken off. The women will come and set them on fire, for they are a people of no understanding-
As noted on :10, the people of Judah were indeed judged. The breaking off of the branches of the tree is clearly alluded to in Rom. 11:17-20, applying it to the Divine rejection of an unbelieving Israel in favour of a new Israel, comprised of the minority of Israel who accepted Jesus as Christ, and the Gentiles who also did so. The rejected majority had "no understanding", not in the sense of simply intellectual failure, but in the Hebraic sense of relationship. All other wisdom and understanding is as nothing compared to the ultimate and surpassing "understanding", which is of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their burning by "women" would be an example of their condemnation being expressed in terms which they could relate to, even if they were not literally true. Thus I noted on Is. 13:21 that the mythical creatures called satyrs were spoken of as if they existed, and would judge Babylon; Babylon's judgment was described there in terms she would have understood, even if those terms reflected ideas which were not literally true. For satyrs don't exist in the form the Babylonians believed. And as explained on Is. 14:9 too, their concept of the underworld is used in describing their condemnation.   


Therefore He who made them will not have compassion on them, and He who formed them will show them no grace- But the very fact that God did form and make Israel is the reason God gives for appealing to them to receive His ever-available mercy (Is. 43:1; 44:2; 49:15). And the paradox of this grace when there was to be no grace highlights the grace of it all.

Isaiah 27:12 It will happen in that day, that Yahweh will thresh from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, you children of Israel-
Euphrates to the brook of Egypt is exactly the definition of the eretz promised to Abraham. I explain on Is. 35:2 how the deserts and dry areas of that eretz were in the areas inhabited by Israel's Gentile enemies. A remnant of these peoples was to repent, and then they and their territory would be incorporated into the Kingdom of God in Israel, covering the full extent of the land / eretz promised to Abraham. Those territories will be materially transformed, those desert areas will be like Israel "proper", as fruitful as Carmel and Sharon. The complete fulfilment of the Divine promises about the eretz would only be achieved by 'threshing' in judgment. And the repentant remnant would be gathered "one by one", each one would be so significant to God. And likewise true Christianity places a remarkable value on the worth of the individual person. This gathering every single individual and valuing them is that spoken of in Is. 13:12: "I will make people more valuable than fine gold, even a person than the pure gold of Ophir". The repentant remnant is in view; the intention of the judgments, both on God's people and the Babylonians, was that a repentant remnant would be produced; and each one of those people would therefore be of extraordinary value to God, representing the ultimate success of His lengthy plan.

Isaiah 27:13 It will happen in that day that a great trumpet will be blown; and those who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and those who were outcasts in the land of Egypt, shall come; and they will worship Yahweh in the holy mount at Jerusalem
- Some Jews had taken refuge in Egypt at the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions. In the Babylonian context, they did this in conscious disobedience to Jeremiah's command not to go there; they were as LXX "the lost ones". So the idea was that they could have repented and returned to Zion and the reestablished Kingdom there. This didn't happen, there was no such repentance; and so it will come true in the repentance of the Jewish diaspora in the last days. The trumpet blast in the last days would be that of Mt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16. The allusion is to the trumpet blast announcing the day of atonement (Lev. 25:9). Those who respond to it are therefore those who are repentant and seek forgiveness. Again we see that the repentance of Israel is connected with the establishment of the Kingdom and resurrection.