New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Isaiah 4:1 Seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own clothing: only let us be called by your name. Take away our reproach- The implication was that there were so few men that women were so outnumbered. The law stipulated that a polygamous man must provide bread and clothing for all his wives (Ex. 21:10); but the desperation of the situation led them to accept that the law of Moses no longer functioned. They were driven by the judgments to throw themselves upon God's grace in the Messianic "branch" (:2) rather than the Law.

Isaiah 4:2 In that day, Yahweh’s branch will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the beauty and glory of the survivors of Israel-
The revival of Judah's kingdom, based around a Messianic "Branch" and a remnant, would happen "in that day". This is the day of :1, when Jerusalem would be overcome and left in ruins with hardly any men left. We noted throughout Is. 3 that there would be no leadership in Jerusalem; the royal family were to be no more. And yet a branch was to arise, the branch of Is. 11:1, which was to arise out of the moribund stump of the house of David. "The fruit of the land" may refer to the children who would be brought forth, and in whom the remnant would glory. These "survivors" are those saved from the ruins of a desolated Jerusalem, those who "escaped" the Assyrian invasion (s.w. Is. 10:20; 37:31,32); the same word is used in Joel 2:32; Obadiah 17, the "remnant" of Ez. 14:22 (s.w.). The destruction of Jerusalem was intended to elicit repentance and to lead seamlessly into a revived Zion and reestablished Kingdom of God in Israel, when again all things would be "glorious" (s.w. Is. 24:23; 35:2). But this didn't happen. Jerusalem was saved by grace, and yet Hezekiah failed to act as "Yahweh's branch", and Judah were impenitent, unmoved by their salvation by grace. The fruit on the "branch" is spiritual fruit, of the kind the Lord didn't find on the fig tree. When there is such fruit on the fig tree, that generation will see the Lord's return. Hence Is. 4 goes on to speak of the repentant remnant- they are the fruit on the Messianic branch.

And so the prophecies were reapplied to Judah's destruction by Babylon, when again a Messianic branch could have arisen (s.w. Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12). The branch was to be "glorious", the word used about the glory of Yahweh being revealed at the restoration (Is. 40:5; 58:8; 60:1). But again, no "branch" appeared. Zerubbabel, "branch from Babylon", failed to live up to his potential. And so the final fulfilment will be at the revelation of the Lord Jesus at the time of Zion's final desolation. The fruit of the earth / land was to be abundant, as promised for the restoration (Ez. 34:27). But this didn't happen; the restoration prophets lament the famine at the time of the restoration, for Judah returned to the land without returning to their God.

The LXX reads as if the tribulation is so in order "to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel". The idea is that all Jews will be slain in the tribulation until only the repentant remnant are left.

Isaiah 4:3 It will happen, that he who is left in Zion, and he who remains in Jerusalem shall be called holy, even everyone who is written among the living in Jerusalem-
LXX "the remnant left". The impression from :1 is that there would literally be very few Jews left alive, and those who were would become the "remnant", and be written among the living, in the book of life, made spiritually acceptable by their purification in the holocaust to come upon the city (:4). In the latter day application, this group would then be immortalized, written among the eternally living. It could have happened at the time of the Assyrian invasion; but Judah didn't repent. The same scenario is in Zech. 13:8,9, where a third part [perhaps just meaning "a remnant"] would pass through the fire and thereby come to "call upon My Name". That too could have happened, perhaps at the time of Antiochus' invasion; but it didn't. It will therefore come true in the last days.

Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from its midst, by the spirit of justice, and by the spirit of burning-
See on :3. Those who survived the holocaust to come upon Jerusalem would be spiritually purged and thus become the righteous remnant. The filth of the daughters of Zion had just been explained in Is. 3. Potentially, those very women of Isaiah's time could have been spiritually purged by the Assyrian invasion; but they weren't. And so the prophecy was reapplied and rescheduled to the time of the Babylonian invasion, which was intended to "purge" Judah (Jer. 51:34 s.w.) with a spirit / wind of burning (s.w. Ez. 5:2); and when that didn't happen, to our last days. Although it could perhaps also have come true at the times of Jerusalem's other desolations under the Greeks and Romans.

It was Yahweh who could wash them; but He would do that if they had the desire to wash themselves (s.w. Is. 1:16). They had to show justice to others (Is. 1:17); and if they wished to do that, then God would purge them with His "spirit of justice". God will confirm us in the way in which we wish to go.

"Burning" is s.w. "put away", and is used of the putting away of the guilt of innocent blood (Dt. 21:9). The repentanec of the remnant will involve the recognition that Israel indeed slew the ultimately innocent blood. This is the coming day that burns as an oven (Mal. 4:1 s.w.). It is the word often used of the burning of God's wrath against Jerusalem; but the word also means to "put away" sin, in that His latter day judgments will bring about the destruction of the wicked and purging of the remnant who do repent. Hence the stress upon this process happening in Zion and Jerusalem. Convinction of sin will therefore be the intention of the tribulation; the same phrase "spirit of judgment" is used of how thereby Yahweh will "declare unto Jacob his sin" (Mic. 3:8).

Isaiah 4:5 Yahweh will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy-
See on :6. This is the language of the exodus from Egypt and the theophany at Sinai when they entered the old covenant. Perhaps it was literally intended that such a canopy would appear over the literal glory of Yahweh which would again appear in Zion; the same word is used of Yahweh appearing from the canopy around a redeemed Zion (Joel 2:16). The symbolism suggests that Israel had been released from abuse in Egypt, and were now about to enter a new covenant and the Kingdom of God in Israel. That could have come true at the time of both the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions; but Judah refused to accept that new covenant.  

LXX is clearer in the application to the Lord's second coming in a cloud, just as the Angels predicted in Acts 1: "And he shall come, and it shall be with regard to every place of mount Sion, yea, all the region round about it shall a cloud overshadow by day, and there shall be as it were the smoke and light of fire burning by night: and upon all the glory shall be a defence".

Isaiah 4:6 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
- "Pavilion" is s.w. "shelter" in Is. 1:8. The entire "vineyard" of God's work was to be destroyed, apart from a "shelter"- which was Zion. But it is the "daughter of Zion", the faithful remnant, and not the literal Zion which is in view here. They were to be a "shelter", a place of refuge, for others (Is. 4:6 s.w.). The storm and rain therefore spoke of the judgments to come, the warranted condemnation, using the same figures as in the Lord's parable of the builders. But there was to be refuge in Zion. This was literally the case at the time of the Assyrian invasion, and it was intended to be the case spiritually. But so much more was possible then; God would have made a literal canopy over her (:5), and established His Kingdom then. But in Hezekiah's time, Zion was saved by grace alone. The daughter of Zion was not the refuge for others she could have been. Perhaps the idea is that the storm and rain which destroys her abusers will not harm Zion. The "heat" in the last days could refer to some kind of localized nuclear holocaust.