But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. — Isaiah 63:10
The importance of listening to God when His Spirit speaks to our hearts cannot be overstated. Jim Gilmon proved that. He said, “Rheumatic fever struck me when I was just a lad. The doctor told me I would not be healthy. I promised God my life if He would heal me, and He did! But I broke my promise.
“God never let me forget what I had vowed. Years later, while I was in drunken stupors, He would remind me that I had promised to serve Him. One night while under the influence of liquor, I was in an automobile accident. The doctors tried everything they knew but they could not bring me back to consciousness. Then the people at my mother’s church prayed for me. When consciousness returned, once more I promised God that if He would just get me out of the hospital, I would serve Him. Again, God did His part, but I did not do mine.
“One day a loaded logging truck that I was driving got away from me. It rolled over two-and-a-half times into a canyon. When the truck hit the bottom and quit rolling, I was afraid to move. With my head on the seat, I cried, ‘O God!’ Again God spared my life. I climbed out of that wreck with only a few scratches. Still I was not ready to give up my life of sin!
“Over a year later, I stopped alongside a road to look at a wrecked car. A dead man was under the steering wheel. Right then it seemed God spoke out of Heaven to me, ‘You are going to be next!’ I told myself, ‘I’ll go to church Sunday,’ but I didn’t. Oh, what conviction settled on me that night! Finally I phoned my parents, and they told me to come to their home. They called the minister, and at an old davenport I knelt to pray. Jesus did not turn me away. He saved me that night.”
Although Jim Gilmon had turned God away many times, he did finally yield and give God his life. In contrast, Israel refused to turn and eventually was destroyed. The focus verse says they “rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit,” and God’s condemnation of them was strong. God’s mercy had been extended to them many times. Throughout Isaiah’s ministry, he urged Israel to turn to Jehovah and find His salvation, but they did not heed. Other prophets, too, heralded God’s warnings, but Israel stubbornly refused. God’s strong words and judgment were the result.
We want to learn a lesson from Israel and heed God’s instructions. Furthermore, we want to be quick to do so, not testing God’s mercy. Will we obey God today?
In our text, Isaiah looked forward to the time when the enemies of God’s people would be destroyed (verses 1-6). Then he recounted God’s mercy toward the Israelites (verses 7-14), and requested that the Lord work again for His people in miraculous ways (verses 15-19).
The capital city of Edom was Bozrah. As descendants of Esau (see Genesis 25:23), the Edomites were related to the Israelites. However, they were consistently antagonistic to Israel. Later, when Jerusalem was overcome, Edom sided with Israel’s enemies and delighted in her destruction. In prophetical statements, Edom often was a type of those who were in opposition to God and hated His people.
In verse 1, Isaiah asked the identity of the royal figure coming from Edom. Verses 1-6 contain the answer, giving a vivid picture of Christ and His ultimate victory over His enemies. In verse 2 a question was asked about why this royal person’s garments were stained as if He had been treading out grapes. (Pressing grapes was a familiar scene to Isaiah’s audience. The grapes were put into a bowl-shaped area in a rock, and the people walked over them, squeezing out the juice.) In verse 3, the Lord answers, “I have trodden the winepress alone.” Because Jesus would go to the Cross alone, even being separated from God the Father, He alone has the right to judge and execute His sentence upon mankind.
Verse 4 referenced the “day of vengeance” — a day planned by and known to God alone. This vengeance did not mean an uncontrolled outburst of human anger, but indicates God’s retribution to those who persisted in rebelling. The next two verses complete the picture of full and final destruction for His enemies.
Isaiah recalled the mercies, goodness, and lovingkindnesses that God had bestowed on Israel, leading them through the wilderness, forgiving them when they rebelled, and bringing them into the Promised Land so that God’s name could be glorified (verses 7-14). He boldly stated (verse 16), “Doubtless thou art our father.” Acknowledging God as a father was very rare in the Old Testament. Isaiah emphasized God’s eternal love for them and all people as His creation. Even if the patriarchs Abraham and Israel (Jacob) could not help them, God would.
Isaiah reminded the Lord of the covenant relationship, that the Israelites were His people. They had been in the Promised Land almost 700 years, but they would be dispersed. The heathen nations would desecrate and destroy the sanctuary in Jerusalem.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
C. The provision for deliverance (future glory)
2. The glory of the kingdom
c. The position of Jerusalem in the kingdom
(4) The destruction of Jerusalem’s enemies (63:1-6)
3. The prayer of the remnant for mercy
a. The prayer request
(1) The remembrance of the past mercies (63:7-14)
(2) The prayer of the remnant (63:15-19)
To ignore God’s instructions is to presume on His mercy. Let us choose to be obedient rather than presumptuous.