Deliverance of Israel
1 In that day,
the LORD will punish with his sword,
his fierce, great and powerful sword,
Leviathan the gliding serpent,
Leviathan the coiling serpent;
he will slay the monster of the sea.
2 In that day—
“Sing about a fruitful vineyard:
3 I, the LORD, watch over it;
I water it continually.
I guard it day and night
so that no one may harm it.
4 I am not angry.
If only there were briers and thorns confronting me!
I would march against them in battle;
I would set them all on fire.
5 Or else let them come to me for refuge;
let them make peace with me,
yes, let them make peace with me.”
6 In days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will bud and blossom
and fill all the world with fruit.
7 Has the LORD struck her
as he struck down those who struck her?
Has she been killed
as those were killed who killed her?
8 By warfare and exile you contend with her—
with his fierce blast he drives her out,
as on a day the east wind blows.
9 By this, then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for,
and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin:
When he makes all the altar stones
to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces,
no Asherah poles or incense altars
will be left standing.
10 The fortified city stands desolate,
an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert;
there the calves graze,
there they lie down;
they strip its branches bare.
11 When its twigs are dry, they are broken off
and women come and make fires with them.
For this is a people without understanding;
so their Maker has no compassion on them,
and their Creator shows them no favor.
12 In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. 13 And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.
Not Mad At Ya
I’m not going to lie…there are a lot of things about this passage that I don’t understand. I have no idea where that reference to Leviathan comes from, and what it means in this context – it’s a sea monster, sometimes used as an image of those who oppose God, like Satan, or even man. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue – sorry!
But the verse that strikes me is verse 4: “I am not angry.” It seems so blunt and out of place, until you look at it in terms of the descriptions that fill the passage. This chapter is filled with pastoral, farming metaphors: vineyard, briers, threshing, fruit, and blossoms. And in this context, the “damage” that a farmer occasionally does to his plants is not some infuriated and pointless beating…it is a pruning. And farmers don’t do this out of rage, as if they are angry with their beanstalks and tomatoes, but with a calm and certain sense that what he does is best for the plant.
How often, when circumstances turn against us, do we say, “God must be angry with me!” I think it is very natural and easy to think this way, and I do so all the time. But in those moments, I think it is good to remember the Farmer aspect of God, an aspect that we have seen throughout this book so far. The Farmer doesn’t whip his vineyard – he prunes it judiciously so that it will bear more fruit.
And this is an important realization because if we fear God’s anger with every trial and tribulation, we will come to see God as a domineering father, and watch our steps only for fear of his punishment. But this works against the grace we have received in Jesus, because it is not by works that we avoid the Father’s wrath, but through that wrath being absorbed by Another.
1. Have you ever tried to grow a fruiting plant before? What did you have to do to make sure the plant was able to bear fruit?
2. In what ways do you think God is pruning you in your life right now?
3. Why do you think Isaiah mentions the Leviathan in the beginning of this chapter?