Isaiah Chapter Twenty Seven, The Shining City

In our study of Isaiah chapter twenty seven, we look at the final judgment of the earth and the new shining city of Jerusalem. This is the third of the series of songs in which God's people celebrate the coming of the King and His Kingdom.

Isaiah 27:1

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.

"In that day" is a technical term that is used to describe the time of Great Tribulation as well as the Millennial Reign and eternity. Here, it is specifically talking about the time after the Millennial Reign when Satan is finally judged. The sword refers to the word of God (see Revelation 19:15) and it is used to bring charges against the devil. The first description used here is "fierce" and comes from the Hebrew word "qasheh" and it means severe. It is a reminder that those that have rejected the fact that life is a gift from God will come against the force that created all things. The second term that is translated as "great" is the Hebrew word "gadowl" which basically means "older". This speaks of the fact that, in the beginning was the word and is a reminder of the fact that only God has been around forever. We will all live in the forever that is to come but we have not always existed. In the same way, Satan will be reminded that he was not around in the beginning. The third term that is used is the Hebrew word "chazaq" which is translated as strong. It is a reminder of the power of the very words of God and the fact that He did not have to physically build the things of creation but simply spoke them into existence out of nothing. The last part of the verse contrasts the words of the devil with the previous description of the word of God. First we see the name leviathan used and it basically means "wreathed" or formed which is a reminder to the devil that he was created by the very words of God. Satan is described as "gliding" but the Hebrew word is "bariyach" which means fleeing and it speaks of the fact that the devil is a liar and his words have no lasting impact unlike the eternal words of God. The second term is "aqallathown" which is translated as coiling or crooked and it speaks of the fact that Satan's words bring pain and suffering while the words of God bring life. The third part of the description is "monster of the sea" which comes from the Hebrew word "tamiyn" and can mean sea serpent or jackal. A jackal is an animal that scavenges and looks for the easy opportunity to profit from another animal's hunting. This speaks of the fact that the devil is a liar and his words could not be trusted while the word of God is truth and stands forever.

Isaiah 27:2 & 3

In that day - 'Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.'

The "vineyard" speaks of God's people and this "fruitful" one is a stark contrast to the vineyard that was described in chapter 5. There, God was pushed out of the lives of His people and was treated as just a religious obligation but, here, they are in a close relationship with God. This passage is close to John's description of the New Jerusalem as he described the river of life flowing from the throne of God (see Revelation 22). Unlike the previous city that trusted in its walls and gates to protect it, the gates of this city will always be open as it is directly protected by God. John described this in Revelation 21.

Isaiah 27:4 & 5

'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. Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.'

Isaiah now returns to talking about the people of his time and the fact that they were not fully trusting in God. Although God would be just in being angry, He issues this plea for Israel to accept His peace. They had not totally abandoned their relationship with Him but it was not an exclusive relationship as they also allowed idols. This is very similar to the "lukewarm" description that Jesus uses in His letter to the church in Laodicea (see Revelation 3:15). The "briers and thorns" speaks of weeds or those that reject the offer of salvation. Those that do so are removed and judged but there is also a judgment ahead for those that are only lukewarm. God is pleading with His people to forsake all other things and to trust in Him alone. There is only one way to become a resident of this shining city and that is through total faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 27:6

In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill the world with fruit.

Isaiah uses the image of a tree to look forward to a time when the Jews would fulfill their calling. So, what was and is the calling of the Jews? The Hebrew word that is translated here as "bud" is "parach" and it describes an emerging and spreading like the flowers on a tree while "tsuwts", which means twinkle or shine, is translated as "blossom". The Hebrew word "tenubah" is translated here as fruit and it speaks of a tree bearing its fruit. We see three stages in the life of a tree as it is planted, cared for so it can grow, and finally it produces fruit. In this case, Isaiah saw that God would plant descendants of Jacob (Jews) in the land of Israel (the promised land) and they would produce fruit for His kingdom. This was clearly speaking of the ministry of Jesus and the appointing of His apostles which were Jews. Isaiah saw that these people would be "planted" in the faith and become disciples of Christ (the promised land). The verse also tells of the fact that they would be a shining example (twinkling) which speaks of the fact that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. They would fill the world with fruit as in the "fruit of the Spirit". We are reminded of the fact that Paul was one of the most religious of the Jews but was used by God to spread the gospel to most of the known world at that time. So, has this prophecy been fully fulfilled? Probably not as we are reminded that Isaiah was talking about the last days. This speaks of the 144,000 sealed witnesses that John saw in Revelation 7. Although Paul and the other apostles were used in their season to produce fruit, this verse speaks of the final season and the great harvest that John saw. These 144,000 will be a remnant that God leaves on the earth through the Great Tribulation and they will be used to demonstrate the power of God. They will prepare people to be residents of the shining city (the New Jerusalem).

Isaiah 27:7

Has the Lord struck her as he struck down those who struck her? Has she been killed as those were killed who killed her?

The "her" refers to Israel and the question is not really a question. This speaks of the remnant and the fact that, throughout the history of God's people" there has always been a remnant that was spared. This is in contrast to the way that most of their enemies were completely destroyed as Israel went in and conquered the promised land. This last days remnant is made up of Jews who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. They have received the seal of God in the form of the Holy Spirit as we see in John's description in Revelation 7.

Isaiah 27:8

By warfare and exile you contend with her - with his fierce blast he drives her out, as on a day the east wind blows.

This verse speaks to the purpose of the Great Tribulation and that is to bring Israel back to a right relationship with God. This will be a time of great trouble and persecution but it is measured (limited) by God and is applied because of His love for them and not in anger. Satan, who is the ultimate hater of Israel, will be allowed to come against God's people but he is limited in the fact that God is still in control of all things.

Isaiah 27:9

By this, then, will Jacob's guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones to be like limestone crushed to pieces, no Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing.

During this Great Tribulation, many will abandon their religious attempts to please God and will accept the finished work of Jesus. This verse describes the fact that acceptance of the grace of God through Jesus Christ will cause men to throw away their idols and to demolish their religious buildings and rituals. It reminds us that this New Jerusalem (shining city) is not a religious city. It is a righteous city created by God and not by the hands of men.

Isaiah 27:10

The fortified city stands desolate, an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the wilderness; there the calves graze, there they lie down; they strip its branches bare.

Isaiah continues to describe the turning of the Jewish people from religious laws to grace with a description of Jerusalem without a temple. The "fortified city" speaks of a city that is set apart which is quite obviously Jerusalem. The Hebrew word "badad" is translated here as "desolate" but it is better translated as "set apart" as it speaks of the fact that Jerusalem will be set apart as a shining example of the grace of God. The "abandoned settlement" is from the Hebrew words "shalach" which means "send away" and "naveh" which means "home" as in home of God (the temple). This speaks of the fact that the salvation of the Jews does not come from a building or from their efforts to be righteous. They will have seen the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in the witnesses and know that a building is not required for the presence of God. Isaiah goes on to describe the area that is known today as the Temple Mount. His description is quite accurate as it is really not much to look at these days. Although it is ground zero in the battle of religions today, we see that, in the last days, it will be a place without religion. It is a described as a place where calves eat branches of the trees and it brings to mind the fact that cows (and calves) do not usually eat tree branches as their stomachs are designed to digest grass from the ground. The "wilderness" meaning desert is not the normal place for a cow to live and so it desperately seeks to eat whatever is available in hopes of surviving. This is a picture of the desperation of men attempting to be right with God through their own efforts. This is the kind of desperation that will lead men to even worship Satan during the Great Tribulation. Isaiah looks past that time to the day when Jerusalem will be a shining city built on the grace of Jesus Christ. Once again, we see that the only way to be a resident of this city is to abandon religion and hold onto Jesus.

Isaiah 27:11

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.

When the leaves are stripped off of a tree, it will die and that is what we have pictured here. In the last part we saw the desperation of people grabbing onto religion like a cow eating leaves from a tree trying to survive in the desert. This tree is a contrast to the one described earlier that took root and produced fruit (verse 6). That tree was rooted in the finished work of Jesus Christ while this tree is religion that is rooted in the efforts of men. As we see here, those who trust in a religion (work of their hands) instead of Christ will die and be consumed by fire. This speaks of the final judgment of Israel and we see that this judgment is for those that cling to their religion and reject Jesus Christ. Isaiah sees that those who reject Jesus will not be shown mercy or kindness. This is a reminder that there is only one way to be saved and that is through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Even now, there is a large effort underway to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and to begin again the sacrifices and offerings that ceased with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. These efforts to restore the religious system are a testament to the fact that the people are a "people without understanding" of the Scriptures that they have received. All of the Torah, the Prophets, and the writings point to the fact that a Messiah was to come but these people do not accept Him. In rejecting Jesus, they reject the One that sent Him which is God in heaven. When a people reject God, they are left to judgment without mercy or kindness. There are those that spread a false hope that just getting the Jewish people to Israel will make them safe and bring them back to God. This is a lie and an abomination as it is only through faith in Jesus the Messiah that anyone can enter this new shining city of God.

Isaiah 27:12

In that day the Lord will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, Israel, will be gathered up one by one.

Threshing is a part of the harvest where the grain is separated from the chaff. Today, we have modern machines that do this but, during Isaiah's time, this was accomplished by beating the stalks of grain and then throwing them into the air. The grain would fall back to the floor where it could be swept up and gathered while the chaff which was lighter was carried away by the breeze. This verse speaks of the time (Millennial Reign) where the true nation of Israel will be separated from the rest of the nations. Just like the methods of old, they will be separated by the wind (Spirit) of God. Those that do not accept Jesus Christ will be burned in the fires of Hell while those that accept Him will be gathered to take their rightful place to rule and reign with their King.

Isaiah 27:13

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.

This speaks of eternity and the dwelling of God's people (both Jew and Gentile) with Him in the New Jerusalem which is the shining city that is to come. We see that this occurs at the sounding of a trumpet and are reminded that it takes wind from the mouth to make a sound emerge from the instrument. This wind is a picture of the Holy Spirit of God and it is through that Spirit that the people will be called to Him so they can worship properly. There is a very large effort today to bring the Jewish people back to their homeland of Israel and that is a good thing. But, there are those who believe and teach that their efforts are fulfilling the promise contained here and in other parts of the Torah. Some even go so far as to say that getting them there is all that is required for them to be saved. Teaching that the efforts of man can achieve this is a blasphemy of the Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.