ISAIAH CHAPTER 4
THINGS WILL GET WORSE BEFORE THEY GET BETTER
What happens when you decide to really clean and organize your house? You have to tear things apart, pull them out, and go through them. So in the process it looks like a bigger mess than when you started. Or if you are going to paint the outside of your house what happens? You have to scrape off the old loose paint and sand it away. To the onlooker, the house looks worse than before your started. Then you have to patch those spots and only after all that is done can the fresh coat of beautiful paint be applied. Things do get worse before they get better. We see that principle in the Scripture we look at today. So let’s turn to Isaiah chapter 4.
Isaiah 4:1-6 NLT:
1 In that day few men will be left alive. Seven women will fight over each of them and say, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us be called by your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.”
2 But in the future, Israel—the branch of the Lord—will be lush and beautiful, and the fruit of the land will be the pride of its people.
3 All those whose names are written down, who have survived the destruction of Jerusalem, will be a holy people.
4 The Lord will wash the moral filth from the women of Jerusalem. He will cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains by a spirit of judgment that burns like fire.
5 Then the Lord will provide shade for Jerusalem and all who assemble there. There will be a canopy of smoke and cloud throughout the day and clouds of fire at night, covering the glorious land.
6 It will be a shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain.
Verse 1 should be pretty well self-explanatory. These women who were described in chapter 3 will do almost anything to get a man who will provide for them, including sharing him with several other women. But then we see a swift and dramatic change in Isaiah 4:2 NAS:
2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.
This fourth chapter predicts conditions not only in the days following the Babylonian captivity (circa 538 BC), but also in the days following the Great Tribulation yet in the future when Jesus returns.
The previous judgment prophecies from Isaiah 2:6-4:1 are now balanced by the supreme hope that centers on Jerusalem. No matter what happens there will be a new city that will arise on Mount Zion, one that is purified and protected by God. What was tragedy will become hope. When all the trials and disasters are over, God will create a new world for us to live in. A world without suffering and pain. “The branch of the Lord,” is most likely a reference to the Messiah, Jesus, who is described as a “branch” in Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15. Isaiah 11:1 contains similar language.
Isaiah 4:3,4 NAS:
3 It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem.
4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning,
“The filth of the daughters of Zion,” refers more to the corruption of the city as a whole than to the women in particular. “Bloodstains of Jerusalem” refers to the sins of God’s people as a whole. “A spirit of judgment and a spirit of burning” point unmistakably to the Judgment Day. During the darkest of times deliverance will come through the “Branch of the Lord,” Jesus Christ. Those left in Zion and remaining in Jerusalem will be the special objects of Jesus’ favor as a result of His grace and their faith, and will be set apart to the Lord who will wash away their filth in His own blood and cleanse their hearts with the spirit of burning.
Isaiah 4:5, 6 NAS:
5 then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.
6 There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.
This entire process points to a new creation. The ”cloud by day and fire by night” is a reference to the Exodus and how God led His people through the wilderness for 40 years. He visibly demonstrated His presence to them by using a cloud in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night to lead them where He wanted them to go. So the Israelites would immediately understand the meaning of this image that Isaiah uses, and realize that Israel would once again be under the care of the Lord God Jehovah. The presence of God will once again be gloriously apparent in their midst
The glory of God will be a canopy. God’s presence will provide protection and refuge for His people. We see that to some degree even today for people who remain close to God. He does give them protection and refuge during their sufferings. But the bigger picture applies to the Millennium when there will be security in the New Jerusalem. The inhabitants of Jerusalem will be forgiven and under the protection of Jesus Christ from all perils and danger. A perfect climax to this glorious prophecy of salvation.