Isaiah 63:1–19 (NKJV)
63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.”
This dialogue is carried on by the Lord and His people. Isaiah identifies the blood-laden clothing of the Lord, who returns from treading the winepress of His wrath among the nations. Israel had no champion, so God fought for them.
7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,
According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, “Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.”
So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
11 Then he remembered the days of old,
Moses and his people, saying:
“Where is He who brought them up out of the sea
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
12 Who led them by the right hand of Moses,
With His glorious arm,
Dividing the water before them
To make for Himself an everlasting name,
13 Who led them through the deep,
As a horse in the wilderness,
That they might not stumble?”
14 As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people,
To make Yourself a glorious name.
Isaiah explains why this action was necessary. God, in His lovingkindness, had compassion on Israel, who was oppressed and damaged by their enemies. His wrath would not last forever against Israel. That is why He fought their enemies and redeemed them. However, the cause for the original punishment, brought through their enemies, was the spirit that resided in the Israelites who left Egypt under Moses’ leadership. They complained, which was unacceptable. He was leading them somewhere and they chafed against His leadership. This led them to punishment. All His blessings and leadership were not enough. He longs to give His people rest.
15 Look down from heaven,
And see from Your habitation, holy and glorious.
Where are Your zeal and Your strength,
The yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me?
Are they restrained?
16 Doubtless You are our Father,
Though Abraham was ignorant of us,
And Israel does not acknowledge us.
You, O LORD, are our Father;
Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.
17 O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways,
And hardened our heart from Your fear?
Return for Your servants’ sake,
The tribes of Your inheritance.
18 Your holy people have possessed it but a little while;
Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.
19 We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled,
Those who were never called by Your name.
The chapter ends with another series of questions regarding why God allowed them to stray. While no answer is given, the rhetorical questions are thought-provoking. Isaiah, though, does declare that the fathers of the nation are silent, and do not hear their cries, but the Lord is alive and well. Now, Lord, redeem us again. These questions and this anguish often perplexes us today as well. We wonder where God is in the midst of trouble. God is always God and He is always immanent, near. Even when you cannot sense Him with your fleshly sensing, He is there. Trust when you feel Him, and trust when you don’t. What you cannot see is often the thing that will sustain you in the fight!