Although God’s people are called upon to suffer much upon earth,
they have an eternal cause to rejoice,
in that all who trust in His salvation have the approbation of the living God and may therefore despise the censures of dying men who will shortly be punished.
1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
4 ¶ Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
7 ¶ Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
9 ¶ Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
10 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
15 But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name.
16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
17 ¶ Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
19 These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.
21 ¶ Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:
22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
Isaiah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Isaiah 51:1-11 – “Awake, O Arm of the LORD.”
This chapter is extremely dramatic. We are conscious that we are nearing a revelation of unparalleled sublimity. As we hear the thrice Hearken in Isaiah 51:1-8, and the thrice Awake, Isaiah 51:9, which follows, we realize that we are traversing the entrance portico of a noble temple. When God says, Hearken, it is for us to ask Him to fulfill–Awake!
Recall the loneliness of Abraham. “He was but one!” Terah died, Lot dropped away, Hagar was thrust out, Isaac was laid on the altar, but the fire that burned in his heart only grew brighter. Do not despair if you are alone in your stand for God. One acorn, when the life of Nature touches it, may become parent to a forest. These exiled Jews hardly dared to hope that they could escape from their foes. The air was heavy with their revilings, but compare Isaiah 51:8 with Isaiah 50:9. With such assurances we may face a world in arms. The forces of evil are strong, but God is stronger. The clouds threaten, but the sun is shining. Don’t forget the Lord thy Maker, thy Redeemer, thy Father! He cannot fail or forsake! —Through the Bible Day by Day
Isaiah 51:12-23 – The Captive Exile Shall Be Loosed
During the Sepoy mutiny in India, when a number of English men and women were shut up in a quarter of Cawnpore, expecting a terrible death by assault or slow starvation, a torn page of the Bible, containing this passage, was found on the street pavement and was of unspeakable comfort. Oh, the blessedness of appropriating Isaiah 51:16! See Isaiah 49:7.
We are too apt to forget that God pleads the cause of His people, even when they have sinned and have reduced themselves to sore straits, Isaiah 51:17 and Isaiah 51:22. We think more of the earth than of the over-arching skies; of the fading grass than of the tree of Life; of man than of God. The near obscures the distant, and the flaring earth lights, the shine of the stars! Root yourself in God! Think of Him who sits at the right hand of the throne, the seat of resistless, ceaseless energy! Believe that God has placed Himself between you and all enemies and circumstances which threaten. To fear all day is impossible in face of these paragraphs. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Isaiah 51:12—I, even I, am He that comforteth you.
It is related that in the great Indian Mutiny, when some hundreds of English ladies with their children were shut up in the Residency at Lucknow, and threatened by an immense crowd of rebels, a leaf of the Bible, stained with blood, and used as a common piece of wrapping, was brought in to them, and proved to contain these words. It reminded them of God their Maker; and bade them fear no more the fury of the oppressor, or the failure of bread, because the Lord God was at hand to neutralize the tumult and fury of their foes.
In the Lord our Maker we have the only antidote for alarm and sorrow. At this time the cross had not been erected with its precious revelation of the love of God; and the prophet quotes two of the greatest proofs of God’s might—the miracle of Creation, with its over-arching heavens and deep-laid foundations of the earth; and that of the deliverance from Egypt.
Go out into nature, behold the might of God written on his glorious works, and then say to yourself, This God is my Father; and He would rather sacrifice worlds of matter, than forget or forsake his child. It were easier for Him to destroy all that He has made, and re-create it in a moment of time, than allow one of his weakest children that trusts in Him to be overwhelmed by trouble. Then go forth and stand at the cross, and remember that it was for thee. Surely He who went to so great expenditure to purchase thee from the power of hell, will not let thee perish before the malice of man. Furious men are but the foam of the breaker which your Deliverer will put aside. The sea may roar, but it cannot overwhelm. —Our Daily Homily