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2013 August 12

Exodus: Urbino Bible 3 (1476-1478)
Francesco di Antonio del Chierico (1433-1484)
Renaissance Style
Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican, Vatican City, Italy
Image Source: Web Gallery of Art

     Explanation: A central feature of Isaiah 63 is a plea for mercy based on the LORD's covenant mercies shown particularly in the Exodus. The chapter begins with a vision of a conquering hero depicted via a dialogue (1-6) and concludes with a monologue which features pleas inspired by the vision (7-19).
     The warrior identifies himself as a righteous savior (1-b) and says he has trodden the winepress of vengeance alone and accomplished salvation (3-5). In response, the monologue opens with an acknowledgement of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD toward Israel and a remembrance that "In all their affliction he was afflicted" (7, 9). It continues with an admission of their sin which was countered by great deliverance in the days of Moses as they passed through the Red Sea (7-9). The monologue concludes with a plea that the LORD look down from heaven, soften their hearts, and deliver his ruined sanctuary which is among them (15-19).
     Commentators vary about the identity of the warrior in verses 1-6 (e.g., see Barnes, Calvin, Clarke, Gill, Poole, et al). However, in this writer's opinion, the references best fit someone (God) who is divine; and taken as a whole, the parallel references to the Messiah's final war with evil point to that greater day, of which the destruction of Edom (depicted here) is a foreshadowing. (In this regard see Revelation 14:19-20; Revelation 19:11-16). In other words, Edom's destruction, whether this refers to those historical destructions which removed them as a nation, or whether it is a reference to future destruction with Edom as a symbol, seems clearly to be a divine, just, and righteous accomplishment.

Isaiah 63

     1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?
     I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
     2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
     3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
     7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. 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 bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
     10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him? 12 That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? 13 That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble? 14 As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.
     15 Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained? 16 Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting. 17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. 18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. 19 We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.

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