Reading through the Bible together
The first verse of this chapter resonates with awe-inspiring splendor and might. Here we see the majestic figure of a victorious warrior who has gained victory over his enemies (Edom and Bozrah); those who throughout the ages have been persistently and cruelly hostile and destructive towards Himself and the subjects of His kingdom.
Almost immediately, however, the tone changes. Our awe changes to heart-stopping concern. This has been no easy victory. The warrior’s clothes are drenched in blood and there is a sense of dreadful sadness as He utters the words, “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me.” Victory is apparently not sweet. There have been many casualties in this terrible war, some of them being those closest to Him. In his winepress the Lord has had to trample the Virgin Daughter of Judah. “I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me” (Lam 1:15).
There was no comfort for this divine Warrior in Gethsemane or on the cross in the hour of His greatest need. He was abandoned by His closest friends and, it seemed, even by His Father. This is a glimpse of what it cost Him to usher in the Kingdom of Grace for all mankind (Isa 61).
There was a part that we didn’t look at in Chapter 61. We read that the Servant-Messiah came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s Favour… It continues, “AND the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa 61:2). Did our Warrior-Messiah go to Gethsemane and the cross to bring salvation for mankind or to wreak vengeance on the wicked? Isaiah says about Him, “for the day of vengeance was in my heart, the year of my redemption has come” (v.4). Here we read that when God saw that there was no one to help Him to perform “His strange work, His alien task” of “destruction decreed against the whole land” (Isa 28:21,22), yet again He was appalled and says, “So my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me “ (v.5).
The blood of wickedness drenched our Redeemer’s clothes (v.3). He experienced the full fury of His Father towards wickedness. This broke our Saviour’s heart. His life blood poured out onto the ground so that perishing millions could gain eternal life.
We cannot separate Redemption and the destruction of wickedness. God hates wickedness. How could we respect a Ruler who is not determined to step in at the right time to eradicate this destructive force and make the universe a safe place once more? Both redemption and vengeance are “kindnesses of the Lord.” And “He is to be praised for all that He has done in His tenderness and many acts of love” (v.7 NEB). God gives each person what they have chosen. The wicked have chosen to reject the Lord and would not be happy in His Kingdom.
Our Warrior-Messiah will rejoice over the Redeemed throughout endless ages. But this mighty Warrior, the Angel of God’s presence (v.9), who wept when Lucifer and His angels were cast out of Heaven in the beginning, will also, in the end, grieve over the children He lost.
Partners in Ministry Coordinator
Greater Sydney Conference, Australia