The Third Call to Awake
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Before we look at Isaiah, chapter 52, I think a review is in order. We are in the second section, which began with chapter 40. We mentioned to you when we began the study of the last half of the book of Isaiah that it was going to be a section that was marked by a message of comfort. It began with the words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith the Lord.” We pointed out to you that one of the ways of comfort was related to the presentation of the Messiah in the garb of a servant. We discovered there were four Servant passages in the book of Isaiah which describe the Lord Jesus Christ so clearly that you would think you were reading these passages from the New Testament.

We pointed out to you as well that these Servant passages are separated by sections of Scripture which we have referred to as interludes . Sometimes they are based upon what was said about the Servant; sometimes they are not.

A few weeks ago we began a consideration of the interlude of Scripture that comes between the surrendered Servant and the suffering Servant. We have not yet considered the suffering Servant. The Lord willing, we will be doing that in our next lesson.

Between the picture of the surrendered Servant and the suffering Servant is this interlude which begins with chapter 51, verse 1, and continues through chapter 52, verse 12. This particular interlude was marked by two distinct words, each of them used three times over. One of the words was the word hearken and the other was the word awake . We have noticed every time the word hearken has been used, and we have noticed two times that the word awake has been used.

Notice the passage of Scripture in which the word awake is used for the third consecutive time, beginning with Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 1:

Isaiah 52

1Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
3For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
4For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
5Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
6Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
7How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
8Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
9Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
10The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
11Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.
12For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

A Picture and a Prophecy

Let me make two general statements that will be guidelines for our thinking in relation to this passage of Scripture which I believe will help us to understand it better. It is thus a picture and a prophecy. It is a picture of the nation of Israel addressed under the name of the city because the prophet often does this. He speaks to the city of Jerusalem and in so doing speaks to the entire nation of Israel. He speaks to the nation and He speaks to the city in the terms of a prostitute trampled down in the street, suddenly made to sit upon a throne. This is a Cinderella-type story, except it does have a lasting permanence that the Cinderella story doesn't usually have.

The other thing that I would like for you to keep in mind is that this is a prophecy. It is important to notice that because you probably realized as we read the passage of Scripture that most of the verb tenses were in the past. You would think that this has already occurred, but it hasn't. It is something that is related to the future, and we will be able to see that as we go along.

A very normal question in the minds of thinking people is, “If it is in the future, why are most of the verbs in the past tense?” The answer is a very simple one. Whenever God makes a prophecy, as far as He is concerned, it is fulfilled. It may take some time, but it is fulfilled. Grammarians in both Greek and Hebrew have referred to the tense in which these verbs are written as prophetic perfect . The suggestion is that they are so complete in God's mind that He uses the past tense in our English translation.

A Picture of Israel At the End of the Age

With those two guidelines in mind, let us notice the passage of Scripture, verse by verse. First, the call is addressed to the prostitute nation lying in the street to get up out of the dust and to sit upon the throne. The call is presented in the words found in verses 1-2:

Isaiah 52

1Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

Picture the prostitute, bandied about and used in an ill way by the uncircumcised and the unclean. God says, “That day has gone. No longer will you be a toy in the hands of men; rather, you are going to sit upon a throne.” Then in verse 2, we read:

Isaiah 52

2Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

The phrase, sit down , comes from a Hebrew idiom which speaks of sitting upon a throne. Here is the nation of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, so trampled down in persecution that she is as a prostitute in the street; but God said, “I want you to take an exalted place. I want you to sit upon a throne. Never again will anything unclean have to do with you.”

This is the first inkling that this is a description not of the city of Jerusalem now nor the city of Jerusalem of Isaiah's day. It is not the city of Jerusalem of David's day nor Solomon's day when it had great glory, but it is a picture of Jerusalem as it will be at the end of the age when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.

Of course, you want some verification of that. It isn't sufficient for me just to say it, so turn with me to the book of Revelation. The only way you will understand the Word of God is to compare Scripture with Scripture. No Scripture is of any private interpretation. If you try to interpret it by itself, you will never have the clear meaning of it. Look at Revelation, chapter 21, verse 1:

Revelation 21

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

You see, Isaiah said, “Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem,” and John sees the city with those beautiful garments on. He went on to say some other things about it, and then, beginning with verses 10-21, he describes that beautiful city with those beautiful garments. The city of Jerusalem has never been dressed in the manner that is described here.

We are not going to take the time to read all the verses, but you can do that for yourself. Notice verse 27. Remember Isaiah said, “When you have donned your beautiful garments, never again will anything unclean come into you anymore.” John, after having described the city of Jerusalem in her beautiful garments, says, in verse 27:

Revelation 21

27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

There will be nothing unclean related to the New Jerusalem, only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

God Traces Israel's History of Captivity and Deliverance

Go back to Isaiah, chapter 52, as we listen to God tracing the history of the nation of Israel before she reached the place of beauty to which we have just referred. Look at the paragraph which begins with verse 3:

Isaiah 52

3For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.

Does that sound like a strange thing to be saying right here? Well, remember, God had asked them this very thing in chapter 50. For example, they were in a sad state and He wanted to provoke them to thought. He wanted them to find the reason for it, and so He said in verse 1 of chapter 50:

Isaiah 50

1Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?…

“You say that I have forsaken you. If I have, where is the bill of divorcement?” Then He said:

Isaiah 50

1…which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?…

They said, “You just forsook us, God.” He then said:

Isaiah 50

1…Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.

Taking up the same thought, He said in verse 3:

Isaiah 52

3For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.

He says, “You sold yourselves and didn't get a thing.”

May we pause long enough to ask a very important question? How many people are there today, not related to the Jewish nation, who sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate? How many people are there today, not related to the city of Jerusalem, who sell themselves for nothing? They sacrifice their hope of eternity's morn for a moment of joy at the most. How many folk do that today?

The nation of Israel did that and God responded and said, “Do you know what is going to happen? Your redemption isn't going to cost you anything. What is going to be done, I am going to do.” Then He tells how He is going to do it. In verse 4, He says:

Isaiah 52

4For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there…

That is a complete description of a long period of history four hundred years in length. Everybody who is familiar with the history of the nation of Israel knows that while Israel was in Egypt, she was oppressed by the Pharaohs, and God, hearing their cry from captivity, delivered them. Then, after that—not immediately after—He said:

Isaiah 52

4…and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.

This was a reference to the Babylonian captivity to which Isaiah has referred consistently in this book. The Assyrian oppressed without cause, but those of you who have studied the book of Isaiah with us know that the word Assyrian has a primary and a secondary meaning. The secondary meaning is a reference to the Antichrist who will yet come and place the nation of Israel under even greater subjection. Look at verse 5:

Isaiah 52

5Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.

The reason that these three major captivities are placed together is because of their similarities. Egypt, Babylon, and the persecution related to the Antichrist are associated throughout this paragraph and brought to our attention. The persecutors of the nation of Israel made God's people to howl, and He was blasphemed continually, and so in verse 6, God says:

Isaiah 52

6Therefore my people shall know my name…

I want you to notice the rest of this verse very carefully. Some of the words are italicized, and they should not be in every instance, but they should be in some instances. The translation that is before me reads:

Isaiah 52

6…therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.

The original translation permits some of the words being italicized, but not all of them. You will notice the phrase, they shall know . There is no word for that in the original Hebrew. Translators have put it in to convey the sense of the verse, and rightly so, because actually in the Hebrew it is, “therefore in that day.” The sense of the verse is that the people in that day will realize something.

Notice in the next statement: “In that day they shall realize that I am he that doth speak.” You will notice the word am is in italics, and it shouldn't be. It is there in the original text, but our translators put it in because they had forgotten that the name of God is I Am . They tried to make a complete sentence out of those two phrases in Hebrew, so that they made one sentence to read this way: “In that day that I am He.” Actually, there were two sentences. “In that day the people shall know I Am.”

Remember what Moses said when he was standing by the burning bush before he went down into the land of Egypt? He said, “I've got to tell these people who sent me. Who shall I say sent me?” God said, “Tell the people I Am sent you. You tell the people if they want to know My name, My name is I Am .” That is exactly what the Spirit of God was saying here. One sentence is, “In that day they shall know I Am. They shall know My name.” And another sentence, “He is the One who is speaking.” Who is speaking? I Am is speaking. That is His name.

Then you will notice in the last phrase of verse 6:

Isaiah 52

6…behold, it is I.

The two words it is are in italics, which indicate that they are not in the original text. Our translators put them in because it made for smoother reading, but I think that it hides the meaning of the verse. What it actually says is, “Behold! I Am. Everybody fasten your eyes on God, for He is the One who is providing deliverance.”

The Vision of the Return of the Lord

In the spirit of that particular verse, we find in the next two verses the vision of the return of the Lord. This is a beautiful passage. Notice as we read it:

Isaiah 52

7How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

You see, Moses went down to Egypt and he said, “I Am hath sent me to deliver you. Someday, off in the future,” Isaiah said, “there is going to be someone come with a message. The message is, ‘Thy God reigneth'.” As Isaiah beholds Him, he says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who bringeth these good tidings of good that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”

If you are familiar with your Bibles, you will remember that these words are found in the book of Romans, chapter 10. The Apostle Paul quotes them, and there he makes an application as we are privileged to do with the Word of God. He applies them to a missionary who tells the good tidings to people who have never heard.

The missionary in Isaiah, chapter 52, is not any ordinary human-being. The missionary in Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 7, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who will someday return to the mountains of Jerusalem and say, “Thy God reigneth.” That is evident if you look at verse 8, for there Isaiah pictures the watchmen of the city lifting up their voices together and singing. Why? Notice the statement in verse 8:

Isaiah 52

8…for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.

Sometimes we use that expression. “We see eye-to-eye on this.” We mean that we agree on it, but that is not the meaning of the expression here. The idea is that the watchmen will be so close to the returning Lord that they will be able to look Him right in the eye when He returns, for His return will be a personal return.

Notice in the last part of verse 7, “that sayeth unto Zion, Thy God reigneth,” and then the last part of verse 8, “when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” The idea is that when the LORD shall bring Zion back to her former glory, the watchmen of the city shall see Him face to face.

We sing about seeing the Savior face-to-face someday. Most of us have in mind that when we get to Heaven we shall see Him face-to-face, and thank God when we get to Heaven we are going to see Him face-to-face, but there are going to be some people on this earth who are going to see Him face to face. They are going to look right into His eyes because the Lord is going to return personally, bodily, and visibly. My, what a time of joy it will be, because in verse 9, we read:

Isaiah 52

9Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

No, He hasn't done it yet, but He will. Since it is prophecy based upon the perfect will of God, it will occur. Since the verbs are all in what we referred to earlier as the prophetic perfect , it is a thing already settled in the mind of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is going to return and redeem Jerusalem. Look at verse 10:

Isaiah 52

10The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

We have already noticed that the holy arm in Isaiah is a figurative name for the Lord Jesus Christ. We are reading here in verse 10 that the eyes of all the nations shall see the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, and all the ends of the earth shall focus their eyes on Him when He comes back. This is a theme that is consistently emphasized throughout the Word of God, for the Apostle Paul says, “Every eye shall see Him, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God.”

The world may mock Him today, and they may say they have no interest in Him, but the day is coming when they will not be able to deny Him. God says, “Make this a message of comfort to My people.”

God's Deliverance

When you look at a picture, what do you do? You take a glance at the whole picture to begin with, don't you? If you were asked to describe the picture, you would write the description of it, and you would mention the highlights of it. Then maybe, if you were studying art and you were evaluating it, your teacher might say to you, “What you have written is fine. You have observed quite a few things, but I want you to study the picture again and see what else you see.” You go study it again, and you notice things that you didn't notice the first time, and you write those things down. That is, in a manner of speaking, what is done here. We have the overall picture of the city of Jerusalem lying in the dust, then being brought to a place of prominence, and the Lord Jesus Christ returning in power and glory, and every eye seeing Him. Then Isaiah goes over the picture again and he brings to our attention the details of interest. Notice verse 11:

Isaiah 52

11Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.

If I were to ask you what that verse meant, I wonder what you would say? You might say, “Well, somebody is told to get out and get out in a hurry.” That's right, but from where? Where are they to flee from when they flee, and why do they need to be in such a tremendous hurry? What is the reason for it?

I say this reverently: You cannot understand the Word of God unless you are familiar with all of the Word of God. You say, “Well, that's a discouraging thing to say. How are we ever going to know it?” That is the purpose of sitting under the ministry of the Word of God. This passage of Scripture by itself has no particular meaning to the average person, but when you take the time to study verse 11 with Revelation, chapter 18, you will find a perfect meaning for it. In the end of the age, just before the coming of the Lord, according to Revelation, chapter 18, the city of Babylon is going to be rebuilt. There are going to be a great many Jews settled in the city of Babylon because it is going to be the commercial metropolis of the world.

Have you have ever seen any successful commercial venture without some Jew related to it? Maybe not on the surface, but if you dig down deep enough, it will be there. You can expect a lot of them to be in this great commercial metropolis which is going to rise on the foundation of old Babylon, according to Revelation, chapter 18.

The Gospel will have been preached in a number of ways, as indicated in the book of Revelation. Just before the city of Babylon is destroyed in an instant, God is going to cry to His people, “All of ye that bear the vessels of the Lord, ye that belong to Me, get out and get out fast, because the city is going to be destroyed.” The exodus from Egypt will be nothing to compare with the exodus from Babylon. Now, look at verse 12:

Isaiah 52

12For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight…

If you are thinking, you realize immediately that surely here is something that has contradicted that which I have just said. I said that God said to hurry up and get out. But this passage of Scripture is referring to the certainty of their flight as compared with the uncertainty of the flight from Egypt. Do you remember how they fled from the land of Egypt? They went to their neighbors and said, “Can you lend me a pound of this? Can you lend me a pound of that? Can you lend me that vessel?” They borrowed everything that they could borrow, then they took it away with them. Somebody said, “That is just like a Jew. They hook you out of everything that they can.” No, God told them to do that. He said, “These folk owe you a lot of back wages and this is the only way that you are going to get them.”

They were not really sure that they were going to get out. They fled in secret, in haste with a great deal of uncertainty. They were there by the sea with the Egyptians behind them and before them, and they didn't know what they were going to do. Then God said, “Don't do anything. Be still and see the salvation of God.” But, you see, that was something untried. They were in the position that a great many of us are in in relation to the promises of God.

The Lord Will Go Before You

Have you ever tried to encourage some individual in relation to the promises of God, and the individual said to you, “I know it is in the Bible. I have read it a hundred times, but I don't know that it is for me. Maybe some people can believe it, but I don't know if I can believe it.”? You see, when they were coming out of Egypt, they weren't sure, but God said, “When you come out of Babylon you will not be coming out with haste and uncertainty, as you did from the land of Egypt.”

He gives the reason for it, and here is a precious promise. Oh, it will be literally fulfilled for the nation of Israel, but it is a precious promise for any believer of any age if you want to make the application to your own heart. Notice it in the last part of verse 12:

Isaiah 52

12…for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

Isn't that a wonderful promise? You are going to be in a place of danger some day. Don't you be afraid. God will deliver you. He will be in front of you and He will be in back of you. He will be in front of you to take all the blows from the opposing enemy, and He will be in back of you to take any attack that might come from the rear. God will be leading and God will be following.

My Help Cometh From the Lord

Psalms is the hymnbook of Israel. You know we have our hymnals today, and many of our songs are based upon various Scripture passages and upon various Scripture truths which have been a great blessing to believers. The book of Psalms is likewise the hymnal of the nation of Israel based upon the truths of the Word of God.

I love to think of Psalm 121 when I read verse 12, for it is a song that is based upon this verse. I would like for you to turn there with me and notice the preciousness of the truth that it conveys, based upon the fact that our God is looking out for us. Of course, this is Israel's hymnbook, so the reference is to Israel and we must accept that literally because God intended it so, but keep in mind Scripture has one interpretation, but as many applications as is consistent with the whole Word of God. We have presented the interpretation consistently, making few references to the applications, and I am not going to say anything more, to speak of, about the interpretation, but I am going to call to your attention the application of this precious truth to our lives. Read with me:

Psalm 121

1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

You understand that there is no punctuation in the original Hebrew, and the translators punctuated the passages of Scripture, and we are grateful for it. Have you ever thanked God for the monumental task that has been done in relation to the Bible? Have you ever stopped to think how difficult it would be for most people to read the Old Testament as it is in the original text without one reference to chapter or verse? You can't tell where one chapter ends and another chapter begins, save by the subject matter, but thank God for the men who dedicated their lives to arranging the Word of God in chapters and verses so that it would be easy for us to read. I thank God for such men, and I ask God to add to their labors. Remember that our reward is not complete until all of time is over because the blessing that we are receiving from the works done by these men of God who divided the Scripture will be accounted to their rewards when all of the coupons are clipped.

I thank God for their work, but I must say in all humility that sometimes the punctuation is not always put in the right place. That may sound a bit braggart of me, but it is true. You will notice this verse of Scripture as it is written: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” You would think that the Psalmist was saying, “I'm going to look up here to the hills, because my help is in the hills.” No. What he was saying is this: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills.” Stop there. Why will you do that, David? Well, that's where all the chariots are. The horses and the chariots are all in the hills.

Our God had to constantly remind His people that He was not the God of the hills and the chariots alone, but He was the God of the plains, because the people of that day, just as the people of our day, were prone to put their trust in horses and in chariots. So David said, “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills.” In his soliloquy he said, “From whence cometh my help?” Where does it come from? Does it come from the hills? “Oh no,” he responded in verse 2:

Psalm 121

2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

David had his chariots, and he had his horses when he wrote this. I think that we ought to have all the chariots and the horses that we as a nation can pile up for our security and our defense. It would be foolish to do otherwise, but we had better recognize that even with our horses and our chariots, our help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. If our help does not come from Him, then we are helpless indeed. You may be possessed of talent, ability, strength, what have you, and you may be prone to look at them and say, “I will succeed because of thus and so,” but, Beloved, remember that your help comes from the Lord.

God's Last Message to Israel

What kind of Lord is He? The Psalmist said:

Psalm 121

3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Are you having a rough time of it? Is your foot about to slip? God says that He will not suffer your foot to be moved. You might be on the edge of the precipice, and it might look as if you are going to go over, but God won't let you go over. You say, “I might get sleepy and fall off.” Well, you may get sleepy, but God won't, because we read:

Psalm 121

3…he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Of course, you notice the difference. You know what slumber is, but really a better word would be the word nod here. You know how easy it is to nod without going to sleep. It is amazing how much you miss in church when you nod, isn't it? It is amazing how hard it is to get back on the track after you have nodded a few minutes during the message. I don't blame you for nodding. If I was listening instead of talking, I would probably sleep, but you know how difficult it is to get back on the track when you nod. You miss some things. But, God doesn't nod. God doesn't sleep. His eyes are open all the time. Notice verse 5:

Psalm 121

5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil [He shall keep you from all evil physically, and He will keep you from all evil spiritually] : he shall preserve thy soul.
8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

This is a wonderful promise. It is a wonderful promise that God gave to Israel, and David wrote a song about it. God said, “When you flee for your lives, you don't need to be afraid. I will be back of you and I will be ahead of you.” David summed it all up in this wonderful song:

Psalm 121

8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Now, some of you need this promise, and some of you don't. If you are busy for the Lord, you are going out and you are coming in. The Lord will take care of you on your way out and He will take care of you on your way in, but some of God's dear children are so stalemated in their spiritual experience that there is no going out or coming in either one, and they don't know the preservation of the Lord.

Sometimes we are afraid for our children to go out. We don't need to be. The Lord is able to preserve their going out and He is able to preserve their coming in. He is able to preserve them from this time forth, even for evermore—God's last message to Jerusalem, and God's message with a spiritual application to you if you are ready to receive it.


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