Isa 34:8, 35:4, 61:2 Jer 51:6 Zec 3:8 Lk 21:22 Rev 6:9-17, 11:13 Rev 18:20
THE DAY OF VENGEANCE IS
THE YEAR OF REDEMPTION
For – term of explanation – Messiah is explaining why He had trodden “the wine trough” and “the peoples.” It is not because He is some “heavenly tyrant gone berserk!” (Oswalt). And so for some His Second Coming will accomplish divine vengeance. For others it will accomplish divine deliverance (redemption), with primary application to the beleaguered nation of Israel in the last days as the Antichrist unleashes his satanic inspired fury on God’s chosen people (cf Rev 12:13-17 where the “woman” is not a literal woman but in context is clearly the nation of Israel – see explanation of “woman” in Revelation 12).
Day of vengeance – This phrase is found 5 times in the OT – Pr 6:34, Isa 34:8, 61:2, 63:4 and Jer 46:10. This day reflects to a large degree the consummation of the Day of the Lord, described in so many OT passages, such as Zephaniah…
“Therefore, wait for Me,” declares the LORD, “For the day when I rise up to the prey. Indeed, My decision is to gather nations (=goyim = Gentiles), to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation ( intense anger), all My burning anger (nose, nostril, and anger); For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal. (Zeph 3:8)
The day of vengeance was promised earlier in Isaiah’s prophecy describing Isaiah 34 describing judgment described the “LORD’S indignation…against all the nations…a day of vengeance” (Isa 34:2, 8 – see discussion of Isa 34:1-10 under Isa 63:6) following in Isaiah 35 by a description of God’s salvation…
“Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God (He is speaking to Judah/Israel) will come with vengeance. The recompense of God will come, but (this is an important contrast) He will save you (cf “mighty to save” Isa 63:1. The “you” refers to the believing remnant in Isaiah’s day but more fully to those Jews in the last days [Great Tribulation = the ultimate day of vengeance] who place their faith in Messiah = believing remnant of Israel). 5 Then (When? When the Redeemer returns and saves) the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped (cp Jesus’ first “sermon” in Lk 4:17-21 based on the text of Isa 61:1-2a). 6 Then (When is then? When Messiah returns as described here in Isaiah 63:1-6) the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy (cf the concept of the Year of Jubilee discussed below). For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah (The topography will change when Messiah returns to defeat His enemies and establish His Millennial Kingdom-see description). 7 And the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes. 8 And a highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness (leading the redeemed to the Holy City and Messiah’s Holy Temple, cp Mal 3:1-4-note). The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. (Isa 35:4-8)
Comment: Remember the context. Isaiah is speaking to Judah and Jerusalem. Those who walk on the Highway of Holiness will be “the redeemed” (Isa 35:9), “the ransomed of the LORD” (Isa 35:10), in short, the believing Jewish remnant. J Vernon McGee adds that the redeemed refers not just to Israel but “will include the (Gentile) redeemed who enter the Millennium upon the earth. In Zechariah 14:16 we read, “Then it will come about that any who are left (the Gentile “remnant”) of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”
In His first coming, Jesus did not emphasize the day of vengeance, a truth dramatically illustrated by His quotation of Isaiah 61:1-2 in what appears to be His first “sermon” in the synagogue. Luke records…
And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:17-21-Sermon by John MacArthur)
Here is the passage in Isaiah which Jesus quoted…
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Notice that Jesus only quoted the first half of Isaiah 61:2 in His First Coming but not “the day of vengeance of our God” because the latter prophecy was to be fulfilled at His Second Coming. His first advent was to die as the perfect Sacrificial Lamb (Heb 9:28), a day of grace, “the year of the LORD’s favor,” but His return will be for judgment (2Ti 4:1, Ro 2:16). His first coming was to bear God’s wrath on the Cross. His Second Coming will be to carry out God’s wrath on all who reject the gift of His grace (Ro 3:23-24). This truth should be ample motivation for His brethren to passionately share His Gospel with all who are yet dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1)! God’s response to sin is judgment (vengeance) for persistent men’s unceasing rebellion, but His opposite response is redemption is for all who abandon their pride, self-trust and fling themselves on Christ, depending wholly on His righteousness for their standing before the Thrice Holy God. Have you shared the Gospel with anyone this week? Why not? Would you consider praying that God’s Spirit gives you opportunities to share the way, the truth and the life with someone who is not yet born again?
When He comes again there are only two prospects – destruction or deliverance, hailing Him as King or wailing because He is Judge!
Vengeance (05359)(naqam from the verb form naqam = to avenge or take vengeance) is the act of taking revenge (harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done). It refers to punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong and can refer to punishment beyond what is physical.
Naqam in this case is punishment for every sinner’s repeated rejection of and rebellion against Jehovah. The Septuagint (Lxx) translates naqam with the Greek noun antapodomis (see related word – antapodidomi) which means “that which is given to someone in exchange for what has been done.” (BDAG) It is a retribution, a paying back, a “reward”, a requiting, a repayment. It can sometimes signify a positive reward (Col 3:24-note) but in the present context signifies a negative “reward” (cp Ro 2:5-note).
God is said “to take vengeance” (Isa 47:3), “to return vengeance” (Dt32:41, 43) “to do (execute) vengeance” (Mic 5:14), “to come with vengeance” (Isa 35:4), “to give out (execute) this vengeance” (Ezek 25:14). The concept of divine vengeance must be understood in the light of OT teaching about the holiness and justice of God and its effect on man as a sinner. Liberal theologians presumptuously label such a God of vengeance as unchristian and unethical! When one truly considers and understands the full orb of Biblical revelation, noting especially how the mercy of God balances the vengeance of God, then one can accept that divine vengeance is a necessary component of the history of redemption. A proper understanding of God’s vengeance has been a mighty instrument of the Spirit for piercing hard, rebellious hearts of sinful men. Witness Jonathan Edwards’ sermon (Listen to his 48 minute message) (an abbreviated 25 minute version by Max Maclean) Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God based on Deut 32:35 where God declares “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution. In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.” The Spirit of God used Edwards’ sermon to set in motion a revival which we know as the First Great Awakening!
Partial quote from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon presents an almost too vivid portrayal of Messiah trampling out His wrath: “If you cry to God to pity you, He will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, He will only tread you under foot. And though He will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet He will not regard that, but He will crush you under His feet without mercy; He will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on His garments, so as to stain all His raiment. He will not only hate you, but He will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under His feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.” WOE! (Reference)
THE REDEEMER IS
A BLOOD AVENGER
Redemption (01350)(goel/ga’al) describe the act of one who not only delivered but who effected restoration to an original, sometimes ideal, state. The Goel is to do the part of a kinsman and thus to redeem one’s kin from difficulty or danger by the payment of a price. The word goel/ga’al also includes the idea of the Blood Avenger (Dt 19:6, Nu 35:19, 21, 24, 27 35:12) which describes the individual who had the duty to execute the murderer of his relative. Apparently the idea is that the next of kin must “effect the payment” (recompense) of life for life. As a house is repurchased or a slave redeemed by payment, so the lost life of the relative must be paid for by the equivalent life of the murderer. The kinsman is the avenger of blood. Jesus is Israel’s Goel, their Kinsman-Redeemer, and indeed is the Goel of all who are blood bought and heaven bound, whether Jew or Gentile!
NET Note: A go’el or “kinsman-redeemer” was responsible for protecting the extended family’s interests, often by redeeming property that had been sold outside the family. However, the responsibilities of a go’el extended beyond financial concerns. He was also responsible for avenging the shed blood of a family member (see Nu 35:19-27; Dt 19:6-12). In Isa 63:4, where vengeance is a prominent theme (note the previous line – “day of vengeance”), it is probably this function of the family protector that is in view. The Lord pictures Himself as a Blood Avenger Who waits for the day of vengeance to arrive and then springs into action.
Why did Isaiah switch from “day” to “year” — from “day of vengeance” to “year of redemption?” It would appear that the day motif continues the OT description of the Day of the LORD. The year motif may refer to the “Year of Jubilee” described in detail in Leviticus 25. For example in Lev 25:54 Moses records that “Even if he is not redeemed (See study of ga’al) by these means, he shall still go out in the year of jubilee, he and his sons with him.” And so we see the concept of redemption associated with the the Year of Jubilee. Indeed Jubilee is depicted by a “joyful shout” and/or the sounding of a ram’s horn or trumpet, which proclaimed liberty throughout Israel on the 10th day of the Seventh Month, the Day of Atonement (the OT feast fulfilled in Messiah’s sacrificial death on the Cross, which made redemption possible for sinful Jews and Gentiles). How fitting that the day of vengeance for the Messiah rejecting sinful world will be balanced by the year of redemption for the nation of Israel (the remnant)! And while the primary interpretation of this passage deals with Israel (specifically the believing remnant of Israel), the return of Christ will be the year of redemption for every Gentile who has place their faith in His fully atoning sacrifice!
Jamieson adds – here, as in Is 34:8; 61:2, the time of “vengeance” is described as a “day”; that of grace and of “recompense” to the “redeemed,” as a “year.” (Ed: Amazing grace indeed!)
Isaiah 63:5 “I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold. So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me.
Looked: Isa 63:3, 41:28, 50:2, 59:16, Jn 16:32
My own: Isa 40:10, 51:9, 52:10 Ps 44:3, 98:1 Ho 1:7 1Co 1:24 Heb 2:14,15
My wrath: Isa 59:16-18
Messiah testifies that “there was no one to help” Him in the grand work of redemption of men and creation from the ravages of sin. In context, Messiah alone was able to accomplish redemption of the nation of Israel based upon the fact that “through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb 9:12-note, cp Heb 9:26-note)
I was astonished and there was no one to uphold…So My Own arm brought salvation to Me – Here Messiah refers to His first coming, which culminated in His crucifixion, burial and resurrection which brought salvation to all who would believe (cf Titus 2:11-note). Isaiah had previously alluded to Messiah’s own arm accomplishing salvation..
And He (Messiah) saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede. Then His own arm brought salvation to Him; and His righteousness upheld Him. (Isa 59:16)
Comment: Note the parallel – “My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me” (Isa 63:5) and “His own arm brought salvation to Him; and His righteousness upheld Him.” (Isa 59:16) In one passage His wrath, in the other passage His righteousness. Both are available to every human being ever created (cf 1Ti 2:4, 2Pe 3:9-note). This is every one’s personal choice – we must choose either Christ’s wrath or Christ’s righteousness! Have you chosen dear reader?
Isaiah 63:6 “I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
Make: Isa 63:2,3, 49:26, 51:21-23, Job 21:20 Ps 60:3, 75:8 Jer 25:16,17,26,27 La 3:15 Rev 14:10, Rev 16:6,19, Rev 18:3-6
I poured: Isa 25:10-12, 26:5,6 Rev 18:21
Trod down – Exactly how this occurs is not clear. What is clear is that Messiah will defeat all the enemies of God and His garment will be splattered with their blood.
Trod (0947) (bus) is a relatively uncommon verb used 12x in the OT with 4 uses by Isaiah (Isa 14:19, 25, Isa 63:6, Isa 63:18). Here are three encouraging passages (using “bus”) for all of God’s children who in this life feel downtrodden by adversaries…
Psalm 44:5 Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down (Heb = bus; Lxx = exouthenoo = disdain, set at, cp exoutheneo = despise someone on basis of being worthless or of no value) those who rise up against us.
Psalm 60:12 (repeated in Ps 108:13) Through God we shall do valiantly, and it is He who will tread down (Heb = bus; Lxx = exoudenoo in future tense = will disdain, utterly despise, treat as of no account!) our adversaries
The peoples – The Gentile nations opposed to God and to His chosen people, Israel.
Oswalt – If it is true (Ed: Indeed it is!) that the Servant/Messiah will one day tread the wine press of earth and pour out the lifeblood of earth’s rebels on the ground (cf. Rev. 14:17-20), we must never forget that before that, he is the same one who “poured out his soul unto death” (Isa. 53:12) for their sakes. Their death is only the result of refusing to avail themselves of his death.