Judgment, Justice, and Praise – Isaiah 25
Read the Passage: Isaiah 25
Isaiah’s Praise (25:1–5)
Today’s chapter appears in a section of this book (cf. Isa. 24–27) where Isaiah describes the general judgment of God upon all the earth before praising God for His redemption and restoration. Note that this section appears between God’s declarations of judgment upon the nations in proximity to Israel (cf. Isa. 13–23) and His confrontation of the sins of Israel (cf. Isa. 28–35). While it may seem unusual for Isaiah to praise God in the midst of extended writings about His judgment, the idea of praising God for His justice that is evident in His wrath is a reoccurring biblical theme (cf. Exod. 9:16; Rom. 9:22–24; Rev 11:15–18; 18:20). Remember that God’s wrath is just as much a part of His character as is His love (cf. Deut. 28:63). If we praise God for His essence—that is, for who He is and not for what He gives to us—then we must praise God for all aspects of His character.
Isaiah begins this passage praising God for His acts and for His “counsels of old [which] are faithfulness and truth” (Isa. 25:1). God’s counsels are His plans, thus Isaiah joins with the remnant described in Isa. 24:14–16 in praising God for His judgment that is detailed in Isaiah 24. To be clear, regarding the rationale for his praise, Isaiah summarizes God’s judgment upon the earth in Isa. 25:2. The reference to a “city” in this passage is likely generic; however, it may also be identified as Babylon, which is used elsewhere in Scripture to depict worldliness (cf. Isa. 21:9; Rev. 18). Note we can rejoice in God’s justice when He judges the lost, but we ought not to exult over divine judgment itself. Solomon warns, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him” (Prov. 24:17–18).
Saints’ Banquet (25:6–9)
In Isa. 25:6 we read of a great banquet that God will prepare on a mountain. While it is not named, the mountain in view here is surely Mt. Zion and the feast in question is the great celebration known as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (cf. Rev. 19:1–10). Observe the textual parallels between Isa. 24:7–13; 25:6–9 and Rev. 18:21–19:10. Isaiah notes here that this feast will be for “all people” (Isa. 25:6)—that is, all of the redeemed—and will include choice foods and refined wine. Further, in John’s description of this event he writes of the saints being clothed in fine linen (cf. Rev. 19:8). This is a picture of the church being gathered to Jesus, at His second coming, on a renewed earth. Isaiah’s reference to God removing a covering and veil (cf. Isa. 25:7) is a picture of the end of death and of sin (cf. 1 Cor. 15:26). Note that as John writes about the end times he quotes Isa. 25:8 at Rev. 7:17; 21:4.
Isa. 25:9 reads, “And it will be said in that day: Behold, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord, we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” This is an important verse, as it not only reiterates the effect that God’s judgment will have upon believers, but also, it speaks to the timing—but not the timetable—of Jesus’ return. To elaborate, in this passage God’s people observe, “We have waited for Him.” While the Lord’s return is imminent, a reason why believers must learn to wait patiently is to prove the genuineness of their faith in God, as well as to display God’s long-suffering (cf. Ps. 90:4; Hab. 2–4; 2 Pet. 3:1–9). Indeed, waiting and patience are hard disciplines to learn, but we must remember that God is long-suffering and that patience is both a mark of love (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4) and a fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22).
God’s Justice (25:10–12)
In Isa. 25:10–12 Isaiah summarizes the judgment of God upon the entire world. Note that the reference to Moab in Isa. 25:10 represents all the pagan nations of the world, for in the Old Testament era the Moabites were the perennial enemies of God’s people. In this passage Isaiah writes of the thoroughness of God’s judgment upon the worldly nations, as he illustrates his point with the picture of straw being trampled in a refuse heap and of the confident reach of a swimmer in water. The idea here is of completeness in destruction and the reach of God in judgment. Observe that the cities of Moab were known for their elevated walls and fortifications; yet, Isaiah writes that the best defenses of mankind—including his pride and trickery—will not be enough to protect the lost from God’s judgment, as He will surely “bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, down to the dust” (Isa. 25:12).
- After describing God’s judgment upon the entire earth in Isaiah 24, how can Isaiah sing a song of praise to God in Isaiah 25?
- For what aspects of God’s character do you usually praise Him? Have you ever praised God for His justice that is evident in His wrath (cf. Isa. 24:14–16)?
- How can we properly praise God for His divine justice without rejoicing in vengeance over the judgment of our enemies?
- In the midst of the trials and suffering of the fallen world, do you find it difficult to trust in God’s promises and to wait for His return?
- How would you define the justice of God? How does the way the world views justice differ from a biblical definition of justice?