Isaiah – Day 992

Scripture:  Isaiah 51: 21 and 22 (NIV):  “Therefore hear this, you afflicted one, made drunk, but not with wine.  This is what your Sovereign LORD says, your God, who defends his people:  ‘See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.’ ”

Thought:  To me, God may afflict His children in judgment, but He also relieves them in mercy.

Question:  Am I staggering under God’s appointed affliction?

Today’s verse 21 begins with a connector word, “therefore,” which should cause us to focus once again on the previous verses for the fully accurate meaning of what is written.  Previously we have seen God’s earnest desire to rouse Israel from their “sleep”; that is, from their deadness to God.  But as they continue in their chosen darkness, God has brought calamities to jar them awake.  Today’s verses give a bit of closure to this season of judgment.  God’s “cup of wrath” has a fullness that finally comes to an end.

“Therefore hear this,”

Because of sin and idolatry, because of judgment, and because God’s wrath has been poured out, now a new word comes from God.  All of this is a spiritual process God oversees and utilizes.

“…you afflicted one,”

God is always compassionate.  Even when He is exercising judgment upon us He is loving and caring.  God is the model of what a perfect parent should be:  always loving but never backing down on principles.  (We parents know from experience how difficult it is to maintain this balance; hence the expression, “tough love.”)  Now, had Israel never rebelled, “tough love”, via affliction, would not have been necessary.  But this was not the case.  There was rebellion.  The Father is all too aware of how badly afflicted His Jews must be because of their rebellion.

“…made drunk, but not with wine.”

Drunks fall down or often end up prostrate in bed and asleep.  Instead of alcohol producing these symptoms in Israel, God made them drunk with His wrath:  He made them fall down and go prostrate—He brought collapse to their nation and a loss of their own self-control.  They were shifted into helplessness.

I believe another way to put this is to decide what “spirit” is influencing a person:  alcoholic drinks are called “spirits” because they overshadow a person’s temperament.  God’s Spirit can do the same but in love, righteousness and holy power.  (See Ephesians 5:18).  In our context here, however, God’s wrath has overshadowed Israel.  His wrath is a very different “spirit” from His redemptive qualities!  Habakkuk 2:16:  “You will be filled with shame instead of glory.  Now it is your turn!  Drink and let your nakedness be exposed!  The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.”

“This is what your Sovereign LORD says,”

In all these actions God has been sovereign.  He is in full control, always.  Out through His overall control of the situation there now comes a new statement.

“…your God, who defends his people:”

God turns the tide.  Where once God enlisted Babylon as an instrument of judgment He now shifts and begins to offer protection to Israel FROM Babylon.  I find this very interesting.  God uses everything.  And He is able to use the same things in different ways.  He has created everything, and He will utilize whatever He can to accomplish His purposes.  Behind each of His purposes lies righteousness.  Though judgments are difficult, God achieves things through them that could not be achieved any other way.

I like this possessive pronoun, “your.”  God loves Israel, and they belong to Him.  He love is everlasting.  He will never forsake them.  It is this covenant commitment that shines forth now, moving God to turn and “defend his people.”  Whether judged or protected, God loves them the same.

“ ‘See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger;’ ”

The cup spoken of here is God’s “cup of wrath” (Isaiah 51:17).  God was responsible for bringing it to Israel, putting it in their hands, and for pouring it down their throats.  But as I have pointed out in a previous blog, there is always an end in sight to a vessel or cup—it truly has its limit—its “bottom.”  It can only hold so much.  Apparently now, God has elected for Israel’s affliction to end.

They will no longer “stagger.”  Their reeling back and forth will come to an end.  This implies they may be able to start a balanced walk.

“…from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.”

What a relief this must have brought to Israel!  God’s Word is dependable—it is as golden and good as The One proclaiming it.  His promises are completely reliable—(unlike the weak “promises” of men.)  Here God promises that Israel “will never…again” have to swallow this kind of wrath from God.

What does this mean literally?  I believe it means that Israel will never again be led captive out of their homeland by this particular enemy:  Babylon.  It could also be interpreted to mean that this specific generation of Israelites would never again experience this kind of oppressive, exilic suffering in their life time.

Certainly history has proven that the Jews, sadly, went on to experience many more “waves” of suffering and persecution at the hands of many more enemies.  But of Babylon, God is here promising no more new oppression.  Isaiah 49:25:  “ ‘Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.’ ”


Prayer:  Righteous Father, You are over us all.  Your will and righteousness are the standard of rule, determining whether or not we deserve judgment and correction.  Help me to accept your judgments!  Thank You that when judgment is completed, Your mercy takes its place.  You are a just God!  Thank You for relief from suffering!  I pray in Christ’s Name, Amen.


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