1-3 “Listen to Me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug. Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think of it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied. Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, a place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs.
The prophet calls for maximum attention, the concentration of both the literal ear and spiritual attentiveness. His call is to those who fear the Lord; those who have awesome respect for who God is and what He has done.
The people are to reflect on their origins, as this will encourage them as they wait for God’s deliverance of them from the Babylonians. The Lord had brought Judah into being from such small beginnings, in fulfillment of His promises. Thus, it is implied that He is still able to translate His word into awesome activity.
The Jewish Midrash (commentary on ancient Hebrew scripture) on verse one reads as follows: “When God looked on Abraham who was to appear, He said, ‘Behold I have found a rock on which I can build and base the world,’ therefore he called Abraham a rock.” Some commentators suggest that this midrashic interpretation may be at the heart of the Matthew 16:18 passage, where Jesus identi-fies Peter’s confession that He is the Christ as being foundational to the formation of the new covenant Church. The reasoning is that, just as Abraham’s faith in God was a pattern for the ancient Hebrew community that proceeded from Him, so that of Peter and the apostles would lead to the building of the Church.
God’s promise to Abraham included a land as well as a people (Genesis 17:1-8). Though the capital of that land is now in ruins, the promise of God is for restoration. God will comfort by trans-forming Judah and giving her a voice to praise Him.
God confirms this promise a second time, picturing Eden to describe the transformation to take place.
*The sovereign power of God is clearly the subject of this pronouncement. All that is required of the recipients is a serious commitment to seek God. The same is true of us. Restoration of the human heart, through the transforming work of the Redeemer is assured for those who will seek and surrender to God, through His Christ.
4-6 “Pay attention, My people. Listen to Me, nations. Revelation flows from Me. My decisions light up the world. My deliverance arrives on the run, My salvation right on time. I’ll bring justice to the peoples. Even faraway islands will look to Me and take hope in My saving power. Look up at the skies, ponder the earth under your feet. The skies will fade out like smoke, the earth will wear out like work pants, and the people will die off like flies. But My salvation will last forever, My setting-things-right will never be obsolete.
The personal pronoun “My” is used repeatedly in these verses, presenting a vivid impression of the personal activity of God on behalf of His people. God will manifest His own righteousness to those who pursue it. In Isaiah 42:1, God declared that His law would go out to the nations, creating justice among them. The first servant song shows that the Servant/Redeemer is the Mediator of this divine justice.
Here we see that the law, justice, righteousness, and salvation of God are all to be widely disseminated throughout the nations. This combination of terms suggests that there is going to be a thorough reordering of human life among the nations on the basis of God's own character, revealed in his law, expressed in his righteousness, and taking the form of salvation or deliverance.
Salvation and righteousness are closely parallel ideas here, providing a background for the Pauline doctrine of salvation and righteousness (Romans 1:16, 17).
The prophet calls on Judah to consider the universe. The heavens and the earth, which seem so stable, are less enduring than the salvation that God promises.
*The picture that is presented helps us to comprehend just how important we are to God. The promise of His deliverance is the most certain thing in the universe. And it is guaranteed by God Himself, through the gift of His Messiah/Servant/ Redeemer—Jesus.
7-8 “Listen now, you who know right from wrong, you who hold My teaching inside you: Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked don’t let it get you down. Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden, but My setting-things-right lasts, My salvation goes on and on and on.”
In the final portion of our printed lesson, the prophet substantively repeats what is written in verse 1. There is a close link between righteousness and the law of God, for the law presents God’s right way for humanity. The heart is where God’s law should be (Deuteronomy 30:14) and the new covenant pledges that is will, indeed, be written there (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
The prophet assumes that the righteous in the land will experience antagonism from the wicked, which finds its ultimate illustration in human antagonism to the Christ/Servant of God. Like the visible universe, wicked humanity will perish. The only abiding realities in God’s new order are His own righteousness and salvation. Verse 8 repeats this assurance from verse six.