Writing a summary of this section of Isaiah, Mark Copeland has said:
We come to the last section of the book of Isaiah (chapters 54-66). It
contains more words of comfort designed especially for the Babylonian captives
who would experience God’s judgment foretold in the first half of the book.
The focus is mostly on The Future Glory For God’s People, yet also with a
reminder that their present shame (captivity) was due to their own wickedness.
The future splendor of Zion is the theme of 54:1-56:8. Though barren in her
present condition of captivity, the Lord promises to show mercy and a covenant
of peace to the faithful remnant. An invitation is given to all who thirst,
and people are encouraged to seek the Lord while He may be found if they
desire joy and peace. Participation in the future glory of Zion is offered
also to righteous Gentiles, who will be given a place in the house of God and
in His holy mountain. This future glory of Zion pertains to the age of
Messiah, inaugurated with the first coming of Christ and the proclamation of
the gospel beginning in Jerusalem (cf. Lk 24:44-47; He 12:22-24).
The captives in Babylon are then reminded of the conditions that led to her
downfall, and the contrition that will lead to her restoration (56:9-59:21).
Her watchmen (i.e., religious leaders) had failed in their duties, and the
death of the righteous became a blessing because it removed them from such
Their idolatry had profited them nothing, and cost them everything. Yet those
who were humble and contrite would experience God’s mercy if they would cast
away hypocritical formalism and return to true religion. Rebuking them for
their sins, Isaiah then joins with them in confessing their sins. In response,
the Lord promises salvation through a Redeemer who will come to Zion and to
those who turn from their transgression. Again, this is looking forward not
just to their restoration from Babylonian captivity, but also to the coming of
Jesus Christ who would bring full redemption through His blood (cf. Ro
Look now in this section at chapter 59, and consider the prophet’s exposure of
the corrupt religious leaders, given in these very specific indictments:
Blind Leaders: “…watchmen are blind.”
You cannot watch if you are not paying attention. You cannot see danger coming
and issue urgent warnings if you are blind.
Ignorant Leaders: “…they all lack
knowledge.” You cannot lead without knowledge. Knowledge of how people should
be living is essential for leaders and teachers.. Teachers cannot teach what
they do not know.
Silent Leaders: “…they are all mute
dogs…” Warnings cannot be issued to people when the watchmen are in “mute
Lazy Leaders: “…they lie around and
dream, they love to sleep…” Good spiritual leadership requires diligent
activity. You cannot lead people to good activity while you are inactive!
Covetous Leaders: “…dogs with mighty appetites, they never have
enough.” This is the sin of covetousness that corrupts leaders.
Selfish Leaders: “…each seeks his own gain…” Contrary to the humble,
selfless spirit of Christ, some leaders have their own overriding purposes in
Intoxicated Leaders: “…let us drink our
fill of beer…” What an interesting and relevant statement of disqualification
for leadership. The ability to drink your fill of beer is connected to
blindness, ignorance, laziness, covetousness and selfishness.
The qualifications for good spiritual leaders can be found in all the
opposites of these: Faithful watchmen, knowledgeable students, speakers of
truth, active men who are unselfish and sober.
Or, read this:
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he
desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the
husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable,
able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a
lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity
keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage
his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent
convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the
condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders,
so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
(1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 18.8; August 2011