Isaiah 63:1-6 – The judgment of God

Here we have a striking portrait of God as a warrior who has single-handedly vanquished his enemies in a bloody battle. The figure “coming from Edom” is God. “Bozrah” is Edom’s capital. This is the fourth prophecy in Isaiah relating to Edom (see 11:14; 21:11-12; 34:1-17) and there is a clear progression in the judgment against her in her role as representative of the enemy of the people of God. “Robed in splendour, striding forward in the greatness of his strength” depicts God as regal and impressive in his actions, particularly as the one who is “mighty to save” (verse 1c), but also, as we will see in this passage, mighty to judge. The description of God as a warrior is depicted also in 59:16-18.

 

This figure’s garments are red because he has “trodden the winepress” (verse 3). The imagery of the winepress as symbolic of divine judgment also appears in Joel 3:13 and Lamentations 1:15 as well as later in Revelation 14:18-20. The meanings of “Edom” (red) / “Bozrah” (to gather grapes) are clearly both significant in terms of this portrayal of God’s judgment. God’s “anger” / “wrath” / “vengeance” is meted out against his enemies along with his “redemption” for his people as part of the same process because vengeance against Israel’s enemies and her redemption are intimately linked, the one effectively being the reverse of the other. The essential thrust of 59:16 is repeated here that the situation demanded a divine response and there was no other able to intervene and affect deliverance but God himself.

 

The juice of grapes as they were crushed was sometimes called their “blood” and this allowed wine to be a natural symbol of blood that Jesus drew on at the Last Supper. Whilst God did judge Babylon as that imperial power was overtaken by the Persian-Medes, crucially God’s salvation and judgment come together at the Cross of Christ, where Jesus, the innocent one is judged for our sin (a just God must deal with sin): as a result of him drinking the cup of the wine of God’s wrath to its bitter dregs we are saved the wrath of God that by rights should be ours!

 

PRAYER: Pour a glass of red wine/red juice if you have some. Take some time to consider what Jesus has done for us. Think about the cost to God of such a sacrifice, the pain, the separation, the loss. Let this meditation be fuel for praise and thanks to the Lord for all He has done in saving you. Now, as you drink from the glass pause and wait on the Lord. He will want to encourage you today, so listen for words/ impressions that he might be bringing to your mind.

SONG: See his love