Text: Isaiah 4:1-6
When God’s people go astray, He sends His prophets to frankly and bluntly warn them of their sin and admonish them to repent and return to Him. Again, when I speak of God’s people, I am speaking of the church, Jewish believers, and Jews that do not yet believe that Jesus is their Messiah.
In the days of Isaiah, God’s people are headed for disaster — exile (separation from His presence), and even death and condemnation. Oh, but if they will repent as I did, the Lord and I will rejoice and sing (Zephaniah 3:17)!
The LORD does not desire for any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). So, He sends Isaiah to speak to Jerusalem and Judah. He gives Isaiah visions, and words with which to paint a picture of what the Lord has shown him.
And He sends me to the church today, though I am only a pastor and teacher. But by His grace, I am what I am. As I read Isaiah, I see what the Lord showed him, as if the Lord was showing it to me. If I were going to give this a title, I would call it, “Restoration of Those Who Repent.”
Verse 1 —
In that day, “seven women will take hold of one man.” Seven is a number used to indicate completion, for God created the world in seven days, resting from His work of creation on the seventh day, because it was complete.
“In that day” is used by Isaiah forty times over the 66 chapters of his prophecies. In the context of this verse, it is the day when God’s people are restored to Him, when they have turned back to Him.
But more specifically, this phrase indicates the end time, at which time Israel’s blinders will be removed and they will be restored to the Lord and saved —
Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery (now revealed) — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
Romans 11:26-27 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,“THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” 27 “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.”
Again, John Oswalt (commentator for the New International Commentary on the Old Testament) and I do not believe that the word, “women,” needs to be taken literally here. The LORD is saying that all who have become weak (have become “women”) because they rebelled against Him will finally seize and fasten upon Him, to be saved by Him.
In a literal sense, the seven women are widows, for wars make widows. So men are scarce. But I think that literal interpretation misses the Lord’s point here, regarding Israel’s self-imposed weakness.
His people will be willing to provide for themselves, if only they are allowed to take hold of this man who will receive them back so they may be called by this man’s name. Who is this man?
I see Christ here, for it is through Him that God’s people are restored from their sin, if they will return to Him. Will they see their need, when all that they have depended upon has been ruined? This passage answers with a resounding, “Yes!”
They will promise to provide their own food and clothing. They will plead for only one thing — to be called by the name of the One through whom they seek deliverance, that He may take away their reproach (shame).
So, these “women” are those in Israel who have been defiant by not accepting Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and sinning in other ways. I also see all believers who have refused to submit to His lordship, believing that they knew better than Him, and who sinned against Him in other ways. Now, they see their error and repent.
I believe a time will come when all Jews and defiant believers will seek to grab onto Him, pleading to be called by His name. And if they turn to Him before it is too late, He surely will take away their shame and restore them!
Oswalt comments, “Instead of the exaltation and building up which comes from glad submission to God, our drive to be self-sufficient brings only humiliation, despair, and bondage.”
And I will add that it is hard to watch someone being broken by the Lord, but I find that those who have hard hearts require a thorough breaking before they repent. I say that from my own experience as one who rebelled against the Lord. When I rejected Him and became a drug addict from ages 17-20, it was not a pretty sight.
When my first husband beat me and abandoned me, I sought to return to my parents, and they gladly brought me home. One night, I cried out to the Lord, and He instantly healed me of addiction. I was in my right mind again, and my personality returned!
But then I went back to my self-reliant ways. Twenty years later, I was stricken with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), at age 40. It was then that I finally turned back to Him, once and for all. Hallelujah!
Then He healed me of MS in September of 2001. Two months later, He filled me with His Holy Spirit, and I was clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49)! Now I am His servant forever! I testify that when the Lord heals, He is glad to heal in every way, beloved — inside and out! Praise His holy name!
Verse 2 —
So, in that day, when His people will turn back to Him, the Branch of the LORD will appear, and this Branch will be beautiful and glorious. Who or what is this Branch? He is spoken of several times in prophecy —
Isaiah 11:1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
Jesus Christ is that Branch —
Isaiah 53:2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot and like a root out of parched ground . . .
Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.”
Jeremiah 33:15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.”
But the LORD also refers to His people, including all believers, as His branch —
Isaiah 60:21 “Then all your people will be righteous; they will possess the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.”
And in that day —the day the Branch appears, and the day when God’s people shine (Isaiah 60:1-3), the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. It is a picture of prosperity.
But this goes beyond natural prosperity, for the fruit of the Spirit will be manifested through those who are filled with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus Christ commands (Galatians 5:22-23, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5)! And Spirit-filled believers will work in the Lord’s harvest fields (Matthew 9:37-38), and many will believe into Him!
Even after many of God’s people rejected His Son, and even after the temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, the LORD once again restored His people to the land, in 1948. Beloved, the purpose of His discipline and punishment is always restoration!
But He intends to restore them spiritually, as I have noted —
Romans 11:26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
And non-Jewish believers (Gentiles) will make them jealous, so the Jews desire Jesus —
Romans 11:11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles (non-Jews), to make them jealous.
Verse 3 —
It will come about, in that day, when Jesus Christ, the Branch, appears, that all of God’s people will be called holy — everyone who is recorded for life, in Jerusalem — that is, all who obey the Lord. There is hope for all who return to Him and repent and ask forgiveness for their sin, and then ask Him to make them holy by filling them with His Holy Spirit. Then and only then will they be called holy!
This portion of Isaiah’s vision is also an end-time prophecy. Why? The statement, “recorded for life,” indicates that the day of judgment will have come, for God’s people. Not all will be recorded for life, but those who obey Him will be in His book of life.
Jesus said to the seventy who returned rejoicing because even evil spirits were subject to them —
Luke 10:20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
Paul writes —
Philippians 4:3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Jesus says to the church at Sardis —
Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
It is possible for your name to be erased, beloved. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John says —
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess (Philippians 2:10-11), even the knees and tongues of the disobedient. But the disobedient will receive the punishment they deserve for refusing the Lord.
Revelation 21:27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Verse 4 —
You ask why I say there is hope for all who return to Him and repent and ask forgiveness for their sin, and then ask Him to make them holy by filling them with His Holy Spirit.
Beloved, that is when the Lord (note the lower case letters, which indicates that this “Lord” is Jesus Christ, per John 12:41) washes away the filth of His people and purges from Jerusalem her bloodshed (the blood of their children whom they offered in the fire to false gods).
How will they be cleansed? By the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning!
Malachi prophesies it —
Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.
The Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out to the 120, is described by Luke —
Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
Verse 5 —
Isaiah sees a vision of the new heavens and new earth, for “the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire at night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.”
Oswalt says, In this case, the cloud seems not to be merely a pillar over the temple, but a canopy which covers everything. The glory of God is the canopy of cloud which now is spread far beyond the temple.
It is the possession of, and internally covers, all who worship the LORD —
John 17:22, 24, 26 . . . The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 26 . . . and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Verse 6 —
Isaiah sees the canopy clearly, one which is a shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain. The Apostle John also saw it —
Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.
Do you see that this canopy is not natural, but spiritual? It is the glory of the Lord that will be the canopy over everything!
No sun gods, storm gods or rain gods will be worshiped. Only the one true God will be worshiped, and everyone whose name is written in the Book of Life will be under His eternal, permanent protection — His canopy of glory! Hallelujah!
There will be no more principalities and powers to fight against (see Ephesians 6:12), no need for weapons of spiritual warfare (2Corinthians 10:4-5), but our Lord will reign (Ephesians 1:21)!
In that day, our enemy, Satan, will be in the lake of fire, with all those who are disobedient —
Revelation 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
There will be a day of judgment, but it is the heart and intent of the LORD that His people return to Him and be saved and made holy. Again, the purpose of His discipline and punishment is always restoration!
Grab hold of the LORD now, and be filled with His glory — His Spirit — so you bear His fruit and are equipped to work in His harvest!
Lord, may these words encourage Your people to grab hold of You, just as with the seven women in this scripture! Amen. So be it!