When we come to chapter 54 of the prophecies of Isaiah, we have what we may call a simple chapter of resurrection - a sample of the conditions which the Lord would have as characterizing His 'New Day'. We find in this chapter eight features, or characteristics, of the New Day; eight, as you know, being the number of resurrection. Let us cast our eye down the chapter, and note them briefly in order.
1. In verse 1, we see the movement from barrenness to fruitfulness. "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord."
2. Verses 2 and 3: from straightness to enlargement. "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not: lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shalt spread abroad on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited." How true that was of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus!
3. Verses 4 and 5: from shame to honor. "Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth; ..." and so on.
4. Verses 6 and 7: from forsakenness to fellowship. "For the Lord hath called thee as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee."
5. Verses 8 to 10: from wrath to mercy. "In overflowing wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." You see the look back to the Cross, in which all those things were true; but now it is resurrection, and they have passed. It is a mighty and wonderful change.
6. Verses 11 and 12: from affliction and desolation, to comfort and glory. "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of pleasant stones."
7. Verses 14 and 15: from oppression to security. "In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they may gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall because of thee."
8. Verses 16 and 17: from reproach to vindication. "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the fire of coals, and bringeth forth a weapon for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness which is of Me, saith the Lord."
Is this not a wonderful sample of resurrection life, power and glory? As in other connections, so in this, we carry it all over from Old Testament history into New Testament, into this very dispensation in which we live - the Day of Resurrection. How true all this was - and is - of the Lord Jesus, in the first place. There had been the negative side - all the straightness of which He spoke: "How am I straightened till it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:50); the stripping, the barrenness and desolation of the Cross; the shame and ignominy; the forsakenness, even of His own Father and God - the very wrath of God rested upon Him; He suffered affliction, oppression and reproach. All those things were true, as we saw in chapter 53. But now the whole scene has changed. What fruitfulness has taken the place of barrenness! Yes, the 'corn of wheat, falling into the ground and dying', has indeed born very much fruit - fruit out of many nations. What a great joy it is to us to know, and in so many cases to know personally, something of the fruitfulness of His sufferings, in the 'seeing of His seed.' Out of barrenness into fruitfulness; out of His straightness, against which He groaned, into the great enlargement which has come to Him - and what enlargement! - out of shame into honor: multitudes ever since, and multitudes today, all over the world, are just heaping honor upon Him. And so we could go on.
(continued with # 2)