Isaiah 63 Study Notes


63:1-6 This passage is similar to 59:15b-20. Both passages describe God as a warrior going to battle to defeat the forces of evil.

63:1 The verse opens with a question from the watchman, and God responds. The warrior God has waged war and is returning blood stained and victorious. Perhaps Edom, with its capital city of Bozrah, is representative of all the nations that had exploited God’s people through the years (which may also explain its role in 34:5-17).

63:3 God responded to the watchman’s second question by describing his work of anger against the foes (identified as “nations” in v. 6). He described his killing work as trampling the enemy underfoot like a winemaker tramples on grapes. This image is picked up by the book of Revelation to describe Jesus as warrior at the final battle in Rv 19:13.

63:6 Finally, the object of God’s warring anger is explicitly identified as the nations. The description of the nations as drunk with God’s wrath invokes the metaphor of the cup of God’s anger (see note at 19:14).

63:7-9 Isaiah looked to the distant past of Israel’s history and remembered God’s grace and compassion. These verses speak in general terms of God’s praiseworthy acts and Israel’s suffering. The later focus on the crossing of the sea (vv. 11-13) leads to the conclusion that even here the prophet alluded to Israel’s bondage in Egypt and God’s rescue. The angel of his presence alludes to the Armies’ role at the time of the Red Sea crossing (Ex 14:19).

63:10 Holy Spirit is literally “Spirit of his holiness.” According to Alec Motyer, “this passage is full of the person of the Spirit as a distinct divine Being. . . God revealed in the Old Testament is the Holy Trinity incognito.”

63:11-14 God’s grace was not eradicated, in spite of Israel’s sin. These verses contemplate a second exodus where God again will deliver his people from their oppressors (cp. 4:5; 11:15-16; 40:3-5; 43:18-19; 48:21).

63:15 Isaiah began a lament that continues to 64:12. It bemoaned the fact that God had not yet enacted his exodus mercies (63:11-14). God seemed to be up in his heavenly home, distant from his people.

63:16 The appeal is made to God as a son makes an appeal to his father. God’s fatherhood supersedes even that of father Abraham as well as his son Jacob/Israel, who gave his name to his descendants.