Isaiah 63:1-6 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Who were the people of Edom, what was their relationship to Israel? Note Ezekiel 35:1-3, 5, 11 (printed below)

The word of Jehovah came to me: (2) Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir (a reference to Edom); prophesy against it (3) and say: This is what the Lord Jehovah says: I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you and make you a desolate waste …(5) because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity, the time their punishment reached its climax…(11) Therefore, as surely as I live, declares the Lord Jehovah, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you. (Ezekiel 35:1-3,5,11)

The nation of Edom was the archenemy of Israel. As the prophecy of Ezekiel indicates, Edom was characterized by a perpetual enmity against Israel and the ambition to take Israel’s land. When Israel was invaded by the Babylonians, Edom rejoiced in their defeat and captivity (note Psalm 137:7). At an earlier date Edom had refused to allow Israel to pass through their land when the Israelites were on the way to the Promised Land of Canaan (Numbers 20:14-18).

2. Is the prophecy of Isaiah 63 only referring to the nation of Edom or does it also extend beyond that individual nation? Note Isaiah 63:6 (printed below)

I trampled down the peoples in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk with their spilt blood, then I poured their blood on the ground. (Isaiah 63:6)

Edom is here presented as the representative of all the enemies of God’s people. Whereas Isaiah 63:1 refers to Edom, verse 6 refers to God’s judgment upon “the peoples.” Note John 15:18-19, a passage that refers to the universal hostility against Christ and His church, an unholy hostility that was epitomized by the Old Testament nation of Edom, a hostility that resides in the heart of unregenerate men in their rebellion against the Lord. Note, also, Psalm 2:1-3, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (2) The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against Jehovah and against his Anointed One. (3) Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters.”

3. How does the Lord describe Himself in Isaiah 63:1 (printed below?) What does this tell us about the judgment He carries out against Edom?

Who is this who comes from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, this one who is clothed with majesty, striding in the greatness of his strength? It is I, the one whose speech is righteous, the one who is powerfully able to save. (Isaiah 63:1)

In Isaiah 63:1 the Lord describes Himself as “the one whose speech is righteous, the one who is powerfully able to save.” This tells us that the Lord pronounces a righteous judgment, and He is powerfully able to perform both an act of judgment as well as salvation. We may be assured that the Lord will execute a righteous judgment; His act of judgment is not capricious or without just cause.

4. Does the Lord have any assistance when He carries out His judgment against Edom? What does the answer to this question tell us? See Isaiah 63:3,5 (printed below)

I have stomped in the wine press alone; of all the peoples there was no one with me. Indeed, I stomped upon them in my anger and I trampled upon them in my wrath. Their blood splattered my garments, and I have stained all my clothing… (5) I looked, but there was no one to help; I was astonished that no one could give support; so my own arm procured salvation for me and my wrath sustained me. (Isaiah 63:3,5)

In verse 3 the Lord declares, “I have stomped in the wine press alone,” and in verse 5 He states, “I looked, but there was no one to help” (note, also, Isaiah 59:15-16). The point being made is that the Lord alone executes His justice because it is His sole prerogative to do so (note Romans 12:19). He alone is truly righteous and worthy to carry out a righteous judgment (note Psalm 96:13).

5. Is the Lord nonchalant as to when He will actually carry out His divine judgment? See Isaiah 63:4 (printed below)

I trampled upon them because the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. (Isaiah 63:4)

In verse 4 the Lord declares, “the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come.” Note: it appears that here the focus has shifted from Edom to Babylon and the fact that the Lord had a day appointed at which time He would carry out His righteous judgment against that empire that set itself in defiance of God and made itself an oppressor of God’s people. The New Testament informs us that in the same manner the Lord has an appointed day when He will execute His final judgment against the whole world of sinful mankind. The apostle Paul testified at Athens, “God … commands all men everywhere to repent; (31) because he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed (the Lord Jesus Christ). He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).