This chapter portrays God's restoration of Israel, turning her from a divorce and abandoned wife into one who is remarried and blessed with many children. God pronounces an eternal covenant of blessing over Israel, and Millennial Jerusalem is described.
In 49:14, Isaiah prophesied that Zion would one day say, "The Lord has abandoned me", but he then proceeded to prophesy Israel's return to the land, when she would one day become like God's bride, and her children like jewellery. In that chapter, Zion prophetically expresses amazement at the number of her children, portraying herself as a bereaved widow, and wondering where all her children could have come from during her time of bereavement. In chapter 50, God likens Israel to a divorced wife, and to a woman sold into slavery. The Prophet Hosea uses these same metaphors of abandonment and divorce, but like Isaiah, goes on to prophesy the day when Israel will be restored, and will call God 'My husband' (see Hosea 2:14-17).

Here in chapter 54, Isaiah continues the metaphor of Israel as an abandoned wife, and focusses on her inability to have children because she has no husband. In a traditional culture like ancient Israel, a woman's inability to have children was a matter of great shame and humiliation, especially if the reason was that she was divorced and abandoned. But now Isaiah prophesies Israel having many children, even more than a married woman (v1). Her family will be so large, she will need a bigger tent to live in (v2). Her children will spread out and conquer Gentile nations and resettle desolate cities (v3). This is a picture of the people of Israel and Judah returning to the land of Israel in the end times, and of Israel's territorial expansion by her conquering neighbouring nations. I believe this expansion will occur after Jesus defeats the Antichrist and his end-time empire. For example, Zephaniah 2:9 describes God's end-time judgment of Ammon and Moab (modern-day Jordan) and Israel plundering their land. Similarly, in Amos 9:11-12, God says that he will rebuild David's fallen tent and that Israel will conquer those left in Edom and in all the nations subject to his rule. Here again in verse 4, Isaiah prophesies the removal of Israel's shame, humiliation and disgrace from her time of abandonment. Now she will have a husband who is none other than God himself, creator of the universe. He will redeem Israel as a kinsman-redeemer (v5). This is like in Hosea 3, where Hosea buys back his former wife whom he had divorced, and who had become another man's slave. Here again in verses 6 to 8, God affirms his great compassion for Israel, and renewed eternal commitment to her, even though he previously became angry with her and divorced her. In verses 9 to 10, God pronounces an eternal covenant of blessing over Israel, that he will never again become angry with her. God likens this covenant to the vow he made to Noah, that he would never again destroy the world with a flood.

Although verses 11 to 12 may appear to be a description of the New Jerusalem, as in Revelation 21, the context indicates this is a description of millennial Jerusalem. This is evident in that verse 3 describes Israel's territorial expansion during the Millennium, and verse 15 describes the possibility of an enemy challenge against Jerusalem. Jerusalem as we know it today will be in a state of ruin by the end of the Great Tribulation, but it will be rebuilt. Isaiah 2 tells us that God will raise up Jerusalem, making it the highest mountain. Together with Zechariah 14:10, this appears to be literal, not just metaphorical. Millennial Jerusalem (as per Isaiah 2) contains a rebuilt temple (also see Ezekiel 40-48), whereas the New Jerusalem has no temple (Revelation 21:22).

In verses 13 to17, God assures millennial Jerusalem of great blessing and prosperity. All her children will follow the Lord (v13). She will be reestablished (rebuilt) when God vindicates her, and there will be nothing to make her afraid (v14). If anyone challenges her, they will be defeated. God is the one who raises up destroyers (conquerors) (v16) - a reminder that in history he has used enemy nations as his rod to punish Israel. But no longer will any weapon succeed against Israel. They will refute any accuser, implying that they will remain blameless because God will keep them in righteousness. God will always be there to vindicate them. (v17).
Places: Israel, Millennial Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, Zion
Symbols: God divorces Israel, Israel like a barren woman, God remarries Israel, Kinsman redeemer, Tent
Tags: Israel like a divorced woman, Israel like a barren woman, Israel inherits land from her enemies, Covenant of blessing for Israel, God vindicates Israel, Millennial Jerusalem, God loves Israel, Days of Noah
Zion Will Be Secure
1 “Shout for joy, O barren one who has not given birth! Give a joyful shout and cry out, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one are more numerous than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
2 Make your tent larger, stretch your tent curtains farther out! Spare no effort, lengthen your ropes, and pound your stakes deep.
3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your children will conquer nations and will resettle desolate cities.
4 Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame! Don’t be intimidated, for you will not be humiliated! You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth; you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment.
5 For your husband is the one who made you – the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name. He is your protector, the Holy One of Israel. He is called “God of the entire earth.”
6 “Indeed, the Lord will call you back like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, like a young wife when she has been rejected,” says your God.
7 “For a short time I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you.
8 In a burst of anger I rejected you momentarily, but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you,” says your protector, the Lord.
9 “As far as I am concerned, this is like in Noah’s time, when I vowed that the waters of Noah’s flood would never again cover the earth. In the same way I have vowed that I will not be angry at you or shout at you.
10 Even if the mountains are removed and the hills displaced, my devotion will not be removed from you, nor will my covenant of friendship be displaced,” says the Lord, the one who has compassion on you.
11 “O afflicted one, driven away, and unconsoled! Look, I am about to set your stones in antimony and I lay your foundation with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your pinnacles out of gems, your gates out of beryl, and your outer wall out of beautiful stones.
13 All your children will be followers of the Lord, and your children will enjoy great prosperity.
14 You will be reestablished when I vindicate you. You will not experience oppression; indeed, you will not be afraid. You will not be terrified, for nothing frightening will come near you.
15 If anyone dares to challenge you, it will not be my doing! Whoever tries to challenge you will be defeated.
16 Look, I create the craftsman, who fans the coals into a fire and forges a weapon. I create the destroyer so he might devastate.
17 No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the Lord will do for his servants – I will vindicate them,” says the Lord.