Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. “Isaiah 1-37, part C, “The Universal Kingdom” (13:1-27:13) Loc. 3910-6649. 3. The Third Cycle. Two Cities in Contrast: Endurance Through to Glory (24:1-27:13) Loc. 5755-6649.
Motyer describes a third cycle from Isaiah 24:1-27:13. This is not in the structure of oracles as we saw in the earlier cycles. The theme is a contrast between a destroyed city and an established city (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5759). Motyer identifies a chiastic construction in these chapters, culminating at 25:6-12, speaking of Mount Zion (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5775). It begins with the outside world, but concludes with God’s people who have believed.
In 24:1-20 Motyer finds the centrality of God’s people in a world that is collapsing (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5816). In verses 1-3 the whole world is to be laid waste, with no charge against it except God’s word of command (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5833). Verses 4-6 do reveal a charge against the world - its sin (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5861). This leads to a withering of a polluted place. Disobedience to the instruction of the Lord corrupts the world (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5880). Breaking this covenant with God brings a curse on the world. As a result, in 24:7-12 the city falls (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5915). Revelry has resulted in corruption. The celebration comes to an end, resulting in a very unhappy city (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5942). Motyer ties this idea in Isaiah to the Babylon of Isaiah’s time and ultimately to the Babel in Genesis 11. The people who depend on themselves are destined to fail (Motyer 1993, Loc. 59520. Verses 13-16 speak of a remnant, though the destruction is nearly complete (Motyer 1993, Loc. 5978). Despite the judgment, there is a call which, extended very far, brings a response of faith. In verses 16-18 the prophet himself, having seen the judgment, is not able to rejoice. He mourns instead (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6011). Verses 18-20 return to the theme of destruction (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6028).
Motyer sees 24:21-23 as a unit by itself (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6050). The dess been described will have a greater completion after some sort of waiting period. Verse 21 shifts the focus from earth to the heavens. Even the heavens will be ashamed before the revealed brightness (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6095). The glory of God overwhelms all else.
Chapter 25 serves as a third unit in this cycle. The twelve verses of the chapter focus on blessings “as the world pilgrimage arrives in Zion” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6106). God’s people are gathered to Zion when blessing has been prepared for them. Verses 1-5 speak of the joy found in the God who saves from enemies (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6129). Motyer notes language significant of planning and forethought. The people who have been overthrown by God are amazed at God’s power (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6146). Verses 6-8 describe blessings in terms of a meal. Motyer compares this to the elders of Israel eating in God’s presence in Exodus 24 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6177). In contrast, here everyone eats, not just the elders. In the eschatological feast described here, even death is swallowed up (v. 8). Motyer sees death representing sin, which has been destroyed (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6193). The chapter concludes with the concept of the joy which comes from the overthrow of sin (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6208). All the people will look upon God in wonder. In turn, God lays his hand of blessing and benediction upon His people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6225). The alternative, expressed in verse 11, is that the people may try, as Moab did, to work out their own blessing. This led to the destruction of Moab. Motyer reminds the reader that Moab’s destruction is just as real as God’s care (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6241).
Motyer considers the 21 verses of chapter 26 to be the fourth element in this prophetic cycle. In the prior cycles the fourth is about God’s people. Here, the people make up a strong city. The city is protected by God (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6252). Central to the idea is the fact that God gives light to the blinded eyes. Without His work, the people are destined for judgment (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6272). Verses 1-4 illustrate the peace of God’s people inside God’s fortress (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6288). Though the people are not pictured as perfect, they are faithful to God (v. 2). This gives them ongoing peace and security (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6303). Verses 5-6 show God’s victory over his enemies. In 7-9 there is a difficult path which God will make smooth. Motyer sees this as illustrative of the life of God’s people, who face challenges daily (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6332). Verses 10-11 acknowledge the ongoing presence of those who are not God’s people. They are described as enduring blindness which they cannot overcome (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6363). Even when in life’s circumstances people have a fleeting recognition of God, he remains marginal, incidental, in reality insignificant” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6369). Verses 12-15 bring us back again to the peace which comes from recognizing God’s concern for His people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6380) In verses 16-19 we are reminded that all God’s provision has come from the dust and rubble of our human efforts (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6407). The distress of God’s people has been transformed to their repentance and rest in his presence. There is a strong call to awaken to God’s presence (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6449). Motyer sees here a strong link to the resurrection of the dead. Verses 20-21 close the passage with a strong sense of security. The gates of the city are closed, creating an environment which is safe from harm (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6477).
The fifth part of this prophetic cycle is found in Isaiah 27. Motyer notes the very careful composition showing Israel gathered as a universal people of God (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6483). As in other passages, the structural parallelism of the entire book remains strong. Verse one pictures the Lord with a sword able to overcome his enemies, seen as sea monsters and a dragon (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6514). The conflict is tremendous, but there is no question about God’s ability to overcome his enemies. Because of God’s power, his people are able to fill the world, seen as a fruitful vineyard in verses 2-6 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6531). The security of God’s people comes only from his presence. Verses 7-11 show God’s people coming into the restored garden and God’s presence (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6570). God has chased away his enemies and made way for his people to enter into their joy. God himself has removed the sin of his people. In verses 12-13 God’s people are gathered carefully together to receive rest and blessing (Motyer 1993, Loc. 6620). This is an eschatological picture of final rest, unity of worship in the presence of God.