Isa 51.1-23 gives comfort to Israel by saying that those who have not turned to their own light and reason and have not turned from him can trust Yehovah. He uses Abraham and Sarah as an example of how they were called alone but they were blessed and increased. He also promises that the afflictions that they have suffered will be replaced by his mercy.
v 1…Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness (as defined in the Torah), who seek the Lord (Yehovah). Look to the rock (Abraham) from which you were hewn, and to the pit (quarry, cistern) from which you were dug (the womb-Prov 5.15).
v 2…Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain (meaning God delivered them and he will deliver their children); when he was one (alone) I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him (if he can bless one, who is the source, he can bless a small remnant).
v 3…Indeed, the Lord (Yehovah) will comfort Zion (because of the Abrahamic Covenant); he will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness he will make like Eden (pleasant and flourishing), and her desert like the garden of the Lord (Eden-a Hebrew parallelism); joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody (in place of mourning).
v 4…Pay attention to me, O my people (Yehovah invites the Jewish people to hear his word-Isa 51.1); and give ear to me, O my nation (Israel)’ for the law (Torah) will go forth from me, and I will set my justice (“Mishpat” found in the Torah) for a light (of understanding-Deut 4.5-8) of the people.
v 5…My righteousness (as defined in the Torah) is near (his mercies contained in the covenant), my salvation has gone forth, and my arm (Hebrew “zeroah” or “arm”, but the root is “zera” meaning “seed” and a name for the Messiah-Isa 53.1) will judge the peoples; the coastlands (those far away) will wait for me, and for my arm (“zeroah” or Messiah) they will wait expectantly.
v 6…Lift up your eyes to the sky , then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out (waxing old, broken, torn) like a garment (very similar to 2 Pet 3.10-12), and its inhabitants will die in like manner (quickly dissolve), but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness (as defined in the Torah) shall not be broken.
v 7…Listen to me, you who know righteousness (in the Torah), a people in whose heart (desires, thoughts, intentions) is my law (Torah commands-Psa 119.11; Jer 31.33); do not fear the reproach of man, neither be dismayed at their reviling (which has always come upon the righteous believers).
8..For the moth will eat them (those who reproach you) like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool. But my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation to all generations (live eternally).
Isa 51.9-13 is very eschatological. We must keep in mind the Egyptian or First Redemption with Moses, but the context here is the Messianic or Second Redemption with Yeshua. We have a Rosh Ha Shanah passage here, and the word “Awake” is an allusion the resurrection, called the “Natzal” on Rosh Ha Shanah. This concept is also known as the the “gathering” in Jewish eschatology (2 Thes 2.1). We will also have a reference to the False Messiah in these passages.
v 9…Awake, awake (spiritually but this is also an eschatological term. It’s Rosh Ha Shanah and the resurrection is here-Isa 26.19-20; 51.17, 52.1; Eph 5.14-17), put on strength, O arm (Yeshua) of the Lord (Yehovah); awake as in the days of old (like with Moses, but this is future), the generations of long ago (in the Egyptian Redemption; his salvation knows no limitations). Was it not thou (the arm) who cut Rahab in pieces (this is an eschatological term for the False Messiah, but it also means Egypt, to be proud, a harlot and a broad wall-Job 9.13, 26.1; Isa 30.7; Psa 89.10; Ezek 29.1-8, 32.1-8; Hab 3.13-14), who pierced the dragon (Leviathan and Pharaoh, both pictures of the False Messiah).
v 10…Was it not thou who dried up the sea (the sea is seen as the domain of Leviathan, also unconverted humanity-Isa 57.20; Isa 27.1; Rev 13.1; and the spiritual realm). the waters of the great deep; (Yam Suf or the Red Sea in the Egyptian Redemption with Moses and Pharaoh, and a picture of Yeshua and the False Messiah); who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over (even as Yehovah did this in the First Redemption, he will do it again in the Second Redemption)?
v 11…So the ransomed of the Lord (Hebrew “peduyay Yehovah” and what Reggie White saw in a dream two days before he died. He had turned away from the way he had been taught in the church and began learning the Torah and walking in it) will return to Zion (in the same manner. This will happen in the Natzal and after the birth-pains); and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
v 12…I, even I, am he who comforts you (‘menachem” and a term for the Messiah-John 14.16; 2 Cor 1.4; Isa 66.13; Lam 1.16). Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies (why fear any man who dies including the False Messiah), and of the son of man (“ben adam” meaning weak) who is made like grass (can be cut down-Psa 90.5);
v 13…That you have forgotten the Lord (Yehovah) your maker, who stretched out the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy (king of Babylon or Chaldeans, later the False Messiah)? But where is the fury of the oppressor (looks to the future)?
v 14…The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking (they will be set free by the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus).
v 15…For I and the Lord (Yehovah) your God (eloheycha), who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is his name (Job 26.12).
v 16…And I have put my words (the Torah) in your mouth (entrusting Israel with the oracles of God-Rom 3.2), and have covered you with the shadow of my hand (protected them even through judgment), to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, “You are my people” (all the elect-Rev 21.3).
v 17…”Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem (Jerusalem is like a woman lying on the ground in a drunken stupor with none to help her; these are Rosh Ha Shanah terms-51.9, 52.1), you who have drunk from the Lord’s the cup of his anger; the chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs.
v 18…There is none to guide her among all the sons she has borne; nor is there one to take her by the hand among all the sons she has reared.
v 19…These two things have befallen you; who will mourn for you? The devastation and destruction (to the land), famine and sword (to the people); how shall I comfort you?
v 20…Your sons have fainted (no strength), they lie helpless at the head of every street (emaciated, unable to walk, etc), like an antelope in a net (caught, the gates of the city closed), full of the wrath of the Lord (Yehovah), the rebuke of your God (because she has endured the fullness of Yehovah’s anger, she is now to listen about his mercy that has now begun).
v 21…Therefore, please hear this, you afflicted, who are drunk, but not with wine (but with affliction-v 17);
v 22…Thus says your Lord (Adonai), the Lord (Yehovah), even your God (eloheycha) who contends (conducts the cause, defender) for his people (Israel), “Behold (take note of), I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling; the chalice of my anger, you will never drink it again (the persecution will stop now, replaced by his mercy).
v 23…And I will give it into the hand of your tormentors (who had brought this trouble on her), who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you (put their foot on their necks).’ You have even made your back like the ground (like pavement to walk on), and the street for those who walk over it (trodden down by Babylon).”