The Bloody Warrior God and the Ever-Loving Lord-Isaiah 63-64

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From last week's sermon (1/22/17), Isaiah emphasizes that The Goal of Salvation (Isaiah 60-62) is righteous living. From Isaiah 63 the primary emphasis is on God's power to enable his servants to live righteous lives.

Who are the enemies of the Judeans? Their own sins. Edom is no longer a problem (Isa 63:1a). They were captured by Babylon and were destroyed. They never returned. Edom doesn’t exist at this point in the return from exile. In the O.T. Edom is the symbol of the enemies of God.

So if the divine warrior is the one sent from God (Isa 63:1b-3), whose blood splatters his garment? It is his own. He became sin for our sakes (2 Cor 5:21). This warrior has symbolically become the sins of his enemies. He has become the sins of his people. In so doing it is his own blood that covers his garment (Rev 19:13).

Considering salvation, conversion, regeneration, Jesus comes as the suffering servant (Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 53). He takes the sins of the world into himself submissively and meekly. Like a lamb before it’s shearers he is dumb and silent (Isa 53:7). But when it comes to defeating sin in his people, he doesn’t come as the suffering servant. Rather, he comes as a divine warrior to destroy the power of sin in our lives (Isa 59:15-18).

It is important that we understand both pictures: 1) The suffering servant who meekly takes the sins of the world into himself and gives back love, AND 2) the divine warrior who comes to attack sin of his people; the divine warrior who destroy sin with his own blood. The cross is the answer to sins that were committed, and it is the answer to sins as a power in our lives. Only the cross is and has the power to defeat sin in our lives now. This is good news. Tragically, in the U.S. we have made it the answer to sins that were committed in the past, but which has nothing at all to say about sins that Christians commit now. This is tragic and unfortunate.

"You will hear one say, that such-and-such a good man was punished for his transgressions; and I have known believers think that their afflictions were punishments sent from God on account of their sins. The thing is impossible; God has punished us, who are his people, once for all in Christ, and he never will punish us again. He cannot do it, seeing he is a just God. Afflictions are chastisements from a Father's hand, but they are not judicial punishments. Jesus has tredden the wine-press, and he has trodden it alone: so we cannot tread it." Charles Spurgeon.

“Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? 'It is I, proclaiming victory (speaking in righteousness, proclaiming vindication, announcing your salvation), mighty (powerful, abundant) to save'” (Isa 63:1). "I will tell of the kindnesses (ever-unchanging loves, lovingkindnesses, steadfast love, faithful love, unfailing love) of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses (ever-unchanging loves, lovingkindnesses, steadfast love, faithful love, mercy and love)" (Isa 63:7).

Lovingkindnesses "is the Hebrew word hesed, the love that is faithful to the covenant." (Grogan) It can also be translated "steadfast love." It is one of the great words of the Old Testament, probably the closest Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word agape.

How can an unrighteous people manifest the light of God that will bring the nations to his feet and fill the whole world with fruit (Isa 27:6)? The answer is the divine warrior (Isa 63:4-5; 59:16-17). Using physical and military imagery (Isa 63:1-3), God will defeat every enemy of his people, including the most dangerous of all, sin.

  1. The Solitary Avenger, the Anointed Conqueror (63:1-6)
  2. The Good, Ever-Loving Father and Lord (63:7-64:12)
    1. Remembrance/recollection (63:7-14). Rehearsing the theological significance of the Exodus, and the elements of God's character: kindness, compassion (Isa 63:7) and love and mercy (Isa 63:9).
    2. Prayer/plea/petition (63:15-64:5)
    3. Confession of helplessness/hopelessness (64:6-12)

 I. The Bloody Warrior God [The Solitary Avenger, the Anointed Conqueror] (63:1-6)

This is the fourth prophecy in Isaiah relating to Edom (Isa 11:14; 21:11-12; 34:1-17), and there is a progression in that the judgment on Edombecomes greater and greater. This is consistent with the evidence for the whole of the OT. Whereas Edomites (descendants of Esau) are regarded earlier on as brothers (Dt 2:4; 23:7-8), curses are later invoked against them (Amos 1:11-12; Obad 1:21; Jer 49:7-22; Mal 1:2-5). Speaking in righteousness (Isa 63:1) refers to God's unfailing completion of what he announces (Isa 45:23; 55:11). "Mighty to save" (Isa 63:1b) is the dominant note even in this judgment passage. God alone cares enough and has power enough to carry through the work of judgment (Isa 63:3; Rev 19:15). Edom and its city Bozrah typify the impenitent world and is a symbol of a world opposed to the people of God, but here also of the judgment of God upon his enemies (Isa 34:6).

63:1-6 is the companion piece to 59:15b-21. While both address judgment and consequent salvation, this poem highlights the day of vengeance (Isa 63:4), a theme which was blended in Isa 61:2 with that of restoration. Vengeance/judgment and restoration/salvation are related as victory (with its bloodshed) is to liberation (with its joy and peace. The NT endorces this sequence in Revelation, where Jesus is the warrior:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords" (Rev 19:11-16).

II. The Ever-Loving Lord [The Good Merciful Father] (63:7-64:12)

Isaiah's emphasis is on the recognition that human failure will always be the case unless God intervenes. After introducing God's ability to defeat sin in all of its forms (63:1-6), Isaiah returns to a discussion of the human inability to do what is right (from 63:7 to 65:16). He moves from judgment on unbelieving Gentiles to the great compassion that God has shown to Israel. He, as the father, has bestowed great blessings on them as his children. After the declaration of this truth, Isaiah prays on behalf of the people, appealing particularly to the fact that the Lord is their father (Isa 63:16; 64:8 [Heb.7]). Past mercies and present circumstances intermingle in the intensity of the petitions.

"The angel of His presence is the Messiah (Isa 63:9) … Calvin sees in this angel merely a serving angel. But of this Angel it is said that He by His love and pity saved Israel; this can hardly be said of a created angel. It is the Christ who is meant here." Harry Bultema, Commentary on Isaiah, 1991.

"Angel of his presence: literally 'of his face'. We recognize people by face; 'face' is the Lord's very one presence (Ps 139:7), among them in the person of his angel - that unique 'Angel of the Lord' (as in Gen 16:7ff; 21:17; 22:11, 15; Ex 3:2; 14:19; 23:20-23; Mal 3:1) who speaks as the Lord and is yet distinct from him." Alec Motyer.

In this section there is mention of the Father (Isa 63:16; 64:8) the Spirit (Isa 63:10,11,14) and Savior (Isa 63:8) and the angel of his presence (Isa 63:9). "There are Trinitarian overtones in the passage." Harry Grogan.

Recent books and comments:

  1. The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, Vol I and II (Greg Boyd, April 1, 2017).
  2. What to do with the violent God of the Old Testament (Greg Boyd, 13 min video).


  1. (63:1–6) [Edom {capital Bozrah} (63:1) is a symbol of hostility to God. To make wine, grapes were put into a stone vat with a drain drilled into it. Then the grapes were squeezed in various ways, one of which was to walk around on top of them (63:2–3).] Compare 63:5 is to 59:16. Why repeat this? What “peoples” (6) has the Warrior “trodden down”? Whose blood was shed(2 Cor 5:21)? Why?
  2. (63:7–14) This is the opening stanza of a poem that extends to 64:12. What is God's sentiment toward his people (7-9)? What are the people asking God to do (7)? On what basis (8-9)? Notice the references to "the angel of his presence" (9), Spirit (10, 11, 14) and Father (16; 64:8)? What might this be emphasizing?
  3. (63:15–19) What are the people blaming God for (15b, 17a; 64:12)? Why would they do that? What is their appeal (15a, 17b), and what is the basis for it (16, 18-19)?
  4. (64:1–12) What is the appeal (1–5a; 63:15a)? What is the basis for the appeal (3-4)? What does this tell us about salvation (5b)? Why must God act (5b-7)? What four things does sin do to us (6)? What is the appeal (9) and what is the basis of the appeal (8, 10-12)?


  • How might we misrepresent God's will and the human will? How do you reconcile this (Phil 2:12b-13)? If God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Ex 7:3), is he still responsible (Ex 3:19; 8:15; 7:13)?
  • What are your reflections on 63:7–64:12? What is the “take-home” for you?

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