All of us have poisons within and stains without. So the first part of Isaiah 4 is about God taking “survivors” (a remnant who are willing to surrender their brokenness to Him), cleansing them inwardly, cleansing them outwardly, thus making them holy, and bringing them home from exile. The use of “Branch of the LORD” (4:2) points to the ultimate meaning of this passage reaching beyond Israel’s geographical return from Babylonian/Persian Exile…to a fuller sense of return and restoration only realized in Jesus.
So the chapter ends with God’s subsequent action:
“Then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.” (Isaiah 4:5-6)
Now 2 elements of the language used here stand out:
1. The Language of Creation - Threads of “new creation” run throughout Isaiah. They even culminate in “new heavens and new earth” in Isaiah 65-66. This is also language used of the work of Jesus throughout the New Testament. He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), including a new you - the “new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24).
2. The Language of Tabernacle/Temple - The first clue is Mt. Zion, which is the mountain where the temple was built. The other clues take us back to the wilderness period, where God’s presence (and glory) manifested itself in a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. Even the term “canopy” is used elsewhere as a synonym for tabernacle.
So let’s put some pieces together. By cleansing us inwardly and outwardly, God sanctifies us - He makes us holy. And we do not just go through a reset to be who we used to be; He is actually re-creating each of us with His image and likeness stamped on a new heart within. And as I am re-created and made holy, my own body becomes a temple for God’s presence (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16) - a place where He can manifest His glory…an overlap between heaven and earth.
And if my re-created self is now an environment for God’s tabernacling presence, what does that mean for “the life which I now live in the flesh” (Galatians 2:20)? We’ll explore this question to conclude this series next week.
To His Glory,