"Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers? Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand. Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken." (Isaiah 33:17-20)
It would be absurd to think that these verses find their full meaning in Hezekiah's kingship and the deliverance of Jerusalem from Assyria. At the most, those events were simply pictures of God's intentions to deliver His people in the end. The King in His beauty is ultimately none other than the Lord Jesus Christ - Israel's only true King. Despite the many hardships Israel would face, promises of full and lasting deliverance are sprinkled throughout Isaiah's prophecies.
With the shadow of the enemy looming over them, the hearts of the Jews meditated on the terrorizing prospect of what could be. In the face of Assyria's siege, where was the man who counted the tax money, and where was he who received it into the treasury? Where was the man who counted the towers of the city and presided over the defenses of the city? Life for Isaiah's countrymen had changed considerably. Egypt had failed them. Their choice to find refuge in another beside God had taken its toll; yet the Lord continues His message of hope to the people. The coming defeat of Sennacherib would serve to illustrate the Lord's victory over all of Israel's future enemies. Regardless of past terrors, Jerusalem will someday be a quiet habitation under the reign of Christ (32:17-18). The word solemnities means appointed meeting or gathering. The picture is one of the masses gathering together for a special time of worship. Jerusalem will yet experience the joy of sincere worship and praise of the Messiah. Lest any man question the secure state of God's people, the Lord promises that Israel's redemption is irreversible by stating the permanency of this special "tabernacle."
"But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey. And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." (Isaiah 33:21-24)
The Lord will effect Israel's deliverance. Her works will not save her. Her perceived righteousness will fail her. Only the glorious and majestic JEHOVAH God will be able to do this amazing work - the same God Who is bringing many to saving faith in Christ during this present dispensation. The salvation of the Lord is likened to a broad river or stream. There is no want of thirst-quenching water with the Lord. The galley ship symbolizes the terror and oppression of the enemy. The broad rivers of God's salvation are not compatible with the enemy's navy.
The LORD is given three titles. He is the Judge, the Lawgiver and the King. Unlike man's judgment, the Lord's judgment is flawless. His Law is perfect. As Psalm 19:7 says, "The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul... ." It is the great Schoolmaster which brings before the eyes of every man his insufficiency while simultaneously pointing him to the righteousness and grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:19-31). The kingship of the Lord is magnificent. He rules with both tenderness and firmness. Under His rule, no one is oppressed nor is any permitted to disrupt the peace and security of His righteous empire. Such prospects of the Lord's reign served to encourage Isaiah and those who sought the Lord with him.
God illustrates the fall of His enemies through the picture of a ship which has lost its mast and sail. In a small way, God pictured Israel's future deliverance through the fall of this Assyrian "ship," but the picture's completeness is found in the future events described in Revelation. So complete will be the fall of Israel's enemies that God says the lame will take the spoils of the enemy. No human strength will be needed to plunder the opponents of God's chosen people because God's strength will fully accomplish the work.
The most encouraging part of Isaiah's prophecy is reserved for the end of the chapter. Every inhabitant of Jerusalem and her surrounding villages will someday be redeemed by faith in the blood of Christ. No longer will the Jewish nation be spiritually sick. Instead, the salvation of God will shine into the heart of each Jew just as it has in the hearts of many Gentiles in this present age of grace. Instead of being known as the city of the wailing wall, Jerusalem will be known as the city which bears the name "The LORD our righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16)." Only by God's grace will these things come to pass. Apart from His unalterable intentions to deliver His people, none of this could be. By opening the eyes of men to the fear of the LORD, God has brought millions to faith in Christ; and someday all of Israel will join the ranks of the redeemed when God makes, once and for all, the fear of the LORD her treasure.