Pastor Steve Ellison: Who Is This?
Technically, the questions asked in Isaiah 63:1-2 are not asked of people by the Lord, but my heart did not want to let this opportunity pass by. Furthermore, in answering the questions, God revealed some of His heart.
Some of the revelation is pleasant to the ears; some of it is hard to receive. All of the revelation is beneficial and glorifies God.
The immediate context for Isaiah 63 is the prophecy of YHWH restoring Israel to Jerusalem and the Promised Land found in Isaiah 62. That prophetic restoration was fantastic, but in it the people of God would still be surrounded by evil, aggressive, violent sworn enemies. In Isaiah 63, YHWH reveals Himself in prophecy as Him who will wipe out their enemies, thus making them safe in Jerusalem and the Promised Land.
Isaiah 63:1-6 centers around two questions from the prophet accompanied by answers from YHWH, Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors (or crimson) from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." (NASU)
The one who marches in from the land of enemies is YHWH Himself. He is glorious and magnificent in His appearance. He marches in, in a one-person parade, in a beyond impressive display of unmatched strength. He speaks in righteousness and unquestioned justness, which is another indicator of being “mighty to save.” Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! YHWH, who is mighty to destroy the enemies, is mighty to save His people. The same Messiah who destroys the unbelievers will save the believers.
In asking a second question, verses 2-6 further explain the above references to Edom, Bozrah, and crimson (see also Isaiah 34:6), Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? “Red” in Hebrew is very similar to “Edom,” thus producing a striking wordplay. Also, the people of God would certainly be familiar with the process of trampling grapes to produce juice they could turn into wine. The magnificent one approaching is wearing garments as they have been dipped in the wine vat.
“Why” is a legitimate question. The answer is sobering and terrifying. 3 "I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment. 4 "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come. 5 "I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me. 6 "I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." (NASU)
The Messiah treads the winepress not as one who suffers but as one who is exacting vengeance on his enemies. Because of the Messiah’s omnipotence and the unworthiness of all others, He refuses all help. There is none to help and He needs no help. Any attempt to help is an insult and affront to Him.
Clearly final redemption of believers and punishment of unbelievers comes at approximately the same time (see also Revelation 14:19-20, 19:13-15). Christians may speak with little clarity concerning the wrath of God, but the God of the Bible does not. He is the God of Mercy, Forgiveness, and Grace to those who accept His gift. Those who reject it, receive justice. I choose mercy. Justice would mean eternal punishment for me.