Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel…
I. The first thing is to determine the just answer to the question, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? in other words, we have to ascertain who IS THE WARRIOR DELINEATED IN THIS PROPHECY.
1. The only endeavour to refer this prediction to another than Christ, appears to be that which would assign as its subject Judas Maccabeus, because this great Jewish captain who did so valiantly for the Jews in the days of Antiochus, overcame the Idumeans in battle; and if every circumstance favoured that interpretation (and we might, perhaps, suppose that this illustrious deliverer, in common with Moses, and Joshua, and other saviours of Israel, may be regarded as a type of the Messiah), still we could only plead for the accommodation, not for the completion of the prophecy. However splendid the achievements of Judas Maccabeus, there can be no sense, commensurate with the expression, in which the chieftain could describe himself as "speaking in righteousness," and assert that the year of his redeemed was come, or affirm that his own arm had brought salvation: so that were it allowed that the prediction had a primary fulfilment in Judas Maccabeus, we should still have to search for another accomplishment. It seems, however, satisfactorily established that Idumea or Edom at the prophet's time was a different country from that which Judas conquered. This circumstance excludes Judas Maccabeus from all share in the prophecy before us; and there remains none but the Redeemer of men in whom we can look for its accomplishment.
2. When it is admitted that the prophecy delineates Christ, we have to determine whether it be to an action already achieved or yet to be performed by the Saviour, that so sublime a description refers. It can only have been through inattention or oversight that any have supposed the prediction to relate to the death and passion of the Mediator. You observe that though the Redeemer is introduced as stained with blood, it is with the blood of His enemies, not with His own. There is a little obscurity in the answer arising from our translator having used the future tense instead of the past; and, according to Bishop Lowth, it should be, "I trod them in anger, and trampled them in indignation, and their life blood was sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My apparel." It was not, therefore, the winepress which He trod in His agony at the crucifixion, whence He brought these dyed garments; He must have been engaged in shedding the blood of others rather than pouring forth His own, ere He breaks forth on the seer's vision travelling in the greatness of His strength. The only circumstance associated with the first advent of Christ to which the prophecy can be fairly thought to refer, is the destruction of Jerusalem at that terrible visitation in which the Redeemer came down in vengeance, and dealt with His enemies with the strongest retribution. Yet, whatever there might have been in the desolations of Judea answering to the fearful expressions which Christ applies to this act, it certainly was not from Edom and Bozrah that He came, when returning from the overthrow of Jerusalem. Of course it was not from the literal Edom, and the literal Bozrah, but neither was it from the figurative. We believe that Edom and Bozrah are here used to denote nations that have been opposed to Christ and His people, and never was there a fiercer opposition than that of the Jews ere their city was destroyed; still it is quite at variance with the rules of Scripture metaphor, that the posterity of Jacob should be described by terms which belong rightly to the posterity of Esau. We may add that Christ's description of vengeance taken is immediately followed by thankful acknowledgments of great good to the house of Israel. If the prophecy have reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, how comes it to be instantly succeeded by a hymn of praise for God's mercy to the Jews? On these various accounts we do not hesitate to assert that the prediction finds no fulfilment in the events of past days; that the future must be charged with its accomplishment, and that the fearful form on which the prophet looked, the form of a warrior, fresh from the victory, must be that of Christ appearing, as He shall appear, at the close of this dispensation, when He has swept a clear scene for setting up His kingdom, and purged the earth from the pollutions of crime. And to those who are familiar with the prophecies which describe the last times, it will immediately suggest itself, that the sudden transition from the assertion of the destruction of antichristian powers, to the offering up of the thanksgiving of the Jews, is in admirable keeping with the whole tenor of prophecy. It seems clearly the import of yet unfulfilled predictions of Scripture, that the restoration of the Jews to their own laud, that great event on which hangs the conversion of the nations, shall not be accomplished without the opposition and overthrow of the confederated powers of antichrist. If, therefore, we consider the final destruction of the antichristian powers as the slaughter of Idumea, from which Christ is returning, it is quite natural that the praises of the house of Israel should immediately succeed the account of the overthrow.
II. Our business is to show THE JUSTICE OF THE INTERPRETATION which would associate the prophecy with the Saviour's second advent.
1. We shall examine what Scripture makes known with regard to the second advent.
2. We shall endeavour to establish the thorough agreement between all we are thus taught, and the prophecy of ore" text.
(1) This coming is represented as accompanied by terrific judgements. It appears from the Book of Revelation that immediately before the millennium, the scene that is to be introduced by the coming of Christ, there will be a gathering of the kings of the earth to battle for the great day of God Almighty. This is the confederacy of antichristian powers. We not only find that when Christ appears the second time it will be to take vengeance on His enemies, but we seem to be furnished with a thorough answer to the question, "Who is this that cometh from Edom. etc.
(2) The only point which seems to need illustration, ere we proceed to fix the meaning of the text, is the use of the terms Edom and Bozrah, to denote the confederated powers of antichrist. It is common in Scripture to take the name belonging to some great foe, and to give it to others whose wickedness is the only connection with the parties so called (e.g. Isaiah 1:10). The antichristian power which was allowed for years to persecute and to harass the Church, and is at last to be thrown down with violence, is expressly denominated "Babylon." In like manner, names such as Edom and Moab, belonging originally to the declared foes of God and His people, are used for others who imitate these foes in their enmity. If you examine the predictions which relate to these nations you will find prophecy, according to the character which it usually presents, passing on from the past to what we must believe yet to come; or, rather, describing the fall of those that first bore the name in language inappropriate, unless designed to apply to others who by their wickedness should deserve the same punishment. So far as Edom and Bozrah are concerned, the expressions are evidently too strong to refer to those places literally; and it is impossible to read them and not see that they relate to a yet future judgment.
(3) As to the text, we must ascertain the period of the judgment it announces. No sooner has Isaiah asserted that the visited land is given up to Christ, as the avenger, than he breaks out into the exclamation, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose;" and proceeds with a glowing account of the Mediator's kingdom. Hence it will appear evident that the judgments described are those which shall introduce the millennium, the thirty-fifth chapter having reference to this scene of blessedness; and, therefore, the thirty-fourth chapter delivering, as it does, a fearful visitation connected with subsequent happiness, must be expected to coincide with other predictions respecting Christ's second coming. But why are we anxious to prove that the thirty-fourth chapter of Isaiah predicts the judgment that attends the Redeemer's advent? Simply because, if this be proved, we shall also prove that by the names Edom and Bozrah are denoted those antichristian powers that shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming. In the fifth and sixth verses of the thirty-fourth chapter, it is on Idumea and Bozrah that the prophet fastens the calamity which forms the subject of his prophecy. Idumea and Bozrah denote the antichristian powers who shall be confederated when Christ shall appear. It may be contended that the prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of the literal Edom. We know that Edom was laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar, but this event in no degree justifies so high-wrought a description. It cannot be without opposition and convulsions that Satan is driven from his usurped dominion. It is from Edom the warrior advances — the land in which dwelt the enemies of righteousness. We know this Mighty Being; we know the work with which He is busied. It is the Redeemer who was crucified in weakness; and who, after a display of marvellous forbearance, shall come forth to avenge His own elect, and destroy them that destroyed the earth. Therefore, we know what answer to give when the prophet demands, "Who is this that cometh from Edom?
(4) We have still to consider the answer in the text, and show its appropriateness as proceeding from Christ at His second appearing. When the prophet asks the name of the being whom he beheld travelling in the greatness of His strength, the reply is, "I that speak in righteous" "This reply is not only characteristic of the Redeemer, but peculiarly appropriate, as the Redeemer returns from the slaughter of His enemies. His actions have just proved Him mighty to destroy, and His words announce Him "mighty to save," so that He is able to confound every foe, and uphold every friend. "Now it seems to us that in the reply given to the challenge of the prophet, there is a distinct assertion that He who comes with dyed garments from Bozrah maintains those principles of righteousness which cannot be maintained but by an infinite judge. I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. The time at which the answer is made can only be that of Christ's second appearing.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
WEB: Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."