Context: Chapter 63 of Isaiah describes a vision seen by this eloquent poet and prophet, probably from a mountaintop. It may have been inspired by an approaching thunder-storm, reddened by the setting sun. At one time scholars thought this passage a prophecy relating to Christ, but it has since been observed with some justification that the awesome being described is far more consistent with the Old Testament Jehovah than it is with the character of Jesus. Isaiah's vision is of a mighty figure approaching out of Edom, glorious in scarlet and purple robes; the impression created by his words is one of vastness and of something inexorable in purpose; and when the figure speaks it is in a voice of thunder. The impression of an approaching storm is very strong. Whatever the phenomenon that inspired Isaiah's mind and pen, its aspect was majestic and aweinspiring. For centuries the people of Israel have suffered under the oppressor's heel; their land has been conquered and plundered; they have been enslaved, abused, exiled, or killed. Now Isaiah sees the Lord sweeping across the earth in garments the color of blood, to avenge the tribulations of His people and to stamp out their enemies. He will trample them as wine is trampled out of the grapes, and His robes will be stained by the fury of His labor. But this terrifying vision is of the future, and Isaiah begs the Lord to remember His people in their present adversity, to renew His love for them and to raise their afflictions. In the prayer with which he ends this chapter are combined humility, simple devotion, and a deep sorrow; there is genuine pathos in it and the suffering it mirrors is unmistakeable.
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.
Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, . . .
For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
. . .
O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.