Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Isaiah Symbolism -- the Cup of Fury

Probing symbolism can help us understand Isaiah better.  Let's look at some verses of Isaiah to see an example.

17 ¶Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem,
which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury;
thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling,
and wrung them out….
22                         Thus saith thy Lord the Lord,
and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people,
Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling,
even the dregs of the cup of my fury;
thou shalt no more drink it again:
 23                                                 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee…
(Isaiah 51:17, 22-23)

One symbol that is used in these verses is “the cup of his fury” (his meaning the Lord).  It is also called “the cup of trembling.”  Another symbol is “the dregs of the cup.”

The cup symbolizes a portion given to us.   Because these verses tell us the Lord gives this portion to us, we know that it is something justly given.  Calling it “the cup of his fury” teaches us that this is the portion of the Lord’s anger that we each deserve and will be given because of our sins.  

I don’t know about you, but I am scared of that.  This is why it is also called “the cup of trembling” to express our point of view, how we tremble with fear at the prospect of experiencing the Lord’s anger.

The “dregs of the cup” refers to the sediment left in a cup of wine at the very end.  Drinking the dregs means to drink every last bit, and in terms of the gospel and the symbols Isaiah is using, it would mean suffering for all our own sins, every last one.

Thus, when the Lord says He will take that cup of his fury out of our hand and not make us drink it again, it implies one of two things—either we have repented, or we have finished suffering for all our sins. (I much prefer repenting..)  It means the Lord is no longer angry with us.  (Yaaay!)