Rev. VanOverloop is pastor of Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church in Byron Center, Michigan.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
Believing parents commit themselves to the instruction of their children in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. But all believing parents who are wise know that, except the Lord bless their efforts, they can teach twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and nothing will enter the understanding, let alone the heart, of their children. Therefore, wise parents pray as they instruct their children. The real teacher must be God Himself. He alone is able to communicate to their understandings and to their hearts.
Judah, God’s servant, had sinned. They and their kings forgot the law and worship of their God. They followed their own pleasures and worshiped other gods. God promised to visit the iniquities of His servant on His Servant, the promised Messiah. The servant, Judah, will be sent into terrible captivity in Babylon. As terrible as this would be, it could be worse—far worse. It could be, instead of the chastening hand of their Master, the actual payment for their sins. This latter will be reserved for the Servant of Jehovah. The substitutionary suffering that was to be endured by the Servant of Jehovah is described in the previous chapter of this prophecy.
Because the Servant will have fully borne the complete punishment for all of the sins of the servant, the present chapter begins with words of great encouragement for the distressed servant. God promises that, after generations will have borne the anguish and shame of captivity in a foreign land, there will be deliverance. To assure His people that they have no reason to fear the severing of their relationship with Jehovah, He calls the barren to sing, for they shall have many children (Isaiah 54:1). The beaten, tiny nation is commanded to “enlarge the place of thy tent, … lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). God is assuring Judah that their bondage in Babylon is not the end. God promises that they will “forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood” (Isaiah 54:4), for He will restore them to the beautiful relationship where “thy Maker is thine husband” (Isaiah 54:5). He explains that “for a small moment” and “in a little wrath” He hid Himself from her, but He promises great and eternal mercies (Isaiah 54:7, 8). Further, Jehovah promises that He will never forsake His people again and that the covenant of His peace will be theirs forever (Isaiah 54:9, 10). Also God promises a restored relationship reflected in outward beauty and glory: “I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones” (Isaiah 54:11, 12). All this is because they are reckoned to be righteous in the finished work of the suffering Servant (Isaiah 54:14).
A specific part of these wonderful promises that God gives to His restored and comforted church is that her “children will be taught of the LORD.” What a wonderful promise! What an amazing promise! Jehovah Himself will teach our children!! Parents (as well as pastors and elders) can only present truths. And the mere proclamation of the truth is not sufficient in itself. The internal work of the Spirit of God is needed for the children to understand and believe. All that humans can accomplish with preaching and teaching is to present information. It is God who not only causes the gospel to be externally preached, but also powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit. He pervades the inmost recesses, opening the closed mind, softening the hard heart, and sweetly inclining the stubborn will. The result is that the children can rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God.
They are not only taught by Jehovah, but they are also taught about Jehovah. Those who are so taught know Jehovah Himself. Yes, they know about Him, but the knowledge they gain of Him leads them into the intimacy of knowing Him. And to know Jehovah is eternal life (John 17:3).
Who are taught of Jehovah? “All thy children.”
And who are “all thy children”? Are they every physical child born to believers? Or are they every spiritual child born to believers? Scripture itself gives us the answer. Let Scripture interpret itself.
Scripture interprets this passage when the first verse of this chapter is quoted in Galatians 4:27. The apostle Paul was giving instruction to the Galatians about their justification being by grace alone and not by the works of obedience to the law. He has just compared Sinai (and the law) with Jerusalem that is above (Gal. 4:25, 26). He goes further and says that this Jerusalem that is above “is the mother of us all.” To substantiate this in the minds of the Galatian believers, Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1: “For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.” And then Paul adds, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” The believers in the church of Christ in Galatia, Jews and Gentiles alike, having been justified by grace alone through faith alone, are “the children of the promise.” Therefore the “all thy children” taught of Jehovah are the children of the promise (cf. also Rom. 9:8). They are the true, spiritual seed of the previous generation of true, spiritual seed.
Thus the promise that “all thy children shall be taught of the LORD,” cannot refer to every physical child of believers. Besides, we certainly would not want to conclude that anyone who is taught by God can be unsaved. When God teaches, He truly teaches. He is always effective as a Teacher. We must conclude that “all thy children” are all the true children of the promise, the true Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles. And this harmonizes with the description of the glorified church given in the two verses that precede our text. It is to this glorified church, not to individuals, that the word comes, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD.”
Even further scriptural evidence that “all thy children” are the children of the promise is given by the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus quotes these very words of our text in John 6:45. He quotes this passage to prove the efficacious nature of God’s work of saving His people. Jesus is speaking of the Father’s irresistible drawing of those who come to Jesus (cf. John 6:39, 44, 65). How does the Father draw them? Jesus answers: the Father teaches them. And do not think that some are lost along the way—that some of those whom God taught end up not being drawn or coming or being saved. As Jesus Himself said, “Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45b).
How does the Father teach them? He teaches through the preaching of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, the Savior from sin. He puts His law into their hearts. He is their God and they are His people (Jer. 31:33). Those taught by the Spirit know God, from the least to the greatest; and the heart of what they know about God, their Father, is that He forgives their iniquity and remembers their sin no more. All those taught of Jehovah, the covenant God, know that He has redeemed them from all their sin. So when the circumstances of their earthly pilgrimage, like the Babylonian captivity, lead them to thinking that they are enduring the wrath of God as the punishment for their sin, then Jehovah, their Husband, teaches them of Himself and His work of so forgiving them that He remembers their sin no more. What a tremendously wonderful lesson to learn from Jehovah.
It is no wonder that these children have peace and that their peace is great! Great peace is the result of the knowledge given when one is taught of Jehovah.
Shalom (peace) is a rich, comprehensive term for being complete or full. Shalom implies prosperity and victory, and a general state of complete well-being. It speaks of true happiness. True happiness results when God enlightens our understanding so that we embrace the salvation revealed in Christ. Without this knowledge we are a great distance from happiness.
Zion’s children are given an abundance of peace. The knowledge of their covenant relation with God is peace. God is not at war with them. Being justified by grace alone without works, they have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). This is because they are the recipients of “the covenant of my peace … saith the LORD that hath mercy” (Is. 54:10). So wonderful and “great” is this peace that it passes all understanding and it guards their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
Those taught of Jehovah know that they are justified by His righteousness. Their consciences are sprinkled with His blood. They discover His love shed abroad in their hearts and they enjoy peace.
As godly parents and grandparents, let us know what it is to be taught of Jehovah. And let us pray that He will teach our children.