Isaiah 4:2-6 is a most unique passage of Scripture. We have beauty. We have excrement. We have fire and majesty. However, and most significantly, we have the Branch of the Lord and an allusion to Moses and the Wilderness. What could this all mean? And does it have anything to do with Jesus?
We can recognize first that the passage is prophetic because of the phrase, “In that day…” In the prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures (OT), whenever you see a form of that phrase you are dealing with eschatology. Therefore, it is future-oriented when the Branch of the Lord appears but just who is the person?
This brings us to our second point. He is described in human or personal traits as well as godly traits – beautiful and glorious. In Zech. 6:12, he is called a man (Ish in Hebrew). In Zech. 3:8, he is referred to as a servant (cf. Isaiah 53 perhaps?). In both Jer. 23:6 and 33:15, he is given a special name – “The LORD our Righteous Savior” (Yahweh Tzidkenu). In other words, a person who is both God and man. Hmm…!
This brings us the tied point of the passage – what is the Branch’s task?
1. Cleanse the daughters of Zion of their filth (literally their excrement but figuratively their sins)
2. Cleanse the blood (bloodguilt) from Jerusalem through judgement and fire — sacrifice
Interestingly, the sacrifice of #2 is done in the Hiphil Imperfect, which is really important! The Branch himself caused it to be done … Himself. Jerusalem in the verse has NOTHING to do with their cleansing. The Branch is the sacrifice and the forgiver at the same time. Hmm…!
And then (v. 5-6), the LORD will re-create the experience He alone provided for the people in the wilderness – His presence through smoke by day and fire by night.
So … What are we seeing in this passage? I would argue that we are seeing a Messianic representation of the TWO comings of Jesus. We are seeing the Incarnation explained and amplified. We are seeing explained and manifested how the prophet greater than Moses is the Branch of the Lord (aka Jesus of Nazareth). Hmmm…