Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you:
Isaiah 51:1-2. Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
2. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
The context of this verse is the nation of Israel, who are God’s chosen race. The text is addressing those amongst Israel who are seeking to follow God’s righteousness. Isaiah is encouraging those of Israel who doubt that God can deliver what He has promised.
Hearken to Me.
The word hearken in Hebrew is (Sharma), the meaning being to listen with action, to hear intelligently, often with implication of attention, obedience, to perceive and obey.
“ye that follow after righteousness”.
From H6663; the right (natural, moral or legal); also (abstractly) equity or (figuratively) prosperity: - X even, (X that which is altogether) just (-ice), ([un-]) right (-eous) (cause, -ly, -ness).
Those of you that want to pursue a right, straight and moral path, that which is altogether just and right.
Israel was a chosen race, an elect people.
Deuteronomy 14:2 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
God wants His elect people to seek His face.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)
Isaiah 51:1 “look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged”.
What is Isaiah telling Israel to do here? Look unto the rock and to the hole of the pit.
To whom is Isaiah referring?
The question is answered in the next piece of text. Look to Abraham and Sarah.
Isaiah 51:2 “Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you”:
Look (Hebrew—hab·bî·ṭū) Strong's Hebrew 5027: To scan, look intently at, to regard.
What are they told to look at, what are they to consider?
They are told to look unto Abraham and Sarah.
God had moulded the entire nation, He had taken Abraham and Sarah from a distant land, and had formed them into a great people and nation for his own purpose.
To consider the state of Abraham and Sarah before God gave them Isaac, from whom Jacob and all his posterity sprang. He compares the bodies of Abraham and Sarah unto a rock, or pit, or quarry, out of which stones are hewn or dug; thereby implying, that God, in some sort, actually did that which John the Baptist said he was able to do, even of stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Mat 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
This was something that was impossible with man or by the course of nature, for Abraham and Sarah, in such old age as they then were, to have a child, yet God is able to hew one out of a rock, or dig one out of a pit.
God called only Abram out of the Ur of the Chaldees. Out of this one chosen man (this rock) would come a great many nations.
Out of the seed of Abraham and through Sarah would the chosen race of Israel come and from that seed would also come the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah is telling Israel that if God can raise up a multitude of peoples from one impotent man and one barren woman, He could certainly deliver His promises to them.
By a miracle, God reversed Abraham’s impotency and Sarah’s barrenness and made the way of salvation for His people.
It appears that there are two ways of looking at this text, however one does not contradict, or conflict with the other.
The first one is that Abraham is the rock (tsûr) from which they were cut. and Sarah is the quarry, (pit – hole) from which they were dug.
This interpretation is supported by the part of the text that says,
Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you:
Also this interpretation is supported by numerous commentaries.
The second interpretation, is also supported by different commentaries, it is the sense of the house of Israel, whose lineage descended from Abraham, it could be said that they came from the hole of the pit.
Abraham had lived in a land which was full of idol worshippers. Ur of the Chaldees was a rich land in material wealth, but greatly lacking in the spiritual blessings. It was a pit of sin. God called Abraham out of this land, away from his family.
John Macarthur of Grace to You says this:
Isaiah refers to Abraham as “the rock from which you were hewn” and “the quarry from which your were dug” (Isa. 51:1–2), reminding his fellow Jews that God sovereignly condescended to call Abraham out of paganism and idolatry in order to bless him and the world through him. He may have had higher moral standards than his friends and neighbors, but this was not the reason God chose him. God chose him because He wanted to choose him. And when God spoke to him, he listened; when God promised, he trusted; when God commanded, he obeyed.
End of quote.
Ligonier Ministries (RC Sproul) says:
Today’s passage marks the first time God issued His call to Abram to leave his pagan ways behind and enter into a covenant relationship with the one, true Lord of all. End of quote.
We observe, first, that the founder of God's first people was called out of a heathen family. "Your fathers," says Joshua, "dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and they served other gods." Abraham, the founder of the great system in which God was pleased to reveal himself for so long a time, and to whose seed the oracles of God were committed, was a dweller in Ur of the Chaldees, the city of the moon-god. We cannot tell to what extent he was actually engrossed in the superstition of his fathers, but it is certain that the family was years afterwards tainted with idolatry; for in Jacob's day the teraph was still venerated, and Rachel stole her father's images. Abraham, therefore, was called out from the place of his birth, and from the household to which he belonged, that in a separated condition, as a worshipper of the one God, he might keep the truth alive in the world. Recollect, then, that the first man from whom sprang that wondrous nation which God hath not even yet cast away was originally himself an idolater, and had to be called out of his sinful state by effectual grace. End of quote.
Martin Lloyd Jones says:
After God took hold of a man named Abraham, called him out of paganism and turned this man into a nation. End of quote.
The physical house of Israel came from a man (Abraham), who was 100 years old, before his son Isaac was born. Of course, Abraham was also the ancestor of all who believe. God did not call Abraham's father and other relatives. He called Abraham alone.
Isaiah 51:2b for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
Of this one man, God would build a mighty family of believers.
The Hebrew meanings of the words used in this text gives the sense of where the seed was taken.
Rock. (Hebrew – tsoor) From H6696; properly a cliff (or sharp rock, as compressed); generally a rock or boulder; figuratively a refuge; also an edge (as precipitous): - edge, X (mighty) God (one), rock, X sharp, stone, X strength, X strong. See also H1049.
Hewn. (Hebrew - châtsab) A primitive root; to cut or carve (wood, stone or other material); by implication to hew, split, square, quarry, engrave: - cut, dig, divide, grave, hew (out, -er), make, mason.
The elect nation of Israel were taken from the rock and hewn from the quarry.
Pit. (Hebrew - bore). From H952 (in the sense of H877); a pit hole (especially one used as a cistern or prison): - cistern, dungeon, fountain, pit, well.
Hole. (Heberw – maqqebeth). From H5344; properly a perforator, that is, a hammer (as piercing); also (intransitively) a perforation, that is, a quarry: - hammer, hole.
This gives a sense of where we were delivered from. The pit, the prison, the dungeon of sin.
Jesus Christ the seed of Abraham and Sarah is the rock from which we are hewn and we are saved from the pit, the dungeon.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
We see in this text the Gospel message of God’s salvation to all His elect.
The (Grace of God) was extended to Abram who believed God (Faith) and it was counted unto him as righteousness.
From Abraham’s loins came the promised seed through Sarah. From Abraham’s seed came the child of promise, Isaac and through Isaac came the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and made an unconditional covenant with him. An everlasting covenant.
Isaiah said, “Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you”:
If God can do this, He certainly can fulfil it.