146. Good morning everybody – Let’s sing together Hymn number 26 in Isaiah and we shall stand to sing  

I00 Isaiah 26:1–11              

 

There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the neglect of the Old Testament by Christian people leads many into deviant teaching, and sometimes even downright heresy. To get to grips with the Old Testament writing prophets, and to seek and search through their statements as a mother searching through a child’s head of hair with, what we used to call, “a nit comb,” (I speak from long held childhood memories), is so necessary to keep us devotionally and doctrinally together.

 

The resurrected Christ explained His work, His Passion, His death, burial and resurrection all from the Old Testament scriptures (See Luke 24). However, since the writer to the Hebrews talks about the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system of worship being “obsolete,” it tends to lead some into dismissing the entire Old Testament as outmoded and superseded in its entirety. The body of Old Testament scripture is the only platform from which the apostles jumped from to explain the gospel. I cling to the solid foundational thought so beautifully taught me by my first pastor in the late 1960’s that, “The New is in the Old concealed. The Old is in the new revealed.” He was talking of the Old and New Testament, of course.

 

I1I really believe that a lot of eschatological A millennialism, and Replacement Theology is seeded by a sidestepping and an ignoring of many Old Testament issues. The ignored Hebrew Bible leads also to all the unrealistic and uncoherent versions of Universalism. It can also lead to an insipid, “God loves everybody, and therefore nobody will finish up in hell” theology that is unrealistic, and does not match with the reality of life and the world as a whole.

 

The Old Testament prophets were raised by God to speak into the depravity of man, and the backslidings of the Jews from the promises and commitments that they made to Yahweh as a nation in the days of Moses. “The depravity of man and the evil of the human heart is,” as Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, “the most self-evident and undeniable truth, plain to the whole planet of all races and nations, and is at the same time the most flatly denied of all biblical truths.”

 

Having spent the first twelve chapters of his writings explaining the evils of Hebrew society and the judgement that will come upon them because of those evils, Isaiah went further. From chapter 13 to chapter 23 he lists how all the surrounding nation states and ethnic groups have a judgement day approaching, That leads us here to the section of Isaiah 24 to chapter 27 inclusively. In 24 the prophet sees a judgement most terrible, a holocaust that is to impact the entire world, Out of this judgement that will reduce the world’s population greatly, there will be a period of a believing remnant that will wait for the coming of Messiah. This remnant will comprise of mostly Hebrews, with a gentile contingent. And on that day, when Yahweh (in the person of Christ) will reign on earth, they will sing a song.

 

I02It is impossible to read these verses and redact one’s beliefs and convictions concerning hell, judgement and absolute truths as many Christians do. Isaiah 24-27 has to be absolutely denied and treated as error for people to arrive at Replacement Theology or Universalism. God has given us 66 books, The New Testament is indeed far superior to the Old Covenant, but the entire Old Testament revelation is discarded or belittled at our own peril.

 

I believe in the New Testament believer being seated in Heavenly Places in Christ. I believe that every person in Christ is a new creation. I believe in that great body of truth that many Bible expositors refer to as “New Creation Realities.” But the statements concerning God’s very nature as poured out throughout the Old Testament and especially men like Isaiah, and the eschatological picture they paint of a day that is even future to us two and a half millennia later  must not be denied, buried or ignored by Christians.

 

In the late 1800’s the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon made a statement while ploughing through the writings of the prophet Malachi. I quote:

 

I03“The proper study of the Christian is the character and nature of the Godhead. It is the highest science, and the loftiest speculation. The mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of the child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom Christ calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-contentment, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.”

 

Extolling the love of God, and humanly arriving at the thought that either God’s judgement is inconsistent with His love, or that to dismiss thoughts of Divine judgement exalts the concept of His love is a downright fallacy, and leads to the shipwreck of faith and a life of integrity. As an aside, and as a point of pure logic, why should I feel any imperative to live a holy life of any degree or description, if Attila the Hun, Adolf Hitler and the leaders of ISIS will be sat next to me in glory anyhow? Every single person that has ever lived righteous or unrighteous, Jew or Christian, Atheist or Theist, Hindu, Sikh or Muslim will stand before Almighty God in judgement. Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 5 that Christians will stand, alone, individually and personally at the Judgement seat of Christ. That judgement will be severe and thorough for everything a person has done, thought and spoken in their lives since conversion. The rest of the world, and those that have come to faith during Christ’s millennial reign will stand in the same solitary manner at what the Bible refers to as “The Great White Throne Judgement,” when God the Father will be the active Judge.

 

I04It is this writer’s conviction that Isaiah 26 gives us a song that is to be sung immediately after Christ has assumed the throne of David in Jerusalem, and has commenced his “millennial reign.” I have no doubt that the song will be relevantly sung throughout the entire thousand years of Christ’s reign.

 

“In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah …” So, this chapter is definitely a song! Or at least it begins with a song. A Hymn of praise! Yes indeedy! This chapter actually contains the lyrics of a song, composed with a view to it being, “released,” and popularly sung at a very particular point of time. “That day,” when seen in the context of Isaiah chapters 24 through to chapter 27, seems to be addressing that point of time when Christ has returned to earth and is enthroned in Jerusalem and His millennial reign has commenced. When that day arrives, Israel will be occupying both Jerusalem and the whole of the land we know as Israel, and likely quite some areas beyond what we call present day borders. It will be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, including land East of the Jordan, and conceivably the majority of, if not the entire Arabian Peninsula.

 

I wish we had the melody that Isaiah obviously knew how to sing, but I suppose each generation has its own music style and tastes, so we are clearly left to make up the tune ourselves if we felt the desire to take up this song now. Oh, how important is music, and the lyrics of songs that extol God and His character.

 

  1. In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.

 

I05“In that day this song will be sung.” It is a lyric in which the great things God had engaged in, as explained in the foregoing couple of chapters, doing things for his people, against His enemies and the enemies of Judah, are celebrated with great and exultant joy and happiness. It is stated that it is primarily to be sung when the predictive prophecies of chapters 24 and 25 are accomplished. As old Matthew Henry said – or was it John Calvin? – “We must move forward to meet God with our thanks while He is coming forward towards us with his mercies.” Or something like that. Wonderful statement Matthew! John! Whoever!

 

“In that day,” refers to the coming millennial days, when the curse is fully removed from all of creation, and finally from the redeemed. This will be when Judah and Jerusalem, as well as the redeemed from all nations, tribes and tongues will have a glorious God-given reason to sing. The song is a swell of praise to be sung while the impact of the full restoration of all things is in full process. It is a glorious song to be voiced by the thankful population of Jerusalem for the transformation of their capital into a city of peace, as God fulfills His redemptive purpose for the city.

 

His salvation will be better than physical walls and “ramparts,” or bulwarks (i.e. fortifications that slope on the inner side of a wall in order to give greater resistance at attempts to batter them down). He, that is, Yahweh, will protect His people, and therefore He is said to be their bulwark. He is all-sufficient. A whole new recreation demands an entirely different means of national defence. For although the whole world will be at peace, there will be national parameters and racial parameters also, and not everybody on the planet will be in possession of their resurrection bodies – suggesting differences of mind and opinions will still be existent. Indeed, the city needs to be strong still for reasons of defence – and defence is always because of the potential reality of being attacked.

 

I06“This song will be sung in the land of Judah.” All Jews at last will be reunited. But Jerusalem will always be in that section of Israel that we know as Judah.   This is confirming what Ezekiel saw three generations after Isaiah’s day, while sat on the banks of the River Chebar and seeing the same scenario as Isaiah sees here, namely that in the millennial blessings of the prophet’s far distant future, the tribes of Israel shall still have their individuality, their respective allotments of land and their separate, personal, tribal identity.

 

“We have a strong city.” As the song progresses we are confident he is singing of a real and literal city. I am quite aware that Zion, originally, was a small “corner” in that part of Jerusalem that was named Zion. But it is commonly believed that a generation or two after David, Zion became a spiritual epithet for the entire city of Jerusalem. So we conclude that Isiah is referring to Zion, that is, Jerusalem and all that is within her walls.  But there clearly seems to be a double identity. Not only does it intimate to be the literal mountain of Zion he refers to, namely Jerusalem as we know it, but the statement, “God makes salvation its walls and ramparts,” indicates a spiritual dimension running concurrent with the physical. Instead of hard stone walls surrounding Zion and protecting them from harm (which there obviously was in Isaiah’s day, and will be in the Millennium), he refers to the hard and solid eternal salvation of God to be the wall and rampart of the city of which the prophet sings. How marvelous is this! Two Zions? It would seem so.

 

  1. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith.

 

I07The fact that it is God who has built the city walls by means of His salvation and grace, makes it a truth to say that the city will be prepared by God Himself for nobody else but His people – that is those who are saved through their belief in the saving grace of God. The statement is that the gates will only be opened to grant entrance to those of faith in Yahweh. “Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”

 

The song lyric that the prophet is inspired to write calls for the gates to be opened for, “the righteous nation” only. That is, the nation that keeps, or guards, faith.  This could refer to the very exercise of faith, bringing salvation, and/or the body of belief that is referred to as, “the faith.” Either option, however, is dependent on the other. Those in faith need to keep the belief system pure. And a pure theological body of belief that isn’t being exercised actually loses its purity because of its lack of use and implementation.  “Nation” (Hebrew, “Goiim”) is often used of Gentiles. Here, it means any people, of any nation, tribe or tongue, who are right with God, being justified by faith.

 

  1. You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

 

I08God provides “perfect peace” In Hebrew it actually says, “shalom shalom.” It is repeated to emphasize the genuineness, the depth, and the perfection of the peace given to the soul by Yahweh Himself to those who are mindful of Him continually as they walk in faith.  In the midst of difficulties and stress, God will keep those in spiritual well-being, and true internal peace of spirit, whose minds, thoughts, impulses, and tendencies, are unshakable and undeviating because their absolute trust is in God. They believe and do not doubt in any circumstance. The doubter “is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).

 

Isaiah 26:3 is one of those classic statements that stand as a mighty rock and an inspirational pillar of fire and security, even when taken out of context. The thought conveyed by the verse is an eternal rock in any environment that life finds us in. It could be said that these lines are the ultimate context and premise for faith. It needs no context to be appropriated by the believer.  Believing it while we expend our mortal coil is its context.

 

The statement reveals God’s initiation of the truth here propositionally presented. He built the walls to keep His people safe. He gives the “shalom shalom,” in response to steadfast trust placed in Him. God Himself locates the heart and mind that is fixed on Him in such a manner, and the ramifications are that the peace of God runs rampant in the heart and mind of he or she that is devoted in such a perpetual manner.  Notice that, in the text, it is not actually Yahweh that is saying he will keep the believer in peace, but Isaiah who has seen and experienced the workings of God in His own soul. The believer will be sustained and maintained in their glorious dependence on the Master’s grace. Perfect peace is an alien visitor to those who are over mindful of the circumstances of this world.

 

“The faith” must be mountain-like steadfast and anchor-like sure. Then the peace will be held in perfection and sustained in longevity. It is activated by the mind that is stayed on His provision as well as the whys and wherefores of that provision.

 

  1. Trust in Yahweh forever, for Yah, Yahweh, is the Rock eternal.

 

I09The desire to evangelise, that others may enjoy a relationship with God comes as an integral component of receiving God’s salvation; Old Testament or New, Apostle or Prophet, the foundation of their writings and world-view is an appeal to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Those with steadfast trust in God will self-evidently call on others to “Trust in Yahweh forever.” Our faith and trust in Yahweh must be continuous and on-going. A one-time expression of faith, or trust, is not enough. He will not fail us because He is “the Rock eternal.” The picture of God as the eternal “Rock” speaks not only of strength, but of protection, security, and permanence (Isaiah 17:10 in the Amplified Bible says:  “Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation [O Judah] and have not been mindful of the Rock of your strength, your Stronghold—therefore, you have planted pleasant nursery grounds and plantings [to Adonis, pots of quickly withered flowers used to set by their doors or in the courts of temples], and have set [the grounds] with vine slips of a strange [God]).” Everlasting strength and help flowing towards us are constituent attitudes of God’s very nature, and the embedded components of His salvation. The repetition of “Yah, Yahweh” draws attention to the faithfulness of His covenant-keeping name and character. I was taught by one great leader and soldier of Christ that, “Yah,” was God’s name in battle, while Yahweh refers to His complete integrity in keeping covenant. One cannot get hold of a firmer rock, or more permanent concept than “eternal.” The prophet appealing to us to trust in Yahweh forever obviously suggests consciousness, alertness and choice on the other side of the grave.

 

  1. He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust.

 

I10God is not only a Rock. Rocks are utterly still. Yahweh, however, is ever active. Judgment, Divinely exercised over us in this life, must prepare the way for repentance, faith and restoration. What God did in bringing down the pride of Moab and leaving its cities in total ruin, He will do to the pride of all the lofty cities of the world. This is why this chapter, and even this whole section of Isaiah is referred to as “A Tale of Two Cities.” Isaiah is seeing the City of Zion compared in contradistinction with the proud and lofty cities of the world. Even Nineveh that dwelt on high, or Babylon that later considered itself lofty would both be laid low by the mighty hand of God. He resists the proud. The judgement of God is sometimes seen in this world, but will always be seen in the next. Judgement of Christians in their lifestyle and conduct since conversion of their life “in Christ,” and judgement of the nations for the life of those that saw the end of their mortal coil without yielding their lives to Yahweh.

 

  1. Feet trample it down—the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.

 

Though God’s people are “oppressed” (afflicted) and “poor” (helpless and insignificant in the perspective of worldly paradigms), they will walk in triumph on the ruins that God will bring about – a triumph they could not achieve themselves. The world will praise Assyria and Babylon in its day, as they did with the rise of Greece and of Rome. However, the world was also rejoicing in the downfall of these empires. The contrary thrust of the prophetic message, as well as the New Testament apostolic kerygma is that those who humble themselves before Yahweh shall be exalted; for the feet of the poor shall tread upon the lofty cities it says so here. Empires of the world rise and fall. The righteous will be remembered by God Himself, forever.

 

Isaiah does not say, “Great and forceful armies shall tread the evil cities down,” but, when God wants it done, “the feet of the oppressed” and poor shall do it.

 

 

  1. The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.

 

I11Having referred to how the haughty and lofty cities are fallen, and how the righteous poor will be trampling over the once might structures that are “now,” in his vision, a ruin, the prophet turns his mind to the life and conduct of the righteous poor, and what motivated them in their actions of purity even though they were externally oppressed. Isaiah looks at the time that the Jewish people will be waiting for Yahweh to visibly come to their rescue, immediately prior to the millennial situation that Isaiah 26 is graphically portraying, that is when Messiah and the future release of the cosmos from the fall comes into realisation when Christ comes to reign on earth.  The straight and level walk with God is what he analyses. “The path of the righteous,” i.e. those right with God, is a “level” way. That is, God makes it orderly, upright, and straight as the path trails towards its goal. Yahweh, who is the “Upright One,” makes the path “smooth,” and cleared of obstacles. This does not mean they never have difficulties, problems, or struggles.  God sees them through the opposition tendered sometimes by demons, sometimes by people and sometimes by circumstances. Any one, two or all of these factors engage with the person of faith. He makes a way when there seems to be no way.  All we need do is walk with Him.

 

  1. Yes, Yahweh, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

 

Those who are expectantly waiting for Yahweh, trusting in Him, walk in the path of His “laws” (in the Hebrew “mispateka,” means, quite literally, as “His decisions”) while the horrors of judgement are overwhelming much of the world. This can mean that either they live in obedience to His Word, or they are faithful in the midst of the judgments that are beginning to come upon on the earth – or, both, of course. The desire for the name of Yahweh is a desire to see His nature, attributes and character manifested on the planet. It is also a desire to see Him in personal manifestation. They hunger to see His nature held in remembrance, that is, His past revelations of who He is.

  1. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.

 

I12The change to the first person singular shows that the prophet had that same expectant desire as all the righteous do, even “in the night.” The phrase, “my spirit longs for you,” indicates the inner depths of his desire after Yahweh.  The believing heart longs for the fullest manifestation of Him whom the human heart lives for.  Longing for Him “in the morning” includes the idea of seeking Him often or constantly, as well as the thought of willfully submitting to him at the start of every new day. God’s “judgments [that] come upon the earth” are the motivation for doing this, and the testimony of obedient seekers of Yahweh becomes a means whereby the inhabitants of the earth “learn righteousness.” This will have its future and more complete fulfillment after the judgments of the Great Tribulation as explained in Revelation 15:4.

 

  1. Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of Yahweh.

 

The concept of Divine Judgement on non-repentant adult hearts stands up here to be counted. The wicked, are not ready to, “learn righteousness,” even when God shows them gracious favour and goodness. In “a land of uprightness,” where God’s truth is evident, they still act unjustly, doing evil and refusing to recognize “the majesty of Yahweh.” God’s judgments are necessary, though the wicked cannot see how righteous and just they are. It those who see the full circle of God’s love as well as His most severe judgement that praise Him for that very judgement. They fully realise that they are only participants in God’s saving grace because of their repentance and acceptance of His love. Judgement is part of His justice in the swell of His love

 

  1. O LORD, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.

 

I13Yahweh will lift up His hand to act, that is, to bring judgment, but they will not “see [recognize] it.” But Isaiah calls on God to “let them see … and be put to shame.” He wants God’s zeal for His people to be seen. The prophet hungers for God’s holy fire to devour His enemies (who are also enemies of God’s people).

 

“But this is only Old Testament revelation,” a Universalist said to me. “But he is prophesying something that will take place in the future immediately after New Testament church times. Incoherent illogicality alone can read this and not apply Isaiah’s words here as a universal statement of what will happen in his far distant future. And that is to say nothing of the statements of passages like 2 Thessalonians 2, especially verses 10-12. Eternal, damnable judgement for those that reject God is a simple fact of Biblical Judeo-Christian paradigm. The New Testament world-view ultimately leads to the judgement as described in the book of Revelation, as is summed up here in Isaiah 24-27.

 

It is a pure and glorious thing to be saved from the wrath to come.

I15

145. “In this Mountain” and nowhere else is the removal of the Universal Death Shroud

“In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees, well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.  He will swallow up death in victory. And the Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the shame and disgrace of His people He will remove from all over the earth, for Yahweh has so promised it.”      Isaiah 25: 6-8.

256801

 

In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees, well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

 

The incredible clarity of Isaiah’s long distance prophetic vision, and the awesome imagination of the predictive and poetic graphic motif of Isaiah 25, are both filled with a technicolour, large screen, Dolby, all-round sound portrait of where God wants to take humanity. The illustration painted grabs the observer by the scruff of the neck. I am told that when folks, whose first language is Hebrew, hear Isaiah 26 read to them, it has the same impact on their inner language filters as Shakespeare does to the Englishman. I cannot vouch for the Hebrew reading, but I can certainly extol the reading of nearly all of the English translations of this section of holy writ. There are a few that destroy its flight of eloquence, its grace of movement and its gist of  meaning – and I shall leave my readers to discover for themselves those versions to which I refer – but for me its direction and sweep is comprehensive of and consistent with all New Testament teachings and gospel presentations.

 

I can see how, in its immediate relevance, some modern expositors may think of it as referring to the return of Judah after their later 70 year exile in Babylon. I would happily debate that this view is not consistent nor coherent to the whole of Isaiah’s view. However, without a shadow of a doubt this portion, shoots its bullets much further into the future and into the psyche of all of mankind, and not just the Hebrew historical timeline. Note how some of these remarks, which were uttered some seven and a half centuries before Christ’s ministry even hit our time space world as an eye opening, hope supplying, insight into the future.

 

2568 02 Heavenly Jerusalem

Early depiction of the New Jerusalem with the twelve apostles and the twelve leaders of the Tribes of Israel.

In these verses Isaiah sees the vision of God’s ideal, the saving of mankind, and His vision for the future of humanity. He sees all of gentile mankind associated – no – linked, arm in arm with Israel in sharing their promised blessings. To say his vision was radical in his time, cannot be overstated. And my, how radical was he? These two facts make it all the more remarkable that the prophet, with this supernaturally wide outlook, should insist with such emphasis on the fact that it has a local geographic centre – i.e. in Zion. Israel and the locality of Canaan, (the “Holy Land” or “Israel” – however one wants to name it) is normal and was accepted by all Godly Jews on the basis of the promise of a Davidic king to reign forever in Jerusalem. The promise was to Abraham that he would possess the land in perpetuity. No problem with that! The promise was to David that a king would sit on his throne in Jerusalem – Zion – in perpetuity. No problem with that either. However, here we see all nations knocking on the same gate of the city of Zion, where the Jews would be abiding in this future millennial vision and motif. The entire connection of the promises of God to Israel including the land I see clearly throughout the warp and woof of the Old Testament – and in the New. That is clearly literal. But to use Zion in the context of the gentiles being saved and redeemed is only a spiritualisation. Isn’t it?

 

“In this mountain,” is three times repeated in the song of Isaiah 25 (verses 6, 7 and 10). Two of those instances occur in the verses of the text above. Lying side by side with them are the expressions, “all people,” (verses 6, and 7) and, “all nations,” as if to bring together the locale of the origin of the blessings given, and the universal extent, of those blessings promised altogether in the same statement.  I find this one of the profoundest prophetic thrusts of Isaiah. I see the term “Zion” used in one sentence that obviously has a literal meaning to the Hebrew recipient, as it is spiritual to the church. He saw Jew and gentile redeemed together, and both in Zion. What is our bread and butter of understanding today in normal New Testament teaching, that the believing Jews and the gentiles are brought together in Christ is particularly easy to grasp as a concept, This statement of Isaiah’s however, was breathtakingly drastic to the ears of the masses and the religious when he delivered this divinely given concept as the blueprint for the world’s future. The Jewish believer and the gentile come to faith are both asking for the gates of Zion to open to them.

 

This complete and all-round blessing of redemption and deliverance that was to surge through the world like a well-spring was to be opened up and shed abroad from, “This Mountain.” The light of the whole world would be sourced totally from a single locality – “This Mountain.”  The desire of the nations and the hope of the world, which has always seemed like an impossible, dream-like, utopian aspiration – the world of peace and justice that presidents and social reformers have laboured for – and its “unlikely” if not “impossible” arrival in this time space world, was seen as sure and positively by Isaiah and other brothers in prophecy as it is possible to express. The hope of its arrival as a physical reality touching all things animal, vegetable, mineral and spiritual rest on one definite predicted fact, in one clearly stated place, at one definite – yet unknown to Isaiah – point of time. It is here as plain as language can make it. Isaiah could not have been clearer. He knew the place, but what exactly was to be done? Or precisely when, whatever the activity was, was it to be accomplished?  On this issue, all my readers and I know very well, and ought to be all the wiser as to the what, when, how and why.

 

‘In this mountain,’ and in this mountain only, is the divinely provided feast that was to feed the world. There is no “other mountain.” And, “in this mountain,” free familiarity of access follows – it is a feast with a self-evident invite to all and sundry on the planet, i.e. “All peoples,” and “All nations.” Inter-racial fellowship, communication and communion with Him. Abundant Supply of all wants and desires. All this in perpetuity, together with prolonged festal joy and family intercommunion.

 

The Bible, history, the presence of Christianity in the earth (howbeit in all its flavours, colours and shapes and deviations), and all the benefits to mankind that have come by the inspiration of devotees of the living Christ, teach us that Jesus Christ of Nazareth fulfils the envisioned blinding light of glory that inspired the prophet’s brilliant words concerning what God would do, “in this mountain,” as manifested in the words of Isaiah 25. “In this mountain,” the darkness that shrouds the hearts of humanity is pierced. “In this mountain,” the woven web of sin, shame, evil and spiritual blindness is dismantled, sliced and diced throughout.

 

2568 03 the-prophet-isaiah- by Tiepelo

Tiepolo’s vision of Isaiah with the angels.

We must conclude that ‘this mountain,’ in which Yahweh does the great and awesome things that this song extols Him for and exults in Him so much for accomplishing, is just as much Zion – as Calvary. Not only the earthly society of the resurrected, saved and redeemed Hebrews in the millennial city of Jerusalem here on earth, but also the redeemed, resurrected, heavenly society of all tribes and nations that have known, and still know the living Christ and dwell in the heavenly Jerusalem.  Doesn’t the Epistle to the Hebrews say, that we the born again, redeemed of Christ, have come to Zion? (“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Hebrews 12:22). Surely the writer of Hebrews had the concepts of the prophecy of Isaiah 25 firmly before his eyes when he wrote.

 

While the hideous so called “Replacement Theology” takes ground in the hearts and minds of many, reducing vast swathes of the Old Testament to sheer temporal outmoded history, totally unnecessary to the New Testament believer, and while, simultaneously, the hideous plague of universalism that cherry picks those parts of the bible that speak of grace and comfort, and reduce those promises of judgement and hell to meaningless poetry – while so many twenty-first century voices create lies, shadows and false routes to salvation and the millennium, this declaration of Isaiah stands firm and rocklike. It follows the terror of the judgement of Isaiah 24. Remember, Isaiah 24-27 is a flowing, single narrative.

 

For us all, individually, and collectively, this localisation of the origin of the universal redemption of mankind and renewing of creation as a whole, is a statement that only a fool would ignore. “In this mountain,” and its surrounding statements of the divine plan, purpose and pursuit, is an understanding of a self-evident invite and an offer of blessing to whosoever – without any riders whatsoever. Isaiah is truly a man before his time, seeing the gospel being declared to the gentile world.

 

Whatever Isaiah is saying about this mountain, whatever “In this mountain,” is, or whatever it means – it is the place we all need to go to. It isn’t an option of, “this mountain amongst others.” This mountain, alone, is the fountain location of the ultimate good for the world and the planet.  It is all, “In this mountain.” To seek it anywhere else is to seek in vain. Read it for yourself and see if there is the option of any other way.

 

One needs to dig down deeper than the shallow sands of man’s thinking and teaching, before Bottom of Form

Jesus Christ can be given entry into the heart and brings the saving food that we need. I am referring to the food that will be, in Isaiah’s future, spread for consumption, “in this mountain.”  “I am the Bread of God which came down from heaven to give life to the world,” is what Christ Himself stated. Was He meditating on Isaiah 25 when he spoke those words? Remembering such statements, let me plead with any reader of mine to listen to the voice of warning as well as the invitation to you, which sounds from His cradle, His cross, His empty crypt and His throne.

 

2568 10 Matsuo Ghost Mine

This was the village built around a sulphur mine in Japan. It is now a deserted Ghost town that has this perpetual death shroud of a mist hanging over it. Very eery.

He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.”  (Isaiah 25:7)

 

In this mountain,” God Himself will destroy the covering cast over the whole world. It’s a covering millions know nothing of.

 

This covering has a face. It suggests there is a personality behind the extent of this veil. It is a net, a web, a death shroud, a darkened restricting blanket spread over all the nations.  It is referred to as a veil, suggestive of it being placed on (or in) our heads interfering with our sight, our hearing, our ability to speak as well as our freedom to move. This is a fearsome status quo. Isaiah’s inference is that we are free agents only as far as the death shroud surrounding us, permits. It is a woe filled, pathetic picture. It is a dark pall laid over the whole world. It is over all of creation, not just mankind. It is what makes animals wild, and the earth to quake and tremor. It would seem there is this pall of death over the whole of the cosmos. Isaiah declares it to be so and describes it very clearly. And yet, because we breathe, we have the nerve to declare, “We are alive.” Some are vain enough to call Isaiah a mere poet, speaking things without substance. “It’s all poetic metaphors and parables.” However one describes the text, one cannot escape the fact that there is hard concrete universal truth embedded in the message of his words. The words of this verse suggest that we are dead, in the coffin, neatly and tidily covered with the appropriate death shroud, and ready for burial. And so indeed we are, if it were only half the story of Isaiah 25:6-8. We have no light, the death shroud blocks it out. The light, truly, is there. But the thickness of the shroud lets the shrouded one believe there is no such thing as light. This is exactly how Isaiah sees us all.  We are born under the shroud, and millions live and then die in the shroud having seen no trace of the light at any time in their life. They were born dead. And then they die already dead. Shrouds are entangled also around the feet of the world’s population. Thus, we cannot but stumble, blindly in the gloom that surrounds us. It is a pathetic picture, but it does not go a single centimetre beyond absolute reality.

 

We are all within and beneath that veil. We are swathed, obstructively as regards light, liberty, and by its heavy folds, unless Christ has freed us.

 

What the Bible denotes as the principle of sin is the black woven thing whose murky, filthy folds wrap themselves around us all and impede us, blacken us, and blind us to visions of God, His purity and power, and all the glorious heaven above us.  It is the weighty, impenetrable smog that settles on the lowlands, while the sky above it is undimmed while the sun is blazes at its zenith. However, not one shaft of light or glimmer of brightness can penetrate through the woven, chilled impediment, and so people of all races and strains stagger and stumble about in the murkiness with artificial lamps and synthetic torches, while fifty feet above them is sunshine and glorious day. It is in exactly the same way that this death shroud of a veil is spread over all nations and shuts out God.

 

2568 09 Death shroud confirming death and readiness to bury

The death shroud over the body of Pope John 23rd.

Our eyes have got so used to the dull darkness that the vague asymmetry of the woven fabric may allow us to discern the criss-cross of the weaving, and the texture of the black strands that have formulated the shroud that is meant to bury us and blind us before we close our eyes forever. Such weakened, inferior sense of sight may fool us into thinking that we can see. In this circumstance the death shroud causes many to see Him as men lost in a deep and putrid miasma see the sun, shorn of clarity – a sun that we can indeed look at, but not understanding that the very fact we can see the sun, and stare at it without being blinded demonstrates the very fact that we are not seeing it clearly. And this is, indeed, how much of the world sees God. The very fact that people use the word God as an expletive, or the name of Christ as an obscenity declares that they have no revelation at all concerning Him whom they refer to in such a manner. But by God’s own initiative, and His eternally decreed action, the death shroud is actually removed “in this mountain,” that Isaiah refers to as “Zion.”

 

And so the last slivers of the dark covering, like the shredded vapours of a disbursed cloudburst, are divided into diaphanous rags which ultimately dissipate away below the skyline, leaving the immaculate glory of God and the blazing brightness of Christ before our eyes. “And “we with unveiled face” can lift them up to be irradiated by the light. “In this mountain will the Lord destroy the covering that is spread over all nations.”

 

He will swallow up death in victory. And the Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the shame and disgrace of His people He will remove from all over the earth, for Yahweh has so promised it.  (Isaiah 25:8)

 

“He will swallow up death in victory,” or, as probably the word more correctly means, “He will swallow down death for ever.” There is no other spiritual or religious solution for the world’s evils that even attempt to deal with that “shadow, feared so much by Man,” that sits and waits for us at the end of all our earthly pathways. Jesus Christ alone has dealt with it. He met death in an eternally impacting head on collision and simply swallowed it up. Just like, in a similar, but much weaker type, the warrior of Judah, who went down into a pit and slew a mighty lion, Christ was to go down into the lair of the dreadful thing we call “Death”, and has come up leaving Death dead on the threshold of the pit he jumped into. In this mountain He – and He alone, swallowed up death.

 

2568 08 Jesus at the wedding feast

Jesus at the wedding at Cana. Can you find the Saviour in the midst of the crowd?

It is surely deliberate – or do they do it reflexively and intuitively? – when the New Testament writers rarely talk down to call the corporeal fact by the disagreeable old appellation. It has actually altered its character for the human being aligned by faith with Jesus Christ. It is now “a sleep.” It is, “an exodus.” It is a “going out,” as from the land of Egypt into a land of peace. It is a “plucking up of the tent-pegs,” according to another of the words which the writers employ for death, in preparation for our entering the other side, when this “tabernacle is dissolved.” It is a simple matter of leaving one room and entering through a curtain into another. It is, for the Christian, a state of being for us at a later date to receive. It is “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” It is moving from the mortal to the immortal. From the temporal to the immortal.

 

To die in Christ is not to die at all as commonly perceived, but is a mere change of condition, a leaving of one room into another, a passing through a curtain. It is a change of location simply to be with Him, which is far “better.” So when Paul was coming within assessable distance of his own martyrdom, even whilst the headsman’s block was ahead and clearly within his sight, he could still say, “He hath abolished death,” even though the physical fact of death remained still. Paul must have been well acquainted with Isaiah 25.By His resurrection Jesus Christ has established immortality as a certainty for mankind. To die believing that it is only a short tunnel through which we pass, and come out into fairer lands on the other side of the mountains, is to conquer that last foe even though from an exterior superficial perspective it seems to conquer us.

 

2568 07

“All Nations” and “All peoples” invited to the Divinely prepared feast for the redeemed.

Jesus Christ died that we might never die and lives that we may live forever. He swallowed down death itself, and by His resurrection lays the table of a feast in the resurrection. His indestructible and immortal life will give to each of us, if we join ourselves to Him by faith, an immortal life that will persist through the curtain of death, and be increased by, the experience of bodily passing into death and into the presence of Christ Himself.  At that point, as Paul quotes the words of Isaiah 25, “shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.””  It is at that point of our existential experience that Christ will strip the believer of the covering that is cast over him, as over us all. This covering begins its removal and unwinding this side of the grave, but the great task will be almost complete the other side in His presence, but completely fulfilled when the believer puts on His immortal body.  If a person will not let Him unwind its folds from their limbs in this life, then like the clothes of a drowning man, they will sink you.

 

The Master Himself, with His own hand shall wipe away all tears. Surely this is the most tender of all scripture statements as we peak into the far distant future.

 

Perhaps not quite so far – or distant.

2568 06

144. The Removal of the Thick Sticky Web woven over all peoples and being divinely invited to feast

251The Global Holocaust of Isaiah 24 precedes A Millennial Banquet in Chapter 25.

Isaiah 25:1-12

Having discussed and shared how this writer believes that the sequence of thought and progression of proposition is perfectly straightforward from the opening lines of the book of Isaiah through to this section comprising chapters 24 to 27, we now make camp on the twenty-fifth chapter.

This section looks as pleasantly upon the redeemed as the former looked dreadfully upon the lost, judged world. We can only comprehend the highest significance of this chapter in proportion to our insight to the spirit and content of the chapter which precedes it.

  1. O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvellous things, things planned long ago.

First: the vision of Yahweh reigning gloriously in the earth and all its situations inspires Isaiah to praise Him. “O Lord, You are my God.”  This opening line after the trauma of chapter 24 reveals something of Isaiah’s consciousness of the hugeness of the metanarrative of the purpose of God. The affinity he has with Yahweh is affirmed.  He recognizes Yahweh as his God, in an intensely personal way. The presence of God no longer frightens him as it did at first in those early verses of chapter 6.

252Secondly: now he exalts God, praising His name for all the wonderful things He has done. The wonders and incredible acts of Yahweh are joyfully acknowledged. “You have done marvellous things.”

Lastly, the eternal first cause of the beginning of all things in creation is asserted in the phrase “things planned long ago.” Or as another translation has it, “Your counsels of old.” This particular perfection of God which the prophet celebrates, is a fountain of stability and confidence to everyone that “thirsts after righteousness.” The big bang, i.e. the initial point of time commencement, where the universe began was indeed the words of God Himself. Plans that God made “long ago” were consequently in the process of being fulfilled by Him even in Old Testament times – and Isaiah saw this. Paul explains several times in the New Testament that he wasn’t preaching something newly invented, or freshly created in the mind of God, but something that had been revealed by the prophets long before he was born in Tarsus. And here we have Isaiah saying exactly the same thing, that what he revealed of the future, was something God had planned long ago before even he was born. The whole concept is a demonstration of the magnificence of the everlasting Almighty God.

 

  1. You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.

 

253Isaiah is taking his own aerial view of what he sees in chapter 24 and what happens thereafter. From chapter 24 he has seen that:

  • God’s judgment has made store cities (“city” here is collective of a plurality of situations) a heap of nothing but stones.
  • Fortified, impregnable battle cities a ruin. Ghost towns will be made of huge population centres. In the early twenty-first century, as I write, that means cities of many millions will be decimated.
  • The fortified palaces of foreigners are no longer the citadels they once were, and they will never be rebuilt (compare Nahum 1:8–9 for a similar prophecy against Nineveh, and Malachi 1:3–5 for a similar prophecy against Edom). This tells us that God will defeat everyone who opposes His glorious, righteous purpose.

 

  1. Therefore strong peoples will honour you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you.

 

When the civilisations and their major cities all around the world fall into ruins, surviving nations cannot but receive some sense of destiny and/or divine purpose. It is inevitable that they begin to perceive that there is a Higher Power that has His finger on the earth’s pulse and is causing stuff to go in His direction. What they have seen in the huge worldwide destruction of other nations, cities, cultures and races, causes them to turn to God, as opposed to some that chose to flee from Him.  Many will actually acknowledge Yahweh in it all, and Christ as Lord – He who is the King of the Jews as well as the King over all Kings. These terrible and awful judgments in and around the earth, prepare the way for several resulting phenomenon:

 

  1. “Strong peoples” will repent and glorify God. I take this to mean that the strong in mind and heart, instead of sinking into depression and withdrawal at the sight of the terrible destruction of the judgements, will honour God for his righteousness and involvement in human life. These are gentile nations who are not totally devoid of spiritual perception. Faith in Yahweh saves. Justifying God as the perfect judge is healthy – only because it is fully and comprehensively acknowledging the truth. They will actually see the hand of God directing all things – and so they honour God.
  2. Still thinking of the resulting frame of mind in the surviving population after Isaiah 24, Isaiah sees cities of powerful, violent, and hostile nations repenting and fearing God. It won’t be all bad news when the great tribulation hits planet earth – as seen in Isaiah 24. Some shall indeed be saved and redeemed through it all.

 

Join “honour” and “reverence” together in an active response to God, and we have “worship.”

 

  1. You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall (5a.)  and like the heat of the desert.

 

254“You have been a refuge for the poor.” When oppressive powers are ruined and fall, the oppression that once tormented so many, torments no more. The oppressed people that were in terror are completely relieved. But Isaiah’s words go beyond the concept of relief from the negative oppression, and clearly indicate a move into a very positive refuge of the heart.

 

They will also praise God, recognizing that He has been, “a refuge for the needy in his distress,” and defence for those who were the disadvantaged in great suffering. Where they once seemed pressed from all sides, they now gave God the glory for the deliverance and liberation. God is always concerned about poor, needy, and helpless people. When God is active on behalf of the distressed, the newly discovered freedom and prosperity is a serious ground for praising God.

 

“A shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah obviously foresees a time of the most dreadful storm of destruction, death and human restriction. What he sees is equivalent to a historical winter of man’s existence on the planet. Verse 4 obviously indicates a time of profoundly deep distress around the globe where billions will lose their lives, and a believing remnant will rejoice as they come out of it. In the midst of great loss, the remnant sees great gain. Those redeemed by faith in Christ need to perceive death as a seed time, and resurrection as the spring of their existence.

 

In what is, externally and contextually, a wintry preparation for eternity, may God help us to see the storm and tempest as the norm, as it was for the Saviour in His 33 years or so. In the days of His flesh the Father determined that storms of all kinds should blow at such an instant, from such an area, with such a potency, and with specific impacts. Never did it master Him who was tempted in all points such as we. The stormy wind, when responded to with simple unbending faith simply accomplishes His word and purpose. This has always been the truth and always will be. It may constantly be a winter of ups and downs in the world in which we live. But the heart of faith is a different context. The path of the righteous is an ever brightening day, until the consummation in His presence.

 

However, even though God’s goal in every storm, no matter how evil it may seem, is good for you, no storm is pleasant when experienced. Hence the need of a rock, a shade, a hiding place, a cave, a high tower, and a refuge for the woman or man of God. He is indeed a, “shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” See how often the word refers to Him as the Ultimate Refuge. Aggressively helpful thoughts and words sent to build faith for those who suffer social and moral wrongs are plentiful and rich throughout the scriptures. God is a Saviour to all that need Him and seek after Him.

 

255Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the glorious truth that a refuge, by its very nature, is either outside the storm zone, or it is stronger than the storm, so that person of faith within the refuge misses every negative aspect of whatever the storm throws at them. The engrafted word of truth in the heart is a tower of salvation.

 

The evil and the angry may continue with their venomous rants, and the storms of life may be thick and wearisome, but because power has been ripped from their hands, they are nothing but a storm beating against a wall that halts all the activities and impact of their evil. How glorious are the saving principles of God’s word in the believing heart!

 

  1. You silence the uproar of foreigners. As heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

 

Continueing the expressions of praise from those of faith, those that have missed the destruction sent by evil powers in the earth, they continue in their exultation of God their Saviour. God defeats and silences (Hebrew: takhni’a, “you humble, you subdue, you silence”) the proud war cries, the “uproar,” of foreign armies that oppose Him. They become as silent as the heat in a waterless desert. As heat is lessened by clouds, so “the song of the ruthless,” the violent, the tyrannical, “is stilled” by the LORD.

 

Once these monstrous masters of violence and hate shouted the odds and commanded the “lesser mortals” into bondage, torment and misery. But when God is finished with them silence prevails.

 

  1. On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.

 

256The prophet now pans his camera like perspective to the earthly circumstances and scenario that will surround those who are making such praise in and of the character of God as seen in the first 5 verses of chapter 25. The judgment that Isaiah talks of throughout chapters 24-27 are actually future world events that will prepare the remnant people of faith (together with the resurrected folks of all previous time – although that is not stated here in this particular passage), for a feast that will take place after Christ returns to this earth – physically and literally.

 

It would seem that “all peoples” will have gathered in Zion in order to worship the Lord Christ. The New Testament takes up this statement developing it much more fully as in Matthew 8:11, Matthew 22:2-4, and Luke 14:15 onwards. At this time the curse on the planet will be removed. It will be a gift from Yahweh. It will be a great millennial banquet in Jerusalem, referred to here as, “On this mountain,” a synonym for Mount Zion. It will be prepared, “for all peoples,” that is, for the saved from every language, tribe, and nation (Revelation 7:9). All present are guests of the Lord.

 

This are further details of what is prepared for those who come to Yahweh (Isaiah 2:2–4). The “feast of rich food” (the Hebrew means “dishes made with olive oil”) represents high quality. The word often translated as “feast” is literally “a drinking,” though the phrase is utterly without any negative connotations in the Hebrew. “Aged wine,” or “wines on the lees” (AV), is one word in the Hebrew (shemarim), usually translated “lees” or “dregs” of wine. See Jeremiah 48:11–12 where Moab is compared to dregs, where the taste and the scent have not changed. This may indicate that the root meaning of shemarim (“things kept” or “things preserved”) is in mind. The “best of meats,” literally “rich food filled with marrow,” implies the best kind of nourishment. The “finest of wines” means they are filtered or refined.

 

So we have a clear motif from this and the previous chapter that after a period of utter devastation in most population centres of the globe, those that survived have a number of survivors who have turned to faith in the midst of the great and terrible tribulation. And in the ensueing resurrection gathering (this is my own extrapolation of eschatology, though not at all mentioned here by Isaiah) they are all invited to sit down for a banquet with the king of all kings.

 

257Yes indeed! God has reserved wonderful blessings for those who are faithful (Psalm. 22:26–29).

 

  1. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;

 

Here we have one of those lines of Isaiah that astound the thinker, or the person that loves to meditate on God’s word. These amazing words have theological implications in so many ways and in so many directions as to render the person of faith almost breathless.

 

This is Isaiah referring to the heart of the reason as to the state of the world as it is.

 

“On this mountain.” He talks of Zion. He talks of Jerusalem in general. Is it possible he is referring to Mount Calvary that was just outside the city walls, yet still situated as part of the mountain on which Jerusalem was built?

 

“He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations.” What insight! What understanding! What a far reaching diagnostic statement of all that ails this world! What revelation from heaven! He that is the rock of those that believe while they pilgrimage through the land of faith, will complete a work that destroys the basic restricting power that smothers the whole of humanity.

 

But see how translators handle the sentence. While the CEV covers it with incredible brevity and, “Here the Lord will strip away the burial clothes that cover the nations.” The Amplified has it as “the veil [of death] that is woven and spread over all the nations.” The AMPC says, “the covering of the face that is cast over the heads of all peoples [in mourning], and the veil [of profound wretchedness] that is woven and spread over all nations.” The woven veil in a couple of translations refers to the term as a “sticky woven web,” that has been wrapping the whole of humanity.

 

258The “death shroud,” “veil,” “web,” or “covering,” that overshadows, or is woven over the peoples and nations refers to everything that keeps people from spiritual perception and seeing the glory of God. For those who come to faith in Christ, God will destroy that covering over their experiences of life, as He has in fact pierced the darkness and shredded the web over the whole planet. The covering is thick and coarse. It is spiritual profound blindness. The lack of human sensibility concerning the invisible world are the threads of the textile of this web. These threads are so closely woven that the very features of human nature are hidden. On this mountain God Himself destroys this covering.

 

In Isaiah 25:7 we have the status quo of all the evil all over the globe in all generations fathomed, understood and dealt with. It is the cobweb woven around our very existence by evil and its machinations. There is no true and proper response to its force and manipulation outside of the power and authority of Jesus Christ.

 

  1. He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

 

There were many deaths caused by Assyria in Isaiah’s day, and many tears due to the Assyrians taking over two hundred thousand Hebrew captives and transplanting them to other lands. Throughout the centuries there were many more reasons for deaths and tears. But death and tears shall end, and the end of these things was won by Christ’s victory when He defeated and swallowed death itself. Indeed, Isaiah looks ahead to the fulfillment of God’s promise to, “swallow up death,” in victory. Ultimately there will be no more death, and God, as a loving Father, will “wipe away the tears from all faces” (see 1 Corinthians 15:54 and the book of Revelation 21:4). This will be possible because He will take away “the disgrace of His people.” It implies the work of Christ and the restoration that will come when He returns to establish His millennial kingdom.Top of Form

 

 

Christ is obviously set before us as the sole conqueror of death. “He will swallow up death forever,” it is said, and again in Hosea 13:14, “O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction,” whilst still more strikingly in 2 Timothy 1:10, we read, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”

 

The thought of an Old Testament prophet of God, hearing the Father’s voice sharing about how he will wipe away the tears off the faces of His people, and remove their shame, I personally find to be the gentlest and most devastating revelation of God’s heart and mind towards those elements of humanity that has leaned upon him.

 

  1. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Yahweh, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

 

“In that day,” the Day of Yahweh’s restoration of the kingdom under the Davidic dynasty, everyone who has “trusted in Him” will have a wonderful testimony. This includes not just Israel who will return to Yahweh, but people from all nations, as referred to in verse 6. They will all rejoice in the salvation of God as per 1 Corinthians 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10,  2 Timothy 4:8, and Titus 2:13.

 

  1. The hand of Yahweh will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure.

 

“The hand of Yahweh” means the power of the LORD. In Ezekiel, it is often synonymous to “the Spirit of the LORD.” The Spirit “will rest,” that is, He will settle down to stay. God’s people will never have to worry or be afraid ever again.

 

Moab often caused misfortune and suffering for Judah and Jerusalem (2 Kings 13:20), and here, Moab is representative of all God’s enemies. In contrast to Zion, Moab will be “trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure,” that is, as something worthless and unwanted. The allusion here to Moab, echoes Isaiah’s visionary sentence on the evil, arrogant, adulterous people of Moab in chapters 15 and 16.

 

  1. They will spread out their hands in it, as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands.

 

259The analogy to bathing in manure postulates that Moab, which is plainly a nation representative of the sinful world and the enemies of God’s people, will try to save itself. Its efforts, however, will be fruitless. They cannot get rid of their sin and guilt by swimming in manure, that is, by continuing their sinful practices. Their pride will be brought down, and “the cleverness of their hands,” and the wealth gained by human skills, will not save them.

 

  1. He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low; he will bring them down to the ground, to the very dust.

 

Utter decimation of Moab is suggested by three separate verbs: “Trampled down,” in verse 10. “Bring down,” in verse 11, and, “lay them down,” here in verse 12. God will bring down and demolish the fortresses Moab trusted in. It is postulated by some scholars that Moab sided with Assyria in Isaiah’s day and may have been used by Assyria against Judah. In the future judgment God will “bring down” all the defences Moab puts up against Him. As I plough through these verses, I am continually seeing a relevance and a particular view of what was happening in in Isaiah’s day, as well as in the future that was far ahead of Isaiah’s times, and is still in the future of twenty-first century man.

260

143. Yet another Rear Window Glance on Isaiah’s Plot Line and Story Guide so far.

Isaiah 1

Isaiah 1

In our long haul through Isaiah, every so often we have been stopping to examine the pathway and route of the prophet’s thoughts. It’s like an aerial view of the whole so far. I think we need to do this every time we discern a change of direction in the text of Isaiah’s writings. A kind of, “What has he just said? And where is he going now?”

THE ONE MAN ISAIAH – OR MULTIPLE ISAIAHS?

Part of my rationale for this is on the grounds of reading so many commentaries, articles and volumes on Isaiah’s 66 chapters by “scholars” who are convinced that the whole book is a random collection of writings, and that it is not always written by the “original” Isaiah. Some think there were two Isaiah’s, others think there were several. This writer, however, is convinced that the very theory (and that is all it is) is unfounded and fictional. I contend that there is only one Isaiah who wrote the entire book that bears his name. To my mind there is a perfectly logical sequence of thought and message in the order of those 66.

Isaiah 2 Swords to Plowshares

Isaiah 2 “when swords are turned into plough shares”

We have ploughed through the first 24 chapters and are about to plummet the depths of chapter 25. Chapter 24 is shocking in its statements of some undefined spot on the world’s future timeline. It is dark, dismal and fearful to the faithless. The future, however, cannot be so described without an explanation as to the wonderful news that stops chapter 24 from being endlessly dark. Chapter 25 is as glorious and blindingly bright as Isaiah 24 is dark and depressingly dismal. Isaiah 24 through to the end of chapter 27, is a serious pivot in the prophet’s seismic Richter scale of insights and visions. Yet, without doubt, no matter how many, so called “higher critics,” hasten to point out signs of “discrepancy,” and “mix-up” in the sequential thoughts of the book, I beg to differ from the lot of them. Allow me to explain what I mean.

ISAIAH AND THE TWO HEBREW STATES

We start in Isaiah’s volume when the entire Hebrew people were still present in the Land, yet dwelling as two separate nations. It needs to be understood that there were serious national emergencies throughout the whole of the Hebrew tribes, and these watershed circumstances precipitated God raising up this marvellous cluster of prophets to guide the populace throughout the huge crises of spiritual identity, in order to bring the two nations into alignment with Yahweh’s purposes. Alas, they would not listen.

Isaiah 3

Isaiah 3

THE WEIGHT AND SIGNIFICANCE OF ISAIAH

Nobody could reasonably or intelligently, in any way consider this ancient epoch and era of events that we are engaging with, without an intellectual and spiritual assessment of the seriously mammoth “starring role” that Isaiah played, along with his colleagues and friends in the “prophetic gifting and calling.”

This group of men ceaselessly and self-effacingly addressed themselves to the nationwide, spiritual, calamitous, upheaval that was driving both nation states towards a dreadful judgement and a shocking death. Just as western society today is being openly plunged into a dark freefall of purposelessness, so, in Isaiah’s day, the tiny nation of Israel, and the even smaller nation state of Judah were on an identical cliff edge of collapse and closure. In a nutshell, the Hebrew people needed to repent and have faith in God because their end was nigh! And the northern kingdom, in particular, had no idea how “nigh” their end was.

Isaiah 4 1 - 7 women

Isaiah 4:1-7. Seven women and one man. Read the chapter for the full story.

Isaiah and his contemporaries not only made a major contribution to the development of an understanding of what was God’s purpose during these years, but our twenty-first century knowledge of the historical scenario of these days is greatly enlarged by what we know and read of these Old Testament writing prophets. If we merely searched the Bible for its history, the prophets are of greater historical significance than any of the kings who ruled in their times. As contemporaries, Isaiah and Micah were huge in their influence.

THE CRISIS THAT WAS PRECIPITATED BY THE RISE OF ASSYRIAN CONQUESTS

Both Isaiah and Micah began to prophesy and preach as the shadow of the iron fist of Assyria fell over the Hebrew lands. This dark cloud put the accelerator on the decline of Judah, as the northern state tottered, stumbled and finally collapsed prostrate to its exilic grave.  Isaiah and Micah together lived on through the tragic years that followed the disappearance of the ten northerly tribes. Isaiah continued his priceless input, throughout the entire period until, extra biblical accounts tell us, King Manasseh sawed him in half whilst he was hiding in a tree.

Isaiah 5 vineyard-parable

Isaiah 5

THE CRISIS DEFINED

But, how do we define these crises? How are we to outline their parameters and describe their nature? By describing what they were, we will see the character and stature of Isaiah and the other prophets, as they engaged with both God and the people in a spiritual combat that cost all their prophets their life. They each died in an attempt to save their nation from the darkness of their future, both in this life and the next. After all, one of the finest definitions of a prophet is that he is the divinely appointed interface between the seen and the unseen worlds.

It was not merely the external physical menace of Assyrian aggression, as suggested above, but a spiritual emergency coincident with and attendant upon the Assyrian fear creating fighting machine that threatened the national character and the Yahwistic religious practice with Judah. This was foundational to Hebrew existence. All the surrounding nations lived in deep and restless fear of Assyria and its modus operandi in seeking to conquer the entire Middle East – even though no Assyrian ruler ever had the ability to construct a governmental infrastructure to make that nightmare, “dream,” a sustainable reality.

Beyond fear of Assyria, and within the heart of the people, was a spiritual darkness, ever increasing and constantly in the process of being suffocatingly smothered over the minds of the population of Judah. This brought with it all the ramifications and corollaries of an infesting demonic culture, similar to those that they were first commissioned to annihilate in the days of Moses and Joshua.

isaiah 6

Isaiah 6

When I use this kind of phraseology, I feel I am in danger of over blaming the devil and the darkness, as well as the Assyrians that all brought Judah to this crisis. If the chosen people were simply innocent victims of a demonic onslaught. There would be no culpability on their part. However, the darkness that fell upon Judah (and Israel) was something the people literally invited, and thereafter warmly embraced. Indeed, if the people of Judah were innocent victims of this darkness, none of the prophets would have been required to correct them – for there would have been nothing to correct.  But life – and people – are never as simplistic or as passive as that perspective would suggest.

ISAIAH 1

We have, earlier, in the very first chapter of Isaiah, discussed the socioeconomic ills for which the official Levitical sacrificial Temple religion had proved itself as possessing no effective rebuke or response. It was a lifeless set of faithless religious observances. This continued religious observance, without even the slightest spiritual reality was a major root of many social ills. These were ills which were only aggravated – as opposed to being created – by the Assyrian exactions, that is, their excessive and unjust demands, and also of their spiritually syncretic tendencies that were always endemic since Israel made their home in Canaan. This idolatrous and shamefully immoral mix of the divine and the demonic, which ran wild in the lax days of Ahaz’s recognition of the Assyrian gods, and seems to have peaked in the days of Manasseh, was indeed its darkest manifestation.

Isaiah 7

Isaiah 7

These sustained trends, at this particular point of time, indicated a certain ever weakening feebleness in the nation’s fundamental structure, and were certainly not calculated to assist the nation in its struggle for continued existence. Metaphorically speaking, it was a severe attack of satanic woodworm in the timbers of Judah’s society, religion, and political policy – like an acidic dissolution of moral fibre in all stratas of Jewish life. It was only a matter of time before the total collapse. It was a dark and socially painful decline that was deliberately and wilfully “self-inflicted” at its roots. The destructive fire of Assyrian armies and idolatrous worship may have come from external forces, however Judah had drenched the ground of their nation’s infrastructure themselves with the inflammable fuel of rejection of Yahweh. The conflagration that was to follow was to cause Judah to disappear off the face of the map in exactly the same manner as had, the northern kingdom. As The Northern State fell in 722 BC, Judah had only 135 years to wait for its own eradication.

In short, with the developing dissolution of familial, inherited, collective community patterns, the Mosaic Covenant, with its severe ascetic pious, ethical and societal requirements which had been the original basis of Israelite society, had been largely neglected and forgotten by the majority of Judah’s citizens, to whom Yahweh had become merely a symbolic “national guardian,” whose function it was, in return for meticulous religious cultic observance, to give the nation protection and blessing (Isaiah 1:10-20). In short, they perceived of the Almighty God of Sinai as a mere, insipid “Sugar Daddy,” whose sole purpose of existence was to keep Judah safe no matter what they got up to or where their heart was. It was a weak and effeminate lifestyle under a weak and effeminate image of a god. The populace hardly had a true grasp of life, never mind a firm grasp on God. The true nature of Yahweh was lost and buried – apart from the prophets.

Isaiah 8

Isaiah 8

ISAIAH 2-6

This, however, was not the whole of it. While reading through Isaiah, it reads as if Judah was theologically embedded at this time, not in the ancient Mosaic covenant at all, but in Yahweh’s eternal covenant with David. So much of Isaiah is concerning the reign of the Davidic line, culminating in Messiah. This covenant, promised by God in 2 Samuel 7, had, in the national mind, largely superseded that of the original Sinaiatic covenant. It was obviously believed and affirmed by their religious practices and language, that Yahweh had chosen Zion as his dwelling, and promised to David an eternal dynasty, and also that each successive Davidic king, as Yahweh’s anointed “son” (Psalm 2:7), would be protected from his foes. The dynasty then would, ultimately gain a domain even greater than David had in his lifetime, with the kings of the earth fawning at its feet (Psalm 2:10. Psalm 72:8-11. ). Judah’s existence, in brief, did not rest in obedient response to the gracious acts of Yahweh in the past, with all its promises and corrective commands come down from Sinai, but in His unconditional promises of the future to David. The Davidic covenant was (and still is, of course) a totally eschatological expectation, that simply needs believing and waiting for. On top of that, it is easier to get excited and to build one’s life on a far flung future glory, than to spend one’s life struggling to match one’s conduct against Moses’ hundreds of laws.

This covenantal promise to David is remarkably profound, and somewhat neglected even by most Christian bible readers. It was in David’s fullest understanding of the promise made in 2 Samuel 7, when he wrote what was probably his last Psalm – the one we know as Psalm 72. It is beyond question David’s last prayer for the son whom he had just set upon his own throne before he died.

 

It seems absolutely transparent that the poet-seer, son of Jesse, with God’s promise in mind (2 Samuel 7), looks beyond the young Solomon to the fulfilment in a yet greater son, that is, Messiah, the king of all kings, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is so self-evident, one needs assistance to misunderstand it. It is this, exactly, that caused the people of Isaiah’s day to have a solid conviction of the future despite their godless lifestyle. Those that had even a tinge of faith, believed it. The majority of the population held this promise more as a legendary tale more than the solid promise that it truly was – and still is. Messiah will one day reign and the theocracy will be fully restored to Israel. The throne of David was in Jerusalem on planet earth, not in heaven. As it was, so shall it be.

Isaiah 9The official Temple sacrificial system was the servant of the nationally acknowledged belief system and paradigm. Its business was, by sacrifice and offering and by ritual affirmation of the Mosaic instructions, to assure the well-being of the nation. A certain internal “paganisation,” however, was inevitable, all the while nothing but a normative Yahwehism was merely externally maintained without any internal reality. Thus, the state religion corroded and became like all pagan religions, morally and spiritually corrupt. It could only ceremonially be an insipid and diluted spiritual support and defence of the existing order. It might conceivably, on rare occasions facilitate a priest to criticise an individual king, but it could not fundamentally confront the state or believe that the state could fall. Inevitably, as Micah and Isaiah show, the Levitical routine tended to offer little, if any, critique of idolatry at all.

The events of the late eighth century BC fell on Judah’s dead religious practices with all the force of a sledgehammer on an egg. With the very existence of state and dynasty being challenged, the national ideology was fundamentally called into question and was perilously rocking on a moral and spiritual cliff edge.

Isaiah.3As unbelief assayed the scenario, could it really rely on the promises to David? After all, if Assyria could treat the nation with contempt, and if Assyrian gods could be moved into Yahweh’s temple by the reigning member of the Davidic dynasty, what was to be said of Yahweh’s power to fulfill his promises? Judah’s response was twofold and utterly contradictory.

First, there was a blind and fanatical confidence in history and Yahweh’s protection.

Secondly, there was a cowardly deep unfaith, unbelief – better described as active paganism in the heart of the general public. Both were equally damning and destructive.

There were those who were quite sure that Yahweh would make good his promises to Judah no matter what folly she committed. They were foolishly arrogant with the mantra of, “We are the chosen people, and therefore Yahweh will not let us fall, no matter how bad we are.” These silly people must have simply chosen to erase the Northern kingdom from their memory, unless they believed that there were other reasons apart from their rejection of Yahweh and His word that led to their annihilation. No! No! No! This idiocy held by the foolish, was simply factoring out the truths that drove the northern Hebrew nation into headlong self-eradication. And there were others who, like King Ahaz, because they chose not to believe in the national constitutional ideology built on the word of God (like Isaiah 7:1-17), could see no way of saving Judah, except to make her a willing grovelling foot-licking vassal of Assyria.

Isaiah 13After submission to Assyria had brought Judah only misery, and after rebellion from Assyria had proved entirely futile, and even after wholesale, disillusionment with the national religion and its promises had set in and did not suggest any sound future, bringing an even more saddened and depressed expectation of existence, added altogether with the abandonment of even the pretext of Yahwehism – The prophets were a wonderful infusion of fresh air in the midst of the fetid toxic gas of unbelief and selfishness that pervaded the idolatrous atmosphere of Jerusalem and Judah.

The danger of this national widespread evil paradigm was acute, as events of the reign of Manasseh, to which we shall later highlight, indicate. That Judah did not collapse and fall at that moment of history must irrefutably be credited, humanly speaking, in no small degree to Yahweh, via His prophets – especially Isaiah – and to those willing to hear him. Isaiah was a giant character, and a clear voice in the midst of the fog of the opinions of the masses.

Isaiah 14Judging by the ease with which he approached successive kings (Isaiah 7. Isaiah 36. Isaiah 39), it seems that he must have been of a good, high and conceivably, even an aristocratic family, if not a member of the court itself. Yet, it was his lot through most of his life to stand in opposition to the policies of various kings and their courts and to fearlessly rebuke what was happening in no uncertain terms.

With uncompromising godly rage Isaiah assailed the scheming and devious upper class and the debauched judges who had conspired to rob the destitute of their rights (e.g. Isaiah 1:21-23. 3:13-15. 5:8. 5:24. 10:1-4.). The debauched aristocracy, licentiously cossetted, concerned only for material properties and wishes (e.g. Isaiah 3:16-4:1. 5:11.), sociable to foreign idolatrous ways and without moral standards or faith in God (Isaiah 5:18-21), seemed to Isaiah to be infinitely deserving of the divine wrath with which he was ordered to deliver.  Isaiah knew from the beginning, as stated in Isaiah 6:9,  that he was speaking to a people that were wilfully incapable of correction. Likening the nation to a well-tended vineyard which ought to have produced good grapes but did not (Isaiah 5:1-7), he declared that Judah, because of her failure to respond to Yahweh’s grace in righteous behaviour, would be turned over, like such a useless vineyard would have been, to the thorns and briars. Isaiah was introducing thoughts of exile, exactly as per the northern kingdom, into the warp and woof of Judah’s future.

Like Amos, Isaiah received a clear vision that revealed the day of Yahweh to come as a day of horrific judgement (2:6-21. Isaiah 24 the whole chapter). Isaiah also viewed the Assyrian as the instrument of the immediate judgement (5:26-29), just as he had further predicted that there would be a later pall of judgement from the Babylonians.

Isaiah17v1Isaiah saw the nation crumbling from within (3:1-12), plunged into ruin (6:11 on), reduced to a tiny remnant (10:22 on), and declared that even that small remnant would be plunged anew into the fires of catastrophe (Isaiah 6:15).

ISAIAH 7-8

Isaiah’s first clash with the national policy came during the crisis of 735-733 when the Aramean-Israelite coalition moved on Jerusalem to compel Judah’s co-operation against Assyria. This was when Ahaz reigned in Jerusalem. By this time, Isaiah had a son to whom he had given the ominous name of “Shear-Jashub” meaning, “Only a remnant will return.”  The name is capable of a hopeful connotation (“A remnant will return. Isn’t that good!”), and this is developed in Isaiah’s thought (Isaiah 16:26). But here it seems to embody a warning to Ahaz, as in, “Only a remnant will return! Isn’t that shocking! (Isaiah 16:22) and so the ominous connotation to the name is probably the original point made.

Knowing that Ahaz was thinking to propose an appeal to Assyria for help, Isaiah accompanied by his son, confronted the king (Isaiah 7:1-9), and, assuring him that the northern confederation would never be allowed to carry out their purpose, urged him not to have any dealings whatsoever with Assyria, but to trust in Yahweh’s promises. While Ahaz wavered, Isaiah (Isaiah 7:10-17) offered a sign from Yahweh in order to prove that what he had said to Ahaz was true. When the faithless ungodly king refused this offer with pious cant, Isaiah in hot anger gave the famous sign of Immanuel. The birth of this child, presumably to the royal household, would signify that Yahweh’s promises were sure, but, since Ahaz had not believed it, it would also be a sign to the awful calamity that his cowardice would invite into the nation’s life and culture. Recurrently reprimanding the royal rule and dogma, and graphically depicting the dire consequences (e.g. 7:18-25. 8:3-8a), Isaiah summoned all who would listen to take a stand in opposition (8:11-15).

Isaiah 18

Isaiah 18

But Ahaz did not believe. Instead he volitionally sent cart loads of tribute to Tiglath-Pileser and surrendered his independence, and the security of his nation for the next, a subservience to Assyria that would continue for the following half century or so. He even had Assyrian religious accoutrements installed in Solomon’s temple and the Solomonic altars and lavers moved to the far corners of the temple grounds.  Isaiah, his advice scoffed at by the king, handed over to his disciples a record of what he had said as a witness for the future (Isaiah 8:16-18) and withdrew from addressing Ahaz, the king, any further.

AS WITH ISRAEL SO WITH JUDAH

I have always found it astonishing how Isaiah explained over and over again that what had happened to the northern kingdom of Israel was certainly bound to happen to Judah in the long run. Surely, one did not need to be a university professor or a Doctor of Divinity to see that particular projection as self-evidently certain. After all the predictions of doom and exile made by the prophets, speaking to both the northern and the southern kingdoms, together with the absolute disappearance of Israel in 722 BC,  it must have been a mental graphic of awful proportions for the remaining southerners. How on earth could they not conclude that what had happened to the ten northern tribes would indeed happen to them if they did not change?

The overall cataclysm of the emergency stemmed, in part, from the exact same internal sickness and practical dynamics that destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes – and, shockingly, was even more visibly present in Judah. It was a simple observation to make. “The north has disappeared Judah! Their response to Yahweh and their reception of idolatry was the same as yours. You are next on the list for the same treatment as they!”

But, as the old English proverb says: “There is none so blind as they that WILL NOT see.”  “After all,” they would answer, “We have the Davidic king! We have the Temple and the Ark! How on earth could we go the same way that the northern kingdom went?” And so, Judah’s decline continued.

 

Isaiah 19ISAIAH 9 -12

Isaiah did not, for all this, surrender hope. His doctrine, understanding and grasp of God was far too vast for him to suppose that the nation’s dereliction could frustrate or interfere with the divine purpose and cancel the promises. In spite of his conviction that Ahaz had betrayed his high office, perhaps because of it, Isaiah treasured the dynastic ideal as this had been perpetuated within the belief system of Judah, as in Psalm 72. He himself gave classic expression to the expectation of a scion of David’s line who would completely fulfil that ideal (Isaiah 9:2-7. 11:1-9) exhibiting the charismatic gifts, supposed by some, to have been secretly reposing within each generation of the dynasty (Chapter 11:2) establishing justice – as Ahaz so notably had not – and bringing the national humiliation forever to an end. Isaiah was convinced that Yahweh was in control of events and that His purpose to set up His kingly rule of peace over the nation was sure (Isaiah 2:2:2-4.11:6-9).

 

Isaiah 21 Shipwreck in the desert

Isaiah 21…..Shipwreck in the desert

He therefore viewed the present tragedy and crisis as a part of that purpose – a discipline, a purge, by which Yahweh would remove the dross of the national character, leaving a chastened and purified people (Isaiah 1:24-26. 4:2-6).  The ominous note in the name of his son Shear-Jashub began to give way to a hopeful interpretation (Isaiah 10:20 onwards). Perhaps only a remnant, but still, a remnant will return i.e. repent. Though repeatedly disappointed, Isaiah never surrendered the hope that the tragedy would purify Judah and produce that righteous remnant (Isaiah 37:30-32). Theologically, this aspect of Isaiah’s personal expectation is world-changing.

After his rebuff in the 735-733 crisis, Isaiah apparently made no attempt to influence the national policy as long as Ahaz reigned. We have no record that Isaiah ever spoke to Ahaz again after the Isaiah 7 confrontation.

ISAIAH 13 – 23

A close-up of a key moving towards the key hole.

Isaiah 22:22 The keys to the house of David

We next meet him after Hezekiah had taken the throne when (714-711) Judah was asked to join a revolt against Assyria led by Ashdod and supported by Egypt. As we have seen, ambassadors of the Ethiopian twenty-fifth dynasty (Isaiah 18) and probably of the Philistines (14:28-32) waited on Hezekiah, to enlist his cooperation. Isaiah (he who had opposed submission to Assyria) opposed the scheme emphatically. His position was that Yahweh had founded Zion and was its overseer and guide.

And so, we have from Isaiah 13 through to 23 the word of God concerning the future and destiny of all the surrounding nations that were local to Judah. Isaiah’s prophetic vision ever expanding. All these races and nation states were at Isaiah’s time occupying land that God had promised to Abraham, apart from Ethiopia and Egypt, of course. They were included because of anti-Assyrian plots that Egypt made with Philistia, Edom and Ammon. At that point of time the 25th dynasty which was an Ethiopian dynasty was ruling Egypt. We suspect they tried to enrol Judah in their plot as Isaiah sees them and tells them to go home in chapter 18.   This large plain of prophetic words, spoken concerning a huge plain of nation states is an amazing series of divinely inspired understanding of where the world was going in Isaiah’s day. The prophet starts with Babylon and their role in Judah’s judgement in this world, as well as their own demise (13:1 -14:23). Then in three short verses Assyria’s demise (14:24-27). The words concerning Philistia (what we would refer to as Gaza) (Isaiah 14:28-32), Moab (Isaiah15 -16), Damascus, to be razed to the ground – still unfulfilled really (Isaiah 17), Ethiopia (Isaiah 18), Egypt (Isaiah 19-20), followed by a return to thoughts of Babylon (Isaiah 21:1-10), followed by Edom (Isaiah 21:11-12), Arabia (Isaiah 21:13-17), Jerusalem itself (Isaiah 22), and finally, the fall of Tyre (Isaiah 23).

 

Isaiah 26The lifting of his eyes from Judah to all its surrounding neighbours, and God’s planned activities towards them, logically and plainly leads to a statement concerning the entire world.

 

ISAIAH 24-27

So we started with chapter 24 and the distressing scenes of tribulation, death, loss, famin and poverty that will sweep the earth, concluded by the next three chapters.

 

Again, I add, the sequential thought and direction of the whole, thus far seems perfectly logical and straightforward.  We move on to Isaiah 25.

 

 

Table Set with Selection of Starters --- Image by © P.Hussenot/photocuisine/Corbis

Isaiah 25— Image by © P.Hussenot/photocuisine/Corbis

142. The Death and Resurrection of Planet Earth.

Isaiah 24:14–23

 

2420I love to read and meditate on all the Old Testament prophets, both major and minor. Accept it or not, I love the bits I do not understand as much as those sections I believe I do have a smuttering of insight about. I read the mysterious sections just as much as the easier parts of scripture. I, perhaps, do not see everything as clearly in the first Testament as I see issues as explained in the later volume – I’m not sure about that one.

 

My spiritual eyesight, and whatever there is of a spiritual mind within myself, grasps the New Testament prophets much clearer than I grasp Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, but I read them often and thoughtfully nevertheless. Whether my readers think I am sharp or rather dull, what I hold and carry is the honest fruit of digging in the gold mine of scripture addum infinitum since my conversion back in 1968. Laugh at my perspectives and seemingly extreme presuppositions if you wish, but when I started reading this material I had no presuppositions at all. I plodded, and read, and thought and prayed and discussed and argued, and kept on reading. There were times when I debated against other perspectives before I would surrender to what others said, and there were times also when I refused to submit to anybody but my own voice. I have always sought to be teachable. My serious conviction is that the writing prophets have secrets of unfathomable depth that are absolutely and intensely relevant to New Testament believers and the New Testament faith. In fact, I would like to start a world revolution with a, “Read the Prophets,” mission. Oh to get to grips with these fellows. Oh that I could see what they saw and stand where they stood, and experience their vision of God Himself.

 

I know those last couple of chapters of Daniel are heavy on the senses, so much so that one feels like one is walking up to one’s waste in a thick mixture of quick drying cement – cement that has usually dried hard before one has finished reading through the battles and the attacks and the different kings and armies that those last pages of Daniel are full of, but it needs to be read and read, until the day comes when the Holy Spirit pierces our hard cased crusty and worldly thinking processes, to allow us to perceive what the scripture is saying to us. Then the quick drying dusty cement of scripture is transformed into fresh running water. I have a similar experience, wading through thick mud, when ploughing through the measurement details of Ezekiel’s temple, and Jeremiah’s gut wrenching laments. But the mountainous concepts they deal with are cosmic in their ramifications. “There’s gold in tham thare hills! Aha!” It is the call of God, I believe, that all Christians should be tirelessly mining in the Old Testament Hebrew prophets.

 

2414Another reason why we do not read them, even cursorily, is because we get confused and bored not knowing what some chapters are about at all. The fact that the food is not cooked, prepared and served up on a plate, deters us from negotiating their statements. It is part of the mentality of the, “instant,” generation, I believe. Coffee, food, computers and TV lead us to desire instant understanding and instant spiritual attainment in Christ. We need to wake up on that one and be real. There is simply no such things as a “Big Micah with extra cheese,” or a, “Chicken Haggai with extra Mayo,” or “Nahum flavoured French Fries.” With all this stuff, one has to expose oneself to the seed of the word, plant it, water it, harvest it, wash it, cut it, cook it and put it on your own plate before you can savour its life giving Manna that will feed you forever. To say, “It’s worth it,” is such an understatement it devalues heaven itself.

 

Sometimes we don’t read the prophets because we don’t even properly understand what prophecy is. There is a plethora of reasons why we do not get to even introduce ourselves to Isaiah. Modern translations do, occasionally, help the reader that wants to get to grips with them. There are tons of books out there that feed us with simple historical outlines to the context of these incredible men and their place in the chronology of this time space world. Did you know that the most commonly asked for version of an English Bible by readers who speak Hebrew as their first language is the King James Version? Just saying – as a by the way!.

 

2406We are in the twenty-first century. We are in the age of motivation and positive thinking. We live in days where the pillars of the gospel are being moved or dismantled simply because they are uncomfortable and/or they are said to be, “old school.” We are in a generation where church leaders are joining with a certain ex Archbishop of Canterbury who, because he “did not know” what to say to people dying in pain in their last hours (his words not mine) now supports assisted euthanasia. These are times when yet another, “high profile,” minister of the gospel who, because he has never felt comfortable at the biblical statements concerning homosexuality being a lifestyle that brings God’s condemnation, has denied those passages of scripture as so much, “out of date,” untruth. We are living in a spiritual climate where other ministers who once ran well and gained huge followings for their truthful declaration of scripture, are now saying how uncomfortable they have felt over the years, preaching, teaching or even discussing the subject of “hell. From this slippery incline, the curse of universalism once again raises its evil head from within the church of Jesus Christ. We are in the place where the potential of what we have in Christ is rightly majored on, yet, is commonly taught at the expense of the full story. Jesus died to save us from hell, and to give us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We are taught in the scripture to flee from the wrath to come.

 

If you are wondering, or asking yourself why this writer is starting with such heavy words today, let my readers understand that we have been sharing on Isaiah chapters 24 through to 27. In our, “long haul trawl,” through the divinely infused and enthused works of Isaiah, to maintain integrity and truth, it is necessary to fully and to our satisfaction, give an explanation of these four chapters and how they are part of the present truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

These chapters are words of heavy judgements and annihilations of people, states and the planet in general, as well as incredibly in depth remarks about the sacred truth that we as Christians cling to. This is serious. This section of Isaiah’s writings needs to be placed in a time-line of biblical history, or eschatology as it stands, and buried deep in the psyche of faith. It is cowardice in the face of the devil himself to assert and declare how we trust in scripture from cover to cover, and then reduce our voice to a pathetic whisper with more coughing and spluttering that in a TV advert for cough medicine, when we get to stuff like this.

 

Some of my readers may prefer to read the four chapters I am talking about before we go any further.

 

These are words of worldwide desolation. There is judgement on man for sin, and the clear dulcet tones of the prophet explaining the very destruction of the planet. There are obviously untold masses of humanity lying dead on the streets in the midst of this horrible visionary movie depicted plainly and unbearably in these lines. Isaiah must have been ill after what he saw in his 24th chapter.

 

2408However! There is the other side. Yes! As well as the doom and gloom, there is huge joy and victory highlighted also. But there is so much said by Christian academics and commentators who tell us that when Isaiah talks of “the earth” he is not necessarily referring to the planet, but simply the earth of places he has hitherto mentioned. Some explain how the revelation Isaiah gives here cannot mean the whole planet, no matter how many times he refers to “the world” for the simple reason Isaiah did not know how big the full size of the world is. They use a logic that suggests that Isaiah meant, “His world,” i.e. Isaiah’s own known world, as opposed to, “The world.” To dilute such text should be made a criminal offence.

 

What are we to make of this?

 

Having ploughed through the dark plume of black smoke with its aroma of last and final judgement within the lines of Isaiah 24:1-13, we move on with a distinctly different tone from verse 14 onwards, for a moment.

14. These people shall lift up their voice, and shout for joy. They shall exult and sing aloud concerning the majesty of Yahweh from the Sea (The Mediterranean – and therefore the West).

 

“These people!” Which people? Ah yes! There shall be a remnant among the survivors. By their faith and persistence they shall be preserved from the general ruin around the planet, though still living in the midst of it. For that reason it shall be a visibly devout and pious remnant. They shall shine in sharp contrast to the lack of joy, and abundance of suffering among those in anguish in the midst of the apocalyptic greyness, misery and depression. They will have great weight of conviction and the anointing to worship in the midst of survivors filled with unbelief, skepticism and hopelessness. Both worldviews and mindsets will live in the full tide of God’s judgment.

 

And this, seemingly tiny, godly remnant will shout and sing about Yahweh’s majesty. How strange that while randomly living nomadic lifestyles, at the very furthest point of remoteness, they shout joyously, “from the west” – “Miyyam,” translated, “West,” is quite literally, “from the sea.” The Mediterranean Sea was, of course, “The west,” to Isaiah’s perception of things.

 

Revelation 18:20 states while referring to the fall of Babylon the great city; “Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.” These remnant few are dispersed; like the gleanings of the olive tree, hid under the leaves in the furthest corners of the orchard.

 

When the parties and the singing of the carnal world ceases, the joy of the saints is as lively as ever, because His promises stand sure, and the foundations of their hope, never fails. Those who rejoice in the Lord can rejoice in tribulation – even this Great Tribulation that Isaiah is here talking about.

 

Any other conceivable interpretation of these lines suggesting that the devastation of Isaiah 24 is referring to Sargon or Sennacharib of Assyria seem ridiculous, irrelevant and trivial when the obvious face value of the whole section talks of something so final and so global. Isaiah is clearly seeing the end of the world as we know it. I cannot doubt that.

15. Therefore in the light of the fires give glory to Yahweh. Exalt the name of Yahweh, the Elohe of Israel, in the coastlands of the (Mediterranean) sea.

 

2402The shouts of joy erupting from the redeemed remnant, come, either from the west, or from the light of the burning smoldering world of fallen civilisation. Possibly from both sources. The scenario and vision causes Isaiah to call for people to respond, “In the east,” by glorifying Yahweh’s name in isles and coastlands, and in all parts of the inhabited earth. All humankind needs to praise and glorify the one true God, the God of Israel. The prophet encourages the praises  of God even in the midst of the darkest and meanest darkness.

16. From the ends of the earth we have heard songs: Even: “Glory to the Righteous (One).” But I said, “I waste and pine away. Woe is me! The treacherous betray treacherously! With deep treachery the treacherous betray!”

 

From “the ends, or the wings of the earth,” that is, from its outermost parts, the prophet hears music. From such distant realms the song of the redeemed remnant reaches his ears, no matter how faintly. It would seem that the surviving righteous remnant from the real time of the first thirteen verse are living in a uniquely distant place on the planet. Is it they that the song’s lyrics refer to, i.e. “The Righteous?” Or is it a song of “Glory to the Righteous One,” that is, to God who has revealed His righteousness both in judgment and in forgiveness and restoration. The latter, of course, would better suit our spiritual taste buds. The same term is used of the Suffering Servant in 53:11 (NASB). Christ is there referred to as, the “righteous (One), My Servant.” Isaiah exults in the songs of exaltation of God, but still feels something that is low and painful in his gut.

 

This breathtaking supernatural vision of the future does not cause Isaiah to rejoice. He knows enough to be aware that judgment must come before restoration and millennial joys as he had seen in those opening verses of chapter 11. However, he is shocked by what he sees coming further down the timeline. He will have seen the desolation caused by Sennacharib as he swept across Judah desolating “46 cities.” That would have broken the heart of any witness and reduced them to tears. But this catastrophe is clearly worldwide. The prophets were not compassionless pronouncers of doom. They were heartbroken and wearisome visionaries who saw what sin had wrought in the world and in people’s hearts, yet were compelled by the Spirit of God to accurately portray the divinely given scenes of horror they experienced as they ogled and stared at the forthcoming terrors. “I waste away,” and, “Woe to me!” are expressions of Isaiah’s deepest emotions and feelings. He finds it difficult to inwardly cope with the scope of the judgement required to cleanse and renew the cosmos.

 

Even though he foresaw and heard the future shouts of joy from the redeemed, the sins of the people and the terrible curse and judgment on the earth and its inhabitants were breaking his heart. Betrayal and treachery are indeed deserving of judgment. Nevertheless, the thought of judgment makes Isaiah feel his heart tearing and rending, bringing him intense sorrow. (Compare his reactions in Isaiah 6:5 and 22:4.)

17. Terror and the pit and the snare await you, O inhabitant of the earth.

 

To partly anglicize the Hebrew words in order to portray Isaiah’s alliteration, the verse reads:  “Pachad, pachat and pach await you, O inhabitant of the earth.”  It is not by accident that the results of sin will catch up with them.  These weren’t moments of, “Whoops! What an accident!” This was Yahweh’s own hand being the initial and primary cause of the judgement. No accidents or randomness here, at all.

18. And it shall come to pass that whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into the pit; and whoever climbs out of the midst of the pit will be caught in the snare. For the windows of the heavens are opened, and they shake the foundations of the earth.

 

2422There will be no escape from God’s judgment, apart from the redeemed. Amos 5:18–19 also depicts similar attempts at evasion that only go from bad to worse. Amos saw people attempting escape, yet bouncing from one catastrophe to another. Isaiah concludes this thought by describing “the windows of the heavens” being opened, and the “foundations of the earth” shaking because of the opened windows. This reminds us of what happened in Noah’s flood (Gen. 7:11; 8:2), as well as in the great earthquake of Uzziah’s day (Amos 1:1). It is truly a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

Make no mistake, God’s judgment will bring a radical change to everybody who survives –all and sundry, and everything on the planet.

19. The earth is utterly broken down. The earth is cleanly dissolved and split. The earth is moved and thoroughly shaken.

20. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall tremble and be swayed like a cottage in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again.

 

Five expressions emphasize the severity of the earth quaking: The earth splits, breaks down, reels, trembles, and sways—“like a cottage or a hut in the wind,” like the temporary structure (branches and mats or poles and awnings) set up by the farmer from which to guard his field crops. (See Isaiah 1:8).

 

Earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and hurricanes will bring judgment. Rebellion weighs so heavily on the earth that it will “never … rise again,” which shows that the judgment is on humankind and the present evil world system. It also may picture the earth spinning off its orbit and being destroyed. God will create a new heavens and earth (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1).

21. And it shall come to pass in that day that Yahweh will punish the host of the powers in the heavens above and the kings of the earth on the earth below.

22. They shall be gathered together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and after many days they shall be punished.

 

A day of Yahweh’s judgment is coming when He will punish the source of all evil – the satanic forces, “the powers in the heavens” (See Ephesians 6:11–12; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7–9; 20:1–3, 11–15). The same judgment will fall on all in high authority in the physical world, “the kings on the earth.” They will be “herded and gathered together like prisoners” and kept in a prison pit, unable to control their own destinies. “After many days,” a long time, in prison, they will be judged and punished.

23. Then the moon will be confounded and abashed, the sun ashamed; When Yahweh of hosts shall reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancient ones, gloriously.

 

The full moon and sun will turn red “in shame” (see Matthew 24:29). Horton, almost humourously suggests that the sun and moon are ashamed because people worshipped them instead of Yahweh, who alone “will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.” It is, of course, Christ Himself who will reign on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. In the presence of the elders of His people, that is the saints who have lived and served in their lives, for the glory of the King and his Kingdom, they shall see His face and sit down to dine.  His glory will be manifest (see Exodus 24:9–10). This anticipates the vision of God’s glory that John saw in Revelation 4:4 where the elders – the Church, sing of being redeemed from every tribe and nation. What a glorious hope true believers have!

2404

141. The Global Holocaust witnessed by Isaiah

Isaiah 24:1-13

2411a manchester_apocalypse_printworks

Manchester England Printworks

In the light of our last  observations of how the Old and New Testament flow in harmonious synchronicity throughout, fasten your seatbelts, as we immerse ourselves, briefly into the graphic story of God’s coming judgement on the earth and humanity, in the end times of the end times.  The entire biblical text of Isaiah 24 that I comment on in these articles is my own expanded paraphrase cum translation. Remember, nobody – but nobody on earth knows the calendar date for this stuff. The day, the hour and the moment for it all is in the heart, mind and knowledge of Heavenly Father.

 

Imagine, if you will, Isaiah dictating to his disciples, or even speaking to a group who are writing as the prophet preaches and teaches.

 

  1. Look! See! Watch out! Yahweh is going to strip and lay waste the earth, emptying and depopulating it, turning it into a wasteland, devastating it into a state of utter desolation. He will twist, distort and ruin its face by turning it upside down, and he will scatter abroad its inhabitants – (Isaiah 24:1 my own expanded translation)

 

2419 post-apocalyptic-london_00400109

Post apocalyptic London as seen in Isaiah 24

Are these statements astonishing, or what? Isaiah starts his catastrophic visualization by calling our attention to the overall graphic of what he sees. The importance of this is that he is simply reporting what God has shown him. It is a “trance” like vision.  I am not saying that he was in a trance. I am suggesting that the depth and detail of his description of what he sees would have demanded time and contemplation to thoroughly see and understand the things he describes. He is creating an image with such lucid language, I find it hard to conceive of it being anything but the equivalent of a DVD. It is as if Isaiah is writing a newspaper critique of a movie he has just watched. Whether pleasant or nasty, whether beautiful or ugly, whether inspiring or depressing, he simply says what he sees. “Behold!” or, “See!” is his opening word – In Hebrew it is a startled, “Hinneh!”.

 

He witnesses four calamitous events happening right across the face of the earth. He intuitively knows and clearly sees that these incredible four courses of activity are set in motion, literally, by the action of God’s own hand. In other words, these four shocking news items will not, “evolve,” into happenstance, but are actively brought into history by God’s own direct movement and volition. People will not be able to say that it was because nation A attacked nation B, or that it was instigated by nation C betraying nation D. God Himself will bring these four horrors directly upon the earth. Christians will not be present when these things occur.

 

  1. God will first, empty the earth. He will, “strip and lay waste the earth, emptying and depopulating it, turning it into a wasteland.” By reading the rest of the chapter, we thus conclude that billions – yes! I said “billions” of people will be removed off the face of the earth. Revelation confirms this awe creating remarkable loss of the vast majority of earth’s population.
  2. He will then make the earth a waste. God will be, “turning it into a wasteland, devastating it into a state of utter desolation.” This is the earth, as well as the fruit of the earth – including the rivers and seas, becoming sterile and lifeless – almost. Isaiah expands on this as we plough through the chapter. Agriculture and the normal fruits of the earth cease to be harvested. Wormwood and bitterness that kills, permeates much of the water on the planet, killing many.
  3. “He will twist, distort and ruin its face by turning it upside down.” As a person would turn a soup bowl upside down to empty the bowl of its contents and distorting the purpose for which it was made, so God will turn the earth upside-down, meaning that all the horticultural, agricultural and humanly social blessings will be removed. We are talking of a holocaust type scenario that will be worldwide – global.
  4. Finally, He will “scatter abroad its inhabitants” that is the remnant of humanity that survives those first three calamities, driven into erstwhile inappropriate, unused and alien places. This is telling us that that the small number that is left on the earth will become nomadic. The entire picture is horrific.

 

2412aWars? Atomic bombs? Earthquakes?  Meteors? Aliens? Gravity changes? Global warning? Floods? No indication is given as to what, where or when, apart from the fact that the devastation is globally destructive, world-wide in its impact, and somewhere in Isaiah’s future. It is, clearly, still in the future as far as our generation is concerned. Whether anybody presently alive in the world will experience Isaiah 24 coming to pass, remains to be seen. It is impossible to be much more specific. As such a phenomenon has only ever taken place in pockets and patches throughout history, I am working on the express expectation that the picture the prophet paints must still be futuristic to us of the early twenty-first generation, and is still to impact the world, in the divine design, later in the human time line and metanarrative.

 

We know unequivocally that the prophet is talking of “the whole world,” and not just the devastation left by Sennacharib in 701 BC, and/or Nebuchadnezzar and the devastation he left in 587 BC?  Why? Simply because, land, earth (1, 3, 4 (x2), 5, 6, 11, 13, 17, 18, 19.) and world (4,) as well as “among the nations,” (13) are used interchangeably. The word, “earth,” could mean, “land,” this is true, however the parallelism with, “world,” (24:4) shows that this judgment involves an intrusive, invasive, distressing disordering of the whole planet. When one reads the full chapter and sees it as a complete unit, there is no mistaking that Isaiah is talking of something that will blanket the entire world.

 

I lay the basic foundation of our understanding of such a prophetic statement by affirming that all God’s judgement is relevant to, and in response to, humanities evil choices. I am not talking of moral relativism, but moral absolutes. God’s moral absolutes. Sin entered by man’s volitional choices of all that misses God’s desired standard of righteousness and holiness. In all the depths and breadth of evil that has been and gone since the days of Adam, what Isaiah 24 describes is the ultimate destination in time and space where sin and evil takes us. Only the grace of God in Christ, received and appropriated by faith will save people from this horror described by the prophet.

2.  Everyone will suffer. It will be the same for the lay people and the common man on the street as for the priest, as for the servant slave so for the master as well, as for the servant maid so for her mistress, as for the buyer so for the seller, as for the lender so for the borrower, as for the debtor who pays interest so with the creditor who calls interest.

 

2418 tokyogenso

Post Apocalyptic Tokyo as seen in Isaiah 24

In plain language, no one alive will escape this judgment. It will affect all of society and each person impartially. From the highest to the lowest, all will suffer. The hunger, desolation, bereavement and thirst will hit all classes, all races, all nationalities and ethnic groups alike.

3. The earth will be completely and utterly laid waste and wholly plundered, for Yahweh has spoken this word.

 

The earth will be utterly devastated. Human activists will rob and plunder everything. Will they be military armies on the rampage? Or will it be plain mob rule by angry violent thieving gangs. I, myself, think the former. God, through Isaiah, has spoken. His word will be fulfilled. The crucial point that Isaiah is making is that this devastation is definitely not the normal entropy of natural catastrophes as is commonly experienced. This is God’s outstretched arm that is bringing this catastrophe about. Isaiah claims that this stuff is going to happen by the direct activity of God Himself.

4. The earth dries up and withers – fades away, faints and mourns. The world languishes, withers and fades away. The haughty and the exalted, the leaders of the earth languish.

 

Is this first phrase of verse four a metaphor, or something more? The earth, that is the physical planet, dries up, withers, fades away, faints and mourns. It may infer that the planets resources have dried up. But it definitely means that the normal routine of the spring, summer, autumn and winter ceases to function in a way that is perceived as normal. “The old girl “Earth” is tired and weary.” It withers and suffers from the blight of divine judgement.  But if the earth withers, the world withers. I am inclined to see this second phrase as referring to the surviving world’s population when it uses the word “world.” Some commentators suggest that the “exalted of the earth” refers to the Assyrians. Others even take the “exalted”to be the Israelites with the whole world suffering also because of their sin. Away with the very idea. The chapter is discussing judgement of the whole planet as seen by reading the chapters immediately following. Anything to ease the horror and pain of the world judgement and dilute the message is grasped too readily by students and scholars. This writer believes it is self-evidently speaking of the whole planet. Planet, population, Presidents and prime ministers are all in what we can only refer to as a state of chronic, clinical, profound depression. This thing is a global phenomenon.

5. It is because the earth, under its human inhabitants has become polluted, defiled, infected and bankrupt because they have sinned by transgressing and disobeying the teaching and the laws, twisted, changed, violated and falsified the ordinances and statutes, and have broken and rejected the everlasting, permanent covenant of promise of ancient times.

2420

Isaiah 24

The judgment that falls on the earth is the result of defilement “by its people.” Isaiah then identifies their sins: They have disobeyed (abolished) and polluted the very concepts of God’s instructions. They have also violated His rules, and then changed and broken the regulations given to Noah (Gen. 9:1–16). They have refused to recognize any covenant relationship with God. They want no fellowship with Him (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9–12). This will become the condition of the whole world in these last days that Isaiah was talking about. When will we learn that evil practices and motives have a much wider impact than the chance of legal proceedings and a jail sentence? Sin impacts the cosmic physicalities, as well as the human spiritualities.

6. Therefore a curse will consume and devour the earth, and its inhabitants must bear their guilt and pay their penalty. Therefore the earth’s inhabitants will be burned up by fire, and very few mortals will be left.

 

Because of the people’s sin, a curse devours the earth. This is hard language. But it is the language of God’s inspired prophet. They will be reaping what they sowed (cf. Gal. 6:7). We need to affirm in the clearest of terms that this judgment is not arbitrary in the slightest. The people bear “their [own] guilt,” not another’s. God is just and cannot leave sin unpunished. The people “must” bear the burden of their guilt. God’s anger burns against them and few people are left (cf. Zechariah. 5:3–4; Rev. 19:11–21). Today, like never before, such worldwide destruction is possible by the simple giving of an order and/or the pressing of a button. God have mercy on this generation.

7. The new wine juice will mourn and dry up, the vine withers and languishes. And all the merrymakers, merry in heart will groan and sigh. 

8. The gaiety of the tambourines will be stilled and silenced. The noise of the revelers will cease and stop. The joyful harp will be hushed and soundless.

 

2421“New wine” (i.e., grape juice) will dry up after all the world calamities listed in the book of Revelation in the context of the seals and the trumpets. Grapevines are withered. Grape juice was a symbol of harmless pleasures. The change of climate, water, agriculture, eating habits and living modes will reduce those that live into spiritual, emotional and spiritual loss and confusion. Even light hearted trivialities will halt in the face of the global state of things. The rejoicing and laughter accompanied by tambourines and harps will cease.

 

This time of tribulation and horror will bring to an end anything that even suggests pleasure, pleasantries, and sociability. Oh the horror of human contrived evil. Or, as the apostle Paul expressed it, “Oh! The exceeding sinfulness of sin.

9. No more will people drink wine with a song. Beer will bitter, as will strong drink be to any who drink it.

 

“Wine” will not loosen them up and cause them to sing. “Beer” (and other alcoholic beverages) will make them feel bitter instead of exhilarated. My thoughts are that with poisoned waters as bitter as wormwood, the land polluted by cosmic invasions of “stars” falling to earth, etc, food will not taste right, and taste buds in the mouth will be defiled also. We are talking of serious misery.

10. The ruined, empty city will lie desolate and broken down. The entrance to every house will be barred so that none can enter it.

 

“The ruined city” (Hebrew: qiryath tohu, “city of nothingness” or “emptiness” is generic for the cities of the world, rather than a specific city) is without inhabitants and is broken down. (Tohu is the word used in Genesis 1:2 for the state of the earth before God created its inhabitants.) Every house is closed up against entry. It is a sad and grey picture of total desolation.

11. In the streets there will be an outcry, a scream for wine. All joy will reach its closing time, with doom and gloom, all gaiety and gladness in the earth will be is banished.  

 

Outside the homes, outside in the streets, and outside the city, there will be wailing because of a lack of wine. All the joy that delights merrymakers has darkened as when the day is done. “All gaiety,” including the joy of laughter, has gone.

12. All that will be left will be the city in a state of total ruin, and the gates will be battered to pieces.

 

“The city” is probably collective for cities in general (cf. v. 10). The devastation left in the city by God’s judgment is horrible. The desolate gates have been “battered to pieces.” The city is no longer livable and there is no protection. A preliminary fulfillment of this took place when Sennacherib destroyed forty-six cities of Judah.

 13. So and thus will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.

 

The remnant left after this judgment on the world will be small, like the few olives left on the tree after they beat its branches; or the few grapes left after the gleaners have gone through and picked what the harvesters left (cf. 17:6).

 

2422

Post Apocalyptic Los Angeles as in Isaiah 24

The word picture – the verbal graphic that Isaiah paints with his words is both sublimely beautiful, and simultaneously the ugliest thought for a person to perceive. Sin calls out for judgement. The earth itself is ailing because of the evil in the world. People are sick, mentally, physically and spiritually because of the impact of sin. Unsettled and unjudged evil, and the makers of evil need to be recalled for God’s court of justice to straighten out every unfinished debt, argument, war and hatred. Judgement is needed. God is holy, just, impartial and infinite in knowledge and holiness. Like the unborn child in the mother’s womb, body stretching, muscle bracing, cries and screams of pain and dismay must fill the air on the way to the completion and birth of a new world order under the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Yet we cannot escape the horror of Isaiah’s picture. Like all the “post-apocalyptic” movies such as, “The Road,” “Mad Max,” undoubtedly creatively inspired by reading chapters like Isaiah 24, they paint a dull and horrible picture too bright to be thoroughly matched with Isaiah. Even “The Road” does not paint the thorough horror and grayness of the days here grasped and described by the prophet.

 

What horror is this that is on its way to meet mankind!?

2423 _manchester_apocalypse_hacienda

Post apocalyptic Manchester -hacienda – as portrayed in isaiah 24

140. The end of the world as we know it?

Isaiah 24 – context

2406aTsunami’s are shockingly devastating and bring to an end huge numbers of human lives by taking them completely by surprise. One minute, happily playing with the children on the beach. Moments later – gone. Horrible!

 

However, in all Tsunami scenario’s, the vast number of animals that are free to move as they wished, flee to high ground, prior to the deathly strike of the murderous wall of water.  Somehow, by some divinely endowed extra sense, they are aware of the catastrophe that is approaching and run. Like the “Service dogs,” that somehow are completely knowledgeable that an epileptic fit is going to take its master or mistress minutes before it strikes. How do they know that? How evolutionists cope with that in their paradigm, I really don’t know. But animals – aware of impending doom, do what they can to stay safe.

 

2407aHow animal life will respond to the goings on of Isaiah 24 I know not. But in the scriptures we are clearly taught of a totally different kind of Tsunami. A World-wide global wave of human violence and devastation, together with the destructive movements of the physical and spiritual cosmos, fear, sickness, hatred and war will one day dominate the planet. It will indeed be the end of the world as we now know it.  Isaiah says it, as does the apostle John in the book that is commonly presented as the last in the New Testament. Its approach is as certain and as sure as anything can be. If there are any preparatory steps we can make, we would be wise to address them. The wonderful gift of free-will and intelligence that God gives us can make us bot remarkably wise, or incredibly foolish.  Good decisions or bad decisions, logically thought through with motivation and circumstantial knowledge should lift us above all animals. Sadly, often, it does not. The sin principle actually animalizes some people. The Bible gives us only an indication of the chronological era of these events. Whether we are on the cusp of it happening soon or in our lifetime, or whether it is as far distant as the year 2525, we still are required to be ready for our own sake and our eternal destiny.

 

We are not talking of the evolution of worldwide human relations, or simple progress of decline in human activity only, nor are we thinking of, so called, natural seismic occurrences like quakes, volcanoes and floods, even though they may seem naturalo to the mind and eyes of the natural man with no positive response to God. Hindu’s do not have any problem when stuff like this happen, they just say, “It’s Karma.” Islam shrugs its shoulders and rejoice in, “Inscrutable Allah.” The Christian’s explanation, however, is much more straightforward. The answer is not a cliché, nor is it a “one liner,” but a complete defining of a certain detail within the Judeo-Christian world view, as taught by both Testaments of the Bible.

 

2412aGod has a destiny and purpose for humanity, the world and indeed the whole of creation. It is a perfect plan and purpose initiated by God Almighty Himself. The evil of mankind has violated, and continues to violate and disrupt that plan and purpose. The violation is in thoughts, plans, words, motivations and actions. Cosmic evil is remarkably comprehensive in its strategy. The fulfillment, however, of the divine purpose can never be ultimately frustrated, no matter how much man’s sinfully utilized free will seeks to do so. God’s allowance of the evil makes the fulfilment of his purpose more glorious by the total removal of all evil at the end of the world as we know it at present. The ongoing repercussions and results of this violation is something that mankind agonizingly lives with. Its result is the moral and spiritual climate that man will experience throughout the progress of time and geography and overflows constantly with internal shattering and brokenness, together with a self-inflicted human inability to heal that brokenness or to correct the devastation. This seeming cosmic anarchy impacts us to the degree that no matter how broken and destroyed man is, millions consider the status quo of the universe to be the norm as God created things. The whole world lies in the wicked one. Satan has given a delusion to mankind in its entirety. The world has been lied to in this dimension. There is also an external brokenness instigated by man’s violation of God’s linear purpose. This interruption into the perfection of God’s creation invites unwholeness and sickness of body, soul and spirit, as well as brokenness to the very substance of the planet upon which we live. In a one liner: sin in heart, mind and activity, has utterly ruined the ground, the air, the sky and the direction of mankind. The entire universe was made by God, marred by sin, and mended by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

 

There is a veritable present brokenness injected into the very elements that consist and exist in the atmosphere on the planet, and the natural and supernatural powers that surround us all. We are talking of a brokenness that we all see and know about, yet we minimalize it in our perception of life. Some even trivialize it completely, calling the world as we now know it as the way God made it.

 

Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote that the depravity of man is simultaneously the most evidential fact of life, and the most vehemently denied reality that exists.

 

God has warned us of where things are going. In fact the entire scenario has been explained in considerable depth in various sections of the Bible. This twenty-fourth chapter of Isaiah is part and parcel of that warning and explanation of where this ruination finishes up. We are told by the prophets, and by Christ Himself, that the rapidity and violence of the symptoms of this brokenness would increase in volume and impact as time passes. This is a self-evident fact.

The whole activity of the finalizing of the cosmology of planet earth will become more and more intense, violent and murderous as the final days approach. The earthquakes, the wars, the famines and the rumours of wars are so specified that the apostle Peter actually tells us that the elements will melt and dissolve.  To my mind, Peter, in the last half of the first century, is describing nuclear destruction to a tee. Elements melting is, surely, exactly as it would be described if a man had a literal vision of the films of the Manhattan Project experiments conducted in the USA during the Second World War, or had even the slightest view of what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The apostle John also talks of one army of two hundred million soldiers moving from the East in order to conduct a major war in the Middle East. What John saw, in the book of Revelation was more soldiers in a single army than there were people alive on the planet in his day at the close of the first century. There are an amazing number of specifics given by God in the Hebrew Scriptures together with the New Testament teaching. Both Testaments are in complete and thorough harmony with each other.

2411a manchester_apocalypse_printworks


Manchester England?

So God has made everything with purpose and design. This purpose and design has been, and is continually being violated, and we reap the consequences of its brokenness all around us. Paul talks of all creation groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God. It is part and parcel of the restoration of the cosmos to wholeness, that these catastrophes are termed by Christ as the labour pains of creation in the process of giving birth to perfection as a result of Christ’s return and rule.

 

In the light of this paradigm, the judgement that Isaiah reveals in his twenty-fourth chapter is not in any kind of isolation, as if it was ome random action of God that the prophet reveals, like some weird and unknown “Other side,” of the divine character. This is, “the beginning of the end,” of the divine fulfillment of God’s eternally conceived purpose for planet earth, the whole of humanity both righteous and unrighteous, and evil forces in the invisible world as well – meaning demons, fallen angels, and perhaps even other beings of which we know not.

 

This chapter of Isaiah is a section of the reality of life to come to pass in our future that is so horrific, it has been made the butt of jokes and the archetypal reason for worldly and secular ridicule of the Christian message and the Bible. “Oh yeh! Are you one of the, “hell and damnation,” brigade. You nutcase!” If information frightens a person, and is willfully and deliberately completely misunderstood, that person normally makes fun of what it is that they do not understand and scares them.

 

2410a

Disneyland.

By browsing through New Testament futuristic statements of judgement and cosmic termination, as well as the conclusion of the world as we now know it, we quickly refer to the gradation of God’s anger and wrath as presented in the New Testament book of Revelation. I am not in any way suggesting any particular interpretation or eschatology, but simply referring to numbers and occurrences predicted in the future, given in the biblical text, concerning references to what Isaiah saw and describes in his twenty-fourth chapter.

 

a. Isaiah talks of the world being shockingly sparse in it human population. A fiery red horse with an angelic rider is released upon the earth with the purpose of removing peace from the planet, so that people would slaughter each other. There is no numbers, or fractions of population given here, but the suggestion is that a world-wide removal of spiritual restraints would lead to global inter-racial and national Genocide, Democide, Politicide and just plain mass murder. The results of which clearly match Isaiah’s vision. ( See Revelation 6:3-4)

b. A Pale horse is released with a rider who has authority to kill by sword, famine, plague and/or wild animals, a quarter of the earth’s population. (Revelation 6:7-8)

2409aBy contemporary figures that would suggest that the present six billion people on the planet would be reduced to four and a half billion. That would indeed leave many cities completely empty of life.

c. Righteous people on the earth are to be killed off. Again, numbers here are not given, but it must suggest an immense count. (Revelation 6:9-11)

d. When the sixth seal of the scroll was broken by the Lamb who was also a Lion, there was a single remarkable earth-quake, the sun turned black, stars fell to earth, and the sky separated and rolled up (however one cares to interpret that line) and every mountain and island was removed from its place.(Revelation 6:12-14). No numbers or deaths are even mentioned yet again, but the incredible catastrophe is hard to imagine without considerable human desolation taking place on the face of the earth.

e. In Revelation 8:7 there is hail, fire and blood sent on the earth and a third of the earth was burned up by that judgement. Are we to logically remove a third of the remaining four and a half billion still alive at this point? If so, we are down to a world population of 3 billion. That is half of the present population.

f. In Revelation 8:8, after the blowing of the second trumpet, a third of all the sea becomes blood, a third of all sea creatures and a third of all ships are gone. Ships need people to sail them. The numbers are decreasing constantly throughout the real-time storyline of the Apocalypse.

g. In Revelation 8:10-11 stars from heaven fall to earth embittering water and rivers, and John records that so many people died without any number being specified.

h. In Revelation 9:12, angels are released to kill a third of the human race. Which, by my makeshift figures would mean that there is, at the very most, only 2 billion people left alive. And in the context of a straight read through Revelation, Christ will not have arrived at earth at this point. There was even greater horrors of tribulation on the way.

 

2408a Post-Apocalyptic-cityThere is a famine like shortage of food, and changes in its taste and relish for those that will be the surviving remnant.

i. Food becomes remarkably expensive because of global shortages. Seen here in verses Isaiah 24:7 and 11. (Revelation 6:5-6)

j. The world’s water supply is to be turned bitter and poisonous after the third trumpet is blown changing tastes and appetites and common favourite staple diets globally.

 

The earthly cosmic disasters will be plentiful and fearfully invasive.

k. Revelation 6:15, after the opening of the sixth seal, talks of people world-wide hiding in caves and rocks. What could cause such a shocking phenomenon.

l.  After the fourth trumpet a third of everything is turned dark and black.

m.  After the fifth trumpet hell is opened and its putrid smoke and fumes covers the earth, and beings with stings like scorpions attack everybody.

 

The misery, depression and animalistic sorrow that the surviving remnant have to live with is horribly graphic also.

n.  The whole world hides in nooks, crannies, caves and potholes because of the circumstances that have arrived. The people still alive are convinced that the day of God’s wrath has arrived. (Revelation 6:15) Something quite horrific must have precipitated that behaviour and belief.

o. John talks of people being in such a state of mental and physical and spiritual breakdown that they will be wanting to die but, for some reason, can’t. (Revelation 9:6)

This breakdown of John’s revelation synchronizing with Isaiah is not exhaustive. There are remarks made by the Saviour and even by the apostle Paul that are global in their shocking graphic description. As a single sample:

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  (1 Thessalonians 5:1–3 NIV. Italics my own.)

 

2404Paul is clearly talking of wrath and judgement against unrepentant and sinful mankind, and therefore cannot be referring to true Christian believers. Why not? Because 1 Thessalonians 5:9 states:

 

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:9 NIV)

 

Make no mistake! We need to continue as we began. Just as we hung on Isaiah’s every word and nuance as he painted portraits of the coming Messiah, His life and His ministry, and just as we drunk in every word and accepted his meaning as it was uttered in plain language, we continue in exactly the same perspective as we strain our eyes into the dark sobriety of Isaiah 24. And, “Ouch!” It is dark.

 

Isaiah’s statements re the coming Christ, His place of ministry, His deity, His grace, and the anointing of the Spirit that He lived under, when seen in the light of the four gospels and the teaching of the apostolic writings, and placed as a template on the teaching of the New Testament, we have to unarguably conclude that as far as we can read of Isaiah’s rule and custom – he sees literal actions, place names and characters, and talks as if they are so. In street language, it’s a “no brainer.” Isaiah talks literally and straight.

 

2405aThe judgements he predicted that have been fulfilled, were literal. Yes, we are still waiting for the razing of Damascus, but there is unfulfilled prophecy in the twenty-first century scattered throughout the Old Testament with most of the Hebrew prophets, just as there is, as yet, unfulfilled expectations in the book of Revelation.

 

My point is, that if we see how plain and literal the son of Amoz was about the glory and wonder of the person of Christ in His first Advent, and the awful judgements executed over the nations that encircled the accepted borders of Israel and the Promised Land, how illogical is it to even hint that because Isaiah 24 is desperately scary for the unsaved multitudes, we therefore need to change the spectacles with which we read and interpret it as if it was some vague mystic poem or dirge that has no literal significance in the slightest?

 

With the same clarity, the same process and the same source  of inspiration which revealed the glorious wonder of Jesus Christ to Isaiah, that same organic process derived from heaven through the Holy Spirit, reveals the horrors of some future point of the cosmic metanarrative in our time, space world. What we read in Isaiah 24 is real, and is going to take place. We need to read these lines in this light.

 

Methinks that we search around for particular diluted interpretations and meddle around with flowery elucidations at our eternal peril.

2405