150. The Death and Resurrection of Israel – Yahweh’s Corporate Son (Isaiah 27: 6-13)

a8The glory of the latter house of Israel will indeed be far greater than the glory of the former.

 

Having told us what the song of the future is, Isaiah now gives us the rationale that will predicate the song just sung. Note that it was Yahweh Himself that spoke the lyrics of the song. Now, Isaiah himself speaks.

6. In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.

 

To say this is a remarkably hopeful future for Israel is a huge and phenomenal understatement. Jacob, the supplanter and deceiver, was changed when he wrestled with the angel and was given the new name of “Israel” in the narrative of Genesis 32:24–28. In the coming days of the millennial kingdom, the nation of Israel that had its origin in the erstwhile deceitful Jacob, will be changed and become as a vine whose every part – root, bud, blossom, and fruit – is beautifully developed in God. Holy, anointed, progressively always looking to the future and walking in the blessing of God. The vine of Israel will be so deeply entrenched by deep roots that growth will be extremely high and voluptuously fruitful. The blossom will be so rich and full that it will bless the whole world. God will undoubtedly and most definitely restore and prosper Israel to a place of global importance, and give them the governmental primary position of leadership in the world. As a result, the whole world – that is every nation and all peoples and ethnic groups – will be blessed by its “fruit.” “Fruit” implies righteousness that will influence all others around the globe. In this way we will have a total and complete fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. As Isaiah chapters 9 and 11 have shown, the physical presence of the greater Seed of Abraham, who is also the greater Son of David, will make this possible.

mill17. Has Yahweh struck her as He struck down those who struck her? Has she been killed as those were killed who killed her?

 

Looking back over Israel’s history, did God ever strike them in the same way He struck down their enemies, as, for example, the way He drowned the entire Egyptian army at the Red Sea? Did He ever slay them the way He slew the 185,000 of Sennacherib’s army? The answer is “No!” No matter how they failed, or how often they turned away from Yahweh and a life of faith, God always left a remnant of His people Israel. He was gracious to them and loved them. He still does. Israel was, Israel now is and Israel always will be.

 

Lannon’s interpretation of the entire passage of Isaiah from chapter 13 through to this point is merely stating that all nations shall face a judgement, not just a judgement in the next life, but a judgement in this time and space world. Nearly all of them will disappear from time as nations. Some shall scrape through. However, although, externally, it seems that Israel and Judah were getting the same sort of treatment as everybody else, there was and is a divine purpose for the entire future of Israel. The fullness of this future will really begin when Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of Israel, on the throne of David. Israel will dominate the global stage from then on.

 

This expectation dominates Isaiah’s horizon here as he discusses the Jewish nation as being God’s own vineyard. This vineyard will be watered and cared for with great divine zeal and care. Yes! He has struck down Israel in a manner that seemed like the others. But God was disciplining Israel for His purpose. Amongst all the corrections and issues that God was dealing with in his handling of the Jews, the main one that is explained in the Old Testament is the cleansing out of the Jewish heart and mind of idolatry. Thus Isaiah asks the question that comprises Isaiah 27:7.

mill28. By warfare and exile you contend with her—with his fierce blast he drives her out, as on a day the east wind blows.

 

God’s judgments on Israel, in the past, were severe, like a blast of “the east wind” from the desert. “By warfare” (“in measure,” AV) translates a Hebrew word used only here and probably means “by chasing away,” or, “by scaring away.” God’s purpose was never to destroy them completely, but to deal with them in a way that would bring them back to Himself. Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser, and later under Sargon, took people of Northern Israel into exile. Then Sennacherib took a section of the people of Judah into exile. These exiles were God’s “fierce blast.”

 

9. By this, then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces. No Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing.

 

mill3It is an absolute truth that God had to strive hard and firm with the Jewish nation all the way through their history. God’s love and care for His people includes discipline and suffering. It is a clearly discernible habitual syndrome of the way Yahweh dealt with Israel all the way through the Old Testament real time. There would be unbelief and disobedience. Within this context, pain, suffering and oppression would briefly take root in the nation. Then prophetic characters would arise amongst them, lead the people to repentance and faith, and then blessing, deliverance, freedom and consecration would ensue and be sustained until the next generation of unbelief. It was a genuine roller coaster of spiritual exercise with the Jews.  Isaiah here says that He (Yahweh) will deal with them so that their “guilt will be atoned for,” and their sin taken away. He talks of Jacob, meaning the entire nation in a position of rebellion.  Part of this cleansing and atonement will involve disposing of the false worship, and the Asherah poles (wooden poles with male and female genitalia carved on them, symbols of Asherah worship, which also included both male and female prostitution) and incense altars. Isaiah says that they “will not be left standing.” Hezekiah did do away with false worship (2 Kings 18:4), but it wasn’t taken to heart by the nation of Judah as it should have been. The “altar stones” that are “crushed to pieces” either may be altars for false worship, or may represent the old sacrificial system that will be done away with. Only then could Israel become the pleasant, fruitful vineyard as described in verse 2.

mill410. The fortified city stands desolate, an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert; there the calves graze, there they lie down; they strip its branches bare.

 

Some commentators take “the fortified city” to mean Jerusalem, but in this connection it is probably a collective for the cities of this world (As it was in Isaiah 25:2), the strongholds of the enemies of God and His people. Their defences will not save them from the judgment of God. Nothing will be left of them (Revelation 16:19), so, “there the calves graze,” where they were.

 

11. When its twigs are dry, they are broken off and women come and make fires with them. For this is a people without understanding; so their Maker has no compassion on them, and their Creator shows them no favour.

 

mill5In the deserted gentile and secular cities, when branches are stripped bare, women will come and use the twigs for fires. Those left after the judgment are people “without understanding,” having no insight into spiritual truths or into the ways of God. Though God created them, though God formed them with the care of a skilful potter, He will show them “no favour.” They had no understanding of God because they have so dulled their minds and hearts that even His saving grace cannot reach them. It is never that God’s grace isn’t sufficient to reach them. It is always because God’s grace has been wilfully prevented from reaching them by people’s pride and refusal to repent.

12. In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one.

 

“In That day,” the Day of Judgment, restoration will be unfolded and imparted to Israel. God will bring a harvest, threshing the grain from the chaff, a gathering of good wheat. He will gather “from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt” (the Wadi El-Arish at the border of Egypt), that is, from the whole area that was once held by Solomon in the days of his greatness all true Jews. The true people of Israel will be gleaned one by one and restored to the Land. Though God’s intent is to restore the nation of Israel, He will also be concerned about the salvation of each individual, “one by one.” Compare the narratives of Jesus’ parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son in Luke 15.

mill613. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship Yahweh on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.

 

“A great trumpet” will be blown. It will call people home to worship – people who are outcasts, homeless, harassed, and perishing in Assyria. It will also cause exiles in Egypt to come and “worship Yahweh on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” Assyria was the place where exiles of Israel were in Isaiah’s day, although Egypt had been the place of their slavery in Moses’ day. These two countries represent all the places in the world where Israel has been scattered and has suffered, and in places, still suffers even to this day. From them will come not only Israel, but others who will worship Yahweh, as projected to our spiritual vision in Isaiah 2:2-3).

 

In all decisions, Yahweh, as “a spirit of justice,” will give His strength to enable all those who will be judges or rulers, to do what is right. He will also be strength for those who take the battle to the enemy’s city gates, and/or those who at their own city gates defend from the enemy.

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149. The Climactic Point of history that all of Time is working towards                           Isaiah 27:2 – 5               

A Song for the far side of Judgement of the World.  (Isaiah 27:2–5)   

wandering monk at sunriseGod’s prophetic judgements against the various nations, spoken in chapters 13-23, have conveyed a real sense of an entire world ripening for divine judgement. This is definitely not Old Testament ideas that have been nullified by New Testament teaching, as I have heard from some folk. Christian grace forbids me to launch out in a tirade against the stupidity of such an idea. A reading of the Thessalonian letters and parts of John’s Apocalypse, as, in particular, chapter 14:15-19) will allow us to see how apostolic understanding embraces wholly this aspect of the writings of the prophets.  The horrors of chapter 24 follow the judgements on the universe of the Middle East making a quantum leap into the divine judgements of “the world.” Chapter 24 is all about how these universal judgements will affect all stratas of society indiscriminately, in all nations, the world over (24:2).

 

The earth is said to be “defiled” in the most invasive manner. This rationale is the extrapolated conclusion because, “they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant” (24:5).  Daniel 7:25 and the entire context of that verse clearly reveals that the agenda of the Antichrist will include changing the times and the law. Isaiah declares a horror filled prophetic word when he tells us, “few men are left” (24:6). Jesus spoke of these days in Mark 13:20 when he told the twelve that global catastrophes would depopulate the earth to the extent that unless the Father had shortened those days, no flesh at all would be saved. However, for the elect’s sake, those who will be in faith when those times arrive will be saved through it all; and that will be because He will shorten the days. These days will be monstrously depressing and oppressive. There will not be even a crumb of any happiness or joy in those horrible days.  “The pachad, the pachath and the pach” (Hebrew for, the fear, the pit and the trap) will fall on the world in these days as told us in so alliterative manner in 24:17-18. The whole scene of warning, and the neglect of the masses to the divine call is delivered in terminology so reminiscent of the days and times of Noah and the deluge. The whole comparison of the parallel lines of scripture shows vividly how it will be a shocking worldwide catastrophe that will jolt survivors into silence, and some to heart failure, illness and/or death.

a2After the complete planetary harvest of judgement, only a gleaning of population, animal life and vegetation will remain.  Only a small fragment of what was previously the world’s densest level of population would be left alive. In the midst of this remnant of humanity, there will be an even smaller godly remnant which will “sing extolling the glory of Yahweh” (24:14).

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As Yahweh gathers the kings of the earth as per Psalm 2:2, so He metes out punishment on the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, as in Isaiah 24:21 and in Revelation 12:7-8.

 

Only at the Second Advent of Christ to the earth will justice and deep and lasting peace be ushered in at the commencement of the Millennium – that is, Christ’s thousand year reign on earth. Refusal to perceive such Bible passages in their historical – grammatical thrust has pushed many, to the error of “Replacement Theology,” seeing the fulfilment of Israel’s prophecies in terms of the Church, the Body of Christ. However, it is Israel, not the Church, which is clearly shown to pass through this time of its great trouble as seen in Jeremiah 30:7.

 

On the far side of this world wide catastrophe and judgement, Israel emerges from deep suffering to millennial glory as sketched in Isaiah 25 and 27 especially. Mount Zion becomes central to God’s purposes on earth (Isaiah 25:6-12), and Israel’s fruitfulness will extend to the whole world in that day (Isaiah 27:6).

a32. In that day there will be a fruitful vineyard – Sing about this fruitful vineyard:

The Hebrew is sharp, to the point and simple abrupt exclamations. An English equivalent would be a dramatic, “In that day! A fruitful Vineyard! Sing of it!

The scene that rises from the closure of the predicted cauldron of judgement is that of a party and a song. It is all about singing when the shaking of the olive tree is over (Isaiah 24:13). Israel, yet again, are seen to have gone through deep and profound loss and hardship, only to emerge on the far side of the sorrow singing tunes of deliverance. Tears are just for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  One of Job’s friends told that suffering saint that, “It is God who gives melodies in the night.” Isaiah sees the brightness of this new day and new age so clearly, he even tell us the libretto of the joyful yet dramatic song they will chant.  In the darkest of nights filled with terror and tribulation, the desires within the souls of Israel will be set alight with a spiritual song – a hymn of praise if you will (Isaiah 26:9).

“That day” looks ahead to what God will do in the distant future. This is a second song of a vineyard. “Fruitful” (“red wine,” AV) is translated as “pleasant” in Isaiah 32:12 and in Amos 5:11. In Isaiah 5 it was a dismal dirge of a barren vineyard set for destruction. A sinful vineyard that had turned its back on Yahweh. Now this newer and later song is about a vineyard of beauty and delight. (Some Hebrew manuscripts actually have “chamar,” that is “wine that is foaming as it ferments.” It produces a good harvest of sweet grapes, in contrast to the putrid grapes of the vineyard that was sung about in chapter 5. The transformation is dramatic and stark.

This psalm is to indicate the climax of time in the existence of the earth and humanity. Time itself, along with God’s purpose, will not role on forever, but will indeed close with an incredible crisis and climax. It is to be noted that God alone is – quite literally – guarding and protecting the vineyard, i.e. Israel, against any enemy action against the apple of His eye, no matter who, and no matter what.

a43. I, Yahweh, watch over it as its keeper; I water it regularly and continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.

The kindness of God to His vineyard is fully detailed. Yahweh is the guardian of the vineyard that is the nation state and people of Israel. His care, provision, and protection are continual, perpetual and deeply effectual. His faithful love has waited for the time when Israel would put their trust in Him. I am told that in the Middle Eastern vineyards, as harvest time approaches, the guardian and watchman over the crop of grapes plays a key and vital roll and has to stay sharply alert. He continually waters the vines. That is more than necessary I conclude. It makes the point that “He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

a54. I am not angry against it at all. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle and a warlike fashion; I would set them all on fire immediately.

In contrast to the “vineyard of Israel” in chapter 5, God now has no anger or resentment at all against this renewed, sanctified and dedicated “vineyard if Israel” in Isaiah 27. God states categorically “I harbour no resentment against my own.” If briars and thorns appear He will root them out and burn them.  The “briers and thorns” referred to are metaphors – types if you will – of all enemies of God’s people. This suggests that there will always be those who would harm Israel. It informs us that Yahweh will set Himself to purify His people on this future day.

5. Or else let them come to me for refuge and protection; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.”

The “briers and thorns” referred to in verse 4 refer mostly to those who are heathen.  However, heathens in this day to come, just as heathens in this day and age, are candidates for entrance into the kingdom of God. All is not hopeless for the “briars and thorns” referred to in the previous verse, who will be against God. God invites them to come to Him “for refuge,” as a stronghold, or place of refuge. He wants all adversaries to repent and “make peace” with Him. The way of salvation is always open, even to those who seem like unpleasant, irritating briars and thorns. We can come to God as a loving Father and He will nurture us

Verse 5 is the closing lines of this song of deliverance

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148. The Fall of the Mighty Leviathan Monster (Isaiah 27:1)

  1. In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his well-tempered, fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the fleeing, gliding serpent, Leviathan the winding, coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)

 

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Definitely NOT a random image of Leviathan. Read Job 41.

Talking about God’s displeasure is not common at all these days. I have actually seen some people in some churches shake their heads whenever the subject of final judgement is brought up. How sad is that! Some  people see God as a nice, jolly, “Father Christmas” type figure, and read only the scriptures about the, “nice,” “soft” and loving Father in Heaven, and in so doing ignore and/or write off huge swathes of scripture. “God is Love,” they say, as if there is no room for any other attribute in the infinite character of the Almighty.

 

Ah well! I might lose some of my thousand a week readers here, but something has to be said.

 

I agree one thousand per cent that “God is love.” It’s a biblical and apostolic statement. No problem! But I tell you what else: God dislikes some things about peoples’ attitudes and lifestyles.  In fact, the God-breathed scripture tells us that, actually, He hates some actions and motives. And, to tell it as it really is – hold on to your seat belts – God truly gets angry with some repetitive evil and damaging activities on the planet that He says are actually an “abomination.”

 

There! I’ve said it!

 

The scary old-fashioned phrase concerning these abominable things are those activities and mind-sets that bring hate, death and curses among man-kind. Evil is a diversion from God’s purposes. God’s response to these “abominations” are revealed by certain turns of phrase in the Hebrew and the Greek (Ah! Yes! It’s in the New Testament too!). The old King James translation refers to it as, “The wrath of God.” If we don’t have a shiver down our back bone when we read this phrase, I promise you, we don’t understand the truth, or the concept, or the weight of what we are discussing. This is not just a few lines from a “Systematic Theology” book, or just another tenet to our list of beliefs, this is an insight into God’s love and character that should facilitate us to see His love through clearer eyes.

 

Contemporary widespread revelation concerning the love and grace of God and the believer’s identity in Christ has made discussion concerning God’s anger almost a non-entity – a subject that seems to negate other stuff that is commonly taught in the church today. There is no truth that negates any other truth. God’s anger and God’s love are two facts concerning the one divine character of Yahweh – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These thoughts concerning judgement, or even eternal damnation, seem to have paled into insignificance in recent times. It is generally perceived as a most “inconvenient” teaching of the scripture, reduced by many as a metaphorical symbolic series of statements that have nothing but allegorical significance. Ah! If only!

 

The emphasis on grace, acceptance through Christ, and the believer’s authority in Him has even driven some to the extreme nonsense of what is known as “Universalism.” “God’s acceptance is so total and full in Christ,” these people shout, “How is it then conceivable that God could condemn anybody – especially those without faith – into hell?”

 

How insipid and unbiblical can a Bible reading believer get? It is this writer’s conviction that Universalism has raised its ugly head again in our generation simply because of a neglect of the Old Testament and a general lack of reading the whole arc of biblical truth in the complete canon of scripture. A straight forward, logical study through any bible concordance will clearly demonstrate that there are many more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, wrath and judgement of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. And this is NOT just because the Old Testament is more voluminous than the New. Jesus talked of the wrath of God in John 3:36. Paul talked of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18. Romans 2:6-11. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 for a simple starter). John, the “Apostle of love,” wrote the book of Revelation concerning the judgement of all judgements, the eternal fire and loss of the unsaved.

 

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Nothing contrary here to God’s own description of Leviathan in Job 41.

So many Christians seem to withdraw into an apologetic type tone when the subject of God’s anger and judgement is raised. It is as if they wish it wasn’t there in the book. I have talked to some who seemed to me to be Christian believers yet consider it a blot on God’s character for Him to be angry – or even blasphemous for me to have said so. It would seem that they consider God’s wrath to be a huge wart on the face of Almighty Yahweh. I can only discern it as a fact that some cannot imagine being wrathful without being out of control, and therefore deny that God could have such an emotion. They ignore the fact that the New Testament exhorts us to be like Christ Himself when it says, “Be angry and sin not.”  Jesus was angry when he upturned the business tables in the Temple. And – have you ever read Matthew 23? There is no way that, “Gentle Jesus Meek and mild,” could talk lovingly and kindly what is written in that chapter. The seven “woes” that Christ Himself uttered over the Pharisees were flaming swords of terrifying divine judgement.

 

I have even discussed the issue of God’s wrath with some Christians who have told me that they feel unworthy and incapable of negotiating even the concept of God’s anger in their minds. God does not conceal the facts – and whatever is revealed to is in scripture needs confronting and acceptance. The entire canon of scripture requires our application.

 

So! What does the Bible actually say?  We cannot but make the obvious observation that Yahweh is not at all ashamed to make it known that, “Vengeance and fury belong to Him.” See Romans 12:19. He is blatantly unashamed to declare in the book, “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me.” (Deuteronomy 32:39-41). Wow! Who says that God should speak to us more directly. Is it possible to be more direct that that? Allegory? Metaphor? Poetry with mystical meanings? I think not. This is God Himself speaking plainly.

 

Because God is pure, clean and spotless, He hates all sin because it detracts from man’s purpose and destiny. Because He hates all sin, His pleasure and purpose is to save completely those who believe and pursue Christ, and judge the severity of sin that is not dealt with by the unbeliever (Psalm 7:11).  We need to get a firm grasp of the biblical idea that God’s anger is indeed as much a divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power, mercy and love. It cannot be anything else. “In Him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning.” There would be a character defect in God Himself if “wrath” were absent from His being! His response to sin must be as pure and holy as His love towards people. Indifference to sin is a moral blemish. It is part of man’s sin to be as indifferent against God’s take on our existence.

 

I think it was Spurgeon in one of his sermons that cried, “How could He who is the Sum of all that is excellent look with equal satisfaction upon virtue and vice, wisdom and folly? How could He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His “severity” (Rom 11:22) toward it?”

 

There cannot possibly be any perfection of attribute and characteristic within God’s Person that is less perfect than another. As Pink succinctly says, “The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness.” God’s wrath against sin is the unending righteous motivation of His judgement against wilfully lost mankind. Sin is a wilful living of life in a manner that is contrary to the desire and plan of God for mankind – whether it be external actions or inner thought and motivation. One psalmist sai, “If I cherish sin in my heart, God will not hear me.”  If that one liner doesn’t shake us concerning our worldview and lifestyle, there are some claims of our Christianity that must be rendered questionable.

 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” (Romans 1:18). This statement proves that it is part of the gospel message.  Again, the revealing of God’s wrath is something He does not hide from. Psalm 95:11 says: “Unto whom I swore in My wrath.”

 

The bold and radical statement of Isaiah 27:1 (our verse for today) needs to be seen in the light of all we have said above.

 

is2701dIsaiah 27 is the conclusion of a complete section that starts at Isaiah 24:1. It is a section that encapsulates the entire metanarrative of the consummation of earth’s history as declared by Isaiah and other prophets. It comprises the horrors of the last judgement, and the divine wrath as demonstrated in this world and in the time line of this life, that is – as far as judgement can go in this existence. The divine judgement will not be complete until the Christians stand before the judgement seat of Christ, and the unsaved  of all generations stand before the Great White Throne. And then Isaiah predicts the power and the glory of the Messianic millennial reign, formulating a graphic word picture of our planet that we simply have never yet seen. Here we are talking of Isaiah’s breath-taking vision of the earthly reign of Yahweh, consolidated by John’s vision in the book of Revelation. The curse will be removed off animals and the physical world in general, as well as much of the invisible world becoming visible. For the resurrected, the mortal putting on immortality begins here in earnest.

 

Two forces have been, are, and will be until the end of time, running contra to each other concurrently. The devil working against God; the people of God conflicting with the devil and the kingdom of darkness; and the war between all things of divine origin and purpose and all things demonic. As much as many people would relish the thought of a middle section that is referring to those who are neither Godly, nor anti-God, the bible clearly affirms that there is no such class of humanity. Every single person who has ever lived is in one of two criteria: Saved or unsaved. In the light or in darkness. In Christ or lost eternally.There is no third category.

 

First of all there was the universal judgement described in the horror filled text of Isaiah 24. Then followed a joyful song of laudation for that judgement in chapter 25. There then follows a Hymn praising God for His infinite farsightedness and the works He had performed on behalf of the righteous in response to their faith. Now – here in chapter 27, we have a look at both sides of the scenario. After the overthrow of the worldly powers, Isaiah explains how Zion, amazingly referring to both the physical city of Zion as well as the heavenly simultaneously, the temporal as well as the eternal, are blessed with the physical presence of Christ. It is a revelation of a truth that needs pondering, praying over and meditating on. Oh! Isaiah! Isaiah! I cry out to God to see as you saw, to know as you knew, to perceive exactly what you grasped.

 

My own take on this seminal verse of scripture is expressed in my own paraphrase, as in:

 

In that coming day, far in the future, in the days of the earthly reign of Messiah, Yahweh will punish the foul unclean demonic ruling spirit of the power of the air that dominates and rules the controlling nations and empires of this present world, with His sword.  His well-tempered, fierce, great and powerful sword will castigate and destroy (a) Leviathan the fleeing, gliding serpent of Assyria, (b)Leviathan the winding, coiling serpent of Babylon, and He will also slay (c) Egypt, the same dragon monster of the sea.

 

Yes indeed! Judgement, violent and absolutely final, for Leviathan. Leviathan? Who is this? Where does he – or it- come into the picture?

 

This single first verse talks of the divine judgement and destruction of a nasty sounding creature referred to as “Leviathan.” He is referred to as in three different manifestations or areas. “Leviathan!” What a juicy and expressive title. “Leviathan” is a term interpreted by some as a species of sea creature or river monster, as, for instance, the whale. What utter nonsense! In Psalm 104:26, the NIV has it as, “There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.”  The NET Bible however translates the same Hebrew text as, “The ships travel there, and over here swims the whale you made to play in it” (Bold italics are mine of course). Fascinatingly interesting? No! Fascinatingly ignorant more like.  Does it have any value or credibility in proper translational principles? No comment! The Douay Rheims version goes further, rendering the same statement as, “There the ships shall go. This sea dragon which thou hast formed to play therein.” Where the “whale” and “sea-dragon” comes from all depends on how one researches the word. But neither the NET nor the Douay Rheims version is consistent at all. I say that because the word is repeated a couple of times more in the Old Testament. This writer has failed to find any other translation that ventures to interpret Leviathan as a creature that we know of. The NET bible, having translated it as a “whale” in the Psalm 104, leaves the word well enough alone in Job and simply refers it to an anglicized transliteration of “Leviathan.” Douay-Rheims does the same. Why can’t these translators be consistent?

 

My own logic and biblical reading rubbishes any thought of a whale as the phrases that immediately following in Isaiah 27:1 refer to a coiling and gliding serpent. So, how could a “whale” even enter into the discussion?

 

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Daniel also received divinely given visions and insights into his contemporary and future empires, seeing them as aberrations of beasts and monster like animals.

 

In the NLT Job 3:8 says, “Let those who are experts at cursing–whose cursing could rouse Leviathan–curse that day.” And by the logistics of that verse, the whale doesn’t fit the definition of Leviathan at all. Men cursing and rousing whales has never been a choice of mankind.  How on earth can a whale be roused? Leviathan is also mentioned in Psalm 74:14. In the NIV this verse reads as, “It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.” How could it be that a whale, with a plurality of “heads,” (true to the Hebrew text) feed the creatures of the desert, and not those of the sea? One also wonders whether the dragons, as mentioned in Psalm 74:13, are equivalent to the Leviathan of verse 14.

 

Why do I sound so cocksure and confident about this “Leviathan” creature? Simply because I have read Job 41. Although it seems to have been ignored by a lot of translators, it clearly describes what Leviathan is. Read it for yourself and see.

 

It is this writers opinion that Leviathan was a truly incredibly sized, and awesomely built fire breathing dragon of Job’s day, that spoke fear into all who ever encountered it. Allow me to verify my thoughts. I shall refer to Leviathan as a “he:

 

  • Remember Job is commonly believed to have been written in a time before the flood, explained in the story of Noah, took place, in the early chapters of Genesis. From Job 41 we learn that Leviathan was as follows:

 

  • The language of verse one suggests that he spent some of his time in the sea, and that people have attempted to catch him there. Tying down his tongue was perceived as a helpful strategy for safety, but was impossible to effect. (Job 41:1)
  • Leviathan had a nose by which he could be conceived as being caught with a cord through its nostrils. It also has a jaw that could be imagined as being hooked in order to catch (41:2). The question, put by God Himself seems rhetorical. The sense and meaning of the questions seems to be constantly asking Job if he could do things that were absolutely humanly impossible, but were, obvious to Job, a simple matter for Yahweh to govern. As if God was saying something like, “Can you stoke the fires that comprise the sun?”
  • Job 41: 3 – 6 seem deeply sarcastic in its six questions. One cannot but see that God Himself – for it is God who is speaking in this description of Leviathan – sees it as inconceivable that any man, or group of men could render Leviathan vulnerable or submissive. Leviathan would never ever be in need of mercy (3a). The concept of any human being enslaving Leviathan is ridiculous (4). The thought of giving an enslaved Leviathan (if it were at all possible to catch him) as a pet to one’s daughters was laughable (5a).
  • There was obviously some sort of impenetrable skin that Leviathan was clothed with, especially around his head. Harpoons and fishing spears are mentioned, hinting that he lived in the sea (41:7).
  • His incredible strength and hardiness is obliquely stated in 41:8 when God says, “If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!”
  • God says that it is impossible for anybody to subdue Leviathan and that one would be overpowered at the very sight of him (41:9).
  • The Almighty then states that this breath-taking creature was virtually so large, so strong, so wild and so impenetrable as to any physical weakness that there was nobody and nothing on earth that could in any way rouse his anger. (41:10a). The point that God’s logic was making was that this huge sentient being, this monster named Leviathan was the most awesomely wild and hugely powerful beast of the whole of creation, so huge and fearsome that nothing physical in the cosmos could match him or even arouse his anger, apart from the fact that Leviathan was meekly and weakly submissive to God Himself. Thus, the last phrase of 41:10, “Who then is able to stand against me?” and the whole context of verse 11.
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    Leviathan also had these shield like plates on his back.

    God refers to Leviathan’s grace of movement and strength of limb (41:12) and the fact that it not only has a tough impenetrable covering of skin, but a second coat of armour (41:13) – namely a layer of scales shaped as military shields (41:15). Or is God referring to a spinal line of defensive plates as suggested by paleontological opinion of the Stegosaurus (41:15). The point being, as far as my readers and I are concerned, that this Leviathan was like nothing that is alive on the planet in this day and age, and frighteningly unique in Job’s day.

There were probably no specimens of Leviathan alive in Isaiah’s day.

  • The fearsomeness of Leviathan is enlarged even further as God asks – again, rhetorically – of Job, concerning attempts to prize Leviathan’s mouth open with greatfear of the mouth that was ringed with sharp and dangerous looking sets of teeth (41:14), the bad rationale that would cause anybody to attempt close up contact with the beast.
  • There is no aspect of physical weakness in Leviathan (41:15-16). His scales are jagged and provide foolproof protection both above and beneath him (41:30). Those scales are air tight and water tight, closed so tightly that nothing known to man could penetrate between them.
  • Then we have the revelations of verses 18 -21. Leviathan breaths out flashes of light when he snorts. What is that light? It is flames of fire pouring from his mouth. There are sparks, flames and smoke that all come shooting out. Leviathan’s breath sets coals ablaze. It’s all there in black and white.
  • Leviathan’s neck is particularized as a major centre of his strength. It suggest to me that his neck was either incredibly long, or remarkably sturdy. In stating that dismay goes before him, my inner eye sees a greatly prolonged neck that is long enough for the head to confront people long before his feet are seen.(Job 41:22).
  • His skin and scales are such that even where the skin folds they are immovable for air and water (41:23).
  • The verses in the latter 10-11 verses of Job 41, complete the picture f Leviathan’s strength and appearance. He had a check as hard as a lower millstone (v24). He has a tail that he thrashes when he rises, and is terrifying to man (v25). Those that have ever got near enough to Leviathan to strike him with sword, spear, poisoned dart and/or javelin, have discovered that all three weapons have absolutely no impact or effect on him (v26). When he is struck with iron, whether it be by sword or girder, it bends as it strikes Leviathan, as if he is unaware that he has been struck, and wooden beams also split and crack and break up like rotten wood (41:27).  Arrows don’t move him, and sling shots are like dust in the wind (v28). Being struck with a machete club Leviathan considers as a piece of straw. War cries and the rattling of multifarious battle lances humour him (v29). One cannot attack him from beneath without the fear of death for being beneath him. His undersides are like jagged pottery that drag on the floor like a threshing sledge. (v30). He leaves snail like slime behind him and by the heat of the fire within him when he steps into the sea or deep water it starts steam arising as if from a boiling kettle or cauldron that leaves a glistening silver wake behind him (v 31-32). He leaves strands of matter behind him that makes people think the water has white hair.

 

i2701-cIt is, therefore, no wonder at all that God says to Job, “Nothing on earth is its equal – a creature without fear.  It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud” (Job 41:33-34). We have the quote from Psalm 74 to add, which refers to Leviathan’s “heads,” and then the description of Isaiah 27:1 and we have a picture.

 

We conclude that whatever Leviathan is (or was) – it was clearly a monster like, dragon like, multi headed giant creature which moved by “gliding” and “coiling.” It is portrayed by the combination of its usages in the Old Testament as a huge, frightening creature that was to be greatly respected and kept clear of. I am persuaded that it is the safest route to simply anglicize the Hebrew word and leave it as “Leviathan.” It is clearly an “aka” of the devil, and/or the powers of hell in general, as far as Isaiah was concerned. I am saying that Leviathan (twice) and the dragon of the sea, in Isaiah 27:1, are the same creature. And the creature Leviathan is likened to the power that ruled over Assyria, Babylon and  Egypt, in the same manner Daniel talked of beasts and bears  when referring to the rose of Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

 

So! What does all this verbosity mean in the context of Isaiah 27:1, where commentators are split whether it is the last thought of the context of Isaiah 26, or the opening statement of the thoughts contained in chapter 27? Nobody, it seems, wants to suggest that Isaiah 26 and 27 should actually be one whole chapter – which is my opinion. For me, this first verse of 27 stands alone as both the conclusion of chapter 26 and the hinge to the contents of chapter 27.

 

Meditating over Isaiah’s use of “Leviathan,” when referred to as the “gliding serpent,” it seems to me to point towards Assyria on the Tigris River. The phrase “the coiling serpent,” suggest to me Babylon on the Euphrates. The word translated as “dragon” or “monster” of the sea is the same Hebrew word that Ezekiel used in a later generation when referring to Egypt, as in Ezekiel 29:3, and 32:2. These three nations were the chief enemies of Israel in Isaiah’s day, and together they are representative of all the enemies who are against God and His people.

 

Isaiah saw a day coming when God would punish the megalomaniac power of Assyria, Babylon and Egypt “with His sword.” The destruction of these powers will be total, complete and absolute never to rise again on this earth in the manner in which they did in the time Isaiah lived. The repetition of the creature, three times, emphasizes the supernatural character of the punishment. Their chastisement is a foretaste of the complete punishment to come on all ungodly nations during the Great Tribulation at the end of this age.

 

I believe Leviathan to have been a true fire breathing creature of Job’s day, and that his usage in Isaiah 27:1 is a parable from a factual creature, of how the spirit world ran the three empires of which the whole of the middle eastern world was terrified, and set for judgement.

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147. If Prophecy is a series of Concepts Divinely Revealed to man by the Holy Spirit – How on earth dare we limit its Perspective and Viewpoint and Source?

Isaiah 26:12–26:21

I2612.000000000000000000I am still in the process of learning that by reading and reading the Bible, my mind becomes more and more released from what Professors and Doctors of Divinity say, and am led into new trails of thought, hearing more and more of my own thoughts, from deep prayer and meditation, speaking for themselves. Let me make it clear that I do not mean that I have stopped reading other books. Neither do I in any way mean that my thoughts are therefore automatically superior to any thoughts of academics or professorial types in the world of Bible teachers. Not at all – and never! Also, I do not in any way mean to discredit the professors and Doctors who have spent their lives studying the academic issues raised by the scrolls and manuscripts of the Bible. We need academics to do the work of apologists among the sceptics in particular. And, I think I need to add yet another rider that states categorically that my comment above does not mean that I do not check out my thoughts and insights with others. The “called out ones” of the church (Every believing Christian is a “called out” one. The Greek word for church – Ecclesia means exactly that, i.e. “Called out”) need to inter-act and exchange views constantly in order to guide each-others character and growth. I promise all my readers that I am neither a “Lone Ranger” of a Christian, nor some half-baked novice trying to strain at a philosophical gnat while swallowing a doctrinal camel. All I mean to say is that by years of reading, I have discovered what I consider flaws in the, so called, biblical doctrinal dusty corners of some of the long held “teachings and accepted traditions.”

 

No historical literary volume has as many ancient copies as the Jewish Bible and the New Testament scrolls, whether they be full books or fragments. These many thousands of documents and fragments (yes! I said “many thousands” that is not a typo) have always been open to scrutiny by believers and skeptics alike. It’s ease of access and its validation and verification after microscopic research of its textual, documentative and consistent content is both loved and hated by many, depending on which side of the line of faith they stand. To abuse the bard’s classic line: To believe? Or not to believe? That is the question.”

 

My own approach to scripture over the last forty plus years has been just to read the Bible over and over again. It is my lover and my most intimate friend. To read it fast; and then to read it slow. To read a whole Testament in a huge holiday binge; and then to read each book individually several times. I also read it while meditating on a verse for minutes, and sometimes days before I conclude any impacting thoughts. I read it on the train, in bed, on the loo and on the beach. It keeps me awake, sometimes, during the night, and motivates me during the day. I spend my life asking God for guidance as I plough through it. Since the day of my conversion on the 21st April 1968 I have persistently, consistently and naggingly pleaded with God to give me an experience of truth that exceeds my knowledge. I desperately have sought my physical self to be subject to my soul, and my soul to be a slave to the life in my spirit. I besiege the Bible and its content with my body, soul and spirit – my entire being – in order to lay hold of Christ. Yes! I read the odd commentary or quotes from the famous as well as the infamous. I read background material and devotional stuff also. For Isaiah, for instance, I read through Calvin, Leupold, Motyer, Oswalt, Edward J Young, and John L McKay. I like O. Palmer Robertson’s, “The Christ of the Prophets.” I do not believe all that I read. However, I do believe that the more I just peruse and paw through the scripture for no other reason than its own worth and value, the more I find myself rejecting what some writers say about the Bible. I do this because of the rationale and reasoning that has built my world-view and paradigm that I have arrived at from my continuous attention to my personal life of bible reading.

 

Concerning Isaiah: I believe I was somewhat intimidated in the first couple of decades as a Christian by the overqualified authors that suggest there were several Isaiah’s within the 66 chapters, and some of them were even suggested to be adding their lines post-New Testament. Not that I would ever have conceded that these “teachings” intimidated me in the slightest. The shadows cast over the Bible, especially by the so called “Higher Critics” were, to me, shocking – and what was worse, the Higher Critical perspective is still happily assimilated by other evangelical thinkers who seem to always include their own weak and timid response to the Higher Critic’s mantra.

 

There was a time, believe it or not, when many modernists stated that Isaiah just could NOT have any credibility at all since it claimed to be written 700 years before Christ. The reason for its invalid claims, of course, was because the Higher Critics of the time just refuted any thoughts of “the nonsense” of the miraculous. The rationale went like this: “We do not believe in the miraculous. If the statements concerning the virgin birth in Isaiah chapters 7 and 9, and the atoning death, burial and resurrection of Christ in Isaiah 53, as well as other striking statements that are confirmed by the New Testament were in any way true, that would constitute the most incredible series of miraculous substantiations of all the New Testament gives us. And as the thoughts of miraculous prophecy is “sheer nonsense,” it adds up to the conclusion that Isaiah was written by several people, the majority of which lived after the death of Christ.”  This kind of stuff was like a cancer to the pathetic apologists of the days in which this kind of stuff was written. But then – the Qumran scrolls were discovered in the late 1940’s and complete copies of Isaiah were among them. After exposing them to the very finest of scientific research processes, it has been unanimously stated by the scientific world that the carbon 14 examinations have proved that these documents were written circa 200 BC. I have, however, never yet read any explanation of any Higher Critic to this fact. Perhaps it is because the carbon 14 dating of these scrolls has led to their conversion. Who knows? I believe, most absolutely, that there is no fakery in Isaiah’s character or writings whatsoever.

 

On another off-shoot of this Higher Critic tom-foolery, that old “divine,” Cheyne claimed that, in his day, it was becoming “more certain” that the present form of the prophetic Scriptures was due to a literary class of editors that he referred to as the Sopherim, Scribes, or Scripturists, whose principal function was collecting and supplementing the scattered records of prophetic revelation held and treasured for centuries by Jewish believers. I hereby declare Cheyne’s forcefully presented ideas to be sheer tosh, no matter how historical his books may be. His idea of the work done by his imaginary Sopherim editors is utterly baseless and without any evidence whatsoever. The known writings of inspired prophets were and have been guarded by the Jews as by a wall of fire. History suggests that the integrity of the Old Testament was safer than Fort Knox. And all classes, whatever their practical unfaithfulness to biblical truth, stood in awe of the Jewish scriptures then, just as much as they do until this day. I simply cannot imagine Jesus quoting stuff and the writers of the New Testament using Isaiah’s name if there was even the slightest chance that it was not Isaiah that wrote it. Of course, most Higher Critics also indulge their unbelief in the concept that “poor old Jesus did not know whether or not the man Isaiah wrote the book that bears his name, because he was as ignorant as the rest of humanity.”  I shall restrain my language and sentiments concerning that kind of fairy tail thinking.  
My personal greatest offence concerning western scholarship and its dealings with the Bible is their insulting, general, non-consultation of Jewish expertise, thought and scholarship, mingled together with their subjective unbelief and approach to hermeneutics and exposition. The Jews treasure their Bible preciously, and always have done. The book of Jeremiah, for instance, was treasured and received as inspired, less than seventy years after it was originally written, according to Daniel’s testimony. Daniel took Jeremiah at face value. If Jeremiah predicted a seven decade exile to Babylon, and the 70 years were fulfilled, Daniel accepted it as fact and responded accordingly. The Pentateuch, also, was considered as scripture immediately after Moses’ death. Read what God said about it in Joshua 1. And yet, Higher Criticism is seemingly convinced of various additions and changes to the whole.

 

If anybody had suggested to add or subtract even a little to any of these writings, there is no conceivable way under heaven where I could accept that the Jewish leaders would have allowed some nameless person to amend what had hitherto been considered a sacred book. Even the thought of some sympathizer, or “disciple” of Isaiah changing lines here and there, whether a close confidante of the prophet, or merely an admirer from a future generation, is so unthinkable as to be laughable. And yet, so called, “serious scholars,” claim that the “original writings” have been added to, simply because of different phraseology, or concepts mentioned that modern scholarship does not believe was prevalent in Isaiah’s time. The reasoning is so debatable, arguable, and at times laughable, and yet received by most commentaries as the absolute truth.

 

Added to all this, my convictions concerning the supernatural nature of prophecy renders my mind to a state of incredulity. “How is it possible that Isaiah knew of Cyrus?” the Higher Critics ask. Eh?? The very nature of prophecy tells me that Isaiah could have, by the Spirit of God, mentioned anybody’s name of the future. Enoch, alive before the flood, predicted the Second Advent of Christ (see Jude 14 and 15). On issues like this I reject the overall approach and underlying presuppositions of what is known as Higher Criticism.

 

If one was to read my study notes, hear my sermons, and think on my responses to theological issues in the 1970’s, and then were to do the same of my material in the last ten years or so, one would note such an incredible difference of it all, even in the superficialities of the neatness of my handwriting that one may consider that there is a “60’s Lannon,” and then there is a separate, “Millennial Lannon.” Two different characters! In fact, to take the principle even further, even since the new Millennium year onwards, my time in Nigeria changed my language and doctrinal emphasis radically. So, from a future perspective of examining my life, it may suggest to some future researcher that there were three men that went by the name of Lannon. There will be Lannon “O” documents (“O” for Original). Then there will be “P” documents, (“P” for prophetic, as under the prophetic tuition of TB Joshua) and then presently there are the “M” documents (“M” standing for my more meditative days, as of now). If this sounds ridiculous, I rather think that is because it is exactly that: ridiculous. The more I read Isaiah, the more I am totally convinced the same person wrote the whole. The substance and subject flow of Isaiah runs smoothly and in a steady gradient as one ploughs through the chapters.  It is my opinion that the New Testament itself verifies what I am saying.

 

Isaiah 26 is an integral part of the flow that I refer to. Having seen the future of all the surrounding nations that were, in Isaiah’s day, occupying land promised to Abraham, Isaiah lifts his prophetic eyes to the far flung future and the end of days just prior to and into Messiah’s reign on the earth. Isaiah 24 tells us how the days of a great and terrible tribulation will see the deaths of the majority of the world’s population. Of the survivors there will be a remnant of believers, mostly Jews. The majority of the survivors will be anti-God, anti-Semitic and anti-anything that even whiffs of godliness and righteousness. The believing survivors will see the advent of Messiah and His earthly kingdom centred in Jerusalem, and they will be singing the song, and rejoicing in the joy that Isaiah 26 here expresses.

 

The song in the first eleven verses of the chapter is a lyric of joy in God’s salvation, and the exultation in God’s righteousness for the perfect judgement He will have, at that future point in time, performed over the planet. They rejoice not at all in the fact that the evil of men has slain so many billions of humanity, but because of the manifest righteousness and perfection of God in His response to the evil. The book of Revelation indicates that the wrath of God, at this point of time, is poured out on the planet in the midst of the great tribulation. In the combined works of God’s wrath poured out, the rise of the anti-Christ and the hatred and confusion precipitated by him, will wreak so much terror and horror as to bring all of humanities issues to a climax.

 

Carrying on from our last paper, we arrive at Isaiah 26:12:             

12. Yahweh, you will establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

The Hymn of chapter 26 presses forward with a line that directly addresses Yahweh and outlines the existential present blessings that are the result of commitment to following Yahweh with faith, hope and love. Isaiah is glancing over Israel’s history. The godly remnant in Judah confesses what God has done for them. They are in “shalom shalom” or, as it says in most English translations, “perfect peace” (as in Isaiah 26:3).  A person requires, first of all peace with God, which must be followed by the internal peace of God. This is as far as the east is from the west when compared to the judgment on the wicked that has been extended to the evil and godless hordes of the world. God will, as He has done and does in the present, appoint peace and inner tranquility for His people. That peace stands guard over the heart of faith. Whatever the righteous have attempted and enacted and achieved, they see the truth that it is Almighty Yahweh that has achieved it and established it through them. Yahweh has done everything for them. His salvation is wholly His work, there is no human contribution to its flow, apart from the repentant heart that receives it.

13. O Yahweh, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor.

 

“Other lords” would include Pharaoh, various Philistine overlords and the various rulers who subjugated Israel during the time of the judges, as well as other nations who, in Isaiah’s past, have at times subjugated Israel and Judah to themselves and their false deities. Isaiah is studying and making a total reflective meditation over Israel’s history. Those who walk in the righteousness of God, honour Him alone. God is the Lord of history. History is truly His story. He has been faithful and has facilitated His grace in their hearts, so that His people keep His name in perpetual remembrance as their only true Leader.

14. They are now dead, they live no more; they are departed spirits, shades that do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.

Those former lords that were human, considered themselves gods, but they were indeed merely mortal men—and “they live no more.”  Isaiah persists with his backward look on those human lordships that had, at various times and in diverse ways, ruled over the Hebrew people. These “lords” may have loomed large like some eerie shadow over the prosperity and family life of Israel, but they went the way of the rich and the poor, the hero and the coward. “You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.” They are “departed spirits” in Sheol, the place of the dead, and they shall not rise, or be resurrected, with the righteous, who will rule and reign with Christ during the Millennium. God visited judgment on them, “brought them to ruin,” and caused memory of them to fade. It is self-evidently implied in this statement that the wicked have absolutely no future at all to look forward to. Who honors the name and memory of the pharaoh of the Exodus? Scholars disagree and choose to argue and debate about the identity of even that particular pharaoh. Whoever and whatever – he is forgotten about.

15. You have enlarged the nation, O Yahweh; you have enlarged the nation. You have gained glory yourself; you have extended all the borders of the land.

In all these memories of backsliding and being ruled over by Israel’s various enemies, there is one blessing that cannot be forgotten: The Jews greatly increased in number in the midst of all the moral and spiritual decline. It is for His glory that God has “enlarged the nation.” Isaiah could be remembering the greater expanse that was all subject to David and Solomon. He may also have been chewing over the increase in territorial possession that came about in King Uzziah’s day, even though it was far less than that land that existed under David’s heel.

 

But then again, I believe Isaiah is looking to the millennial gains of the state of Israel during Christ’s reign. He is standing in the vision of the future reign of Messiah, and lyricizing what people will be sing in that future day. The will know and sing how Yahweh has expanded the nation. In that day it will be said that He has extended the borders of the land s and nations that submit to Christ right to the ends of the earth. That is, He will have enlarged it not because of who the Israelites are, but because of who He is. Yes indeed! There was some expansion of Judah’s territory in Isaiah’s lifetime. But Isaiah looks ahead to something greater in the Millennial Kingdom. Then they will truly recognize God’s glory.  This verse has an analogy in Isaiah 9:2-4: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For you shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.”

16. Yahweh, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer.

Prayers shouted, whispered – or even written are meaningless without faith and repentance. The Psalmist affirmed that if he regarded, or meditated and treasured evil, then Yahweh would not hear his prayer.  Isaiah “reminds” God of how the Israelites sought God in times of trouble. They could hardly whisper, but as they did give a murmur of prayer, God “disciplined them” and brought them back to himself. This repeatedly occurred during the time of the judges. It also occurred in an abortive revolt of 712 to 711 B.C. To cut to the chase: Israel had an incredible destiny – and still has – but the fact that they were so far away from moving towards that destiny caused them to shamefacedly whisper their prayer rather than shout it out loud to Yahweh.

17. As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, O LORD.

 

Now, in Isaiah’s own time, he and his people have endured suffering in the LORD’s presence. Because of His judgments, they have cried out like a woman in the pangs of birth. The high calling of Israel was embedded within the life and development of Israel,but hitherto they had given nothing but wind.

 

Isaiah is saying that in contrast to the huge and high heavenly hopes of Israel in the earth, next to nothing has transpired throughout the nation’s history. They have produced nothing tangible in Isaiah’s perspective.

 

Verses 17 and 18 are the lowest thoughts and the saddest memory recollections in the entire song of Isaiah 26.

18. We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we only gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth to people of the world.

 

When a child is born the pain turns to joy. But in the suffering of this people there has been no birth, no good results—only wind, only pain. There has been no deliverance, no salvation in the land, and the world’s rulers, the Assyrians, have not fallen. God would deal with the Assyrians in due time (Isaiah 10:12), but that time had not yet come.

 

Then, there is a sudden inspirational moment of revelation that is amazing, far reaching and truly astounding with verse 19. Isaiah’s prophetic sight raises from the lowest to the highest, from the darkest to the lightest, from what is most earthly to what is actually heavenly, from what is death to what is resurrection life. This is revelation at its purest and most sublime. As Leupold says: “It makes a zenith point of all eschatological hope and faith. And this is 700BC Isaiah, not New Testament Paul, or even John the revelator. We can only jaw droppingly be amazed as Isaiah writes.

19. But your dead body shall live, together with my dead body. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the light of the morning; the earth will cast out and give birth to the dead.

 

It is as if Yahweh had put something within the beings of the dead that were “His.” A seed planted within them. An investment made in them. An ownership ticket attached to them. The dead are the dead – in our eyes. They are left their cadavers behind them and died. The good, the bad and the ugly – no matter what took them, or how they died. But there is the human point of view, and there is the divine point of view. There are those among the dead that are His.  Isaiah is self-evidently inferring, of course, that there are those in the grave that are not his, as well as those that are. And His dead will rise again, and not just their spirits. Their bodies shall rise again with their spirits rehoused. God has an abiding interest and possession in his people that had died. That was true in Isaiah’s day, just as it is true today. Though they were dead, buried, and to a great degree, forgotten, those that died in faith were – and still are – His dead.

 

Yes! Indeed! Isaiah sees the resurrection of the righteous.

 

But that is not all!

 

The “your” and the “my” tells us that there is somebody else’s dead body as well as Isaiah’s dead body. But hold on! There are some scholars who are convinced that it is God who is speaking, stating that His dead body shall live and come to life again. This is heavenly stuff! We have, in contrast to the wicked who are brought “down to the dust” (Isaiah 26:5), the dead who belong to Yahweh (“your dead”) will live.

 

Plainly, to God’s people, death does not mean the end. Isaiah expects his dead body to rise with them. Or is he saying in Christ’s words that we shall rise with His resurrection?

 

Some apply this to the restoration of national Israel, as in Ezekiel 36 and 37, but the language is too individualistic here. There will be a call for God’s people to “wake up and shout for joy.” Like David in Psalm 23:6, they already had a hope of dwelling in the house of Yahweh eternally. Like Asaph in Psalm 73:24, they expected God to guide them in this life with His counsel and afterward take them into the glory of heaven. Like Solomon, those that fear and worship the LORD expected the path of life to lead to the place above in order to avoid Sheol beneath (that is, hell). But Isaiah’s prophecy adds another hope that is the hope of resurrection. See Daniel 12:2. “Dew” is symbolic of God’s blessing and favor. The Authorised Version has “dew of herbs.” In 2 Kings 4:39 “herbs” refers to the Malva Rotundifolia, commonly referred to as the Mallow, a plant sensitive to light. However, it is better translated here as “lights” (NASB margin), meaning a fullness of light that comes when the morning sun appears above the horizon. It speaks of a fullness of life here when the graves in the earth break open and the dead rise. We are talking of seriously bright and glorious expectation. Isaiah is at his most exciting with stuff like this. Read this verse with the following:

Job 19:26 says:                       And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, (ESV)

Ps. 16:10 says:                        For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. (NLT)

Dan. 12:2 says:                       Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (NLT)

John 5:28–29 says:                 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.  

1 Cor. 15:50–53 says:            I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

Phil. 3:21 says:                       He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (NLT)

1 Thess. 4:16–17) says:          For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

 

Who says the Bible is not clear?

20. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.

 

The prophet continues with his vision of the very end of times, and sees the horror and terror that there will be right up to the moment that Messiah comes bringing his “resurrected righteous” with Him. Yes, that day is coming! The gates will be open in that glad millennial day, as seen in verse 2. But now the call is for God’s people to go into their rooms and shut the door “for a little while,” until the judgment “has passed by,” literally “passes over.” Significantly it is the same word used of the Passover in Exod. 12:12, 23.  Perhaps to see the great tribulation as a passing over of the angel of death around the world is a sound perspective to adopt. That context gives a solid meaning as to why God’s people should stay locked in their rooms, as were the Children of Israel in that last night in Egypt. There are a small number of expositors who align Isaiah 26:20 with Matthew 6:6, where Jesus instructs His listeners how to pray “in secret.” Here it clearly seems to indicate that God’s people will escape the terrible wrath and judgment of God which will not last long, as seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:9),

21. See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.

The reason for God’s people shutting the doors to their rooms, and thus closing themselves in with Yahweh Himself, is that God will come “to punish the people of the earth for their sins,” for all their crookedness and wrongdoing. A type of this ultimate sentence on the entire unsaved world is the biblical record of the judgment on the Assyrians.  “The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.” Prophetic insights don’t get any stranger than this. Planet Earth will cooperate by disclosing the blood and the bodies of the slain. I have no suggestion, at this moment, how the geography of the planet will accomplish such a thing. But be assured, nothing will be hidden from God, and on the grounds of the exact Hebraic text, it is self-evident that all survivors will see the result of this disclosure.

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