Friday, November 27, 2020

Chapter 13 - Babylon is overthrown

Isaiah's 13th chapter (he had no idea it was chapter 13, but that's not the point) is an oracle against Babylon. Curious - Assyria has been the main player in Isaiah's world so far; Babylon would rise up later in Israel's history. But the Bible often uses Babylon as the symbol for the system of the world - cultural arrogance and self-reliance, trusting in wealth and health.

Isaiah 13:1 (HCSB) An oracle against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:

In this vision of judgment Isaiah saw, we read (verses 2 - 4) the gathering of an army. It's not until the last phrase of verse 4 we find out Who's doing this: "The LORD of Hosts is mobilizing an army for war. They are coming from a far land, from the distant horizon— the LORD and the weapons of His wrath— to destroy the whole country."  The object of YHWH's wrath is not, at this point, the nation of Israel; it is Babylon, the whore of the world's system of greed and violence. And none can stop His hand!

Isaiah 13:6 (HCSB) Wail! For the day of the LORD is near. It will come like destruction from the Almighty.

What can man do when judgment comes? Isaiah 13:7-8 (HCSB) Therefore everyone’s hands will become weak, and every man’s heart will melt. They will be horrified; pain and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look at each other, their faces flushed with fear.

And again: Isaiah 13:9 (HCSB) Look, the day of the LORD is coming— cruel, with rage and burning anger— to make the earth a desolation and to destroy the sinners on it.

Ah, but aren't we told by people who know Him not that God is a gentleman Who would never do harm to anyone! Recall this from chapter 1: "If the LORD of Hosts had not left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, we would resemble Gomorrah."

Verses 10-12 describes the impact of this judgment, followed by: Isaiah 13:13-14 (HCSB) Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will shake from its foundations at the wrath of the LORD of Hosts, on the day of His burning anger. Like wandering gazelles and like sheep without a shepherd, each one will turn to his own people, each one will flee to his own land.

Verse 13 ought to cause us to think of: Hebrews 12:25-27 (HCSB) Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain.

And verse 14 is shown in Isaiah 53:6 (HCSB) "We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way" and cited in 2 Peter 2:25. Even those chosen by God to be redeemed are not inclined to seek Him or follow Him until that redemption is applied.

Verses 15-18 is a graphic description of the woe that befalls those who are sought out by the great Shepherd of our souls - they are without the compassion of the Lord, being the objects of His wrath.

Isaiah 13:19 (HCSB) And Babylon, the jewel of the kingdoms, the glory of the pride of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.

Here is the result: Babylon; the archetype of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. The last few verses of chapter 13 reinforce this.

When judgment comes, no amount of worldly power will protect one rebel. The fool thinks his wealth (bigger barns) will satisfy his soul. Hear and heed this refrain: None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good. Keep your eyes focused on Him, fellow saints. He is the faithful one!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Chapter 12 - Song of Praise!

Chapter 12 of Isaiah is a short but deep song of praise to the Lord Christ. And it opens with a familiar phrase.

Isaiah 12:1-2 (HCSB) On that day you will say: “I will praise You, LORD, although You were angry with me. Your anger has turned away, and You have had compassion on me. Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the LORD, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”  

The balance of this short chapter reveals more, but the opening phrase tells us this we will be reading about the end of days. This happens when the fullness of redemption is complete - all the elect from ethnic Israel and the world. On that day, there will no more anger evident amongst the elect, for all the elect will then be the redeemed, which means they have been translated from the domain of darkness into the glorious light of His kingdom (Col 1:13). And with His redeemed, the Lord is always compassionate - He is our salvation, our strength, and our song!

Isaiah 12:3-4 (HCSB) You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation, and on that day you will say: “Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name! Celebrate His works among the peoples. Declare that His name is exalted.

All the redeemed of God can drink freely from the waters of salvation. This is what Isaiah will tell us in chapter 55 - "Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!" And this is what the Lord Himself tells us in the last chapter of His Word - Rev 22:1 & Revelation 22:1-2 & 17 "Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city." ... "Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift." The bride - God's people - say "Come!" This is the general call. The Spirit says "Come!" This is the effectual call. All who are thirsty, all who desire living water are those called by the Spirit to new life in Christ. And the redeemed will give thanks to Christ Jesus and proclaim His name to all! We will celebrate and proclaim His work - He has brought redemption to His people! Dear saints - is this not marvelous in your eyes? Exalt in the Lord Jesus and make Him known!

Isaiah 12:5-6 (HCSB) Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things. Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is among you in His greatness.”

Again, fellow saints, sing unto YYWH, for He has done glorious things! He has satisfied the Father, drank the cup of wrath that was ours, and clothed us in His righteousness. Proclaim this throughout the earth - we are citizens of Zion, free from Mount Sinai! The Holy One of Israel - the God-Man Himself - is among us in His greatness! This is the most glorious news among men; wretched men who need refuge from the judgment to come. Preach Christ to all - we the bride say "Come!" We trust the Spirit to do what only He can do - raise the dead and draw them to Christ. This is good news and it's what we should be proclaiming and singing day-by-day until He takes us home.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Chapter 11 - The Remnant Gathered

Part two of Isaiah 11 reveals the ingathering if Gentiles and the remnant of Israel into the kingdom of God. There are those who claim this is merely the return of ethnic Israel to the land they inhabited. We shall see.

Isaiah 11:11-12 (HCSB) On that day the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover—from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coasts and islands of the west—the remnant of His people who survive. He will lift up a banner for the nations and gather the dispersed of Israel; He will collect the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

We see this phrase, "On that day," which repeatedly brings very good or very bad news. We see His hand raised - again! But this time, not in judgment, but to recover, to bring back, the remnant of His people. Earlier in this book (chap 5 and verse 26) we saw YHWH lift up a banner which called the Gentiles to Himself. Here we see it again, calling people from the nation, the scattered people of Israel and those scattered from Judah - from the four corners of the earth. Herein is a clue: ethnic Israel was taken into exile in a very concentrated area. In Isaiah's time, they had not been scattered all over the globe. If we look to the apostolic teaching on who is Israel, we'll see Isaiah' reference must be speaking of the elect and redeemed from every tribe, tongue, and people.

Isaiah 11:13-14 (HCSB) Ephraim’s envy will cease; Judah’s harassment will end. Ephraim will no longer be envious of Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim. But they will swoop down on the Philistine flank to the west. Together they will plunder the people of the east. They will extend their power over Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be their subjects.

On that day, the striving amongst the tribes of Israel will cease. In the first part of this chapter, we read about, on that day, the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the calf, the bear and the cow will all be at peace with each other. So it will be with the tribes of man who are united together in Christ as one new man. God-haters will not be able to divide them nor stand before them, for the great day of the Lord is at hand!

Isaiah 11:15-16 (HCSB) The LORD will divide the Gulf of Suez. He will wave His hand over the Euphrates with His mighty wind and will split it into seven streams, letting people walk through on foot. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will survive from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.

YHWH will go before His people, making the way to His kingdom clear. As Moses held up his hands to part the Red Sea, YHWH will lift His hand over the great river Euphrates and split it into seven streams, small rivulets that men can walk through. And God will make a highway for His remnant - not all ethnic Israel. Those people He gathered from the four corners of the earth will travel on His highway to be welcomed into the eternal kingdom.

This is the Lord's doing - and it is marvelous in our eyes!