AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH August 16, 2009
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
Serving the Lord Jesus Christ, Immutable Truth, Beautiful in Holiness
ALL THINGS OF THE LORD
The Universe, Beginning and End, the People, the Book, and the Day
God makes Himself very clear in short measure in our text this morning. We move first through the three phases of Isaiah 34, then back to the glorious vision of the day of the Lord, in Isaiah 33.
Isaiah 34:1-5 contains an invitation, exhortation: COME and HEAR. To whom is it addressed ? It is to ALL nations. Whether you are in Latvia, Russia, China, Fiji or Australia, it is to you that He speaks, for are you not all nations ? and to the rest no less.
He speaks to all that is IN the world, which HE put there (Isaiah 44:24-26, 45:12,18), and He did it alone in His trinitarian splendour (Isaiah 48:16), to establish an everlasting salvation (Isaiah 45:17), focussed in Israel as redemption drew near, and applied to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), to as many as believed Him, and trusted Him, and received Him (Isaiah 53:1, 45:22, 26:4, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Daniel 6:23ff., Psalm 32). Why a salvation ? It was because man needed it. Why did he need it ? because he fell. How did he fall ? by ignoring directions and following a very unsublime plot to disconnect from God, through willfulness and wickedness (Romans 5:1-17). What did it take to redeem him ? Christ as man, eternal God in flesh.
The Lord speaks not only, however, to all that is in the world, but to all that comes forth out of it. He speaks to sin and to the sinner, to those of pure heart and of fouled heart, to false majesty and true nobility: to all alike. He speaks to the meek, the folding in failure, to the strong, boastful, to all. He speaks to the pride of this world and to industry, to its braggadocio and to its children of rest.
To one, to all: for this is nothing too high or to low: let ALL hear the One who made ALL things, and let the rebels who have come out of it hear as well as the saints, who trust in Him. For you do not have popes make saints; for God makes them: and every one who is a true Christian according to the biblical definition IS a saint *1 ; so let God's people look like it and smell in their deeds like it, and regard the Sermon on the Mount as a road, and holiness as its surface (Isaiah 35).
Now that all nations are listening, the Lord tells them something. HIS INDIGNATION is AGAINST all nation. That is the first point. Secondly, His FURY is against all their armies. This comes to quintessence when at the end of the Age, it is precisely these armies, those of the earth as one, which madly dare to confront the line up against the Lord. Already, in the fallen Obama*2 administration, there is such a line-up of dos and don'ts for Israel, that as one writer pointed out, whatever imperils Israel or makes its security less or fatally small, it is these things which are being sought (that is Caroline Glick, Deputy managing editor, the Jerusalem Post, in a startling review, of a highly factual character, published in Israel My Glory, latest edition).
Even a leader of the Democrats in Congress has warned Obama that his policies bid fair to alienate New York Jews, and remove their votes from them, and is off with a party to visit Israel! And that, it is from the President's own Party!
Indeed, even Jordan now mouths the idea of 5 or so million Palestinians invading Israel (not by force, by international consent, to upset any hope of Jews governing themselves), 'returnees' by some definition, and Israel shrinking back to its survival line of 1949. This begins to figure as Genocide Mark III. Genocide effort Mark I was for centuries zestful in Europe, with pogroms, discrimination, Inquisition in Europe. Mark II was the culmination of that in Hitler, and this present move is by an international consortium approach, now acting blusteringly, since no group of nations has beaten Israel at war, following its climb back from Auschwitz. That is precisely as forecast in Zechariah 12, and is to culminate in vast conversion in Israel to Christ (12:10-13:1).
This domineering is indeed, at least in direction, what is beginning to arise in the Madrid Quartet of this world's greatest powers, EU, UN, Russia and USA, in their depredations in vision, for Israel. From them comes this ghastly and injudicious effrontery against the word of the Lord (Ezekiel 36-37, Deuteronomy 32:17ff., Joel 3, Micah 7) and its clear cut predictions and promises (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4), now seen to rise not least from them, against Israel. So do they seek to strip it more, even that Israel which for all its sins, God in mercy restored according to manifest promise (cf. Israel Vols. 1-4). Later comes a universal attack on the Lord by ALL nations (Rev. 19:19). That is awaits; but this, for Israel, looms as a beginning of the end, itself marked by Israel's return to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24). When that occurs, Jesus Christ indicated, the end of the Age is near.
It is, accordingly, to ALL nations, God speaks in Isaiah 34, all who now in this way and now in that dare to meddle with the mercies of God and to dispute His sovereignty. Let them beware! Consider this in the prophetic way of speaking of their armies: "He has utterly destroyed them" and then compare this with Revelation 19:16-20 and tremble; for the fear of God is a pure fear, and folly gets its come-uppance not only from time to time, but at last and altogether. "Utter destruction" is the end of that, which comes at the culminating confrontation of rebellious man with God.
Has not mercy for this world operated in the two millenia of the Gospel Age ? But it does not last forever; for man is not able to strive forever (Isaiah 57:15-16). Accordingly, the end comes, as did the beginning, from Him who is both Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:11,18, 2:9, Isaiah 44:1-6). Put your skunk spray in the face of the Lord and your own reeking may reprove you. The face brings mercy; its rejection brings guilt’s own reward.
That is not all. This earth and this universe is a stage for actors, a giant laboratory, an amazing construction, constricted into stars and planets, amassed in atoms, with myriads of molecules, planted with spirits, filled with mankind and his ways. Filled ? yes and that near to surfeit; for amid mankind is a tyranny of mischiefs; for though he started as a triumph of majesty in creation, his fall is bondage, and often becomes bombast against the Lord. Yet the divine majesty continues, as of a Father; for man is yet invited to seek the Lord, if only in His mercy; for He still lives and loves, and appeals and offers and redeems and speaks peace and pardon where His redemption (Isaiah 52-55) is applied. He speaks thus for long; but not for ever to the recalcitrant.
What then happens to the stage, this earth, this tumbling, turmoiled world and its stars ? It is taken down, just as the Sunday School anniversary stages used to be, as Motor Racing Stages are in Adelaide, when international motor sports finish each year at the present time. WHY is it taken down ? Of course, as with the rest, when the ACTION is over, that is when.
To what extent is it the case of this universe which the Lord has made ?
To this extent:
"All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll."
That is not all. This earth and this universe is a stage, a giant laboratory, an amazing construction, constricted into stars and planets, amassed in atoms, with myriads of molecules, filled with mankind and his ways, yes and to surfeit, a tyranny of mischiefs which started as a triumph of majesty; and that majesty continues, for man is yet able to seek the Lord, if only in His mercy; yet He still lives and loves, and appeals and offers and redeems and speaks peace and pardon where His redemption (Isaiah 52-55) is applied. He speaks thus for long, but not for ever for the recalcitrant.
What then happens to the stage of action, the performance place ? It is taken down, just as the Sunday School anniversary stages used to be, as Motor Racing Stages are in Adelaide, when international motor sports finish each year at the present time. WHY is it taken down ? Of course, as with the rest, when the ACTION is over, that is when.
To what extent in the case of this universe which the Lord has made ?
To this extent:
the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll."
It will be like fruit falling from the tree (cf. II Peter 3, which not only tells the same account but notes that it will come at the end of the Age, in which many will seek to deny the last, vast devastation, the universal flood which struck the earth with such amazingly attested piles of many metres of internationally gathered rubbish, and look to a universe conveniently continuing for their pleasure, but this in vain!).
In Isaiah 34:5ff., we see that the Lord now applies to the Age of Isaiah, His intention regarding one nation. It is Edom, which may be regarded as an area between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqabah, reputedly about 100 miles long and 40 wide, which contained. Bozrah is to be desolate (and so it was), and Petra, capital of the land with the Edomites and the Nabataeans who utterly displaced them, likewise; and what a desolation it is, a tourist marvel.
THE PEOPLE OF THE LORD
WHY is this exemplary penalty given to Edom ?
"It is the day of the LORD's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion."
Obadiah spells out in more detail the offence of Edom, gloatingly attacking despoiled Jerusalem when it suffered! The same medicine was given Babylon for a similar reason! and with a similar, desolatory result! (Jeremiah 51:35ff.). Is the US to join in this macabre band ? May it not be! Yet here is the Obama administration telling Israel who may and who may not build in JERUSALEM! Jerusalem, retorted Israel's PM Netanyahu, is NOT a settlement! It is not a case of this or that new site in the West Bank: it is the capital of Israel.
So is the US being skewed as it moves into dangerous waters, as earlier, when one warned of the high risk situation of too much indifference, a month or so before the Twin Tower catastrophe (Lord of Life Ch. 3). It is because the Lord is wise and gracious that many imagine He does not really MEAN what He says; but when man absconds, his soul far from mercies, judgment supervenes at length. Edom and Babylon are desolate testimonies to that! Who would want more!
It must of course be made clear that the term ‘people of the Lord’, has two applications. First, it is Israel by original choice through Abraham with many unconditional promises given them, of blessing and cursing (Deuteronomy 28-32), of dispersion if they continued gambolling about without God, of restoration in any case, and of massive return to faith once back in the land finally (Zechariah 12-13:1, Romans 11), on the part of many, before Christ Himself returns to this world to rule it: that is one part of the matter.
SINCE they crucified Christ (with Rome's help), they have defiled their relationship with God, inherited the curse and while yet given the promises and so returned, they are not now the spiritual people given by God the place of children of His and friends; for these have the new name (Isaiah 62) of Christ's ones or Christians. That is the other use of the phrase: those at the present time in this blessed relationship as children of God, taken jointly as His people, those redeemed and trusting in Him through free grace and the gift of eternal life (Romans 3:23ff., Isaiah 55, Ephesians 2, 4)..
Many of Israel will soon join them on the same basis of the same Jesus Christ (Romans 11). To both promises apply; but to neither is there eternal life except by the crucified Messiah, for millenia foretold, and never to be retracted, nor will His path be retraced (Galatians 1:6-9). It is He who though killed in hate, rose in realisation of love and mercy, for those who receive Him from whatever race.
THE BOOK OF THE LORD
Isaiah 34:15-17 ends the solemn judgment. Just as every wild creature to inhabit the ruins of Edom will NOT LACK ITS MATE, SO if you seek out of the Book of the Lord, you will find that this is always so, all the words are fulfilled in this way, all the things described will be there as stated, and the words themselves which say so, these too will be kept, each with each concerning what is to be. NONE WILL FAIL! we read. WHY is this so ? The reason is near and clear:
"For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them."
Isaiah moves from word to Spirit, in the latter case making doubly sure there be no misunderstanding: GOD has SAID, and despite Satan's epochal trick in Eden, it WILL BE, and the Spirit of God Himself has assigned each of these words to its mate, the syntax, semantics, the message, the data, the detail on HIS name! You have just this emphasis from Christ in Matthew 5:17-20.
THE DAY OF THE LORD
Finally, we come to the day of the Lord. Introduced by Isaiah 34:17, flowers in the power of Christ in Isaiah 35, His miracles wrought as only He can there depicted, and continues into the day of His Church, with the highway of holiness available to one and to all, for in Him the Gentiles shall find resting place, and shall glory (Isaiah 11:10, 14ff., 49:6, 42:6, 44:3ff., Jeremiah 16:19ff.). After the ruin of confrontation, comes the rule of consummation, culminating in the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7), whose right it is (Ezekiel 21:27), without whom all is overthrown, as it flusters this way and that, till its emptiness echoes like an empty flask, and its wrongful spirits stumble like sots.
You see a pictorial depiction of this, before our current Chapter 34, in 33:17-24, one of the most beautiful not to say beatific passages in the Bible. The time is coming when Jerusalem will no longer be a place of appalling hypocrisy as then (Isaiah 1, 29), and failure (Jeremiah 5,9), but of peace so profound that terror is but a memory. Here is to be found an irremovable temple, even Jesus Christ (Isaiah 4:6 with 32:1-4, 53-55), with an immutable Gospel (as in Isaiah 55), freely available, focussing
"The LORD our Lawgiver" and "the LORD our King: He will save us."
Health will abound in peace, and pardon in faith's blessing. Here now the place of war becomes a site for peace, and the Majestic Lord will replace the striving terrors of enemy errors, be they in judgment or in wilful thrust. As to aggressors, viewed as ships, "they could not strength their masts", and "the lame take the prey" for at last the folly of Nietzsche, mocker of humility, meekness and grace, is excluded and Darwinian echoes of the same recipe for ruin, empty of truth, pregnant with abortive results, are finished. Man in meekness seeks the Lord, and in this the Gentiles will rejoice, one Lord and one King (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Deuteronomy 32:43, Romans 11). Jew and Gentile alike, now joined as one (Romans 11) in a profundity of unity in the Christ ready to save in any place and any heart, might to save (Isaiah 63), whose love is like a mighty river that brings life (Ezekiel 47) and who would have all to be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11). Israel in its remnant, so vastly swept in one glorious current (Zechariah 12:10-13:1 with Ezekiel 39:21-29) will when that day of the Gospel (Isaiah 52-55) is done, be ruled direct by the resident Lord on whose Return (Revelation 19-20), the millenium thrives (Psalm 72, Micah 4).
He who is mighty to save will have those who are His own when He pleases, these being foreknown. Then a final lust (Revelation 20) brings a final dismissal of evil, evil which remans its own inveterate self, whether well-nourished in peace as here (Isaiah 26:10) or in distress, and indeed a dispelling of the universe itself; for a new heavens and a new earth now replace the stresses of the testing pad, that old earth and world which passes into history.
Here past things no longer to weigh (Revelation 21:4), but in the past, weighty things were done, lessons shown to eternity from the world that was and now is past: knowledge ready for display forever (cf. Ephesians 3:8ff.). Not only has God authority, but truth; not only does He seek, but for what He seeks, it is found in truth; not only is His peace, but there is none other; and not only is there a preternatural joy in Him, but it is natural to man so to live (John 16:22, I Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4); and now His people are restored to the image of Him who first created man (Colossian 3:9).
It is ALL of the Lord:
the sending of the Word of God
the restoration of Israel in vast measure, both
to its land and to its Lord
oneness with Gentile Christians
peace in the place
of Christ's death and resurrection, Jerusalem as in the hearts that are His,
disenfranchisement of enemies in their
squalid hatred, and
a peace that passes all understanding,
before the universe
gone, this newness has its own new heavens and earth
With such a prospect, let those who are the Lord's say so, and let those who love Him act so, and let the universe and its unruly battalions, acknowledge it, for then they will have no further option. Praise the Lord.
Note re 'saints':
See Roman 1:7, I Corinthians 1:2, II Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1. The term is used interchangeably with true Christians, not hand-picked spiritual icons.
In Philippians, after the saints, Paul mentions the bishops and deacons, so making the complement of the Church to whom he speaks. People like Judas, though ostensibly at the first, sanctified in Christ, were not so (in fact Judas was known as a devil - John 6:70). Formalists in the first place, not the faithful, they did not end as what they never were, and so are not ones 'sanctified in Christ' (I Cor. 1:2).
The scriptural practice in addressing the churches is to exclude the unwarranted, the unworthy, the hypocrites from the whole, as one picks off specks from a bun that fell; not to elevate any to a special sanctity which is the place for all: though none is perfected here. All are similarly called in one body (I Corinthians 6:11, 12:13, Philippians 3:12). What manner of persons then ought we to be, as Peter exhorts us, "in holy conduct and godliness" (I Peter 1:14); for our God is a consuming fire, and though His mercy keeps His own to the end (I Peter 1:5-8, Ephesians 1:11), those who are His KNOW Him, and receive His effectual help and presence. In mercy indeed, the righteous, though he fall seven times, is yet upheld by the Lord (Proverbs 24:16). Those whom He justified (Romans 5:1, 3:23ff., Titus 3:3-7), these He also will glorify (Romans 8:17,29-30).
*2 For Obama's religious failure in the Cairo speech in particular, see
The Unsearchable Riches of Jesus Christ
and the Aggregating Debt of Dismissal ...
Chs. 3, 4 and
God's Gift of Grace in Christ Jesus ...Ch. 3.