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When as in Chapter 15, we move through many phases of the wonder of the Lord's dealings for man, it is good then to relax into one pivotal scripture, one visionary Chapter of Isaiah, pregnant with meaning, challenging to survey, rich in visionary language and practical application, as if focussing on one mountain, after broadly viewing a range; but what a mountain is this! Let us look at the foothill first.
It is clear from Isaiah 59 that any inherent glory in fallen Jerusalem is far from visible: indeed we are viewing what is almost a spiritual holocaust. The word is not used lightly. If there is height, it is absent, if there is depth, it seems insurgent, the altitude a symbol for the level of life. What unforgettable characterisations rush like hot lava from a volcano!
"The way of peace they have not known," reminds one of many ostensible churches today, suffering from the Petrine syndrome of II Peter 2:1ff., that of mischievous misteaching from apostate false leaders, as predicted and confirmed in I Timothy 4 and II Timothy 3-4, and Jude. "They have made themselves crooked paths," and "their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity," while their evil imaginations riot in unrealism, and delight in spiritual fraud (as earlier began, shown in II Corinthians 10-11). Indeed, what hope is there here, for "we looked for light, but there was darkness," and this is just an introduction in the painful survey of the situaiton found in Isaiah 59.
Indeed, the words "In transgressing and lyhing against the LORD, and departing from our God," comes altogether too close for comfort to the current anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-truth, culture as king RELIGION struggles to take over in the political mêlée, not without comedy, but fraught with beckoning tragedy, seeking to seduce once and for all, the current people of Australia. But what of this ?
"Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter," and
"he who departs from evil makes himself a prey!"
Yet the Lord comes to invest this sad stage of festering dynamics, as in Isaiah 59:16ff.. He "wondered that there was no intercessor," and "put on righteousness as a breastplate," He then "put on garments of vengeance for clothing," and impassioned, "was clad with zeal for a cloak." What is in mind for the adversaries of righteousness, is fury, and "recompense for His enemies," and "the coastlands He will fully repay," as internal corruption, and external assault maul His people. Such is the depiction of the events preceding the coming of the Messiah to rule (59:20).
The common illusion that through social mores and intrusive pretences taught to children and confirmed in universities, the sheer audacity of the plan will make God wilt, and His people spiritually seduced, mere pliable personalities, so that He may be manipulated and moulded, a social relic of a spent force religion, now meets fact, just as it has for so long in pseudo-science and sociological travesties, hidden from it.
Not for evil, but for remedy, just as Hitler launched suddenly his blitzkrieg, so the Lord Himself, maker of heaven and earth, will act. They will learn to fear the name of the Lord, and
"when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD
will lift up a standard against Him."
Indeed, the Lord as in Zechariah 14:5,
"the Redeemer will come to Zion
and to those who turn from transgression Jacob,"
the Lord declares. It will be precisely as in Isaiah 66:14ff., Deuteronomy 32:34-43, Micah 7:15, and parallel to Ezekiel 38-39. The Redeemer Himself comes to Zion, and thus begins what ends in the sublime depiction of Micah 4 and Isaiah 2, in Psalm 72 in its time.
But what then at this time, is the meaning as in Isaiah 60 which immediately follows this degraded pit of Isaiah 59:6ff.? Clearly there is a fallen aspect and an expectant one in some*A, and the Lord purges and prepares for glory, such as Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1 shows in the specific saving work of the Holy Spirit on the nation. Again, the sweeping aside of the physical enemies is closely concurrent.
Thus the Lord comes to invest Zion, to transform it and to overcome the dark forces that seek to envelop it (Isaiah 59:16-20). Internally, it comes in massive flow TO the Lord as to the land (60:8), while externally, it is delivered. Instead of being the site of a betrayed force, because of unbelief at its helm, it becomes a transcendentally expressive site, once scene of redemption, as a provision in the day on earth of the Prince as if a private in the form of man; but now we are finding its application! Thus when He comes as Redeemer, redemption is what is wrought as focussed in Zechariah 12 in the most patent and obstructively apparent, apodictic and unqualified manner. So are the physical results of the divine wrath and invasive force, His coming as Redeemer in the midst of the harrying foes and desolatory dynamics gripping as if their right were to destroy from within, or invade from without, whatever physical testimony remains of Israel, of what it (rightly) stands for, while drifting further and further away.
But the Lord does not drift, but in dynamic action, effects transformative change (60:12). Such is this genre of exposure of coming history.
Riddled with reality, fervent in evangelisation, its very walls salvation (60:18), for that is the name to be given them, the city's very gates will be called praise! Helpful forces will pour in and the impact of the Lord will be irreversible, bringing to full Christian height, the preceding depths (60:14-15).
Restored in spirit, the city now becomes residence for the Lord, its pregnant meaning no more to be lost (60:14), the Lord becoming the millenial ruler; and it will stand, the unique site of Christ's saving work, now the central commissioned testimonial city, display unit. Now the case is that Christ has invested it, the vindication of the singularity of His work in the singularity of its historical attestation; for HERE was He slain in human form, HERE what was buried arose, and HERE remains the testimony of the only way to God, amidst the poetry, philosophy, theosophy and futile romancings of those who inspect the text only to transmute it, on the one hand, with their alien ideas, and mute it on the other, with their suppressive tactics.
Seeming to teach what in fact they impeach (as in II Peter 2 and Timothy), they have betrayed the people. Now Christ's fury (the wrath of the Lamb is due where His salvation being ignored wilfully, the results of sin are exposed forever; for the militancy of His deadly invasion, with trepidation the lot of the most intrepid (Micah 7, Isaiah 66), will no more be confused with the solicitous tenderness of salvation, that abuse of words for which many are culpable.
This turning of the site of burial and resurrection amidst foes into a central display unit, however, in the direct presence of the Lord, in no way limits His universal rule, but rather shows its singular source, and unchanging perspective (cf. Ezekiel 39:23,28). He covers all, but from one source which the city symbolises, but history there was as literal as blood, as actual as agony and as effectual in outcome as creation itself! This is salvation, and that it where it occurred. It was not a metaphyical postulate; it was an historical occurrence. Deep were the depths of the Lord's musings; but plain to sight were their results (John 3:15-19).
Zion will rather indicate that poetry and principle are preludes to actuality and rule, not substitutes, as His shepherding proceeds for ALL His people worldwide (Psalm 72, 98, 67, Isaiah 2, 24, MIcah 5,7) so that not only now is ALL Israel saved (as in Romans 11:25ff.), but with both the first apostolic Church and now the nationally restored Jewish body revived with masses converted to Christ with mourning repentance as in Zechariah 12, there is that felicitous totality of which Paul speaks in the closing verses of Romans 11. The long awaited national scope conversion will now add a second channel to that of those who seeing the folly of the authorities of Zion, had fled for refuge in Christ, already, starting with the apostles, coming as disciples! It is now ALL done, both configurations, as reflected in Revelation 7.
Here in Isaiah 60 we find both a unique and singular site to signify that the Lord is the God who keeps His word from first to last, and that His presence on earth in vindication of truth, so far from being peripheral, is central to His zeal. Displacing all theological romancing, He appears glorified, the word conceiving and displaying Him
1) as Savour
2) as specified jointly as characterised Lord,
3) as incarnate Saviour with singular compassion and power,
4) as closely designated Saviour, with
fidelity to the predictive words
5) as Saviour by a singular work, wrought
in a singular place,
Of this result, in various functions and features, we read in Psalm 2, 72, 69:35-36, 98. Indeed in Psalm 98, we find that the Lord has gained the victory and "made known His salvation" and that "His righteousness" - equals faithfulness, reliability, uprightness, purity of being and exhibition of this in all its applications - "is revealed in the sight of all nations."
Indeed, so far from forgetting the small beginnings of this worldwide testimony, now at last it is found issuing in worldwide rule (Psalm 22 followed by Psalm 72, with Psalm 2 on the way), fraught with testimony ignoring neither the little things or the great, the methods of the meanings, the forecasts or the fact. God IS righteous. He does NOT dupe, deceive or dabble; and His Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16).
No fountain of poetic fraud and deceitful parody, nor any such source; for on the contrary, what He would have performed, He performs, and on the way exhibits such a heart that gives base and basis alike for the most passionate desires for goodness and righteousness on the part of man. Neither does not Lord ignore the state of the heart of unsaved man, which tends to warp all wisdom until the soul is pardoned in the peace of the singular salvation of the Saviour, nor does He bypass the necessity of completing what He has begun, at every level of application.
Concerning Israel in particular, fraudulent interpretations of a devious mind are replaced by what His word actually teaches, faithfulness and reliability: not subsuming agreements into a blather of words, but carrying them out in the integrity with which they were forged.
Now as always, the testimony of truth, using whatever imagery amid its direct statements, smashes forever all concepts of relative 'truth', popular with those adrift, with neither sextant nor compass, as likewise, all ideas of multiple religions: not at all does the Lord diminish particularity but rather focusses it all the more sharply. Thus as in Micah 7:20, "He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness" to the house of Israel. This is now shown without screen in its very basis in His mercy as in His love of showing it (Micah 7:19), even that which took practical form and format in the eternal Lord coming as a babe in Bethlehem (no poetry in such features of Micah 5.
And this, He did it in order to be smitten on the cheek by His subjects - nothing figurative in that cheek or that smiting - so that at last, all liberties fulfilled, there should be that overwhelming conclusion to the millenia of amazing liberty for man; for love does not force, but justice does at last meet its subjects, where mercy is disdained. There and not in a cloud, there, and not in imagination, there He bore, and there He broke the power of sin and the resultant death as inevitable consequence, taking it for all who received Him as His own, before tossing it off as a snake its old skin. He did not imagine it; He did it; and now it is done.
As to Israel, it was promised two great things, and it will GET them (Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22), albeit the blessing to all nations took its time to reach Israel itself, in view of its regicide, and its land was for so long vacated as forecast in Deuteronomy 30-32, Leviticus 26), because of that same decisive declivity (this result, as shown directly in Micah 5:1-3). But (Isaiah 19), it is not to a pre-eminence per se to which a redeemed Israel comes, though the glory of the Lord will shine over all His people, but an eminence because of the pre-eminence of the Saviour of one as of all, who there takes His place in testimony eternal of the works wrought in time. His is shown the tenderness with which so many are at last not only en bloc in outward appearance, but intimately in actuality, come home. It is precisely in Zechariah 12, as the time for the return of the Saviour as in Zechariah 14 approaches. That latent mercy, now patent, was most beautifully expressed in Jeremiah 30:18-20, while its zest appears in Deuteronomy 32:36ff..
Those who had been making of Israel a stepping stone, or even a fleshy pad on which their feet could walk, will find that abusing what God disciplined has its own cost (Isaiah 51:21-23). It is seamy, superficial, low and opportunistic, as well as bordering on the heartless in type, let alone in the manner of it, of which the holocaust was merely the greatest example! That was one of the hallmarks of horror of mankind; but it is far from being the only one. This was directed against the grace of God in Person, and so an unqualified disaster; but many have shown the same spirit, nationally, internationally, in present time and past do they now show it; and their disgrace if they do not repent, has that of Israel for two millenia, as a type to ponder!
What had become, because of liberty granted to man - in which love could flourish, rather than rule in which rigour replaces it - almost an embarrassment in Israel's long sojourn as a nation, in what is unspiritual where reality counts all, in what was divorced from their own deity, for what had been so roundly rebuked as in Jeremiah 7:8-14, cited by Christ in Matthew 21:13, now reaches its outcomes. Now the preludes are made obtrusively obvious in the tenacity of their exhibition, of discipline first, and then of restoration in Christ, that same Jesus Christ, so that earthly temple displaced, the temple of the Lord appears manifest in His own presence direct.
In no vague or tepid form, does His grace and majesty come, now spread over the whole earth in impact and celestial presence. Rather it is just that singular, testimonial, simply plain reality of one God, one Christ, one salvation, one Creator, one remedy, one redemption, one conclusion, the first as the last in love and challenge, the last lasting in the mercies of the God whose love is outgoing and whose people are incoming. It is so, whether in the grand exhibition made of a testimony of outstanding faithfulness to Israel (Romans 11) or in the extravagant grace (cf. Isaiah 65:1ff.) showered on the Gentiles. Grace abounds, though sin abounded; and grace abounded the more (Romans 5:20).
Isaiah 60:17-22, now in this way, now in that, with the splendid wonder of munificence, shows the glory of that time. Isaiah 60:15 shows the special feature (one of many) of Israel re-instated because CHRIST has by then been re-instated in its midst; and no longer is it an orphan for the dregs to deride, and the dogs to lick, appreciating the blood! Now spiritually it is part of the Christian Church, belonging directly to Christ; and its place as singular has its input and impact.
No more is there inhibition to the restoration of this people, and no more is shame allied to effort. Indeed (60:8), many over the restorative period which has long been preparing, will flock back to their land, the dimensions of which are too small (cf. Isaiah 49:20-21), though there is always room in the domiciles of grace! But this is Jerusalem, a confined, defined city, with unique history, and sins all its own! Yet, where there was regicide, now there is rejoicing; and where shame was the cover of dark cloud, now joy is the testimony of a truth not only received, but coming to reside, till the form of time in view is past, and the intent of the arithmetic in the millenium is met.
It had to be instituted spiritually and nationally, indeed for the whole world there was the long and often predicted movement to judgment. Moving through triumphant testimony in the word, as in Revelation 19, the Lord brings the furore of revolt to rest in the wonder of the vindicating and verifying millenium (Revelation 20:4-6*1) and the final crushing of an inveterate and vehement Satan, till a new heaven and earth replace the fast vacated old one (Revelation 20:11 to 21:1). So far from the millenium being a rather strange seeming irenic prelude to the ultimate rebellion of a released Satan (Revelation 20:11ff.), it appears as in Isaiah 60 and 66, a site for the outreach to any remaining fields, including newly born persons, so that the last escapade of Satan becomes a last stand of the renegade rump, risking all but gaining nothing but incredibly horrific deserts. If to change the pronunciation, you insist on deserts there is no place for complaining that there is no rain! no refreshing, no blessing.
So the new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells, these are created. But what ? you buy a new car for $40,000 and an orphan wonders how it is even POSSIBLE. God makes a universe, and fallen man wonders how it is even POSSIBLE. But with God, there is a depth, height, power and dimension: that is His domain, where man stumbles, bumbles or even at times humbles himself. It is the reality. He deals at that level because He is God, and the sooner He is realised without qualifications from unbelief, in any heart, the greater the peace for that heart.
In Isaiah 61, to follow the sequence, we see that glorious, that singular, that practically based, locationally precisely set, Gospel showing the glory of God in His intensive sympathies, basic to all. It comes racing into view as the restoration exemplified in Israel, moves to all who love the Lord and have found in His singular salvation the sufficiency of grace! "So the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations," Isaiah 61:11.
There is in Isaiah 60, a special form of illumination, a visionary splendour, a light that shines over history rather as a torch might in the dark, over a row of exhibits, giving a unity as the assemblage is found out in its alignments. Thus the theme finds many applications, lustres, which are suddenly brought back to the straight line actions of the Messiah in Isaiah 61:1ff.. By no means is this to say that it is unclear; but rather that its clarity moves like the eye over this and that ocean, from the splendour of a high deck on a liner, all linear, but the survey somewhat comprehensive of the oceanic sights.
See for example the following.
Sparkling Life ... Ch. 10,
News, Facts and Forecasts 16 (overview of relevant -isms);
Why Not Believe in the Lord's Christ, Ch. 5,
The Vitality, The Perspicuity ... Ch. 5,
Little Things Chs. 9, 10, and 1,
Outrageous Outages, Awesome Inputs and the Courage of Christ Ch. 11 (preliminary),
The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, p. 20 (moderation has many marvels),
SMR Appendix A, pp. 502ff., 750Bff., 727ff., 732Bff.,
LIGHT of Dawn Ch. 6 (at Problems of Changing),
News 45, Part 2 (limits of fidelity on licence to change);
A Spiritual Potpourri, Chs. 17, 18 (disentangling furs),
SMR Chs. 8- 9 (expository reference, );
Galloping Events Ch. 8 esp. *1.