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THE COHESION, COHERENCE AND COMPREHENSION OF ASPECTS OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH
In Three Parts with Fourth Overview
FROM Answers to Questions Ch. 9
with reference to Isaiah 4, 32, 49, 52-55, 60-61, 66
SOME LITTLE LIGHTS THAT SHOWER WITH DILIGENCE BUT GLEAM WITH MODESTY
Some of the refulgences in the crystal of truth, are met in strange places. Thus in John 7:37, we see that Christ is the one who gives water which will well up and spring out from one, meaning the Spirit. In Isaiah 44, we see at the threshold, the combination of water poured out UPON the people who believe, who are seen in the light of the surroundings plenitude of water, like reeds, whose thirst is quenched, whose action springs up, like happily moist plants near the watercourses. They have exuberance of devotional life, we there read, one calling himself by the name of Jacob, but others more direct - and perhaps Gentiles are here meant - may write THE LORD'S upon the hand. Moreover it is personal and individual, for ONE shall write upon his hand...
Again, in Joel 2, we find the reference cited by Peter at Pentecost, where the Spirit will be poured out on many, who will respond, and out from them in turn goes the prophecy, like waters from the water, metaphorically, power from the power, in energic sympathy and symphony, good tidings from their purveyor as the Spirit of God - sent by the Son from the Father - appoints, anoints; and in such ways the refreshing realities of Christ, the fragrance of His Person, the facts of His Gospel and the fervour of His love proceed.
Further, this BASIS of the wonder is shown clearly in Ezekiel 47, where this extended allegory puts the water coming from the altar, hence from the sacrificial centre, so that the whole of Hebrews 8-10, and indeed 1-2, is brought in, the Christ from God, taking post as man, to do as God in manhood, what man needed, dying for sin, and rising in rejoicing over death, to appoint life everlasting not to some aristocracy, but to those who receive Him for who He is, in terms of what He has done (Ephesians 2:1-10). Here, in the allegory in Ezekiel, the rivers flow on from the altar to the banks where fishermen fish for fish ("I will make you fishers of men!" said Christ to His disciples), where refreshing life comes to the areas swept through with this surge of life, while some marshes remain, where the life was not desired, they being too wet with their own dampness to need any refreshing, and hence like the self-righteous, left alone to their inadequacies, never to be redeemed. As Christ said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew -13).
So do these reserves and reinforcements of glory adduce themselves, the one to the other, and resound with rejoicing. It reminds one of wisdom rejoicing daily before the Father as One brought up before Him (Proverbs 8) in the foundations of the earth (for which see Barbs, Arrows and Balms 27).
Again, in another genre, this time not verbal but conceptual, we see Daniel in Ch. 6 in something rather more detailed than a type of Christ. It is almost a stage presentation of it. Thus he is to be betrayed ONLY by the envious opposition camp finding some way in which the State or established authority (with its religious aspect prominent, if not dominant) will turn to crush him, so that those in other places of power can perpetuate their profiles on earth, or what they like to do with them. So with Christ and the out of hand religious structure of superb insolence against the Almighty, but in fact shameless and shabby, envious and willing ... to murder judicially, like those with Daniel, to gain their form of prestige, influence, perspective, power or whatever item or combination variously appealed.
Again, the King made a law which could not be changed, in this episode of Daniel. So with Christ, the law of God could not be changed which brought sentence on false prophets. In fact, Christ was true, His judges false, but the law was applied by the false; just as false hearts USED the law of the king against Daniel. Further, the King was upset and troubled all night, like the disciples when Christ was arraigned and set for death, and the authorities swirled about in their monstrous pontifications and uncomely personas of unrelished religion. Again, it was EARLY in the morning the King came, just as did the women to the tomb. It was to enquire, IS your God whom you serve continually able to deliver you ? So the disciples RAN to see if it were indeed true that the body was gone, the Saviour risen! The lion's den was even SEALED to see that the King's command was carried out; just as - and indeed for the same purpose, but for King read governor - was Christ's tomb uselessly but in hope, sealed. It needs to be realised that the King relished Daniel, but had been snared by trickery in his courtiers, to make a law which forbad prayer to any but to the king, a touchingly close prelude to what is to come soon now, when the powers that be will once again REQUIRE worship of the beast (Revelation 13), that simple symbol for worldly power with political and forceful clout, and religious inhibitions and prohibitions which require people to default whenever the glory of the flesh should think fit.
Death was overcome with Christ; the lions did not overcome with the teeth of death, with Daniel. And so it goes on and on.
Again in the case of David
and his rebellious son, Absolam (II Samuel 14 and on). The son is UNGRATEFUL
for the grace of his father, as the devil is for his being created originally
so fine. The son USES his privileges to seduce many to attack the father
(David). The father allows himself to be removed from
The father leaves and is
hidden away, moving in the woods and to another place. There is a lull, as the
son, Absolam is seduced into waiting, by a strategy of the defence of the king.
Then battle. It may be it lasted for two days, for the events seem widespread.
David is then found sitting in the gathering of the people in the distant town,
and then returns to
Moreover, David went on the
way OUT of
We could speak of Joshua a type of Christ, in Zechariah 6, but not before he has earlier been portrayed in the garments of sin, and these removed in the pantomime of exegesis; the olive trees in Zechariah and the witnesses in Revelation 11, subtly for those who love the word, and discreetly shown in their correlation (we must SEEK OUT sometimes, just as a good teacher ensures that his students must press to find, at times cf. Proverbs 25:2, 2:3-5,10 ). This is treated in Ch. 5 of Acme: Alpha and Omega.
Again, in Isaiah 4:6 we are provoked in imagination; in 32:1-3, satisfied concerning the puzzle, but at the same time briskly arrested and accosted: the TABERNACLE is to be a) a man b) a king and c) its refuge from the anger of God, and comfort for the believer, is to become the precise property in function, of ... a MAN. in 41-42, in the movement between chapters, we find the uselessness and futility of man for his own salvation (as in Psalm 49:7,15), but by utter contrast, one who is NEVERTHELESS a man in format, who is entirely useful, utterly efficacious and constitutes the very speech of God in His life! given as a covenant in Himself. In 49:6 we find the same meet for the Gentiles as well, the light of life for man; in 50, we find Him scarified, in 52-53 sacrificed, in 49:7 rejected, in 53, despised and reputed as a victim of divine wrath, not the Saviour from it; in 54 He assumes command, as in 11 He is illustrious in greatness with no stay or limit, His word effective without restraint; in 55 the freedom of His grace and the folly of trusting in one's own righteousness instead of in His (as in Ezekiel 33:13 - a fatal error always, for it is never good enough to populate heaven, and leave it heavenly), the rebuke to littleness and the entreaty to partake of a gracious grandeur.
Meanwhile, 60 turns the gory to glory, 61 indicating practical passion for deliverance of His people, while 65 shuns formalistic ceremonialism and is caustic to this byway, and those who follow it, surveying new scenes of a new people for a new covenant, broaches the unspeakable and says it, stuns the mind, brings heavenly dimension to allegorical vision on earth.
It is, however, always in HIM, by HIS WORK, His PERSONAL work, His SACRIFICIAL WORK, and in 66:1-3 we see the whole animal conundrum of picture-type sacrifices as a pageant to prepare for the efficacious work of Christ, removed. In the end, hell is touching the perimeters, a gross outlet for disbelieve in the spiritual necessities. So touch and light, blend and breeze, confluence and ricochet, resonance and overtone, they all accrue through many writers, from one Author, whose word programs like a play written first, and played to the end.
All of this is not merely without effort, pedantic processive grappling and sweaty literary toil, without panting for glimmers, as with the scholars, but sails like a schooner before impelling winds (Cf. II peer 1), hopeful, unvanquished, serene even in violent waters, majestic in pitch, lofty in sail, the flag of truth flying. Not as the scribes and Pharisees does the word of God speak (cf. John -47). Incarnate, this is the way of Jesus Christ, who commands just such a regard, and stirred it even from those who sought to arrest Him, in the course of their duties. He arrests those who would arrest; He liberates the possessive.
Nothing can arrest the word of God and succeed. Kill it, it arises. Murder the incarnate, He breaks death and presents eternal life as a gift. These things, in the written word, which is His, they illustrate; in the incarnate word, they are definitive of the ways of the Lord. Blessed are those who know Him, and rely on Him, in whom His grace lives, His beauty is found and His energy and freedom live, who take His paths and follow Him.
Whether verbally or
conceptually, in pantomime or parable, there is such an integral alignment, and
its depth does not spare or stay; there is a deft differentiation of
differences as in the case of Joshua as a type of Christ (Ch. 6, that is the
priest, Joshua in the restoration to Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C.), but
only in purged parable, in refined symbolism, duly installed with care, in Ch.
3! There is a constant thrust and parry of example in communality on the one
hand, and distinction from the ONLY ONE whose the right is, and to whom the
glory is due, so that even the dull might be delighted, and none dazzled. Yet
it is not pearls before swine, for their snouts are in other troughs.
The depths of humility of
God in His excursion for salvation are thus shown in their unique splendour as
well as the heights of glory which nevertheless have so come! It is never
heavy-handed, always appealing, even in rebuke, the passion of tenderness, the
glory of kindness and the sweetness of love appear; and if judgment sets in,
then like those who insist on staying in Rhodesia when the government has lost
its bearings of humanity, so be it. There is a time to warn, and a time for
scorn; but in the end, what will scorn despite those who warn, finds that the
warning is not for scorning, but for deliverance... and there is no other.
concerning Isaiah 60, with reference also to
EXCURSION INTO THE INTERSTICES OF THE END -
JEW AND GENTILE
(cf. Ch.3, and Appendix on Faith pp. 164ff. below)
(The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Ch.9 - SMR), but so too is the predicted Messianic unity remorselessly and gloriously to be performed (Is. 65:13-16; 66 - pp. 136ff. infra; 53; 2:17; 49:6; 62:2; Jeremiah 3:16; 31:31ff.). Sooner no universe than that New Covenant fail (Jer. 31:31-37).
Moreover, the details of the restoration situation, for Israel, for what could be called the Stage 2 restoration: converted Israel (that is the spiritually restored remnant as in Zechariah 12:10ff., an event precisely predicted to occur following their physical return, cf. Ch. 3, esp. pp. 41-42 infra) are often dwelt on by the prophets, in the context of the
(For example, see Zephaniah 3:1-4,13-19, where the judgments are on that which ALREADY IS ZION, fallen, to be restored in such a completeness as to show that it is a spiritual body, for all its particularity; and compare Ezekiel 36:24-26 with Isaiah 42:14-19, where it is a "blind" servant and messenger who is restored through the Messiah - 41:28-42:3, 53:1.)
Yet there is even more unity with the Christian Church to be demonstrated. We do not "rightly divide" the word of God by omitting what we reject, but by placing each portion where it is contextually fitting (cf. SMR Appendix A).
Thus the Lord, in Isaiah 60 we read, is going to "glorify the house of My glory" (Isaiah 60:7). A millenial wonder begins to appear (60:12) which is not outwardly applicable as yet (cf. 60:18, 65:22-23); and indeed, so pure and perfected is the wonder, as in Zephaniah 3, that we see that from a spiritual body, equipped with false prophets and in rebellion (3:1-4), we progress further, to those freed from sin (Zephaniah 3:13), who "shall see disaster no more". While it is undoubtedly based in Israel as a topic (Isaiah 60:10,15), for the differential from other peoples is shown, for them as a fallen, disciplined CITY, with a notable name as the Lord's (cf. Isaiah 42:6-7, 18-19, SMR Ch.9): yet the subsequent merging into glory is patent, a glory which in Isaiah 61:1-3 is shown to be based on, and procured by the Messiah (cf. Faith Appendix, pp. 164 infra; and see on Isaiah 60, Department of Bible, Vol. 6, Ch. 16).
As the light grows on the scene, the very walls of the city become Salvation (Isaiah 60:18, cf. 60:19), that is their name, and the gates Praise. It is glowing with a glory which permits no more separation, and in which, as in Isaiah 66, Gentiles play an equal role, at the most sensitive levels. (See Isaiah 66:18-21, and cf. the case of Amos 9 - SMR pp. 1108ff., where the base in Christ is first shown - Amos 9:11-12, then, in 13-15, the re-grafted Jews as a milling people - see pp. 47ff. below).
Since the servants of the
Lord at this peak time are called by "another name" (65:13-15), we realise, that just as
Isaiah 66 shows hell in a geographical setting, so here the select vales of
heavenly wonder are in view, glinting with glory. It is not, to be sure (Isaiah
65:20), yet in the absolute end when, as planned, "the former things
shall not ... come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17), but yet it appears in crystal
purity. Here there is a merging from the delight of the transforming
repentance of much of
THE ASSAULT ON
The assault on Israel could not, incidentally, come DURING the millenium, for this ferociously provocative wallowing in the power of the flesh against the Lord and His promises, is precisely contrary to millenium depiction, uniformly in the Bible (cf. Isaiah 65:25). Nor could it, for that matter, come at the end of it, for then there is no time left on earth for the protracted peace in the fulness of blessing as the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. It must therefore necessarily precede the millenium, and thus, in the uninterrupted fabric of history as repeatedly presented in the prophets. Nor can it occur in the midst of horrific hatred of Christ, entrenched in the antichrist and his hour of (comparative but cruel) power, just prior to the return in power and victory, of Jesus Christ who with His saints "shall reign upon the earth" (Revelation 2:26-27, 19:7,14, Ephesians 5:28-33, John 3:29, Matthew 9:13, 25:6ff., Zechariah 14:5-9, cf. Revelation 5:10, 20:4-6; cf. Revelation 20:6 with II Thessalonians 2:8-12).
In other words, this grand
awakening in Israel, it appears before the bride, the whole beloved
corpus of the people of God, not cut up into parts, but one, is taken to the
marriage feast of the lamb (Revelation 19:7-8), so that "death is
swallowed up in victory" (Isaiah 25:8) in every sense. This is the time of His recovery of that
great segment of
As to "the mark of the beast", the thralldom of Babylon, yes "mystery Babylon" (Revelation 17:5,20:4 and see The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 9, pp. 183ff., Biblical Blessings, Ch.2, pp. 19-26 and Barbs, Arrows and Balms 20. pp. 150-152): that great deception throughout the ages, brought to its pustular head in the great tribulation, has ever been rejected by His own, and in her is found "the blood of prophets and saints" (Revelation 19:24). Many are those who have rejected his mark, in many climes and times. Sore is the test at the end, but it is not different in kind, spiritually, from the challenges which went before. The crescendo nevertheless is reached.
War erupts (Zechariah 12,
Then will all the preliminaries have yielded to the ultimates. The set time comes. The elect are removed (I Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24:29-31). The war against God becomes highly express and explicit. Subtlety is past (Revelation , cf. -16).
At that time, therefore, in this great awakening comes the cue for the trumpet call attesting the arrival of the Messiah, now drawing ever closer, the ground better and better prepared in all plan and detail. Soon the trumpet shall sound and the dead be raised incorruptible (I Cor. 15:50ff.).
What CAN be shaken, now WILL be! (Hebrews 12:25-28).
We have dealt above with
the "bride of Christ". Now, to change the figure to another Biblical
analogy (Romans 11 - see Ch. 3
below), let us become botanical. Thus now, Christian Jew and Christian Gentile
in that wisely crafted, multiply grafted single "tree", are brought
together with this specifically declared, new and sudden divine access to many
in Israel (cf. Zechariah 12:10ff.): gloriously unified, as the apostle
exclaims in that chapter, marvelling in the wise combinations and the
complexities which yield such unity (Romans 11:33ff.). The divisions of the
ages have now in substantial measure been overcome: Gentiles not chosen to be
the special people, while the Jews proclaimed the testimony, at first; Jews
rejected, as many as rejected Christ, until they should be brought back
a) to their land and
b) to their Lord, while many Gentiles come to the Lord, with now
c) a large body of Jews in ISRAEL redeemed from their error,
joined by fellow Christians with rejoicing,
their eyes now opened from what Paul calls their 'blindness for a season":
there. The FAMILY is gathered. The HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH is complete.
It is this which is depicted in the prophetic scriptures, from some two and a half millenia back. God did not tarry in telling; but man has tarried in hearing.
THE UNITY IN TRUTH, THE TRUTH IN UNITY
In that great time, the features intrigue.
The "fulness of the
Gentiles", the world of other nations, the period of its hegemony, its
headship in Christ, its leadership during the partial blindness of
"For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead!" (Romans 11:15).
One does not therefore exaggerate in regaling the expectant eyes with such a sight as this, at which the apostle exults -
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways
past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).
The interactive relationship first brings mercy to the Gentiles, scope for reconciliation, then superabundant joy as they return. "Out of Zion" is their Redeemer (Romans 11:26) who now saves them (exactly as in Zechariah 12:10) through the opening of their hearts by the Holy Spirit, as there attested in their epochal return to the Lord, leading to the opening of a "fountain ... for sin and for uncleanness" in Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:1), "in that day".
It is not gore from war, but rather the blood for washing (cf. Revelation 1:5), even that of Him who "washed us from our sins in His own blood"; for only later does the Christ, the Messiah come "with all the saints" (Zechariah 14:5) TO Zion, in a WHOLLY different environment of terms, deeds and impact!
There, in that final Armageddon, war
seethes to an utter outcome amidst the peoples who are not collected by the
Lord (I Thess.4); here, in the awakening of
We were noting, then, that Christ comes with "ALL THE SAINTS", from the marriage feast, and then comes to
But HOW do all the saints
relate to Him at His coming ? Like this, in the word of God: by being with Him.
In what way, then, with Him ? by His coming, all the saints with Him, who had
indeed as the bride of Christ just been congregated in heaven (Revelation 19).
IMMUTABLE, INTRACTABLE AND GLORIOUS GOSPEL
(cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms Item 17, The Everlasting Gospel)
So Paul rejoices in the unitary comprehensiveness of the divine action (Romans ,24,31-33). It is not long division but addition; not severance but success; not strange new ways, but the one way of the Gospel, the ineluctable, unimpairable, indivisible, unimprovable, immovable, final and consummate Gospel which rules with one Lord, one faith, one sacrifice, one God and Father of all, over all in Christ (Ephesians 4:4, 3:9-10, Galatians 1:6-9, Colossians 1:19-23). That is the way it is; that is the way it is going to be; and neither hell, nor devil, nor power nor force, nor plan, nor presumption, nor New Age nor Old Age will be able to do anything, anything at all about it.
God is very deep; and His depths cannot be fathomed; but what He says, He does. That is one of the things which is MOST delightful about Him. He deals straight; He acts wisely and profoundly, and does what He says (Matthew 4:4, Isaiah 55:10-11, 42:11, 44:25-26, 45:23, 60:22, Jeremiah 1:12, II Chronicles 6:10, I Kings 8:56, Joel 2:23). The very root of the Hebrew word for truth indicates faithfulness, reliability, stability, soundness, and faithful is His name. He who sat, the Word of God incarnate in Revelation, ready to act in judgment. He has a name: "Faithful and True": - THAT is HIS name! So does this magnificent quality apply in His grace to the saints also (I Thessalonians , II Thess. 3:3).
THIS God, the ONLY true God, HE has said, in Romans 11, He has specified unity and a comprehensive assemblage in the faith, through the faith, with the faith, Jew and Gentile, delivered by One, re-united in One, offspring spiritually of One, starting from One, ending with One, in One gospel and in One grace. Many are left out of both Jew and Gentile; but those who are in, this is the interior into which they come.
Accordingly, to use this supreme integrative force of Romans 11:14ff, climaxing as the chapter ends, to separate what is statedly ONE olive tree, its parts constantly interactive, is like characterising 2+2=4 as a subtraction sum!
But HOW do all the saints relate to Him at His coming ? Like this, in the word of God: by being with Him. In what way, then, with Him ? by His coming, all the saints with Him (Zechariah 14:5, cf. Rev. 19:14, II Thessalonians ), who had indeed as the bride of Christ just been congregated in heaven (Revelation 19). Maybe there will be more than those who had just been the bride of the Lamb, and "the armies which are in heaven" who accompany Him on His return in power to earth, certainly allows for that (Revelation 14).
Nevertheless, for a work of symbolism, the thought that the fine linen which had just been the distinguishing and distinctive dress of the BRIDE (19:8), should not relate to the garb of the "armies of heaven" (cf. Colossians ) would seem so remote as almost to be inconceivable. It is after all linked in Revelation 7:14. In other words, the linkage of marriage feast of the Lamb, to linen of the bride, to washing their clothes in the blood of the Lamb and making them white (Rev. 7); and the immediate sequence from marriage feast with garb of fine linen so fitting for the saints from former explanation in Rev. 7, to the return of Christ with all His saints (as in Zechariah), with the armies of heaven (as in Revelation) seems to exclude all thought of divorce of what God has put so intimately and closely together. The saints then, freshly equipped from their glorious homecoming when called, the dead in Christ arising first as in I Thessalonians 4, come with Christ.
As the twelve thrones for judging Israel for the apostles would seem no less to indicate, they will share with His rule (Matthew 19:28). Assuredly the form of this earth will pass away (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:6), but the new heavens and new earth, the New Jerusalem, these things are all like everything else in the plan and will of God, in their place. Eternity swallows up time as victory swallows up death (Isaiah 25:8). Whatever the brilliance of the millenial vindication of Christ (cf. SMR pp. 504-515), the eternity of glory will surpass it, wherein those tents eternal in the heavens, prepared for those things as this current remarkable 'clothing' of flesh, has been created for these times, these will be the garb of glory. (II Cor. 5:1ff.).
But let us return to the restoration of the king, to the Return of the Lord, and "all the saints with Thee" (Zech. 14:5)
As to His people they follow Him wherever He goes! (cf. I Thessalonians 4:13,17 which also asserts the same in the context of His coming for His own, and their being with Him).
Who are these all, then ? Why not less than Jew and Gentile, for all are one in Christ Jesus.
So Paul rejoices in the unitary comprehensiveness of the divine action (Romans ,24,-33).
It is in that way then, its beauty and unity glorious in the wisdom of Him whose ways are 'past finding out' in their depth and wonder, but freely declared at His will, that the Gentiles can rejoice "WITH His people" (Deuteronomy 32:43). This, let us emphasise, they would be far from doing if His church, that which restrains through His resident and present power (II Thessalonians 2) in a hostile world alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18-19), were gone. This Jewish awakening is statedly a spiritual event; His return statedly martial.
The new faith (Ezekiel 37, as it is for the Jews concerned, released and now realised in the New Covenant - Ezekiel 11, Jeremiah 31:31) of so many in Israel (Romans 11:23), what of it ? It would rather to the uttermost be oppressed in any antichrist period, if that were in operation at the time, following the removal of the church's restraint, the Lord being with it! Yet this is not so. No and indeed, it was to apostles in the Church setting (Matthew -19) where the apostles are to operate, that Christ spoke (Matthew 24:1-3), in designating the manner and movements to "the end" in answer to this, their question. These who had given up all and followed Him, the Christians, those who asked Him the question: they were told what was to be, and the pronoun "you" indicates clearly those to whom the Lord is referring as He develops the climax in His account of the end, leading to His own return in glory.
Concerning the church (Matthew 18:17), He gives current command for His will with His own; and concerning His people, He gives repeatedly, a coverage of what is to be (as in John 15:18-20, Matthew 24:23), right into the teeth of the rambunctious gale to blow in the tribulation.
In the Church, there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:26-29), and it is to His Christian representatives, that He spoke in answer to their question concerning the last times of the church, on earth, that for which formulation and command was already given (Matthew 24:1-2). Thus His words use to them, the significant pronoun "your" , right up to verse 20. HE is telling HIS people with HIS chosen representatives for this HIS Church, HIS body (He is not equipped with two, for that would not be an incarnation but a multiplication, and He was made "like His brethren" in format - Hebrews 2:9-14). It was "fitting", says the word of God.
Indeed, in verse 22, it is "the elect", not some of them, that category accordingly which is in view for whose sake the days of the great tribulation are to be shortened, but not annulled (Matthew 24:22) - that great tribulation JUST ANNOUNCED in verse 21!
In Matthew 24:26, past the announcement of the great tribulation, we even find "you " again is used, leading up to His magnificent, public, undisguisable appearing, His return itself, for His elect (Matthew 24:27-28). The kingdom is one, not two, and the church likewise, one body, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Creator of all (Ephesians 4:4). Accordingly, Christ is not describing something else, but the place of those represented by apostles, moving right up to His manifest appearing like lightning from East to West across the sky (24:26-27). This too is distinguished from any private performance, and is used as a basis for NOT BELIEVING anything such. Lightning across the sky from East to West is of course, and contextually this is emphasised, about as public an event as anyone could wish or describe, as undifferentiated and celestial occurrence as might be even imagined. For whom, then, is this: those summarily referred to as "the elect" - precisely as shown in the olive tree case (cf. End-note 1, in Chapter 3, below), a unified category in the presence of the Redeemer.
But let us return to Revelation 19, and watch the development as the Lord, who comes with all His saints (II Thessalonians 1:10, I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5 and Romans 11 as above), revisits with His now received bride, the earth which was the scene of His crucifixion. It is macabre, but realistic to the destinies to which men move, that the feast for the birds of prey is immediately subsequent to this blessed feast of the Lamb in heaven; for the abstraction, the removal of His own, Jew and Gentile, for there is no difference in Christ, removes "that which restrains", that is the power of the Lord present and resident in inhibition THROUGH His saints (II Thessalonians 2:7ff.).
There is a WORLD of difference upon their removal to THEIR feast, and there is a world in chaos, left to slug it out in its array, gathered (Rev. 16:14), "to the battle of that great day of God Almighty". It is then that they - "the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies" are "gathered together to make war on Him" who is "Lord of Lords and King of Kings" (Rev. 19:16), whose name is "the word of God" (Rev. 19:13).
Nor yet is His love the less, but rather shown to be the more; for if He KNEW what was the price of folly, then He ENDURED the follies that He might pre-emptively strike out the sin which condemns, and HE DID SO, for every one who believes... and He "would have all men come to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:3).
have wound our way to the end of our era, and beyond, so now let us return to
assess our journeys.
Looking through vista after vista of glory:
1) we see the
restoration of the land to a fallen
(Isaiah 60:21 cf. 4:3), "a meek and humble people", of whom He declares, "you shall see disaster no more" (Zephaniah 3:12,15);
2) even hearing the Creator's announcement of a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 51:6) past all decay, everlasting salvation readily outliving the mere astronomical surrounds, which fall like Autumn leaves, vanishing like smoke, worn like old clothing.
It remains to reflect, while the earth is still here, and we with it, on a great sadness which time will assuredly remedy. It is this, that so many dispensationalists have clung to the esoteric and unbiblical idea of some other gospel for Israel, past or future, or both, destroying the basic reality in Christ (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch.3, and Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 17, The Everlasting Gospel), while many amillenialists, justly prizing the spiritual beauties which Israel will share when so much of it becomes a part of the Church of Jesus Christ, with other believers, and which cannot be alienated from all Christians, yet ignore
a) the decisive scriptures contextually focussing on and requiring the way the Lord will honour His name in restoring meritless Israel to their land and later to the Lord, so joining them with other meritless converts, and
b) the details that vindicate the entire accuracy of the Lord, and illustrate His inimitable faithfulness (cf. SMR Appendix A, Biblical Blessings 3, SMR Ch.9, pp. 751ff.) to this needy and perilous generation.
As in so much, extremes often exist to attest a deficiency in each of the proponents (cf. Questions and Answers 11, pp. 137ff.), but the actualities require great care (cf. II Timothy 2:15), a constant obligation. To "rightly divide" the word of God is a matter of assiduity with ALL the word of God. When all is taken just as it stands, we focus on what is indisputably clear, and show caution in touching the realm of the merely probable inference, so that we may avoid either extending the word of God beyond what He has chosen to divulge, and cramping His revelation to our concepts. The wonder and beauty of the Lord is such that even unintentional befuddling of His word with our proclivities is like putting charcoal on snow.
The above is added 2009.
For Excerpt on Isaiah 59, 63, 66 see end of this Chapter.
EXCERPT from The Kingdom of Heaven
9, pp. 167ff. Ch.
on Isaiah 64:4
17) Isaiah 64:4 is of great interest, the more since 64:5 is stated to have occasioned immense difficulty in interpretation. Obviously, how 64:4 is rendered will greatly affect the flow and sense of sequence to 64:5. What meets this need, if solving any puzzle, hence would be commendable for rigorous care.
a) THE THEMATIC ASPECT
The AV renders Isaiah 64:4 like this: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Certainly, 16th century English does not help. Why should it! Using former usages does not aid modern problems.
However, let us pass on from this. The beauty, dignity, perception often involved in the AV are genuine arguments for its high place in the arena of translations; its facility in our speech at the contemporary level, quite naturally and indeed necessarily, is not. But there is more here, much more. In this instance, it appears to be giving a quite indefensible translation. Before we consider this, let us note some other renderings of this verse. Thus the NASB has (to take the main area of divergence only): "neither has eye seen a God besides Thee, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him." Delitzsch in his magnificent and famed commentary set, has this here: " a God beside Thee, who acted on behalf of him that waiteth for Him." Literally the tense is present.
E.J. Young in his immense Isaiah commentary: "a God beside thee, he doeth to the one waiting for him." This gives, he states, in v.4 a reason for what was stated earlier in verse 3: thus God is in v.3 stated to have DONE wonderful, astonishing things for Israel in past times, and the principle is now enunciated: He DOES (acts) for the one who waits for Him. He is not an illusory, philosophical, clairvoyant's muse type of God. He acts. He has power. He used it before. He still does. THESE, the 'waiting' for HIM, are conditions (cf. Hebrews 11:6).
While the sense in all these is much the same, it is fascinating in the context to consider the very literal translation: "seen GOD, besides Thee. He acts for the one who waits for Him." The last clause is from a participle, "the one who waits for Him", and the thrust preceding, 'GOD', is dropped into the scene like a vast, awesome wonder. Here is the ONLY ONE WHO as GOD is there; the rest are NOT GOD (Deuteronomy 32:17,18,21). The last has this: "They moved Me to anger with that which is NOT GOD" (last caps.added). Besides HIM, nothing intelligible, real at all. It is this God who IS, the I AM, who ACTS (being able) for those who wait.
Attention has been drawn to
Deuteronomy 29:2 and Joshua 23:3 where quite the same emphasis is being made.
Moses recapitulating, says to the people, "You have seen all that the Lord did before
your eyes in the
In the latter case: "And you have seen
all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you: for
the Lord your God is he who has fought for you." Again there is the relevant action,
the rescuing action, the notable action. This is a frequent theme. In Psalm 78
it is the same; and there too, you see the additional challenge. THEY despite
all this have sinned and provoked the Lord, in the very face of such
repeated and marvellous ACTIONS, wonders, things DONE!
In Joshua 23:14, we read a further strand in this theme: "... not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you; all have come to pass to you, and not one thing has failed..." GOD reveals Himself as He will! The NOT-GOD crew are wholly deficient in evidence; God abounds in it.
b) THE GRAMMATICAL ASPECT
The AV adds here. It provides what the text does not state. The word 'what' is added. Hence and hence only, they get the ... rendering, 'WHAT HE HAS PREPARED'. It is however the translators who have prepared that word 'what'.
To add a word, however, when the sense is both clear and straightforward, the sequence cogent, is indefensible. That way, anything can be made ambiguous, and things can be manufactured, rather than translated.
Poetry may require understanding that perceives words which are omitted from a necessary intended sense, for stylistic reasons; or dropped out because of the constraints of metre, etc., so that the alert reader, seeing there is no way of AVOIDING addition, is willing to see the implicit point and put it in.
However this is a part of the words of God which are 'all clear to him who understands', as Proverbs 8 expressly states. It is not a matter of strange oracles for powerful prophets to make sense of some way or other, to their own personal and highly individual satisfaction. It is intrinsically clear, not crabbed, contrived.
That is the point: the
word at times be difficult, challenging, profound indeed, and what more
natural when it is God who speaks: but clear? THAT is another question.
The word before us is eminently clear, and unless some reader fashions on the
mistaken idea that you can treat a clear statement as having optional extras
which would profoundly change an already clear meaning, clear it stays.
The additional mode here would be to interpret the word of God contrary to its own claims and constraints, and for anyone, would be playing somewhat fast and loose with the words actually given. In other words, when what is present is both exceedingly clear and impressively direct, and flowing like one stream with other scripture and context, to add to this is to put the words of God into the hands of men - never a wise procedure, and NOT a divinely PERMITTED PROCEDURE.
Verse 5 in this passage of Isaiah 64, at once keeps to the exact sequence given. God acts (verse 4), and God meets (v.5 - one form of ACTING, not being mere dream or thought or ideal or inclination, but personal, powerful and active in our affairs - in certain specified WAYS, as is the case in all the other contexts noted!). Whom does He meet ? The text tells us: "He meets the one who rejoices and works righteousness" - indeed, "those who remember Him in His ways".
What could be more straightforward, cogent, elicitive, impactive!
GOD HAS ACTED in
spectacular fashion in the days of Moses and Pharaoh, for the people. More
generally, GOD ACTS for those who wait for Him. So far, that is the thrust or
movement in verses 3 and 4, respectively. Indeed, GOD acts in a
What is this special way
noted so boldly in verse 5: "Thou meetest him who rejoices and works
righteousness" - not
merely some homogenised 'righteousness' but the sort which arises in those who
remember Him in His ways, His words, His witness, His past dealings. Why
however this: 'rejoices'? That is indeed a question for our own generation set
so firmly in so many sad ways of degeneration (see "Generation of the
Dispossessed" - Appendix 1, Barbs, Arrows and Balms).
It is not however a real question for the practising Christian. Christ told us in John 16 we find, that our joy should be full, that we should ask and obtain, and Peter in I Peter 1 tells of joy unspeakable and full of glory, while I Peter 4:13-14 tells of a transcendent joy as the spirit of God and glory rests on the persecuted servant of the Lord, and one has experienced just this. It is so. It is all the case, in life, just as it is prescribed in the word of God. As He says, so HE DOES! And there, that is the continual emphasis here. THIS too is something that HE DOES. It is HIS JOY - "that My joy may remain in you", Christ declared (John -24; ).
However, it is here
met him who rejoices and works". This is the norm of the past, the principle
which is contrasted with the contemporary, sad scene as depicted by the
Of vast interest is this point: it is the GOD WHO ACTS ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO WAIT, and who in particular, has MET with those who ACT, or WORK RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is where E.J. Young's rather awkward sounding rendering has real merit. He says 'DOES': God DOES and the one who DOES righteousness, with the whole will of God and word in his heart (cf. John 15:7,
"If My words abide in you, and you abide in Me, you shall ask what you will, and it will be done to you") is seen in a refreshing rejoicing. Compare John 14:21-23!
Hear again from the text just given: "DONE" to you. GOD is the GOD WHO ACTS, and those who expect and wait and abide will find it so, not in some mere principled fashion (though God does not change and is faithful to the uttermost part), but in a way which IN ADDITION, has the personal splendour of His joy-creating presence. If a great painting has produce delight in the artistic, what does THE GREAT GOD produce in the one WHOM HE MEETS, did meet, does meet, and will meet when the faith and abiding is present! "BESIDES THEE, GOD…"
The rendering of the AV may
have been intended consciously or more probably unconsciously, to reflect
the wording of the reference in I Corinthians 2, where Paul makes reference to
this passage; but Paul is not limited to one passage, any more than we are,
when he refers to the scriptures: they are ALL WRITTEN! Psalm 31:has much
of the other element, with Psalm and especially ; with Isaiah 65:16-17.
Penetrating to much, and distilling in his inspiration, the apostle brings out
the relevant feature with all its multi-faceted wonder.
It is unfortunate that the AV is in this case inferior to the accurate rendering procedures; but it helps people not to idolise it! It is so often very dependable, but we cannot rest on others, for it is ONLY ON THE LORD that one must rest.
We must collect all we can
from every source and be glad of all that the Lord over time has done for His
people, without idolising theologian or translator or any other thing
(cf. I Cor. 3:3ff., and 3:21-22, and the camp mentality - see Repent or
Perish, Ch.1, Endnote1). Let us be thankful for the CARE of the AV and the
scope of the whole, and yet acknowledge that, not only from our
barracked-for team, we must be prepared to learn, but from other translation
sites, where the word of the Lord is actually honoured. At times, too, some
phase of a translation is marred; but not all..
The Old and the New
The OLD Covenant,
so drastically to be merged into the fulfilment of the New,
where CHRIST is the sacrifice (Isaiah 66:1-3, 52:12-53:13, Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 40:1-8, 22:1-8,22-30, 72:1-14, Ezekiel 16:60-63, Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Isaiah 19:20-25, 32:1-4, 42:1-7, Micah 5:1-3)
in this New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff., as often elsewhere):
OF WHAT KIND IS IT?
"NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS" is this atonement provision and application of the law of God (Jeremiah 31:32);
indeed it will be such
(Isaiah 66:1-3) that if someone presumed to make an animal sacrifice, it would be
as if he were killing a dog! It would be irrelevant, cruel, unauthorised,
banal! The ark is forgotten and wholly out of mind.
The New Offering
What is NOT forgotten is SIN, and SACRIFICE, but the one who is to provide this sacrifice and atonement is one who will grow up as a root out of a dry ground (Isaiah 53:2). A "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" is He, and He is to be "marred in His visage more than any man".
Yet it is He who will "sprinkle many nations".
He will be put to death (53:9) though truth is His only utterance (53:9),
and make atonement (53:11),
being righteous and without blemish, as required of atoning sacrifice ( Leviticus 4:3, Malachi -14, Psalm 49:7),
and this in contradistinction to all mere mortals, who are neither sinless nor, like Christ, deity in human form (Psalm 45, Isaiah 48:16, Psalm 2); nor is it other than blasphemy for SUCH AS THESE to be trusted in, for cursed are such (Psalm 2:12, Jeremiah 17:5ff.). Yet the Messiah MUST be so trusted to the utmost for the ultimate (Psalm ).
True, Messiah is to suffer affliction and be murdered (Psalm 22, Daniel , Zechariah 3:9, 13:6, Isaiah 52:13-53:12), This is focussed and featured at length and in depth (cf. Luke 24:25). Yet despite this, in the power of deity from whom and as whom He comes (Isaiah 9:1-6, Psalm 2, 45, 72, Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 2:8), He shall be there to find satisfaction in the reality and effectiveness of His own work (53:11) as was prophesied likewise for this regal victim of Psalm 22, who though killed with appalling atrocity as the Psalmist shows, can say, "I will declare your name to My brethren: in the midst of the assembly I will praise you... For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard" - Psalm 22:22ff..
"A posterity will
serve Him; it will be accounted to the Lord for a generation" (cf.
102:16-21, Isaiah 53:8-10, Psalm 110:3, ). And this? When the Lord "shall
appear in His glory", and "regard the prayer of the destitute",
and coming, "hear the groaning of the prisoner", acting to
"release those appointed to death" (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3, Ezekiel 34),
and to declare the name of the Lord in
then, shall be written for the generation to come (about 1000 years on from the
Psalmist in fact), and as to Him, His glory is interminable (Psalm
The Messiah has the Form of a Man
This Messiah of course is a man (Isaiah 32:1-4, Psalm 72:1-2, 2:7) as is appropriate for someone who is to have his face marred, his body whipped, to die, to have his clothes bartered for, and indeed to be called a man (Isaiah 32:2, Zechariah 4:12-13), to have His body pierced and His sinlessness entire. He is man, yet God with powers equally unlimited. Thus Isaiah chs.29,35 show the extent of the miraculous powers to accompany Him, as does Isaiah 11:1-10.
Indeed the wicked will be summoned and sentenced by His mouth, we there find! When His triumphant completion of His task proceeds, this Son of David as He is also called (cf. Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah -13, and in Ezekiel 34:11-25, where God embarks on His own personal shepherding program)! Yet who is David's Lord! (Psalm 110:1ff). THOUGH (as in Psalm 2) we are left in no doubt that this Messiah of the Lord, like His Father, will be the object of rebellion and that indeed, the Messiah will be rejected entirely (cf. Isaiah 52-53), yet HE WILL RULE! (cf. Isaiah 9:6, 53:12, Ezekiel 34:23-24, Psalm 72:8,17). There is an undoubted sequence which is picturesquely but with the utmost gravity dramatised in Psalm 2 in particular. That rule will be total and certain, when the day of its revelation comes.
Now all this is covered in much detail in SMR, but aspects are summarily noted here for convenience.
SO: we have a New Covenant,
NOT like the old one. In that, animal sacrifice is ludicrous, contemptible,
ridiculous; in this, the central figurative features of the Old Covenant, like
"WHY?", it asks, "do you spend money for that
which is not bread..." Rather, "Come! Buy wine and milk without money
and without price!" (55:1). Free is the gift of God who provides
(Genesis 22:8,14 - Jehovah Jireh sums it up in His name! and Isaiah
53:5,12). "My dead body will they arise," He declares (Isaiah 26:19)
of those He called "my people", who shelter in His refuge which He
provides; and hide in Him (cf. Isaiah 4:6, 32;1-3). "Come, " He says,
"Hide yourself ... for a little moment until the indignation be past"
- against sin (cf. Isaiah 64:1-65:1-2,13-16).
Thus as to the Old Covenant,
in much specialised as a prototype, with its preliminary ways:
These are figures such as all figures, to be understood in the light of principles made liberally clear, so that the imaginative thrust can be permitted, in order to shock the mind into awareness. Thus as God says in Hosea, did He multiply visions and figures, in the desire by all means to wake up His people (Hosea ). Yet it is HE who will be the plagues of death, and it is HE PERSONALLY who says, "I will ransom them from the grave", HIMSELF CONSTITUTING the PLAGUES of death (Hosea , Isaiah 53:6, 10-12).
Israel, it hurls you to destruction that you are against ME, your help," He says in this context,
in line with Isaiah 49:7, 42:6, where
There is only One who is King, son of David, tender, sinless, an adequate atonement, ultimate healer of deaf, dumb and blind, commander of the people, clear-cut and unequivocal witness (Isaiah 55:1-6); none but He has done these things, and only He has met the Biblical criteria of this GOSPEL (Isaiah 52-53) which is to be accepted in such bulk by the Gentiles that some of whom will be its "priests" (Isaiah 66). GOD HAS PROMISED to foretell what concerns His people (Amos 3:7); and having predicted this scenario, and allowed its advent into history, right to the death of the Messiah, and that at the predicted time (SMR pp. 889ff.), together with the Gospel inseparably annexed to Him: He faces the human race with fact! He has come; this is He; and HERE is the gospel predicted as moving to burrow deep into the Gentile world. It was to be; it was; and it is . With God, not only is nothing impossible; what He says is THEREBY both possible and assured.
THIS MESSIAH is it, the end. It is HE who is the criterion, the One whom we ALL must believe and follow, Jew or Gentile, or have for the blasphemous presumption of gratuitous negativity, something that God will REQUIRE of him! (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
Thus the sacrifices of Zechariah 14, which follow the gospel message and close coverage of the Messiah in this prophet (3:9, where the sins of the people are absolved in one day, 9:6, where the King comes on an ass's colt, 11:10-12:10, where the treachery of His people against Him occurs, and their subsequent repentance in terms of Him whom they pierced is displayed, this and much more): these have nothing to do with the merely preparatory specifics which are included in the Old Covenant. The Messianic blessing is "not according to" this, we are instructed by the Lord, in Jeremiah 31; and its most intimate items are wholly irrelevant now, being fulfilled, as we are shown explicitly.
These Old Covenant-formatted terms of Zechariah 14:16ff. represent in Old Covenant shadows*2, what is to be performed in a New Covenant setting. Hence the principles of the New Covenant in one phase as in another, and in particular with the return of the endlessly governing Prince (Isaiah 9:6) the son of David born of a virgin, are to apply. These principles make the symbolic forms which are used in terms of the Old Covenant setting of Zechariah, to have poignant and intensive force. Yet they require them to be understood in terms of the New Covenant, so that items of the Old do not even come to mind!
Further, like the showbread given to King David by the priest, to cover the leader's emergency, they are to be interpreted as to their significance: indeed the baked "bread" itself disappears, like the altar of Jeremiah 3; and ONLY the meaning now remains. The glory of it is this: THAT meaning now is LESS abstract than before, MORE concrete and utterly personal, moving from Christ, who proceeded from His Father to those of this race who receive Him. In all things, Christ has the pre-eminence, and all things are gathered up in one in Him (Colossians , Ephesians ); and here is the resting point of all symbol for its nexus. This then is the situation in Zechariah 14.
As earlier noted, the same applies to the end of Isaiah 66, where the SPIRITUAL realities of hell are depicted as if they were occurring on earth, and as if people went to some physical place to observe them. We all use symbols of former times, or other things to represent something with vital force and impact at times; it is part of the value of having capacity both imagination and for symbolic thought within our construction as in the image of God.
In these places, the principles securely in place, we are to understand the teaching implicit in the patterns, and not to imagine that God has become divided in mind: but rather this, that if we do not accept it, we are "foolish and slow in heart", as Christ indicated when He chided His disciples. And for what did He chide them? for not seeing His place in its regal and overall setting, commanding and commandeering all else, in the suffering phase as likewise in the phase of His glory.
Thus, to revert to the text
of Zechariah 14, even the pots "shall be holiness to the Lord", just
as the "walls" predicted for Isaiah 60's presentation of
As Hebrews 8 tells us of
the Old Covenant, it is fading away, obsolete.
The Curse and the Shock
other gospel is ACCURSED, as Paul says, and ANY idea that God would regress to
an earlier teaching mode is as contrary to the Old Testament as to the New.
THOSE things are passed:HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, AND EARTH IS MY FOOTSTOOL. WHERE IS THE
HOUSE THAT YOU WILL BUILD ME, AND WHERE IS THE PLACE OF MY REST! God declares in Isaiah 66,
as He proceeds to pour scorn, for this by then extensively reported Messianic
period, on the very notion of animal sacrifice! "So," He says,
"will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because
when I called, no on answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did
evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight" -
Isaiah 66:4. "WHO," He asks in Isaiah 53:1 as He unveils the
Messiah, "has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord
Not Levity About Levites:
But illumination about the Gospel
"I will take some of them," God declares in this same context, "for priests and Levites!" Obviously the Levites, a specific tribe, are not generated from a motley mix of Gentiles; but here is the language of shock awakening - precisely like the reference to the killing of a sacrificial ox being like killing a man, or that of a lamb being like breaking a dog's neck, or the offering of an oblation being like presenting swine's blood, or the offering of incense resembling blessing an idol, earlier in the same chapter! (v.3).
The intention beyond
question is to shock into awareness. The effect is to make His people realise
their folly, and to prevent their concentration on symbolic features to the
exclusion of their real and vital meaning! Accordingly, children of Abraham
physically, can be called children of the devil spiritually (John -44), while stones can be made more
eloquent than those blind and dumb in the presence of their spiritual King from
glory, Jesus Christ (Luke )! Amos 9:7 refers to the children
Judgments are then pronounced; and the case resembles that in Isaiah 65:1-2,10-13), where there appear shafts of bare, gleaming light that expose evil with their brilliance, amid the judgments that now break critically upon the fallen nation, long failing to return. "I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' to a nation that was not called by My name. I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people." "A rebellious people", God declares of the contemporary Jewish nation, drawing near with their mouths, while the heart is far from God (Isaiah 29:13). To OTHERS, then, will go a free grace!
Similarly these words of Isaiah 66:3 prepare their hearts for that great liberation of the New Covenant (Acts 15:10) where the realities are far more directly expressed, and where, monumentally, Christ as the Lamb of God replaces in one vast offering of Himself, all other blood sacrifice. The horror of reversion therefore is here explosively presented, as a thing of repugnance and horror, very much in line with the New Covenant book of Hebrews. But let us return to Isaiah 66 and the missionary activities of vv. 19ff..
In short, and in line with the explosive character of this Chapter, God is here speaking to His people and contrasting their field with themselves, for THEY are to go to the GENTILES! Yet Levites to be brought as an offering, from such a missionary field, so distinguished and so characterised in contradistinction from those sent ? Those who have "NEVER" seen His glory... nor "HEARD" His fame are to COME! This is "AMONG THE GENTILES". THIS is the field, and from it are to come LEVITES!
Without miraculous intervention, such a thing would be physically impossible, a contradiction in terms: unless it meaning were seen. And that ? It is the whole point. It is a case of understand, or else be mocked by the Lord, whose word is so lightly taken that Christ can be "rejected of men" and become One whom "the nation abhors" (Isaiah 49:7). It requires an understanding, as so often in the Bible, of the principles already made clear. In this way, God sometimes both awakens the slackening hearts of His people, and prepares them either for repentance, things to come or both.
Just so, is there a new name (Isaiah 65:10-13, 62:1-3) for God's people, and indeed, a new SIGN, the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14 - metonymy for the heart of the Gospel, linked to its historical reality, as in Isaiah 52-53, Psalm 2 et al. This Gospel, Christians will proclaim and as to the fruits of this great drive (cf .Matthew 28;18) ? Yes, Christian missionaries and ministers will result! The new-named Levites will not be lacking! The details as well as the crux are all covered.
Indeed, the Messiah is
"sprinkle many nations" and be "a light to the Gentiles" (Isaiah
52:15, 49:6, 24:16, Psalm 138:4, 145:12, 148:11, 117:1, Deuteronomy 32:43,
Jeremiah 10:7, 16:19-17:9). Here, similarly, God is speaking of ALL nations,
and THIS is where the Levites are found. They are found here, the ministers of
God, because there HE has placed them! Yes, "I will call my servants by
another name!" - Isaiah 65:10-13, 62:1-3. Judaism is merely a
continuation of the surpassed, with its added traditions built on the avoidance
of what God has commanded in Christ. Its ways are noted in Romans 10:1-4. It
is NOT another name; but what God has commanded IS another name! What His
commander has commanded brings another name! What the Messiah has contracted
for has another name! It is another name which God has undertaken to use for
EXCERPT From Later
The topic of MOBILITY OF VISION
EXCURSION INTO ISAIAH 59-66
Something of Freedom!
It comes to look rather like this print colour: somewhat yellow, brown and golden.
However, it passes.
While it is there, what a
marvellous time for excursions. It is too late down, in
We have, in News 47, and other places, made some excursions in Isaiah, and in that place specifically into 59-66 (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, End-Note 3). You may care to flit to the former via the hyperlink, or to both the above, which consider this area.
Now it would seem good to revisit. When you do this, perhaps in excursion time, with changed meteorological conditions, it can be surprising. In Port Lincoln region, we found that what had been seen in the raging storms, with panache and grandeur (which is entirely glorious), as the oceans surged with little restraint, and appeared to enjoy themselves immensely (though an aerial penetrated my eye, leading perhaps to an enormously increased pressure and threat of glaucoma, but in what the specialist called 'the miracle eye', the Lord mercifully and suddenly reduced it to normal, making an operation unnecessary, for which praise His name!), was now quite different (like the eye).
Its serenity even in our May, became the new feature. Sun drenched the willing sands, and Summer seemed back in later than mid-Autumn. The crystalline blues, the little ripples, the birds in their multitudinous ways, the 'storm boy' look of the beach denizen, the quietness and peace, it was such a transformation. Things not seen before were now there in pseudo-Summer splendour.
in Isaiah. Let us revisit a little, to find some more marvels of this inspired
prophet, from whom the word of the Lord came, which still takes hold, and
directs events, for when the Lord speaks, it is not problematic, but
assertorial: even when His mercy is gently proffered, it is not as if He takes
His time for some kind of fillip. It is for those who, unsaved hear it, the
most important thing they could hear. It can transform storms into peace, and
confusion departing, lead to truth.
REVISITING ISAIAH 59-66,
First, as we have looked here in a sequential fashion, let us this time notice some features, as a supplement.
In Isaiah 60, that marvel of beauty, we see a pseudo-city transformed into the kingdom of heaven, with its walls the certitude more than the confinement (60:18). Accordingly, "Also your people shall all be righteous" - a delicious prospect.
Churches, Non-Churches, and the
Just imagine a church in which ALL were converted, NONE were crusty, none lusted for control or power or position, none were seedy substitutes for spirituality, none wandered from godliness as if their path and position were to vary from the source, using it as a guidepost for further wanderings, but never as a home. To be sure, some churches are fine edifices of godly stones; and equally sure, none are perfect. But some bodies seem unable to crystallise their purpose, grasp their function, and their doctrine wanders like a drunken dog, while tail up (rather than dragging as might relate to such a canine), they march briskly, who knows where. For the fact is, that some churches have had their 'candlesticks' taken away, to use the terminology, the imagery of Revelation 2:5.
Call it 'lampstand', but the point is this: it is the COMMISSION to SHOW FORTH THE LIGHT OF CHRIST. It is that which a particular church or denomination can well lose!
It can be lost BY A CHURCH. The Christian shall never die (John -26), for Christ declared that anyone living and believing in Him shall omit this feature: death. The body may change, but the spirit is eternally blessed, and guaranteed in the buoyancy of redemption, the celestial body to meet eternity (II Cor. 5, I Cor. 15). If anyone who DID believe in Christ, and hence qualified for this boon, were (though impossible) to cease to be in this position, then the promise would cease to be true of the one who at some time DID believe. It is not IF you continue to be a believer that He says, but this: HE WHO LIVES AND BELIEVES. If that EVER applies, therefore it ALWAYS applies, for if it ceased to apply, the categorical affirmation would simply cease to be true. Christ being truth, this is far more impossible than this, that the moon should turn into a car, and go into reverse.
Fantastic ? Of course, but this is far more so, for it would deny not alone the constancy for the time, of the light-bearers appointed, but the express word of the One who IS the truth! Notice in John 11, "who lives and believes". If you LIVE, being born again, and are not "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2), then of course I John 3:9 applies, the seed of God remains in you, relaying this, that you stay HIS, because you ARE His now by nature and generation, once so, always so; and again, he who hears Christ's word and believes in Him who sent Him, does not come into condemnation, has eternal life, and has PASSED from a state of death to one of life (John 5:24), so that that person will NEVER THIRST AGAIN (John 4:14).
The Christian in that sense, is more certain, being entirely assured, than is a church, which can fall, and be taken over by spiritual bandits, or even mafia, as with Judas and the priest co-operative combine (cf. John 12:9-10, Mark 14:10-11, John 11:49ff., 18:3ff.). Incidentally, isn't it interesting that Judas, on the night of his inglorious betrayal, one which to him AT THAT TIME might have seemed a night of destiny and decision (you CAN make that sort of decision! if a devil), LED a DETACHMENT OF SOLDIERS. Judas the temporary military figure!
Militancy of similar sorts is often and increasingly found in pseudo-churches which, in terms of the predicted decline in the externalia of ecclesiasticism (II Thessalonians 2, II Peter 2), and the false preoccupations of many (Matthew 24:24) who do not hesitate to use the name of "church", also betray Christ, frequently oppress believing members, and persecute the saints. On the other hand, it is often found that many who should know better, linger in the loitering premises of betrayal, the very premises sulking and skulking in the spiritual shadows, and stay where they should not (see Romans 16:17 and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7). "The spirit of envy" (op.cit. Ch. 8) can express itself in fallen churches, which are no more churches, having lost their lamp-stand commission, and wrong indeed is it to linger there. On the path of challenge, however, before the issues are crystallised, the saints of the Lord may there be oppressed (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 11).
In that case, so be it: the people of God must be willing to "fill up what remains of the sufferings of Christ" (Colossians ). As you can see from the Pauline context, this means that in exercising yourself in the Christian life for Christ, you may surely find that the servant "is not greater than the Master", that delicious irony, so that for His sake, you suffer as you project, or rather reflect His light into the darkness of the world, seeking the lost.
There is then another irony. It is this. The 'church' in its whitewashed impurity, the institution which as in Christ's day was hideously astray, though believers still were to be found in great numbers, and Christ set about building at once the New Testament Church, this bogus substitute for the living body of Christ: it is a spiritual decrepitude which is NOT going to last; but the individual believer will do so.
How deftly therefore must new arrangements be sought when old buildings of people, now possessed by a very different vision and departing from His word, fall into decay, even if on the surface, their finances prosper and people crowd to them, like Nazi youth of yore, to their instructors. There is far more than ONE WAY to go astray. You can do it in lassitude and laxity of morals, as well as in blood. You can achieve this folly in new doctrines - because "dogma does not matter", which really means a new 'faith', simply a man-made fiasco, masquerading as truth in the name of the One whose word is then rejected; you can secure it in this way, as easily as in injecting people with drugs for their welfare!
But WHY are we digressing ? one might ask.
Not really is this a digression, but rather is it an expression of the point for Isaiah 60. We have here, then, not the official structure of imposing masonry, not the formal dimensions of 'accepted' Christendom, where the world pats its back and accepts it. It is on the contrary, a place where "ALL ARE RIGHTEOUS". NOT ONE Judas is to be found. NO betrayer is anywhere about. Now it is true that there are, as we have seen above, many false churches, and this is not merely a matter of observation, and comparison of the Bible with their beliefs, but of prediction for the period now come to pass, our own (as shown in Answers to Questions Ch. 5). Here however it is something out of that domain. We are not in the realm of variability AT ALL.
There is to be found not even one member of Judas orientation, and not one spiritual stone is amiss!Not really is this a digression, but rather is it an expression of the point for Isaiah 60. We have here, then, not the official structure of imposing masonry, not the formal dimensions of 'accepted' Christendom, where the world pats its back and accepts it. It is a place where ALL ARE RIGHTEOUS. NOT ONE Judas is to be found. NO betrayer is anywhere about. Now it is true that there are, as we have seen above, many false churches, and this is not merely a matter of observation, and comparison of the Bible with their beliefs, but of prediction for the period now come to pass, our own (as shown in Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
It is really the
It IS the case that many are false, and that some of the most potent illustrations of Protestant faith in terms of Church denominational names, as we have often traced, are now turning to alliance with Rome, or frenzies impermissible in the Bible, or 'faiths' indistinguishable from some medley of cultural paganism and spiritual promiscuity worked in the alleged domains of the Bible, long relegated from rule to tool. (Cf. Stepping Out for Christ Chs. 1, 5, Tender Times for Timely Truths Chs. 7 and 8, Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 9, Wake Up World! Your Creator is Coming ... Ch. 3, The Frantic Millenium and the Peace of Faith Ch. 1.) Here however in Isaiah 60, we are faced with a body of statuesque purity, uninhabited by one single spiritual miscreant, or unbeliever!
You could call it "the invisible church", but this is a sort of residual concept, a culling in mind (though only the Lord can do it in fact, for the Lord alone knows the heart) leaving only the people who in fact know the Lord, who OUGHT to be in sound churches, or engaged in vigorous work to bring things to an issue, for or against the written word of God. It is not without value, but in Isaiah we see something more arresting. It is a positive construction which we see, a Jerusalem which is built, and in that marvellous fluidity and flight of concept which Isaiah is given to present, we see now Jerusalem with riches being sent into it, in what resembles the straight and simple recrudescence of Israel, and then its spiritual movement to Christ (as in Romans 11, cf. News 47, The Biblical Workman Ch.3).
Yet the vision moves to a
people ALL righteous, so that it is clearly a work of inspired depiction of the
actual people of the Lord, on the one hand, and the construction which they
have in living bodies of believers, while at the very same time it is an
account of the work in ISRAEL, which gives it the base, but not this as if
alone, for the very parameters are praise, glory and faith. It is the
It would seem a kind of multiply captioned overview.
1) Israel is to have an enormous recrudescence of faith
2) it will of course have to be back in its land, after the crucifixion (as in Zech. 12:10), to have it.
3) This is seen in architectural terms, in a
of glory. Jerusalem
4) It is likewise observed in luminous terms, as a people of faith, a remnant of righteousness, an exclusively conceived body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, here received with acclaim.
In Isaiah 61, we go to the heart of things: the Messiah Himself, on whom the vision dwells, liberating captives from the prisons of sin and bringing beauty for ashes; and here we see what appears to be the construction of the CHURCH, Christian as it is (for the gates of hell do not prevail against it, merely against the substitutes!), with the desolatory depredations replaced by vigorous building work (61:4ff.). "Strangers" shall indeed "feed your flocks" since it is now an international family in its broadest scope, and when you consider all its components together.
"Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles" (Isaiah 61:9), however makes it clear that there is a Jewish flavour still, yet it is one detached from the actual rebellion of that nation when it rejected its Messiah, formally, nationally and officially. Then there comes that beauty that is hallowed, the incandescent delight of the believer in the Lord (very much as in I Peter 1:8), found in Isaiah 61:10:
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God:
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels..."
"SO," it continues, "the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." In other words, this is a phenomenon to replace what
"This people have I formed for Myself,
They shall show forth My praise."
By this time, we are becoming accustomed to the movement to the perfection of Christian purity, as seen in the encompassing grace of Christ, by whom the Christians are all made "accepted in the beloved" (Ephesians 1:6), with reference now more literal, now spiritually allegorical, to "Jerusalem". Sometimes it is a city of spirituality, Jerusalem which is free which is above (as in Galatians 4:26); and indeed, at times we see the industry of the construction of the Christian believing 'buildings' in the world, yet so that it is from a JEWISH perspective, a BELIEVING Jewish perspective, in that the Gentiles are a distinctive exterior, people to be impressed.
Now you could reason that
this too is allegorical, and that the Gentiles are merely here the 'rest', or
the 'non-believers', and that this is so because '
The DEMANDS of Spiritual Mobility and Avoidable Mires
Doubtless this is one reason why so much discussion is engendered by these chapters; but it is not in vain. There are points for many here, and the vision is so mobile, that any tendency to arthritic fixity, if you will, is not going to cover the case. It is like a bird flying, its very movement almost the essence of its beauty, for it is not limited as we are, to a slower movement in our bodies on the ground, but it is here, there, almost as if time did not elapse and space were compressed! So with Isaiah in these places. It is necessary to see each flitting, and to see the overview of the whole flight, if one is to find the peace of its profusion.
Further, to revert to this Gentiles = non-believer concept for this passage, when you realise that the term merely means "nations", it becomes a little awkward to seek to make it simply mean JEWS and others who disbelieve; for if there is one thing that a Jew is not, and which is conceptually contrary to the point, it is Gentile.
But at once we realise that the apostles were Jews, the enormous thrust was from the Jewish nation, NOT as a body, but by virtue of what God did to some thousands of its people, including ALL the APOSTLES. Believers assuredly include some Jewish people; but Gentiles do not include Jews, be they believers or otherwise!
Yet what is the building on which the watchmen stand in Isaiah 62:6 ? Is it not upon a literal Jerusalem, such as existed in Isaiah's time, and is he not foretelling that this is yet to be a place, despite all the evils to come, which can see the visionary spirit of the prophet, like some seer who foresaw Hiroshima's disaster and who in spirit was walking among their ruins before it happened - a procedure frequent in the Bible because of the certainty of faith and calling for the prophet . For here he is not merely seeing a future scene and pondering it as if it were present to the eye; he is in fact seeing the current scene with all its evils (as in that pivot of condemnation, Isaiah 59, and that other, 65:13-15), and placing visionary watchmen on its walls, crying for the spiritual realities to come to this very place, so that its loss and spiritual liabilities will yet become the gain and the building of a beauty not to pass away.
Far from a merely Jewish
thing is it to be (65:13-15). The thought is utterly absurd. Yet while it is a
New Covenant place (as in 52-53, 54-55), and it is going to transpire with
It was always a huge mistake to try to compress the history of Israel into the church, where the contexts are definitively Israel which was out as first of all pagan, and then in as a servant of God, then out as a rebel, and then in, as one brought back from this stipulated double declivity, something unique to themselves. This simply defiled the context (cf. SMR Appendix A).
However it is equally a mistake to ignore any other context for any other specifications, like a mathematics student, who, having learned the calculus, forgets his times tables, or the work of other domains of the discipline.
So here, our task is not to foist some view or other; it is to find what is written as it comes, and to seek to do full justice to it, trusting in the Lord for the overall result, being faithful simply to the text!
In Ch. 62, likewise, the "city not
forsaken"*1 is a reference to what was once a city, then forsaken, and then not
forsaken, that is, uniquely in kind,
It is precisely there that His Majesty will launch once again His terrestrial career, this time with a regality that is apparent, in a righteousness not to be denied, but applied (Habakkuk 2:14, Psalm 73).
THIS restoration is to be no mere geographical splendour: though it is geographically distinctive, and making a point in doing so, that the Lord fulfils all His purposes in the end (as in Ezekiel 36:22).
As to the envisagement, it is much the same when you talk of a sound church, and speak of its spiritual qualities and operations, with no actual reference to or thought of those dissidents or failures who, like dead wood, still cling on, or like etiolated plants, need quick revival (in the grace of the patient Christ as in Isaiah 42:1-4).
Then in Isaiah 63 we move to the military and physical deliverance, which we have already noted above. It is a thing powerful, peremptory, irresistible, the result of much patience now having fulfilled its day, leading on to an issuance to cleanse and complete. The nation is protected as He said He would do, whether in Deuteronomy 32:39ff., or in Zechariah 12-14, or in Micah 7:15ff.; or indeed, in Isaiah 66:14ff..
At the end of this phase (63:1-6), we have one of the most beautifully poignant reviews in spiritual kindness, of the Lord's benignant dealings with Israel of old, and an impassioned plea concludes this chapter, seeking for the Lord to "return for Your servants' sake" (64:17).
Such however is not then the divine intention; but this does give some of the fragrances of the prayers of the saints (as in Revelation 5:8). This implies that the requests of the saints are not ignored, even when the spiritual strategies demand a longer trial (cf. Revelation ).
Meanwhile in Isaiah 64, there is the correlative exposure of the faithfulness and power of the Lord for His believers (64:4-5), contrasting with the other exhibit, the spiritually desolate city and the allegorical exhibition of this, or if you will, the prophetic depiction of the geographical facts of desolation, to follow the spiritual failures which the Lord rejects as spurious, and had long so rejected (cf. Jeremiah 2:35-36).
In Isaiah 65, there is what seems at first a
total abandonment of the people of
Following this portrayal of 65:13-16, including its point, that "he who blesses himself in the earth will bless himself in the God of truth" not in fraud and fiction, but in realism and power, we come to the depiction of the earth where such is the case, where indeed "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14), a clear enough statement even for the obsessively allegorical.
This is the millenium, not possibly heaven since it has sinners within it (65:20), not possibly an visionary and selective allegory of the church, since this does not contain sinners either. It is a time when sin has its visible outcome, and the beauty of holiness nevertheless is dominant, the total force which prevails and pervades the whole scene. It is as in Psalm 73, the visible rule of the righteous Lord. Its parameters have the scope of the sovereign God who, having first made things good, and then responded to sin with the due curse, indeed without significant delay, and having then endured that curse Himself in the interests of justice, to enable free course to mercy and due allegiance to love, now removes the clasp of curse, and restores the beauty of peace. It is quite beautiful, as He is. It is a preliminary, an excursion on earth towards the heavenly parameters.
Then in Isaiah 66,
we find first the necessities of lowliness*3
and faith , just as in Zephaniah 3's emphasis for
In this we find two
features. First there is the institution of the State, once more, by divine fiat,
so that the Lord has NOT forsaken His people of old (Micah 7:19ff., Ezekiel
36), but this ONLY because of His name, because of His faithfulness: THEY have
no merit whatsoever to induce Him to conceive of such a thing! This is emphatic
in Ezekiel's account (SMR Appendix A). This
institution is found in Isaiah 66:8-11. Then there are reflections on this
amazing event. In 66:12ff. we find the peace and the joy in which the delivered
body is embraced, as it were, a relief from having no land, while power is
built up. But this power (as in Ezekiel 39ff. precisely, where desire to grab
is seen, on the part of nations viewing the return of the people to their land
with ambition for rapacity): it is to be challenged. Hence the Lord acts quite
emphatically (as in Micah 7:15ff., Deuteronomy 32) and seeing "that their power
is gone", as Moses
foretold from the first, provides His own. This is the ultimate rescue,
not from the
This is seen in Isaiah 66:14-17, and this or a parallel about this time, in Ezekiel 39ff..
Thus the whole ignoble
world, persecuting Christ, persecuting
Then we see the visionary
expression of hell in 66:24, for the utterly recalcitrant, and finally
unbelieving, Jew or Gentile alike, just as in the new heavens and new earth
(66:22), you find the continuity of the spiritual, the kingdom of heaven
universality and perfection, which moves to its consummation likewise.
THE WONDER OF IT IS A GLORY
In all these things, now as always, we find that cumulative cohesion*4, that liberty allied to precision, that glorious unconstraint in imagination and coverage with the fearless triumph which always has things in order for all that, which is so characteristic of the word of God. It is one of the criteria of truth that it not only does not err, but has a liberty which relates to understanding, and a richness which depends on wisdom, with a capacity to move, now here, now there, for there is not only nothing to hide, but what is revealed is coherent by its own nature.
is what could be called the sovereign majesty of scripture. It is a perpetual
verification of its origin, as men wrote not what they conceived, but as they
were MOVED by the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21 cf. SMR pp. 1167ff.). Like the incarnation, it is
without error; and like that again, it is exposed to all! As such, again like
the incarnation, it is a splendid tour de force for the seekers, and a
rebuke to the incredulously lost.
"I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night,
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes,
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth" - Isaiah 62:6.
"They did not cry to Me with their heart
When they wailed upon their beds.
They assemble together for grain and new wine,
They rebel against Me:
Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms,
Yet they devise evil against Me;
They return, but not to the Most High;
They are like a treacherous bow."
As in Micah 3:5, there is here war against God. It was conspicuously apparent when He came, like a perfected experimental test; and will be so again (Rev. 19:19).
" 'For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,'
Says the LORD.
" 'But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.' "
What things are those on which He has looked ?
It is haven and earth:
"Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me ?
And where is the place of My rest ?"
GOD IS NOT A GETTER BUT A GIVER. HE IS THE FATHER of all who believe, and creator of all men (Isaiah 45:11-13). The things done are not to feed Him! (cf. Psalm 50:10), or to sustain Him. His satisfaction is not for His sake, but relates to us for our sakes. His actions have fed us (John 6:47ff.), both literally (Matthew 14:13ff.), and spiritually (John 6:51ff., 6:60ff.).
The need is on our part; the requirement is faith and repentance, acceptance and commission, reliance on His strength and partaking of His peace, cover by His blood and not a whit by our own works or contributions (Romans 3:23ff.), with inspiration in the power of His holiness, demonstrated to and for man in His bodily resurrection, since He being God, left nothing out of what He put in (cf. I Cor. 15:1-4). This powr is applied also in understanding and spiritual purity in His presence (Ephesians 1:17ff.), whom to know, God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ whom He sent from eternal glory (John 17, Micah 5) - is life everlasting.
THE VARIETY AND VARIEGATIONS, VIRTUE AND LOVELINESS IN LOWLINESS OF THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH -
ITS RELATIONSHIP TO SUNSETS AND
Isaiah has a special emphasis on fluidity which is precisely balanced by his attention to fine detail. The word given him at once provides survey and situation, inspection in detail and pursuit of paths to more wonders.
By now we have seen so many features and facets,
and in conjunction with the compilation of expositions of passages in Isaiah, to be found in Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength, Chs. 4-8,
so many vignettes, tableaux, features, foci, as the telescopic lens now features
an overview, or the high-power microscope provides intensive detail,
that it is rather like moving from a garden bed of petunias, marigolds and violets,
to the floral horizons of some botanic gardens,
the aim of which is NOT to be circumscribed,
but rather to exhibit BY the variety and ingenuity of differences,
the sense of floral magnitude of the whole,
so that whether it be the precise inspection of a flower, the appearance of some focal bed, or even the aura of florality which permeates:
it is a multiple message, though all in flowers.
Alas many seem to have been so fascinated by this or that feature of the multiple foci given to the prophet, that perhaps less than justice is often done to the rest, or indeed, even to their inter-relationship, which itself can be composite.
This then, the message and messages of Isaiah, is another island, like the 6 at Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2 and the 7th at News 124, Part II and the 8th seen above in Ch. 7. It is an area where many vistas can in blessed unity be seen more together in one composition of comprehensiveness.
We have here accordingly,
ISLAND9, and the ferry to the mainland is at hand!
Here in Isaiah you see the millenial vision, the restoration of Israel, its salvation, even at so late a stage in the history of nations, as envisaged, as in Deuteronomy 32 and Leviticus 26, which jointly show, as does Romans 11:25ff., which show just how late would be the awakening to come to that nation, Israel of old, and now of new fashion, found in these latter days, since 1948. This is one feature itself indeed ushered into our contemporary world of visible and verifiable events, with the division of the city of
into two parts, with violence, as in Zechariah 14:1-2. (Cf. SMR Ch. 9.) Jerusalem
This, however is far from all.
In this prophecy, we have at the central and crucial level, the replacement of
as a people, but "MY servant" both in the transition from Isaiah 41 to 42, and in that from 51 (vv.19-20) to 52:13. We have the corresponding spiritual repudiation of a people who not only rebelled against the Lord before He came, but would do so WHEN He came (as in 1,30 with 49:7, 52-53): a divine disciplinary action in the highest drama and decisiveness (65:12ff., cf. 30:8ff.), mixed with the Messianic appeals, which never cease (Isaiah 53:1, 55:1-3, 54, 48:17ff.), latent (4:6 with 32:1ff.) or patent (1:18). Israel
With all this, we find the faithfulness of God, with such tender mockery (42:18ff.) indicating the steps He will take, despite all their folly, not to mention their barbarous treachery with their own Messiah, and this divine faithfulness, not by virtue of any spiritual obligation towards those who broke the covenant (cf. Zechariah 118-11), but for His own name's sake (Ezekiel 36:22), as He pours out once again His Spirit on them (32:15-19), and proceeds to His two step action (as in Micah 7:19ff., and Ezekiel 37), to recall them to their land and then to the Lord (as in Isaiah 59:20), taking on their behalf at the appropriate time, whatever action of power is needed (Isaiah 66:14ff., Deuteronomy 32:42ff., 49:26). This action He is to take with chariots of fire, "feeding those who oppress you with their own flesh", with blood spilled and dead bodies, with arrows "drunk with blood" so that the escapee who wants a God of no power who does not run the universe according to His promises, cannot find Him. The reason is simple: such a god as that is not there (cf. Isaiah 44:24-45:25).
With this, in the return phase for the rebelling nation, Israel, in which though still indicated as unbelieving in the most incredible seeming fashion (Isaiah 41:18ff.), in full accord with the first stage of the restoration, the geographical, as in Ezekiel 37, they are nonetheless returned to THEIR PLACE (Isaiah 42:11ff., 49:19ff., Zechariah 12:6), indeed as we see here, being crowding into their little land in an efflorescence of grace so prodigious that it is breathtaking, admirable and lavish in lovingkindness! Such was to be and now is, the history of the people of Israel: who being called, reneged, and being disciplined are yet restored, and while being restored, are yet blind, and being blind, are yet with a tenderness singularly poignant and startlingly direct, called home to the happiness of the blessing of God, if they will but come!
Meanwhile the activities of converted Jews, whether at the outset with the Messiah, those like the apostles and the many thousands initially believing, or at the second and spiritual restoration of so many, will be astonishing and a fitting continuation, though at first by so relatively small a number (Isaiah 66:18ff., 61:9), while the many remain so blind.
How blind ? So blind that He can say: "WHO IS BLIND BUT MY SERVANT!" What a tribute: they become the criterion of blindness, to whom so much was so vainly given by so many, and this above all, by their OWN Messiah, a privilege of no other people, a gift which nevertheless they repudiated with scoffing and scorn. However in this the Gentiles have joined in the last 200 years especially, with a vehemence, vigour and scorn, sometimes slightly sophisticated as in some of the sensationalistic articles not absent from the news magazine category, devoid of wisdom and knowledge to a degree equal to any competition! sometimes pseudo-academic as in seminaries at least as debased as any scribal falsetto.
In these ways, the now duly instructed Gentile nations (or to a large extent so), have turned from the better to the worse, from God to their fabricated ideas, fables and follies (just as predicted in II Timothy 3 and 4:3-4, for God has told us all what is to be, so that very blind might see, be they Jewish or Gentile). Instructed, they get leave, so that
Europeby many, including a major missionary organisation, is now, and has long been viewed as a mission field!
In other words, the Gentile decay of the theological teeth, through bad diet and bad will, has been in its way a fitting rejoinder, as if to preserve from all racism! New Gentile 'servants' in name but not in word and deed, vie with each other and the ancient work of Israel in its divinely cited rebellion, as for an Olympic rating in sophisticated subversion, sometimes with this as the express purpose (as shown in the WCC case, where Communists used the connection for simple infiltration and corruption or manipulation: found through the records made available through glasnost).
However, the focus in Isaiah is on the opening up of the Gentiles, beyond only Jewry, to the Gospel, as in Isaiah 24:16ff., 42:6 and 49:6, in tune with the music of several psalms in the 60s, with Jeremiah 19ff. and other places.
WHILE this happens, still the nation of Israel AS a nation, remains blind: so Isaiah 42:18ff., 23-25, reproves them with words likely to assist their repentance; for there are times when the most direct speaking is the only kind left, though it be underlaid with tenderness and compassion, calling, calling...
No more, however, can even the most calloused heart pretend that there is something specially irritating about the 'favouritism' accorded the Jew. They were to show forth the praise of God (43:21), in terms of a covenant, and did not in the end achieve this through prolonged decline and eventual disaster (49:7), being eventually replaced (Isaiah 41-42, 51-52 as above), first by the Messiah, "An Israel in whom I will be glorified" (49:3), and then in Him, with the believers from all nations (49:6, 24:16ff.). As to these, they are as ONE to be raised in the resurrection (26:19), while Israel was to be restored first to the land as we have seen already, both in Isaiah and in contemporary history (cf. SMR Appendix A), and later to the Lord (66:10-17). It is then that in large numbers able to be characterised in peace, many of them are to be found joining the ranks, the only ranks still open, of the church of the Lord (66:18-21), the people of God, as do all others, while only they have their specialised history.
Only they have had this special relationship to God from early times (Deuteronomy 4:7-9, 7:7), one with so many phases. It has been one with such rich lessons to be learned by the Gentiles as also by contemporary people in Israel, yet it is one so gravely disregarded by so many of the Gentile peoples, in that sort of incongruous blindness in which they for their part have specialised, that they are to be found looking in Mars for life (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-3), with billions to lose for it in dollars, while ignoring the necessities of their own life on earth. It is however there that God Almighty placed and built life by creation, in man, life of mind matter and spirit; and not even learning from history, as if it were a fallen actor, not an active agent, they proceed to regress like a new driver, unaware that the forward gears so much as exist!
For this, of course, they pay in environment, in psychic distress, both in Israel the land, and among the other nations (cf. Luke 21:23, 25), in educative fiascos (cf. That Magnificent Rock Chs. 1 and 8), in political follies virtually past belief: for if they had not been seen to do these things, or the word of God had not described the human heart without Him as it does (Jeremiah 17:9ff.), or depicted such developments in advance, one would have been in danger of rank incredulity. The case for merely formalistic religion is scarcely better (cf. Isaiah 1)!
So have they gone, the one leading, the other in repressive pogroms despising those whose example they nevertheless, in this crucial regard, they all too aptly follow.
No then, by any means a 'favourite',
is to be delivered, as all sinners must be, of whatever race, by the Lord's hand alone whether in the fulfilment of covenant (Genesis 17 cf. Divine Agenda Chs. 1 and 4, Tender Times for Timely Truths 1, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13), or in the salvation of the soul, of which the former is a picture, the soul itself the quarry in the end. Israel
Notwithstanding all these details and intricacies, yet ones harmonised with happiness, filled with longing, or equipped with lightning rebukes, there are glimpses as we have seen, of the kingdom of heaven, a glance within it at the 'invisible church', though it be one endued with more solidity than it is by many! (cf. SMR pp. 1108ff.).
It is all here - not a camping site for separatees (to coin from the mint), allegorees (to add another coin), transformationists (who will se nothing as it is , despite context), literalists (who make sanctity depend on a lack of responsive imagination).
The unity of Isaiah (given evocative treatment by Osald T. Alllis in his work of that name), and constantly shown in detail here, in its inter-active vitalities, like a digestive system with all the organs not one of which is readily dispensable without disorder to the whole - it is a quality that moves in fact to be more than unity. The book of prophecy is cohesive, inimitable, like that of the body, each part depending on the other, and supporting it - cf. Ephesians 4:16. It is stated here, developed there, exposited somewhere else, put allegorically, literally, passionately, in quietness, in poignancy: it brings the whole yearning and yet judgment of God from first to last, to a declaration definitive, admirable, unyielding, and for this one work, complete.
Seeing it in faith whole, and diverse simultaneously, as in other ordered creations, here the word of God direct from His mouth, is to make the acquaintance of the author, as He enables, enlightens and moves throughout, depositing meaning, directing hearts, completing hints, consummating symbolism, and yet again, returning to directness. It is like a lover who is never weary of this or that tinge, hint, nuance, declaration, development, winsomeness, challenge, and the means to the end circulate as in a blood system, bringing something of the past parts of history to the present and thrusting them to the latter part of time, our Age, in this comprehensive book, so that the mind is entranced, the eye alerted, the mind set at rest.
ISLANDS thus mount in our tally. It is good to come to organic agreement more and more, not pushing this or that partial reflection, but rejoicing in the whole. As this has been used in the above references to focus the areas where diversities have tended to extremes, not warranted. The reader of Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2 may recall the concept of return to the mainland in moderation and scriptural care, in issues of unnecessary division. It becomes not least the acceptance of the challenge to avoid these too effusive extremes while by no means ignoring their contributions, and seeing the basis for all, taking nothing beyond the scripture itself.
For such increases of unity, may the Lord prepare the hearts of His people as the century moves to its unwitting end, witless as time, but known by God, and in principle and kind, revealed in His word (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
In this case, then in particular, of understanding Isaiah, we see:
- the diversity,
- fluidity (as in the last verse, giving hell a terrestrial depiction in impactive tableau),
- and yet sobriety (as in Chs. 9,11);
- the contemporary charge and challenges (as in 1, 7, 30, 37-38, 43-45, 57, 59),
- the distant heights found (12, 24, 40, 6061,65),
- the display of national and international divine dynamics (2, 9, 11, 32, 49, 63, 66)
- and the individual tenderness (55, 1 - the earlier aspect of the latter notwithstanding - 54, 42, 63 and latter 66),
- the kingdom of heaven (60-66 in flights and reviews, distant depictions to come and past), and glints of a consolidated invisible church;
- the scarification of pomp, pretence and hypocrisy (9,1,65,28-30,59)
- and the elevation of purity of spirit (6,33,66 beginning),
- in the midst of its own natural lowliness in the Lord (6,66,33) so that we have
- not a compound, or a mere synthesis, but an exposition extraordinary.
What is it like ? It is like a huge medical text book such as Gray's Anatomy, spreading out before us what is there, combined with a Street Directory, and a photo album of magnificent coastal scenery. Then there is the intimate loveliness to be perceived with due understanding of what happens when land meets sea, and sea meets clouds at its horizon: spiritual wonder from the Lord meeting terrestrial occasions; and all this, combined with aerial views, and intimate talks from the guide, with overviews and vignettes thereon presented in tutorial .
Over all is the Messiah, His Gospel imbuing all like the setting sun, glorious in beauty and in its departing effulgence, remarking that it will rise again (26:19): His one Gospel never changing, like that orb in its colourful splendour, with its own light, exclusive of the various forms of darkness, inhibiting misunderstanding either through preconceived ideas, or other dim obfuscations.
Indeed, His Messianic light is intense, all the more, because of its intimate beauty.
THIS light moreover, has arisen, never to die - Revelation 1:18ff., Isaiah 60:19, 61:1-4, 9:7, 55:3-4.
For Excerpt on Isaiah 59, 63, 66 see end of this Chapter.
EXCERPT from The
Biblical Workman, Appendix I, On Faith
especially on Isaiah 59-66
7. MOBILITY OF FAITH
Isaiah gives a beautiful expression of faith, its mobility, agility, responsiveness like a sports car, or fast patrol boat, to the mind of Christ.
Let us rove with this fast-moving vehicle of expression given from the Almighty in the rushing torrent of revelation of Isaiah 59-66, at which it ends.
In Ch. 59 you see a devastating exposure of corruption and inveterate wickedness. As in Matthew 23 and Jeremiah 23, you find such a denouement of moral disaster, such a cyclone of vicious decline, swept by compulsive winds of unspiritual pride and spiritual madness, that you can hardly believe the Lord could be so merciful and patient as to tolerate it AT ALL, for ANY time. But He does - and II Peter 3:9 shows us the continuing, but far from eternal, bearing and forbearing, as the end draws near, in the time of the New Covenant epoch, in which we are all now placed.
Ponder these words:
"For our transgressions are multiplied before You,
And our sins testify against us;
For our transgressions are with us,
And as for our iniquities, we know them:
In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing from our God,
Speaking oppression and revolt,
Conceiving and uttering from the heart, words of falsehood.
"Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street, ]
And equity cannot enter.
Thus the prophet moves to tell us of the coming intervention in magnificent power, of the Redeemer.
At once, Isaiah 59:20-21, God makes this declaration of the end, an end seen in the light of the sufferings and resurrection of Christ in Isaiah 26, 42,49,52-55, to be solemn, assured, and to be destined at the end of the generations of trial, without fail, by divine appointment and certainty. The Redeemer comes in prevailing power, just as (v.21), His word as always, amidst the mobilities of divine action, remains immovable, immutable, disjoined from life only by the sick surgeons of nominalism, adventurism and that genuine antinomianism, which while wanting a free gospel, wants to divorce God from His own mouth, so making a new 'god'! Not so - Matthew 4:4 arrests their folly, as does II Corinthians 11:1-15,4:I-4, John 5:1-4, John 14:21-23, and in Matthew 5:17-20, 28:19-20, where TEACHING ALL that He has commanded is as real as the Gospel of grace. THIS is a result of it!
As we are committed to His word, SO IS HE! Thus He comes as He said, and the lustre and loveliness of His ways, comes in its varied marvels, though He, He is always the same.
In Isaiah 60, then, you see such a merger of Jerusalem and salvation as makes the heart glad - the walls are called salvation, the gates praise (60:18) in a Jerusalem of international focus and value, where (60:19):
"The sun shall no longer be our light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord shall be your everlasting light,
And your God your glory."
Here glory and victory, triumph and vindication, peace and power all mix in what is like a celestial sunset at the end of the day of pride. Restoration of Israel merges with triumphant new faith for the many, the symbolisation of the international kingdom of heaven, as in 66:19ff., 65:13-15, and the very light of heaven seems to shine on the preparatory structure as it day of wonder settles in, like heavy rain in Winter, showing more and more of its targeted destiny.
we are looking at a city which is almost like an architectural expression of
the body of Christ, the format of Paul in Romans 12, I Cor. 12; and this,
following Isaiah 52-53, not to mention 49:6 (the Gentile extension
proclamation), is certainly not limited to Israel racially, but rather is a focus
for each of those who is a "Jew inwardly" (Romans 2:29) and in whom Christ
lives (Col. 1:27), "Christ in you, the hope of glory". The former
things are transformed, the earlier modes are sculptured in light, and the city
becomes a show of glory with the Lord lighting it up like a citadel into which
Moses might have gone, had it been in his time.
But this is now, or soon to come, and not then; it is for all, and not for some; it is for those called by the "new name" (Isaiah 65:13-15), who inherit all things (Romans 8:32ff.).
goes Isaiah 60. In Ch.61, we turn yet again, and swiftly. We find the focus now
in an ecstasy of gentleness and grace, in the Messiah in His lowly helpfulness
- and effectual deliverance of bound souls, with personal delicacy and adapted
strength. So do we come to those verses cited by Christ when He spoke in the
In Isaiah 62, you see watchmen standing on the walls of
You shall no longer be termed 'Forsaken' ... So shall your sons marry you."
In Isaiah 63 you find yourself joining in a survey of the prodigious performances of the Lord in kindness and care in the past, after seeing Him enter, blood-stained and "mighty to save" as a tableau, a flash to the future when action shall indeed come for the deliverance of His people, as presaged in Isaiah 59.
At the end of Ch. 63 (vv.15ff.) to early 64 in Isaiah, the prayer is swept into our ears, the supplication being made, and it moves from poignancy to desperation as the desire mounts to the heavens for needed divine action.
entreaty is from those of whom Abraham was ignorant, we read, those whom
Yet the Lord rejects an intervention once and for all to deliver the people at this time, for alas their hearts are not ready. Instead, coming events are pictured, not it is true, as far forward as the Messiah pictured so often previously, but events to come instead of the total deliverance sought. Indeed, Isaiah at this time identifies in spirit with those soon to inherit a ruined, burnt temple in line with the negatives of Isaiah 65:1, where the Lord in the light of the painful insincerity of the people of the land, rather becomes known to "those who sought not for Me", indeed He declares, "I said, 'Here I am!, Here I am !' to a nation which was not called by my name." These two negatives are of the essence of negation!
is then Gentiles find the lake of His peace, while the people who had been
called by His name, faithless (cf. Isaiah 30:8-9, and the challenge of Isaiah
1), inherit for the time, desolation and destruction, amid humiliation in a
torrent of horror, a physical match to the moral degradations and spiritual
rebellion noted at the outset of this segment of Isaiah, in Ch. 59.
The mounting rejection of the plea of those who still love Him, seeking for intervention instead of judgment in this epoch (cf. Ezekiel 14:14, 14:20, where even Daniel, Noah and Job could only deliver themselves, not the people, even if they interceded, such is the corruption), rises to a negative crescendo in Isaiah 65:13-15. Here it is made clear that no abiding deliverance comes to the Jews, until they share the "new name" (Isaiah 62:2, 65:13) for the Lord's adopted people, which as Isaiah 65 shows, is to be for the Gentile peoples, with Himself the criterion, and not merely for some nation, or any one people. It is then that He will be found by "those who sought not for Me".
The final phase of new heavens and anew earth suddenly flashes,
an instant tableau (65:17), like that case Isaiah 63:1ff., where the Lord,
mighty to save, is seen coming from vigorous action in
In that case, a phase of the final deliverance, most likely correlative with Ezekiel 38-39, is seen; and perhaps both parallel Isaiah 59:17-20. Now the "final solution" , not for Jews only, but for the believing remnant of the whole human race, is seen in vision of a whole new celestially visited site (Isaiah 65:18-25).
turning from the plan for a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17), back to
this earth, we see next a scene of such millenial favour as links the presence
of sinners subdued, but humble with a peace which is a paramount item. It is
then that the Lamb and lion lie down together, and
but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed" - 65:20.
vast has been the focus on the redeeming work through the blood of the Messiah,
on the part of Isaiah hitherto, that it is now clear that in this end arena of
terrestrial history, we are leaving the obsolete for the new, paralleled by
covenant" (Ch.31) in which the altar will not come to mind (Jeremiah
3:16); and that thus alone is the saving action sought in Isaiah 63:15-64:6, to
be obtained. Here, for that earlier impassioned prayer, is the answer's place,
and nowhere else; so that until this place of heart is found, neither is the
answer to that eloquent and poignant prayer (63:15ff.).
eventual deliverance that is to come with such vigour and splendour, reminds us
of the enormous saving realisation to come to Israel, as in Zechariah 12:10,
leading on to what then becomes appropriate, the drastic deliverance of
Zechariah 14, in which the Lord's feet are seen to come to Mt Olivet, the King
whose quality is so well attested, returning to the place of His torment, in
triumph for His people.
Now we see a vindication in these new and glorious terms (cf. the tableau of 63:1), in 66:5ff. The land, now seen as pressed with the mass of newly arrived occupants (Isaiah 49:19), is here presented as incorporated into renewed existence in a moment, in an epochal way that is staggering to the historian (66:8). Its restoration to its people is sudden, dramatic, astonishing (in fact, happening in May 1948 after nearly 2000 years, in this post-crucifixion prophetic era, clear alike in Isaiah 52-53, and in Zech.12:10 -14:15).
the time for the Jewish deliverance does come just as it did for the
Messiah's first but unwisely rejected entry (cf. Isaiah 53:1-5, 49:7, Psalm
102:13,16-21). Prayer's answer does come, but not until the time is
ripe, the people readied, with the predestinatively prepared scene and scenario
appropriate (cf. Romans -26). Then it is, that for
The reflection (66:18) is next made in terms of
Thus in THAT necessary process of proclamation, without which the sought peace CANNOT be known, Jew and Gentile alike serve in the ministry, teaching all nations (cf. Matthew 28:19-20).
is this all. The glory of the Lord is to be revealed to ALL (Isaiah 66:14-16,
friend and enemy alike) in action whether hostile or protective, in dealing
with this ultimate revolt from Himself, His rule and His clemency, and then and
(66:18), for they shall be gathered.
just and gracious preliminary to this final power of the Lord who overcomes the
folly of militant man, is thus lovingly and long exposed To those in the
interim, which is now, those not yet met with the glory of the Lord, THIS is
the prelude to the finale, these pervasive, international, Jew-Gentile
messengers; for through them the word is sent to "those who have not heard My fame nor
seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles" It is then that
Gentile ministers are to abound (66:20 cf. Romans 15:16), as in due fulfilment
of this precious word of God, cried out for centuries before Christ, and for
many centuries since, it now is! Then the end comes (cf. Matthew 24:30-31,50).
Then, is the aftermath of the vindication of the believers, here focussed in the Jewish contingent, yet not without their companions in the Gospel, which is one (Isaiah 49:6) -
"Hear the word of the LORD,
You who tremble at His word:
'Your brethren who hated you,
Who cast you out for My name's same, said,
'Let the Lord be glorified,
That we may see your joy'".
But they shall be ashamed" - Isaiah 66:5.
The nature of the deliverance to effect and achieve this manifest result, follows.
"For behold the LORD will come with fire
And with His chariots, like a whirlwind" - 66:15.
It issues in a peace .. .
"Behold I will extend peace to her like river", and
"so I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in
So in this ultra-Exodus, this ultimate act to endue and deliver His people Lord enters the situation to produce a peace which is that magnificent attestation of His pre-eminence in the heart, in the universe, and over all creation.
Then is seen a millenial/celestial picture in which the reality of hell, though far removed form the elect through the good news the work of the Messiah constitutes, is "all too near". .. constituting a fearful reminder of hell, a Gehenna in its eternal format (Isaiah 66:24). NO GOSPEL, no glory; no glory, no salvation; for the salvation is the glory of the Lord, EXHIBITING IT, EXPRESSING IT, ATTESTING IT; and Christ Jesus is that salvation (Isaiah 42:6, 49:5-6, 51:6, 60:2, Galatians 6:14, John 17:1-3, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Revelation 5:9-10,13, Romans 5:8) for whom the people of Israel are too small a field, for whom all the world is the parish, from which He shall heal and remove His own, with everlasting joy upon their heads (Isaiah 35:10).
Overview of Our Excursion into Isaiah
Firstly, we note this:
1) Thus faith must turn at every movement of this athletic vision, following like a bounding hunting dog, every movement of the Master. Faith loves, for it is a connecting cord to the God of all comfort, and love is able to be agile to adapt to every passing change in the face of the beloved (cf. Psalm 123:2).
The hunting dog bounds joyfully over the terrain of revelation, full of surprises, sudden pictures, slopes and hills, with the "sun of righteousness" arising over all, "with healing in His wings" (cf. Malachi 4:2), which in turn follows the challenging reality:
"For behold the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes all who do wickedly will be stubble."
Secondly, let us reflect:
2) in our walk as Christians with the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of God who proceeds from Father and Son (John 15:26), we must be ready for adjustments to our practical course, as a captain adjusts the course at the helm as the waves, weather and currents move. The objective is the same, the substance of the commission is unalterable; while the method is trained to the elements, to overcome them: to do so only within the realms of right, and with that caveat, under the guidance of the God of all comfort, that we need to be agile, as Paul teaches, like trained athletes (II Timothy 1:4-5, I Timothy 4:7), who "exercise... towards godliness".
In toleration, we are "all things to all men", in the matters which are non-essential, bending as we may, within the word of God, so that all may be drawn the better to Him (cf. I Corinthians 9:15-23); in purity we must exercise ourselves, lest in anything we are drawn by the currents and tides of the times from the very direction of the course. THAT is unprofitable, unfaithful and foolish.
Is it not then great, knowing the Lord, to see how faith is in His hands, an instrument well able to relay and realise what is needed, mobile, sure, steadfast and steady, reinforced (Ephesians 3:16), and growing in the soil of an enlarged heart, fashioned by the Lord (Isaiah 40:26ff.).
3) Inspiration is gained from Isaiah's long-term predictions.
Carefully developed, enlivened by flashes of perspective - as when the mist moves aside in a mountain-top view of the lands beneath, revealing what was obscured, and giving sudden realisation of terrain and its inter-relationships, part with part; equipped with vignettes, tableaux, graphic depictions, gaunt solemnities, endearing entreaties, tender compassions, the words of the prophet show the price of the victory, the purging that goes with its acceptance by those to whom it is given, the deep counsel of the Lord, the unalterable Gospel, the grace that abounds like a geyser, all from the Lord who speaks as He pleases, and acts when He will.
While the mobility of method is sensitive, adept (cf. Hosea 12:10), just as the love is vast, enduring (Isaiah 55:1-6, cf. Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 2:1-3), the profundity is continually searching, and the development of the scope of judgment is paralleled by the imperial, majestic, unalterable progress of predicted history and evangelical truth. As it is written, so it is. As it was to be, so it has been, and so it will be. Both history and gospel have come precisely as described in the prophets, and as in Isaiah, our current locus of focus (cf. SMR Ch.9)..
In this prophetic writing, the Messiah Himself is exhibited as by an historical artist, with a continuing appointment, centuries before the "subject" appears. Meanwhile, His surroundings are limned in, with ever-increasing detail, like the background to the portrait.
In some ways, it resembles the computing picture program which over a short time, fills in first the outline then the detail, and that in increasing definition, till the depiction on the screen is done. (Cf. SMR pp. 901-902, and pp. 17ff, Ch.1 , above.)
Truly it is maintained as Isaiah 59:21 has said, to the generations, and the vision form the Lord, splendid, succinct yet uncramped, cohesive, integral and growing like an oak, with side branches to the contemporary history of the prophet himself, strong and sweeping, presents itself alive, lively, fearless, faithful, undeterrable, as given by the Spirit of the Lord (I Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 1:17-21). This as Peter indicates, and like all scripture of the Lord God, came not from man's mental mechanics or machinations, but from the thrust of the Almighty which carried His messengers along like a torrent or uncontainable wind, till the divulgement was done.
Done, it now stands, as it has stood and will stand, in superb solemnity, uncompromising in rigour and vigour, of inconceivable power, containing the inevitable remedy for man in the invincible words of God. The world will go first (Isaiah 51:6); but His salvation and His righteousness go on with scant regard to the erection or folding up of the stage. It is the actors who are of concern.
The world, the universe is to go, as Isaiah declares. In the meantime, it goes according to plan - His (cf. Ephesians -11). "The word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:6-8), while those who wait upon Him "renew their strength," from His (Isaiah 40:26-31), and He knows them, and their way (cf. Psalm 1:6).
Truly, the prophecy is like a light in a dark place (II Peter 1:19), until there arises that celestial ultimacy, when in the direct presence of the Lord Himself, the triune Majesty (22:1,3), of the throne of the Lord Almighty and the Lamb, both the both the Temple, the Lamb the light, we see Him face to face (II Peter 1:19, Revelation 22:4, 21:22).
For SMR references to Isaiah, see SMR Biblical Index.
EXCERPT From Later Volume:
You may now wish to see more on Isaiah, especially 60-66 in
More Marvels from the Majesty and Mind of the Almighty, Ch. 6.
There is also a heavily interwoven treatment,
especially of the movement in the later chapters of Isaiah,
in Little Things 1. This features the developments, their impact and their meaning.
EXCERPT from More Marvels from the Majesty and Mind of the Almighty Ch. 11
EXCERPT on Isaiah 66 - for this click here.
EXCERPT on Isaiah 58-66,
Chapter on Isaiah 42, 59, 51, 53 and allied areas
And another of broad coverage of Isaiah
Relevant also is Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 3 in its treatment of Isaiah 63,65
with some reference to 66.
Extensive work on Isaiah 65-66 appears in Messiah ... Ch. 4 (2013).