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The TWO-EDGED SWORD
FOR and AGAINST -
and the setting is
SIN or SALVATION
As noted in the last Chapter, there are sections of the Bible which specialise on the judgments on Israel and those on the judges of Israel alike; and there are wonderful depths in all this, so that superficial treatment is merely like telling the doctor that you have spots, and forgetting to relate that your temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, that your pulse is double the norm and that you are having visions of pink elephants doing amazingly geometrical waltzes while explaining algebraic equations in a gallant manner. You need not merely the part, but the entirety to be in view.
We were planning to visit the following references:
Isaiah 51:22-23, with 47:1 and 6, 49:24-28 (content), 54:17 for review,
Jeremiah 30:15-16, 48:28-36, 51:9, 49,56,
Ezekiel 35:11-15, 36:5,22-29, 37:24.
Zechariah 2:7 merging to 2:11., 12:2,
Zephaniah 2:8-10, 3:2,15,18-19. with Zechariah 11:7-13, and 13:4-7, Isaiah 24:14-16.
So far, we have covered in some little detail, Jeremiah 48:28ff.. In this Chapter, we shall use Isaiah 51:22-23 with 49:24-28. It seems best to keep to the next chapter the particularities of Isaiah 47:1 and 6 on Babylon, and 54:17, which does not directly apply.
Now we turn to another classic of exposition in this area, namely Isaiah 49:25-26 with 51:22-23.
Before, however, we come to this delightfully inspiring word from the Bible, let us reflect for a moment.
What are you waiting for! That is the word you often get when there is some action expected of you, some opportunity presents itself or a need becomes too obvious to doubt!
What are we waiting for, who trust in the Lord and see beyond any question the direction of His word, of His history and of our works on this earth, as a race ? One thing we see, it is this: that it is very well that we are a special people, a chosen race, a people in the Messiah, a royal priesthood, for of a truth, to be in and of this world is deadly, it is sin special, a high cost option. But what, then ARE we waiting for ?
There is one major event. It is not merely an eventuation, or even a dispensation. It is the delivery to this earth, in fulsome power, of the Son of Man, of Jesus Christ resurrected, having been inspected by the early apostles in their day, and all those witnesses of His breach-birth from the womb of death (cf. Luke 24, I Corinthians 15, Psalm 2:7, Hebrews 1:5, Acts 13:33ff.); it is the arrival and appearance of Him who is now coming as He so incisively and dramatically told His betrayers in the ecclesiastical establishment, which immediately preceded the Christian Church (Mark 14:62).
Not that this, His return (cf. Acts 1:7ff.) is the utter end of this earth; for yet it must suffer, endure a while longer (from the perspective of the disillusionists who accept nothing but nothing as their father, and not an inventor but fashioned 'nature' as their source, as they goose-step in their invented illusions which are the product of disillusion with the reality which stops at nothing, but assuredly does not start with it!). But what does this earth at the coming of Christ with His saints (Jude 14, Revelation 19), have to endure ? It is righteousness, in which all His people will exult and rejoice; for folly, evil and rancour, temper tantrums and egotisms have been like a leprosy on the earth of grasping greed and wilful oppression, obsession and obstruction, for long enough.
It is ONLY GOD who can restore the earth, run it, manage it, manifesting His own glory as its Creator and neither plan nor scheme (as in Psalm 2 against Him and His Messiah), nor power nor glory, which is but a fading replica, invented by metaphysical photography, defunct before it begins, an illusionist work*1 , nor subtlety nor evasion can counsel its ways or its inhabitants, who thus wrangle and writhe, wrestling with the truth till their torturous faces become pallid with effort and contorted with evil (cf. Romans 1:17ff.).
First then the Messiah, the Christ killed on divine time around A.D. 30, as foretold (cf. Galatians 4:4, Christ the Citadel ... Ch. ... 2), this Word of God (John 1:1) comes to collect His team, like a Tour leader arriving to gather the group together. They are of course removed from this earth, as He was, for in that final bout of evil, there is no place for them. It is only after He returns, after the solemn, spiritual and glorious 'wedding' (Rev. 19:1ff.), which signifies the attestation and congregation of His people, coming with them as in Revelation 19, that the wonder of His wisdom comes into terrestrial fruition. The earth now SEES the results that sin has for so long in so many words and ways, tried to conceal. The glory of the Lord will cover it.
Now, therefore, He exhibits on this earth what it has for so long, so arduously and with such effort and devious deceit, avoided.
What is that ? It is HIS righteousness, equity and truth; it is His light and peace and enduements on this earth, until it is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11, Habakkuk 2:14, Psalm 72, Revelation 20).
Then comes that glorious revelation of the fraud of those who try to make all sin the result of environment, as if the complete differentials between the behaviour of those afflicted in this way, and that, the brave and the cringing, were nothing, overcoming were a mirage and victory a dream: yet many do not dream who in Christ secure it. Others, caving in below weight find another option rather than a necessity! I, said Paul, can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13).
Thus, with this earth regaled in splendour, under direct control of Christ as King (cf. Micah 4, Isaiah 2, 11), there comes a revolt (Revelation 20). It is not enough, that with the devil bound and peace abroad, the glory of God is seen. It is the glory of obstruction, of the devil, of the antagonist, of vaunting ambition and vaulting pride that is desired by many; and so they rebel. Good conditions do not even count. Ultimate blessedness is traded in for current fraud of thought, of aspiration and of control.
This, without clothes for its shame, is extinguished and the heaven and the earth, having performed its play-pen role, or more augustly, its laboratory office, its day comes, and it is removed.
God made it; and like an old car (cf. Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35), He removes it. It has by then served its purpose: multiple indeed, showing (as in Psalm 8) His glory, but as with a polluted sunset, from oil refineries by the sea-shore, it is obscured by its belching smoke of turmoil and dirt.
WHAT then are we waiting for ? It is for the return of Christ to receive us, the return with Him to attest Him who rules, the removal of this earth when its day is done and the consummation of all enterprise, in the new heavens and the new earth (II Peter 3), occasioned by the removal with great heat and noise (II Peter loc. cit.) of this one. That is when all those preliminaries, those preludes of consummation are past.
But let us meanwhile, return to this earth, for it is not gone as yet, and to Israel, that geographical and racial attestation of the Lord, for all its failures, which He has used not only in the provision of the Old Testament scriptures, of the patriarchs and as base for Jesus Christ, but as a fivefold testimony as well.
It is first of
to plant (Exodus and Joshua, into Israel's promised land),
to bring glory to this earth (David and Solomon, within the land, for the
as not being a substitute for truth, but a delay for those who look for it,
judgment, which Israel has suffered in so many ways for so many days
Indeed, that re-occupation of their Capital, it is a sure sign that the end of the Age is bursting upon us, as you see from Christ's own words in Luke 21. It is like Spring in the buds that glisten in the increasing sunshine. Small wonder the world is almost bursting at the seams in an endeavour to bring its fatness of heart to bear on that city, eyes ravening as their probe it in anticipation. But it is not theirs.
In this section of Isaiah, we move from the Messianic Isaiah 49 (paralleled in 42), where the Messiah is shown as having an operation for salvation too great to fit merely into Israel's land and people, for it is as a "light to the Gentiles" that He ALSO comes, thus becoming "My salvation to the ends of the earth." In Isaiah 41 at its end, we see that NONE among those of Israel can fulfil this work; but then in 42:1ff., HIS servant, His chosen does it, hence evacuee from heaven to perform the work of Deity, as the Son of Man, on this earth. Evacuee ? rather, Commissioned Lord and Christ, infinite in intimacy with the Lord, one God (Isaiah 48:16, John 5:19ff., 8:58).
As to that, Isaiah 43:10-11 shows us that the author, source and constitutional basis of salvation, the One who has it and is it, is GOD ONLY AND ALONE. This then is His fellow (as in Zechariah 13:7, that Good Shepherd which as we have seen earlier, is God Himself; and indeed, as in Hosea 13:14 it is this same God who will pay for redemption and obliterate the judgment of death for His people, one by one -as in Zechariah 12:10ff.). HE ONLY is Saviour, and it is Jesus the Messiah who PAID in the coin of His own self! (Isaiah 52-53). Sender and Sent, one God, and this is shown with precision in Isaiah 48:16, the Spirit also in view as the Trinity operates in His grandeur of love, compassion and judgment - focussing first on Himself, vicariously in Christ.
As we proceed with this theme, as it proceeds like the dawn, cumulatively, we come to Isaiah 49:23ff.. We learn that God will take famous action to restore Israel to its land, with kings its 'foster fathers' as was the effectual case in the German reparations for example, and the Balfour Declaration from Britain in 1917, and the release by General Allenby in the same year.
This is coming as in Isaiah 59 to its culmination; but meanwhile we learn of God's intentions to those of the new phase, not this time in INVESTITURE of the papacy by the emperor, in the most unholy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, and beyond, or anything of that forbidden kind (cf. Matthew 23:8-10), but the DIVESTITURE, to mimic the term, of Israel.
Divestiture ? of Israel ? Why yes, its intended and conceived removal by man, from its place, history, significance, and of the divine signature of Genesis 17, despite its miserable failure in much. Strip it bare: this is the raging ferment of the nations increasingly, as Psalm 2 so well portrayed, as it moves on to His coming rule in power on this self-same earth.
WILL they, those who so rage against Israel, will they indeed be permitted to rub out this race, to divest it of its place in the end ? When salvation comes for all who will receive it (Isaiah 53:1,10), will this be a mere phoney substitute for the promises of the past ? Far from it. Read Micah 7 and know!
On the contrary, in the very midst of this robust movement to the Redeemer (as in Isaiah 52-55), with His free salvation purchased entirely in and by Himself, we have this.
"Shall the prey be taken from the mighty,
Or the captives of the righteous be delivered?
"But thus says the Lord:
'Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
For I will contend with him who contends with you,
And I will save your children.
I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
All flesh shall know
That I, the Lord, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.' "
The prey is Israel. The mighty are the nations. Their jaws close, as do those of sharks, those sea-garbage units. Will someone insert the hand and remove the prey ? GOD WILL.
"Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
and the prey of the terrible be delivered" -
and Hitler WAS terrible!
Look back to the height of His power before Russian steppes (not steps, Russia had enormous support) humbled him, and Winter cooled his heat near Moscow! Consider the oppression and the Darwinian excesses of the ludicrous ideas of eugenics and breeding up to supermen, or superb men or whatever you like, in the racial survival epic instituted by the deluded Fuehrer! Shall Jews be delivered when great nations are being destroyed by the slaughterer ? Yes, actually, it will as God said; and it was, as history concluded. He tried; he failed. He slaughtered amidst sordid sadism in the interests of philosophically foolish scientistic imageries of convenience, such as those of Darwin. But Israel continued, despite its rigors and anguish in the wrath of this world, the Satan and the curse it had contrived to secure through disbelief! God is faithful, and knows the bounds of discipline, and stops the withering wrath of man before it is gone too far.
The Nazi impregnability became its lure to doom; and it went. Israel was then shortly born in its new land, once more: this time just physically as Ezekiel 37 had predicted in the two-step restoration parable. But what of all this wrath ? Did it not cumulatively cower and finish off Israel, and did they not give up on Zion ?
Not at all. It proceed in 3 more years to come back to it! But what of this wrath of man on Israel ?
This Hitler fiasco and systematic slaying, it was only the coping stone of the arch of centuries of European and Islamic oppression. Is Israel out of the jaws of Islam now ? Is it about to succumb to this Hitleresque thundering from al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Iran's man of mouth: to this combination ? How COULD it be delivered ? Is not Obama making it obvious that to him, Islam is a 'good' religion, even that which IN FACT defies and defiles Jesus Christ, daring to innovate with HIS name, dismiss His deity and depart from the records of history, some 6 centuries after the event, moving indeed to base the baseless on mere declarations!*2
He did not hesitate in his mind, and for his purpose, to remove the deity and the substitutionary atonement in its integral fulfilments in the contours of prophecy and history: and O Obama, this is a GOOD religion ? May God have mercy on your soul while you consider what you are doing!
How glorious is the trinity*3 who has fellowship for ever, and in inventing man did not increase Himself, but made scope for others to share in His love and mercy, truth and splendour of life. God always has fellowship in Himself: He does not need man but man assuredly needs Him, and not the works of imagination of heart as in Jeremiah 23, that age-old slippage, like an airplane taking off and slipping sideways, only to crash, when the whole universe of air above was available.
Available ? yes, for God is always available where He may be found, in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, but not to father foundlings of their own species of 'faith', but to receive the penitent, come to the contrite, accept those believing in Him, and hence in Him whom He sent on time, for the work which all the world has savoured now for these millenia, just as it waited for it, for other millenia before He came at His time as appointed.
How clear is the word then, as the time of the Messiah is seen to approach in the prophecy of Isaiah in Chapter 49. In the midst of these predicted divine preliminaries approaching the zenith of salvation, what is to become of Israel, even of that Israel, which as in 49:7, will ABOMINATE the Lord, on His arrival. What now ?
Certainly, they would suffer, as was made so clear in Deuteronomy 29-32, but they would NEVER be extinguished while sun and moon continued!
Are they a prey, then, to many nations and religions ? Indeed they are, and though they have asked for their plight, God will nevertheless deliver them out of it in His own two step coming program, back to the land and back His redemption in Jesus Christ, in large part, as He has shown.
What then do we hear learn, in Isaiah 49 ? It is this.
They prey WILL be taken from the captor, for God said so. The entirety of what Israel would come to suffer in the midst of the Messianic, from its earlier depravity in the priestly department, sale of office and the like, traditional additions to void the word of God (Mark 7:7ff.), whether from the oppressive tyrannies of Rome in the first centuries, or of the Holy Roman Empire in much later ones, whether of Europe and Russia in their mounting centuries, or from Hitler in his mountain that became a mole-hill entrenched in a Berlin bunker: this is NOT going to suffice. Not any one nor all of these things will extinguish Israel. It is not because it is strong (cf. Deuteronomy 32:36), but because HE is strong who executes His word (cf. Joel 2:11).
It will not avail to do a Nasser, a Hitler, an Ahmadinejad, an al Qaeda, on Israel, shut the hungry eyes, pull the trigger and hope! Each author of malediction, each one cursing, each harassing and seeking to overcome, will not overthrow, but rather succumb before the power of God. This reaches heights of confrontation as seen in Micah 7, Isaiah 59, Deuteronomy 32, Ezekiel 38ff..
Battles ? Yes. But God has sufficed for His fulfilment on Israel, and in the overall picture in the very realms of the Messiah, enough is enough! NOW what ?
"I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
and they shall be drunk with their own blood" - Isaiah 49:26.
It is never really nice to seek to exterminate the little ones, you know, and the great ones, because of some delusion about gods! The only God*4 to make Himself verifiable and validated to reason, which HE made for man, is the one of the Bible, whose word has overthrown all contest for all time, and done so famously in our own time, or that near it, notoriously indeed for the last century or so, from 1917 forwards.
"All flesh shall know that I, the LORD,
am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."
God even makes a declaration about it, precisely as is to be seen in Ezekiel 37:23,28. He says what He will do, what He will overcome, what He preserve (and this is nothing to look for, without Him), and what will be the case when He has finished! It is all there, and history unfolds like those fern fronds which are all there, but upon maturity then reveal what it IS that is there! God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and IS Alpha and Omega.
Thus it is, as the amazing survival of Israel is engendered before our very eyes despite the treachery of some, the massacres of others, the duplicity of a third group and the pawing of the foot of false religion, as it estimates the power of God, and what it has to oppose it. It does not matter what you CALL it: there is one attested God for reason and faith alike*4, and it is HE who speaks AND acts, He alone, in millenial concert, never able to be shown false, always astonishing with His precision and power; and yet never merely dictating, but giving liberty its scope and rebellion its opportunity, for once and for all time alike, to show what it has! NIHIL, nothing is the answer, when you look up from the murderously flowing blood.
In this Isaiah 49, therefore, moving as it does to verses 23ff., we find God's tryst even when Israel is astray; for His eye is on the end (Isaiah 46:10), and of this there is no truncation, but assurance as in Micah 7, as His mercy comes through to the end, just as in Romans 11. It is a special work both for and upon Israel, and even a vast revival in repentance concerning Jesus the Christ as in Zechariah 12-13, and Isaiah 59 is scheduled and so will surely come.
These words, which God has given the prophet Isaiah, they will NEVER DEPART from generation to generation, and they DO NOT (Isaiah 59:21): the end coming while these, they stay (cf. Matthew 24:35).
We move, now with due realism about the continuation of Israel's rebellion (Isaiah 50:1ff.), meanwhile, into Isaiah 50 where we find in apposition with this, the sufferings of the Messiah which are about to be set forth. These come in their full evangelical robes in Isaiah 52-53, their theological outcomes in 55, and their immovable mercies in 54.
The 'Israel', as in Isaiah 49:3 - "an Israel in whom I will be glorified," one indeed the Saviour, the Prince of God who was such in regal reality, He never flinches. He never fails (cf. Isaiah 42:4), though none in Israel the nation can so much as be found to act at all (Isaiah 41:28-29), all being far below par and power and purity as required (cf. Isaiah 51:18ff.).
It is He whose compassions are towards the broken reed (42:3), the smoking flax, which HE never became: it is He who being Victor and God has man, who graciously inclines to support what is on the point of perishing in mercy and grace, it is He who prevails! There is a message to the weak and the miserable, to take heart, for such is HE!
There He is in Isaiah 50, "I have set My face like a flint!" Indeed, "Who is he who will condemn Me!" - even though "I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide My face from shame and spitting" ... This is as in Mark 14:65, 15:15ff, John 18:36, with the prelude in principle in Matthew 26:52ff..
Thus, having found the One who in focus and feature, in face and in place is the divine salvation (as in Luke 2:29ff.), who is shown in 48:16 to be God the Sent from God the Sender, then as we move from Isaiah 42, through 49 into Isaiah 50, we meet more detail of His vicarious suffering and substitutionary atonement. Here His excoriation at the hands of man, and even beard stripping is noted. Yet for all that, there stands still His reliance on His Sender for His sufficiency as He endures. So to Isaiah 51 we now come.
What is to be found in this gathering and crowding to Christ ? in this continuing schema of progressively revealed salvation in the Saviour from heaven ? Amongst all the rest, there is this: the predicament of Israel. God does not forget.
Once more God stresses (as reflected in Ezekiel 36:22ff.), His faithfulness. Look therefore to see it at Isaiah 51:21ff. Even amidst their evil and corruption, in this VERY setting, His faithfulness supervenes ...
"Therefore please hear this, you afflicted,
And drunk but not with wine.
Thus says your Lord,
The Lord and your God,
Who pleads the cause of His people:
'See, I have taken out of your hand
The cup of trembling,
The dregs of the cup of My fury;
You shall no longer drink it.
But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you,
Who have said to you,
‘Lie down, that we may walk over you.’
And you have laid your body like the ground,
And as the street, for those who walk over.' "
How it has suffered, this Israel, but not nearly as much as He who saved and gives salvation where grace is accorded, repentance is found and faith supervening, mastering feebleness, grasps the Saviour!
This is what is to be in stages, as some come from Israel, a few here, and there; but in the end, it arrives in a massive deliverance for the people not able to be obliterated by multiple tyrants over millenia, despite their own rebellion; for wise is He who is faithful to His word and exalts it above all His name (Psalm 138): for He does not mutate or vary, but knowing wisdom, speaks, and speaking sustains it, whatever He proclaims, that it must be. HE KNOWS! Who will instruct Him! (Isaiah 40:12-13).
How the Lord spurns and exhibits the proud arrogance of those who make of Israel a footpath for their cluntering feet, as now is being wrought by the Madrid Quartet, the terrible foursome in their folly, where words and deeds do not meet!
"Lie down," they say, who would increase the near decimation of Israel already, "that we may walk over you!" How terrible, say those who consider Algeria and Morocco and Egypt and Iran and Iraq and the former Palestine part, Jordan (now not considered for its lion's share already given of Palestine, for reasons most obscure), Pakistan and Afghanistan with their Islamic connections and strengths and familiarity: How terrible, they intone, that another little slice cannot be taken from these tyrannical Jews to add to this vast collection of lands, including much of former Palestine!
Does the Lord not hear ? Be assured! He does.
SMR Chs. 3, 10,
Repent or Perish Ch. 7,
Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 13,
It Bubbles ... Ch. 9,
and the Pentad:
The gods of naturalism have no go!
See The Divine Agenda Ch. 6, More Marvels ... Ch. 4, SMR pp. 1080ff.,
with God's Gift of Grace ... Chs. 3, 4, 5. The almight-clad Allah cannot even remove Israel despite innumerable jihads in his name. The reason is most clear, whether you look at Nasser or the 1973 invasion or the 1948 miracle or at all the rockets sent into this murder site since, which is even condemned by some for not submitting more readily to the land grab from its so far slender inheritance (but it will grow when He comes): God said otherwise (cf. SMR Appendix A).
On the Trinity, see for example, the following, and the references incorporated in them:
The True God has Go, Gives Growth and Glory Ch. 5;
All This Rot About Not Believing the Gospel,
The Sparkling Life ... Ch. 4;
Biblical Blessings Ch. 2 ,
Answers to Questions Ch. 3,
Christ, the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 3;
Of the Earth, Earthy or Celestial in Christ Ch. 6.
SMR , Deity and Design ...,
Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ,
Who Answers Riddles
and Where He is, Darkness Departs
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy.