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AN INTEGRITY WHICH SPEAKS SOOTHINGLY
ISAIAH IN ACTION
(cf. Jesus Christ: the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 4
and see No Thanks Angst!... Ch. 3;
see also Dastardly Dynamics ... Immovable Faith Ch. 3
on Isaiah 48-55 esp.;
Department of Bible ... 7, 3 on Isaiah 1-2, 9, 1, on Isaiah 39-52,
8, 12, on Isaiah 65; 7, 7 on Isaiah 66
ISAIAH 65, SUCH A GREAT MESSAGE BANK
Waiting for Wonder Ch. 10
By now we have seen much of Isaiah, but it is time to look back and over it, and to see its motion, movements of heart, themes of spirit, attenuations and expansions, codas and cadenzas.
It is not intended to write a commentary on Isaiah, or even an Apologetic Commentary, though the preceding three chapters have contained much towards such an end. It is merely to highlight and see the contours, to some extent, sufficient for the purpose in hand. Once the vision is gripped, it grips!
With, then, what has preceded in Chs. 4-6 in mind, let us proceed, to lift-off and look back as the "earth" recedes and the contours, outlines and soaring towers on earth recede, being the more readily discoverable from such a distance.
In Chapter 1 of Isaiah, then, we find the evoking of distaste for sin, the exposure of its wallowings, the detestations of its hypocritical pretensions, vile frauds. This is echoed marvellously in Isaiah 59, and is seen in no small loathing in 10, 29-30 (e.g. vv.9ff.), as in Isaiah 3. Isaiah 59's classic exposť of evil is like the final run to the very top of Mt Everest. All that preceded comes to a culmination verbally and spiritually, in this theme of devastating denunciation, not of mere repugnance, but of sublime divinity, God Himself the speaker through the prophet.
But there is another sub-theme, or if you will, path from this circuit. It goes elsewhere. It is that of realism joined to mercy. It exposes to heal. This is seen in Isaiah 1, especially in those marvellous verses,
This moves through the tableau of Chapter 4:6, where we find that there
WHAT MARVELLOUS PROVISION IS TO COME, THEN ?
In Ch. 7 we find the incarnation, ratified in Ch. 9, with the power of deity Himself vested in the Messiah in Ch. 11, who, as in 28:6, is to be the foundation, bringing peace to the heart and surety to the foot. By Ch. 32, we find the answer in full, having had the vast dramas of Chs. 7 and 9 so confirmed in Chs. 11 and 28. It is that a KING is to be the shelter from storm, HE is to be the "tabernacle", the mystery of this future "building" being now categorically exposed. By Ch. 35 we find that no only, as in Ch. 11, does He rule with irresistible might, in that His word judges irrevocably and His power is without measure, but that His sojourn on earth as the "child" who "is born" from 9:6, has miraculous power to heal. It is such a One as this, who leads on eventually to a kingdom which shall not end as in 9:7, fitting with Daniel , the word,
"His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed."
In Isaiah 9:7, however, just as Daniel preserves the everlasting Majesty of the Messiah, so here we find the intransigeant peace, extending incorruptible from His power to come. In Isaiah 32 therefore we have this quietus of wonder, in which
This MAN, this KING who is to be the hiding place, will also be "a cover from tempest and like rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary in a weary land." Here in Ch. 32 is found the spiritual beauty which before in Isaiah 11, though there we heard indeed that "His resting place shall be glorious", yet manifested more the implacable overthrow of evil.
In Ch. 32, by way of variation and information, we are instead informed of the Lord's removal of protection from the "joyous city",
most parallel to 59:19-20. It is then that
Allied to that, in that day, will come a gospel evoked righteousness from the Lord (as in 61:10), for
"The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever" (32:17), for as in 27:5
"... let him take hold of My strength,
That he may make peace with Me,
And he shall make peace with Me" -
FOR "on Him was laid the iniquity of us all", even of those "healed" (53). That is precisely what makes it so free (as in Chs. 12, 55).
But it is before this, in Isaiah 22 that we have been enabled to see the eminence that is costly. There was the typing of the Messiah through Eliakim, so that the well-known irresistibility of His power, so "He shall open and none shut," is exposed. What however is seen with it ? This: on HIM is to be placed all the paraphernalia of worship, the ceremonial symbols, and He is to be fastened on a nail (22:21-22). Thus He is the cloak room of symbolism, the recipient of meaning formerly put in the temple by various vestments and occasions (as seen being transferred in 4:6).
But the nail on which it is all hung, it is to be CUT OFF, reminding one categorically of Daniel 9:26ff., where the Messiah is to be cut off, and "there is nothing for Him", a desolation of disbelief and dismissal, self-denial in sin-bearing and necessary repudiation qua sin’s requital in substitionary atonement for those who believe, a matter stressed in 53:1 and required in 53:5. Indeed, by Isaiah 50 we find His beard is to be pulled out, and in the name of the Lord, He as man is to be vindicated; while in 51, there is NONE in Jerusalem to deliver it, not one man, but in 52, we find, yes there is ONE, who shall do it (51:18, 52:13, precisely as in 41:28-29 with 42:1 and parallel to 63:3-5, where God once again reveals that it is HIMSELF ALONE who as Saviour will do all that is necessary in might and justification for His people. Naturally, then, "their righteousness is from Me" (Isaiah 54:17).
The cost for such
generosity, liberality and freedom of entry, it is the grotesque marring of His
face, the slogging of whipping, the mutilation to the point of scarcely being
humanly recognisable, a flesh heap of endured vileness and violence, of mind,
spirit and body, sacked for salvation, but being deity, arising in power, as in
Isaiah 53:12, and in 26:19 -
"Your dead body shall live,
My dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead."
But the cost remained. It had to be paid, it was paid and paid in full. It is in HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS that all this is fulfilled, and that is repeated and emphatic.
TWO WAY PROCESS: CELESTIAL IN LOVE, INFERNAL IN HATRED
After all, speaking of the first and greatest commandment, it is with ALL the heart and soul and mind and strength that He was HATED. That is the way with man. He can and often does put his heart into things, and in this last century, we have seen the depths of depravity highlighted by the light of eternity, as the Lord's people have been so harrowed and harassed, blighted and incited, persecuted and purged, that it is seen how true it is: The servant is NOT greater than his master; if they have done it to Christ, they will do it to ... YOU, as He said. But how He blesses His enduring people with an inner light, power and triumph, who complete His work, unbowed, uncompromised, and without carnal belligerence. The love of God continues while the hate of flesh and diabolical instrumentalities, gurgles noisily down the drain of time, to meet an eternity befitting.
Thus, by Isaiah 53 the full theological implications are expressed. But then, in 54, the everlasting mercy is once more shown, as tenderly in 44:1-5, and 46:4,12ff., 62:12, 63:7,14, reminiscent of Chs. 1, 11 and the modalities of 22, with the princely powers of 9 and 32 and the endearing solicitudes of 33. In 55, the FREEDOM of the forgiveness is stressed, just as indicated earlier in Ch. 12, and in 33, the purity, so keenly sought in Ch. 1, is focussed in a treatise in naval form, where the input of evil is to be quelled and a serenity of salvation is to be found.
The loathing of Ch. 34 on
In Isaiah 8, we find that Israel is indeed "Thy land, O Immanuel", into which the Assyrians are in judgment to pour (that is, as at the time of Isaiah's writings, prophetically forecast), but by Ch. 10, we learn that Israel is to be taught never again to rely on the "him who defeated them", but to "depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth."
remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob to the Mighty God."
SHOWERS OF LIGHT WITH DARKNESS BORNE
This of course is as a remnant to be identified as to its chronological placement, and the "determined end", and "overflow with righteousness" criteria strongly suggest that this is indeed the time when they will not again depend on their enemy, and that it is a time soon to culminate, after their return, with their acclamation of the Messiah, as in Ch. 59:21, as a remnant, the sort we find in Isaiah 33, with 42 and 49 leading on to it. The latter two chapters however deal more specifically with the transit, belabouring the unbelief still to be found, as now, in the nation, even in the midst of the Lord's promised and programmed prophetic provision for their return to their land, as in Ezekiel 36ff..
In Isaiah 40 the tenderness of God as man, the Messiah, of whom it is said, "Behold your God!", appears; and this is amplified in Isaiah 54-55, with that stark contrast which Isaiah is used repeatedly to present, from Ch. 1 on, with the evil, as in Isaiah 57, 59. But this is merely amplified in Isaiah 60ff., where the various lights and wonders noted in the preceding chapters, and much more, is exposed.
The kingdom of heaven is now treated with showers of light, radiance and peace, with glory and holiness, but not without that same interview with the Messiah, as in Chs. 7, 9, 22, 32 and of course 4, which is found in Isaiah 61:1ff., quoted by Christ Himself, of Himself in Nazareth, by Him who was indeed a Nazar (Isaiah 11:1). From Jewish sources in apostolic leadership following the incarnate Lord, who came in garb of flesh of Israel, the church expands and is seen to include the Gentiles, indeed, it is too small a thing for the REMNANT of Israel only, but He is to be a "light to the Gentiles" as in 42:6, 49:6.
This has already been implied in Isaiah 11, where all nations are His, and the Gentiles find His resting place, glorious, even His salvation which, since GOD ALONE is SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11), is vested in God as Man, the Messiah. This theme, clear since Ch. 11, is continued in 66 (cf. Messiah ... Ch. 4), where the very priests or ministers are to be found from among the Gentiles, and the older concept of animal sacrifice (66:2ff.) is dispersed and denied entirely with the predicted one to end all sacrifice (50, 52-53), providing the free grace of the Gospel (Chs. 12, 54-55). Just as this is by a cost prodigious to the point of prodigality (52-53), yet it is not one without a long pedigree in the divine operations to Israel. Thus in Isaiah 63, we have that one of the series of contrasts to potent in this prophet.
We find -
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people", and indeed this marvel of exposure of divine solicitude,
"In all their affliction, He was afflicted,"
63:9. This continues poignantly and powerfully the understanding that what God did in Christ as in 52-53, is from a heart which so loves the world. Shown to Israel and often despised, it is now shown to the world, and often despised, but the Gospel of grace is one, constantly evoked and at times articulated in Isaiah, thus quoted by Peter in his own Gospel presentation of I Peter!
the tenderness of Isaiah 11:10 is continued in 54-55, centred in 52-53, and its
freedom continued from 12 to 55. But we spoke of contrasts as a theme.
GOD ACTING ALONE
To all the tenderness for many, there is the price and the power needed to provide, as in creation, so in consummation. Of this, something is seen even in Isaiah 63. Here the Lord is seen coming from a battle of deliverance for Israel, from Edom. Who is this ? it asks, who comes from Edom ...
We find that He is "travelling in the greatness of His strength", and that it is "I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
But what has He done ?
"Why is your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress ?"
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury.
"Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have strained all My robes,
For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
"I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered,
That there as no one to uphold.
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me,
And My own fury, it sustained Me..."
It is then, shortly afterwards, that we read,
"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD,
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us..."
Thus, in the very midst of the exposures of majesty and wonder and glory, deliverance and help, spirituality and kindness in Isaiah 60-62, we have this deliverance by warfare of an oppressed people whose comfort is found, as indeed in Isaiah 66:9ff. and 66:14ff., in their deliverance. It is categorically found in ONE ONLY, the Messiah as in 51:18, 52:13, precisely as in 41:28-29 with 42:1 and parallel to 63:3-5.
The theme of Israel returning as in 42 and 49, one spiritually strangely slow, but geographically dynamic, becomes now strong as in 66, with the emphasis on the Gentiles well in place, as in 65. This is far from evicting them from the gracious covenant with Abraham (as so strongly put in Micah 7:19ff.), one which is not displaced by the grace of the Gospel, and which in no way mitigates its necessity; for a land does not save, even if the Lord does save it from its foes.
This is the sort of theme found in more minor form, but now expanded into the common light of day, as it were, past the dawning of earlier presentations, from Isaiah 9, 11, and here is that strange but beautiful melding of many things, so characteristic in Isaiah, of tableaux and of vignettes, yet with a sort of recirculating thematic dynamism, like air in an air conditioning plant, restored with new force. Here however it is always fresh, always developing to the day. Yet for all that, there can be symbolism revisited, as at the end of Isaiah 66, and a richness of textual form, as in 66:18ff., in the mode of exposure to the mind, of things which may challenge the heart.
In line with this
exuberance liberty of spiritual dynamics, as if the Lord had him off the leash
but on the track, inspiring him with an encompassing vision, you see in Isaiah
even vignettes which move from predictive to retrospective, always in a moment.
The prophet SEES a SYMBOLIC VISION, in terms of horsemen arriving with a message, declaring BABYLON IS FALLEN (21:9), and the LORD "has broken it to the ground". Yet it was precisely as news to come that the predictive prophet disbursed this item, here seen and presented as already past. It is a "distressing vision" which "is declared to me" (cf. Amos 3:7), and in terms of Isaiah 13, it is a day "which is at hand", when "they will be in pain". It is the future dramatically and vividly deployed in the present, indeed as past in its security of establishment and certainty of performance, so that time is as of nothing. It will come and go; but this scene is sure!
Precisely the same sort of thing occurs in Isaiah 50, where the Messiah is seen, in an anteroom to the more extensive predictions of 52:13-53:12, as HAVING ALREADY had His beard pulled, rent, and His wisdom provided,
"The Lord has given Me the tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary;
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.
"The Lord God has opened My hear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the bear;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting...
"He is near who justifies Me,
Who will contend with Me ?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary ?
Let him come near Me" - from Isaiah 50:4-8.
In 51:18 there is none "to take her by the hand" of all the sons of Jerusalem, and in 52, after reviewing the needless shame of rebellious Jerusalem, noting "You have sold yourselves for nothing, and shall be redeemed without money" (in parallel with 55:1-2, following 52-53), we find this:
in line with the announcement and pronouncements of Isaiah 9:6-7. It is future, the other is past. Nor is this all.
Just as Christ increasingly
revealed His approaching death, as in Matthew 16, as time for it grew nearer,
so Isaiah increasingly exposes the atonement of the Messiah, and that not without
eminently impelling foretastes, as in Isaiah 24:16, which is set in terms of an
Age well advanced, where the Lord cries, rather as in the Zechariah 11:12ff.
before promoting the sound of music in praise to the Lord from the ends of the earth, as befits Isaiah 32, and 11, and the salvation in which is such rejoicing, as made so clear in Isaiah 52:7.
"How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
'Your God reigns!' "
The treachery is of course as in Isaiah 49:7 leading on to 52-53.
The point however is simply this. Both in Isaiah 50 and 24, we have this repeatedly indexed FUTURE event seen as past.
In Isaiah 53 we even have the delight of finding it in 53:2 as "He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground", in the clearly demarcated future, while in Isaiah 53:4, a few words on, we have this gem of joy, expressed with all its solemnity as performed, prophetically already seen as perfect, accomplished, provided:
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God and afflicted,
But He was wounded for our transgressions..."
That is the accomplishment of the limited atonement, in its redemptive cover (as in 53:5, where the "we" are the "healed"), in terms of the unlimited love, as in Isaiah 1:18 and mirrored in Jeremiah 9:1ff., and 30:18ff., with Ezekiel 33:11ff., and Deuteronmy 32. It is presented as past. It is HIS ALONE (Isaiah 43:10-11, 41:28-42:6, 45:22), and fittingly for the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev.13:8, cf. Ephesians 1:4, 1:10), its performance is already seen as perfected.
Similarly in Isaiah 62:6, you see the "watchmen" set on Jerusalem's walls, still therefore standing, proclaiming a message to the world, day and night, while in 64:10, the scene of devastation to come from the rejection of the Messiah, is already seen as present. In 62:6 the issue is to make Jerusalem (despite the sins so scathingly and appallingly revealed and rebuked, with a culmination in Chs. 30 and 59, both very parallel), a praise in the earth, to deliver her from unbelief, to review the renewal, to accomplish it, before the forthcoming desolations. In 64:11, the sympathy of the prophet is moved as he construes in vision from the Almighty, the events already performed, just like the cheeks with the beard torn off in 50, already seen as present in its desolatory horror, and the sins borne in 53:6, in their iniquitous impact and penetration of penalty, yes present ? as ALREADY PERFORMED! The purposes vary*1, as do the scenes, but the issues remain.
The Messiah is now seen as already having accomplished His future work, so clearly designated as such in Ch. 7, and His wounds are already seen as wrought before the eyes of the astonished prophet, just as the destruction of Jerusalem likewise, in perfect parallel, can be seen on occasion as already present. Sin and atonement alike, cause and loving consequence of expiation, can be seen now as to come, now as already brutally displayed before the eye of the beholder. The zoom lens brings it up close, distances it far; it is all one. It is the theme which counts. The modes of display vary. They cannot be mistaken. They are a method used extensively.
So does the mercury move,
the light pass as sun and cloud move their varied shadows on the terrestrial
scene. Isaiah is a wonder of expression. It DOES require one to KNOW IT!
Professor E.J. Young was so wonderfully right when he indicated two things: DO
NOT RUSH INTO PRINT, to his students, and then again, the need to read and then
re-read and then re-read Isaiah. It is a jewel of many facets, and an integrity
of majestic utterance.
A BOOK OF CHALLENGE, CHILDHOOD
AND MANHOOD MINGLING IN TEACHING FINESSE
Isaiah is a book of challenge, and it is rather like childhood, adolescence and manhood all in one, sometimes the one, sometimes the other, moving in stateliness as it comes towards its end, but by no means without beauty; and its whole meaning is found only in its whole structure, precisely as in a symphony, where the whole point is the whole!
But what shall we say of
the thematic unity in the transition of Ch. 41 to 42, where as in 51:18ff. to
52:7 and 63:5ff., it resembles that same thing as in Chs. 3-4, where the
indigenous calamities of moral default precede the vibrant vitalities of pure
grace in Ch. 4, allied to a holiness entirely like that in Ch. 33, with the
same background in 4:6 as in Ch. 32:1ff..
So in Isaiah 5 there is desolation, in Isaiah 6 there is purging of the prophet himself in readiness for his message to many of doom, destruction because of unbelief, brought to its very depths of shame in Isaiah 7 in the person of incredibly unreceptive Ahaz, offered all, taking nothing, by a sort of reverse cycle disfaith! a prodigy of incredulity.
Ch. 8 traces woe and Ch. 9 brings the ONLY SOURCE ever allowed for salvation, redemption, restoration, purging and peace, the Messiah, as in the transition from 41-42, that from 51-52 and within 63.
The transition is from a great darkness to the light to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 8:22-9:7), mirrored repeatedly. It parallels again that from 64:6, where "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" to 66:12, where
∑ "I will extend peace to her like a river,
∑ And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream…
∑ So I will comfort you, and you will be comforted in
" - Jerusalem
(cf. Zechariah 12:7, Deuteronomy 32:43ff.), where you find the same emphasis, the same startling projection, like a rocket taking off for space, from gloom to gladness, from deserved demerit to gracious super-abundance, and this for the nation spoken to, Israel, which, though divorced spiritually from any pride of place in its crucifixion of the Messiah, rejected as in 49:7, is yet a people to be redeemed, as many as are called.
As to that, it is in multitudinous proportions (66:8-9), first merely geographical, but in the end, as Ezekiel 37 shows so dramatically (cf. SMR Appendix A), in spiritual terms for many as well (Isaiah 62:4-7). The grain no more as alas for so long, is to be given then to its enemies, and as in 66:15 cf. Deuteronomy 32:43ff., the Lord will intervene, a matter Micah 7:15 makes clear, is to be catastrophically in the uttermost phase of wonder, comparable to the Exodus.
But by far the most important part is the salvation to come to the remnant (Isaiah 11:11, Micah 7:18).
Isaiah is a book of challenge, and it is rather like childhood, adolescence and manhood all in one, sometimes the one, sometimes the other, moving in stateliness as it comes towards its end, but by no means without beauty; and its whole meaning is found only in its whole structure, precisely as in a symphony, where the whole point is the whole!
But what shall we say of the thematic unity in the transition of Ch. 41 to 42, where as in 51:18ff. to 52:7 and 63:5ff., it resembles that same thing as in Chs. 3-4, where the indigenous calamities of moral default precede the vibrant vitalities of pure grace in Ch. 4, allied to a holiness entirely like that in Ch. 33, with the same background in 4:6 as in Ch. 32:1ff..
So in Isaiah 5 there is
desolation, in Isaiah 6 there is purging of the prophet himself in readiness
for his message to many of doom, destruction because of unbelief, brought to
its very depths of shame in Isaiah 7 in the person of incredibly unreceptive
Ahaz, offered all, taking nothing, by a sort of reverse cycle disfaith! a
prodigy of incredulity. Ch. 8 traces woe and Ch. 9 brings the ONLY SOURCE ever
allowed for salvation, redemption, restoration, purging and peace, the Messiah, as in
the transition from 41-42, that from 51-52 and within 63.
WHY and HOW ... ?
WHY and HOW may be asked, and as one proceeds through the prophet, from Chs. 1-5, to 6-11, one finds vast answers. WHERE and BY WHAT FORCE may be asked of Isaiah 11, and it is answered in 50-55. But what of other nations, may be enquired; and it is answered in evocative simplicity but tenderness in 11, but in mighty thematic vigour in 42 and 49. But what of Israel, then, if this salvation is also for the Gentiles ? might be enquired. But it is answered in 65:12ff., all too deliberately for the formalist who would like to find refuge spiritually just in being a child of Abraham, a fault Christ castigated (John 8) when He came to earth, from the very form of God (Philippians 2, Isaiah 40:10), to do His duty in redemption, and to provide peace in His strength.
There is a NEW NAME for the place of redemption, not in symbol, always itself just a pointer to Him: it is in HIS MESSIAH. Christians (Ch. 62:2) or if you will, Messiahans, are to be typification. Messians might be more euphonious, but there is nothing euphonious to the unbelieving ear about 65:12ff.!
But what of the priesthood ? is a potential query answered in 66, both as to the ministrations and as to the animal sacrifices, themselves as idle as breaking a dog's neck, when the Lord has once done the work Himself (in redemption, as in 52-53, and in deliverance, as in 63, 66, of the nation).
Thus the conundrum of 4:6, answered in 32:1ff., and presaged in 22:20ff., is answered elaborately and interestingly in 66:18ff..
in one sense, Isaiah is like a course of three semesters. Questions very
naturally arise in earlier sessions, and glints are given, sometimes whole
tableaux as in 11, 33; and indeed, deposition is found as in Ch. 2 showing the
millenial wonders as appear likewise incisively in Ch. 11, and with wonderful
detail in Ch. 65. These are met, expanded, touched, handled as if a theme in a
symphony, here poignant, here tender, here with variations, temptingly with
delight implicit, rousingly with challenge in the notes, till the coda and the
triumph of the total in its integral completeness: one lesson, one course, one
symphony of colour and compassion, repudiation and contempt, everlasting mercy
and solicitude, always demanding FAITH, always pointing the MESSIAH, always
making it clear HE IS GOD IN FLESH, always despising what despises and
rejecting contempt with derision, but yet ...
PITY IS NOT WITHOUT RECOURSE AND CONTINUES LONG
God again and again rouses the last embers as if by a breath, if by any means the gigantic wonders of His compassion, the torrents of His mercy might reach ... so in 42:3-4,
"A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench:
He will bring forth judgment for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged
Till He has established justice in the earth,
And the coastlands shall wait for His law".
SO is it found in Ch. 1 itself, where after an exposure of folly so declamatory and incisive as to appal, there comes "Wash yourselves", not "Go to hell", and "Cease to do evil, Learn to do good!", with
"Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be white as snow...",
so like 63:7,11.
The costly means for this duly appear from the purging of the prophet in order to PRONOUNCE the way of salvation and the path of judgment if it be neglected (cf. Hebrews 2:1ff.), and then the redemptive cost is presaged in 4 with 32, in 22, implied in 12, and made more prominent in 42 with 50 a shock, 52-53 the summation and description, 55 the result, 54 the pre-conditions and untampered mercy involved so intimately in it all.
66 is read, school is out, and the mighty God has proclaimed His word from the
very mysteries and marvels of communication, with clarity and purposefulness,
as in Hosea 12:10, this way and that, with exemplification, exposition,
tableaux and taxings, with imagery and with surgical realism, the thing
necessary for Jew and you, of whatever race; and with it all, the interstices
are occupied with the provisions for Israel, not, God forbid, some other
salvation, but its follies, needs and specialties, amid all this, are
observed, with just that sage precision of pronouncement, which with all
knowledge, traces this and that without the slightest hesitation, having all
the security of both total knowledge and something else which no other teacher
of professor has, could have or ever on earth could find.
TEACHER WITH NO REMOTE PARALLEL
That ? it is this: HE CONTROLS the events of which He speaks. THAT, no teacher has that, but God, and when He speaks by His prophets, what ?
"Who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers",
else ? This:
"who frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drive diviners mad..." (from Isaiah 44).
Even that too, it is an integral theme: ONE GOD, ONE WHO SPEAKS, NO COMPETITION, ALL FOLLIES religious, political and presumptuous, mere dust. You find that emphasis from Ch. 1 to 7, 9, 11, 32, 44-45, 53-55, 59, whether in deliverance by power, deliverance by gospel of the spirit, provision of comfort that endures, rule on an earth that is tempestuous in sin and CANNOT escape it but from Him, in disposition of Israel in the midst of her enemies, even with her disciplines fully pronounced, or institution of the one and only Gospel, from God only, the ONLY GOD (Isaiah 55).
It is moreover ONE GOD who speaks in ONE WAY, in the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34) His word being found, and His prophets being as appointed, not as self-appointed, and culminating in the Prophet who is God in human form, after which the doctrine is as sure as the universe and more so, since it will go (51:6), but His words will not (40:7-8, 59:21, 1:3,24-30, 5:5-6, 6:10-13, 8:19-20).
ONE GOD, ONE MESSAGE, ONE
PLACE, ONE MESSIAH, GOD AS MAN, ONE RULER, ONE MANDATE, MUCH COMFORT, MANY
SOLICITUDES, ONE SHARING AS MAN, with all the results of this vast canvass of
composition, this cathedral of sound, this valley of vision, this spatial exposure
of times to come and powers that stay, reigning in the Lord over the wastelands
of pretence and pretension, arrogance and futile ravings of empty boastings (as
of Assyria in 10, or others in 44, 59, 66), making it an integrity of exposure,
a treatise in wonder.
This, it is not merely what one would expect of deity in revelation, the one God in His authorised word, distinct from all else as a millionaire’s signature might be, for the forwarding of his works. Indeed, it surpasses all in tenderness, in love, in mercy, in teaching felicity, in grandeur of compassion and in humility of disposition, while meeting all one would look for in accuracy of prediction, so often stressed as unique and distinctive of God without competition (41,43,48), in testability of propositions, to confirm the author, and in facility of utterance, since after all, though man propagates, it is God who provides the speech which as stated, lasts and will last to all generations (59:21).
Truth is like that. It is never embarrassed, always open, unimpeachable, irresistible, the lie hiding like a bewildered bat in the day, not kin to light.
God is vindicated in His works, verified in His words, always, in all things.
It may prove helpful for some to have a blend, a composition of historical progress according to prophecy, with special concentration on the Messiah, one which is drawn not from Isaiah only, but from Ezekiel, Jeremiah and other prophets. To concentrate this coverage conveniently, a brief excerpt to this effect is now presented,
from SMR Ch. 9.
A. Paralleling Predictions
Here then in the pointers to Christ, we find data which may be simply matched with New Testament fulfilment at the end of each one. We find the following elements.
l) That God Himself will come to earth in human Form - God the Sent, from God the Sender: and that He will do so in boundless solicitude for man, alas seduced from His Maker in spirit.
In looking at these prophecies we will use two 'lines', the E-line, which is the actual prediction, the 'envisagement in advance', the entry; and, of course, the D-line, the discharge line, which is the fulfilment or exit part of the proceeding.
Here then, initially we note in the E-line these scriptures: Isaiah 9:6, 11:1-5, 32:1-2, 4:4-6, 61:1 ff..
In this, we learn there is to be a creching as it were of a a child whose very birth is amazing (Isaiah 7 gives this event in terms of a sign without equal, of events to come, as a sort of anchor), whose names are extraordinary (Isaiah 9:6 ff.), redolent with the criteria of deity, linked with eternal powers and peace. We meet in this prediction, one whose wisdom will be prodigious, whose care and security will be complete and who (Isaiah 4 and 32) will be a sanctuary in His own person, a sanctuary both religious and personal.
His is the right and the due and the power and the glory (as Ezekiel confirms - 21:26-7), and David expounds (Psalm 45:1-7). In this last noted psalm, His throne is explicitly God's own; and if there is one thing God stresses clearly, it must include this, that Creator and creature do not confuse their bounds. HE is God and we are men (cf. Isaiah 2:22, 40:25-6,12-14, 42:8).
This predicted prodigy of wisdom in human form is in fact addressed in Psalm 45 as 'God' in simple straightforward language, duly picked up in Hebrews 1. He is quite apart from all men, though a man - Isaiah 41:28-42:1-2. ALL are ultimately worthless as counsellors to the condition of man, we there find, but NOT this one! Precisely the same point is made in Isaiah 51:18, with 52:10,13. Man fails but My servant, God declares, will be tender, merciful, effective in justice. Moreover, He will Himself constitute a covenant from God in His own Person (Isaiah 42:1-6).
Now the D-line (discharge) of fulfilment. We consider John 1:1-3 (the Bible has but one God, though ironies occur - cf. Ezekiel 28:9), John 3:13-16, 4:14, 5:19-23, Mark 2:7-11, Matthew 11:25-30, Luke 2:30,14, Matthew 1:20-23... and so on, and on, it is all there. The record is impregnated with the feeling and the facts, the biology, the theology, the impact.
To fulfil all this requires the co-operation of people from many walks of life over many years, and is subject to debunking by any failure to conform to the deity specifications. Try it yourself some time, if you have a heart to ...
Here were the specifications to be met. This constituted part of the identikit for that particular descendant of David who (see Daniel File), at the right date set himself to equal God, on earth: this almighty God. No problem, for deity of course, to be it.
2) That God is One, but not without a concourse of personalities. He is expressed as one being, who has three personalities in harmony, and with one nature. This is given great stress by Christ in the areas above, and it is predictively shown in Isaiah 48:16, for example, where God the Sender is seen in conjunction with God the Sent.
Come near, He says, speaking in the full warrant of deity, and listen. Now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me. Match this Isaiah declaration with Zechariah 12:10 where the Lord as speaker is to be 'pierced' and mourned. (Cf. Zechariah 11:4-12, God-as-man is sold!) See also Isaiah 11:2-4, Genesis 18:1-2,16-33, Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 42:1, 44:3-6, 32:15-18, 24:1,3-16, 61:1, 34:16, Zechariah 2:8-9, 3:8-9, 4:6, 6:12-15, Joel 2:11, Psalm 22:12-31, 104:30, 51:11, Haggai 2:5; p. 535 supra.)
3) That this God-as-man will come and act as a shepherd without equal, blemish or sin. This may have been noticed from the above, but let us specify: Isaiah 53:10 is just one of the many such references. As a sacrifice, He had to be without blemish, and sin is surely a blemish! Consult Leviticus 22:20-21,25. In Psalm 49, David shows the perfect impossibility of man being a sacrifice for man, simply as man, because of his SIN (v.7); which leaves only God able to redeem, to pay, to be the sacrifice for sin - 49:15: GOD WILL REDEEM MY SOUL FROM THE POWER OF THE GRAVE.
You cannot redeem sin with sin, for sin has its own account to pay: Ezekiel 18:4.
Thus the Messiah is to die because (Isaiah 53:9) He is without violence and without deceit. Righteous, He is to bear the iniquities of others (53:11), and to make prayer for those who have sinned (53:12). God as Shepherd is sold (Zechariah 11:4-12).
Thus we see the D-line of fulfilment in I Peter 2:21-25 and John 8:46. If His companions and enemies alike could see no sin, the first for reassurance and the second for attack, and if the claim is to be God, then that is a performance miraculous indeed! I have no doubt that in 3 minutes I could show sin in any non-authentic one who made such claims, even without such motivation as these had! This prediction is fulfilled with a liberality fitting to the need for verification.
It is as shepherd (Isaiah 40:10, Ezekiel 34:5-11), Christ is seen and shown not only in the whole mode of His life but in His words: John 10:14-28.
4) That He will be offered to the world as a witness to the peoples, as a leader for the wandering and as a commander to man. (E-line Isaiah 55:3-4, 9:6 ff., Psalm 2, 110; D-line, John 13:13,32, 15:7, Matthew 10:16-33 11:25-30, Luke 14:26-33.)
5) That nevertheless, His shepherding of His human flock will be characterised by a tenderness, meekness and delicacy of a transcendent order. E-line: Ezekiel 34:11-22, Isaiah 53:2,4, 11-12, 52:15, 42:3, Psalm 102:16-21, 72:8-15, 22:16-31. D-line: Matthew 11:27-28, Luke 22:61, Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:1-10, 15:1-32, 10:41-42,21, Mark 7:21-31.
6) That despite this liberality, in which joy, peace and the beauty of holiness replace sin, burden and bane (Isaiah 61:1-3) in His own power and character, the general response to this virtuous victim, this predicted paragon, this everlastingly righteous king without condition (Psalm 45:4-7), this incarnation of justice and rule from its eternal setting (Micah 5:2-4) will not be positive. He will not prove acceptable to His people, to the bulk of His potential clientele. Acceptable ? We put it too lightly. The reception given Him will be mean, contemptuous, murderous (Isaiah 49:7,8-11, 53:10); and indeed His own people will reject Him, even Israel itself - the Jews nationally will abhor Him. (D-line: Matthew 27:25.)
Overall D-line: Mark 12:1-11, John 8:28-30,40,45,55, 19:15, l:11.
7) Amazing as this is, a Jewish series of prophets predicting the greatest gift conceivable for their race, but one resulting in rejection, worse follows. Not merely is there murder, but it is to be inflicted in agony (Psalm 22:12-18) with a contemptuous - and contemptible - cruelty. (D-line: John 19, Luke 23.)
8) He will be given sophisticated violence, even though He would provide spiritual healing of the highest order, generating joy and delight. (E-line: Isaiah 35:4-10. D-line: Mark 5:15-20, 6:25-34,39-43, Matthew 8:16, 13:54, 15:21-28, 14:36, Luke 4:36.)
9) Though He is God in human form, yet that fleshly format is to be given plain death by His 'friends': Zechariah 12:11, 13:6, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53:10-12, John 13:1-3, Acts 2:29-36. You even get, predictively, the note of ironic 'surprise', addressed as a moral thrust at those who killed Him. While noting the death of the Shepherd (13:7), Zechariah in this Messiah-saturated book echoes this question on His behalf:
And someone will say to Him: "What are these wounds in your hands ?" Then He will answer: "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."
D-line: John 19:20-24, 13:2-3, Matthew 21:9-11.
10 a) ... That God who in His wisdom had it all planned (Isaiah 53:10), predictively pronouncing it, saw to it that this His Messiah, His Son would appear as a sinless sin-offering (Isaiah 9:6-7, 53:10-11:5, Psalm 2:2,7,12). D-line: Acts 2:22-24, cf. Matthew 23:34-5; Matthew 26:31-33,52-56, 16:21, 12:39-42, 17:11, Luke 13:33-35.
b) ... That it is for faith announced as a grand celestial news bulletin (Isaiah 41:27, 52:7, 7:1-9, 53:1, 9:1-6, 28:9-21, 29:13-20 cf. Nahum 2:15). Whereas no one creature, sinner on earth (Isaiah 41:27-29, 51:17-20, Psalm 49:7,15) was available to redeem, restore, God announces the overwhelming surprise: fulminating in splendour from heaven, fostered in lowly flesh on earth (Isaiah 42:1-4,9:1-7, 28:16, 48:16, 52:1-2, Micah 5:1-3, Zechariah 2:8-9, 12:10, Psalm 45:1-7, Ezekiel 34:10-12) - is Himself in a body to be sacrificed on earth (Isaiah 53:4-12, 50:4-9). It is to remove the blockage on the entry to God (Isaiah 59:1-2, 53:10-12), providing grounds and access alike. Divine irruption and ascent clear a channel (Psalm 2:1-6, 72:11-17; Hosea 13:9-14, Ezekiel 34:22-31, Isaiah 59:1 with 61:1-7). D-Line: I Corinthians 1:18-31, 2:8-10, Matthew 26:54-56, 16:28, 28:9 ff., I Timothy 3:16.
11) That this sin-offering would further be exceptional, in that men would throw lots for His garments, pierce both hands and feet and gape at Him (Psalm 22:16-18, Zechariah 12:10); and in that, moreover, this done, He would declare "Thy name to my brethren", be delivered from both death and disaster, inspire the meek and be a testimony to the world (Psalm 22:22-27), in a future generation (v.31). In that generation, many would be moved to turn to God, worshipping and bowing to this Messiah in whom the power of life is found. In this future generation, He will be served and declared 'righteous', the performer of deliverance for His people (Psalm 22:29-31, cf. Isaiah 53:8 with 53:10, Psalm 2, Proverbs 30:4). Being great, to Him will great things be given. D-line: Acts 2:25-39, 3:13-26, 13:26-41, Matthew 28:18-20, John 20:27-31, with Matthew 27:26-37, 28:9-10, John 20:17.
12) That men would and should trust in this One (Psalm 2:12), receiving His sin offering of Himself (Isaiah 53:10, Zechariah 3:8-10) - and believe God through Him and in Him: Cursed is he who trusts in man but blessed he who trusts in the Lord, says Jeremiah 17:5-7. This Christ is to be treated as God, for so He is (Micah 5:1-3). Hence trust in Him is not only right, but required. D-line: John 20:27-29, Acts 13:39, John 6:53-57 - in which last case the sacrificial language is employed cf. Exodus 12:5-8, John 4:14, Galatians 3:10-13, 5:1-6.
13) That whilst, as Daniel has it (9:26) "there is not to Him" - He is slandered as well as slaughtered (Isaiah 53:4, Psalm 69:6,19-21), yet His word is final, its rejection is fatal (Deuteronomy 18:18-19, Daniel 9:13-14, Psalm 2:10-12). D-line: Matthew 21:21-22,42-44, John 3:18-19, 5:36-46, 10:25-6, 7:38, Matthew 7:21-22, John 5:21-22.
As this scene is set through Daniel, so its time is given. See pp. 889-899 infra for the predicted historical time given by the prophet (Daniel 9:24-27), for the prepared and predestinated death of the Lord's Christ.
14) That just as death can in no way corrupt Him in flesh or spirit (Psalms 2, 16, 22, Isaiah 53), so will He be judge in all things: those who reject Him, reject truth and will receive justice minus the mercy that Christ embodies, being everlastingly taken from the presence of God (cf. Isaiah 66:24, Deuteronomy 18:19, Isaiah 63:4-6, 61:2). D-line: John 5:40-7, 5:25-29, 3:36, 12:48-50, Matthew 22:8-14, Acts 2:30-32.
15) That not only will death not hold Him, but life will be under Him, God valuing Him at a price higher than did man... more that is, than 30 pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:4-l2), a sublime insult to the Creator of man, to be priced as if a slave. D-line: Matthew 26:14 ff., 27:3-14.
16) That the Jews who rejected Him would be rejected and in the crux, removed from their country, given by Him (Zechariah 11:4-6, Leviticus 26:27-39, Isaiah 65:2-16). D-line: Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 19:42-44 - together with the events our history-related eyes have beheld since A.D. 70. Trumpeting fulfilment is the Jewish dispersion associated with that Roman destruction of their capital city, (and following it as it long lay vacant, then was occupied by enemies). For it, the U.N. still has ambitions (flaring wildly in its resolution of March, 1994) other than as a Jewish Capital. For the Jews however it has been declared their eternal and inalienable city.
17) That the Jews would be despised and rejected (just as they so treated Him who would deliver them - their Messiah); they would be mocked and long without their temple and sacrifice, for which there was no more need. In this way, they would be exposed because of rebellion against the only Lamb that clears: their own Messiah. This would be a long time of horror. This we see in: Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 4:25-40, 32:5-25, where they forsake their ROCK (v.18), so that "the Lord saw it, and spurned them... and... said:''I will hide my face from them.'' (Cf. p. 778 infra.)
"I will heap disasters on them," He declared; and death ? it would be massive. "I will spend mine arrows on them."
He predicted the "day of their calamity" before their final deliverance. (Cf. the fulfilled divine predictions both 1) of overturning of rulers till Christ reigns; and 2) of the international mockery of the Jews1, subject to protracted scattering among the nations, for their national rebellion and their sins: Ezekiel 21:26-27; 22:4,14-16; 36:4-38, (esp. 15); 34 - and see pp. 445 ff. supra; and 1079, cf. 784 infra.)
We see the
loss in Hosea, where the removal of sacrifices and priestly operation is predicted. The Temple was prescribed for Jerusalem - the loss of the city meant the loss of its Temple, their required Temple! showing indeed that the Almighty by no means authorised the continuation of animal sacrifices when Christ was offered, in that the very place to do it was removed for an indefinite period. Temple
After this*1, as Hosea 3:5 shows, they would come to the famous Messiah, long having rejected Him and at length mourning over their folly (Zechariah 12:10-12). D-line: All the ingredients have been or are being poured in, in precise proportions, according to the predicted plan. The rest is done; this awaits fulfilment.
18) That He, the Messiah, would covenant on His New Covenant terms with many Gentiles, numbers receiving Him gladly, joy and worship being a cardinal feature (Isaiah 42:6-13, 65:1-16). D-line: Acts 13:41-46 and the testimony of history where church after church has formed in the Gentile nations. See also: Matthew 26:28. The New Covenant would be offered to Jews also (Jeremiah 31:31, cf. Ezekiel 11:19), though for a time, nationally they would reject it (Zechariah 11:10, 2:11, Isaiah 49:7, 53:3-4, 42:1-7,16-19).
19) That this New Covenant (or New Testament) would spread throughout the earth though not at all in the dimensions of political control (Daniel 7 and 9 shows a very different situation with the saints persecuted as has happened in history also), pending His return in glory to judge a rebellious earth (Daniel 7:8-14).
D-line: Is it not so ? The New Testament grasps the globe, pours in its millions into nations, is thrust out by other nations, is taken by missionaries, smuggled by couriers, printed in languages multitudinous, remorselessly, ceaselessly continuing the fulfilment of prophecy, whilst millions of preachers have forwarded the oral testimony to the same, often giving their lives in hostile political systems.
20) That He would also return His Jewish people in large numbers to Himself, in terms of the New Covenant, after their dispersions were finished and their ruin became imminent (Ezekiel 36-37) - to which we will look more particularly in our Migrant Information, clearly already heavily implicated in this section. There are ties... of blood! In other words, their amazing return, power-assisted and Gentile-assisted, to their homeland is a preliminary given detailed prediction, currently being performed in a startling and prodigious fashion, not least from a perestroika-ised Russia. We will look at this staggering fulfilment separately. Already many Jews have come as Paul indicates in Romans 11 - to which we shall also refer; but the mass movement inspirit is predicted for a future stage, although it will be shown that the preliminaries are according to the announced, predictive plan. (Cf. Appendix A infra: for those in need of a decontamination unit.)
21) That the terms of pardon would be liberal and munificent and involve cleansing of the heart as well as forgiveness; and that His spirit would be poured out, whilst personalities themselves - whether Jew or Gentile - who received Him, would be re-constituted. This would be done by His healing sovereign power through His spirit, that penetrates even to the heart. For this, consult Zechariah 12:10-12, Jeremiah 31:31 ff., Isaiah 35:8 ff., 44:3-6, 32:15-18, 61:1-3,10, 24:13-16, 55:7, 12:1-3.
D-line: the strength of New Testament witness in countries like our own; the missions to the isles; the preparation of the scene that reflects well as a preliminary to the scriptural scenario for the spiritual coming of the Jews in a large mass, to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is done and conspicuous, in the setting of nations current, as we shall see in the Migrant Information Centre to follow. Similarly generations of missionary and evangelistic work in multitudes of nations have left seemingly endless accounts of change of heart, access of joy, renewal of life with a liberality and wonder, that challenges description.
Curing of chronically failed lives is as much part of the account of New Testament propagation as is the helping of health, where food hits famine.
22) That He would in His time remove the stage of the heavens and the earth (Isaiah 51:6 ff.), creating new ones for the redeemed, uncursed.
D-line: Obviously, we cannot find fulfilled the removal of this earth, yet! What we can find is that Christ duly confirmed this prediction (Matthew 24:35), and that Einstein and co. have greatly forwarded the ease with which the modern mind can conceive of such a thing! Peter extends the point (II Peter 3:10-13). What he says might have been written tomorrow...
That the sense of flow may be felt, although this to come has not yet happened, let us here add elements beyond this. The very dead are to rise in resurrection, whether to condemnation or acclamation, in terms of this same Christ (Daniel 12:1 ff., Psalm 22 as above, Isaiah 26:19, 53:13, 25:8, Hosea 13:14, Daniel 7:13-14). Christ echoes this in John 5:25 ff. and confirms it in a practical fashion, in the testimony given of His raising the dead (John 11, Luke 7:11-17), and directing His disciples to do the same when sent on mission, in terms of His command and power (Matthew 10:8). His own resurrection is the candid attestation of His own authenticity before God, as man, and is treated extensively in Chapter 6 (supra), and elsewhere (see Index).
At the consummation of all these events, those raised in glory are to be in God's presence, in the presence of His Christ with unmarred munificence of magnificence, a surpassing splendour rendered visible, that focusses in prospect on His Person (Isaiah 61:10), and at last in a felicity where sin and violence are the ultimate evacuees from everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19-20, 61:7, 51:6). Such things are confirmed in Revelation 5:6, 21:3 ff., 21:22 ff., Job 19:25 ff., 1 Corinthians 13:11-13, 15:42-58.
We have then shown the tremendous verificatory force of the Old and New Testament Scriptures and what they attest, and what our ears and eyes attest, and what whole libraries attest, and what naked history is even now attesting - of which we are to see more. In the process, we have filled out the matters, some still to come, showing their preliminaries in order to depict the trend, as these more ultimate episodes are the more intimately indicted by the torrent of preliminaries, currently visible. Also shown are some of the spiritual preliminaries in particular, where lives already confirm just what the prophets said they would, relative to the knowledge of the presence Lord in the New Testament relationship.
The dynamism of spiritual transformation is nothing less than that forecast. It has been moving, for the time primarily in the Gentiles, just as the prophets also foretold, the nation of the Jews, still rejecting the claims of Christ, just as predicted, still not finding the consummation in Jesus Christ in the New Testament relationship, still surrounded with enemies, as predicted, still menaced; but for all that, graciously and internationally returned to their land. Tableau! It is all to the greatest theme, and the minutest detail, in place, as predicted, even to the "singing for the majesty of the Lord", and "lifting up up their voice... crying aloud from the sea", as happens in Australia, for example, and has long done so. Yes, as Isaiah 24:14 predicted, in the coverage of the later times of the earth's history (cf. 24:16; Zechariah 13:6):
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the Righteous! (Cf. Revelation 5:9,12-13; Zech. 3:9, 12:10, 11:12-13.)
Before we pass to migrant information, we should extend a little one point: the way in which the gospel we preach is precisely predicted in the Old Testament. For this we move from midwifery and reception to the adjoining: publicity department.
B. THE PREDICTED GOSPEL
God has spoken in preliminaries before He sent Christ, and in fulfilments on sending Him. In all these things, however, whether earlier or later, the one God has dealt with the one human race by the singular series: sin, sacrifice, judgment, righteousness, pardon, covenant, power, re-union, victory; together with the implements of priest and presentation.
In the latter phase, the New Testament epoch, there has been a (predicted) culmination of the depictions of these things, as we have shown in passing. The sacrifice became one Man, Christ the Saviour, God manifest in the flesh: and the priest, the high priest became that same one Man: He offered Himself as a sacrifice, freely laying down His life for the people... as so lovingly exhibited at length in Hebrews 8-10. In so doing, He "became sin for us" - that is, constituted a sin offering (Isaiah 53:6,10-11, II Corinthians 5:19-21) on behalf of those who by faith would receive it: for, being God, He had no sin. In Himself, He thus became the covenant for man (Isaiah 49:8, 53:6-13, I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 5:9, 8:6, 9:12, Colossians 2:9-10, Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 12:10, 11:12, Psalm 2:7-12).
Now this culmination in Christ of the covenantal content was, as seen, persistently predicted. Applied to man and his need, this consummation in Christ is called the gospel, or good news, as surveyed in advance in Isaiah 61:1-3 and depicted especially in 52:13-53:12.
This gospel was to be presented to the Jews, yet rejected by them as a race, as we found in the prophecies associated with it, in the Old Testament; Messiah in His claims, as we saw Isaiah show, would be denied by the Jewish people as a nation. This would happen; and as we know, it did.
For them as a race there was no acceptance of Christ-the-covenant, as so appealingly portrayed for example in Isaiah 49:7-8, 53:3-4,10. By the Gentiles however, it was to be received, this Gospel, by many, and lovingly tabernacled in the Church or community of believers (designated for example in proto-form, in Isaiah 65:15 - in context 65:13-16, cf.Isaiah 42:16-21, 49:6-9, 52:15 et al.). Many Gentiles thus embracing it, would be embraced by it, just as Jews would suffer forfeit, at the national level with dire results. They would become, said the prophecy, a people dispossessed by their own choice of their King; and without their choice, as we saw, of their country!
But notice the fulness of the gospel. Thus it is predicted in Isaiah 32:17 that in a future epoch, in Isaiah normatively messianic, when "the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high" (32:15), that "the work of righteousness shall be peace", and "the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance for ever" - 32:17.
And this ? it is in the Messianic Isaiah 32, in which as we expound elsewhere, it is a MAN who, in fulfilment of the depiction of the TEMPLE in Isaiah 4:6, acts as a "hiding place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, like rivers of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land", at which time
"the eyes of those who see shall not be dim, and the ears of those who hear shall hearken, the heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly" - 32:2-4.
And that ? It is when the King shall reign in righteousness (cf. Psalm 72). It is here that the "work of righteousness shall be peace" (32:15), just as Israel, looking ahead to the foundation stone which is to be laid (cf. Psalm 118 - and rejected, as in Isaiah 49:7), is advised strenuously on the way.
The counsel is this:
"Or let him take hold of my strength,
that he may make peace with me;
and he shall make peace with me" - 27:5.
And how ? Why as in Isaiah 53, where
"on Him is laid the iniquity of us all",
as in 53:6, and
"with His stripes we are healed",
"By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many" ?
And HOW is this His strength conferred ? "for He shall near their iniquities" (53:11), so that eternal life and peace are alike conferred through this, the Strength of the Lord by whom is Peace.
∑ Thus through this eventual payment in Christ is the wonder inherent in the Lord's covenant of old, brought to the fruition, culmination and completion:
∑ but looking ahead in Christ,
∑ did not David and other Psalmists see this eternity in the Lord, both by gift (Psalm 32) and in fact (Psalm 21,23, 16:8,11, 121:8);
∑ while Proverbs speaks to faith similarly (Proverbs 11:28, 13:8 with 8:18-21, cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 27),
∑ as does the rapture of Elijah (II Kings 2:11)
∑ and the death breaking power of God (Hosea 13:14),
∑ predicted as to become operative for His own people (cf. also Psalm 16, Isaiah 26:19), through the Messiah.
Exactly so is Isaiah 51:6, where we learn that though the universe physically is to end, yet the righteousness and salvation of the Lord are unamendable, and indispensable, will never be abolished. Indeed, this is the message from Psalm 32, when the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity is gloried in, just as in Psalm 72, we find the King is also the one who will REDEEM His people and have international and endless peace and glory. Indeed, in 51:11 it is everlasting joy which is upon the heads of the redeemed, whereas in 61:10, the "bride of the Lord" (cf. Matthew 25) is found "clothed", and how ? "with the garments of salvation", and covered - how ? with His "robe of righteousness", (cf. II Corinthians 5:19-21).
Observe clearly how the ROBE is that of the LORD who as a bridegroom covers the redeemed soul with His robe. The recipient is the redeemed, the giver is the Lord, and the robe is His. It is this righteousness which covers, hides and protects (cf. Isaiah 4:6, 32:1-3). So in Isaiah 33:6, following the Messianic Ch.32, we find
"Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is his treasure."
Thus, we find most explicit and conferred as a PRINCIPLE, this everlasting, redemption-by-Saviour life, by and through the MESSIAH and His sacrificial splendour. Thus in focus is His sin-bearing salvation, His death-breaking power (as in Isaiah 26:19, "Thy dead shall live, " and "My dead body shall they arise"), where the methods of the foundation stone to be laid (28:16) are seen. So in many directions does this Gospel of salvation flow.
We discover for example in Isaiah 45:24-25, in terms of this same salvation (and 43:11 tells us that besides the LORD, there IS no Saviour), that one shall say,
∑ "IN THE LORD HAVE I RIGHTEOUSNESS AND STRENGTH",
∑ and again,
∑ "In the Lord shall all the seed of Jacob be justified" (45:25)
∑ and indeed, in Him as so donating righteousness, they shall "glory".
∑ "One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall write on his hand, Unto the Lord" (44:5),
∑ and the Lord, the Messiah, will in terms of this same Gospel (Isaiah 42,49,54,55, 52-53) be a LIGHT TO THE GENTILES (49:6), all one, these receiving Him while the nation, Israel is temporarily blinded (49:7). For, says the Lord,
∑ "Who is blind, but My servant?
∑ Or deaf, as my messenger that I sent?
∑ Who is blind as he who is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant?"
which follows on from the Servant delighted in by the Lord, when all human counsellors fail (41:28-29), who is to BE the covenant (42:6), in His own Person, being likewise sacrificial lamb (52-53) and so redeemer. As Saviour, when there is for Saviour NONE BUT GOD, He is God-the-sent (as in Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 12:10, 2:8 and Psalm 45, Micah 5:3), and in John 3:16, 8:58.
So in texture, form and function, basics and outcome is the Gospel predicted in the Old Covenant, the Old Testament. It is presented predictively in bud; it is culminated historically in bloom; the Old is the forecast and the foretaste alike; the New is the day of its occurrence, when fulfilled, its basis and basics are deployed like a battle which, long planned, had been seen in the vision of its planners, in the hearts of its coming participants and in the life of the Commander, touching all His words and in all His thoughts.
Whilst in all this we cannot fail to touch again on material already considered, it is in order that we might see that in this, the gospel itself is a fulfilled item of predictive prophecy. What was to be said in this gospel - and I am frequently saying it - is said. It is said where it was to be said - in the distant coasts - there I am saying it, with many more. Those who were to reject it, did so. Those who were, in part, selectively to receive it to the widest range of the earth's surface, these have done so. The thrust of the Gospel has been evidenced in millions of feet, in excursions, adventures, in missions formal and informal, in highland and in jungle, in island and continent to the uttermost. Currently, with the electronic revolution, using satellites, the reaching of vast new areas is assured with greater simplicity.
It is also predicted that such a world-wide coverage must happen before Christ returns (Matthew 24:24) so that these personal works, of sacrifice and technical facilities alike, are part of the fulfilment of this prediction.
Whoever heard of a prediction of a vast new (but not novel,) area of understanding being made in an earlier epoch: its recipients carefully categorised in advance, its geographic attainments forwardly surveyed, as though in a directors' report after the event; its content so explicit that I for one could happily preach for months on the Old Testament predicted form alone. Meanwhile, the emotions and spiritual elements to be associated with it, these were delineated as if on direct line to the future.
So it was done; so it is found. This part of the predictions pointing to Christ, the Gospel of Christ, must be realised in all its wonder. The affair is so large and the time of the predictions so long before; and the series of national and personal events in which all this is enshrined were so complex, so precise and so splendid in predicted sequence that it is at last, like watching a waterfall, the Niagara Falls. We had heard of it, but now we have seen! THAT is what verification is all about...
Few generations have ever seen as much as we have, in such sequence, flow and force, fulfilled before their very eyes, in a staggeringly beautiful, yet incandescently brilliant virtuosity of the pure heart and mind... of God. Not to love Him and believe Him in the face of such provisions and performances for our need, is itself, also, a virtuosity... of another kind. The exorbitant wonder of it is this, moreover: that no one need forfeit this, Jew or Gentile, except he prefers otherwise. No laments in this time; the door is always opened if you knock on it (Matthew 7:7, Jeremiah 29:12, John 10:9). What masterful provision that anyone can come if he will, and none can if he will not (John 3:17-19); how unanswerable on the one hand, how prodigal on the other.
And it all centres on Christ, born in Bethlehem as predicted (Micah 5:1-3), and of the tribe of Judah as predicted (Genesis 49:10), at whom indeed the kings of the earth in their piles, and loads, over history have been astonished (as predicted: Isaiah 52:12-15); for who, after all, is used to hearing of a regal service of this order, in which not merely a king, but a celestial king becomes crucified for His people. And then, this: that He neither forces them to accept even this, nor meanly withholds it, but graciously invites ALL, even giving instructions about going under the hedges when the perfect people despise it, to find those who will not!
Matthew 22:2-13 sets this tone, and notice the garmentless man, who thought he was 'good enough' without the appropriate covering!... verses 12-13. It is not a parade of perfect people, but a covey of covered people, clad in Christ's righteousness: and that is the predicted gospel! (Isaiah 52-53; 61:1-10 - note verse 10; Isaiah 44:4-6, 54:17, 32:15-17, Jeremiah 9:23, 23:6, Isaiah 1:18, 55:1-6.) That, D-line, is precisely the gospel preached for thousands of years and encoded in creed after creed.
For more on these themes, including C The PREDICTED PERSON, see SMR Ch. 9, from p. 765.
For more on the PREDICTED GOSPEL, see
In much it is a matter of purpose, as in any good writing: in Isaiah, here to stress the power, transformation to be used and wrought by spiritual counsel, or there to declare the certainty of what is yet to come. The latter is found in extreme form in Habakkuk 2:2-3, with Ch. 3! This 'minor prophet' work from the Lord, is a book in which, incidentally and in precise parallel, you have the vision for a time to come, for which one must patiently wait, in 2:2-3; and yet, in its Ch. 3, you have this,
"You marched through the land in indignation" and the manifestation of the glory of the Lord in His judgments are already seen as accomplished.
With the words, "God came from Teman," the prophet Habakkuk commences this theme in Ch. 3, but it is all in answer to the eye of faith seeking the vision of the Lord's engagement when faith no more must await a purged world, but God DOES IT. Here with extreme patience called for, awaiting the time of utter deliverance, we find the sudden impresario work, the vision declares what is to be revealed on the day, as present, impelling, breathless in its intensity, sudden in its impact, assured in its eventuation.