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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Be comforted- Part 13, Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz, MA,DD.

THIRTEEN

ISAIAH 60–66

The Kingdom and the Glory
Grace is but glory begun,” said Jonathan Edwards, “and glory is but grace perfected.” Whatever begins with God’s grace will lead to God’s glory (1 Peter 5:10), and that includes the nation of Israel.
Isaiah began his “Book of Consolations” (chaps. 40–66) by promising that “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (40:5). Now he concludes by describing that glory for us. In these seven chapters, he uses the word “glory” in one form or another at least twenty-three times. When God’s glory is on the scene, everything becomes new.
1. The dawning of a new day (Isa. 60:1–22)

“Arise and shine!” is God’s “wake-up call” to Jerusalem (v. 14), because a new day is dawning for Israel. This light is not from the sun but from the glory of God shining on the city.
God’s glory had once dwelt in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–38), only to depart because of Israel’s sin (1 Sam. 4:21). God’s glory then came into the temple (1 Kings 8:11), but it departed when the nation turned to idols (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4, 18; 11:22–23). The glory came to Israel in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14), but the nation nailed that glory to a cross. Today, The Babylonian Captivity had been the nation’s darkest hour, but that was not the darkness Isaiah was describing. He was describing the awful darkness that will cover the earth during the Day of the Lord (Amos 5:18), when God punishes the nations of the earth for their sins (Isa. 2:12ff; 13:6ff). But the prophet is also describing the glorious light that will come to Israel when her Messiah returns to reign in Jerusalem. Then “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). Israel’s sons and daughters will come home again (Isa. 60:4, 8–9), and all of them will know the Lord.
It will be the dawning of a new day for the nations of the world as well as for Israel (vv. 3, 10–13). The Gentiles will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and to share their wealth (2:2–4; 11:9; 27:13; 56:7; 57:13; 65:25; 66:20). Some people “spiritualize” these promises and apply them to the Gentiles coming to Christ and His church today, but that is not the basic interpretation. Isaiah sees ships and caravans bringing people and wealth to Jerusalem (60:5–7); and the nations that refuse to honor the Lord and His city will be judged (v. 12). Even Israel’s old enemies will submit and help to serve the Lord (vv. 10, 14).
In verses 15–22, the Lord describes some of the joys and wonders of the glorious kingdom. The nation will no longer be forsaken but will be enriched by the Gentiles and nursed like a beloved child (vv. 4, 16; 49:23; 61:6). As in the days of King Solomon (1 Kings 10:21, 27), precious metals will be plentiful. It will be a time of peace and safety. “I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler” (Isa. 60:17, NIV).
John used some of the characteristics of the millennial Jerusalem when he described the holy city (Rev. 21–22): The sun never sets; there is no sorrow; the gates never close; etc. But the city Isaiah describes is the capital city of the restored Jewish nation, and Jesus Christ shall sit on the throne of David and judge righteously. The Jewish “remnant” will increase and fill the land (Isa. 60:22; 51:2; 54:3).
2. The beginning of a new life (Isa. 61:1–11)

The Lord speaks (Isa. 61:1–9). Jesus quoted from this passage when He spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth, and He applied this Scripture to Himself (Luke 4:16–21). (Note that Isa. 61:1 names the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.) However, He did not quote, “And the day of vengeance of our God” from verse 2 because that day is yet to come (34:8; 35:4; 63:4).
The background of this passage is the “Year of Jubilee” described in Leviticus 25:7ff. Every seven years, the Jews were to observe a “sabbatical year” and allow the land to rest. After seven sabbaticals, or forty-nine years, they were to celebrate the fiftieth year as the “Year of Jubilee.” During that year, all debts were canceled, all land was returned to the original owners, the slaves were freed, and everybody was given a fresh new beginning. This was the Lord’s way of balancing the economy and keeping the rich from exploiting the poor.
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you are living today in a spiritual “Year of Jubilee.” You have been set free from bondage; your spiritual debt to the Lord has been paid; you are living in “the acceptable year of the Lord.” Instead of the ashes of mourning, you have a crown on your head; for He has made you a king (Rev. 1:6). You have been anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and you wear a garment of righteousness (Isa. 61:3, 10).
In her days of rebellion, Israel was like a fading oak and a waterless garden (1:30); but in the kingdom, she will be like a watered garden (58:11) and a tree (oak) of righteousness (61:3). But all of God’s people should be His trees (Ps. 1:1–3), “the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified” (Isa. 61:3).
In their kingdom “Year of Jubilee,” the Jewish people will rebuild, repair, and restore their land; and the Gentiles will shepherd Israel’s flocks and herds and tend to their crops. Instead of being farmers and shepherds, the Jews will be priests and ministers! God will acknowledge them as His firstborn (Ex. 4:22) and give them a double portion of His blessing (Isa. 61:7; Deut. 21:17).
The “everlasting covenant” of Isaiah 61:8 is described in Jeremiah 31:31–37 and includes the blessings of the New Covenant that Jesus Christ instituted by His death (Heb. 10:1–18; Matt. 26:28). Note that Isaiah 61:9 speaks of the Jews’ “descendants.” Those who enter into the millennial kingdom will marry, have families, and enjoy God’s blessings on the earth for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1–5). They will study God’s Word from generation to generation (Isa. 59:21).
The prophet speaks (Isa. 61:10–11). Isaiah is speaking on behalf of the remnant who are praising God for all He has done. They rejoice that He has cleansed them and clothed them and turned their desert into a fruitful garden (55:10). They have gone from a funeral to a wedding!
3. The bestowing of a new name (Isa. 62:1–12)

God will not hold His peace (Isa. 62:1–5). The “I” in verse 6 indicates that the Lord is the speaker. God promises to keep speaking and working till His purposes for Jerusalem are fulfilled. This is not only for the sake of Zion but also for the sake of the nations of the world. There will be no righteousness and peace on this earth till Jerusalem gets her new name and becomes a crown of glory to the Lord.
As an unfaithful wife, Israel was “forsaken” by the Lord, but not “divorced” (50:1–3). Her trials will all be forgotten when she receives the new name “Hephzibah,” which means “my delight is in her.” God delights in His people and enjoys giving them His best. The old name “Desolate” will be replaced by “Beulah,” which means “married” (see also 54:1). When a bride marries, she receives a new name. In the case of Israel, she is already married to Jehovah; but she will get a new name when she is reconciled to Him.
The watchmen must not hold their peace (Isa. 62:6–12). God gave His people leaders to guide them, but they were not faithful (56:10). Now He gives them faithful watchmen, who constantly remind God of His promises. “Give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (62:7, NIV). What an encouragement to us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6).
God promises that the Jews will never again lose their harvests to the enemy but will enjoy the fruit of their labors in the very courts of His sanctuary. What a privilege! According to Ezekiel 40–48, there will be a millennial temple, and the Jews will worship the Lord there. Having received their Messiah, they will now clearly understand the spiritual meaning of their worship. Today, their minds are veiled (2 Cor. 3:14–18); but then, their eyes will be opened.
Isaiah 62:10 is another reference to “the highway” (11:16; 40:3–5), and there is an urgency about these words. The Lord is about to arrive, and the people must get the road ready! When the work is completed, they must lift a banner to signal they are ready.
“See, your Savior comes!” (62:11, NIV) This is a proclamation that goes to the ends of the earth! And when He comes, He shares more new names: Israel is called “the Holy People” and “the Redeemed of the Lord”; and Jerusalem is called “Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted” (v. 12, NIV).
God will have no rest till He accomplishes His purposes for His people, and the world will have no peace till He succeeds. He asks us to “give Him no rest” (v. 7) but to intercede for Israel and Jerusalem, for the prayers of His people are an important part of the program of God.
4. The announcing of a new victory (Isa. 63:1–64:12)

The prophet looks ahead in 63:1–6 and sees Jesus Christ returning from the battle of Armageddon that climaxes the Day of the Lord (Rev. 19:11–21). Edom is named here as a representative of the nations that have oppressed the Jews. Bozrah was one of its main cities, and its name means “grape gathering.” This is significant since the image here is that of the wine press (Joel 3:13; Rev. 14:17–20). The name “Edom” means “red” and was a nickname for Esau (Gen. 25:30).
The ancient wine press was a large, hollowed rock into which the grapes were put for the people to tread on them. The juice ran out a hole in the rock and was caught in vessels. As the people crushed the grapes, some of the juice would splash on their garments. Our Lord’s garments were dyed with blood as the result of the great victory over His enemies (Rev. 19:13).
When Jesus came to earth the first time, it was to inaugurate “the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isa. 61:2; Luke 4:19). When He comes the second time, it will be to climax “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 63:4; 61:2). The enemy will be crushed like grapes and forced to drink their own blood from the cup of God’s wrath (51:17; Jer. 25:15–16). These images may not appeal to sophisticated people today, but the Jews in that day fully understood them.
Then the prophet looks back at what God has done for Israel (Isa. 63:7–14). He praises God for His loving-kindness and goodness, for the pity and love bestowed on Israel. God identified with their sufferings (v. 9; Jud. 10:16; Deut. 32:10–12) as He does with His people today (1 Peter 5:7). The Jews asked, “Where is our God who did wonders for His people? Why is He not working on our behalf?”
The prophet looks up and calls on God to bare His arm and display His power (Isa. 63:15–64:12). For Abraham’s sake, for Israel’s sake, because God is their Father, he pleads for a demonstration of power just as God did in the ancient days.
He asks God to “look down” (63:15) and to “come down” (64:1). This is one of the greatest “revival prayers” found in Scripture. Just as God came down in fire at Sinai (Ex. 19:16–19), so let Him come down again and reveal His awesome power to the nations. They trust in dead idols, so let them see what the living God of Israel can do!
Why is God not working wonders? They have sinned (Isa. 64:5–6) and must confess their sins and turn from them. If our righteousness is filthy, what must our sins look like in His sight! According to verse 4, God has planned for His people wonderful things beyond their imagination; but their sins prevent Him from sharing His blessings. (See 1 Cor. 2:9 and Eph. 3:20–21.) Is there any hope? Yes, because God is a forgiving Father and a patient Potter (Jer. 18). He can cleanse us and make us anew if we will let Him have His way.
This prayer (and the believing remnant) ends with a question: Why is God silent? His temple has been destroyed, His glorious land has been ravaged, and His people are in exile. “After all this, O Lord, will You hold Yourself back? Will You keep silent and punish us beyond measure?” (Isa. 64:12, NIV) God’s reply is found in the next two chapters.
5. The blessing of a new creation (Isa. 65:1–25)

“I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom” (65:6). God now replies.
First, He announces that His salvation will go to the Gentiles (v. 1), even though they did not seek the Lord or experience the blessings that He gave to Israel. Paul applies this verse to the Gentiles in Romans 10:19–20. If Israel did not want what God had to offer, then He would give it to others. See Luke 14:16–24 and 21:10 and Acts 28:23–31 for other illustrations of this divine principle.
Then, God describes the sins of His people that kept Him from answering their prayers (Isa. 65:2–7). They resisted His grace and His loving appeals, though He held out His arms to them and spoke to them through His Word (Rom. 10:21). They went their own way (Isa. 53:6) and provoked Him with their evil worship of false gods, getting involved with the occult and demons. They ate food that was unclean and openly worshiped idols in the high places. And yet these rebellious people considered themselves to be better than others! “I am holier than thou!”
God then explains that He had to judge the nation for her sins (65:8–16). He called the Babylonians to be His instrument of punishment to teach His people that they could not sin and get away with it. However, in mercy He preserved a remnant—like a few grapes rescued from the wine press—and that remnant would return to the land and restore the nation. When His people sincerely seek Him (v. 10), then He will bless them (2 Chron. 7:14).
“The Valley of Achor” was the place where Achan was stoned to death because he disobeyed the Lord (Josh. 7). When the Lord restores His estranged wife, Israel, the Valley of Achor will become for them “a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15).
In Isaiah 65:11–16, God sees two kind of people in the land: those who forsake the Lord and those who serve the Lord. (“My Servant” has now become “My servants.”) Those who forsake the Lord ignore His temple and worship false gods, such as Fortune and Destiny (in v. 11, “that troop” and “that number”). These disobedient Jews will not live but be destroyed, and those who do survive will not enjoy it. In fact, their very names will be used as curses in the years to come!
God saves the best for the last: His description of “the new heavens and new earth” (the millennial kingdom) in 65:17–66:24.
This is not the same as John’s “new heaven and new earth” (Rev. 21:1ff), because the characteristics Isaiah gives do not fit the eternal state. As far as we know, in the eternal state, people will not get old or die (Isa. 65:20), nor will there be any danger of losing anything to invaders (vv. 21–23).
Jerusalem will be a source of joy, not only to the Lord but to the whole earth. It will be a city of holiness, harmony, and happiness. During the millennial kingdom, people will work, and God will bless their labors. People will pray, and God will answer (v. 24). Nature will be at peace (v. 25) because the curse will be lifted.
6. The birth of the new nation (Isa. 66:1–24)

Of course, the remarkable thing will be the “birth of a nation” as Israel takes center stage on the international scene (vv. 7–9). The return of the Jews to their land will be as swift as the birth of a baby. Israel’s “travail” will be “the Day of the Lord” or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), when God will purify His people and prepare them for the coming of their Messiah. Political Israel was born on May 14, 1948; but “the new Israel” will be “born in a day” when they believe on Jesus Christ. Jerusalem will experience joy, peace, and satisfaction (Isa. 66:10–14). Like a nursing baby, she will find health and peace in the arms of the Lord. “Peace like a river” reminds us of Isaiah’s words to Ahaz (8:5–8) and God’s promises in 41:18 and 48:18.
There will be a new temple (66:1–6; Ezek. 40–48), but the ceremonies of worship can never take the place of a humble heart. God does not live in buildings; He dwells with those who submit to Him. Stephen quoted Isaiah 66:1–2 in his defense before the Jews (Acts 7:48–50), and Paul referred to these words in his address to the Athenian philosophers (17:24).
In Isaiah’s day, were God’s people trembling at His Word? No, they were not. Instead, they were going through the motions of worship without having a heart for God. The people were not sacrificing the animals; they were murdering them! Because their hearts were far from God (Isa. 29:13), their offerings were as unclean things to the Lord. It is the heart of the worshiper that determines the value of the offering.
God’s hand will bring blessing to His servants but “indignation toward His enemies” (66:14); and Isaiah describes that “indignation” in verses 15–18. The Day of the Lord will be a storm of judgment with fire and whirlwinds, and with the sword of God; “And those slain by the Lord shall be many.”
Who will be slain? Those who have disobeyed God’s Law in their eating and their worshiping (vv. 17–18). Instead of worshiping the true and living God, they turned to pagan idols and pagan practices. It is not enough to be “religious”; we must serve Him according to what He says in His Word (8:20).
The book closes with a description of messengers going to the ends of the earth to announce what God has done for Israel (66:19). The result will be a flow of people to Jerusalem (see 60:3–14 and 66:12) to bring offerings to the Lord. In the past, Gentile nations came to Jerusalem to attack and destroy; but in the Kingdom Age, they will come to worship and glorify God.
The book ends on a seeming negative note describing worshipers looking at the desecrated and decayed corpses of the rebels (v. 24). The Valley of Hinnom (Hebrew, ge hinnom = Gehenna in the Greek) is a picture of judgment (30:33); Jesus used it to picture hell (Mark 9:43–48). The people who come to Jerusalem to worship will also go outside the city to this “garbage dump” and be reminded that God is a consuming fire (Jer. 7:32).
Throughout his book, Isaiah has presented us with alternatives: Trust the Lord and live, or rebel against the Lord and die. He has explained the grace and mercy of God and offered His forgiveness. He has also explained the holiness and wrath of God and warned of His judgment. He has promised glory for those who will believe and judgment for those who scoff. He has explained the foolishness of trusting man’s wisdom and the world’s resources.
The prophet calls the professing people of God back to spiritual reality. He warns against hypocrisy and empty worship. He pleads for faith, obedience, a heart that delights in God, and a life that glorifies God.
“ ‘There is no peace,’ saith the Lord, ‘unto the wicked’ ” (Isa. 48:22; 57:21); for in order to have peace, you must have righteousness (32:17). The only way to have righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:19–31).
Isaiah’s message has been, “Be comforted by the Lord!” See Isaiah 12:1; 40:1–2; 49:13; 51:3, 19; 52:9; 54:11; 57:18; 61:2; 66:13. But God cannot comfort rebels! If we are sinning against God and comfortable about it, something is radically wrong. That false comfort will lead to false confidence, and that will lead to the chastening hand of God.
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found” (55:6).
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (1:18).
“O Lord, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me” (12:1, NKJV).
BE COMFORTED!
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Comforted (S. 153–164). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.Logos gif

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