Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Isaiah Post 16 - Desolation and Restoration (chapters 33-35)

Chapter 33 opens up with a warning.   Outside the walls of Jerusalem, Sennacherib and the Assyrian plunderers waited, and YHVH warned that they themselves will be plundered. 

Verse two moves to a picture inside the city.  We read a plea to the Lord for His graciousness... "Please be our arm of YESHUA" (salvation).  The people stopped looking at the enemy and looked to YHVH.  They looked to the future, to what the LORD would do for them.  Verse 6 also contains the name of the Savior - Yeshua.  I love how His name is peppered throughout the Hebrew scriptures.  The Arm of the LORD, Yeshua, is fighting for us.

And in verse 3, we see a snapshot of the ultimate future battle when Yeshua went to His execution:
At the noise of the tumult the people shall flee;
When You lift Yourself up, the nations shall be scattered

The LORD lifted HIMSELF up. This is confirmed in John 10:17-18, when Yeshua says,
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Many have been accused of killing the Messiah throughout history, especially the Jews, but we see here that it was an act of the perfect will of the Father - His intention all along.

The LORD always has the kingdom in sight when He stretches out His mighty arm.

In verse 8, we see a warning to a certain traveling man who has broken the covenant.  What covenant?  The Abrahamic covenant.  Sennacherib was coming against the land, and it will not go well for him.

In verses 10-16, Isaiah shows us that the LORD moves mightily.  Again He lifts Himself up.  The sinners and hypocrites in Zion are afraid.  They realize the power and might of the Lord who judges with fire.  But the righteous do not have to be afraid of the fiery judgment.

In verses 17-24, the righteous will see the majesty of the king and the beauty of the land of Zion.  Look at the beautiful promise in verse 20 (and since this hasn't happened yet, it is a promise of thing to come):
Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts;
Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home,
A tabernacle that will not be taken down;
Not one of its stakes will ever be removed,
Nor will any of its cords be broken.

The chapter wraps up with forgiven iniquities for the inhabitants of Zion.  How glorious!

Chapter 34 shifts gears once again.  We see a warning to the nations to come, hear, and heed the word!  The fury of the Lord is against the nations.

Verse 4 gives us a clue about the nature of the last days.  The heavens will be dissolved; rolled up as a scroll.  In Revelation 6, we see this repeated in the context of the breaking of the sixth seal of the scroll, as the LORD wraps up human history in a dramatic way.  Isaiah continues with a very colorful description of bloodshed and mayhem in Edom (a metaphor for the surrounding nations.  Edom had been the land of Esau.  Today, it is a common Jewish idiom to refer to non-Jews as Edomites.)

So why is this warning given?  Verse 8 tells us that it is the LORD's vengeance, recompense for the cause of Zion,  In other words, it’s payback time against the nations that broke the everlasting covenant – the Abrahamic covenant. Today, many nations are breaking that covenant as they come against Israel.

Click here for an example of how the UN comes against Israel.

Verse 10 is a picture of Edom's total destruction by burning pitch.
It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it forever and ever.

Can I just interject here?  We see the same kind of language used in Jude 1:7, 2 Peter 2:6, and Revelation 14:11.

(Jude) as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

(2 Peter) and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly

(Revelation) And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.

Much of what the church believes about God’s judgment is rooted in Greek-Roman thought… constant burning fires that never go out.  But in reality, this way of speaking is by Jewish idiom.  We have a picture of complete and total destruction.  The ascending smoke can be likened to an extinguished candle... we don't see the smoke until the flame is put out.

The picture of total desolation for Edom continues for the rest of the chapter.  The wild animals are a vivid metaphor of judgment and desolation.  It will become a habitation of jackals, owls, hawks, wild goats, and snakes, as well as thorns, nettles, and brambles; while its princes and nobles will be gone.  

Moving on to chapter 35, we have another shift.  Verse 1 tells us that the desert will bloom. This is happening now in the land of Israel!

 In 1867 Mark Twain called the holy land a vast wasteland in his book, Innocents Abroad. This was right before the waves of Jewish immigrants began returning to the land, at which time they began draining the swamps and planting trees and fields.

Continuing on, the next two verses appear to give encouragement to the survivors of the holocaust.
Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.”

Holocaust survivors arrive in Israel

Verses 5 and 6 are Messianic, and we see near/far prophecy again.  Some of these miracles took place during the first advent of Yeshua - the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and so on.  But this time, there will be streams in the desert.  Our Living Water will truly return and bring life from the dead!  The thorny land and the habitations of jackals will become grass, reeds, and rushes.

This jives with Romans 11:15.  Paul says,
For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 

In other words, the rejection of the gospel by the nation of Israel brought life to the rest of the world.  But when they are saved as a nation, watch out!  Life from the dead!  I believe that there will be more people saved at that time that there have been since Yeshua ascended to heaven.

Chapter 35 ends with a beautiful picture of restoration of the land of Israel and its people.  We know this is still to come because most of this has not yet been fulfilled:
A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.
But the redeemed shall walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

To continue this journey, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

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