Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Isaiah Post 31 - Are You Ready?? (Chapter 52A)

In this journey through the Isaiah roller coaster, we are now climbing up the highest hill.  Get ready - the wild plunge is coming soon!

The previous chapter contained two wake-up calls to Zion, telling them to put on strength and not to be afraid. Chapter 52 now elaborates with a third wake-up call, telling them to get ready in a big way!  (Remember that in Hebrew, stating something three times is the ultimate emphasis.)

Awake, awake!
Put on your strength, O Zion;
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Shall no longer come to you.
Shake yourself from the dust, arise;
Sit down, O Jerusalem!
(as if enthroned)
Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion!

Verse 3 goes on to say that even though they sold themselves for nothing, they will be redeemed without money – they didn’t have to do anything to earn it. Cyrus declared them to return from Babylon and rebuild their temple, without them asking.  Later on in history, Yeshua the Messiah shed His blood for their redemption, without them asking.  It was all the work of the LORD.

Isaiah continues with a reminder of the history from whence Israel came, and that they WILL know His name again.

A note about His name:  Jews don’t pronounce the name YHVH out of respect.  Christian translators continued this tradition.  Whenever you see LORD in all capitals in the Hebrew scriptures, it’s the Hebrew word YHVH.  You may have noticed that I use the terms interchangeably when I am writing. Today, scholars can only guess at its pronunciation because it's been hidden for so long...  Yahweh, Jehovah,  Yehovah, etc.  Someday we will know for sure when we see Him face to face.

Biblically, the name of someone is much more than just what they are called. It is their reputation, their very being; who they are, or what they do.

Verse 7 is beautiful, and packed with promise:

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 Hebrew term for glad tidings here is literally the term for gospel (which itself is an old English term meaning good news. The Greek word  for good news in the New Testament is euangelion.)

Biblically, messengers were always on foot.  In Ephesians 6, we see that the feet are shod with the gospel of peace.  Today we also have planes, trains, and automobiles.  And TV.  And the internet. And we still have evangelists who can only reach remote areas on foot.

Beautiful feet carrying the Good News
Romans 10:15 quotes part of this passage from Isaiah: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”  The context in Romans is the rejection of the gospel by the nation of Israel, and the preaching of the gospel to the world.  However, that last line of verse 7 -  the part NOT quoted in Romans -  is now happening in Zion.  It is another example of near/far prophecy showing up together in Isaiah.

    (**UPDATE:  Right after I posted today, I read the following in my daily Bible reading, from Nahum 1:15...
Behold, on the mountains
The feet of him who brings good tidings,
Who proclaims peace!
O Judah, keep your appointed feasts,
Perform your vows.
For the wicked one shall no more pass through you;
He is utterly cut off.
The LORD is giving good news to Judah in the midst of Assyria's threats.  I love that He coordinates my scripture reading for me)

I just want mention a side note on carrying the Good News back to Zion... it can be difficult to give the gospel to religious, educated Jews who have been trained against Christianity their entire lives. Horrible things done to Jews throughout history, sadly, in the name of Jesus. There are walls which need to be torn down and bridges to be built. Jewish people need to know you aren’t trying to preach to them, convert them, or kill them. In this case, not preaching to them is actually preaching to them. Through loving relationship, we try to show them Yeshua. And this should be done unconditionally - meaning we do not reject them if they do not accept Him as Messiah.

Recently, I was watching a televised conference taking place in Jerusalem, and there was only one Christian on the panel. She spoke of the Messiah, acknowledged that we both expect Him, and that when He comes, one of us could say to the other, “I told you so.” Except that we both would probably be in such awe!

Isaiah continues in verses 8-10:

Your watchmen shall lift up their voices,
With their voices they shall sing together;
For they shall see eye to eye
When the LORD brings back Zion

Who are the watchmen?  The Hebrew word is tsafah, meaning one who observes, peers into the distance, waits expectantly.  The watchmen were waiting for the messengers.

Are you one?  Are you paying attention to what God is doing with Zion and with Israel

Verse 9 says, Break forth into joy, sing together, Jerusalem
For the Lord has comforted His people, Jerusalem
(This is not a figurative Jerusalem here. This is a literal Jerusalem - the center of God's plan)

The LORD has made bare His holy arm
In the eyes of all the nations;
And all the ends of the earth shall see
The salvation
(Yeshua) of our God.

(All will see - Yeshua IS the holy arm of God - He is the physical image of an invisible God)

Verses 11-12 contain a command to Israel to go out from there (the world) and touch no unclean thing. It is a call to holiness, to be set apart. We see a similar command in Revelation 18:4, "Come out of her, my people." Come out of the Babylonian religious system that is so pervasive in the world.  We too are called to be holy and set apart.

Verse 12 reminds us of the Exodus from Egypt, but this Exodus from the world and back to Israel  would not in haste. For the last 100+ years, the LORD God has been drawing Jews back to the land from all over the world. He is systematically assembling His people so He can reveal Himself to them when He returns.

The context of chapter 52 so far has been mostly the second coming of Yeshua, and the passage is about to switch to a first coming context. Stay tuned for the roller coaster plunge!

The next post is now available:  click here to read it.

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

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