Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Isaiah Post 46- Zion Reborn! (Chapter 66B)

My last post got us all the way through verse 5 of this final, glorious chapter of Isaiah.

Verse 6 continues vividly with a picture of our returning King Messiah:

The sound of noise from the city! 
 (literally the sound of ROARING in the Hebrew)
A voice from the temple!  
(There WILL be a temple.)
The voice of the Lord, 
Who fully repays His enemies!

Scripture clearly portrays Yeshua's second coming as time of wrath and vengeance on His enemies.

Deuteronomy 32:35 says:
Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; 
Their foot shall slip in due time; 
For the day of their calamity is at hand, 
And the things to come hasten upon them.’  

Paul repeats this idea in Romans 12:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord.                               
Friends, you want to be on the LORD’s side.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He is coming to save Israel, and based on what I've read in scripture, I believe He is bringing us with Him to Israel at some point soon after the great gathering of the elect.  Here are some verses that pull it together for me.

Matthew 24:29-31 says, 
Immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days (that tells us when) the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  

1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, 
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Zechariah 14:5 says,
Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with Him.
And Revelation 19:14 tells us,
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

It seems clear to me that we WILL around during the great tribulation, and it is only at His return that we are rescued and brought with Him to Jerusalem.

Anyway, moving on to one of my favorite promises in the Word, starting with verse 7:
“Before she was in labor, she gave birth; 
Before her pain came, 
She delivered a male child.

Who is this talking about?   Revelation 12:1-2 says, Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.”

I have a Catholic friend who likes to say that this is a reference to the virgin Mary.  Indeed, there is a near/far prophecy here, referring to the birth of Messiah as well as His return.  But Isaiah continues, and leaves us no doubt…

Who has heard such a thing? 
Who has seen such things? 
(in other words, NO ONE! This is rhetorical) 
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? 
Or shall a nation be born at once? 
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.  

The passage answered its own question:  Zion.

Continuing on...
 Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.   
Again, rhetorical - He will complete His work as promised.  To stop delivery would kill the mother.

(Older Christian commentaries didn’t really know what to do with these verses because of Replacement Theology.)

The labor was long, but the birth was quick.  Only one nation has ever come back and been restored after being scattered.  The UN took about one hour to vote on the modern state of Israel in November of 1947.  The whole world got together in New York City for this monumentous event.  The UN was only two years old when they voted. (Sadly, since that time, the UN has turned into a very anti-Israel entity)

We can now look back at that moment.  The impossible happened after centuries and centuries.  The Bible became front page news. We are living in these days! Most Christians who have lived in the past 2000 years didn’t get to experience this prophecy coming true.  When the time for God to favor Zion came about, things happened quickly. 

Psalm 102:13 says,
You will arise and have mercy on Zion; 
For the time to favor her, 
Yes, the set time, has come.

Isaiah continues in verse 10:
Rejoice with Jerusalem
And be glad with her, all you who love her;      

Here we can see the fruit of the commanded prayer in Psalm 122:6...  
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May they prosper who love you.

If you have been faithful to pray this prayer, Isaiah is showing you that it WILL be answered!

By the way, that word for loveahava – first shows up in Genesis at the near-sacrifice of Isaac.  Love and sacrifice go together.

Isaiah continues...
“Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; 
That you may feed and be satisfied 
With the consolation of her bosom 
That you may drink deeply and be delighted 
With the abundance of her glory.”

Do you know how I long for the salvation of Israel?  For the Messiah to come to Jerusalem and reveal himself to all of us? Oh, may He return soon!

 Remember 62:1?  
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, 
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, 
And her salvation as a lamp that burns.  

And 6-7?  
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; 
They shall never hold their peace day or night. 
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, 
And give Him no rest till He establishes 
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

I will wrap up this post with verses 12-14:
For thus says the Lord:
(an emphasis word – in other words,  get ready for what is about to be said!
I will extend peace (shalom) to her like a river, 
And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream
Shalom is much more than the absence of conflict.  It is wholeness, completeness, safety, prosperity, contentment, and restoration stemming from the presence of the Lord.  Rivers of it!!

Then you shall feed; 
On her sides shall you be carried, 
And be dandled 
(to be taken delight in) 
on her knees. 
As one whom his mother comforts, 
So I will comfort you; 
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Here we are, back to the picture of mother and baby.  The word for comfort is Nahum.  The village where Yeshua did much of His teaching was Kfar Nahum (aka Capernaum), which means village of comfort.

Verse 14 continues:
When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, 
(There will be an explosion of joy)
And your bones shall flourish like grass;  
(the word flourish is the same root as peretz – remember that word? It means breaking out!
The hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants,  And His indignation to His enemies.

That verb to know – it means far more than head knowledge.  It means to know intimately.  He is speaking to His followers.

Note the contrast in verse 14; the joyful explosion suddenly turns to His holy wrath. And that is where we will pick up on the next post.

To read from the beginning of this series, click here.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Isaiah Post 44 The Kingdom Is Coming! - (Chapter 65)

Two more chapters!  I'm excited to wrap up one of my favorite books of the Bible.

I love how chapter 65 starts out:

I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; 
I was found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ 
To a nation that was not called by My name.
Only Israel as a people group was called by His name (Deuteronomy 28:10). But here, God is revealing Himself to people other than Israel.  This is us!

However, we see quite a contrast in verses 2-7. God stretched out His hands to His people Israel, but they committed abominations which led to punishment. 

But does He leave it at that?  No!

Verses 8-10 give us a another glimpse of the restoration of the remnant of Israel.  So far this chapter looks a lot like Romans 11 (similar to Isaiah 49).  His people, Israel, fell into sin and idolatry;  God reaches out to the nations; but then He comes back and redeems the remnant of Jacob.  God is not done with Israel.  Replacement Theology just does not hold up to the full counsel of scripture.

Isaiah returns to rebuke mode in verses 11-12.  Just as the previous verses were directed toward the future remnant of Israel, I believe these verses speak to those who will not return to YHVH.  (And sadly, they are probably not even reading these verses).

The next section, verses 13-14, portray a series of opposites. I believe we are seeing a picture of His servants in the Gentile church (that's us) during the blindness of Israel.

Therefore thus says the LORD God:
“Behold, My servants shall eat,
But you shall be hungry;
Behold, My servants shall drink,
But you shall be thirsty;
Behold, My servants shall rejoice,
But you shall be ashamed;
Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart,
But you shall cry for sorrow of heart,
And wail for grief of spirit.

Verse 15 continues with some astounding prophecy:

You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen;
For the LORD God will slay you,
And call His servants by another name;

I believe this is a prophecy of how the church will treat Israel during their blindness. The reason I believe this is because it happened! The church has treated the Jews very poorly for the past two millennia.  I recommend the book Our Hands are Stained With Blood, written by Michael Brown - a Messianic follower of Yeshua.  It retells the tragic story of persecution of the Jews, in the name of Jesus.

Read this and weep. 

The last phrase of verse 15 tells us that followers of Yeshua will be given a new name, and in fulfillment of this prophecy, it happened.

The term Christian was introduced in Acts 11:26. To put it in context, here is Acts 11:15-26 (Peter had just had his vision in Joppa and was told to bring the good news to the Gentiles):

And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.  Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’  If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.  But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.  When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.  And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Christian was a new name, and some scholars believe it was originally a derogatory term.  Before that, believers had been called followers of the Way.  Today, many Jewish believers shy away from the term Christian.  Many Orthodox Jews write it out like this:  Xtian.  I see that term used by Jews online all the time.  Because of the prophecy here in Isaiah, Christianity became very offensive  - a stumbling block to Jews.  Jewish believers in Yeshua are thought by their families and friends to be traitors.  (Not if they become Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, etc.  Typically, those are all fine.  Only Christianity is a problem).

This is why ministry to Jews is generally so different than other people groups.  They do not care what you know until they know that you care.  And we have almost 2000 years of distrust to overcome.

Back to Isaiah 65.  A new section begins in verse 17, and it's a beauty!

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

All that previous junk – gone from our memories.  When God restores, He really restores!!

What will it look like?  It is probably well beyond our imagination.

The reference to the new heavens and new earth will come up again in chapter 66.  In the New Testament, we see it in 2 Peter 3 and in Revelation 21.  The Jewish people refer to it as The World To Come.  I love this!  It's so much more accurate than the widespread Christian paradigm of die and go to heaven.

The prophecy in verses 18-19 has not happened yet; it is still to come in human history:

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; 
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, 
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, 
Nor the voice of crying.

Can I just talk about Jerusalem for a moment?  I was at a wedding in Jerusalem a couple trips ago, on a hillside overlooking the entire city.  It was a very joyous occasion.  I was amazed at the honor given to Jerusalem in the middle of the ceremony, as they read an excerpt from Psalm 137.

The context of Psalm 137:4-6 is the Babylonian exile.  But these verses have been read at Jewish weddings for almost 2000 years.  Why?  Because Jerusalem is to be the chief joy.  Even above a wedding, which is one of the most joyous occasions there is. This is what that passage says:

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

That joy word, simcha, is very strong. It literally means to spin around with violent emotion.  Like dancing!

The remainder of the chapter describes the future Messianic millennial kingdom:

“No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, 
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old, 
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

Who are these people?  By this point, believers will have resurrection bodies that are imperishable.  But not all unbelievers are destroyed by God’s wrath at Yeshua’s return. There will be unsaved people who survive.  Animal sacrifices will still going on during the thousand years.  They continue to paint the picture of blood atonement for those who have not put their faith in the Messiah.

I believe many more will be saved during the millennium.  They will have a choice.

Remember, at the end of the millennium, the devil is released for a short time and tries to deceive the whole world.  You can read about it in Revelation 20:7-9.

Previously dead unbelievers are not resurrected for their judgment until after the thousand years, because believers are still being regenerated.  The judgment of the wicked cannot happen until it’s all said and done.

The passage continues continue in Millennial Kingdom context:

They shall build houses and inhabit them; 
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit; 
They shall not plant and another eat; 
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, 
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain, 
Nor bring forth children for trouble; 
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, 
And their offspring with them. 
“It shall come to pass 
That before they call, I will answer; 
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.

This sounds pretty awesome to me!

The chapter wraps up with this famous verse:
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, 
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food. 
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” 
Says the Lord.

In the Hebrew, the wolf and the lamb are as one.  You see a greater fellowship than just eating together.  The animal kingdom will exist in peace.  Carnivores will become herbivores.  The serpents, however, are still eating dust.  Probably a reminder that the devil has not yet been vanquished fully; he is merely subdued for 1000 years.

The holy mountain of course refers to the Temple and its mount, which is described in detail in Ezekiel 40-43. 

LORD, may your kingdom come!  Soon!

Part one of the next chapter is posted. Click 
here if you want to read it.

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Isaiah Post 43 - Wrath and Return (Chapters 63-64)

Chapter 63 opens up describing the Mighty return of the Lord, coming to vanquish His enemies.  He is no longer the Lamb, but the Lion!

Who is this who comes from Edom 
With dyed garments from Bozrah 
This One who is glorious in His apparel, 
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?— 
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
Why is Your apparel red, 
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?

Whew, what a picture.  Where is Edom?  Today, it is the nation of Jordan, to the east of the Holy Land.  And why Bozrah?  Bozrah was place of war and desolation.  Both Edom and Bozrah are mentioned in the very colorful chapter of Jeremiah 49.  These places are symbolic of the last days enemies of the LORD.

So who is this, the verse asks, and why is He here? The passage continues:

“I have trodden the winepress alone, 
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 stained all My robes.

Ew.  Not a pretty picture.  There is violence and wrath happening here.  Have you ever seen a treading of a winepress?  But, the passage says, He speaks and acts in righteousness.

Verse 4 continues:
 For the day of vengeance is in My heart, 
And the year of My redeemed has come.
This is a repetition of Isaiah 61:2B - the part that Yeshua did NOT read in Nazareth during His first visit.

The wrath of the LORD continues in verses 5-6:
I looked, but there was no one to help, 
And I wondered that there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; 
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, 
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.

In our congregations today, we sing a lot about the love of God.  And it's true, God is love.  However, I don't hear too many songs sung about His wrath.  But the wrath of God is a Biblical truth; one we should face.

The chapter then changes gears and leads us into more familiar ground, at least in the sense of today's worship music:

I will mention the lovingkindness of the LORD, 
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, 
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, 
According to the multitude of His lovingkindness 

The word used twice in the above passage - translated lovingkindness - is chesed.  It means His all-encompassing mercy.

For He said, “Surely they are My people
Children who will not lie.” 
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted, 
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; 
And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.

What is not as familiar to the church today from this section is how God feels about Israel.  We like to take these verses for ourselves alone, and dismiss the context.  However, in the following verses, we tend to do the opposite and attribute them to Israel alone.  We have here a brief history lesson, showing a continuing cycle of rebellion and return.

But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; 
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying:
“Where is He who brought them up out of the sea 
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
Who led them by the right hand of Moses,
With His glorious arm, 
Dividing the water before them
To make for Himself an everlasting name,
Who led them through the deep, 
As a horse in the wilderness, 
That they might not stumble?”
As a beast goes down into the valley, 
And the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people, 
To make Yourself a glorious name.

What is the LORD's major purpose, according to these verses?  To make for Himself an everlasting, glorious name!  

Verses 15-19 give us a clear picture of  of His people yearning for Him, and longing for repentance and righteousness:

Look down from heaven, 
And see from Your habitation, holy and glorious.
Where are Your zeal and Your strength, 
The yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me?
Are they restrained?
Doubtless You are our Father, 
Though Abraham was ignorant of us, 
And Israel does not acknowledge us.
You, O LORD, are our Father; 
Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name. 
O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways, 
And hardened our heart from Your fear?
Return for Your servants’ sake, 
The tribes of Your inheritance.
Your holy people have possessed it but a little while; 
Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.
We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled,
Those who were never called by Your name.

This plea leads into the very strong language of chapter 64:

Oh, that You would rend the heavens! 
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
As fire burns brushwood,
As fire causes water to boil—

To make Your name known to Your adversaries, 
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!

In this section, fire is repeated twice for emphasis, and fire represents judgment.  The rainbow was a promise that the earth would not be destroyed by water again, but fire is another story.  Fire will play a significant role when the LORD returns.

The end of chapter 63 was a plea for the LORD to "look down," and in chapter 64, the plea changes to "Come down!"

The LORD's return will be a fearful event for His enemies.

Verse 3 says,
When You did awesome things for which we did not look, 
You came down, 
The mountains shook at Your presence.  

Yeshua did awesome things at His first visit, and they were not seeking those awesome things; specifically, dying for their sins.  Verse 4 continues:

For since the beginning of the world 
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, 
Who acts for the one who waits for Him. 
Paul quotes this verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9, in the context that if Israel’s leaders had known Him, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.

Isaiah continues:
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, 
Who remembers You in Your ways.
And then, the theme changes in the middle of the verse.  First, the bad news.

You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue; 
And we need to be saved.
But we are all like an unclean thing, 
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; 
(The Hebrew is very colorful here; filthy rags is a nice way of saying menstrual rags)
We all fade as a leaf, 
And our iniquities, like the wind, 
Have taken us away.
And there is no one who calls on Your name, 
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us, 
And have consumed us because of our iniquities.

So, can a sinner be saved? It looks impossible.  But thankfully, Isaiah continues:

But now, O LORD, You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter; 
And all we are the work of Your hand.  

A good father cannot reject His children.  Can a sinner be saved? The answer is yes!  The Father will provide a way for His children to be saved.

Isaiah continues, pleading with the Father:
Do not be furious, O LORD, 
Nor remember iniquity forever; 
Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!
Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful temple, 
Where our fathers praised You, Is burned up with fire;
And all our pleasant things are laid waste.
Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD?
Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?

The tone of this plea reminds me of the repentant Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  And we know what happened… the Father ran to his son!

Israel has a good, good Father, and so do we.  Have you been away from the Father?  If so, He is waiting for you.

The next post is ready!  Click here to view it.

To start this series from the beginning, click here.

Isaiah Post 42 - Beautiful Land, Jerusalem, and His Rewards (Chapter 62)

Hello, sixty-two!  I have waited for you!

One of my very favorite verses of scripture these days is 62:1.  Here it is, with my commentary interjected:

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, 
(not the word shalom here, but chashah – meaning not stay inactive or silent)
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
(as opposed to the darkness of the previous chapter)
And her salvation (Yeshua) as a lamp that burns.

I often feel like people just wish I would shut up about Israel. But I simply can’t.  Sadly, it is not a popular stance, both inside and outside the church. Oh well. I cannot hold my peace. UNTIL. Victory is coming.

We are living in the UNTIL. Think of the current age as the prophetic summer between the spring and fall moedim (often translated feasts, but more accurate would be appointed times).

These appointed times clearly outline God’s plan of redemption for the world through the Messiah. It is good to be familiar with them. The four spring feasts were fulfilled by Yeshua -  down to the last detail - when He came the first time as the Lamb of God. We can expect no less when He returns as the Lion of Judah, to keep His appointment with us and fulfill the fall feasts.

Verse 2 continues, speaking to Israel –
The Gentiles shall see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory.
You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the LORD will name.

Jacob got a new name , Israel, after struggling with the LORD overnight.  The word Israel means both struggles with God and prince with God.  Revelation 2:17 tells us that believers will also get a new name.

Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob all got new names.  Contrary to popular opinion, Paul did not get a new name; Paul was his Roman name and Shaul was his Hebrew name. This is still a common practice today, especially with Jews moving to Israel.  Many will choose a Hebraic name for themselves.

The prophecy to the land of Israel continues in verses 3-5:
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.

You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah,
(meaning my delight is in her)
And your land Beulah; 
(meaning married.  The root word is baal, which means master or husband)
For the LORD delights in you,
And your land shall be married.
(See the Hebrew wordplay here?  You cannot see it in the English)

For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.

This is still speaking of the land, metaphorically, but most certainly includes the people. The LORD is rejoicing over both the land and its people.  They go hand in hand.  This is why the Abrahamic covenant included the land.
We are also a seeing further reference to the wedding of the Lamb, coming soon to a certain Middle Eastern city near (or not near) you. Do you have your invitation? It was signed in blood.

The next two verses are also some of my favorites in all of scripture:
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
(remember verse 1 about not holding their peace?  Same word here - chashah)
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
(are you one who makes mention of the LORD? Then this is for you.)
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Again, land, especially Jerusalem, is the object of praise because it is CENTRAL to God’s plan.  
And again, until, (or till, in this translation). You are in this timeline.

It is a blessing to be a watchman on the walls of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:6-9 contains a command. 
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, “Peace be within you.”
Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.

Jerusalem is the only city in the world for which the scriptures command us to pray.  And this time, the word shalom is used - three times!  We are not to hold our peace (chashah) in praying for Jerusalem's peace (shalom).

When you become a watchman on the wall; when you refuse to hold your peace, people will try to shut you up. Governments will try to shut you up. Even Christians will try to shut you up. God says, "Don’t shut up." (Sorry to use the homeschooling “S” word).

The church has historically allegorized Jerusalem into a spiritual place, but the bible clearly speaks that it is physical.  There is a future for the new Jerusalem that comes down from the heavens, to be sure, but we should not discount the current city that is awaiting its final renovation.

Jerusalem is the reason there are so many 24/7 prayer rooms. It is the FOCAL POINT of the Lord’s return. They do not rest, knowing that when the Messiah returns, Jerusalem will be a praise in the earth! The city of our Lord! His dwelling place! 

The word Jerusalem means City of Peace.  It seems ironic; however, because Jerusalem has been ground zero for spiritual warfare throughout the centuries.  The prophetic nature of the name has not yet seen its fulfillment.

Continuing with verses 8-9, Isaiah switches gears a bit:
The Lord has sworn by His right hand And by the arm of His strength:
(remember, Yeshua IS the right hand of God)
“Surely I will no longer give your grain
As food for your enemies;
And the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine,

(As a grafted-in member of the household of God, I no longer am included in the categories of enemy and foreigner)
For which you have labored.
But those who have gathered it shall eat it, And praise the Lord;
Those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.”

Verse 10 is a command to get ready:
Go through, Go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people;
Build up, Build up the highway!
Take out the stones,
Lift up a banner for the peoples!

Isaiah is talking about the gates of Jerusalem. This is all about building up the land. I LOVE walking through the gates of Jerusalem and try to do it as much as possible. It’s like doing spiritual road construction! If God is this excited about Jerusalem, then I am going to be, too.

Verse 11 continues:
Indeed the Lord has proclaimed 
To the end of the world
(a command to EVERYONE who follows Him):
“Say to the daughter of Zion, (speaking to future generations of Jews) 
‘Surely your salvation (Yeshua) is coming;
Behold, His reward is with Him (we’ll come back to that),
And His work before Him.’”

This is far prophecy that goes beyond the first coming of Jesus.

Zechariah 9:9 is clearly written in first-coming language:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

Of course we know that Yeshua fulfilled this prophecy when He rode into Jerusalem to face His death.

But Isaiah confirms that this is second coming/end times context in verse 12. speaking of the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. This has not happened yet. Many Jews today are saved, but the nation of Israel still awaits final redemption.  It says:
And they (God’s followers – you and I) shall call them (the daughters of Zion) 
The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord;
And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

Final redemption, coming soon.  Hallelujah!

Okay, I want to go back to verse 11 for a moment.  What does it mean when it says His reward is with Him?

The Bible says that you will be rewarded for everything you have done for the kingdom since the day you were redeemed/justified by His blood. You might have forgotten about your actions, building up the kingdom, but He has not.  Through your sanctification (which happens after justification), you have been storing up treasures in heaven, according to Matthew 6:19-21.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Indeed, Yeshua paid the price of your redemption by His blood. When you accept His sacrifice, you are justified. It is a one time deal; done. 

THEN we work OUT our salvation – this is part 2.  Our newfound faith now requires obedience.  James says faith without works is dead.  Philippians 2:12 tells us to work OUT our salvation with fear and trembling.

Yes, there are those who do not participate in part 2. But it’s like buying a ticket to an interactive Broadway play, and then spending the entire play out in the lobby. It’s paid for, you are in, but you miss the show.  When Yeshua returns, your rewards will be minimal and you will have great regret.

And there is still part 3 of our salvation yet to come, at the resurrection when we receive our immortal bodies.  We humans are three part beings - mind, body, spirit - and all three of those things need saving, each in its own turn.

So here is a salvation recap for you:
  • Justification - redemption by the blood of the Lamb.  A one-time deal.  This is the salvation of our spirit.  We are given the Holy Spirit as a downpayment to our future restoration (Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22)
  • Sanctification - the lifelong process of becoming like Him, through obedience.  This is the salvation of our minds.  We are to renew our minds every day, taking bad thoughts captive, and so on. We are earning future rewards. We are the bride being refined.
  • Glorification - our final salvation at the resurrection, when our mortal bodies are changed into immortal bodies at the glorious return of Yeshua.
This is is not something that is frequently taught in our congregations, but I hope it makes sense to you.  There are teachers out there that camp on justification and leave it at that, saying that nothing else is needed in your walk with the Lord.  But this is not the full counsel of scripture.  You don't want to miss out on all that God has for you. 

Click here if you are ready to read the next post.

If you are just joining in and would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, you may click here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Isaiah Post 41 - Messiah, The Land, and The Wedding (Chapter 61)

Isaiah 61 starts out like this:

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable
(favorable) year of the LORD, 

Sound familiar?  And notice the comma?  We'll come back to that.

In Luke 4, Yeshua read these very words in His hometown, but stopped halfway through verse 2, (where I stopped above) and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." And then He handed the scroll to the attendant.

First, I want to mention that word anointed.

That word in Hebrew is Mashiach (or as we say it in English - Messiah).

The word literally means smeared with oil. The Hebrew word carries with it the connotation of being chosen and made ready for something. Oil represents the Holy Spirit. The Greek word Christos, from where we get the word Christ, simply means oily one. There was no Greek word equivalent in meaning to the Hebrew word.  I wonder how many people still consider Christ to be the last name of Jesus?  I know I did for many years.

OK, back to Luke 4. The people in the synagogue did not react well to Yeshua's statement. This young man was a simple carpenter’s son, and they’d known Him His whole life. They knew that "the anointed one" was to be the coming Messiah. And that is exactly who Yeshua was claiming to be.

Let's look now at the place where Yeshua stopped reading:

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;

This is one of those spots in Isaiah where we have a prophecy that contains His first and second comings in one sentence. Yeshua stopped reading before the part of God's vengeance, because that will be part of His purpose when He returns to earth.

It is possible that the people were angry because they felt Yeshua stopped short in the prophecy.  The Jews at that time were awaiting deliverance from Rome's heavy oppression, not from their sin.  The people went so far as to try and throw Him off a cliff. 

Mount Precipice near Nazareth, commemorating Luke 4.

Isaiah's prophecy continues with verse 2B through 4, in the last days context of the coming Kingdom and His return.  

To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

What a wonderful promise to a people group, who wandered throughout the earth without a country of their own, and who are now coming home.

When you fly into Tel Aviv, you see restoration all over the place.  Fields, towns, cities, roads, and lots of green.  New buildings have replaced ruins.

Isaiah continues:
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

This last  part of this verse is what moved Tommy Waller to start the ministry HaYovel, meaning The Jubilee. Gentiles come from all over the world to work with this ministry in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, helping farmers plant and harvest grapes for wine.

The last several verses of Amos are in parallel to much of this chapter.  Most of the book of Amos is doom and gloom for Israel, but yet at the end... restoration!  Look at Amos 9:13-15

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.

I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.

I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

Isaiah continues in verses 6-7, speaking to and of Israel;
But you shall be named the priests of YHVH,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.

Talk about a reversal of history here!  Instead of being the scapegoat of the nations, Israel will eat the riches of the nations.  And double honor instead of shame is quite the contrast!

(The ideology of shame and honor is deeply ingrained into Middle Eastern cultures.  This is why honor killings still exist in the Muslim world today.   To most cultures, such a thing is horrific.  But to someone steeped in the shame versus honor ideology, they believe they can do no less.)

Like much of last days Bible prophecy, there is a clear connection to the land.  This connection goes all the way back to the Abrahamic covenant of 4000 years ago.  The everlasting covenant of the land, the seed, and the blessing is still in effect today.

The Land of Israel is central to last days action.  This is why that tiny piece of land (that can fit entirely into Lake Michigan) is always in the news.  And the Temple Mount is at the center of the battle. Without the Jews back in their homeland, Yeshua cannot return to Jerusalem and take His rightful place on the throne, which will be in His rebuilt temple.

Verse 8 moves on to let us know that YHVH loves justice and also hates robbery for the purpose of the burnt offering.  Isaiah then mentions the everlasting covenant that YHVH will make with His people.  He is speaking here of YHVH’s seventh covenant, the covenant of peace, which is everlasting and will be instituted in the coming Millennial kingdom.   (Do you need a refresher on God's seven covenants with man? Click here for a brief but important rabbit trail).

What we know as the New Covenant, the shedding of Messiah’s blood, will have been a done deal by this point in Isaiah’s prophecy. Israel as a nation will be brought back into an everlasting covenant  of peace with YHVH because of the blood of Messiah. The bible often repeats: I will be glorified in my people Israel.

The final two verses of Isaiah 61 give us an amazing picture of the wedding of the Lamb and the coming Messianic Kingdom. A wedding is one of the most joyous things of all! (unless you are the one paying for it, tee hee).

The wedding is pictured in verse 10:
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7

God demonstrates salvation and righteousness together with a wedding. The coming Kingdom will be kicked off with a wedding feast, also known as Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles. All nations will be celebrating this.  Sukkot is the seventh and final appointed time of the LORD.

Verse 11 says,
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Again, the land:  it is central! The garden is a throwback to the Garden of Eden where it all began.  The righteousness that was lost 6000 years ago will spring forth once again, amidst praise!

Sowing is in the spring. With His first advent, Yeshua fulfilled the spring feasts. The seeds have been sown and grown during the last 2000 years.  The final harvest is soon to come, and will involve the whole world!

The next post is available here.

If you missed the beginning of this series on Isaiah, you can click here to start at the first post.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Isaiah Post 40 - The Nations WILL Bless Zion (Chapter 60)

Seven more chapters!  Only seven more!  I feel like the coach in Facing the Giants... four more downs!  (If you haven't seen it, you should.  A perfect blend of a guy movie and a chick movie and filled with faith).

Four more downs!!!

 We are almost to the end of the amazing Book of Isaiah.

Today, we look at chapter 60, which starts out quite vividly:

Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;

But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

We see here a call to God's people to rise and shine His love.  We also see a description of our world today, which is covered in darkness. We are living as in the days of Noah. Even the LORD's rainbow was stolen for unholy purposes. Good is called evil and evil is called good.

BUT, as the passage continues, we see the promise that the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.  You is specifically Israel here.

Verse three moves along with the prophecy that the nations shall come to your [Israel's] light, and kings to the brightness of your [Israel's] rising.
Israel arose out of the ashes of nearly 2000 years in 1948.  Since then, they have been visited by kings and dignitaries from ALL OVER THE WORLD.  You can walk through the King David Hotel and see a long, indoor walkway with signatures of modern-day dignitaries and celebrities on them - including Winston Churchill, Jackie Kennedy, Isaac Stern, both George Bushes, Nelson Mandela, and Metallica, to name a few.  In fact, I have been in Israel during the visits of the Pope and President Trump.  Both visits were very interesting!

Famous indoor sidewalk at the King David Hotel

The passage continues:  LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND SEE: Sons and daughters are gathering together, coming from afar.  This is the miracle of the Jewish people returning to their ancient homeland of Israel.

Look at verse 5:
Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy;
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to yo

People ask me why I continue to visit Israel.  How can I stay away, when I see God's word being fulfilled right under my nose??

The prophecy of blessing to Israel from the nations continues in verses 6-7.  Some of this is happening now, but because such places as Midian and Kedar are mentioned, we can expect much of this to be fulfilled in the future.  Both of these places are in Saudi Arabia, and relations between the two countries are not warm and fuzzy.  For example, if you have an Israeli visa stamp in your passport, Saudi Arabia will not even let you enter the country.  There is, however, a slight warming taking place between the two countries.  Iran is a mutual enemy.  Could it be said that the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Verse 8 is so interesting:  it asks the question, Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts?  WHAT was Isaiah seeing?  Was he seeing the planeloads of Jews returning to the Land?  It happens constantly now.  Jews are being brought home by the planeload from all over the world.  It happens constantly now, but here are a few notable examples:

  • Operation Moses 1984-1985, a covert rescue of Ethiopian Jews from camps in Sudan
  • Operation Solomon, 1991 (14.000 Jews evacuated from Ethiopia over a period of 2 days)
  • Operation Exodus - Currently brings planeloads of Jews from the US to Israel
  • Nearly one million Jews have emigrated from the former Soviet Union, mostly on planes
Ethiopian Jews being flown to Israel
Israel contains numerous aliyah return centers, which help new immigrants get settled, find jobs, and learn Hebrew.

Verse 9 continues with a prophecy that the coastlands are waiting and ships are bringing back the sons and daughters of Israel!  And today it is not just airplanes, but ships that are returning Jews to the land as well – especially since World War 2.  I recommend the book Exodus by Leon Uris.  It's long, but vividly tells the story of immigrants coming back to the land of Israel and making it bloom.

Verse 10 begins a section where the Gentiles are plunged into the action as well.
And their kings shall minister to you;
For in My wrath I struck you,
But in My favor I have had mercy on you.

Therefore your gates shall be open continually;
They shall not be shut day or night,
(Today the city gates are always open and don't close at night, except following an occasional terror attack or security for a dignitary's visit)

That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles,
And their kings in procession.
Yep.  Happening.

For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish,
And those nations shall be utterly ruined.

Oh that more nations would heed this prophetic warning.

"The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
The cypress, the pine, and the box tree together,
To beautify the place of My sanctuary;
And I will make the place of My feet glorious.
This is describing the soon-to-be-built temple.  The second temple was built after the return from Babylon, and then was later beautified by King Herod, just in time for the feet of the Messiah to walk there.  The next temple will be built for the same purpose.

Also the sons of those who afflicted you
Shall come bowing to you,
And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet;
And they shall call you The City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
So that no one went through you,
I will make you an eternal excellence,
A joy of many generations.

Wow, what a turnaround of events.

Let me give you a quick testimony from a rabbi friend of mine who is building a unique farm and yeshiva (Bible school) in the Judean desert. A group of Germans came there last year to help them build the walls of the facility.  The German visitors worked from sunup to sundown while they were there. They were children of World War 2 Nazis.

The Jews have been irrationally hated for millennia.  This scripture lets us know that there will be an end to the hatred.  And history is beginning to prove that this is so... albeit slowly.

Chapter 60 continues with a reference to drinking the milk of the Gentiles.  A mother nursing her child provides physical sustenance and love.  In the same way, the nations will be doing the same to Israel.

Verse 17 is interesting:
“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
Instead of iron I will bring silver,
Instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.

We see a picture of substances being upgraded, all the way to God.  We are being shown an allegory of the reversal of sin, with the ultimate substance being gold.

Substances in scripture represent different things:

  • Gold represents God:  His divineness and deity.
  • Silver represents redemption
  • Bronze is a representation of sin and the altar
  • Iron represents strength, crushing, and inflexible rule
  • Wood  represents perishable man.
Stones. however, carry many meanings in scripture.  Rocks can be jagged or smooth.  They can be instruments of destruction.  David killed Goliath with a stone, which had been smoothed out by living water.  They can also be foundational to a building.  The Messiah is our cornerstone.  We believers are all living stones, part of His spiritual building.

The scripture continues:
I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.

No more violence!! We know this is a future prophecy because there is still much violence today.

A note about the gate of Praise...  The only non-Muslim entrance to the Temple Mount has been historically called the Mughrabi bridge.  Last year, a 13-year-old girl named Hallel was murdered in her bed by a terrorist who had broken into her family's home.  In her memory, the name of this entrance was changed to Hallel Gate.  Hallel, as you may know, means praise.

The Hallel Gate, formerly known as the Mughrabi

Chapter 60 wraps up nicely with a lovely picture of the coming kingdom:

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the LORD will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
Also your people shall all be righteous;
They shall inherit the land forever,
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.
A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one a strong nation.
I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”

Compare this passage to Revelation 21:23-26:
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.

This even goes beyond the Millenial kingdom to the New Jersualem, which comes down to earth after the 1000 years. 

Jerusalem is absolutely central to God’s plan. It’s why it is the center of world attention, especially today. Psalm 2 says,  - Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?... Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”

Can we even imagine how it will be?

The next post is (finally) ready.  Click here.

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.