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BULLETIN One Hundred and Fourteen
ISAIAH 59 - 61:3
tells much of
THE THRILLING SEQUENCE AS THE AGE NEARS ITS END
The Censure, the Redeemer,
the Return of Israel AND the Lord
and the Vision of the Gospel
in New Covenant and the Messiah on Earth
Isaiah 59 and 60
At the end of the crusading Chapter 59, which held a vehement exposure of elemental sinfulness in Israel where as with Daniel in his prayer of confession, the people are included with the prophetic speaker, here "we", comes the Redeemer Himself (59:20), engaged in collecting His own from the Jerusalem so distinctively excoriated in the preceding verses!
Isaiah 60 then comes in with far more force - but here a constructive one ultimately - than any style of atomic bomb possesses. Isaiah 61 for its part in the sequence, makes the point so famously cited by Christ of Himself, concerning His Gospel mandate as the present Messiah, then hundreds of years off, in a far-flung but highly precise prophecy as fulfilled in basic thrust when Christ came and arrested the dating system of this world for centuries (AD and BC) with His startling and delicious fulfilments of the part before the judgment, the redeeming part which He enacted in person (as was shown in detail in Isaiah 52-53).
Now we proceed to that Isaiah 60 Chapter, having found its place in a larger sequence.
Here in the very first few verses, is that vital impact:
"Arise, shine for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord shall be seen upon you."
The long spiritual grief of Isaiah 59, the Redeemer's exposure (59:29). comes to the divine intervention, for seeing "there was no man", He Himself "put on the garments of vengeance for clothing" (hardly for its part a Gospel reference, though as in Zechariah 12 at the end both aspects come close), "according to their deeds," so disastrously listed earlier, "He will repay", precisely as in that part of Isaiah 61 which Christ did not read in His statement of fulfilment in Nazareth (Luke 4:18), since the Gospel Age is not the Age of Judgment, but of its escape through faith. That Gospel thrust was then; we are in the next phase at its inception (cf. Matthew 24:5).
Thus we have in Isaiah 59-60, this sequence: the long grief, the Redeemer's exposure and action, His saving work amid them, then suddenly an expedition not of armed force but of glory, sensational, glory intensified indeed. It is Zion's "sons" who come from afar, we read. not a society of sinners under sin's sovereignty. That is not the nature of the depiction at this point. It is not sinners under sin's sovereignty, but a salient and protected people.
The topic then moves. It is these, Zion's sons, her own people who are entwined in these proceeding, it is they who are the designated import, once estranged from their home, indeed more, removed from it - but now returned (60:4ff.). They come with "their silver and their gold", as most distinct from the nature of the Christian Church. Indeed, this distinctively national glory is very much so (though far from uniform), the last few decades, indeed more, for Israel in its own place, a nation susceptible to such 'glory' has grown, its punishment nearly past in this time, like a marvellous tree.
So it is a comparatively wealthy Israel which with palpable praise is set in this prophecy involving the Messiah Himself in its scope, one with wealth and power, respect and praise which betoken some of the wonder of the restored city, "in its place, Jerusalem", reminding you of the topic where alone the Jewish people have their restoration from first knowing the Lord, then leaving Him and then coming back home. There are many to burden themselves in seeking to overcome it, but it is the result of their own folly, trying to read worldly ideas into a highly particular divine ownership plan for the land, one specified in terms of the Messiah, the Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour.
Just as it is returnees who come back as in Jeremiah 33:11, in terms of their own specialised characteristics (cf. likewise, Zechariah 12:6-8), so also it is "at that time" and "in those days" (Jeremiah 33:15-16), that the Davidic Messiah comes. So do the prophecies speak with one voice. The world vehemently seeks to overthrow it, to break the admiration for it which is apparent as is the denigration in this mixed-up world. It acts as so often, with its seizures as with seizings of what does not belong to it, party by party, even as those of Israel surge back in the millions to their ancient nest, the sons and daughters of Jerusalem who then inhabit it!
It is not those who dwell in the universal or basic sin of stricken and cursed world, coming to take up their crosses and following Him that we have focussed and featured here. It is not those whose very Master and Leader, Saviour and Rock (Psalm 62) had no place on earth to lay His head, that we find portrayed. Instead, it is a very exuberance of riches, name and vindication, additions coming to its jurisdiction. Indeed, there seem even too many people for the land to hold! (Isaiah 49:20-21, contrast Matthew 22:8-11). Those now gaining fame have their day beginning, though it is they who were those once so stricken (and even now being verbally and commercially targetted by some).
This remnant of Israel (cf. Isaiah 11:10) is to come in the day of the Messiah's return (unexpectedly - I Thessalonians 5:1), and as you see in Isaiah 12, it is to find the Gospel grace in this coming Messianic age of divine rule (as depicted so very clearly in Isaiah 11 from the first). No more will their historic exodus from Egypt be their famous exit, but this now to their very homeland with its various idiosyncrasies and national features. Indeed, it being that the Lord Himself comes to rule during this period, it is again in conformity with the rest of the prophecy of Isaiah, that the stage as the Age continues towards its end, INCLUDES Gentiles, the consummation for Israel spreading like a beneficent fever, for good and not for evil! (Isaiah 11:10). It is just as mirrored by Paul in his deposition in Romans 11:25-36.
For Israel, this the universal call-back at the very rim of the Age, underwritten by God, and sustained by His power, and already near to its culmination in Christ for one and for all with no other option, for the the gods who have not made heaven and earth will perish in the earth and under the heavens, as Jeremiah asseverates (Jeremiah 10:11).
It is, then, not that Isaiah 60 stops in this extraordinary prosperity of returned Israel. Alas how different the decline of the visible Church, meanwhile, as foretold in I Timothy 3 and II Timothy 4, as well as indicated vigorously by Christ in Matthew 24:24. THAT is an entirely different phenomenon, not one of vengeance but of grace.
Nor does the Lord leave it at a national remnant marvellously brought to outgrow their place (biblically defined as far greater than what they currently have), their actual place. You can see these returnees marvelling in view of the terrible losses they have suffered in terms of its people (which Hitler epitomised, another fulfilment - Isaiah 49:21 in terms of expression of surprise at so many still left, despite the depredations!).
Did the Gentiles imagine that the 'game of life' was football and that Israel was the ball! Then they have much to learn.
Those who liked the kicking will be kicked. God is a God of justice. If Israel suffered for follies, it will not be alone (Isaiah 51:21-23). Lordly poseurs will not continue their bullying, their additions to God's own punishment of Israel.
To Restore and to Rebuild in a vast
Transformation, Child of Divine Mercy
If the Lord progressively repaid the presumptions of His people, Israel, now that done, He will progressively rebuild the disciplined nation ()Jeremiah 31:24-40). As He "watched over them to afflict," so now in extensive and explicit contrast, He will "watch over them to build and to plant," as the New Covenant makes its exciting entry for them amidst all these things, coming into their midst as explained in Jeremiah 31:31ff, and detailed in Zechariah 12:1 - 13:1.
The outright wars, with invasive forces poised or in diverse ways far from inactive - such as sending thousands of rockets into Israel from a gift of land called the Gaza Strip, a classic of ingratitude, like lending someone a knife with which he then attempts to stab you - seeking to suppress, overcome, terrorise or mutilate Israel will in due course, when the Lord is ready, be overcome as in Zechariah 12-14 and Ezekiel 36-39, so that the nations will learn to appreciate the place of God in His own world, of His word amidst the affairs and lusts of mankind, and that the relationship with Israel is by no means exhausted with His discipline of them, but has a very different end, target and wonder to come.
Meanwhile, the Lord in prevenient grace - that is a kindness even before the conversion of much of Israel cited to come as in Zechariah 12-13, "cause Israel in dealing with its multiplied adversaries to "devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left" (Zechariah12:6). As to that, it is something that even verbal gymnasts, magicians, like Hitler in twistings of facts, many theologians with apt to pettifog and major in eisegetics, cannot transform without violent invasion of the text!
Not only is destruction NOT the same as rebuilding, or the Gospel proclamation, being the exact opposite, but Jerusalem, the central place in this part of the affair, will be inhabited AGAIN, and the peoples who immigrate in this area of the finale before Christ returns (as in Jeremiah 33), are returning. In Christian and Gospel terms, you do not return as a sinner to the kingdom which you formerly in habited, but TURN to Christ to find for the first time His mercy and pardon. To assist the blind or obscured, the text in Zechariah 12, proceeds to designate Jerusalem as being rebuilt not anywhere or somewhere or in some imagined entity, site or situation, but in what has belonged to it, that is its own place. It even goes further, specifying what that own place is, and adds - "Jerusalem." It is a renaissance! It is the only site to fulfil these specifications.
We must realise to the full, in terms of efforts to make this something different, that the Church had NO PLACE of its own, but as Ephesians reminds us (Ephesians 2:12), those who become Christians are in TYPE with no place, being until they found the Saviour, "strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, without God in the world," and their Jewish entrants though having the form of a covenant, had broken it to the uttermost (cf. Isaiah 30:12-17, Zechariah 11:10ff.), so that it was "not for your sakes" that He brought them back, though His grace covered like a moving mist, what was disjoined in a magnificent beauty of kindness and reliability!
The Church indifferently- that is, without making any difference in kind - takes Jew and Gentile, slave and free as shown so dramatically by Paul in Galatians 3:26-29, and in Gospel terms, with all its implications they are "Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise," Galatians 3:29.
It is not too hard to realise that God keeps His covenant in unfailing love, and past all obligation, so that Israel is an illustration, not a denial of His profundity of mercy. He ALSO keeps His promises of things to come. He does both. He has a character undefiled and inviolable, He does not change, and has no shadow of turning in His position or disposition. His glory must be appreciated, not over-ruled by what might appear theological jitters, that such a God be indeed the God of wonders.
A narrow spirit is a jagged edge next to the splendour of the breadth of God's mercy, competence, and He who made DNA (nothing could not manage it, and something had to be able or it would never have been done) and interpretation by denial is mere persiflage in this, that it rumbles on in flat contradiction of what is repeatedly affirmed. Downgrading God is the opposite of reverence (so highly focussed in Malachi 1:6 and Psalm 89:7). Interpreting His word by taking heed of what He says, whether as with others with language skills donated from above, with figurative language or more directly, may be called teaching, not aborting it with what He does not say, what merely adds to it or is contrary. ONE word cans o easily utterly alter a meaning. In a marriage service for example, if the bride adds re "obey", "not" the result is diametrically different.
The Isaiah 60:17-18 Movement via Vision to ALL
There are devices of great speech makers, to effect change of topic, linking of topics and to achieve greater impact. One is the use of imagery to bring light to a topic. It is so here. Suddenly we find that the topic has morphed, become transformed as in the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17). NO the gates of the said city, concerning which major data has already been carefully expressed become "praise", or that is what their name will be, and so the walls will be called "salvation." Obviously we have moved to the generic. This superb flight now means that the term Zion, for example, can be regarded as a metonymy, as the Christian Church. However, it is not simply so, but that part of it which coheres with what immediately precedes: it still has walls, but their content in Christian now.
This then is the Jewish sector as noted above re Zechariah 12, which has come en masse in the land (not necessarily en bloc, for their is stress there on individuality), to the Lord who is the Messiah whose task is not at all limited to Israel in the Gospel coverage, one of the two points given to Abraham at the first, a blessing to all people!
It is not segregated or separated though separable in mind regarding its having a phase of Old Covenant before the New, and having as a people to return to the Lord, not merely come. Yet it is the case of those OUTSIDE His grace coming INSIDE, whether Jew or Gentile, the same kind of repentance, faith and necessary donation of righteousness given to one as to all (cf. Romans 5:17). Isaiah 66 shows the active and practical co-operation of those who are Jews and those Gentiles, in a sort of merger of intent to bring Gospel truth to the world, a world with animal sacrifice well and truly past (cf. Isaiah 66:1-3). Those things are now "obsolete" (Hebrews 8:13).
The Messiah Supervenes
Isaiah 61 proceeds now directly and with rocket-like thrust before our eyes, for here is the Messiah in person effecting the wonders of His unique because unlimited power to perform whatever He desires, and His desires are a trinitarian beauty. Past all preludes, all preliminaries apart, we see the style and spirituality, the goodness and godliness of God in the flesh, crucified in integrity to pay and raised in reality to attest, the stark glory of a loving God. He is not One to pretend their are all kinds of solutions to the human problem, caused by sin, leading to judgment, interrupted with the Gospel offer. There is one solution, one deterrent to judgment.
HE is it. He took immense steps to provide it, and where it collides with human presumption, seeking something more to the taste of spiritual vagrancy, the answer is simple, and Proverbs 1 says it plainly> there IS no other way to please God but to know Him, follow His salvation and receive it and to rely on nothing else in any kind of substitution or adjustment, addition or subtraction. He ONLY is the Rock and He KNOWS NO OTHER! as He declares with delicious irony (Isaiah 44:6,8).