W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
ISAIAH 29-33 IS A GLORIOUSLY TENDER,
PREPARATION FOR THE MESSIAH
WITH A FIGURATIVE WONDER FOR THE THINGS TO COME ADDED LIKE BACON TO MUSHROOMS ON A COLD MORNING
We have been looking at things of vast scope in much; but now, in just 5 Chapters of Isaiah, let us look at vast scope in little. How the predictive prophecies can align, appeal, stir the imagination, call to the heart, clarify the mind and challenge the understanding! When God speaks, it is not in hiding - leave that to arrant philosophies at war with logic, the Lord and the evidence; it is in revelation. Why hide ? His word is very wonderful in force, gentleness, scope and verification, in virtue and in loveliness, in remedy for the otherwise irremediable setting of sin, and in the destiny of those who need God, as do all, and find Him, as do few.
Consider now the ways of the Lord in this part of His Word in Isaiah. It is like the ways of the ocean, as you listen to its multitudinous voice; for the more it varies, the more it is the same; and the more it reveals its sights and sounds to those on the shore or the cliff-top, the more there is found rest in its stillness while inspiration in its roaring.
Isaiah 29 moves from straight and varied denunciation of the evil-tilted ways of this lion of a city, Ariel, Jerusalem, 'lion of God,' so that its spiritual deadness and moribundity will resemble in the onset of foes, a hungry man sleeping and eating in illusion, but on waking finding "his soul is still empty," 29:8. They are impelled to folly as those drunken or asleep who still act as if they were wise and wakeful. Their eyes are closed as they walk, and their eyes in this imagery, are the prophets. Vision ? The personal, civic, direct knowledge of God, it is there presented as so far gone that an imaginary conversation is given, in which the literate say they cannot discern the meaning of the text given, for "it is sealed," while the ignorant cannot read anyway. The word of God is in this way as closed to them, in this review, as it is to so many leaders now, taught torts but not righteousness, submerged in grave fairy tales, with no fairies, leaving an abrupt landing on land that is not there, so promoting confusion, reflected in politics, resounding in confusion about goals, ideals, ideas and courses to follow.
If you don't know where you are going, it is hard to get there. It is all close to a profusion of sidestepping, slovenly disregard, inventive grounds for annulling the sight of truth and dreaming instead, so that there is no remedy.
So was it for ancient Israel, a great prototype here, and a warning.
No remedy ? That is, there was none till God Himself would ACT, with address, initiative and thrust, to bring into their midst a "marvellous work" (29:14), such that all their pretended or even pretentious wisdom without God would (as it was) be shown up, these irresponsible wanderings exposed for what they were. And that ? It was as a revoltingly empty and exposed folly, so naked of covering through deception and wiliness, that it would perish while the new wonder of the Lord entirely and directly took over the place of defamed truth, amid their diseased and disastrous decrepitude. Thus it was AGAIN, for it had already been done in the day of Moses and beyond, that the Lord would ACT.
Spiritually dead, they would thus find a movement of God that makes muddied things clear, overcomes lassitude and exhibits despite such blindness, the truth that will penetrate (cf. Matthew 13:15ff.). Though some always knew the Lord, the nation had this for its prognosis.
HIDING, seeking deep to hide from the Lord in cunning contempt, that was the way to be exposed, for the fleshly armour to be removed; for it was nothing less than rebellion of a people supposedly the servants of the Lord, who instead act as if they, the thing formed and made by God, accuse Him their Maker of being a goon, without understanding. They are all mixed up: for not only did He make them have whatever they have with which to discern such things, with whatever misuse, but their role reversal is a mixture of impudence and blindness, impossibility, sallow plausibility and posturing.
Their resemblance in this is remarkably close to the modern disease of many so-called Western nations, some of whom began to draw near to God in no small measure and in no little depth, but who have been betrayed by the theologies of foxes and the philosophies of the blind, to bind themselves both to folly and destruction, suffering an impressive series of self-destructive wars often based on mischievous misunderstanding or lust or both, or its ramifications and outcomes, now here, now there. This done, weakened, they watch atheism and confusion mount challenge, and religions of ruffians relish their new place: just like Israel, in her internal rebellion from God, made vulnerable to wandering foes. It is now on a broader scale. The efforts to scuttle the divine ship of mercy are expanding with zest and rigour. The latest ruffle about surveyance of the phone calls of world leaders for other nations' interest and protection is an excellent example. The claim is made over and again: THIS is merely normal among the nations.
Such practices, it is claimed by some, are practically universal: for there is fear and treachery abroad, with morals so slight and feverish ideas so ready to blight, that (as in Luke 21:26 for the Gentile phase), there will be found "men's hearts failing them for fear and the expectation of those things which are coming to the earth", like developments in spiritual disease. But let us return to prototype ancient Israel.
In Isaiah 29:17ff., we meet as so often in Isaiah and the Psalms in particular, but by no means exclusively, the impact of the Messiah. He Himself is to be met again in Isaiah 32, but on the way there are clues, indexes; and here, after the reference to the "marvellous work" which the Lord is to do, stunning the incompetent pretenders who try to play God without keeping to His word (cf. Isaiah 29:14, 44:25-26 expanding this aspect), and the exposure of the errors that convulse the nation, we move back to this work, indeed to the WORKS of the Messiah. It includes the deaf hearing, the blind losing their obscurity (in both senses, no doubt), while the humble will increase their joy in the Lord, the poor rejoice, scorners being consumed, and layers of false charges left bereft of their prey.
This, as Isaiah 49:7, 52-53, made so very clear, though it was instituted, was rebuked by the energies of deeply implanted sin in the hearts; and it is to come without the interruption when the doors to the nation re-open, and in that time, deliverance from fraud and folly, misused force and deception, will be majestic and manifest (Isaiah 11, 59, 32, Psalm 2, 72).
To Israel God thus offered the fruit of the Gospel to come, as the inner peace and assurance of it in Isaiah 32:16-17, and the King of it ruling, as in 32:1-4. Thus, it is made made more manifest in the following Chapters, and their aftermath in 50-55; and then much more again in later sequences in Isaiah such as 40, 42, 49, and their aftermath in 50-55, and developments in 60-66, which thus gives it cumulatively, phase by phase, as when a tree grows, always very much the same, but with astounding new marvels of strength and delicacy, stabilisation and beauty. You see this in this sequence, first in Isaiah 33:17-24, when "they will," once again, "hallow My name ... and fear (have a holy reverential trust in) the God of Israel," Isaiah 29:23.
It will be no mere putsch, but a work interior in spirit, in the heart chiefly, for "They also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine." As in Isaiah 33 to come, great will be the peace and security when the Messianic era flowers and flourishes, at last. In parallel, in 29: 18-21, you see what Christ displayed in the Kingdom of Heaven, brought to entire fruition in application, indeed in its time, to all the earth (as in Isaiah 19:19-25, 45:23-24, Psalm 72) and no small feat of the Lord Himself will that be! (Isaiah 59:16-20, Deuteronomy 32:17ff., Micah 7), one Gospel for all as in Isaiah 42, 49, one earth for the Lord (Isaiah 45:22-23.
The whole specious combination of erring traditionalism, merely capturing past evils (cf. Mark 7:7ff.), and furthering them, together with adventurous innovation, arrantly confusing the present, will relent in the Lord's good time (Isaiah 32:17ff.), and God will once again be in their midst (Isaiah 29:22-24) amid His mercies (Micah 7:18-20), which are both His domain, His desire and His dealing to those to whom His promises apply.
So we are cheered, awaiting more information, but already equipped with the nub of things as in Isaiah 7, 9, 11 in the various introductions to the Messiah already made.
Into this sequence, this opera program, comes now a current folly to be exposed to the Israel of that time. In its weakness, the land had come to look not to God in quiet reliance (Isaiah 30:15-17), whose power is so well known, but to Egypt, whose weakness and reliability will be wholly vain, a substitution of conspicuous folly. From this, no power and deliverance is to come, but shame and reproach. It is a foolish substitution for the LORD!
In type, this resembles the multi-culturalism mode in Australia -not the tolerance and patience with grace needed to allow others in and be welcome, but the misuse of this to deny the present nature of Australia, and make it a particularly gifted by utterly foolish chameleon, so mixed up in its colours that it does not know what it is.
It involves a re-writing of our history from the point of view of secular capitulation and vision-free lures, an invasion of the places of learning with naturalistic monstrosities of irrationality (cf. Ch. 8 above), an indulgence in the raising of man to almost divine levels without divine means, leading to vast debt, and a pre-occupation with man to the effectual rampage and renegacy against God, whether sometimes explicit, or foxily implicit, as if the partisans were drunk or asleep, just as was the divinely exposed case in Israel. It has happened before. Let's continue to look at ancient Israel in Isaiah.
God then instructs the prophet to go and write it in a book (Isaiah 30:8-11), that Israel has become a rebellious people, pre-occupied with spiritual fraud and falsity, with idols, images that are not true. This has its parallel nowadays in much of the West, with Darwin and his cohorts of dissidence from data in the same direction, Freud with his bits of life meaninglessly conjoined without ground or reason, interpreting what is unknowable for those who cannot know by his own theory, and Marx with his obsessive fixation on labour and capital and conflict, as if solving an economic problem by illusory dreams without ground or fulfilment, could thus bring heaven to earth.
What LED to the problem, and how to solve THAT is as far off as is the mind of the nations to what disables the blight and brings in and breeds the required responses, which force cannot accomplish! It is an exercise like the rest, in ignorance, an intemperance in obsessive clamour and a flight into foolishness, where a 'meaningless' world is assigned very precise meaning, an inaccessible unconscious reveals the truth and a non-working or absent God is confronted with a creation from nothing and nowhere, as a new base, and supposed to tremble*1. But it is at God they should tremble who, far more than an examiner for professional licence, is one for life itself! Priding oneself on not knowing or caring for the test does not bring automatic or any other acceptance!
From Israel there was, then, a fall, a rebellion; and in itself there was to be found no help, because its decline was chronic, moving now spasmodically, now chronically from its source of vision, inspiration, power and rest. Suddenly, the teaching to the unconverted continues (30:13), telling them they are like a bulging wall, ready to fall, whereas in God is their strength and their stability; that the time will come when once more their God will be their strength with results apt to that time and situation. Indeed, just as their case is all but hopeless, and quite hopeless in themselves, so when the time of restitution comes by, there will be a marvellous thing (29 :14, cf. 32:1ff.) that arrives, and then (30:19):
"you will weep no more,
He will be very gracious at the sound of your cry;
when He hears it, He will answer you."
Then a poignant review of His coming
closeness and availability follows, for a time yet to be, but foreseen with
certainty, relayed and revealed. While the dramatic deliverance to come had a
current application of great ferment in the day of Hezekiah, it is not limited
to that era (cf. Micah 5:1ff.), for following the advent of the Messiah, there
is to be an action divine against Assyria, as there already had been in part,
with more to come.
The Lord then addresses the bewitchment with Egypt, from which they came by divine deliverance, in a sort of recidivism, as if they wanted to leave the holy God in favour of the pen of former slavery. Yet "the Egyptians are man and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit." All the instruments of false help will fall (31:3). Indeed, a time is coming when "like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem, defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it." RETURN, He admonishes with that combination of pity, appeal and poignancy in which tenderness cries to what it loves, despite its preoccupation with what He hates. As to that, it is odious because it is the merchandise of illusion and the medium of misplaced faith.
To be sure, in Israel itself, there was no basis for belief, or reliability or strength; but it lay with the same Lord who in times past as He would in times future, act with mettlesome grace. Yet they did not heed, except episodically. It is rather like appealing to a drunkard to stop drinking; but here the presentation provides both the cure and the reason for living with it!
Interestingly, in this overview and
continuity of texture in dealing with Israel in its various phases as history
unfolds, there is a reference to Jerusalem being delivered in a way suggestive
of birds flying, as happened with some air support in the 1917 deliverance
(after so long) of Jerusalem which eventually, through many vicissitudes (cf.
SMR Ch. 9), led to the re-formation of the Jewish State and its subsequent
detailed history (so far, 1948-2013, as in the prediction of Zechariah 12.
Assyria is again mentioned in this context, and this people will fall by "a
sword not of man, and a sword not of mankind". Thus it will be devoured: several
instalments already are finished; while the swelling of Iran which with Iraq is
involved, suggests more to come as in Micah 5:1-7, prior to the more terminal
confrontation of Micah 7:15ff..
Thus the overview arrives at Isaiah 32, the Messianic Marvel now exposed directly as in Isaiah 7, 9, 11, 22, 42, 49, 50-55, 61.
He is, as in Isaiah 11, Psalm 2, 72, seen as King, the whole earth His domain, just as His salvation is no less extensive (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). Here is the marvellous thing predicted in Isaiah 29, in the light of which their preoccupation with baseless fancifulness the contrary codes and mistaken preoccupations, will be exposed. He, the King then comes not to be crucified but to rule, righteousness ebullient in His reign, pity in His provision, depth in His scope, discernment in His doings. As in 32:1-8, vast is the transformation in heart which He will inspire and enable (32:5ff,)
Moving through a denunciation of false femininity is its postures and posings (as so often elsewhere of foolish and peremptory male misrule), the Lord exposes a barren period to come which will be terminated only when "the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest."
This, as in Ezekiel 37, moves on to the spiritual deliverance noted in detail in Zechariah 12. Then as in Isaiah 54-55, "the work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever," and God's people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, dwellings secure. Blessed is the spreading of His word to all peoples, for thus it will be (32:20).
The Lord then declares woe to those who without provocation have sought to make plunder of others, have been treacherous when not stirred by treachery against themselves, but working in arrogant aggression, have sated themselves on others. We hear amid this exposure of rampant militancy, the cry, "O Lord, be gracious to us, we have waited for you." How Israel needs the Lord and the cry ascends in prophetic sight for the time to come. To faith the Lord reveals what is to be, for "When You lift Yourself up, the nations will be scattered," as in Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7, Habakkuk 3.
Then, in vivid contrast to the situation in Isaiah's contemporary period, his own day, "The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness." Indeed, then "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation: the fear of the Lord is His treasure."
Indeed 33:6 here goes swimmingly as in one sea traversed, with 32:17. Not only will the work of divine righteousness be peace, because God in Christ purchased peace through pardon which embraced justice with the child of peace prepared to provide it, but the effect of this righteousness of God Himself, thus graciously given as a background and an unearned merit to believers (II Cor. 5z:21), will be an eternal assurance from this eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12, II Timothy 1:12, John 10:27-28, 5:24).
Thus, the verse continues, wisdom with knowledge will bring stability to the believing heart, and strong is the Lord's purchased salvation for His people. How beautiful then will it be for many, for the Lord loves those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13), as a father his children; and a treasure on the other hand is it for the children to be ABLE to have such a relationship with such a Father. What glorious verses are these! and how they resound with the heart that knows the Lord!
Great will be that awakening in the day of the Messiah (as in Isaiah 32), though its advent is not coincident with His (Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 49:7), since He was to be (and was) killed in unbelief, as divinely provided for (52-53), and so as sacrifice thus provide a place for pardon. Nevertheless, though Israel would be scattered because of this initial rejection of their Messiah (as in Micah 5), they would for all that, yet in the divine faithfulness and kindness, be regathered as in Ezekiel 36-37; and though blind (Isaiah 42:16-20), yet be led back to the land of their nascency, the very same people who once knew the Lord, and who will find Him once more in the Messiah.
Thus the time will come to Israel as to all Christians (to be converted in its long but temporary absence from the faith as noted), when
"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
"They will see the land which is very far off."
The horrors of invasion will cease (Isaiah 33:20-23); the planting in the Lord will grow; and with the whole world provided with the means of salvation, in this period of restitution for Israel, there will be a spiritual peace allied with it such that,
"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 ..
But there the majestic LORD will be for us ...
(for the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver,
the LORD is our King: He will save us...") - Isaiah 32:22.
It is depicted in nautical terms with no foreign ships aggressively clamouring into their peaceable waters. Indeed, from this there is launched the time when milenial grace will be in the place, as in Psalm 72, in that lovely pause before the heavens and earth removed (Isaiah 51:6), a new heavens and a new earth complete the pictures of the past in the restorations of the present. It is not as at first, when only a small portion of Jerusalem with the Gospel went out, reaching also to all the world, but as at the last to the heavenly Jerusalem, when this world gone, its riots and its rest complete, this comes (Revelation 20:1-21:2).
No more are their stressful phases and crazes, reproofs and realisations, awaiting the Messiah and His first sacrificial coming, or the returning King and His regal sojourn, but the sheer delight of fellowship with God, uninterrupted by sufferings amid the realties to which faith had pointed, for which Jesus was appointed Saviour for man, and in which the spirit of man finds its just and merciful home.
In the next Chapter, more attention
will be given to the biblical phases moving inexorably but by an infinitely
valuable series of divine interventions on the one hand, and gifts to man
allowed their application on the other, through the Gospel to the millenium and
thrusting through this like a rocket, to the Eventual Uninterrupted Fellowship
with the Living God (EUFLG).
See on this phase, for example,
Spiritual Refreshings ...Ch. 9, incl. End-note 1
(esp. programmatic psychology and its ilk),
Marvels of Predestination ... Ch. 7, including *1;
News 80, 97, 98, 44, with SMR 4;
Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Extension 1 ;
The True God has Go ... Ch. 2.