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ISRAEL, THE CHURCH AND THE PUNISHMENT/MILLENIUM
Light and Shade,
but Nothing Shady,
for ALL is in the LIGHT
AGAIN AND AGAIN IN THE PORTION OF ISAIAH FROM 42-65,
in particular, you see the excoriation of the people of Israel, their devastating exposure to divine criticism, as in Isaiah 57, 59, 48:17, either in indignation or lament. There it is found that there is no hope for them, except in a mercy which first exhibits their acknowledgement of their follies and then is pressed, like fragrant rain from above, from above, to find at the epic time appointed, their deliverance. There is one rescue for the nation nearer in the contemporary period, and one Messianic and ultimate (Isaiah 42).
As to the minor focus of contemporary history as in Isaiah 37ff., where the irony is intense, the bully is smitten for the sake of the mercy of the God for the victim, Israel, which He has in store, making the psychological warfare of the ruler of Assyria pathetic bombast. At times in a more all-enveloping grandeur, as in Isaiah 59, the provokers of divine contempt for their profound wickedness are if you will, X-rayed by the truth and then met with the Redeemer coming to deliver Israel with the vigour and might displayed so often for this latter phase, as in Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7, Isaiah 59, 66, parallel to Ezekiel 38-39, and not to be bypassed, Psalm 2, 110. There both negative and the positive are presented with a vast intensity.
In our chosen portion of Isaiah, and this in concert with many parallel passages, the, a whole historical sketch of Israel and its sins appears amid the myriad phases and ripples, lightnings and modes. Here it is like the spots of chicken spot, unclean and proceeding from within, itself infectious and affected from within. Intimate are the rebukes, particular the assessments, and Jerusalem is used repeatedly as a head sculpted in great match to that of the nation, as a part of the due response for the precise offences by that particular people. Emphasis is repeatedly placed on their historic and manifest failings in stated contexts.
There is, and can be, no doubt about the references throughout, both in judgment, its grounds, and its overcoming by the merciful abundance of the Lord and the path divinely shown to exhibit it, the same for one as for another, in substantial thrust for Jew but also for Gentiles. Indeed it is explicit, that the light that saves is also that for the Gentiles, for the Messiah is not to be limited ONLY to Israel (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), though as in Zechariah 12. Subject to this expansive factor, and normalised in the base type sins of all nations, we thus find a maximal impact there in the defined surrounds, which admit of no ambiguity.
The fallen, the disreputable Jerusalem, in darkness, blind, captives, spotlighted by the Lord in her idolatries, as near to representing the Christian Church as is Christmas a symbol for the butchery of Isis, in spiritual terms: is shown. With this appear her follies, divine mercy, its ground and basis, this as a part of one whole in the Gospel; and this is one component of the teaching, both in character and in charge, in provocation and in peace.
Meanwhile, amid this recurrent, mutually empowered, systematically presented theme, there are references, as in Isaiah 60, where Jerusalem gains a new light. The city to be saved becomes a source depiction for the salvation itself - indeed it will call its walls "salvation". THIS is not assault on definition continually clear, but an addition to the family, just as there is in Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6. Just as there, the light TO Israel is extended to the Gentiles, so here Jerusalem is subject to a pictorial transmutation, to become a very model and type of salvation. You can virtually, as in a successful new heart operation, see the steps and the stages.
Again, it is possible to find EXTENSIONS as in a dictionary concerning the meaning of a word, which is set down simply, followed by the statement, "also by extension, such and such." The meaning is as stated in the dictionary, perhaps at some length, but that being said, it may be extended whether metaphorically by in some contrivance, rather further, and such meaning is then cited.
So is it here, what is in the concern of Israel by definitional focus and recurrent citation from the applicable fault lines that are individual in much, and characterising in all, can at times in a spiritual imagery, be extended to cover in RESULT the broader ambit, so that the totality can be in view, foundation and figure, focus and extension both. Isaiah 54 is an excellent example of this. In common with Israel seen in the light of the Gospel to come so differentially in time and place, and so homogeneously in content, there is more. Thus there is for the Church, inhabited by the same Gospel, the same force, ferment, thrust, vision of outreach, expeditious and fearless extension, as the world-wide whole becomes lustrous in light and energised by the Lord. The quality of sin, of judgment, of chastisement, of mercy, of pardon, of procured peace, and ransoming realism, all is applicable to all races. With one it is a specialised movement, like that of an eldest son. He is not better, but makes his impact by his first exhibition of practical action in the world.
It is of the utmost grief, that so many have taken up untenable positions, violating the text, rupturing the message, repeatedly as if their very lives dependent on it, like theological models competing for selection, devastatingly limited, at times emulously assertive, ignoring whole dimensions of the text, and often, expanding others.
The testimony of Isaiah is on the other hand, filled with feeling, fact, history, definition, diverse channels, converging lines, EACH IN ITS PLACE. At times, the 'treatment' which channels in new expansions and channels out wonderful tracts of revelatory land, as a focus, to the unwary may seem like the Middle East... as you see partisans in the program contentious, clashing, differentially blind, ignoring the land they devastate and professionally bound in the case of many, to standardised errors. On the contrary, as so often noted in this site, in the text, each datum has to be taken as it comes, as when a teacher, having taught you the two times table, takes you to the nine times, and soon afterwards to the delights of the twelve times, and you do not for one moment consider the three in contradiction or meaninglessness or even wrong. You just learn them, appreciate their utility, marvel at their comprehensive unity, the elements in common and those that differ, as your young life increases. Like different countries, they are all there and stimulatingly diverse, with some things in common that excite the imagination and astonish the young mind.
Thus you see for example the imagery of Israel's peace after rescue, with resemblance to that in Christ; and indeed it includes it as in Isaiah 33; and you find the millenial wonders of Isaiah 11, 32, 65, a splendour as in Psalm 72, with Him present in power. This is a part of the scene and indeed the scenario in which the Lord justifies the unique beauty of His eventual rule over this earth, in conflict with that of spiritual idols and squalid splendour into which not only Israel, but the Gentiles, each in its day and in its way, indulged. This displaces nothing, has its place indeed, and possesses its point, purpose and testimony in those vast pages of all-inclusive history in which the Lord has bared in revelation. The realities of His magnificent patience, and convergence in the Gospel and its outcomes appear (Isaiah 66, Zechariah 12), just as are to be seen its incomes, each precisely definable, like bricks in a wall, having integrity as a wall, but not losing individuality as bricks. Together they stand, in one Mind, they are built. In many depictions their unity is made plain.
It is a matter of taking what is there, not confusing diversity with daydream, or imagery with ill-disciplined distortion. WHEN this is done it is not only good, understandable, but intimate, connected in wonder, diversified in the modes of love, but at length unified in the mode of pardon. It has intimacies like love letters, and it has things generic and specific, like a family letter which mentions or discusses one child, but also another; and no one imagines why the two children should be seen as confused (Romans 4, 11), or distorted images of one child, in contradictory forms be forced to take the name of the other! They are related but different; but in being alive, and seen in one family, it is understood, that each has its place, and the affairs of the one are instruction for the others, as is often the ways in family affairs! Thus one race can become a classroom through the Bible, for the actions of another, as when a set of brothers grows up together. They are not one, but several. Their errors are not identical, but related. What happens in each is open, but the options are set.