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A Look at its Vastness of View
Breaking Cords, Breaching Faith and Breaching Death
especially Isaiah 24-29, with Isaiah 22
These of course involve a collision of concepts, like life and death, fidelity and infidelity, truth and waywardness, power and puniness.
Life is like that, on this earth.
There is however a reason for this, as for all things. Break cords ? That evokes the famous reference in Psalm 2. Here there is a progression. In the face of the LORD and His MESSIAH, we find an enmity, hostility, a sort of repressed vengeance gaining vicious outlet in which the cords (of what is imagined to be needless restraint being removed, the law of God cast into the distance), are broken. After this comes their the casting away in hostility and defamatory disdain of the deity.
The derision of God at their fractious display is seen, the establishment of His Messiah in Jerusalem, despite this vengeful attack, and the onset of judgment. There is even advice (Psalm 2:10-12) for the 'judges' or those who so esteem themselves (parallel to Psalm 82, the 'gods' there), to make haste to be reconciled with the Messiah, the Son of God, and to 'kiss' Him, to show the love and devotion fitting to one's Maker, sent on mission not to destroy but to deliver, save and redeem (as in Psalm 72, Isaiah 52-53, Hosea 13:14, Zechariah 3:9, 12:10). If not, destruction is the sure result.
God has taken pains in this confrontation, even adding to His derision of the Son, His raising of Him from the dead (the slaughter as in Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, Psalm 22, Zech. 12:10), as in Psalm 16, so that the absolute disdain and defiance of casting the 'cords' away, having first broken them, is met by absolute power in resurrecting the Son whom they despised (as in Isaiah 49:7), and setting Him up as the judge of all men (as in Psalm 2:8-12, Daniel 7:13-15), in a kingdom which is the one never to be destroyed, as Daniel indicates.
This was the career of the breach of faith, in which those near enough to the Messiah, His own people (cf. Isaiah 49) having utilised His vulnerablility, a deliberate device of the LORD in that the Son had to die AS a man to be an adequate RANSOM for man, as many as received Him (John 1:12), slew Him with cold and deliberate judicial murder. His crime was to tell the truth; His offence was not to use violence (Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 26:52-53). Asked if He were the Son of God, He affirmed it (Mark 14:62), and this was deemed blasphemy by disbelief, so that as a criminal He was sentenced as foretold in the divine plan, long before revealed (Isaiah 53:7-12).
So does the immortal Lamb, move on the low-way to death by criminal assessment, criminally made and woefully accomplished, suffering death in His eternal love, breaching it in His immortal power, the body a mist parting, and then regrouping as He returned, clad in flesh immovable, in a body which death could not hold (Acts 2:24 - cf. Joyful Jottings 21 and 25 *1).
Of our title, we have now covered the breach of cords (morality, fidelity, law of life), of faith (misuse of opportunity for fellowship and help, in depraved murder accomplished by Gentile Pilate and Jewish priestly echelons, with crowd accompaniment as in Matthew 27:25, the greatest self-incrimination which history could provide).
It is time now to come to
the chapters of our interest in Isaiah, and to see the breach of death
in its setting in that prophet. This is best seen in the whole sweep of
Chs. 24-28, but we shall focus on Ch. 26 especially, where the prediction
is found. This breach is more than that BY the Messiah, as in Psalm 16
and implied so often as in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. It is breach of death
for the Messiah-ans, or Christ-ians, the Christians as they came to be
known. It is the physical accomplishment in them of what was implied in
Christ's own resurrection.
What it says
How often we have looked at Isaiah 26:19. Today, we shall be a little systematic in our coverage, and setting of the material in its context in the prophet.
First, the text SAYS: "MY DEAD BODY SHALL THEY ARISE." One confesses freely to an inveterate desire, when examining any text, to keep to the text. Otherwise it can be a contest with the context, and a test of casting the text aside, and breaking its 'bonds' asunder.
The 'together with' found alike in the AV and the NKJV, is not there. Not only is this an intrusive addition in these translations, but a ghastly wreckage of the cords of the construction. It states simply this, "My dead body shall they arise".
That the body of Christ is His people, that these are His flock (as in Ezekiel 34 where God indicates that He personally will come to be shepherd in faithfulness, in stark contrast to the faithless shepherds), that this is His inheritance, that they, redeemed by His body, become His people is so frequently met as to be like some physical constant. Thus not merely is the thought deeply embedded in Ezekiel 34:23-31, Isaiah 53:10-12, Psalm 73 and in Hosea 6:1-3*2, in which last case it is explicit in the prophet who made the main theme clear in Hosea 13;14, but it is found throughout the New Testament which, as so often amplifies what was given in the Old (as here in Ephesians 4:4ff., 1:22-23, 4:15-16, I Corinthians 15:22-24, 12:13ff., Romans 12:3-5). Those redeemed by the body, the death, of Christ, become the body of Christ, by extension. By His Spirit, He inhabits them, by His power He restores them, by His life He endues them, by His resurrection He guarantees them, by His coming He resurrects them, in His place, He maintains them: they are HIS.
When it is GOD who so treats you, blessed are you indeed! That it is available by faith through grace in His redemption and His name, as God in the flesh, Saviour and Redeemer (for there is no other Saviour but God - Isaiah 43:10-11, and it is HE who saves - Isaiah 53): this is the brilliance of the kindness of God, like a heavens blazing with stars. That it is neglected is like a car, new made and delightful, driven desperately before the speed cops can catch it, into a dark pit. History is full of speed and pit, exhilaration and condemnation, pride and destruction, the contempt for God and the contemptible flitting far from God.
Meanwhile we proceed to Isaiah 26:19.
The assertion is clear. It is as the dead body of the speaker, who of course is the LORD, that the people are to arise in the end of the Age. This is quite physical. They are seen as those who 'dwell in the dust'. "The earth shall cast out her dead!" Daniel presents precisely the same message in Daniel 12 at the end of the long-drawn out Age, before the coming of the King in His glory. The DATE (SMR pp. 886ff.) of the DEATH of the Messiah is presented on the one hand by Daniel 9, and the FATE of the unfaithful who reject the Messiah in Daniel 12, but that dulness of doom has this blessed addition. That ? It is the RESURRECTION to glory of those who are His!
This, then, in Isaiah 26:19, it is an end of the Age phenomenon. In fact, since Ch. 24 Isaiah has been dealing not a little with this phase of things. There has been a huge dynamic which deserves our attention now. It is not merely the END as in Isaiah 2, Micah 4, but something of the dynamics which concern it which are here revealed. So does Isaiah 24-29 provide a vast canvass, in parallel to the later developments of detail in 40-66, installing the buttresses of understanding for that latter end, in the initial phases of his predictions. The interplay is intense and immense, and the themes and dynamics move like flitting swallows, now here, now there, throughout this closely structured book, taking us with it like flight in the emigratory pattern of birds, until we nest down at the end, ecstatically content with our new place of settling, of understanding.
Where it goes
Of course, it is almost impossible to segmentalise Isaiah. It sticks closer than a brother, each part to the rest. It has shafts of light which leave trails, like a sunset, this way and that among the clouds of glory. Thus 35 entwines itself with 42 and 49, 32 likewise with 65, 29 with 59, 28 with 60, 29-30 with 65:13-15, 22 with 53,61, 12 with 55, 9 with 49, 11 with 61, 24 with 66, while 53 is intimately correlated both with 66:1-4 on the one hand, and with 22 on the other. Again, 2 glides effortlessly in 24 which resonates with 66, bringing in new extents of the harmony as it does so. Shadows cast themselves over some series, as in one strand from a tree in a garden, and lights finger their way into other aspects, now here, now there, like shafts of sunlight as the sun nears setting, lighting up features in a vast terrain.
It is like a family: how they differ, but in what a plenitude you trace the family characteristics, so that the more they differ, the more they resemble each other. There is a differentiation which excels, for it discloses more as it goes, the themes being the clearer for the distinctives, the thrusts moving like sword thrusts from the same wrist, all deft, or brilliant, but each as a part of a whole which is the technique of the swordsman, and of his declaration of intent!
Still, we can at last specialise in parts. In Isaiah 2, 7, 9, 11, 22, 28, 29, 32 in the surrounds of our interest, there is much on the Messiah, as may readily bee seen in the conspectus provided in the work, With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength. In Isaiah 26 this resurrection emphasis comes gleaming into our midst, following Ch. 24's end of the Age focus, and in Isaiah 25 we find an introduction to THIS, in the form of God acting to "swallow up death in victory" (25:8), while being a refuge from the storm. This latter, in the closely woven tartan of Isaiah, in turn, has been a theme since ch. 4:6 and is to be even more obviously left with the impact of the MESSIAH, in Isaiah 32:1-4 to follow. It is as we saw above, in 26:19 that the intimacy of correlation with the incarnate Messiah is brought to the effective climax in resurrection WITH Him, as one body.
This end of the Age phase is preceded in Isaiah 24 with a heavy focus on just that. Already in Isaiah 2, as later in 66, we find the removal of the mock majesty of tiny man tinnily trying to emulate majesty, as individual or nation. In Isaiah 22 we see the grandeur of the real majesty, cut down in His sublime and vicarious task. In Isaiah 24 we come to the extent of the desolation to come to the proud, to the proud earth and its taskmasters, vv. 1-4, 19ff., as in 2:12-22. The tinny parade of the false glamour of ungodly man is seen as trash. "The earth mourns" comes the lament in 24:4. Transgressed laws, broken covenant, mingled with unethical rapacities and sodden swills of drink, leave a desolation desired in action, if not in aim!
With that marvellous intricacy so often found in Isaiah, we move in 24:14-16 to a double exposure. Unlike the case with photography, it is perfectly clear. As the Winter of desolation begins to afflict the woefully immoral and faithless earth, there is an exposure to many of "the majesty of the Lord" (24:14), which satisfies a longing and stirs the depths. Throughout the earth to far distant reaches is there heard a song of the majesty of the Lord, "Glory to the righteous!" its chant. Yet, mingled with this is the DIVINE response, relative to this revelation. It involves this, that "the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously" (24:16 cf. Psalms 69, 109 and see Joyful Jottings 25). "Woe to me!" He cries. As the New Testament puts it, itself in a scripted echo of Psalm 22;1, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!"
This aspect we see in more detail in Isaiah 53:6, with 59:1-3. It is this which Isaiah 24:6 echoes in the same cavern as 22:22-23 and 53. The righteous LORD, it is HE whose cords they wished to break, whom they sought to kill, whom they slew, who experiences the bitterness of utter infidelity, unreliability and trickiness, self-willed treachery, even from those who were ostensibly one's partners. How it stings indeed, for one has experienced this STYLE of thing in New Zealand, the USA and Australia alike. The treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously. Yet there is an epitome to this, it is that when the LORD Himself being betrayed (as in Psalm 2, 41, 69, 35, 109), is seen as a spectacle of ruin (Isaiah 52:12ff.), that the glory appears. His POWER overcomes the IMPURITY of the shady deals that lead to the murder, and His PURITY is exhibited in His resurrection, as in 26:19, one with happy portent for those vicariously covered in His long-planned sacrifice. So does 26:19 follow intimately the valley which 24:16 begins, yes 22:22-23, and 53 consummates.
Following this dramatic and succinct reference to things portrayed elsewhere in more detail in Isaiah 24:16, we see the cavernous consequences. "The foundations of the earth earth are shaken..." as the Age continues to its appointed end, just as the Messiah was slaughtered for an appointed end, which however did not find its end there, but only the slaughter, since the scenario incorporated the resurrection. What better TEST and TESTIMONY than this, that the very ONE whom you murdered comes alive from the dead to ATTEST it! Whether the death be physical, or the inward corruption of the offered life by disbelief, dismissal, denial or mental fraud, it is one in the end. It is a denial that deals death.
"The earth shall reel to and from like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut. Its transgressions shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again." The earth has a start, and its programmed stablities totter; as the abuses of its purposes mount to the skies, so it shudders in the depths. As it comes to its finale, given treachery and irreconcilable hatred of the Messiah and Him who sent Him from heaven, to this earth in pity for salvation, it will be burnt up, as II Peter 3 declares, together with its evil works.
So are we in the arena of Isaiah 2 and 24, the end of the Age.
In Isaiah 25, we see the glorious contrast of praise for the "wonderful things" which the LORD has done, despite this ill-usage, and for His "counsels of old" which are "faithfulness and truth", basic to the name given in Revelation 19, to the Word of God coming to impose judgment on the earth. His cover for His people and His compassions which do not fail (as in Lamentations 3) are dwelt on as the Chapter proceeds to the way in which the LORD HIMSELF will overcome all resistance, even the most bitter, and in blessing to those willing to receive Him, "swallow up death in victory" (25:8). It is this vicarious triumph as in Isaiah 53 and indeed in Isaiah 4 with 32 and 22, which brings a removal of grief and an impartation of joy, as the people chant, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and he will save us. This is the LORD, we have waited for Him. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (25:9).
Down comes pride and in comes redemption.
Thus, as one proceeds to Isaiah 26, the theme moves to the insuperable peace, and the stable spiritual delight of those who know this very LORD in all His compassions and concerns for His people. However, though His people seek Him strenuously and with devoted energy (25:9), yet "when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (26:9), perhaps not without suffering! Why ? For this is the way of it, amongst the legions of the rebellious "Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness, he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD."
Now we come to a fascinating aspect, worthy perhaps of a chapter on its own (see Ch. 9 below). Here we cover it speedily for the sake of overview.
We move on to the increase in the nation, but the lack of deeper joys. As in Isaiah 9, He has increased the nation but NOT increased the joy*3. The joy to come is that in the CHRIST who will lead to a peace illimitable, we find there. But for the nation, it is not yet, nor will it accept it when it comes (Isaiah 49:7). In pursuit of this theme, Isaiah exhibits that as far as deliverance of the highest quality is concerned, Israel is like a woman who, thinking of child-birth, brings forth only wind! It is at precisely THIS point, that we learn of the way a child shall indeed, as in 9:1-7, lead to something better.
The child, however, is not here perceived in the state so famed in in Ch. 9:6, that massive birth focus contrasting with the innate power and majesty: this contrast being merely implied in the non-birth of deliverance for child-free Israel, bringing forth wind in this deluded state (26:18). It is seen here in His power. THAT is to come in 26:19, just as it came in 9:7 in the earlier contrast, of a another kind, but equally keen.
Now, as in Isaiah 9 and 53, we look past unbelief, the obstruction of fantasy, to faith, to the POINT of the exercise, to the PURPOSE in view, to the DELIVERANCE for which Christ suffered. Now we see the triumph as in 9:7. What then does it say ?
This: "Your dead shall live, MY dead body shall they arise!"
In other words, as in Isaiah 2 and 59, the utter incompetence of Israel to engender its own salvation, precisely as likewise in Psalm 49:7,15, is stressed, and its almost humorous waiting for a child, while merely exuding 'wind', a burp not a boy: but then, suddenly, also as in Isaiah 59:20, there is this contrast. It is a transformation as profound as that in the disciples running to the tomb and then, one at once, one shortly afterwards, the triumph!
It is as the LORD's OWN dead body that they will arise, not as some manufactured unit of their own contrivance. So is His majesty, sung a few verses earlier, seen in His action; and their impotence in theirs!
Then as in Isaiah 24 we are found at the end of the Age, "and the earth shall cast out the dead" (26:19b), as in Daniel 12.
To emphasise the reality of these things, we come to the people hiding from the face of the treacherously betrayed Lord, of Him whom they seek to avoid TILL THE VERY END of the Age. It is that which we see in Isaiah 2:21 where the idolaters and unbelievers, now tellingly covering in caves, lurk while the people of the Lord know where to go, even as in 4, and 32, even to Him who is a refuge and stronghold, to hide themselves in Him. That it is infinitely safer than the best geological constructions, and sure by steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness, attested in His OWN bodily resurrection, when He swallowed up death in victory.
Thus although, as in Isaiah 50, His beard was tugged out, and in 53, His life was poured out to death, He nevertheless comes to "share the spoil with the strong", having evacuated death and rendered vacuous its powers, but ONLY over those who receive His work of triumph and truth, in faith. These as in Isaiah 26:20-21, hide in Him (cf. 4:6, 32;1-4), as He "comes out of His place, to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." It is then that the earth "will disclose her blood" and judgment is according to truth.
It is then in the very light of this phase, that the always conjoined counter-phase occurs, of judgment on those who reject His ransom payment that was sufficient for all, but conferred ONLY on those who received Him; for the Lord does not pay for what He does not redeem, nor does He redeem what is not bought! It is those who are HEALED, we find in Isaiah 53, who are the "we" whose iniquities He bears. It could not be clearer.
It is now in Ch. 27 that we find the slaying of the evil power itself (27:1), and the restoration of Israel to the Lord (as in Romans 11), in large measure. It is again like a vineyard well kept, though its unfaithfulness (Isaiah 5) earlier, had wrought only destruction for it, despite His willingness to care for it. In the midst of this, in that intricacy of depth and that signature of mind which comes in this prophet, we find a subtle yet salient riposte. There is a way out of endless enmity. "... let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me: and he shall make peace with Me" (27:5).
In terms of the rest of Isaiah, we are here meeting an offer for the reception of the salvation, the strength of the LORD outpoured for man in apparent weakness (Isaiah 53), but actual power (Isaiah 9). This is for those receiving Him and thus it also, a protective one (Isaiah 4, 32); and for all its blight to those who hear nothing but power, a redemptive one (Isaiah 2) in its essence and its beautiful purpose (John 3:17). This is available so long as men in faith may call upon the Lord. It is a strength which a man must take hold of, to make peace.
Now one may ask, In what WAY would a man be ABLE to take HOLD of the strength of Almighty God ? Is He not too far off, to remote, too high, superior, a Spirit indeed ? so how could it be possible, let alone plausible to "take hold" of "His strength" ?
To stir His compassion, perhaps, but to SEIZE His strength as HIS invitation ? What is this!
It is however perfectly clear in the light of the amazing gospel emphasis in Isaiah's book. The strength is IN the Messiah as in Isaiah 11 exceedingly, for He can slay the wicked with His lips, and rule the earth, as indeed He will, in a little. He becomes AVAILABLE for taking ANYTHING in the Messiah, at this level. He has COME to GIVE. The means of access are therefore present!
In this way, He is an access road to deity, and indeed deity on His own road of approach. HE drew near. We need simply to come to Him, who poured out His soul to death, and casting our iniquities on Him as He is, receive the healing strength of our souls from the eternal life which is His by name and nature, who is the Prince of Life (Acts 3, cf. Hebrews 7:16). Precisely as in Hebrews 7, then, "by so much the more has Jesus become a guarantee of a better covenant... Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him" - 7:25. The SON has been appointed for ever, instead of all successive priesthoods.
We are, as Ephesians points out, brought near by the blood of Christ, that emblem of His life, that life in its STRENGTH, which being poured out is eminently accessible! In that 'weakness' is strength, for it is accessible power from God, power to pardon, power to symbolise the death which brought only life, beyond the dead, fixing forever the power of God in the rotten purlieus of man, facing down death and implanting life where it is received, by those 'taking hold of His strength" and so "making peace" with Him, by an offering not of lamb or bullock, but of God in HIS OWN strength, as in 53:6. As it is the LORD Himself who is received, so is His strength (cf. John 14:12, Ephesians 1:19). As it is Himself risen physically from the dead who is received as Saviour (Romans 10:9, Luke 24), it is a practical as well as a purposeful power.
In view of this Gospel offer, just as in Isaiah 55, we move now in Isaiah 27 to the divine remonstrance with Israel in particular. "Has He struck him as he struck those who struck him? Or has he been slain according to the slaughter of those who were slain by Him ?", He asks, repeating in the parallel the first message of divine restraint to Israel.
Looking askance at the idolatries of Israel, and its lack of understanding, He nevertheless stands on His own declaration of merciful intent and provision, and His insistence that in the end, Israel will be restored.
Yet it is no mere restoration of the physical facade (as we find emphasised so strenuously in Isaiah 65-66). On the contrary, in Isaiah 28 we find this, that "like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm" there is to be penalty for spiritual promiscuity, to say no more. As the wantonly damaged beauties that were fitting for the life of Israel, are exposed in their pride and pollution, we find, as so often, "In that day, the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty" - but how ? Where ? It is to "the remnant of His people" (28:5), the believers, who disgusted with the personal/national declivities, declines and mess, receive His strength where it IS available, in the One who is a shelter from the BLAST, even the very blast of His own judgment!
Again, contrasting this with strenuous clarity, the LORD categorically exhibits the divisive departure from His purity on the part of the people.
Why is there such recalcitrant and devious subterfuge and flight from reality! (Isaiah 28:9ff.). TO WHOM then WILL HE TEACH KNOWLEDGE ? Is it to be to babes, before the cultural accretions, the ludicrous debasements of the sublime to the snuffed, wrought by false education and practice which so readily can RUIN them! The snuffed souls of unbelief seem to toy with the grandeurs of the word of the Lord, scholars in blinding glasses, honouring each other with a wisdom which is barren, bereft and merely plausible; for blind, they do not see, and seeing they talk, but do never understand. He predicts the day when His rebuke to this false and pretentious learning, one which STARTS without vision and ends without point, will be expressed in an actual babble (28:11, cited by Paul - as in tongues, that magnificently ironic rebuke, which some then pollute to another defilement, such is sin! cf. A Question of Gifts).
Thence the prophet proceeds to deem the false learning of recalcitrant, pseudo-pious Judaism, a 'covenant with death' very much as in Luke 11:52-53. But again, in the very midst of this depravity comes the cavity, the place where the LORD is to be found; for of a truth and a certainty, it is God who is LOVE (I John 4:7ff.) and His excoriations, His criticisms are not for death, but life if only they be heeded, and the message is not grievous. It is NOT DO this and that, simply, but TAKE HOLD OF HIS STRENGTH, and so receive the ransom (as in Matthew 20:28, Isaiah 53:6-12).
Yes, the remedy lies in this, that in Zion
Here the New American Standard Version does well to point out that the sense in that last line above is, "not be in a hurry", giving the concept of being at peace, not disturbed, of one not upset into a rash of action, being secure.
Here it is that we see "your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with hell will not stand" (Isaiah 28:18). In Isaiah 29, we find that despite and in the very midst of this iniquity, that the Lord will do "His work, His awesome work" (Isaiah 29:14). Even though the people are as those in a deep sleep (Isaiah 29:10), and "draw near with their mouths and honour Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me" (29:13), and even though the scholars say the word of God is 'sealed' so that they cannot undo it, and the illiterate protest, 'I am not literate', and so decline to deliver meaning from the word of God: yet this marvellous work of God, this divine splendour, which will expose the folly of the worldly wise and reprove the futility of the seemingly learned, will be done.
When this work is done (as in Isaiah 35), so (Isaiah 29:18-19), "the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel" - as in Isaiah 61. The minds that were deafened are exposed by the deaf who are to be healed, and the sightless eyes of seeming sages will be exposed by the newly opened eyes of the visually afflicted. How deep are the ironies of the Lord, and what wonder is in the work of His deliverance!
So we see that this Refuge and this Rock which is exhibited in Isaiah 32 and 28:16 with Ch. 4, as in Isaiah 61, this liberator and this redeemer who replenishes joy and provides peace, as in Isaiah 26-28 and 9, with 48-49, 61, is not only a Foundation, but a Fountain (as in Isaiah 55), and that it is with joy that people will draw spiritual waters from the wells of salvation (as in Isaiah 12, and that spectacular illustration of the principle in very life, in John 4).
This, His wonderful work in this its cover, God has now long done, for we are some 2700 years since Isaiah, and He acted some 700 years later, as Daniel foretold. However, the word of the Lord continues unchanged, being fulfilled step by step, each in its time; and the Gentiles, some two millenia since Paul, continue to play the fool in national, cultural, moral and educational pastimes, heavy with slumber at the spiritual level, like mindless children, enjoying themselves in rapture, regardless of what they rupture. It is indeed as if Romans 11:13-23, be not high-minded but fear, addressed to the haughty, had never been written. So is it unheeded.
Nevertheless, the Gospel, as it is indeed, as Paul exhibits so forcibly from the LORD, in I Cor. 1, this "His unusual act"*4, His strange act: it is done and stays like a foundation for all home-builders (Galatians 1, Isaiah 59:21, Daniel 7:25). There is no other that lasts. The rest of the clamant pretenders, the nostrums for man, these have failed, having no power to support or justice and truth to donate.
what an unusual,
what a strange, what a wonderful act it
is that the Lord has done; for whoever heard of any god but God
taking such pains, literal and metaphorical for His people, that He makes
HIMSELF in an act of suffering and sacrifice, the realm of release, of
rescue, by dying for His beloved people, and rising for their justification,
swallowing up death in victory, and pardoning because He HIMSELF bears
their iniquities (Isaiah 53:6).
Assuredly, the prophet indicates as Isaiah 29 ends, "Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale: but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine." The multi-defined race is to find in many, grace; and it is to join (Isaiah 49:6) with many of other races, in its exultation in the Lord.
So is it in Isaiah 49, 66 as we show in examining those passages, where the nation that has so vexed the Lord in its specious professions and devious deeds, is suddenly spiritually renewed (Isaiah 66:8ff.), and even grows crowded (49:20), as has happened; and we find this multi-faceted jewel of grace, the word of God from Isaiah, flashes about itself, far and near, up and down, like lightnings in the sky.
In these ways, we see not only the Gospel, but the rescuing of Israel one by one (Isaiah 27:12), the revelation of judgment, of the resurrection, of the provisions working in their time, and of Israel itself, coming to the day when its covenant with death is annulled, made more detailed in Isaiah 66, just as this follows such a negative 'covenant' of theirs, and the cost of it, as made plain in Isaiah 65:13-15.
The hints of glory in 24 and 28, as in 27:12 are seen more fully in Isaiah 60-61 and 66. The result from the first is seen in Isaiah 2, and the expression of it in Isaiah 59, where it jars in theme and magnificence with the depths it meets.
Thus have we moved around Isaiah 28:16, the spiritual foundation for any Age, the end of the Age, the coming of judgment, the disarray of the earth approaching its last hours before this judgment, the various references to the cost and means of redemption, the coming of those who will come and the folly of the excision of the faith.
is it only the Jew, though this is the immediate target, who is in view,
but the Gentile as well (as in Isaiah 24:16, 2:17), indeed the whole world
is the place of His action, the place of judgment and the site of salvation,
wherever it occurs. So of course it is in 42:6 and 49:6 as in Psalm 67ff.,
Jeremiah 16:19, Isaiah 60:3.
WHERE IT SITS - THE GRANDEUR OF THE SCOPE OF ISAIAH
How integral is this book, like a vast symphony, not lit with the inspiration of man, but with the fires of God, passionato marked on it, but not to the flagging spirits of the tired worker, home and ready for 'uplift'. Rather, it is to the seedy, the soured, the disspirited, the rebellious, the seeking, the quester, to the one seeking not the romantic merely but the real, not escape but truth, or fleeing it, finding its pursuit. It is not a secular prescription, though its remedy alone is suitable for the secular, which is to die without it, and because of its absence.
Thus if you look at it from our current region of special interest in Isaiah, Chs. 24-29, and look back and forward to see yourself carried in its quests and meeting its resurgences, what do you find ?
It is this.
From 1-2, 4, 6-7, 9, 11-12, 22, 24-29, 32, 34-35, 37-39 you have a surge of splendour, covering sin, salvation, the Messiah, inseparable from it and its modus vivendi, source and centre; you find veins of the gold of glory shining in the midst of sudden pits of horror, like a diamond mine on unparalleled scale, sudden uplifts as if one is in a glider, so that the clouds come racing to meet one as one passes and surpasses them, seeing the glory above. There is the practical but always in the domain of the spiritual; there is the contempt for the flashy pretences of the flesh, pushing its puny wares as if God could be mocked by them in that magnificent rebuke, spiritual in tenor, martial in result, as for example to Sennacherib, a text for all time (Isaiah 36:21ff.).
The minor key creeps subtly in, at 39, where Hezekiah, recipient of amazing deliverance in his humility, from war, is rebuked for his witless and perhaps boastful sharing of the glory with the vanities of this world, when ambassadors from Babylon come to enquire of his health, or to express pleasure at his recovery, and he showed them the treasures of the place. It was some time before that nation came to COLLECT them!
Into Isaiah 40, it surges, the long follies of Israel now brought to book, as so often made clear would happen, in the minatory minor tones found from Ch. 1 onwards, repetitively, like a rondo; and the same interweaving with very factual history occurs, whether it is in the extended interludes of Isaiah 13-20, or at 42-45, 63, 66. The Messiah of 7, 9, 11, 22, 28 is seen again and again, like a mountain uncovered from the deep mists at such altitude, in 40,42,49, 50-55, 61 and the eschatological upthrusts come like the roar of a volcano, alive into the air, whether in 2 or 11, in 24 or 35, in 53 or 59, 65 or 66. The scope of 24 and 59 reaches to the glory from the shame in 25,28 and in 60-62 this is intense, while summary judgments of appalling velocity are found moving like tempests in 63 as in 24, felicities nevertheless being intruded like giants among pygmies, in 2, 65, in 49 and 42.
There are calms of quiet as in Isaiah 26, 65, and expanses of pasture as in 40 and 12, the watering and the shepherding, the salvation and the peace. At times, we soar aloft suddenly, as in a DC 10, more abruptly, in 6,9, the very glory surging into the living room of our hearts, as if surfies could not find their feet, and the billows carried them direct into their homes; yes, as in 60 and 45. The majesty of the Lord is brilliant in its underlying force throughout, especially in its judgmental felicity, its tender appeal, its unhurried exposure with relentless, remorseless accuracy, like an X-ray of cancer, in Chs. 1, 59, while the sheer splendour of salvation appears in 9 as in 53, in 12 as in 60, in 11 as in 65-66; and what is more majestic in solemnity than the contrast between the judgment on the rebellious in 34, the power of the word of God, as in 66; yes, and both as in 24.
It surges and its soars, it digs deep and it exposes, it appeals and exhorts, it issues reproofs correlative to the neglected opportunities as with Ahaz in 7, to the nation as in 30, to the world as in 24, to exhibit even the damned as in 66, while it reproves with measure, as Hezekiah the righteous, in 39, or the fearful as in 43-44, where faith is the antidote and power is the exhibit, as if one saw the Southern Aurora and conceived the splendour of the background to our atmosphere. In this glory however, it is not the components which shine, but the composer.
The New Covenant is clear in implicit and explicit marches, repeatedly, as in Isaiah 9, 11, 44, 62:2, as in 52-55, in 22 as in 61. The sheer reckless folly of flesh is exposed in Isaiah 3 as in 24, in 2 as in 34, in 14 as in 36, in 31 as in 45, while the special feature of Israel's rebelliousness in the face of divine faithfulness is tossed like birds on a violent sea, in 1, 7, 22, 29-31, 41, 43, and with special tenderness in 48:17ff.. Yet as with the flashing vigour of the work through Isaiah so often, this is braced with the salt spray of challenge as in 48:3-5, a combination of crescendos found also in 51, which soars spectacularly in 54 into the realm of eternal comfort (as in vv. 11ff.), in the Messiah so clearly exposed in 50-53.
So did we find likewise this duet of themes in Isaiah 4, in 8-9, in 22, in 66, where as in 42 and 49 we find the special field of Israel in the Redeemer breached in various ways, discussed in the relevant sections of the volume With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength (esp. Chs. 5, 7).
Nor is Israel to be some summit, but rather has it to be recovered in a new covenant as in Isaiah 62 and 65, and its restoration will be with the company of Gentiles also recovered, now here, now there as in 19, 66.
This is a work of the Lord, filled with tenderness pity, with developments now sudden, now subtle, but underneath are always the passion of pity, the sharpness of judgment for redemption rejected, the amazing 'strange act'*3 of exposing the divine in the human, as the Messiah, and allowing the full force of the purity zeal to be seen as the impact of sin is transferred from man to Messiah, for as many as receive Him (Isaiah 53:3-5).
is they who are healed. As to them, "by His
stripes we are healed."
*1 For resurrection see:
Arrows and Balms Appendix
Biblical Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2,
Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 11,
With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 3,
The Magnificence of the Messiah, Endnote 1,
SMR Ch. 6 and Index,
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, Section 14,
Joyful Jottings 25,
A Spiritual Potpourri Ch.s 15, 16,
Stepping out for Christ Ch. 5,
Things Old and New Ch. 2, Excursion 2A; Light of Life Ch. 3;
Spiritual refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch.s 5, 6
See SMR pp. 472ff..
A small section of this treatment is provided below, but it is best seen in the entire Ch. 6 of SMR. The hyperlink above will lead you to this.
In view of all this, it is clear the prophecy is from the identity kit of prophecy concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament. In fact, there is reference to Hosea 6:1-3 (cf. Chapter 9, Section 1C infra). This is the book which in 13:14 speaks of God redeeming His people from death, by becoming the plagues of death, and becoming likewise the destruction of the grave. In Chapter 6, then, we see an exhortation to return to the Lord, in tender tones. It speaks of being stricken and raised up on the third day. Isaiah 26:19 also speaks of the people being raised, but in these terms: my dead body, shall they arise. In full:
"Your dead shall live. My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing you who dwell in the dust."
In Isaiah therefore, we find a resurrection (cf. Daniel 12:1 ff.), in which the resurrection of the children of God is tied to, incorporated in and effected through the resurrection of the speaker. In this passage, that is the one who refers to them as "My people", and being the One with omnipotent power over death, He is God.
God then (as in Psalm 49:7,15), who alone can redeem from death, and who will do so, will execute this phase of the mission by raising His own dead body, and this will imply the resurrection guarantee of His people.
Now on the third day, God will raise up His people, says Hosea, so that they may escape the corruption otherwise their lot. Thus in Psalm 16 we similarly find that the Messiah will have a body not to be corrupted (*7) (vv. 9-10). The implications of His resurrection are to carry over to His people, guaranteeing theirs, and the third day is absolutely crucial to the (necessarily) stringent constraints on the prophets. (They were to ensure their prophesies were genuinely of God, and hence worked, were fulfilled, if prediction was made: or die - effectively blasphemers - Deuteronomy 18:20-22.)
No other day is in view for this epochal resurrection, guaranteeing action whereby God will act to ensure the resurrection of His people: that is, in the body He has prepared for Himself (Psalm 40:1-6).
See Light of Dawn Ch.
See Licence for Liberty Ch. 2 at this point.