March 27, 2014.
Daily Reading: Isaiah 62-66.
Background: Isaiah 56-61.
Concepts and Connections.
Coming salvation: At this time, Israel was in captivity and had been in this situation for some time. Now, the oracle turns to the thoughts of God, and His arousal to take vengeance for Israel, laying His mighty hand against this nations that had oppressed His people. This chapter deals heavily with the coming salvation of Israel out from under the hand of their captors. Israel will once again be established and not fall into the hands of the lands around them. Many times in Isaiah’s prophecy, the oracle has a double fulfillment, one near the time of the prophecy (i.e. the end of Babylonian captivity) and an ultimate fulfillment (i.e. on judgement day). Much of the prophecy that is found in these last chapters of Isaiah could likely be categorized as such. Salvation was coming for the Jews, just as it is coming for us as we patiently await its arrival.
Vengeance, mercy and prayer: Continuing on the idea of the last chapter, the vengeance of the Lord is coming for those who have oppressed His people. His wrath is painted as one who treads a winepress, pouring out the lifeblood of His enemies on all the earth. Then the scene turns to His own people, and how He had showed steadfast love to them and they had rebelled. They grieved His Holy Spirit (see also Ephesians 4:30-31). He had given them protection and provisions, yet they treated it as nothing. Thus the oracle turns to prayer to plea for mercy for the people. He recounts for the Lord who He is and who His people are to Him, and asks Him to return for His servant’s sake. This prayer will continue on into the next chapter.
Prayer: The oracle’s prayer continues with a request for the awe inspiring physical presence of the Almighty. He asks for the Lord to show His mighty presence and power because the people seem to have forgotten. He asks that the heavens be torn and the mountains shake, for no one has seen God. The oracle says to God, “You are the potter, and we the clay,” humbled by His power (see note on Isaiah 45). A plea is made that the Lord not be so very angry, but to look kindly on His people, not remembering their iniquity.
Judgement and salvation: The Lord has given opportunity to those who were not His people and to those who did not call on His name. Though He had not chosen them, they had an opportunity to become as His children. But they would not accept, and because of this rejection, judgement would come upon them. And in the last day, they will loose out as those who called on the name of the Lord will enter into the new heavens and the new earth to experience the glory of God (see also II Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1). What a beautiful picture of heaven/resurrection is painted here. Read through this section a few times and see if it aligns with what your idea of the afterlife will be like. Though there is some evidence to believe that this section might be talking about the time of Christ (i.e. the wolf/lamb, lion/ox pairings at the end that seem to correlate with Isaiah 11), it would seem the rest of the language strongly suggests that it is speaking of the afterlife. This is one of the most detailed glimpses of these new heavens and a new earth that one will find in the Old Testament.
1. Humility and rejoicing: The first half of this chapter deals with the kind of heart that the Lord is looking for: a humble and contrite heart. The wicked of the world, those who would not accept the steadfast love of the Lord, had been given the opportunity to serve the Lord, but they had made their own choices not to follow Him, yet go after their own desires. This was not the type of heart that the Lord wanted. He wanted the heart that was willing to humble itself before Him and submit to His will, as He holds supremacy. From these hearts there would be rejoicing in the name of the Lord God.
2. Judgment and glory: The prophecy of Isaiah ends in rejoicing and fire, each from their respective types of people (saved and not saved). For those who wore His name, there would be rejoicing and rest, and a continual worship of His name. For those who had rejected His love and mercy, there was wrath that had been laid up in store for them. It seems that this fiery imagery is where Paul pulled from as he described the second coming of Christ to the Thessalonians (see II Thessalonians 1:5-12). Judgement is coming, and it will be one in which the Lord knows all and nothing will be hidden from Him. Those who are not found worthy will be subjected to the second death (compare v. 24 with Mark 9:48 and Revelation 21:8). Those who are found worthy of His name will enter into the new heavens and the new earth, and their will be a continual worship of His name. May we be found to be worthy of His magnificent name.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Mark 3-4.
All glory to Him.