Isaiah, Part 2: God’s Redemptive Plan for Mankind
August 19, 2001
This is our second message that looks at the Book of Isaiah, as we progress from Creation to the Cross and beyond. In our previous lesson (Part 1), we went into the historical setting for Isaiah’s visions, who this man was, some of the problems critics try to find with the book, and we discussed the major themes. Let’s summarize those themes:
1. God Alone Saves
2. God Himself Will Rule Israel and the Entire Earth Some Day
3. God Runs the Show. Always Has. Always Will!
4. God is A Being Without Limits
5. His Creatures Have No Right to Question An All-Powerful God
6. The Remnant Who Listen, Repent, and Obey are Preserved
7. Hypocritical Religion Makes the Lord Especially Mad
We noted that Isaiah lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah about 200 years after Solomon’s kingdom was divided. His culture was very corrupt. These ancient Judeans burned up their children in worship of idols; they were corrupt in protecting the rights of “those in the right,” they had corrupt rulers, and paraded their sin before God in a defiant manner. Twisted as they were, they then tried to fool God through a hypocritical religion that observed His feasts and ceremonies also.
It all makes the Lord furious. Isaiah is called to warn them to repent, but the Lord tells him up front that the Jews aren’t going to listen. The Lord is so mad at them that He will place a veil over their minds and hearts. Isaiah volunteers to carry the message anyway.
We noted also that our culture in the 21st Century is very similar. We, too, burn up our unborn children and parade our alternate lifestyles in God’s face. We, too, often think that if we attend church, or give money, or read our Bibles, or sing in the choir, or pray every day … God is satisfied, and we can live the rest of the week however we please.
In this message, let’s see what God is going to do about this sin-infection that has corrupted His chosen people … and not only them, but has also corrupted mankind of every race down through the centuries long after the ancient Judeans are gone. We’re going to look at numerous Scriptures, so get out your Bibles, and be ready for an old-fashioned sword drill. We’ll be moving rapidly from one passage to another.
Who Caused All This Corruption?
In the pages of Isaiah, the Lord explains precisely who is behind the whole mess, how this came about, and how He will deal with this evil being and his protg.
Turn to Isaiah 14. If you’ve ever wanted to be a time-traveler, this chapter is for you. It looks eons back in time, and then fast-forwards to the future. We even hear the voices of people long dead. First, verses 12-14 take us into the distant past where an angelic being named “Helel” (see your Bible’s margin for verse 12) becomes corrupted. He wants more than God has given him. He wants it all. He wants to replace God.
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will make myself like the Most High.
“Helel,” here translated “morning star,” can also be translated “shining one,” “light bearer” or “Lucifer.” So we don’t have to wonder who Isaiah is talking about. Ezekiel 28:14 and 17 add more detail. This “Helel” becomes corrupted by his own beauty and splendor. But he once walked in the midst of the stones of fire on the holy mountain of God. His position was “the anointed cherub who covers or guards.”
Satan’s Long Campaign to Rule in Place of God
Satan’s five-part program is outlined here in Isaiah 14. Ever since he rebelled, Satan has intended to put himself in place of God. He wants God’s position. He wants His power. He covets the worship God receives. His exalted angelic position isn’t enough for him.
Today, Satan is permitted to have a limited measure of these things, for reasons known only to the Lord. He’s the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and he masquerades as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He lurks behind the curtain while unwitting people worship him even today through the idols he places in front of them.
Jesus gives gifts.
Satan tries to counterfeit them.
Jesus offers living water.
Satan offers a mirage that disappears as you get closer.
Jesus offers living bread.
Satan shows plastic loaves in an attractive display case.
Jesus gives true light.
Satan says if you believe him, you’ll be more “enlightened.”
Jesus offers freedom.
Satan says that he will free you from such a demanding and restricting God, but you’ll wind up trapped forever in his kingdom as a prisoner.
Jesus offers life eternal.
Satan leads a person to eternal death.
Isaiah chapter 14 also shows us the future for Satan (verses 15 and then 9-11):
Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit (Isaiah 14:15).
We know this will indeed happen, as confirmed in Isaiah 14:9-11:
Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come. It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth. It raises the kings of the nations from their thrones. They will all respond and say to you, “Even you have been made as weak as we. You have become like us. Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol. Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you, and worms are your covering” (Revelation 20:1-3).
Note the interesting reaction from the souls of former kings and rulers already in Sheol, when Satan is confined there also. Sheol is something like a “holding cell” for souls awaiting God’s final judgment. They seemed surprised when he shows up, and then they take pleasure in mocking him.
Paraphrasing, “Hey everybody, look who’s here! Welcome, big boy! Ha! What a surprise! You always said that you’d never wind up down here. Now you’re just as weak and helpless as we are. Well, come on in, hot shot. Your bed of maggots and blanket of worms awaits you!”
The chapter begins by addressing “the king of Babylon” (verse 4), but the power behind every evil kingdom is Satan of course.
However, One Fact Remains: Satan Has Had a Measure of Success.
Satan has managed to corrupt God’s finest creation … beings made in His own image – beings with eternal souls who will live forever. As soon as Adam and Eve appear in the Garden of Eden, Satan is right there tempting them with all of his own ambitions.
Don’t you want to be more than you are? Don’t you want to know more than you do? Sure you do! God doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Do what I tell you, and you’ll expand your possibilities.”
… and sin infected mankind. We see the results in the ancient Judeans of Isaiah’s day. We see it in our own culture. We see it all too often in ourselves. Jews, Gentiles … it doesn’t matter. All are corrupt, and the ancient Judeans even polluted the sacrifices and ceremonies God provided to cleanse them on a temporary basis.
Isaiah says that the sin-infestation is total. Every person of every social strata or position is sick, and most are so oblivious to their condition that they’ve not even tried to apply “soothing oils or bandages.”
Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil (1: 5-6).
Something had to be done, or not a single human being could ever qualify to live in God’s presence for eternity. There would be only one track down which mankind could go, and that track would lead straight to the lake of fire.
Only The Lord Himself Can Effect A Solution.
Let’s read Isaiah 59:9-20. Here we see a summary of conditions … in Isaiah’s day and in ours … and what God is going to do about it. Remember Isaiah’s central theme: “God Alone Saves.” If a permanent solution is to be found for mankind’s condition, God will have to do it. Everyone else on earth is too corrupt to provide the answer.
And so He will. For His creation, there will now be two tracks down which they can go. One will lead to eternal life, while the other leads to physical destruction here on earth and the second death ultimately. Isaiah shows us how both will play out.
God Himself Must Become the Sacrifice, Priest and King
No human ruler will ever truly lead God’s people properly, nor trust completely and consistently in the Lord alone. The sacrifices are insufficient, and the priests are too often corrupt also (Ezekiel 22:26). The Lord Himself will have to be first the Sacrifice, then the Priest (Hebrews 8:1) and finally the King.
Mankind’s sin-infestation is so all-encompassing … the darkness in which they walk is so total … that a complete spiritual makeover is needed, and God must do the job Himself. No one else can do it. It requires God’s “Right Arm.”
The Servant God has in mind for the job is Jesus Christ … a part of Himself Who acts as the Father’s right arm (Matthew 26:64, Mark 16:19). When we think about it, Jesus has always acted as God’s right arm. The Bible says so explicitly. Jesus created everything, and He holds it all together (Colossians 1: 16-17).
But note that even God’s Right Arm must wrap Himself in the same armor (verse 17) we need (Ephesians 6:13-17) when He enters a realm where evil is so dominant.
But it’s a very interesting dialogue we find in chapter 49 between the Father and the Son. God isn’t referring to the nation, Israel, in verse 3. “Israel” means “God Strives” or “God Contends,” or as we’d say it, “God Fights.” The Jews never lived up to that name, but Jesus Christ certainly does, in its purest form.
A Fruitless Task … or So It Seems
However, it will be a thankless task at first, and the Servant states that, on the surface, it doesn’t appear to be worth all the grief He will have to go through (verse 4). He will toil in vain and spend His strength for nothing … or so it seems. He will be abhorred by His own people and have to be subservient to evil rulers (verse 7). The complete plan, with Him in control of the government, with all the glory and honor He should have, will not take place in His first coming.
Yet despite all this, the Son realizes that His reward will come from the Father. Justice won’t be given to Him on earth, but it will in heaven (verse 4). Isaiah foresees the reward in 49:7, but Paul tells us just how complete Christ’s reward will be.
Therefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2: 9-11).
Remember Hebrews 12:2: “… who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame … .”
The Assignment is Broadened
Not only that. The Father broadens the overall assignment, beyond just reconciling the Jews, to include everyone on earth. Jesus is to be the “light to the nations” in verse 6. He’s the “sharp sword,” the “select arrow” in verse 2. God gives the job of “light bearer” to a Servant who won’t fail … as Lucifer did.
Note that Jesus is concealed “in the shadow of His hand” … the Father’s hand, until just the right time to reveal Him. Jesus is the Father’s “secret weapon” in the battle against Satan.
Even the most enlightened prophets didn’t understand this clearly. The ancient Judeans probably viewed the prophecies of Isaiah much as today we view the prophecies in Revelation. We have the benefit of looking back at Isaiah to see how it all played out.
The Judeans knew someone was promised, but who precisely it would be wasn’t clear. They worshipped the one God … Jehovah. This was the very basis of their theology.
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4)
It wasn’t clear to the Jews that the Godhead was made up of more than one Being. Some even thought there might be two different Messiahs.
The Faithful, Suffering Servant
This very special Servant is promised to the Jews from the early pages of Isaiah. Chapter 2:1-4 speaks of a day when the Lord Himself will judge the nations from Jerusalem.
Chapter 4: 2-6 talks of the “Branch of the Lord,” someone beautiful and glorious, Who will dwell on Mount Zion with clouds by day and fire by night marking His presence.
Immanuel is Promised
Chapter 7:14 promises a son named “Immanuel” to be born of a virgin. This is an intriguing little vignette. King Ahaz and the Southern Kingdom are invaded by a coalition of forces from the Northern Kingdom and Syria. Everyone is terrified, because many people have already been killed and taken captive. The king has even lost one of his own sons in combat, and now the invading force has Jerusalem under siege.
Isaiah is sent with a message from the Lord to Ahaz. The place of meeting is very important. It’s where the life-giving water flows into Jerusalem. The symbolic meaning: “Ahaz, the real water of life doesn’t flow in here. You need the living water that only God can provide. You need water for your soul … not just your body.”
Thirty years later, as Assyrian bigmouth will stand at this very spot and insult the Living God. The king at that time, Hezekiah, will turn to God for deliverance. Ahaz doesn’t.
But Isaiah is instructed to tell Ahaz: “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen. These two nations … these ‘firebrands’ … that have come against you will not prevail.”
To prove it, God offers Ahaz a chance to ask for any sign he wants … anything at all. There are absolutely no limits put on it (verse 7:11). He could have asked for the sun to stand still, as Joshua did, or to have his son killed in combat to come back from the dead, or have angels appear, for gold … anything … if only he would believe.
But Ahaz piously turns down the offer (7:12). The reason? He already has Plan B underway to save his bacon, and it doesn’t involve some crazy prophet nor a God He doesn’t believe in. Second Kings 16:7-8 tells how he has messengers at that moment in Assyria trying to hire mercenaries to come to his aid.
The Lord becomes angry and promises a sign anyway … something even Ahaz wouldn’t have dreamed of asking for. A virgin will conceive some day, and God Himself will come to earth to reign on David’s throne (9:7) in place of this miserable excuse for a king.
The Rock … the Stumbling Stone
Chapter 8:14 calls God’s special Servant a “stone to strike and a rock to stumble over.” Jesus was “the Rock” that was struck in the wilderness for the Jews so that they could live. The water they needed for life … physical and spiritual … has always come from Him and Him alone.
Look at this passage in the New Testament, one which you may never have really stopped to ponder before. I know I hadn’t really thought about it.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. And all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
Jesus is the Rock that God struck so that the Israelites could drink to quench their thirst in the wilderness. Jesus is also the Rock that God struck so that you and I can have the living water of eternal life.
If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink (John 7:37).
Chapter 28:16 says that anyone who believes in this “costly cornerstone” will not be disturbed.
Chapter 9:6 says that this Boy to be born to us will have the government resting on His shoulders, and His additional names are “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” He will reign on the throne of David, and His kingdom will never end.
As we said in Lesson 40, 2000 years have already passed between the first line of 9:6 and the second. No problem for God in His panorama of time. Past, present, future … are all the same to an infinite, timeless Being.
Chapter 11:1-5 again calls Him “The Branch” and lists seven spirits He will possess: The Spirit of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord. He will judge in perfect righteousness, but He also carries a big stick. He rules with “the rod of His mouth.”
In that same chapter (verses 6-9), amazing changes occur on the earth when God Himself rules here as King of kings. Carnivores dwell right with their former prey. Little children have very unusual pets.
There’s an obscure passage in chapter 22:20-23 that describes a man called “Eliakim.” He’s a righteous, trustworthy servant indeed, but only a prototype of the ultimate Servant … Who’s given “the key to the House of David.” This Servant “opens and no one shuts.” He “shuts and no one opens.”
Eliakim may have controlled access to the king, but these powers in their ultimate form belong only to Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:7). He alone grants access to the Father. He is the only Mediator between man and God (1 Timothy 2:5).
This is one of the reasons I really like Isaiah. Hidden deep in oft-neglected chapters are great nuggets of insight. In that same chapter, an evil scribe named Shebna usurps a position he doesn’t deserve, and God takes it all away from him and gives everything to Eliakim. Shebna pictures the usurper, Satan, who temporarily is the god of this world. One day, that title and position will be given to their rightful owner, Jesus Christ.
We see Jesus in chapter 25:6-9 serving as the “Lord of Hosts” in a different way, as He hosts a lavish banquet “for all peoples” at some point in His millennial kingdom. You’ll be there. So will I. We’ll get a chance to visit with Moses, Daniel, Paul, Esther, Ruth, Mary, and the Lord Himself. Bob Deffinbaugh will be seated next to his favorite prophet, Jonah.
But In His First Coming, the Servant Will Indeed Be Meek and Mild
Here, the Father speaks of “My Servant, My chosen one in whom My soul delights,” Who will bring forth justice to the nations, and when we first see Him, He heals the bruised reed and doesn’t let the dimly burning wick go out … the sick, discouraged people He does indeed heal and feed.
In chapter 50: 4-11, the Servant describes some of the mistreatment that He will endure, but also says that He’ll go through it because He knows Who vindicates Him. He also tells the destiny of anyone who dares to contend against Him (verses 9 and 11).
In chapter 61:1, we find the passage Jesus read to the people in His hometown about binding up the brokenhearted and freeing captives, and where He added, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
The Lamb of God
However, it’s in chapters 52 and 53 that we see this Servant most clearly and grasp the big picture of what He’s to do. There should have been a chapter break after 52:12, because from verse 13 out through the end of chapter 53, it’s the Servant in view.
It’s a very familiar passage, for it gives a panorama of Jesus’ “Lamb of God” role in the Father’s redemptive plan for mankind.
Isaiah 52:13 starts off with a summary of sorts. The Servant will prosper, be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted in the final result. However, He will also be “marred more than any man,” so much so that those who see Him are astonished.
Satan Tries To Control Events Right Up To The End
Have no doubt about this: The Romans do a brutal job on our Lord. Satan lurks behind the scenes urging them on with this particular convict, and they get carried away in their beating.
Satan wants Jesus killed before He can get to that cross and die under the Father’s plan. Satan tried to kill Him at Bethlehem and again by His own townspeople at Nazareth, and here with the Romans. He dies either way, but Jesus could not then be “lifted up” like Moses’ serpent, as He had predicted He would (John 3:14). If Jesus dies during the beating, the Romans would just throw Him into a pit.
So when Jesus struggles through the streets to Golgotha, He’s hard to recognize. No man has ever endured the kind of beating He has and survived. He can barely walk, let alone carry a heavy cross very far. The bystanders are astonished. Once on the cross, He dies perhaps more quickly than the Romans expected. … and let’s not forget this: He did that for you! He was there in my place! I deserved it. He didn’t.
Sprinkled With His Blood
Isaiah 52:15 says that “Jesus sprinkles many nations,” and that people will finally understand what they’ve heard from the prophets. Peter verifies that we have indeed been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:1a-2), and Paul quotes Isaiah 52:15 in Romans 15:21 to explain why he feels called to preach only to people who have never heard the good news before.
Chapter 53 begins by asking if anyone among the Jews understands what’s happening with this Servant? Is anyone out there listening to what God is revealing through Him?
Isaiah 53:2 hints that they could miss His importance because of His background and physical appearance. He grows up in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” an area looked down upon by so-called “religious” people (John 7:41 and 52, Nathanael’s response in John 1:46).
But Isaiah 9:1 promised that this land would be “made glorious.” Immanuel will grow up there. If Jesus had grown up in Richardson, Texas, we’d surely say that our city received great honor and glory. Galilee certainly did, no matter what people previously thought about the area. Immanuel did not grow up in Jerusalem where the religious snobs were. He grew up out there among the outcasts, but in so doing, He loaded that land with glory.
So How Do You Picture Jesus Here on Earth?
In His unveiled glory, Jesus is so brilliant and awesome that everyone who sees Him falls to the ground, as John does in Revelation 1:17, but what do you think Jesus looked like in the flesh?
He’s not a physically imposing or appealing man. He’s very ordinary looking. He isn’t tall like King Saul. He isn’t strong like Samson. It isn’t how He looks that gets your attention. It’s what He says and does! (Mark 1:22 “teaching with authority;” Matthew 9:33 … “nothing like this seen in Israel.”)
A Man of Sorrows, Acquainted With Grief
Isaiah 53:3 shows us that Jesus’ earthly life was marked by sorrow and grief. That’s interesting, because if He’s our role model, then we can expect the Christian life to be something other than a bowl of cherries.
Some preachers and writers tell us that we should always be joyful, happy, in high spirits and feeling very fulfilled. God wants us to be happy, etc. If we’re not smiling all the time, there’s something wrong with our Christian walk.
Well, that doesn’t compute with what Jesus says in John 15:18-20. If we truly serve Him, we can expect trouble, persecution, unfairness, injustice and some sorrow in our lives, just as He experienced. This life’s not fair … but also like our role model, we know Who will justify us in the long run (Isaiah 49:4).
How Much Esteem is Jesus Due?
Isaiah 53:3 says that “we did not esteem Him.” Tragic. Incredible. Unbelievable. Isaiah 53: 4-7 sums up the plan of salvation … the Gospel … in four verses.
The Focal Point of God’s Entire Plan for Mankind From Genesis to Revelation
The Apostle Paul says that nothing is more important than this (1 Corinthians 15:3). No fact in the universe compares with it. All other truth pales when placed against it. For you and me, nothing that has happened, or ever will, benefits us as much.
Remember this in a little while when you take the bread and the cup in the worship meeting here at Community Bible Chapel this Sunday morning.
Well, So far … So Good
Thus far, Isaiah has shown us one side of this Servant, Who in turn reveals to us one side of the Father Who sent Him on His mission. We see God’s loving, caring, healing, merciful side, reaching out to all sinners with an offer of living bread and water. We see Him taking the judgment we deserve. We see Him providing the vaccine for our massive sin-infestation.
But As Much as We’d Like to Stop Here … Isaiah Has More To Tell Us
But this God and His Servant have another side. Over and over throughout Isaiah and the other Scriptures, He pleads for His finest creatures to heed His offer and come to Him in repentance. An awesome consequence awaits those who refuse.
Turn a few pages to chapter 55, where the wayward sinner is advised 16 times to do something. It’s not by accident that chapter 55 follows 53. Summarizing and also paraphrasing verses 1-11:
“Come, come, buy, eat, come, buy, listen, eat, delight, incline, come, listen, seek, call, forsake, return. Do it before it’s too late (verse 6). Don’t try to figure Me out. Don’t argue about My ways in bringing salvation to you. You’ll never figure out how I think or work. Look up at the stars. You can’t understand the universe you can see. You surely can’t understand My ways in dealing with My own creation. You don’t have to. All you have to do is ‘Seek, call, forsake and return!’”
Sixteen things a person must do are mentioned. In other words, a response … a reaction … to the great sacrifice of chapter 53 is required.
God Himself became the sacrifice for our sins, a sacrifice we could never offer for ourselves. Now, the Holy Spirit draws the unbeliever to Himself (John 6:44, Romans 9:16). He calls, He draws, He opens eyes and hearts. These are also things we can’t do for ourselves.
But having done all this, God now waits for a response. Sinful man must “seek, listen, come, forsake, return and buy” the true bread, milk and wine that’s been offered, and the “water of life without cost” Jesus offers in Revelation 21:6.
In 55: 8-9, God explains why we humans are not really capable of figuring out precisely how He works.
We know that the earth’s rotation cannot be stopped, but God did it (Joshua 10:12-14). Dead men don’t walk out of tombs, or walk in fiery furnaces, or live three days in the belly of a fish. Babies aren’t born of virgins, and camels can’t pass through the eye of needle either, but “impossible” is a word found only in man’s vocabulary. There’s no such word to God.
Behold. I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
The Lord Tells us to Consider How High the Heavens are Above the Earth
Mankind looks up at the stars and realizes that he simply has no idea how it all got there or how all those orbits continue as they do. It should humble his great ego, as it did with David, a man after God’s own heart:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You take thought of him? And the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8: 3-4)
The heavens are an infinite distance above the earth, and infinity is not a concept our finite minds can grasp. And these are objects we can see (at least a few of them). How much less can we truly grasp how our God works His ways to cause a person to come to faith? In John 3:8, Jesus tries to get Nicodemus (and us) to see that the Holy Spirit’s work is not something we can fathom completely.
Now, let’s consider 55:6-7. Could we conclude that there may come a time in a person’s life when God cannot be found?
If he continues to harden his heart, and steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that he needs to repent … as the Holy Spirit tells him … God may turn away and leave him to serve the god he prefers (Romans 1: 21-24).
And What Happens If You Refuse to Repent and Accept God’s Offer of Mercy?
Isaiah has this answer also. You’ll get to see, first-hand, the other side of God and His Servant … the judgment side. You’ll experience the wrath of God against sinners who “will not have this Man to reign over us!”
In chapter 63:1-4, an entirely different picture of Christ appears. This is not a suffering Servant. This is not a sacrificial lamb. It’s a conquering King.
In fact, we cannot truly grasp the wonder of chapter 53 unless we grasp the awesome picture of judgment in chapter 63. Until we see the terrible consequences of unforgiven sin, we can’t understand the full measure of what Christ did for us at Calvary. Until we see the scope of the judgment God will impose on the earth, we can’t understand the scope of what He poured out on his own Son so that we escape that wrath.
Here, we see the same King of Kings John sees in Revelation 19:11-21. His clothing is stained with the blood of those He has trampled, as one would crush wine in a winepress. This passage inspired Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible, swift sword.
His truth is marching on.
It fits closely with the scene John portrays in Revelation 14:20, where the blood of Jesus’ opponents is compared to wine flowing from a winepress.
A God of Retribution
Make no mistake about this point: Our God is indeed a God of love and mercy. He is also a God of justice and retribution. If you shake your fist in His face, and keep on doing so, you will experience His wrath. If you spit on His Son, if you insist on placing other gods before Him, if you live a lifestyle that mocks Him … you will most certainly stand in the front row before His throne of judgment (Revelation 20: 11-15).
Turn back to Isaiah 13: 9-13. God has the most effective pest-control program ever seen, and He will assuredly use it to “exterminate” (His word not mine) sinners from off the earth before His Son can reside here as King. How could Jesus reign over the pigsty earth as it is? It needs a complete makeover, and that includes the inhabitants. Mortal man will become scarcer than pure gold (verse 12). Look at Isaiah 24:19-21. The Lord will shake this earth violently until it totters like an old shack. Jesus Himself said that if He doesn’t step in and shorten these days, nobody on earth would survive (Matthew 24:22).
Christ’s Millennial Reign as King of the Earth
Finally, Isaiah has much to say about this magnificent era when Jesus does come to reign as King of Kings in Jerusalem. Chapter 2 shows Christ rendering judgments and decisions for the nations, with all law emanating from Him. The Prince of Peace is in residence, so all weapons of war are converted to peaceful uses.
Chapter 9:6 says that “the government rests on His shoulders,” and chapter 11:9 adds that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Chapters 11:6-8 and 65:25 also picture animals sleeping and grazing together that never would today, children playing with cobras, and small boys leading lions around on a leash.
Recall chapter 25’s lavish banquet (God’s description) where Jesus serves as our Host … still another way entirely of viewing Him as the “Lord of Hosts.”
Chapter 65:19-25 pictures inhabitants of Christ’s kingdom living a very long time. As long as trees. In Colorado, we have trees near our house that are 400 years old. No more crib deaths. A person is considered accursed if he dies before age 100.
Perhaps after so many people die during the Tribulation period just ahead of Christ taking over as King, the Lord allows people to again live hundreds of years to repopulate the earth, as with Adam and those just after him.
It’s difficult for us to imagine conditions like this. We’ve never seen anything like them, and never will until the Lord returns to throw out the usurper, Satan, and claim His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Your Kingdom Come
That’s why Jesus told us to pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Now, when you take the bread and the cup this morning, keep your mind focused on the Lamb of God Whose body was beaten and broken and His blood shed for you.
And as we close, listen to Isaiah’s magnificent words from Handel’s Messiah:
Unto us a son is born, unto us a child is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
These words from this beautiful music are word for word from Isaiah 9:6 (KJV). Perhaps you need to pray right now to the Lord to thank Him for dying for your sins. Perhaps, until today, you’ve never really understood just what He has done for you and how desperately your sins needed His sacrifice in your place. This would be a good time to confess those sins, ask Him to forgive you, accept His death in your place, and ask Him to come in and rule your heart and life as King of kings.
285 Copyright 2001 by Community Bible Chapel, 418 E. Main Street, Richardson, TX 75081. This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 41 in the From Creation to the Cross series prepared by Gordon Graham on August 19, 2001.