When I was a baby Christian, a Bible teacher was inquiring which books we would like to study. I chimed in, “Isaiah!” His comment, however, was in the negative, saying it was a lot of dry history and judgments. That was certainly not my take on the prophet. Even as young in the Lord as I was back then, the Holy Spirit had shown me some wonderful tidbits in Isaiah. It seems that every time I read that book, my spiritual adrenalin started revving! No, this is not just a dry, historical record! It is full of wisdom for our times! And it holds prophesies of my dear Savior Jesus Christ, both as the Suffering Servant (Isa 53) and as the victorious King of Kings! (Isa 63:1-6; Rev 19:11-16)
Jesus “was, and is, and is to come” the King of Kings! This is who the Jews were anticipating, two thousand years ago. Perhaps some Jews failed to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah because they did not embrace the Scriptures that pointed to His suffering. They expected only that triumphant King who would throw off the cruel Roman yoke of oppression. Today, do many Christians make a similar mistake in overlooking that He is also the Lion of Judah? We acknowledge Him as the Lamb and the One Atonement for our sins, but do we fail to warn the lost that He will come again as the King of Kings in righteousness, judging and making war on evil? (Rev 19:11-16)
ON THE JUDGMENT OF GOD
Oh, “God is love” some retort. “There’s no judgment. God couldn’t do that!” Actually, I heard something akin to this from a young seminary student recently! Yes, God is love. (1 John 4:8) But as I pointed out to him, we cannot just read the “nice” verses in Scripture and disregard the others. Evil will be judged to the desired effect that peace and goodness will reign!
Isaiah is admittedly full of judgments on nations who defy the LORD. The title given by the editors of my New King James over chapter 24 reads: “Impending Judgment on the Earth”. It states: “Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants.” (Isa 24:1) Another chapter predicts “a destruction determined even upon the whole earth.” (Isa 28:22) Gee, that sounds a lot like some chapters in Revelation! Pretty heavy stuff.
But some would relegate all that judgment to former times. Now, we are “under grace”. John 3:16 is so often quoted but there’s more following it:
“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. “ (John 3:18)
Yes, some of us are under the grace of God because we are IN Christ, but those outside of Christ are still under judgment.
The Good News is that God’s Door is open wide! Jesus is the Door. (John 10:7)
MORE THAN HISTORY
Isaiah’s prophecies of judgments did actually occur. If you want to study the historical battles and such, this is not that study. Those historical studies are vitally important as they confirm the Word of God and establish the veracity of Scripture. I love to read the historical and cultural footnotes that illuminate the Scriptures but the best illumination comes from the Holy Spirit! The Word of God is living! (Heb 4:12) His Word is not to be confined to ancient history. Nor is God’s Word only understandable to historians. The ancient prophecies echo down through time, as the New Testament teaches:
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Cor 10:11)
I’m convinced that that passage does not intend to refer exclusively to the Books of Exodus and Numbers quoted, but points to a principle for studying the Old Testament. The Apostle Peter wrote similarly that the OT prophets were ministering to us!
“10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.“ (1 Peter 1:10-13)
Please note verse 13: “at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We have not yet seen this total revelation! (Also, note in verse 11, “subsequent glories” for later.)
The Apostle Paul also taught “whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Rom 15:4) All was written for our learning, not to be necessarily historians, but to know the saving power of the Messiah!
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Col 2:16-17)
THE HOPE OF SCRIPTURE
What then is our hope? Is it not that through everything, God is working for good? We can find that hope in story after story of Old Testament saints. Is it not that God can deliver His praying, faithful people from evil as He delivered Hezekiah (Isa 37)?
Is not our hope that in the end, God wins and evil is no more? We can find that hope in Isaiah’s judgments proclaimed against rampant evil because those many judgments came to pass and God’s will prevailed. Why do we then doubt that evil will not again be judged similarly?
Is not our hope for peace? Do not good people long for the day when “the wolf dwells with the lamb” and “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain”? (Isa 11:6-9) Christ is revealed in Isaiah as the Son who is also “the Mighty God” who is also the “Prince of Peace”! (Isa 9:6) Yet so many reject Him! Truly Christ is our hope and the purest “desire of all nations”! (Hag 2:7 KJ or NKJ) Next time you see a “Pray for Peace” bumper sticker, cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” He is our only hope for peace!
Surely our hope is of glories to come. “Christ in us” IS “the hope of glory!” (Col 1:27) Saints, we have much more to look forward to! “But hope that is seen is not hope.” (Rom 8:24) Yet our Blessed Hope will come! (Titus 2:13) “When He appears, we shall be like Him!” (1 John 3:2) Wow! I’m going to be like Jesus! John also wrote in that same verse, “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be”. Why? Because the full revelation of Christ Himself has not yet been revealed! But “we shall be like Him” when “we shall see Him as He is!” Again, I say, WOW!!!!! Now that’s something for which to hope! “And everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3)
The Book of Revelation is about, as its full title indicates, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It contains prophesies of His Coming again when “we shall see Him as He is!” This is our hope, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!” (Eph 3:20) That nice song may say “I can only imagine…” but more accurately, we can’t even imagine all the wonders God has in store for us who love Him!
As I re-studied the book of Isaiah, what amazed me were the many similarities between Isaiah and the Book of Revelation. The many correlations and parallels between the two books make this very logical reasoning. Why should this be amazing? Really, it’s to be expected, since many of the prophetic Scriptures are also looking far ahead to the absolute Day of the Lord! This is the day of Yom Kippur. This is the feast day that has been kept in Judaism for millennia but it is looking forward to the Day of Judgment of the whole earth. (see before Col 2:16-17)
Now, for the benefit of those who think the Book of Revelation was fully fulfilled in 70 AD: please have the humility to admit that you, nor I, are not yet like Christ, even if you put us all together! Since “when He appears, we shall be like Him” hasn’t happened, then Christ is yet to come! As another song goes, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see!” “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)
The Old Testament prophets echo through time, right up until the end, when the Alpha & Omega, the First and Last (Rev 22:13 and Isa 41:4) closes the old chapter of human history and ushers in visibly and unquestionably His Kingdom! (Heb 2:8) We have not yet seen “every knee” bowed, but we can rest assured that we will see that Day! (Phil 2:10 and Isa 45:23) “Look up! Your redemption is nigh!”*