People have a lot of questions about Divine Vengeance – about the wrath of God poured out on His creation. How could a loving God consign anyone to an eternal destiny of suffering in Hell? Aren’t blood and gore reserved for the God of the OT, not the loving Jesus of the NT? What’s the big deal about sin, about loose living – as long as I am a Christian what does it really matter how I live? So you have large mega churches today with leaders exercising no discipline or oversight over the blatant sinful lifestyles of their members. There is very little appreciation for the holiness of God and His hatred of sin. There is very little focus on Divine Vengeance.
But just because it is not a pleasant topic doesn’t mean that we should skip over it – that’s the benefit of preaching through a book of the bible paragraph by paragraph.
Remember: 2 aspects of the Lord’s coming: (Luke 4)
– to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord – chap. 61-62
– to proclaim the day of the vengeance of our God – chap. 63
David Thompson: When most think of Jesus Christ, they think in terms of a loving person who would never hurt anyone. What most neglect to realize about Jesus Christ is that His eternality means He was behind the destruction of the flood; He was behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; He was behind the destruction of Jericho. In fact, that night 185,000 Assyrian soldiers dropped dead; it was Jesus Christ who did it as “the angel of the LORD” (Isaiah 37:36). There have been lots of moments in history when Christ has demonstrated He is a God of wrath, but the ultimate demonstration is yet to come. . . Sometimes we sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” but do not ever forget “What a Judge we have in Jesus.” Deep in the heart of Jesus Christ is a mindset that says there is coming a day when He will pour out God’s wrath.
John 5:27 “the Father gave the Son authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man”
Just as the Son of God was faithful in His First Coming to freely offer salvation to those who would trust Him; so He will be faithful in His mission at His Second Coming to execute Divine Vengeance – that is the picture we have in Isaiah 63
THE ONE COMING TO EXECUTE DIVINE VENGEANCE IS THE MESSIAH WARRIOR STAINED WITH BLOOD
Integrity if it means anything, surely means that a person can be trusted to keep his word, to stand by his promises. Nothing less than the integrity of the Lord is at stake with respect to the City of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel ultimately experiencing salvation and the righteousness of God. That is what the Lord promises here in Chap. 62 and that is what He will surely deliver. How sad it is that so few believers today actually believe that the Lord will keep this simple and clear promise.
Yes, the NT opens up for us new dimensions of understanding as it speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem in Heb. 12:22 and all the blessings of salvation and righteousness that the people of God – Jew and Gentile – will experience in heaven for all eternity. But the added complexity and depth of the NT applications of God’s OT promises do not negate or abolish the simple fulfillment of God’s original promises to the physical city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel and the Jewish people. Remember, there are many varied layers of application, but only one literal fulfillment of the prophecy.
What testimony would it be to the Gentile nations to see that God has abolished His program for the nation of Israel and now is dealing instead with the church – with Jew and Gentile without distinction? How does that bring glory to God. Do you think God is saying to the Jews – “I fooled you guys. You took what I was saying for all of those hundreds of years literally; you actually thought that the promises applied to you; instead, all of the time I was speaking of higher spiritual realities that you could never have realized. What would Abraham and David think of that approach – to say nothing of the Jewish disciples of Jesus Christ who asked Him after His resurrection, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
Let’s look this morning and the clear and simple promise that God makes here to His holy city of Jerusalem.
THE LORD SWEARS HE WILL BRING SALVATION AND RIGHTEOUSNESS TO HIS HOLY CITY JERUSALEM
How can we be sure that these glorious promises will actually come true?
58:1-14 ONLY GENUINE WORSHIP BRINGS BLESSING
“Why have we fasted and you did not see?” vs.3
59:1-15a THE PERVASIVE, CORRUPTING IMPACT OF SIN LEAVES SOCIETY DEVOID OF TRUTH, JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
“your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” vs.2
Having laid out the problem, Isaiah introduces the solution – requires divine intervention
59:16-21 setting the stage for the details that will be unfolded in the concluding chapters of Isaiah’s prophecy THE REDEEMER-WARRIOR COMES TO EXECUTE SALVATION AND VENGEANCE
THE LIGHT OF THE LORD WILL BE REFLECTED IN TRANSFORMED ISRAEL, SERVED BY TRANSFORMED NATIONS IN THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
Come today to Chap. 61 in its entirety —
It always seems like Christmas comes to an abrupt end – so it is in Chap. 61. We move quickly from the Mission of the Messiah at His First Coming to that of His Second Coming.
Parunak: Structural observation: v. 1 begins in the first person, with somebody other than the Lord [God the Father] (because the speaker claims to have been anointed by the Lord). This first person voice speaking about the Lord returns in v. 10. At least part of what comes between (v. 8) is spoken by the Lord [God the Father].
THE PROMISED MESSIAH COMES IN BLESSING AND VENGEANCE TO TRANSFORM ISRAEL AND REJOICE IN HIS MISSION
God has a plan for Israel and the Gentile nations which He will execute until it comes to completion; that plan will establish the righteousness of God on earth; will transform Israel and the nations; and will bring glory to God – it all hinges on the work of the Redeemer whom God has sent
The world is all of the time asking a variety of questions about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Some questions spring from a mocking or overtly antagonistic posture – like we see in
2 Peter 3:4 “Where is the promise of His coming?” It looks to us like the scientific postulates of uniformitarianism (all things continue just as it was from the beginning of creation) argue against such a cataclysmic upheaval as that prophecied in conjunction with Christ’s 2nd coming.
Other questions spring from more of a wondering mind – such as the reaction of the disciples of Jesus to Him calming the Sea of Galilee – “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt. 8:27)
Sometimes God withholds answers to our questions; but often God chooses to answer our questions. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29). Of course it is one thing for God to reveal answers; quite another thing for man to understand God’s revelation. That requires the enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit – natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.
This week during the days leading up to Christmas I had a chance to meditate on some of the crucial theological questions that are answered by Christmas. This morning I just want to very briefly share the TOP TEN QUESTIONS CHRISTMAS ANSWERS
CHRISTMAS ANSWERS MANY CRUCIAL THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS
It’s hard to imagine that the Christmas season is already upon us. In the providence of God we have arrived after a 2 year journey and over 90 messages at a most appropriate Christmas text – the opening verses of Isaiah 61. Last week we raced through an entire chapter … this week we will sit and meditate on just a few phrases …
Todd Beall: As Young notes, there is a close relationship between chaps. 60 and 61: chapter 60 described Zion’s exaltation, while chapter 61 describes the One who will accomplish that exaltation and deliverance (3:458). Chaps. 61:1-63:6 form a unit, with the theme of redemption and judgment (“vengeance of our God”) predominate throughout (see 61:1-2; 63:4).
This is one of those telescoping prophetic passages we have mentioned of future events where Isaiah combines in one text a description of what will take place at both the First Coming and the Second Coming of the promised Messiah/Servant. We will see that more clearly in a few minutes where we see the Lord Jesus reading from this passage in the synagogue in his home town in Nazareth as He launches His public ministry.
THE LIGHT OF THE LORD WILL BE REFLECTED IN TRANSFORMED ISRAEL AS A MAGNET TO ATTRACT GENTILE NATIONS TO SERVE AND ENRICH ISRAEL AND WORSHIP THE HOLY GOD OF ISRAEL IN THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
Parunak: Zion will shine with the light of the Lord when he restores her society and exalts her in the eyes of the nations
Largely following the structural outline of Motyer which sees the chapter revolving around the fulcrum point of vs. 12; 5 stanzas before vs. 12 and 5 stanzas after vs. 12 – total of 10 stanzas;
I have grouped them in sets of 2 each
Our passage this morning is all about Transformation – the transformation of the nation of Israel that will happen in the last days and the transformation of the Gentile nations that will reverse their history of oppression and end up serving and enriching Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. Transformation is a big word for a big concept = “a fundamental change in character or condition.” God is in the business of Transformation. That is what He is doing in our lives as believers in Jesus Christ:
2 Cor. 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
How is that work going in your life? Do you sense a growing maturity as the Lord changes you? Are you different today than you were 5 years ago? This work is totally accomplished by a sovereign God who works by grace through faith by the power of His Spirit.
The nation of Israel as we have studied these past couple of years certainly is in need of a major transformation. They are not functioning as God intended them to be a light to the Gentile nations. They have not been receptive to the Word of God or to the Messiah whom God has sent. And yet God has not rejected His chosen people. Certainly the world of nations in which we live today needs radical transformation. There is no love for the law of God or desire to worship Him in spirit and truth. Yet the picture we are going to find in Isaiah 60 is one of a transformed Israel and a transformed world of Gentile nations. What are we to make of this passage?
Today we are simply going to read the chapter as an overview – so that we can think about it this week and then come back and go through it again in more detail. But before reading the passage we are going to spend a large part of time in some foundational material.
This is a great Christmas season text – A Redeemer will come to Zion! The Redeemer is coming – that was the message of the OT and that is the message of the NT as well. The first time to bring Salvation … but the second time both to bring Salvation to the nation of Israel but Vengeance to God’s enemies.
Last week in the first half of Chapter 59 we a Devastating Picture of a Depraved Society. How sad to see the depths to which the Holy City of God had descended – No Justice; No Light; No Hope; No way of Escape; No Joy; No Justice. The Culpability did not lie with God – there was no lack of power or compassion on His part. The problem was due to the pervasive corrupting impact of their own sin which testified against them. What a dark picture. Where truth is lacking, the foundations of society have been completely undermined.
It’s going to take a very special person to make a difference and turn around such a desperate situation. No mere human can solve this sin problem. The Divine Warrior Himself will need to graciously put on the armor of battle and gain the victory that is needed. But He will do this in His sovereignty and in His power not ultimately to provide for the needs of His people but ultimately to glorify Himself.
THE REDEEMER-WARRIOR COMES TO EXECUTE SALVATION AND VENGEANCE
What does society look like when it is devoid of truth? When instead of justice and righteousness, one finds only the pervasive, corrupting influence of sin and wickedness? The prophet Isaiah gives us a picture of just such a society which would be judged by the upcoming Babylonian Captivity. God’s Holy City Jerusalem is pictured as so depraved and corrupt that any man who takes a stand against wickedness puts himself at grave risk. The sad thing for us today is how relevant we find such a passage in the 21st century here in our own country.
This passage begins by addressing the blame shifting that sinners love to engage in – The problem can’t be with us; it must be with God. Fortunately the passage concludes with genuine confession of sin and the embracing of the guilt and consequences of such wickedness. That will lay the foundation for the coming of the Redeemer to Zion in the second half of chapter 59. But before we can appreciate deliverance we must first come to grips with the depths of our depravity.
THE PERVASIVE, CORRUPTING IMPACT OF SIN LEAVES SOCIETY DEVOID OF TRUTH, JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
This chapter examines our motivation for all of our religious activity. Certainly there should be the expectation that blessing will be associated with obedient worship. But religious people down thru the ages have perverted God’s instructions regarding how to approach Him in genuine worship. They have put the emphasis on the externals instead of on internal righteousness. They have engaged in the external rites to try to demonstrate their spirituality to themselves and to others; or have engaged in the external rites to try to manipulate God to produce selfish results.
But God sees our motivation for all of our religious activity. Only Genuine Worship that seeks God with a contrite heart is pleasing to Him. He condemns all those who draw near with the lips but whose heart is far from Him. The Pharisees are the clearest illustration of Jew who could be so dedicated to external requirements and yet so far from any fellowship with a holy God. At the same time they made a show of bringing tithes and offerings, they had no regard for the practical needs of widows in their midst or even their own parents. They were immersed in ritual but devoid of righteousness. Jesus used the Sermon on the Mount to condemn their practices and expose their hypocrisy.
ONLY GENUINE WORSHIP BRINGS BLESSING