Rev Dr. Samson Parekh, Senior Pastor
THE CONSUMING FIRE
In these verses, Isaiah describes God as a consuming fire that burns forever [see also, Heb. 12.29]. In verse 1, the Assyrian’s treacherous invasion is mentioned. By making encroachment on God’s people and boasting arrogantly about their might against the Holy One, Assyrians were playing with the consuming fire. Therefore, after they brought destruction upon Israel, God the consuming fire, consumed them totally. Their destruction came about in the 7th Century B.C.
But God is not a consuming fire to the sinful Gentile nations only. He is a consuming fire for the sinners who dwell in his own city, Zion. There were sinners among God’s people. They realize it by saying, “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” [Isa. 33.14]
This question must be asked by all those who call themselves “Christian” but still live in sin. For them, the LORD is a consuming fire. On the day of judgment, he will cast the sinners into “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” [Rev. 21:8] regardless of their religion of religiosity. But the good news is that God has made a provision by which we can dwell with him. If we walk righteously, speak what is right, reject evil gain, and stop thinking about hurting the interest of others, then we can dwell with the LORD [Isa. 33.15].
All the above is possible through the transformation of the heart. And only Jesus is able to transform our hearts. Our heart is full of sinfulness from birth. By our own strength, it is impossible to have a change of heart. But when we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ, he transforms our hearts. When we have a new heart, we can walk in righteousness and holiness and be able to do everything that is described in Isa. 33.15.
Then we become the members of his kingdom that cannot be shaken [Heb. 12.28] and behold by faith the awesomeness of the King enthroned on his eternal throne. The realization of the awesomeness, majesty, and glory of the eternal King will result in being truly thankful to him and in worshiping and serving him with reverence and awe [Heb 12:28-29]. Bruce correctly asserts, “the sacrificial worship must be offered with a due sense of the majesty and holiness of the God with whom we have to do; not only thankfulness but humble reverence and awe must mark his people’s approach to him; ‘for our God is a consuming fire’ … because that fire still consumes in the white heat of his purity everything that is unworthy of himself.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to offer our worship that is acceptable in your sight with reverence and awe.” AMEN.
HOPE IN HOPELESSNESS
In this chapter, we again see an abrupt shift from the existing context to an eschatological one by the ministry of the Spirit of God. The situation is transformed from pessimism to optimism. In the present scenario, the women are asked to mourn and beat their breasts in lament because their nation is going to be in ruins. “The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; the citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever” [v. 14].
It is because of their complacency and a false sense of security. Micah, the younger contemporary of Isaiah, describes this false security more vividly in Micah Ch. 3. The priests, prophets, and leaders of God’s people indulged in gross wickedness and “distorted all that is right” [v. 9]. Yet, they leaned upon the LORD and said, “Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us” because the temple of the Lord was amidst them in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion [v.11-12]. Therefore, God himself allowed “Zion to be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem to become a heap of rubble” including the temple, the object of false security.
So, God will allow disaster and ruin to come upon his people. But Isaiah gives a message of hope to those who will experience this disaster. God will pour his Spirit upon them and bring about his justice and righteousness. God will bring them back into his land. Then, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” [32.17-18].
Quite often Isaiah reminds us that the situation in the world and even in the community of God’s people will be distressful because of the complacency of people. Yet, he always assures us that God will bring about his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy through the King of righteousness, Jesus Christ. There will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So, he always encourages us to be persistent in enduring the present trials and tribulations because they are going to end.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit has already happened on the day of Pentecost. Through his ministry, we can enjoy new life in our hearts now and for eternity. Amid the trials and afflictions, we can find comfort in the fact that they are temporary, and God will bring them to an end in the coming Kingdom. When we surrender our lives to his Son Jesus, and follow his path of righteousness, we will experience the peace that surpasses all human understanding and live in peace with God and fellow man. So, let us continue to cling close to the Lord, look forward to his Kingdom of righteousness, and enjoy his peace now and forever.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to focus on your coming kingdom and be assured of your peace in this life and forever. AMEN.
In this chapter, Isaiah narrates Israel’s rejection of the LORD and reliance on a foreign power, Egypt. This is a willful rejection of the LORD because instead of carrying out his plans, Israel made her own plans to form an alliance with Pharaoh of Egypt, a superior military power in the world. Israel thought that Pharaoh and his powerful army would protect them against their enemies. Israelites even prohibited the prophets from prophesying on behalf of the Lord and seeing his visions. Thus, they became “rebellious people and deceitful children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction” [Isa. 30.9] and became totally disloyal to him.
But Isaiah sternly warns them that Egypt is like a weak wall that will crack and bulge. It will “collapse suddenly in an instant … and break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces, not a fragment will be found” [vv. 13-14]. Ultimately Egypt’s power crumbled against her enemies.
Only if Israel returns to the LORD and repents of her rejection of him and reliance upon other powers, and trusts in him, she will have salvation and rest. Then he will rescue her from her enemies and give her victory because though she rejected him, yet the LORD longs to be gracious to her and to show his compassion [30.18]. God says, “Blessed are all who wait for him.”
Sometimes, when we are faced with difficulties and problems in life, we tend to depend upon human help. We may not pray fervently and seek the help and will of the LORD. But human help can crumble at any time because it may be convenient. They may not be able or available to come to our rescue in real time of our need. Also, humans do not know the whole picture as the LORD does. Therefore, they can mislead us.
But the LORD is omniscient and omnipotent. He is always with us, to the ends of the world and till the world comes to an end. He is a faithful and truthful God. Sole sovereignty and authority over the entire creation belong to him because he is the Creator. He can make impossible things possible. Billy Sunday rightly says, “God delights in impossibility. Everything is possible with him.” If we trust in him, he will never disappoint us but save us and fill our hearts with his rest, peace, and assurance. Therefore, it is always right to rely upon the LORD. Let us first go to the LORD and ask his help when we are faced with anything impossible in life.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to rely on you and not on human help. AMEN.
RESURRECTION AND RESPONSIBILITY
This is a prayer by God’s people while going through troubles and afflictions in a foreign land. This is the period of Assyrian oppression as Shalmaneser V took Israel into exile [2 Kgs. 17]. The acute suffering of the faithful people of God in exile is described in terms of a woman in labor who writhes in pain. Israel experienced the writhing pain but delivered nothing. Israel was chosen to be a light for the Gentiles and bring God’s salvation to the world [Isa. 42.6; 46.9]. But they were not able to deliver God’s light to the nations [v.18]. And now they are in the need of urgent help from the Lord for deliverance because they are unable to deliver themselves from the oppression of Assyria. They depend only on the intervention of God because of his grace and mercy.
Therefore, they have hope amid the hopeless situation. In v. 19, Isaiah talks about the resurrection. The exile and the affliction associated with it are like a death blow. It is like dwelling in the dust in utter humiliation. But God will intervene and bring new life to them. Then they will rise from the humiliation of exile and return to their homeland. This concept is more vividly described in Ezekiel Ch. 37 in his vision of the valley of dry bones. God says to his people in exile, “Dry bones, … I will make breath enter you and you will come to life” [v. 4], and “O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD” [v. 12].
For us who are in Jesus Christ, it is about the bodily resurrection mentioned in 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thes. 4, etc. There is a sure hope beyond the grave. No matter how much suffering, afflictions, and humiliation we go through in this world and ultimately succumb to death, there is a resurrection waiting for us on the other side of the grave. We will be resurrected from the dust of the earth and given glorious, eternal, and heavenly bodies. In the resurrection, we will sing praises to the Lord for eternity. This blessing of our resurrection and eternal rejoicing are made possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
However, while enjoying this eternal hope, we must not forget an important aspect before our death on earth and resurrection for the heavens. Like Israel, we are called to be a light to the world and bring the salvation of the Lord to man. Israel was chosen to do so but Israel failed. Now we, the church, cannot afford to violate God’s trust in us. It is the commission our Lord himself has assigned to us. He says, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” [Mk. 16.15]. Therefore, Apostle Paul says, “I am compelled to preach the gospel. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” [1 Cor. 9.16].
The assurance of resurrection gives us the strength to face all the hardships of life with patience. It also reminds us of our responsibility and privilege to bring the light of Jesus to humanity dwelling in the darkness of sin and death.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to go through life with an assurance of resurrection and share the good news of Jesus with our fellow man. AMEN
ESCHATOLOGICAL FEAST AND VICTORY
This passage is part of the Isaianic Apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27). After describing the devastation of the earth in Ch. 24, Isaiah abruptly shifts our attention to a blessed and joyful eschatological feast in this passage. In this feast, Isaiah foresees the final redemption of God’s people after God’s victory over the cosmic forces of chaos. It will be followed by the celebration of God’s salvation with a glorious banquet of the choicest and most luxurious foods and aged wines upon Mount Zion. There will be great joy and fellowship among God’s people.
In v. 7, Isaiah gives a significant reason for the great rejoicing. He talks about a shroud that enfolds all people of all nations. It is a shroud of death, a sheet that covers all nations. In Rom. 5:12 Paul says, “death came to all people because all sinned.” This is not just physical death but eternal death. Man is cut off from God forever.
But this shroud is swallowed up forever. This victory over death is made possible by Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15.54 says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory” through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now there is no fear of death for those whose sins are forgiven. This salvation from death is the work of the Lord. Only when we believe in his Son Jesus Christ we can be delivered from sin and death [v. 9].
This victory and celebration indicate that even though the redeemed people might have troubles and devastation in the present, there is an eschatological hope of rejoicing and fellowship with God. They can be assured that they will have eternal rejoicing in the presence of God on Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [Heb. 12:22]. This hope is described in the song of praise and rejoicing in Isa. 25.1-5.
The great rejoicing is for all, Jews and Gentiles, who believe in God and his Son Jesus. As we reflect on this passage during the Lenten Season, we are reminded of the ultimate feast that God has prepared for us with his Lamb, Jesus. In Rev. 19.4-8, the wedding of the Lamb and his bride, the church, and the Lamb’s wedding supper is described. We, who belong to Jesus and are saved from the shroud of death, will participate in the supper with great rejoicing.
Let us reflect on our own mortality and Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and let us take comfort in the promise of this passage and the hope it offers. As we journey through Lent, let us hold fast to the hope and promise of Isa. 25.6-9 and trust in God’s love and provision for us. Let us look forward with joy to the ultimate feast that awaits us.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to look forward to the wedding feast of the Lamb and go through life with hope and rejoicing. AMEN
THE REIGN OF THE LORD
In Isa. 24.1-20, Isaiah presents a devastating picture of the earth. It is the LORD himself who will lay waste the earth and devastate it [v. 1]. It will dry up, be totally plundered, withered, languished, and consumed by a curse. It will lie in ruins and desolation. “The earth is broken up, split asunder, thoroughly shaken, and reels like a drunkard” [v.20]. The people of the earth themselves defiled the earth and brought her into this devastating condition.
Today, Isaiah’s prophecy is coming true. Because of the sins and blunders of man, the earth and all its flora and fauna are being defiled, devastated, and destroyed. The number of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, thunderstorms, etc., is increasing due to global warming, excessive and greedy fracking, wars, and uncontrolled emissions of smoke into the environment.
The earth is breaking up due to the wickedness, selfishness, and recklessness of man. Isaiah says, “So heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls – never to rise again” [Isa. 24:20]. The people of the earth are under the authority of the principalities and powers of darkness. People dance to their tune and indulge in sin. There seems to be no hope for the restoration of the earth and its original glory.
But beginning from v. 21, we see a hope of deliverance, righteousness, and eternal joy. Satan, his army of wicked angels, and the principalities and powers of darkness will be destroyed. We can see that in Rev. 19-20. The kings who will rise against the Lord will be destroyed by Jesus and his heavenly army. They all will be bound and thrown in the fiery lack of burning sulfur [Rev. 19.19-21; 20.10, cf. Isa. 24.22]. No one will be able to stand against the power of the LORD. Man will be set free from their clutches.
Then, the LORD of hosts will reign on earth from Mt. Zion with his faithful ones. From God’s side, this reign is already accomplished as described in Rev. 19-22. Our God knows the end from the beginning [Isa. 46.10]. So, in his foreknowledge, he has described the end for us as a future. In 2 Pet. 3.8-9, Peter says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise.” He will fulfill his words by all means and at any cost.
Therefore, during the Lenten season, let us pray for the redemption of the earth and its people by the second coming of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that Jesus will come soon and establish his righteous kingdom of joy, peace, and blessings.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, in this world filled with man’s wickedness and selfishness, help us to live with the hope to be in your righteous kingdom. AMEN.
GOD’S UNCHANGEABLE PLANS
In this passage, an eternal truth is expressed that God’s plans will certainly come to pass. The thought is repeated in synonymous parallelism [see footnote] which means that there is an emphasis on this thought.
Here, Isaiah is talking about God’s plan to crush Assyrians in Israel and deliver his people from slavery of Assyria. Again, both thoughts are expressed by repeating them in synonymous parallelism [v. 25].
This plan was fulfilled when God destroyed the entire Assyrian army when they surrounded Jerusalem on the mountain of Israel. God sent his angel and killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand army men on his mountain in one night. The Assyrian siege was broken. They left Jerusalem to go back to Assyria where the king was assassinated. God’s plan for a nation came to pass in detail.
Then, Isaiah also predicts that God has a larger plan which is determined for the whole world [v. 26]. This plan is concerning all nations. Isaiah does not specify the plan. However, we know from Genesis Ch. 1 that God planned a blessed and utopian kingdom on earth. That plan was frustrated because man succumbed to Satan’s temptation. By rebelling against God, man became a sinner and disloyal to God. God’s plan was disrupted.
However, God sent his own Son, Jesus into the world and through his life, death, and resurrection made a way to fulfill his plan of establishing the blessed kingdom on earth for humanity believing in Jesus Christ. We see the eschatological fulfillment of that Kingdom by Jesus in Revelation Chs. 19-22. So, God has a good plan for the whole world and he will fulfill it at any cost. Nothing could refrain God from fulfilling his plans. Psalm 33:11 says, “The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” [See also, Isa. 48.3]
At the same time, God also has plans for our individual lives. God says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” [ Jer. 1.5]. God also says to him, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you … give you hope and future” [Jer. 29.11]. And these words of God are true for all of us because, in Mt. 10.30, Jesus says, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid.” So, let us trust God and accept his plans for our individual lives and the whole world and live in peace with God and each other.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to know and accept your unchangeable plans for us and live a life of peace and joy. AMEN.
Synonymous parallelism is a poetic literary device. It involves the repetition in the second part of what has already been expressed in the first, by using different words with the same meaning. Thus, emphasizing the stated idea in a verse.
E.g., in v. 24 I have planned so it will be [1st line]
I have purposed so it will stand [2nd line]
In this verse, ‘planned’ and ‘purposed,’ and ‘will be’ and ‘will stand’ are in parallelism.
PRIDE OF PERSECUTORS PUNISHED
God not only punishes the pride of his people, but he also punishes the pride of the nations who persecute his people. God gave victory to the king of Assyria over Israel and delivered his people in his hands because of their disobedience. God used Assyria as a rod of his anger to “finish all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem” [vv. 5-12]. The work was to purge them from their disobedience.
But the God-given victory made the Assyrian king very arrogant. He overstepped his commission and planned to destroy Israel and many nations. He boasted about his strength and wisdom by which he plundered the treasures of the nations and removed their boundaries. It was like the axe raising itself above him who swings it and a rod wielding itself against him who lifts it [v.15]. He started boasting against the One who used him for his purpose.
Therefore, the YHWH of hosts, the Holy One of Israel became a blazing fire and consumed them by sending a wasting disease upon his warriors. It is recorded in Isa. 37.36 that in one night the angel of the LORD put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian army. When the king of Assyria returned to his land, his own sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with a sword. God dealt with Babylon, Moab, Damascus, Cush, Egypt, etc. in a similar manner [Chs. 13-21].
God’s people are like the apple of his eye [Zech. 2.8]. He might use various powers to bring trouble and even persecution to discipline and remove their disobedience although he still loves them dearly. When those powers overstep their task of persecuting his people, God knows how to deliver his people from oppression and restore them to peace and prosperity. This happened with the people of Israel. After their punishment was over, God brought them back to his land beginning in 540 B.C.
We too, either as an individual or the body of Jesus Christ, might face troubles and even persecution in various ways. Sometimes, God uses that persecution to strengthen us in our faith and help us grow in our loyalty to him. We must go through those rough patches with patience, trusting God that he is at work in us helping us to grow and become stronger in him. At the same time, let us be assured that in his time, God will take care of those hostile powers who come against his people to destroy them. The Lord is a righteous judge. Let him take care of our persecutors. Let us pray that in all circumstances, God’s will be done in our lives.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to believe that you allow adverse circumstances to help us become more loyal to you and that you will take care of the persecutors. AMEN.
From the eschatological scenario of Child-Son, defined by his divine-human titles and his kingdom of righteousness and peace in vv. 1-7, now the scenario abruptly shifts to the present condition of the Lord’s anger against the pride and arrogance of his people, Israel.
This current condition of their pride and arrogance can be seen from Isa. 2.12-17; 3:12-16, and also from 9.9-10 here. They even made unjust laws to oppress their own helpless people and deprived them of their rights [Isa. 10:1-2]. Therefore, the Lord brought Israel’s enemies to punish their pride. But they were stubborn and inspite of the Lord striking them, they still did not return to him [v. 13]. So, the Lord further punished them by striking their wicked leaders [v. 14] and consuming them as fuel for the fire in his blazing wrath. So much so, that “each one of them will feed on the flesh of their own children” [v.20]. Then, the Lord brought the king of Assyria to displace them from Israel and take them as captives to Assyria. The pride of God’s people was punished severely.
There is a lesson to learn for us from this narrative. The Lord always hates pride and arrogance on the part of his people. When God’s archangel, the anointed guardian cherub became proud and wanted to be like God in heaven, God punished him by expelling him in disgrace from his heavenly place [Ezk. 28.14-16; Isa. 14.12-15]. Since then, that archangel who became Satan and a perennial adversary of God tempts God’s people with pride and arrogance. The history of the world and the Bible is filled with innumerous examples of people who suffered a great deal of destruction because of their pride.
Satan even tried it on Jesus by tempting him with pride three times [Mat. 4]. But Jesus never succumbed to his temptations because of his knowledge of the Word of God, total obedience to the Word of God and his humility to the point of death on the cross. God the Holy Spirit instructs us in 1 Pet. 5:5-6, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
Our Lord Jesus gave a perfect example of such humility through his life. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death … Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” [Phil. 2.8-9]. During this Lenten Season, let us think about any pride or arrogance that might have taken place in our hearts. Let us guard ourselves against Satan’s pride and arrogance and let us live in humility and harmony for the glory of God and the wellbeing of the body of Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be aware of the tendency of being proud and arrogant, and help us to serve you and each other with humility of heart. AMEN.
PRINCE OF PEACE
The fourth title given to the Child-Son is “Prince of Peace.” As a Prince, the son of a king brings about peace to his people by subduing their enemies. This title applies to Jesus as it states in Acts 5:31, “God exalted him to his own right hand as ‘Prince’ and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” As the Son of the universal King, Jesus is the ‘Prince’ of Peace.
Jesus made a provision for man to repent and be forgiven of their sins. These sins hinder their right relationship with God. Rom. 5:10 states that as sinners we rebelled against God and became his enemies. Our sins became an obstacle between us and God. Therefore, as enemies, we were at war with God [Rom. 8:7]. There was no condition of peace with God. And so, there was no feeling of peace in our hearts. Because of our sins, we do not have peace with our fellow man also.
However, when we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and repent of our sins, he removes our sins by forgiving them and reconciling us with God. The cause of hostility towards God is removed. Therefore, we are reconciled with God, and we have the condition of peace with God [Rom 5.2, 10]. It is like two warring nations declaring a peace treaty. Then, because of the condition of peace, there is a feeling of peace and safety in the hearts of the people of both nations. The condition of war has come to an end.
Similarly, when our hostility with God comes to an end because of our repentance and reconciliation, we have peace with God. Then, we have a feeling of peace in our hearts because his peace flows in our hearts. He gives his peace to us [Jn. 14.27]. Then, we can also live in peace with our fellow man. All this is made possible by the Prince, Jesus Christ, through his sacrifice on the cross. Therefore, he alone is the Prince of Peace.
We live in this world surrounded by troubles and temptations. Many times, we lose our peace of heart because of them. But in those circumstances, let us fix our eyes on the Prince of Peace who has promised to give us his peace. Then our hearts will not be troubled in those times, and we will not be afraid [Jn. 14:27b]. Jesus says in Jn 14:27. “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Again, he says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to rely on the Prince of Peace in times of trouble and temptations and enjoy his peace in all circumstances. AMEN.
FATHER OF ETERNITY
The third of the 4 names in v. 6 is the Hebrew noun ’ă·ḇî·‘aḏ. This is a compound noun consisting of two terms, ’ă·ḇî which means father and ‘aḏ which means perpetuity without end, hence eternity. Thus, the Child-Son is Father of Eternity which means his existence is for eternity as a Father. Earlier we saw that only Jesus is the eternal Child-Son and there is no other. The Son of God, Jesus is without the beginning of days or end of life, and he remains a priest forever [Heb. 5.6, 7.3]. We find a witness to his eternal existence in Rev. 1.8, 17; Col. 1.17; Jn. 8.58 and other texts in the Bible.
So, for eternity he is a “Father.” The concept of a ruler as a father comes from the earliest Sumerian culture [See footnote]. The Sumerian kings were considered shepherds. Urukagina, Lugalbanda, Etana, etc. wore shepherds’ hats as crowns to show that they were responsible for the welfare, provision, protection, and security of their subjects as shepherds. This concept was adopted in most cultures that followed. The basic concept was that the shepherd-king would take good care of his subjects like a father who takes good care of his own family by providing the above things. So, kings and rulers were also considered fathers looking after the welfare of their subjects.
In this way, the Child-Son is a Father. He says in John 10.30, “I and the Father are one” and in Jn. 14.9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” He is fatherly in his treatment of his family members who believe in him and accept his rule. He loves his subjects as his children [Jn. 1.12-13]. He gives provision, protection, and security to them like a good Shepherd-Father. Jesus does this by giving them eternal life and being with them always. Being himself eternal, he is a “fatherly Ruler” for eternity. 2 Sam. 7.16 states that the Son of David is the only human ruler who will rule on the throne of David “forever.” He will rule over His people with fatherly concern for their total welfare.
Therefore, it is our privilege to give ourselves under the eternal Fatherhood of the Child-Son, Jesus Christ. Once we are in his family by believing in him as our Lord and Savior, we have a right to be in the family of the living God and to enjoy all the provision, protection, and security for eternity. The assurance of eternal security brings real joy, peace, and blessings to our hearts and helps us go through the thick and thin of life with perseverance and patience like Job. James 5.11 says, “We consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of fatherly compassion and mercy.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to enjoy the eternal privileges of our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Sumerians were the first known culture in the world. They lived in the southern part of Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and flourished between c. 4000-1700 B.C. It was the southern part of present-day Iraq. Many artifacts of their skills in farming, engineering, literature, etc. are excavated.
The Child-Son who brings about light in the darkness, life in death, and the kingdom of peace and righteousness [v. 7], is a Mighty God, ’êl gib·bō·wr. This is not just an epithet but the identity of his being. He is Immanu-el which means God is with us. Here in v. 6, Isaiah uses the Hebrew word El for God instead of Elohim. Ellicott asserts that Elohim may be used in a lower sense for representatives of God [e.g., Exodus 7.1; 1 Samuel 28.13; Psalm 82.6], but El, is not used by Isaiah, or any other writer, in any lower sense than that of absolute Deity.
In Isaiah 7.14, the virgin-born child is a portent of God’s presence with his people. But in the New Testament, God himself came to dwell amongst us in the Child-Son, Jesus. John 1:18 states, “No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten God [monogenes Theos] the one being in the bosom of the Father has made him known.” Jn. 1.1 states, “the Word was God.” Paul states in Phil. 2.6 that Jesus existed in the form of God … but emptied himself, taking the form of a human servant. John 10:30 states, “The Father and I are one.” Paul states in Phil. 2.5-6 “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God.” Col. 2.9-10 states, “For in him the whole fullness of Godhead dwells bodily.” So, the Child-Son is God.
At the same time, he is the “Mighty” God, the God of absolute might and power. These attributes are seen in his act of creation ex-nihio [out of nothing]. He created the whole creation by his word [John 1.1-3, cf. Genesis 1.3, 6, 9, etc.; Romans 1.20]. His power can be seen in the creation of humans in his image and in their destruction by a mighty flood when they indulged in sin. Before him, the most powerful nations are like a drop in a bucket and dust on the scales [Isa. 40.17]. The mighty rulers are like chaff before the whirlwind [Isa. 40.24]. He created the heavens and “he brings out the starry host one by one calling them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” [Isa. 40.26].
His might and power can be seen from his victory over man’s perennial and formidable enemies, sin, Satan, self, and death. He conquered them through his sinless life, substitutionary death on the cross, and resurrection.
Because Jesus is the Mighty God, we can lean on him without reservation. We can receive might and power from him by being in the right relationship with him. He will never disappoint us as he is able to perform mighty acts for us. Not only that but he has given us his authority and power to perform mighty acts [Lk 9.1-2, 10.19; Mt. 10.1]. Let us exercise them and glorify the name of the Mighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ. For Jesus is Almighty God as mentioned in Rev. 1.8, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
PRAYER. Heavenly Father, help us to believe in Jesus, the Mighty God and perform mighty acts with his might and authority. AMEN
THE WONDER PERSON
In ancient Semitic culture, a person’s name expressed the nature and character of his being. Here, 4 names are mentioned for the Child-Son, the Messiah. Isaiah mentions the first one by saying that his name will be called a wonder, who will counsel [see footnote]. Jesus was no less than a wonder in himself. His conception, birth, miracles, suffering, death, and resurrection pointed to him as a wonder figure. People marveled at his teaching [Mk1.22], At the same time, even though he is a very God of very God, he went through all the thin and thick of life as a normal human being. So, he knows our joys and sorrows, struggles and temptations, stress and tensions, and every situation. What he has gone through and what he has done for humanity by being a perfect man must fill our hearts with wonder.
Therefore, he can render the best and most appropriate counsel for our good in every situation. Matthew Henry correctly says that Jesus was intimately acquainted with the counsels of God from eternity, and he gives counsel to man, in which he consults our welfare. It is by him that God has given us counsel [Ps 16:7; Rev. 3:18]. Jesus says in John Chs. 15-16 that he will send the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father. And when the Spirit comes, he will guide us into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears from the Lord, he will speak and declare to us the things that are to come.
Thus, this wonder person, Jesus counsels us and advises us by being within us through God the Holy Spirit [Jn. 14:17; 2 Tim. 1:14]. His counseling is truthful because he says, “I AM the truth.” And he is the absolute truth. There is no falsehood in him. He knows what is eternally right, just, and fair in the eyes of his Heavenly Father. Therefore, he always guides and counsels us in the right and just paths. We can rely upon his counsel without any apprehension, fear, or hesitation.
Especially, when we are in an enigmatic situation and do not know which direction to pursue, we must go to Jesus and seek his counsel. For making various choices under adverse circumstances, it is Jesus who comes to our rescue and counsels us through the Holy Spirit in the right direction. Even when we sin, Jesus does not abandon us but brings us back on the path of righteousness by providing divine counsel out of his love for us. He always means good to us. Let us always depend upon the divine counsel of the “wonder Person,” our Lord Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to always rely on the counsel of the wonder person, Jesus Christ in all circumstances. AMEN
The term “wonder” is a noun with a disjunctive accent in Hebrew text [see Strong’s 6382]. The following term “counselor” is a participle. So, the correct rendering of the Hebrew text would be “his name will be called a wonder, who will counsel/be a counselor.”
The light for people sitting in darkness and shadow of death will be brought about by the birth of a child, a Son who will shatter the yoke of oppression. God’s promise is not merely ideological or philosophical. It is to be realized in the empirical incarnation.
This is not an ordinary child-Son because he will shoulder the government. He is a royal person, a virgin-born son, Immanuel, promised to the royal house in Isa. 7. In the child Immanuel, God is with us. Thus, he is a divine person.
His divinity can be noticed in the titles given to him; “Wonderful Counsellor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.” At the same time, he is ‘born’ to a woman. This indicates that he is a human being in the likeness of man [Phil. 2:7]. There has been only one person, Jesus Christ who is “very God of very God; begotten as man and not made” [Nicene Creed]. Oswalt correctly asserts that this ruler will not merely be divine, but although partaking of the divine attributes, will have the most human of all arrivals upon the earth, namely, birth. If Jesus were not fully human, he could not stand in the place of man and be a substitute for the punishment man deserves.
This is the message we need to ponder upon during the Lenten Season. To deliver humanity sitting in darkness and shadow of eternal death, the very God of very God became the very man of very man. He relinquished his divine prerogatives, pomp, glory, majesty, and worship of supernatural angelic beings. He was conceived and grew in his human mother Mary’s womb and was born as a normal human being. The Creator of the universe lived as a human creature experiencing all sufferings, insults, temptations, and pain of humanity [Heb 4.15]. Then, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace” [Isa. 53.5]. Ultimately, carrying our sins upon himself, he died in our place on the cross.
Jesus did this incredible act for us because he considered us better than his divine prerogatives. This fact must fill our hearts with gratitude and humility, encourage us to consider others better than ourselves, and drive us to go to the people sitting in the darkness and in the shadow of death to share the good news of deliverance by the God-Man, Jesus. As Paul says in Rom. 1:14, we are under obligation to God and humanity to share the good news. And so, let us always remember the Act of Jesus and faithfully fulfill his commission.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be grateful to Jesus for his act of our deliverance and follow him faithfully. AMEN.
FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
The unfaithfulness and disbelief of the wicked king Ahaz and the Judahites plunged the nation into darkness. God brought the Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III upon his people [see 2 Kgs.15.29] in 734-732 B.C. During the Assyrian invasion, the northwest part of Israel, i.e. Naphtali, Zebulun, and Galilee suffered a great deal. It was as disoriented and agonizing as living in utter darkness. This darkness is indicative of the darkness over humanity because of their sinfulness and unfaithfulness to the Lord. People were groping in darkness and sitting in the land of the shadow of death. There was no hope.
But human unfaithfulness cannot nullify divine faithfulness. 2 Tim. 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” and Apostle Paul asks a rhetorical question, in Rom. 3.3 “What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” And the answer is an emphatic ‘No.” As an integral and inherent part of God’s nature, his faithfulness is eternal and unchangeable. Despite human failure and unfaithfulness, God’s faithfulness continues to flow throughout eternity.
Therefore, into the helplessness of the darkness, God would, through the coming King, will shine the light of his own delivering power [Oswalt]. When humanity was in darkness, suffering from the invasion of sin, Satan, and death, Jesus the Immanuel, came to be the “great light” on those “living in the land of the shadow of death” due to their rebellion against the Lord [v. 2, cf. Jn. 1:5a]. Through him, the eternal joy of salvation sweeps over the people because the yoke of oppression of sin and Satan is shattered by the cross of “the child” born into the world. Rom. 6:6-9 says, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives … Death no longer has any power over him” and all those who are in him.
Jesus conquered the darkness with his light and commanded us to be the light. Jesus made seven “I am” claims for himself [the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the door (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the way the truth and the life (14:6) and the true vine (15:1). Out of the seven claims, Jesus ascribed only one to his followers, saying, “You are the light of the world.” So now, it is our privilege and responsibility to bring the Light into human hearts by being a light through our lives, words, and works faithfully.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to receive the light of Jesus in us and become the light to the world. AMEN
SANCTUARY OR STUMBLING STONE
Aram and Israel attacked Judah [Isa. 7]. From Isaiah 8:6, it can be perceived that there was also a party inside Judah that was sympathetic to the attackers and conspired against their own king Ahaz and fellow countrymen. Thus, Ahaz was faced with an attack from outsiders and insiders.
During this time, God asked Isaiah and the faithful ones not to fear the attackers and conspirators but to fear him by regarding him as the Holy One. The Holy One is the King of the whole creation, enclothed with sole sovereignty, matchless majesty, absolute authority, and complete supremacy, having an eternal, immeasurable, insurmountable, and unimaginable existence [see footnote]. Before this “high and exalted One” and the “Lord of hosts,” the nations are like a drop from a bucket and mere dust [Isa. 40:15]. Their kings are like smoldering firebrands [Isa. 7:4]. God could take care of them easily if his people believed in him.
Even today, God’s people may face similar situations. Sometimes, Satan can use outsiders to attack and persecute us. And sometimes he can use even our own brethren, friends, colleagues, family members like he used Peter and Judas Iscariot. But in every circumstance, if we regard God as the Holy One, we will have no fear of any outsiders’ attack or insiders’ conspiracy. The Holy One is able to take care of us if our hearts are set on him. Deut. 31:6 says, “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, the nations, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” He will become a safe sanctuary for those who believe in him.
At the same time, Isaiah warns God’s people that if they do not believe in the Holy One, he will become a stone of stumbling for them. They will stumble, fall, and be shattered by him [vv. 14-15]. Therefore, let us be careful as to how we regard God, the Holy One in the time of our crisis, either believing in him or rejecting him. We will receive our rewards depending on our response to the Holy One.
This is clearly stated in 1 Peter 2:7-9 for Jesus, “To you who believe this stone, Jesus, is precious. But to those who do not believe, … he becomes a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to fear you and regard you as the Holy One in times of trouble and be delivered from all our fears. Amen.
The Hebrew root q-d-Ṣ (holy) is to be construed as an adjectival substantive “Holy One” (see, 10.17; 40.25) [See my dissertation, The Lexical and Theological Significance of the root q-d-sh (holy) in the Book of Isaiah, 1998, pp. 154ff], at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX. In Isa. 8:13, the causative hiphil form of the verb q-d-Ṣ allows us to construe it as the Holy One.
GOD IS WITH US – II
The famous Immanuel prophecy is mentioned in Isa. 7.14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.” This sign name means “God is with us.” The immediate context of this prophecy is the Syro-Ephraimite war. Two powerful enemies, Syria and Israel, attacked Ahaz and Judah to destroy them [see footnote]. The Judahites were trembling with fear because they were powerless against their enemies.
However, the unusual sign of the birth of Immanuel was an indication that the presence of the Sovereign and Omniscient God was amidst his people. If they believed in him, he would destroy the enemies, deliver them, and establish them in his land. The prophecy is also a rebuke to Ahaz and unbelieving people as they will reap the adverse consequences of their rejection of God.
The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy mentioned in Mat. 1:23, is found in Jesus, the Messiah. When man was under attack from the formidable powers of sin, Satan, and death, powerless to deliver himself, and heading toward eternal destruction, God himself came to be with him in Jesus Christ.
As a sinless, blameless, and perfect lamb of God, Jesus conquered the three enemies through his death on the cross and his resurrection. That way, he made a provision for man to be delivered from the power of sin, Satan, and death, and be in God’s eternal kingdom. The condition is to believe in Jesus as the Savior and Lord of our life. In 2 Cor 6.2, Paul says, “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” So, let us believe in Jesus now, if we have not done so and make him the Lord of our life.
“Then God is with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God is with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity” (Clarke). So, let Jesus be in us and we be in Jesus.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to believe in Jesus, be delivered from the enemies, and experience your presence, peace, and protection in my life. AMEN
The attack on Judah was destructive. Pekah’s army killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day and carried away a great multitude as captives [2 Chr. 28:5-6]. The King of Israel captured 200,000 men, women, and children from Judah [2 Chr. 28:8-15].
GOD IS WITH US
Rezin of Aram and Pekah of Israel were tributary kings to the Assyrian empire. They attacked king Ahaz of Judah with a plot to conquer Judah and replace Ahaz with a gentile son of Tabeel so that Judah would join their coalition. Ahaz and Judahites were filled with fear and their hearts were shaken “as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” This attack is called the Syro-Ephraimite crisis.
At this critical juncture, the LORD sent his prophet Isaiah to Ahaz with an assurance that the two attacking kings are like smoldering firebrands. He will take care of them and deliver Ahaz and Judah by destroying the two attackers. The only condition for Ahaz was not to be afraid but to trust and obey the LORD.
However, since Ahaz had made a pact with the human superpower Assyria, he refused to trust the LORD or even ask for a sign for his assurance of deliverance. Therefore, the LORD himself gave him a sign of a virgin-born son Immanuel, and according to his promise in v. 8, destroyed the two kingdoms, Aram and Israel.
From the above incident, the people of the LORD must learn a great lesson. There are times in our lives when we are under attack by various people, Satanic forces, or even pressing circumstances. At times, these attacks are of such a high magnitude that we are afraid of our existence. However, the LORD is able to deal with them and deliver us when we trust him without apprehension and obey him completely. No adverse element is too hard for God to take care of. The name Immanuel itself means God is with us.
Even though Ahaz became unfaithful to the LORD by refusing to trust him, the LORD was faithful in delivering his people according to his promise. The doom of the two nations, Aram and Israel, was predicted in c. 735 B.C. [v. 8]. According to God’s promise in v. 8, in sixty-five years by 670 B.C., the Assyrian king destroyed the two nations.
Even though God’s people are unfaithful, the LORD is always faithful to his promises and plans. 2 Tim. 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” He will fulfill his promises at any cost. It is our privilege to trust him and work with him to further his cause and glorify his name. Let us faithfully do so by using our talents for him to the best of our ability.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, in our adverse times, help us to trust you, obey you, and work for you faithfully. AMEN
THE CLEANSING OF THE PROPHET
In his vision of the Holy One, enthroned, exalted, and worshipped by supernatural angelic beings, Isaiah was transported into God’s heavenly court [cf. 1 Kgs 22.19; Rev. 4:1-8]. He had an encounter with the LORD whose sovereignty extends over the entire creation.
In the awesome presence of the enthroned LORD, Isaiah realized his nothingness. Isaiah, who pronounced woes upon others [5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21] was now pronouncing woe upon himself. Oswalt correctly says, “For the finite, the mortal, the incomplete, and the fallible to encounter the Infinite, the Eternal, the Self-consistent, and the Infallible is to know the futility and the hopelessness of one’s existence.”
This kind of encounter is necessary for the people of God to realize the unique privilege of belonging to the Holy One despite their nothingness. Our human tendency is to compare ourselves with other humans and consider ourselves of great significance. Some of us even consider ourselves indispensable. But only when we come in the awesome presence of the exalted Lord and behold him as the divine and universal King, do we realize our nothingness and serve him with utter humility.
In his encounter with the enthroned Holy One, Isaiah not only realized his nothingness but also his uncleanness. He cried out, “Woe to me! For I am a man of unclean lips.” Lips are part of the mouth with which we express the words that come from the fullness of the heart [Mt. 6.45], our inner being. So, by the symbolic cleansing of the lips with the live coal, Isaiah’s heart was cleansed from his uncleanness.
This is what the presence of God does to his people. Only when we enter God’s awesome presence, do we realize our uncleanness and the need for cleansing. Isaiah was God’s prophet and proclaimed God’s message to his people. Yet he needed to be cleansed to continue with the mission and ministry of the Lord. Likewise, God’s people must enter his awesome presence, behold his majesty, and realize their uncleanness. Then only they would be cleansed and ready to serve him with undivided and utter loyalty.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be cleansed from our uncleanness by being in your awesome presence and be used for your mission. AMEN
THE VISION OF THE LORD
Here, Isaiah describes his vision of the exalted Holy One, the universal King. He is being worshipped by the supernatural angelic beings who correspond to the “living creatures” of Rev. 4:6-9. The King is so glorious and majestic that even the flying and fiery angelic beings, the seraphs, were not able to look upon him and covered their faces with their two wings.
The time of the vision was after the death of king Uzziah. He was an efficient administrator and a powerful military leader. By his valiant army with ‘machines,’ he subdued Israel’s enemies [2 Chr. 26:6-15] and expanded his territory. Judah focused her hopes on him. But with his death, Isaiah and the Judahites had a valid reason to be discouraged and disillusioned. They were fear-stricken and concerned for their safety, especially in the wake of the resurgence of the superpower, Assyria in the north.
In such a critical time, the vision of the highly exalted Holy One, the Sovereign One over heaven and the “whole earth” would bring hope, encouragement, and reassurance in the hearts of Isaiah and his people. No matter how great human powers were to rise against Judah and even though the human king was not there to protect them, as long as the LORD is on the throne, there was no need to be concerned. They rest assured that the LORD Almighty will intervene and take good care of his chosen people.
This vision of YHWH with sovereignty over the whole creation conveys a great message to his people. Sometimes, the human powers upon whom we rely for help may be unavailable and untrustworthy. We are left alone in a pressing situation against powerful enemies. But the King of kings and the Lord of lords is on his everlasting throne ruling over all supernatural and human powers. He is with us. In Rom. 8.31, Paul asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” No one can be against us. Even the entire army of the Evil one will not frustrate or deter us. We will be more than conquerors [Rom. 8:31-39]. The Lord is the absolute overlord of the earth and has complete sovereignty over the whole creation. With that God on our side and his Son Jesus with us through God the Holy Spirit, we are more than conquerors. Let us fix our gaze upon the enthroned Holy One and the fears and things of the world will grow dim in his light.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to rely upon you in all circumstances and at all times to face the thick and thin of life. AMEN
THE BRANCH OF THE LORD
After following a long message of judgment and disaster in 3:1-4:1, Isaiah mentions the oracle of deliverance, blessing, and hope through the Branch of the LORD in this passage. Here, “the Branch of the LORD” is a metaphorical expression of the Messianic title for a descendant of David [cf. 11:1; 53:2]. It is like a new sprout coming forth from a tree cut down and withered. The immediate context is that of the Babylonian captivity of God’s people Israel. They have no hope of returning to promise land. Yet, Isaiah assures that the redeemed community will surely return to their land because of the promise, provision, and power of the Lord. Then they will be glorious and fruitful people of the Lord. He will wash away the guilt of their rebellion, cleanse them, and restore them to himself. He will provide perennial protection to them as he did for forty years in the wilderness and eternal security by being their refuge.
The eschatological implication of this passage is that the Branch of the Lord will be the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in the lineage of David. Many people who live under the captivity of sin will find hope of deliverance and a provision of reconciliation with God in him. Their judgment will be taken away. Their sins will be washed away, and the divine blessing will be bestowed upon them by the power and provision of the Lord through Jesus. There will be a glorious and fruitful eternal life in the presence of the Lord. The Lord himself will become their eternal refuge.
Now, the promise of the Branch of the Lord is realized in Jesus Christ. Today, many people inside and outside the church are living a life of captivity to sin and Satan. Disaster and judgment are looming large over them. There is no hope of a relationship with God because of their rejection of Jesus, the Messiah. The phrase “in that day” in v. 2 is indicative of the last day when those who have believed in Jesus will receive eternal blessings. But those who have rejected Jesus will come under severe judgment and eternal punishment. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men …”
Therefore, before it is too late, let us surrender our lives to the Branch of the Lord, Jesus Christ, be cleansed of our sins by his blood, and have the assurance of glorious eternal life in the presence of the Lord.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to give our lives to Jesus, be liberated from the captivity of sin and Satan, and have eternal and abundant life. AMEN
TRUST IN THE LORD
Even though the Lord revealed through Isaiah a blessed kingdom to his people, they did not pay attention to it or believed in the Lord. From Isa. 2:6-8, it can be noticed that they rebelled against the Lord by doing three sinful things.
 They trusted the pagan gods, man-made idols, and divination of nations like the Philistines.  They trusted their silver and gold with which they could gain the favor of human powers.  They trusted their military might of chariots and horses instead of the Sovereign LORD. Thus, the people of God became arrogant because of their self-reliance, lofty towers, soaring mountains, fortified walls, high hills, and international maritime trade.
Therefore, the Lord destined a dreadful day in which “the arrogance of man will be brought low, and pride of men humbled” [2.17]. God will destroy their idols. No one will be spared even though they try to run away or hide from the ‘dread of the LORD’ [v. 19].
The LORD will do these things so that he alone will be exalted [vv. 11, 17] and his people will realize the splendor of his majesty. They will realize that the LORD alone is worthy to be exalted because he alone dwells in the splendor of majesty. He has the power “to shake the earth.” In contrast, humans are just “a breath in the nostrils.” Isaiah ends the section by asking a question, “Of what account is he [man]?” The answer is that man is of no account [v.22]. He is mortal, as transitory as a sigh and impermanent as a breath or grass [Psalm 90:3-6].
Therefore, says Isaiah in v. 22, “Stop trusting in man.” Instead, trust in the exalted LORD who alone dwells in the splendor of his majesty. He will bring about the destruction of human powers and help God’s people achieve their glorious destiny. This truth prevails in every age. As it is said in Proverbs 3:5-6, we must trust in the LORD with all our heart and not depend upon our own understanding or resources. Instead, in all our ways if we acknowledge him, then he will make our paths straight and prosperous.
Let us learn to trust the Lord and rely only upon him at all times, for all things, and under all circumstances. He will lead us into the glorious kingdom of the Messiah through all the thick and thin of life and oppression of the human powers.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to trust you alone and not the human powers. Amen.
ESCHATOLOGICAL MESSIANIC KINGDOM
Here, Isaiah perceives in a visionary mode [ḥaza] an ideal state of Jerusalem and God’s people. There is an abrupt shift from the present context of rebellion and judgment in Ch. 1 to the ideal and eschatological kingdom in Ch. 2. Suddenly the focus changes to Israel’s glorious destiny as a lighthouse to the nations for righteousness and peace [John Oswalt, Isaiah]. This shows the Lord’s sovereignty in bringing about the promised Messianic kingdom despite the constant rebellion and unfaithfulness of his people.
As it was seen earlier, the capital of this kingdom will be Jerusalem, the city of God, which is located on Mt. Zion. All nations will walk by its light [Cf., Isa. 2:5b]. The chaos created by rebellion and sinfulness will be reversed and turned into a divine order of blessings, justice, and joy because the creation will be governed by the Law of the Lord implemented from the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem.
Today, the world is filled with enmity, encroachment, wars, exploitation, violence, and destruction. There is no peace on earth. But in the coming eschatological age of Jesus, there will be peace, prosperity, and productivity among the nations. It is correctly asserted that the complete fulfillment of this vision will take place at the second coming of the Son of God but partial fulfillment started at Pentecost [NIV note]. On the day of Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples to empower them to fulfill Jesus’ commission to go into the whole world and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.
The prophetic vision of Isaiah is indeed motivational for God’s people in every age to trust and obey him to be in his eschatological kingdom of righteousness. At the same time, they must be actively engaged in extending that kingdom by helping people of this sinful world to believe in the righteous King, Jesus. That is what Jesus did. He said in his first message in Mark 1:15, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mat. 9:35 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.” In Mat. 13, he gave many parables [soil, weeds, mustard seed, yeast, hidden treasure, merchant, net] expressing the centrality of God’s kingdom in his ministry.
Towards the end of his life on earth, he assigned this responsibility to us. Since only those who believe in Jesus will enter this eternal Kingdom, it is our privilege and bounden duty to preach the good news faithfully to everyone. Prov. 30.11 says, “He that wins souls is wise.” Then we will hear from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” [Mat. 25.21]. So, let us be persistent in our loyalty to the Lord by actively engaging in preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to inherit your blessed kingdom by believing in your Son Jesus as our King and Lord and share the good news of his Kingdom faithfully. Amen.
THE RIGHTEOUS CITY
After condemning the disloyalty and sinfulness of God’s people and inviting them to repent and be obedient, Isaiah describes the current state of Jerusalem as a “harlot’ city which is full of injustice, exploitation, unrighteousness, and sinfulness [1.23-24]. The term City of Jerusalem is used as synecdoche, a part for the whole of God’s people. God tells them that he will thoroughly purge them of their disobedience by subjecting them to cruel exile for 70 years [Jer. 25]. After removing their disobedience and sinfulness through exile, God will bring them back to the land of Israel. Then Jerusalem will become a city of righteousness because of the righteous people who dwell in it.
Michael Chan correctly sums up,
“The city of God will one day be transformed from alloy to pure metal. She will be a holy and magnificent magnet for the nations, but only after a season of judgment and refinement … God must first approach Zion in the form of an enemy before showing himself as the fulfiller of promises.”
After 70 years of exile, God brought his chosen people back to their homeland. But even after their return to Israel, they did not become obedient and righteous people. They again indulged in wickedness, worshiped other gods, and mocked the living God [Ch. 56-57].
From that time until today, Israel has not become a righteous people because of their stubbornness and disobedience. They did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah even though he gave them enough evidence of him being the Messiah. They are today a nation that has turned its back to the real Messiah. God’s desire to make Jerusalem a righteous city has not come about.
Now, God’s desire to make Zion a righteous city and Israel a righteous nation will be fulfilled when Jesus the Messiah returns in his glory a second time. He will establish his righteous kingdom with righteous Jerusalem [Zion] as its capital [Isa. 11, cf. Rev. 21-22]. In his government, there will be righteousness, justice, and peace forever.
Everyone, Jews, and Gentiles, who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and be loyal to him will be in that kingdom. That is our hope and assurance. So, as we spend time fasting, praying, and meditating on God’s Word during the Lenten Season, let us conduct an audit of ourselves and see where we are in our loyalty to the Lord. Let us open our hearts to the King of righteousness and have the assurance of being in his coming Kingdom of eternal joy, peace, and blessing.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to have the assurance of being the citizen of the coming kingdom of righteousness by believing in Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE HEART RELIGION
Isaiah Chapter 1
Isaiah begins his book by condemning the utter sinfulness and disloyalty of God’s chosen people. By antithetically using the analogy of an ox and a donkey who are loyal to their owners, Isaiah communicates to God’s chosen people that they are worse than these animals by forsaking their Maker, the Holy One.
They not only indulged in sin but became hypocrites. On the one hand, they forsook the LORD, and on the other, they brought sacrifices of fattened animals into his temple and observed all the festivals and rituals. Therefore, God strongly condemns their double standards and views their empty rituals as a “burden” to him. Moreover, their double standards will bring judgment upon them.
But God is a gracious, compassionate, and forgiving Father. He invites them to come and reason with him, return to him with whole hearts, confess their sins, and obey him. Then God would forgive their most heinous sins, purge them from sinfulness, and use them for his purpose.
God is like the father of the prodigal son, always waiting for his creatures to return to him and be restored to him by the forgiveness of their sins.
We may apply this message to ourselves today. Some perform all the rituals, bring tithes and offerings to God’s sanctuary, make notable sacrifices of worship and thanksgiving, offer impressive prayers, use their time, talents, and finances, even preach the gospel, and are involved in various religious activities on regular bases.
However, if their hearts are far from the Lord and they have not believed in his Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, God will not accept such devotion. Mere obedience without faith in the Lord is nothing more than a ritualistic exercise that brings divine judgment. But if we accept God’s invitation to embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior from our hearts and confess our sins by faith in him, then he will cleanse us from our sins, accept our above activities, and use us for his glory. Obedience from the heart is better than superficial sacrifices and rituals [1 Sam. 15.22].
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to offer ourselves and our sacrifices with a heart that is faithful to you and your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This year for Lent we will have our devotionals from the book of Isaiah. Among other things, we will also look at the Messiah of Isaiah by looking at the various narratives and allusions about him. In Isaiah, one can see the entire bible as the narratives from the original creation to the new creation and various pictures of the Messiah are stated. Also, as some have observed, the 66 chapters of Isaiah correspond to the 66 books of the Bible [See the footnote]. So, it will be helpful to have our devotionals from Isaiah during the Lenten Season.
To study this book, one needs to discern that Isaiah often makes a sudden transition from the contemporary context to the eschatological context and vice versa. The contemporary scenario is full of frustration, failure, discouragement, judgment, and destruction from God due to the disobedience of his people. But the eschatological scenario is full of blessings, hope, rejoicing, salvation, and eternal life because of the work of the Messiah.
If one is aware of this frequent movement between the two contexts, the message of the prophet Isaiah can be easily understood. And the message is that even though the contemporary situation seems to be unsalvageable, God can still bring about his blessed and utopian kingdom through his Messiah which he planned to establish in Genesis 1. Nothing is impossible for God!
Since the pendulum swings from one scenario to the other, we will have to look at both contexts to understand the person and ministry of the Messiah.
Despite constant adversity, atrocity, and political upheaval in today’s world, Jesus will still establish his righteous, blessed, and utopian kingdom on earth which is described in Rev. 21-22. Sin has caused enormous suffering and pain in our world but if we are faithful and obedient to the Lord amidst the suffering, we will surely inherit the coming blessed kingdom of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be persistent in our faith in you and obedience to you in this world. Amen.
- Isaiah starts with heaven and earth [1.2]. So does the Bible [Gen. 1.1].
- Isaiah ends with a new heaven and a new earth [Is 66.10-24]. So does the Bible [Rev 21-22].
- Isa. Ch. 40 corresponds to the 40thbook of the Bible which is Matthew. Isa. 40 talks about the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Matthew also describes the same person who is John the Baptist [Mat 3.1-3].
- From Isaiah Ch. 40, there is a new scenario of comfort and salvation for the community held in the captivity of Babylon. From the 40thbook in the Bible which is the first book of the New Testament, we have the message of comfort and salvation through the Messiah for humanity held captive in sin.