Thursday, July 14, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 23

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 23

Yesterday Isaiah predicted a coming King, a man from Galilee, and that verse primarily has to do with the first advent of Christ, when He will emerge from a small town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee and begin His ministry and His work of redemption.

The following passage has to do with the kingdom He will establish at His second advent. "You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor." (Isaiah 9:3-4) This is a reference to the book of Judges, when God called a young man named Gideon to free the Israelites from the Midianites. The Midianites were a large Arabic tribe who forced Israel to pay tribute to them, often raiding the land at harvest time and robbing the Israelites of the fruits of their hard labor. But God called Gideon to fight against this wicked enemy with only three hundred men. He was vastly outnumbered but won the battle because the Lord was on his side. We can imagine the rejoicing the people did when God gave them such a mighty victory and Isaiah is promising the nation that, under their righteous King, they will rejoice in His victory just as they rejoiced in the victory over Midian.

There will be no more war when Christ reigns on the earth. "Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire." (Isaiah 9:5) It was a common practice to burn blood-stained garments after the battle was won. Christ actually won every spiritual battle for us when He rose in victory from the dead, but when He reigns on David's throne He will have won every worldly battle as well. As Isaiah previously told us in Chapter 2, "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4) Hallelujah! What welcome news for us all! I once heard someone say that in our times we need to be beating our plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears, and a quick glance at the newspaper backs up that opinion. There are wars and rumors of wars all over the earth. The United States has been involved in several conflicts for many years and terrorism has come to our own shores. But a day is coming when the Webster's dictionary may say something like this, "War: an outdated method of solving disputes, an antiquated approach to settling scores, an archaic practice abandoned when Jesus Christ assumed the throne of David."

And now we come to one of Isaiah's most well-known prophecies, one frequently quoted at Christmastime but which actually foretells not only the birth of Christ but also reaches forward into the eternal kingdom, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) A Child, fully human, is born to the nation of Israel and to all of humanity. A Son, fully God, is given to save our lives from sin and our souls from death. In all ways He has been made like us so that in all ways we can be made like Him. Because Christ Jesus came and took on the image of man, we take on His image to become the sons and daughters of the living God. We see the indescribable mystery of the incarnation presented in Isaiah's simple words. Christ is both man and Lord at the same time and, as such, is able to fully identify Himself with us and also save us to the uttermost. He is able to be both High Priest and King. He is able to be both Judge and Redeemer. He is the humble Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and the Mighty God of Isaiah 9.

"Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:7) Because we are in an election year, a great deal of airtime on the news networks is devoted to the candidates. The candidates themselves are actively engaged in a mud-slinging contest, seeing which of them can say the worst things about the other. Each of them tries to convince us they have the perfect plan for restoring everything that's wrong in our nation and for extricating us from our military conflicts around the world. They are both wrong. Neither of them, nor any other leader, is capable of bringing about prevailing world peace or making America, or any other nation, great again. The greatness of any nation has always been directly related to its reverence for God. As we learned in our study of the two books of Samuel and the two books of Kings, Israel prospered when the king and the citizens honored the Lord, but Israel was plagued by troubles when the king and the citizens abandoned the Lord. 

We can be certain an eternal kingdom of peace is coming because "the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this". The dictionary defines zeal as "fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence". Our God has made up His mind to establish the throne of His Son and to make His kingdom glorious. The Lord has an intense fervor to see Christ seated on the throne. He has an eager desire to provide a righteous government. He has an enthusiasm for His precious children which compels Him to give us a holy and perfect King. 

Below is a link to a worship song which celebrates our wonderful Savior.

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