Saturday, July 23, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 32

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 32

Chapter 11 is dealing with the glorious kingdom of our Lord and the redemption of the creation. Normally when we hear the words "chapter eleven" we think of a type of bankruptcy filing. That term tends to have a negative connotation. But not so in the book of Isaiah! Chapter 11 is one of the most marvelous passages of this book. Nobody will be spiritually, morally, or literally bankrupt in the kingdom of Christ.

Isaiah informed us yesterday that when the Lord reigns, all the faithful of the nations will rally to Him, both Jew and Gentile. Today's passage deals with the the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel in the eternal kingdom. Although Israel once again became a sovereign nation in 1948, this did not completely fulfill today's prophecy. It set the stage for it, as there must be a nation for the King to claim. It also set the stage for the end times, leaving nothing that must be fulfilled before Christ comes for the church. But it wasn't the fulfillment of the ingathering of all twelve tribes from every corner of the world. That will occur at the second advent of Christ when He assumes the throne of David.

When Jesus Christ sits on the throne of David, "He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12) I'm sure you've heard of the "ten lost tribes of Israel", meaning the ten tribes of the northern kingdom who were conquered by Assyria in 721 BC. There has been much speculation over the centuries about the scattering of these ten tribes and their current locations. Their genealogy records are generally considered lost, but they are not lost to God. To God there is no such thing as ten lost tribes. He knows every single soul on the earth who descended from these tribes and when Christ comes as King, He will gather them in to Israel, and all twelve tribes will be one united nation just as they were under King David.

"Ephraim's jealousy will vanish, and Judah's enemies will be destroyed; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim." (Isaiah 11:13) The people will no longer think of themselves as either the northern kingdom or the southern kingdom. Isaiah often uses the name of Israel's largest tribe, Ephraim, to represent all ten tribes. He is saying that the enmity between the two kingdoms will vanish. We could apply some words from our own Pledge of Allegiance to the condition of all twelve tribes in those days because they will be "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". The allegiance of all twelve tribes and all the people of the earth will be to Christ, the One who is the banner God raised up for all nations. We won't be saluting flags in those days or swearing allegiance to any creed or ideal. We will salute a Savior and swear allegiance to a Redeemer, to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

"They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east. They will subdue Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them." (Isaiah 11:14) The peoples mentioned here are the same enemies of Israel that David conquered during his reign. A brilliant commentator on the book of Isaiah, J. Alec Motyer, believes this verse is intended as a metaphor, for there will be no need under Christ for Israel to fight or plunder any nation. Just as when David assumed the throne he brought about a time of peace and stability for the united twelve tribes of Israel, under Christ there will be an eternal time of peace and stability for the united twelve tribes of Israel. It would seem odd to think that, under her Messiah and King, Israel would fight any battles, and so I tend to agree with Motyer that this plundering and subjection is not literal but symbolic. "The picture of warlike conquest by the united people jars against the vision of the Prince of Peace..., but in fact what we have here is a consistent use of metaphor, not a forecast of events...Kings customarily extend their kingdoms by armed conquest. Within the picture of the coming King, therefore, Isaiah envisages the spreading royal dominion; but the force to which the nations fall is that of the Prince of Peace, the gospel." (from Isaiah by J. Alec Motyer, pg. 107)

"The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind He will sweep His hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that anyone can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt." (Isaiah 11:15-16) It may seem impossible to us that every descendant of every tribe can be gathered in from all over the world, but nothing is impossible for God. He will make it easy for His people to return to their nation. He will also make it easy for every people of the world to come up to Jerusalem to worship the King. The Apostle John was given a vision of what the world will be like when Jesus Christ rules it, and he said, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea." (Revelation 21:1) Evidently there will be no oceans separating the continents from each other, so that all people of the earth, both Jew and Gentile, will be connected as one kingdom under Christ.

We are deep into an election year in the United States and many of us feel we are deep into trouble. I don't like to mix politics with religion and so I say very little about politics on the blog. But today I'd like to compare our two candidates with our righteous King. One candidate has repeatedly lied about an email server and continues to defend her statements even though the FBI has proven them false. The other candidate promises he will "give you everything" and says "I'm the only one" who can. In the midst of the discontent many of us are feeling with our political parties, we have the promise of a King so honest we can entrust our eternal souls to Him. We have the assurance of a King who truly is the only One who can give us everything. No matter how bleak we may feel about our nation and our world today, no matter how frightening the almost-daily terrorist attacks and mass shootings are, there is a Leader who will come and make all things new, a Prince of Peace who will make an end of wars, a King who will restore mankind and the animal kingdom and all of nature to a perfect state.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" (Revelation 21:3-5) Hallelujah! This is a Candidate we can get behind! This is the glorious future of the children of God! The Lord Jesus wanted His words written down so we can cling to this unshakable hope. His words are trustworthy and true. We can take them to the bank. We can depend on them. The old order of this world will pass away and God With Us, Immanuel, will dwell with us and be our God and King forever and ever. Amen!

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