Monday, August 29, 2016

Comfort My People; The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 62

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 62
As we begin Chapter 24 I want to tell you I have some good news. One we get through this chapter, this "night" of woes and devastations, we have three chapters in a row that are filled with praise to our God. Isaiah has a habit of going back and forth between bad news and good news, but the section we've been in lately has mostly been bad news for various nations mentioned in the Bible. The "night" in Isaiah's vision has lasted longer than any of the previous ones. But morning is coming.
After discussing the downfall of several ancient nations, Isaiah moves very far into the future to paint us a portrait of world conditions in the end times. Chapter 24 has been known as the "Isaiah Apocalypse" or, as the NIV titles it, "The Lord's Devastation Of The Earth". The period of time involved in this chapter is the Great Tribulation, when the church will have been taken to heaven and dark days reign on the earth. These will be the days the Apostle Paul was speaking of when he said, "But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (2 Timothy 3:1-4) We have already seen this attitude in some of the ancient nations the Lord judged but in the last days this attitude will prevail upon the earth.
Isaiah looks ahead and sees the deplorable spiritual condition of mankind in the last days and the Lord's judgment of sin. "See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants---it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word." (Isaiah 24:1-3) The same fate awaits all the ungodly, whether rich or poor, whether high in status or whether beggars on the street corners. God will not be impressed by a person's wealth or social standing when it comes to judgment. God's judgment of mankind rest upon whether He can say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:23) Or whether He must say, "I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:23)
You recall from our study of Revelation the way the earth was laid waste and devastated by the wrath poured out on it. Plagues were set loose, worse than any plagues of Egypt. Isaiah foresees this and says, "The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth." (Isaiah 24:4) The final days were spoken of by the Lord like this, "I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke." (Acts 2:19) When we studied Revelation we saw these things happening.
Isaiah now gives us the reason for the terrible plagues. "The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant." (Isaiah 24:5) Since Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden and the earth became cursed and began to grow thorns, man has lived in opposition to God and His laws. The fall of man brought the whole world down with him. The creation has suffered because of our sins. The environment and the animal kingdom have been "subjected to frustration". (Romans 8:20) There is no such thing as a sin that only hurts the sinner. Sin doesn't operate that way. It's like a little seed planted in the ground that sprouts up and spreads out, affecting the space around it. When man fell, the world fell.
But when a Man arose, a new hope was born for the creation and all its creatures. Mankind could now be made right with God. A sacrifice had been given which cancelled out the penalty of the fall if man would only look to Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. In Christ we become new creatures and, where there are new creatures, there is a new creation. You and I, along with every human being who makes Christ their Lord, have a glorious future ahead of us. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18) We live in a world with the curse of sin upon it and as a result we endure sufferings while we live. But a day is coming when our King will make all things new. We will no longer be subject to temptation and sin, weak in the flesh, becoming ill and facing death. We will be like Him, in a glorious body that never dies, and because Christ has redeemed both us and this earth from the curse of sin, the very creation shares in our glory just as it once shared in our fall. "For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:19-21)
The earth will go through a destruction so it can be reworked by the Creator's hands. Isaiah is going to be talking about some dark days in Chapter 24, but we know we have the promise of a future glory that no human mind is able to comprehend. The Apostle Paul, in his vision of heaven, could only say that no eye has seen and no ear has heard and no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. (2 Corinthians 2:9) Paul was a man who suffered many things in this life but was able to declare that he couldn't even begin to compare his sufferings with the glory to come. Some of us have been through hard things in this life. There are people I know who have been through things I can't imagine, such as the loss of a child. But we have a day to look forward to when suffering and death will be no more. The future that God has planned for us will be so glorious that we will look back on our past life in this fallen world and say, "The sufferings there weren't worthy to be compared to the glory here." Amen!

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