Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 64

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 64

In the midst of Isaiah's account of the desolation that will come upon the earth in the last days, we hear voices of praise. "They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord's majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; exalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: 'Glory to the Righteous One.'" (Isaiah 24:14-16a)

How can there be shouts of praise while the earth is in the throes of destruction? Because even during the Great Tribulation the Lord will call out a people for His name. There will still be those who repent and turn to Him, forsaking all other gods and every idol to bow down before the God of Israel and His precious Son, our Redeemer and King. In order to worship God fully, we must worship His every attribute, and these who have come to Him in the last days praise Him for His justice. It's easy to talk about God's love and mercy, but we must never forget He is also a God of righteousness and wrath. The people who come to the Lord during the Great Tribulation will endure persecution worse than that of any period in history and they will rejoice when the wrath of God falls on their ungodly oppressors. They will raise their voices in praise when God demonstrates His trustworthiness by keeping His word. He is holy and must judge unrighteousness. He must act against those who are enemies of His faithful ones.

Isaiah sees the praise that comes from every corner of the world, as those who have come to the Lord during the Great Tribulation rejoice in their Savior, but his heart weeps for the lost. We saw the prophet in distress at times when he foretold the downfall of ancient kingdoms. He felt the fear and anguish of the citizens of those kingdoms. He now feels the fear and anguish of the ungodly in the last days. "But I said, 'I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray! With treachery the treacherous betray!' Terror and pit and snare await you, people of the earth. Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare." (Isaiah 24:16b-18a) There will be no route of escape for the wicked in the day of the Lord's wrath. Where can anyone flee from the face of God? In Psalm 139, David praised the fact that the Lord saw him at all times and knew everything about him. He praised the fact that the Lord saw him while still in his mother's womb and that the Lord still sees him even when days are dark. If we are right with our Maker, we can rejoice along with David that our God knows our every thought and sees our every move. But for those not right with their Maker, this is a terrifying thing. There will be no place to run and no place to hide. Their dark deeds will be brought to light, their true motivations uncovered, their profane attitudes revealed, and their irreverence for the things of God laid bare. 

The author of Hebrews had this to say about God's wrath upon those who reject Him, and we see the three persons of the Trinity represented here, "Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?...It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:29,31) Isaiah, in his vision of the last days, sees the wicked of mankind falling into the hands of the living God and he feels distressed to his soul. Isaiah demonstrates the heart of the Lord in his intense emotions because the Lord doesn't want anyone to perish, but the Lord must be the holy and righteous judge that He is, and therefore must dispense justice. But as we have seen earlier in our study of Isaiah, the Lord's heart breaks for those who refuse to come to Him and be made whole. 

"The floodgates of heaven are opened, the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls---never to rise again." (Isaiah 24:18b-20) The author of Hebrews spoke of this day of shaking. He compares it to the day the Lord's voice shook the ground at Mount Sinai, "At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens'. The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken---that is, created things---so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably and with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" (Hebrews 12:26-29) Isaiah foresees this shaking of the earth, the shaking loose of all that is not founded upon the unshakable kingdom of Christ, so that only what is firmly built on Him remains. 

Isaiah also foresees the shaking of the heavens, "In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below." (Isaiah 24:21) Satan and a third of the host of heaven rebelled against the Lord. These are those who have been the real enemies of the godly since the beginning, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) 

God is going to judge wickedness in the spiritual realm and the wickedness of sinful leaders who have led the world astray. Their fate will be the same. "They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days." (Isaiah 24:22) There awaits a Great White Throne judgment for the ungodly. Those who belong to the Lord are raised in glory, with bodies just like that of the Lord Jesus Christ, incorruptible and eternal. The godly will stand before the Lord for the purpose of rewards, not for the purpose of punishment. But those who have rejected His offer of mercy will be those we find standing before the Lord in Revelation 20:11-15, whose names are not found in the book of life.

If we love the Lord, we must love Him for His mercy but also for His justice. These two attributes of His character cannot be separated from each other. We must love Him for His holiness, for His faithfulness to His promises, and for His refusal to compromise on sin. I don't believe He could be a God of love if He wasn't also a God of wrath. How could we respect a Judge who refuses to abide by the law? At the same time, our hearts ought to weep for the lost, just as Isaiah wept when he foresaw God's wrath, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. We should weep just as God weeps for those He desperately wants to save but who refuse His outstretched hand. I believe time is short and we need to pray for the lost like never before. We need to tell the good news of the gospel while there is still time. 

After the long night of the Great Tribulation, dawn breaks at the coming of the King of kings. The brightness of His arrival is such that it eclipses the light from the sun and the moon, "The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders---with great glory." (Isaiah 24:23) In giving Isaiah a vision of the end, the Lord does not leave him in a woeful spirit. Isaiah has been in distress while viewing the world conditions of the last days and the fate of those who reject the Lord. God now shows Isaiah the outcome of all things: the arrival of the King who reigns forever. The bride of Christ, who was whisked to heaven before the days of tribulation fell, will be with Him and behold His face forever. Those who gave their hearts to Him during the Great Tribulation will bask in His glory. We will share in the victory of the One who conquered death, hell, and the grave for us. He did these things for us! He took the beatings, the shame, the insults, the pain of the cross, the darkness of the tomb, for us! And now we see that, when all rebellion is extinguished, and all that was not founded upon the solid rock is removed, Jesus shares with us a victory we did not earn but that He earned for us. He shares with us a glory we do not deserve but that He bestows upon us. He will reign from David's throne forever and we will behold the face of the One whom we will glorify for eternity.

Below is our worship song link for today, a song of glory to the One who won the victory for us. Glory to His name.

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