Thursday, August 4, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 37

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 37

In Chapter 14 we find Isaiah pronouncing the downfall of Babylon and her king, along with a prophecy regarding the downfall of the spiritual Babylon of the end times along with her king, otherwise known as the "man of sin" of 2 Thessalonians 2. In this we find the overthrow of all evil itself and the very source of evil: the person of Satan. In the midst of the good news of God's eventual judgment of all unrighteousness, we find Him making a compassionate and precious promise to the nation of Israel.

"The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again He will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob." (Isaiah 14:1) In God's eyes there is no northern kingdom or southern kingdom; there are only the twelve tribes descended from the twelve sons of Jacob. Israel always has been and always will be one united nation in the sight of God.

He is saying to Israel, "I would choose you all over again. Though I must discipline you for a time, it's for your own good, as a father disciplines a wayward son. But I have not rejected you forever, nor will I ever reject you. If I had to do it all over again, I'd still choose you." This must have been welcome news to a divided nation in which the ten northern tribes were defeated and taken captive by Assyria and in which the two southern tribes were facing the threat of Babylon. They may have wondered whether God had disowned them, whether He was going to let them be consumed by their enemies. They may have wondered whether, in His wrath against unrighteousness, God would destroy them along with their enemies.

The return to the land wasn't fully fulfilled when Cyrus of Persia allowed them to go back and rebuild. It wasn't fully fulfilled when the Jews returned to Israel following World War II. And it wasn't even fully fulfilled when in 1948 Israel became a sovereign nation again. The settling of the land will find its ultimate fulfillment under the reign of the King of kings and Lord of lords, when Christ rules from the throne of David. His glory and the glory of the city of Jerusalem will cause all nations to flock to the area to give Him praise and honor. The unnamed author of Psalm 86 says of that day, "All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, Lord; they will bring glory to Your name." (Psalm 86:9) We previously saw Isaiah speak of that day in Chapter 2, "Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.'" (Isaiah 2:3a)

"Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the Lord's hand. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors." (Isaiah 14:2) The nations, (the Gentiles), will take an active role in returning all the scattered people of Israel to her nation. Israel will take possession of the Gentiles in the sense that the seed of Abraham (Christ) is a blessing to all people and in Him every believer will be a part of one big family. I don't believe Isaiah is saying the Gentiles will become literal slaves of Israel but that the Gentiles will become Israel's ally, united in their love for the Lord. No longer will Israel fear an enemy. No longer will Israel be surrounded by foes on every side. The Gentiles will be servants, but "servants in the Lord's hand", servants of Christ who love His nation Israel and willingly join with her in friendship.

"On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, 'How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!'" (Isaiah 14:3-4) This prophecy found its fulfillment in part when Babylon fell and the people were allowed to return to the land. The second part of its fulfillment is found here, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!" (Revelation 18:2a) This regards the wicked world system of the end times, at the completion of the Great Tribulation when God will judge the Babylon of that age along with its king: the man of sin, the Antichrist.

"The Lord has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon gloat over you and say, 'Now that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us down.'" (Isaiah 14:5-8) We certainly can't look around us today and say that all the lands are at rest and at peace. But a time will come when wars shall cease, when we will beat our swords into plowshares, when the nations will be at rest under our great King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is at that time we will break into singing like never before. Babylon, along with other oppressors of the nation, literally did deforest a great deal of the area of Lebanon, but this is probably also symbolic of the attacks of enemies against the people of Israel throughout the ages. Ever since God chose Israel she has had those who hate her and have sought to cut her low like a tree.

No matter how great the wealth of a wicked nation, no matter how glorious the reign of a wicked king, none is too big to fall. The same fate awaits them as awaits all unholy kingdoms and all inhumane kings. "The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you---all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones---all those who were kings over the nations. They will all respond, they will say to you, 'You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us.' All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.'" (Isaiah 14:9-11) This is a dreadful description of the final destination of the souls of those who lived in opposition to a holy God. We see the villainous and reprobate kings of all the ages standing to greet the king of Babylon as he too enters the realm of the evil dead. For all his conquests and all his wealth, he is brought low just as they were brought low. While he lived he sought to lift himself high above every man and above every god but now he is on equal footing with every dead and vanquished king.

This is the fate not only of every degenerate and blasphemous world leader but the fate of the most sinful of all: Satan himself. It will be the fate of Satan, along with his man of the end times known as the beast or the Antichrist, along with his abominable counterpart to the Holy Spirit known as the false prophet. "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10) Hallelujah! He who has practiced deception since the Garden of Eden, he who is the father of lies and who has been a murderer from the beginning, will meet the fate of all fallen nations and all fallen kings. He will receive the punishment he earned and will never rise again. The realm of the dead, the spiritually dead, will stand and say, "You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us."

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