Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 70

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah 
Day 70

Today we look at a song about a fruitful vineyard. Up til now the people have been singing praises to God. Now the Lord sings a song about Israel, His vineyard.

"In that day---'Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.'" (Isaiah 27:2-3) This reminds me of Psalm 121, "He will not let your foot slip---He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." (v 3-4) When Isaiah says "in that day" he is referring to the kingdom of Christ. The Lord has always watched over Israel, but in that day Christ Himself will be her King and He will be there in person to watch over her.

"I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting Me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire. Or else let them come to Me for refuge; let them make peace with Me, yes, let them make peace with Me." (Isaiah 27:4-5) The Lord is not angry with His people. Only the redeemed are in His vineyard and He is the husbandman of the vineyard. There are no briers and thorns but if there were, He would deal fiercely with them. Nothing shall despoil this beautiful vineyard He has labored for. Israel will have no enemies in those days, no "briers and thorns", because all peoples will have made peace with the Holy One, thus also making peace with God's people Israel. You cannot make peace with Israel's Redeemer without making peace with Israel. Christ was her Messiah first and we Gentiles, once pagan idolaters, were brought into the family of God by His grace. 

"In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill the world with fruit." (Isaiah 27:6) From the seed of Abraham (Christ) the entire world is blessed. The Lord came to His own but His own received him not. (John 1:11) Therefore, as the Apostle Paul said, "I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!" (Acts 28:28) But Paul also said, "I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means!" (Romans 11:1a) God was not through with Israel. He had promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed by his seed and He had promised David that Israel would never cease to be a nation in His sight. 

During Isaiah's ministry, when Israel and Judah were in deep distress, Isaiah reminds them of God's promises. Yes, they face discipline for their waywardness. But this is because "the Lord disciplines those He loves". (Proverbs 3:12) When a parent disciplines a child it's for the purpose of correction, not for the purpose of destroying them. In the same way, the Lord disciplined Israel as a father disciplines a child: to help that child back onto the right path. God allowed Israel's enemies to oppress her at times, but not for the purpose of destroying her. "Has the Lord struck her as He struck down those who struck her? Has she been killed as those were who killed her?" (Isaiah 27:7) Where was the mighty kingdom of Assyria after God dealt with it? Where was the glory of Babylon? Where was the Persian Empire? Where was the Roman Empire? God used these peoples as an instrument of discipline but when that time was over, God judged these cruel and idolatrous nations. He did not strike Israel in the way He struck her enemies. Israel did not fall so far that she could not rise again.

The words of the Apostle Paul go beautifully with Isaiah's words in today's passage, "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!" (Romans 11:11-12) Salvation came to the Gentiles when Israel rejected her Messiah, but God did not cast Israel away. He used Israel to bless the Gentiles but He also intends to use the Gentiles to bless Israel. I don't know how He is going to accomplish this, but somehow the Lord is going to bring salvation to Israel through the Gentiles. He is making one family out of all believers from every tribe and nation and we will have one King and one Lord. And like a loving family, we will be a help and a blessing to each other. 

The Apostle Paul explained, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved." (Romans 11:25-26a) Scholars have debated this passage for centuries but still in our day we don't really understand how God is going to do this. Neither did Paul, for he calls it a mystery. The hardening of Israel's heart turned out to be to the Gentile's advantage but somehow the coming of Gentiles to Christ will turn out to be to Israel's advantage. The Gentiles could never have known Christ without Israel and Israel is not going to know Christ without the Gentiles. 

Paul goes on to quote Scripture from the very chapter of Isaiah we are in today. He reminds the nation that a Deliverer will come from Zion who is able to turn godlessness away from Jacob. And that Deliverer will say, "And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Romans 11:27) Paul is referring to Isaiah 27:9, "By this, then, Jacob's guilt will be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin." 

A time is coming when all believers will be one kingdom under one King, one nation under one Lord. We will be one family: the children of the living God.

Our worship song link for today is below.

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