ISAIAH 25:1 – 27:13 and HEBREWS 4:1–16
The next few chapters represent the songs of the redeemed in light of the righteous judgements of God upon the nations of wickedness. This is something often seen after God moves in extraordinary judgement. There is the song of Miriam after God routed the Egyptians at the Red Sea. There are the songs in heaven as the righteous judgements of God are released unto the earth (Rev 19:1-3). There is the longing of the souls that have been martyred to be vindicated against those who came against them. This chapter like others has a dual fulfilment. There will be destruction that will come upon Babylon when they fall to the Medes and Persians however the greater fulfilment comes when Babylon the great is destroyed in the last days (Rev. 18:10). In verses 3-5 the song continues by highlighting the strength that God gives to the poor, the refuge he provides in the midst of a storm in conjunction with the victories he gives against their enemies.
In verses 6-8 we have a reference to the blessing that exists upon Mt. Zion. What was established at Zion under King David is but a foretaste of what is to come. It is a picture of what was earlier seen in Isa 2:2-3.
Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Isa 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
It is in this mountain of Zion where the covering and veil over the people is broken. This speaks of the spiritual principalities and powers that have governance over certain nations. This will be fulfilled in totality at the time of the 2nd coming but there will also be a fulfilment of sorts when Satan and his angels are cast out of their heavenly perch (Rev 12:9). It is those who dwell spiritually upon Mt. Zion who have an authority that others do not have. The Law is written upon their hearts. In verse 9 there is the description of those who are awaiting their God. This is a fulfilment of Deu 32:39-43 which is a prophecy that spoke of the 2nd coming of the Lord. It is amazing to think that even before Israel went into their inheritance there were prophetic words given concerning the last days. This could also be linked with Zech 13:6 where it speaks of the Jews looking upon Him whose hands they pierced.
In verses 10-11 we see judgement being given upon Moab which takes place at the time of the 2nd coming. It is the kingdom of Jordan which represents the nations of old that will be severely judged at the time of the 2nd coming (Edom, Moab and Ammon). Why will the judgement be so severe upon these nations? It seems that Jordan will be involved in the dividing of the land which is referred to in Dan 11:39 and Joel 3:2. The hatred of Edom that they had for Israel will be recompensed as will be the sons of Lot who did great damage to Israel through the years. The judgements of God do not always happen overnight but one can be assured that whatever is sown will be reaped. We can only pray for the mercies of the Lord to spare us and our respective lands in these days.
The song of the Lord continues as we see the rejoicing taking place in the land of Judah. Moab has been laid waste as was Babylon earlier. In the midst of all this destruction there is Jerusalem rejoicing in their renewed relationship with God. This song will serve as an invitation to other nations that would also choose to walk in truth. This is a reference as to what will take place in the millennium. The key now and in the days to come is to put total trust and hope in the Lord. The fruits will be the Peace of God that will be able to sustain His people at any given time. We need to saturate our mind with godly thoughts and meditations. This is what helps to produce a transformation in our lives. In verses 5-6 the attention is now turned back to Babylon as judgements are again mentioned. It will be the feet of the poor and needy that will have the privilege of being God’s instrument of destruction. The ones who have been oppressed will now have the upper hand in bringing upon their oppressors.
In verses 7-9 we the picture of a person who has a very close walk with God. In modern day parlance we can say he or she has a strong devotional life. Such a person loves the presence of God and is able to make full provision for it. This is a person who hungers and thirsts after the presence of God; He is their delight and joy. We also see that when the judgements of God are in the earth people learn righteousness. Is it any wonder of the lack of God’s righteousness in the earth today? There is a famine of God’s justice; lawlessness abounds making allowance for evil to fill the land. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, it speaks of what happens when sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily; the hearts of men is set on doing evil (Eccl 8:11).
This truth continues in verse 10. When favor is shown to the wicked they do not learn righteousness but often become even more emboldened in their sin. Is this not the case today? Our politically correct culture opens the door for everyone to express themselves without fear of consequences. It is veiled in compassion and fairness but its actual root happens to be lawlessness. God has ordained peace for us but it is conditional based on our willingness to allow him to work in our lives. The greater access we give the Lord the more we become like Him. In verses 13-14 we must never forget that man is mortal and he is not to be feared. Many walk today with the fear of man ever before them. This only stifles and brings people into a snare (Pro 29:25).
In verse 15 we see that Israel’s future destiny is a future submitting to Babylon. There is a picture of what it will be like when Israel is in actual captivity to Babylon. A portion of their lament is seen in verses 16-18. They are likened to a woman in travail who is longing to bring to birth. In verses 19-21 we see a glimpse of the Great Tribulation that will be seen in the last days. The exhortation is for the people of God to hide and be covered in that great day. The illustration of Moses Tabernacle helps to give a fresh understanding as to what it takes to be hidden and covered. Only two of the three divisions of Moses Tabernacle had a cover over them (Holy Place and Holy of Holies). It was only the Outer Court that had no overhead covering. To me this signifies the importance of the priestly ministry. It was only the priests who could have access beyond the Outer Court. The priests not only served under a covering but they did so with an exchange of garments. They had to change garments when they went in and out of the Outer Court to the Holy Place. We see the change of garments the high priest Joshua had to experience. There is also the exhortation of Zephaniah when he encourages us to seek after the garments of meekness and righteousness so that we can be hidden in the days of the Lord’s anger (Zeph 2:3). The warnings in this last verse of Isa 26 are for us today. There is considerable dispute concerning last day teachings. It is clear that the church will go through tribulation but it is also clear that God has an Ark of protection and safety to those who walk in righteousness. The time is at hand when man will answer for sin. Have we received salvation through Jesus Christ and do we make a lifestyle of appropriating the finished work of the Cross in our daily lives? Is there the walking in the light so that the blood of Christ can wash and cleanse us throughout (1 John 1:7)? Once again it all comes down to choice. Lord, help us to hear what the Spirit is saying unto the church today and help us to respond accordingly.
The theme of judgement continues in the opening verse of this chapter. It has a latter day connotation in the slaying of the dragon and his two serpents (Satan, the antichrist and the false Prophet-Rev 13). It also speaks of judgement against Assyria, Babylon and Rome that were countries that afflicted Israel in ancient times. In verses 2-5 we have another vineyard song that is sung. The first was mentioned in Isa 5:1-7. The vineyard songs are references to Israel which is beloved of God. The first vineyard song did not have a good ending for Israel. This one ends on a triumphant note denoting the restoration of Israel as a nation at the time of the 2nd coming. The beauty of the prophetic ministry of Isaiah is that his message can have dual applications. Israel was about to go into captivity and the time was coming when they would deny and reject the Messiah. At the time of His 2nd return they will recognize the one whom they rejected. Israel will be restored and become a fruitful delight once again unto the Lord.
In verses 7-9 the Lord brings judgements upon Israel but it is not in the measure seen upon other nations. The purpose of these judgements is that Israel might be purged from its sin of idolatry. This is often the process the Lord takes with us. We may go through seasons of God ordained captivity as an act of His mercy as he looks to produce vessels of honour for His pleasure. God’s history with Israel dates back to the beginning but through all of their sojourning he has never forsaken them. God is true to His promise as given to Abraham. He is a God who loves to restore.
Though God’s love for Israel is perpetual He does not excuse their disobedience. His judgements are heavy upon those from the Northern Kingdom. Their sin was grievous when they went about building their own altars and establishing their own order of priests under Jeroboam. This opened the door for evil of the highest magnitude to flourish as seen in the likes of Ahab and Jezebel. If not for the intervention of the faithful priest Jehoiada and his wife the royal line could have been extinguished. This is the why the pronounced judgements involving Israel in verses 10-11 are so severe.
The last two verses look toward the last days when those who have been captive in Egypt and Assyria (Iraq) will be able to return to Jerusalem at Mt. Zion to worship the Lord with great rejoicing. Here is another old charismatic song that sums up this momentous event.
Let’s go up to Zion
Let’s go up to Zion
Let’s go up to Zion
The City of our God.
There’s oil and wine in Zion
There’s oil and wine in Zion
There’s oil and wine in Zion
The City of our God
So Sing Halleluiah
There’s joy in the Lord
Paul speaks of a Holy fear of falling short of God’s purposes for our lives. God has ordained a plan and purpose for each of us before the foundation of the world. This is true of the Lord Jesus Christ as spoken in Rev 13:8. “The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” This is the primary thought throughout this whole chapter. God has a plan for the church and for our individual lives and we need to press in with all we have that we might fulfil that plan and not fall short of it. God will provide the needed grace and resources for that plan to be achieved. Failure to hit the mark will be due to our unwillingness to press in to all that God has for us. Paul here is relating the Fear of the Lord which serves as a catalyst to provoke us forward so that we do not fail in this opportunity. We do not want to have to stand before the Lord with the knowledge of falling short by not availing of His grace. God has a mark for each of us and we do not want to fall short of it. The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and understanding. It helps to get us on course and keep us there.
What is our destination? It is Spiritual Mt. Zion; it is to go beyond the veil because this represents the dwelling place of the presence of the Lord. Paul is reminding the brethren to not make the same mistake the children of Israel made in their journey. They fell short of entering into the Rest that God was calling them to.
In verse 2 we see the importance of receiving the Word that is spoken with FAITH. One can hear a powerful Word spoken week after week and yet not allow that Word to effectuate because of unbelief. It is important to have the mind-set and attitude of letting faith arise each and every day; especially when the Word of God is spoken. If we fail to apply the Word to our lives by faith the heart will begin to harden and become indifferent. This kind of heart has no capacity to grow in faith and grace (Heb 12:15). Paul then goes further in explaining the concept of true Rest. God had a purpose and plan for the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt; it was to enter into their Rest (Canaan land). That generation failed and came to know God’s breach of promise (Num 14:34). We must understand that God’s promises to us are conditional. The fact that there was breach of promise was not due to God failing to deliver it was due to Israel not appropriating God’s provision of grace in the wilderness. This is a sobering reminder to each of us today.
We come to know the true definition of Rest by examining verse 4. God worked for 6 days in the creation and then Rested on the 7th. What does the Rest of God mean for us as modern day believers? It is a place that God brings His people to where they learn to cease from striving and personal ambition. A time where the focus is entirely upon God, free from worry and concern so that God can flow freely and powerfully through His people. It helps us to appreciate that our efforts and work are not sufficient in achieving the objectives of God. It can only take us so far. When we come to the end of our strength we can then REST in His ability to finish the work and bring us through. The REST of God will never be achieved if we do nothing and simply wait upon God. It requires effort on our part, a labouring and working to enter into that REST (vs 11).
It must also be understood that we cannot achieve God’s objectives by relying solely upon our strength and works. This is an area where the church needs to be careful. The enemy seeks to over-engage ministries in worthy like endeavours with the purpose of wearying out the saints. These ministries and programs become legitimized because one can easily point to testimonies and success stories. The question we must always need to ask is whether God has spoken and endorsed it. If we are constantly involved in works and consumed in busyness we will miss that still small voice. This is dangerous because we can then come into a position of presuming the will of God. The Lord faced this same situation in His ministry. He had to come into a place of Rest so that He could be refreshed and revived. He also needed to hear the instruction of His Father from that Position of Rest. There is a Rest for the people of God; now more than ever we must boldly press into the throne of grace. It is there where we find strength and God’s enabling power to carry forward the work of God.