ISAIAH 34:1 – 36:22 and HEBREWS 7:1–28
This chapter depicts a series of judgements upon the land of Edom which was through Esau. Several names are used in this chapter like Bozrah which is the name of a key city in Edom. The land of Idumea is an alternative name as well (verse 6). In verses 1-3 a series of severe judgements are pronounced upon those who seek to come against Jerusalem. It is referring to the 2nd coming of Christ when he returns with His saints to the earth for the purpose of establishing his millennial reign (Rev 19:11-21). This will be a most remarkable scene taking place upon the earth. The antichrist will have had great influence in promoting lawlessness while martialling armies to come and fight against Jerusalem. The cup of iniquity will be in its fullness upon the earth culminating at Armageddon where the Lord will return in righteousness. I doubt there could ever be two greater extremes. The king of lawlessness and all who have aligned themselves with him are standing against the lawgiver Himself as He descends upon them in righteousness and truth. Have you ever longed for righteousness and truth to prevail? It is here and oh how glorious it would be to have a part in this triumphant conflict. This is why we must have a heart and love for righteousness and truth now; to seek it (Him) wholeheartedly now while He may be found. The way is being paved and we have a limited window in which to be prepared. This is why the Vision of Zion is so essential in contrast to nominal Christian pursuits that are too much the norm today.
We see another picture of an event in Revelation in verses 4-5. The description is very similar to what is seen in Rev 6:14. I know this is a statement made earlier concerning Isaiah but can we fully appreciate the range of prophetic insight that was contained within this one man? He saw a picture of the Son of Man responding to the cry that went throughout heaven as to whom would go forth on behalf of the father (Isa 6:8)? He sees with great clarity the 2nd coming and aspects of the millennial reign of Christ. If one can absorb the primary truths from this prophetic book he or she can pretty much know the entirety of God’s Word. His purpose and plan for the church and for individuals can also be better ascertained. We now go back to the judgments.
In verses 9-10 we see the desolate land of Edom resembling hell itself. It seems that even during the period of the millennium the former Edom will serve as a reminder what hell itself will be like. In verses 11-15 we see further descriptions of the former land of Edom. It will be depleted of people to now only serve as a home for wild beasts and bramble weeds. This land will showcase throughout the millennium a reminder of what happens to those who come against God. His Word never fails and does come to pass. God will ensure that the wild beasts that dwell there will be able to repopulate and live. Though the judgments upon Edom are severe it is a token of the Lord’s mercy seeing that he is ever reminding and pleading with His people to repent and seek after Him.
The Lord now looks west towards the land of Israel and pronounces a contrasting blessing to what was seen in Edom in chapter 34. This contrast will be vividly portrayed throughout the millennium. In verses 1-2 the fruitfulness of Israel is seen and it will result in great rejoicing. The glory and splendour of God is also powerfully displayed. Those who have encouraged and exhorted Israel will be strengthened and encouraged as they witness the favor of God coming upon the nation. Those who continue to oppose the nation of Israel will experience God’s wrath and vengeance. In verses 5-6 we see the powerful flow of God’s healing coming forth upon those who are lame, dumb, and blind. It is a promise that we feel will flow forth from the church of the last day even prior to His return. There is a healing stream spoken of flowing out of Ezekiel’s temple that will bring healing wherever it goes. Ezekiel’s temple speaks of the millennium but there will be a move of healing power that will precede the events referred to above.
There is a highway of holiness that will be evident during the millennium. Today, anyone can come into the church, even the unclean but this will not be the case in the millennium. It will require a circumcision of heart in order to gain entrance. The Lord seeks to do that work of qualifying today but the question is do we let Him? Are we fully availing the opportunities that the Lord brings our way? Each and every day gives us an opportunity in allowing God to deal with heart related issues. It is often in the every little issues of life where we are tested. What is our attitude, what is in our heart? As we read these verses concerning the millennium may it prompt a desire to do whatever it takes to be part of this glorious group. The message of holiness and the Cross is not to be minimized.
The millennium, among other things will be characterized by great joy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit and it will be in abundance amongst God’s people. The last verse of chapter 35 is another charismatic song that has stayed with me through the years. The redeemed of the Lord shall return unto Zion with great joy while sorrow and mourning gives way. No matter what measure of suffering we may be going through today let us never fail in looking forward to that which God has promised. This is the Hope of the Christian that God has placed before us. It will be all worth it in the end.
In the next two chapters we see Isaiah’s vivid first-hand account of the Assyrian pending invasion against Judah. This portion begins during the reign of King Hezekiah who was one of the more godly kings of Israel. Isaiah gets right to the point in verse 1 citing Sennacherib, King of Assyria as coming up against the boundaries of Judah. The reputation of the Assyrians is already well known in seeing how they devastated many nations prior to this event. This would include the siege of Samaria (the northern kingdom) several years earlier. There is interesting dialogue between Rabshakeh who was the field commander of the Assyrian forces and certain men of Judah who were court officers on behalf of King Hezekiah. Rabshakeh taunts and mocks the men of Judah by saying that they have trusted before in Egypt and that did not work out for and now they are calling upon the Lord? He continues to mock them by pointing out how diminished they were in their numbers. He even speaks mockingly that God has called the Assyrians to come up against them. This is actually a true statement seeing that God was calling them up for the purpose of his destroying them. We saw something similar in the days of Moses when God put it in the heart of Pharaoh to come against Israel as they were departing from Egypt (Exo 14:4).
Rabshakeh continued to taunt these ambassadors and anyone else who was in ear shot so as to further intimidate the masses. This is how the enemy seeks to strike fear in those who oppose him. It was seen with Goliath as he daily chided the armies of Israel and it was seen later in David’s life when he had to deal with other giants (Psa 37:35-37). The mouth of the enemy is one of his greatest weapons and we must be able to discern and not be overcome provided we are walking with God.
Rabshakeh continues to mock the men of Judah while trying to undermine the leadership of Hezekiah the king (vs 14-16). The enemy recognized that if confidence in the king were to be broken it would totally undermine any semblance of morale. One can imagine the kind of pressure that would be on Hezekiah as the entire nation was now looking to him. Rabshakeh is a man who embodies many of the qualities that will be seen in the false prophet in the last days. He seeks to force the allegiance of all people to Sennacherib in much the same way the false prophet will do on behalf of the antichrist. He then goes on to speak of the goodness of the land that he will bring them into. It is a lie and only serves as a trap to try and gain their quick compliance. This is seen today in many societies. People are easily giving up on true liberty in exchange for the false promises of socialism. It speaks of a lazy people, a people who are unwilling to pay a price which only makes them easy prey for the tactics of the enemy. It also speaks of a people who have been deceived and have chosen to live a life of disobedience to God.
In verses 18-20, Rabshakeh again returns to the theme of the futility in trusting in Hezekiah. He becomes more emboldened as he names the many nations who have tried but failed to subdue the Assyrians. Rabshakeh is seeking to provoke the men of Judah to respond in fear and trepidation. We see the wisdom of Hezekiah on display in verse 21 as the people were instructed to not respond further to these threats. This was instruction that Hezekiah had given to the people. The enemy loves when we respond to his threats in fear, outrage, anger and hopelessness. It is wisdom to not add any fuel to his fire. It is wisdom because it allows God to speak clearly and move efficiently without man made hindrances. The leaders who represented Hezekiah acted wisely and in obedience. We need to take note of their response and do the same when under threat. If we are responding in fear, we are allowing the enemy to dictate terms. If on the other hand, we are well versed in God’s Word and carrying His perspective it allows for Him to work. The enemy has nothing to lay hold of; no fear, anger, doubt or worries. These are all ingredients which fuel and give empowerment to the enemy. Remember, David saw the enemy as an overwhelming green bay tree in Psa 37:35. Two verses later he was vanquished and gone. It was the fruit of peace that ultimately defeated him (Psa 37:37, Rom 16:20). The three key leaders updated King Hezekiah as to what had just transpired. We will see Hezekiah’s response in the next chapter.
Paul is now going to introduce Melchizedek to his audience. The Jewish brethren would know of his name and understand that he had an encounter with Abraham back in the Book of Genesis. Who was Melchizedek? He perhaps is best defined in the following verse:
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
This refers to the event described in verse 1. Melchizedek is both a king and priest and he is seen as bringing bread and wine to Abraham. This is a significant event. It is the first communion service seen in scripture. Melchizedek is a very real type of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no identifiable genealogy pertaining to Melchizedek which symbolizes his priesthood that has no beginning. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8). Jesus is both a king and a priest and has placed the same calling upon the last day church (Rev 1:6). The Jewish brethren would have known who Melchizedek was but they do not understand what this man represents. Paul is about to clearly demonstrate that there is a greater priesthood than the one Israel was observing. In the first three verses Paul speaks of Melchizedek as a priest and king, a man who will open a truth concerning tithe as well as a man who had no recognizable descent that denotes his beginning or end. He is once again a clear picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not forget that the Jews were still living under and observing the Old Covenant. This meant that a king could only come from Judah and a priest from the tribe of Levi. Melchizedek was both.
In verses 4-6 we see an important truth concerning tithes which will help confirm a greater priesthood. Abraham paid tithes unto Melchizedek which speaks of a greater priesthood than that of Aaron. All the tithes throughout the Aaronic priesthood was paid to the priestly tribe of Levi. Levi was in the loins of Abraham who then paid tithes unto Melchizedek. What a beautiful way of illustrating the supremacy of this greater priesthood. As it says in verse 7 the less is blessed of the better. It was God’s intention from the beginning that all His people would be both kings and priests. They failed in this effort due to turning from the Law when it was given of God at Mt. Sinai (Exo 20:18).
Levi who received tithes paid tithes through Abraham to Melchizedek. Paul then goes on to make clear that perfection was not achieved through the Levitical law. If it was then there would be no need for a greater priest to emerge. This is the whole point of Melchizedek; he represents a greater law, priest and covenant. Paul now speaks of a king who did come forth from Judah who is after this order of Melchizedek that he has been trying to put emphasis on (vs 15). He is not a product of the law but is the Law. He has the power of an endless life; the law brought death. The law did not make one perfect but Christ did and with Him came a greater hope (vs 19). He goes on to speak of more attributes of Melchizedek through the end of the chapter. This whole chapter has been dedicated to one man but through this one man we learn many valuable truths. Paul is at his instructional best in connecting an Old Testament character to make a New Testament truth. He knows their mind due to once being like them. He declares Christ as the greater high priest after the order of Melchizedek.