The Prophet Series: Isaiah, part 2: the prophecy of chapters 2-5
Isaiah, part 2: the prophecy of chapters 2-5.
“The New Testament presents the Lord Jesus Christ as its theme, and by the same token Isaiah presents the Lord Jesus Christ as his theme. Isaiah has been called the fifth evangelist, and the Book of Isaiah has been called the fifth gospel. Christ’s virgin birth, His character, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His second coming are all presented in Isaiah clearly and definitively.” [J. Vernon McGee]
The Book of Isaiah can be split into two parts, chapters 1-39 and 40-66. The 27 chapters of the second part, which emphasizes salvation, consists of three equal parts of 9 chapters each. The second division, chapters 49-57, has chapter 53 directly in the middle, which is one of the most detailed accounts of the life, work, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.
Chapters 2-5 constitute one complete prophecy. It looks past the present time to the last days concerning Israel.
Chapter 2: Please don’t be a fool.
The House of God has a certain future on His holy mountain Zion, yet the pride of man ignores that beautiful picture and gazes at his own achievements. He glories in his own strength (cedars of Lebanon), his own commerce (ships of Tarshish), and indulges in his own religion (idols), and he thinks that these things can truly fill him.
God then warns us:
Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?
Would we highly regard a breathing nose?
Chapter 3: Signs of sickness - weak government and bad fashion sense.
God will judge all nations, yet God’s judgment of Israel is more severe and intense because they were chosen to enter into a covenant with Him.
The nation will be stricken with famine (vs. 1). The mighty leader, actually strong and capable leaders, will be struck down (vv. 2-3).
Application to today: Where are our strong leaders? Where are wisdom, strength, values, morals, service, humility, and conviction. God said that Israel’s leaders are going to be like children. Of our 535 congressmen, president, vice president, the entire staff of the white house, all departments, and nine justices; how many of them are like children only interested in wealth, power, and popularity?
In vs. 9, sin is out in the open. Hidden sin is hypocrisy, but at least there is a level of shame revealed in trying to cloak it, and an acknowledgement that it is wrong. It is more hypocritical to call evil good and openly perform it as if it is normal. In our society, not only is evil out in the open, but it is heralded as freedom. The perpetrators demand that the rest of us acknowledge the evil they do is good.
All good nations fall from within.
The Lord arises to contend,
And stands to judge the people.
The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people,
"It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
The plunder of the poor is in your houses.
"What do you mean by crushing My people,
And grinding the face of the poor?"
Declares the Lord God of hosts.
The Lord pleads with them through the voice and pen of Isaiah, His servant. Where is justice? You sleep in your comfortable beds after being dressed by your servants while the people you could influence in good ways languish in poverty, sickness, and premature death? Right now, in many African nations that contain large storehouses of oil, gas, and minerals (diamonds, iron, copper, tantalum, titanium) in the ground, these materials are being mined and sold on the world market while investors and mining companies grow rich, but not only them. The leadership in these nations are almost all tyrants who have taken power through civil war. These men take the wealth from these raw materials for themselves while their people try to live on a little over a dollar a day. Infant mortality in sub Saharan Africa is the highest in the world. These tyrants should be made to stare at every one of the thousands of women sitting in shabby hospitals while they hold and weep over their dying children.
In vv. 16-17 God calls out the women in the nation for how they dress. This same call from God to decency and humility is repeated in 1Pe 3. The Lord lists 21 adornments that they use. It must have taken them hours to prepare themselves to go out; their poor husbands. Just like a sickness within the body gives off signs like fever, cough, fatigue, etc., so does the sickness in the souls of the people in a nation. God instructs His women to dress according to their imperishable quality of humility and grace, but if they are concerned with impressing others, there is a sickness in their soul.
And again, the warning is repeated. Destruction is coming. Each one of them, individually, can turn to the Lord and find salvation for their souls, but nothing is going to stop the destruction that is on the way.
Your men will fall by the sword,
And your mighty ones in battle.
And her gates will lament and mourn;
And deserted she will sit on the ground.
Chapter 4: Shortest chapter contains it all.
This short chapter contains a summary of the entire book, which is a summary of the entire history of the world.
There will be judgment of evil. War is going to devastate Israel. There will be a surplus of women because the men will be either at war or dead. Yet …
The Day of the Lord is coming. Some will love that day. If you are a believer you will. That day is the beginning of the end. There are different ideas about defining this term, but we can say with fair confidence that it is the beginning of the Tribulation through to the end of history, culminating in our Lord’s thousand-year Millennial reign. Some will dread that day. When the Rapture of the church happens, the prophetic clock, that has been on pause during the age of the church, will begin again to tick. What glory to think of the end of all sin and evil and death and the beginning of a universe filled with only one will - His.
Some will survive the Day of the Lord, meaning, they will survive the Tribulation.
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.
"But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
Some think MAT 24:13 is a salvation verse. If it is, then salvation is by works. Jesus is speaking of the Tribulation. Any believer who makes it through and survives will be saved or delivered at the return of the Lord. The horrible affairs of that world will end and they will enter into His kingdom with Him. Some unbelievers will survive, but they will be judged at His return, which includes immediate death.
The survivors will be the only living ones to enter into Christ’s kingdom, and He will wash them and prepare them for it. In that Day, Zion will be a place of blessing for the whole earth. Anti-Semitism will be a memory. Jesus is going to do some landscaping and beautify the nation of Israel to His taste. He will take with Him His bride, the church, and His people of the covenant, all believing Israel resurrected. What a wonderful Day to anticipate.
Chapter 5: Israel My vineyard, I sing to you through tears.
In this chapter is a song written by the Lord for Israel.
“Those who can read the song in Hebrew tell me that it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful songs that has ever been written … impossible to reproduce in English.” [J. Vernon McGee]
The Vineyard - the house of Israel
Before His death, the Lord gave a parable of a vineyard. The vineyard was rented out to the vine growers who refused to give the owner any of its produce. The owner sent his son to them to persuade them, and they killed him. The owner destroyed the vine growers and gave the vineyard to others.
Isaiah announces the imminent captivity of the Northern Kingdom. This gives the Southern Kingdom a sound and very loud warning, but they failed to heed it and were taken off by the Babylonians. Yet, God gave them another chance and they were allowed to return to Judah, rebuild the Temple and the city, but when the Son of the King came, they failed again by crucifying their King.
Vv. 1-2: God released Israel from slavery in Egypt and planted them in the Promise Land.
Vs. 3: “Jerusalem, you be the judge. What more could I have done for My vineyard?”
Vv. 5-6: “I will have to destroy it.”
People complain about the judgment of God, claiming that if God is loving, He cannot do such things. But God is love and also justice. Should He be beholden to us and let evil continue indefinitely? If He does, could there ever be a Day of the Lord? Israel has been rejecting Him, throwing His Law aside, and hating His word for over 600 years! Would another 600 make a difference in them? In the first 600 they had only gotten worse, imagine what they would become if God did not intervene?
The six woes, vv. 8-23.
Woe 1: Lust of the eyes, covetousness: Anything to which you give yourself completely becomes your religion.
Woe 2: Alcoholism and lust for pleasure:
Alcoholism and hedonism lower the morals of a man and a nation and causes devastation. In vs. 14 it will lead to his death.
Woe 3: Brazen wickedness and lying:
They actually challenge God to do something about it. Because God is slow to anger, they think that they will always survive their challenges.
Woe 4: Calling evil good and good evil:
They attempt to destroy God’s standards and create their own to supersede the truth. A wise man wrote: When you are thinking about tearing down a fence, think long and hard about why it was put there in the first place.
Woe 5: Pride:
What do we have to say about this one? Man’s pride is laughable, yet it is deeply ingrained in him and becomes his greatest tragedy.
Woe 6: Drunkenness and injustice:
Drunkenness at its core is selfishness. When selfish, the justice due to others is of no concern since others are of no concern. The powerful claim Darwinism and feel they are the ones fit to survive at the highest echelon, but as God warns here, the judgment is on its way.
The reason for these woes is given in vs. 24. They cast away His Law and despise His word. This prophecy concludes that their destruction will be like a spreading fire. Each person in Israel at the time can heed Isaiah’s message, and if they turn to the Lord and believe in Him, though they may still die in the conflagration, their souls will be saved. Anyone at any time can become a member of the remnant.
To Him be all glory and honor,
Pastor Joe Sugrue