Coming Judgment – Coming Kingdom

Posted: February 9, 2014 in Isaiah

Isaiah 65, “Coming Judgment – Coming Kingdom”

To talk about the judgment of God is a difficult thing.  So many people avoid the OT prophets specifically to avoid the idea of God’s wrath and judgment.  Yet turn to the NT, and we find Jesus doing exactly the same thing in the book of Revelation.  Even the cross itself is the ultimate expression of the judgment of God, even as it is the ultimate expression of His grace.

Because God is just, He must judge.  That includes those among the world, and those who are included among the people of God.  After all, judgment begins in the house of God (1 Pet 4:17).  The nation of Israel is no exception.  They had sinned against God in horrible ways, for which He was about to send them into Babylonian captivity.  Yet those 70 years would not be the end of their rebellion against God.  They would rebel again when they rejected the Son of God as their Messiah – and that’s a rebellion that persists to this day. 

Would God judge?  Yes.  But that’s not the end of the story of God & the Jews.  Along with the promise of judgment is the promise of blessing.  There is the wrath of God, but there is also His mercy extended in the Millennial Kingdom, and even into eternity.

That’s what we see in Isaiah 65 as things begin to wrap up in the prophecy.  Just as the NT ends with a description of tremendous tribulation that comes to the Jews, and the fulfillment of the Millennial promises, so does the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 65

  • God vows to judge (vss. 1-7)

1 “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ To a nation that was not called by My name. 2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts;

  • Isaiah 64 had ended with a question to God.  The prophet (on behalf of all the people) was crying out to the Lord for the destruction that was to come to them via Babylon (and perhaps prophetically, in the Tribulation).  Sin had been confessed, and the reality had sunk in that they had no righteousness that they could bring to the Lord.  They were fully deserving of the wrath of God, and the only hope they had was God’s mercy.  So they asked if the outpouring of God’s anger was enough.  Would it be sufficient, or was there more to come?  Isaiah 64:12, "Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD? Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?" []  The question has been asked; now God provides the answer.  No.  No, it’s not over.  The Babylonian conquest is not the only time of tribulation the Jewish nation would face.  There would be more to come.  Not just in the wars that raged in the land between the Syrian (Seleucid) and Egyptian (Ptolemy) empires – not just the Romans, even to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD – not even just to the horrors of the Holocaust brought on by the Nazis – ultimately this would carry on & finally be fulfilled in what the Bible calls the days of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7) = the Great Tribulation.  Although there would certainly be application to the Babylonian conquest the Jews were about to experience, the context coming out of Ch. 64 implies that God is speaking of a time that goes beyond the days of the Babylonian captivity.  If Ch 63-64 show the suffering that takes place in Babylon, and Ch. 65 shows additional suffering beyond Babylon, then it only makes sense we’re looking at something still yet future.  The Great Tribulation best fits that context.
  • The details of the suffering of the Jews and God’s wrath will be made plain in a bit, but God starts off His description with a people that are not the Jews.  Vs. 1 describes a people who are strangers to the covenants of God, but who seek God nevertheless.  Those who didn’t ask for God found God.  God had presented Himself to the Jewish nation, but the Jews did not seek Him.  Ironically, it was the people who were not called after God’s name that sought Him out in faith.
  • There’s a bit of debate here whether or not vs. 1 refers to Gentiles & vs. 2 to the Jews, or if both vss. 1-2 refer to the Jews – and some translations (ESV & NASB) base their translations heavily on the latter interpretation.  However, Paul seemed to hold to the first point of view, as he quoted Isaiah to the Romans as to why God reached out to the Gentiles with the gospel of the Jewish Messiah.  Romans 10:19–21, "(19) But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.” (20) But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” (21) But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.”" []  It was because Israel rejected God (and eventually rejected God’s Son as Messiah) that the gospel went out to the Gentile masses.  WE know the Messiah of the Jews, in part because the Jews did not receive their Messiah.  Now part of our role is to provoke them to jealousy.  They are to see the relationship that Gentile Christians have with Yahweh God, how God stretched out His hands to us in salvation, and it supposed to cause them to wonder, to look to Christ Jesus, and to be saved!
  • God is willing to receive ANY who come to Him in faith!
  • The problem with the Jews is that they were not willing.  They were continually “rebellious,” and they did not walk in the way of God.  As the Hebrews did in the days of the Judges, everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Jdg 21:25).
    • That’s still what people do today.  Those who reject God as the King – those who continually rebel against God and who He has revealed Himself to be, all “walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts.”  Without an objective moral standard of right/wrong, how is it a person determines good from evil?  They have to determine it for themselves.  They judge what it is that will benefit or harm them the most.  If it makes them happy, it’s good; if it sends them to jail, it’s bad.  It’s completely centered on self, and it’s completely relative from person to person.  That’s why we so often hear the phrase, “That’s OK if it’s good for you; it’s not good for me.  Don’t force your morality on me.”  They don’t accept the objective moral standard of the Scripture, because in their viewpoint there IS no objective moral standard.  Morals are all based upon the individual.  Thus we have the cultural decay stemming from rampant fornication, homosexuality, abortion, drug & alcohol abuse, and so much more.  Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes, and thus nothing is right for society as a whole.  Whatever the majority determines is right, must in fact be right – regardless if it violates the word of God or not.
    • The obvious problem is that the majority isn’t always correct.  At one point in time, the majority of people believed that racism was acceptable.  At one point in time, the majority of people believed that the earth was flat.  The majority can often be wrong.  What is important is not what the majority thinks about the truth; but the truth itself.  What IS the truth?  That’s what needs to be discovered, and that is exactly what the Bible reveals.
  • God goes on to describe the rebellion of His people.  Vs. 3…

3 A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick; 4 Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine’s flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

  • The Jews had engaged in pagan idolatry.  “Sacrifice & incense” were regular parts of Jewish worship, but only when done in the way prescribed by God.  Incense symbolized the prayers of the saints, and was only to be burned in the tabernacle/temple, using only the specific blend of incense that God had commanded.  Sacrifice was given to provide atonement for sin, and to symbolize one’s complete dedication unto the Lord.  It also was only to be done in certain places (the bronze altar), and only in certain ways.  The Jewish people (who were supposedly called after the name of God) took the things that God had given them, and perverted them with usage according to different religions (and presumably to different gods).
    • Just because someone does something that looks religious doesn’t mean that it’s something that is pleasing to God.  Virtually all world religions have some form of prayer, but not all prayer is heard by the One True God.  And what is worse is when God’s people take something that has been given by God, and twist it through worldly use.  It’s easy to point our fingers at the ancient Jews, but what about evangelical Christians when we turn worship services into an entertainment program?  Or TV ministries that use prayer as a means for greed?  We need to be careful to maintain the holiness of what God has given to us for our good.
  • The Jews had engaged in uncleanness.  They had disregarded the dietary laws & eaten unclean foods.  They had ignored the prohibitions about dwelling among unclean things (such as corpses).  Again, they had given themselves over to the things of the world, and it didn’t bother them in the least.  The Jews (the people of God!) had become virtually indistinguishable from the world around them, yet they were supposed to have been a people set apart, witnessing to the glory of God.
    • Again, this is something we need to beware in the Church.  Jesus has left us in the world, but we’re not to be OF the world.  We’re supposed to look different…more to the point, we’re supposed to BE different.  It’s one thing to be a missionary to our culture – it’s another thing to blend it so much that someone doesn’t have a clue that we belong to Jesus Christ.
  • The result?  They provoked God to anger!  God had reached out to His people in love, and they spurned His mercies.  They turned aside from His grace, and continued in sin & rebellion…and in the process, they made a terrible mistake.  It’s one thing to pick a fight with your neighbor, who may or may not be stronger than you.  It’s another thing to pick a fight with the omnipotent God.  If there is one Being in all the universe you don’t want angry with you, it’s God!  And yet that is exactly what they did.
    • Sin always angers God…whether it comes from Israel, or us.  Sin is always rebellion against His rule, and it is always spitting in the face of His grace.  It rightly angers God, just as spiteful rebellion from our children rightly angers us.  The good news for us as born-again Christians is that Jesus has already absorbed God’s righteous anger for us.  He already took on all of the punishment for all of our sin (past, present, and future) when He went to the cross.  That obviously does not give us license to go engage in more rebellion, but it does reaffirm His forgiveness and grace when the sin occurs.

5 Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day.

  • One of the worst parts about the sin of the Jews was their hypocrisy in it all.  They may have offered sacrifice & incense, but they did so in idolatry.  They had totally disregarded the law of God regarding holiness, and yet they absurdly claimed that they were more holy than all of the other people around them.  They may have acted just like the Gentiles, but they didn’t want to associate with the Gentiles, because they perceived themselves as holy & set-apart to God.  How?!  In what way?!  They had done nothing but provoke God to wrath.  Simply because they had a Jewish last name did not mean that they acted as a Jew.  As Paul would later write, not everyone of Israel is OF Israel (Rom 9:6).  As John the Baptist said, they should not take pride in being children of Abraham, because God could raise up children of Abraham from the stones (Mt 3:9).  If they were not circumcised in their heart, it wouldn’t matter if they were circumcised in their flesh.  Their idolatry and sin clearly demonstrated that they were anything BUT holy.
  • And God knew the difference.  Their claims were nothing except irritating to Him, like campfire smoke that blows in your face.  Their sacrifices were not a pleasing aroma to Him; they caused Him to fume with wrath.
  • Just as sin angers God, so does hypocrisy.  Jesus saved His harshest criticism for the Pharisees & scribes who elevated religious hypocrisy to an art form. (Mt 23)  God desires humility; not hypocrisy from His people.  Hypocritical Christians justify their sin; humble Christians confess it.  Hypocritical Christians place standards upon others that they themselves cannot keep; humble Christians understand that all standards are met only in Jesus.  Hypocritical Christians judge others with abandon; humble Christians judge rightly & with compassion.  May we beware the creeping nature of hypocrisy, and continually examine our own hearts that we would remain humble before the Lord!

6 “Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay— Even repay into their bosom— 7 Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together,” Says the LORD, “Who have burned incense on the mountains And blasphemed Me on the hills; Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.”

  • This is what God has been leading up to since the moment He first began answering the question.  No, the conquest of Jerusalem was not all that the Jewish people would face.  God would “repay” these sins.  He vowed His wrath, just as He was legally bound to do.  The covenant “written” in the book of Deuteronomy specifically demanded that God act in His justice according to the sin of the people, and that is exactly what He would do.  Deuteronomy 28:47–48, "(47) “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, (48) therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you." []  This is what the Lord had promised, and He would be faithful to every bit of the curses given throughout Deuteronomy 28.  He would so “measure” out His own wrath unto Israel that it would seem as if He would utterly destroy the whole nation.
  • Notice that there were both individual AND national sins seen by God: “Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together.”  It wasn’t merely the sin of the current generation to which God was responding; it was the sin that went back generation upon generation.  God had given many opportunities for the people to repent through the years, and they just didn’t do it.  (Even today, the Jewish people have daily opportunities to come to faith in Jesus as Messiah, but by & large, they still reject Him.)  God was obligated to address the sin of the nation.  Just as God judged other pagan nations for their repeated sins, so He would judge His own people.
    • Just because a nation has experienced the blessing of God in the past does not mean that the nation will not experience the judgment of God in the future.  God sees the national sins which build up over generations, and there eventually comes a point in which He must act.  It would seem the United States is quickly approaching that point.  We have turned aside from our Biblical foundations – we have dismissed Biblical Christianity to the fringes – we have engaged in all kinds of moral abominations – we have given support to nations that would see Israel destroyed.  Surely we are approaching that point of national judgment by God.
  • Question: in Deuteronomy 28, God promised to destroy the nation.  Did He do it?  No doubt the Jewish nation as the people knew it WAS destroyed.  But that doesn’t mean that the race of Jews was entirely extinguished from the earth.  Even in the midst of His judgment, God made sure to extend His mercies.  See vs. 8…
  • Mercy to remnant; wrath to rebellious (vss. 8-12)

8 Thus says the LORD: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, That I may not destroy them all.

  • The nation was sinful, but not all were as sinful as the rest.  There was a remnant that had remained faithful to God.  As hopeless as things may seem to be, there is always a faithful remnant.  Even today among the Jewish people who reject Jesus as Messiah, there is a remnant (Rom 11:5).  There are cultural Jews who understand that Jesus truly IS the Son of God, that He died for them as a sin sacrifice, and that He rose from the grave according to prophecy.  To be sure, they are part of the universal Church, but they are still Jewish by background, and thus they are the remnant of God.  (BTW, this is different than Gentile Christians to attempt to take on a Hebrew identity in an attempt to connect with the “Jewishness” of the OT.  Gentiles cannot make themselves Jewish any more than a cat can make itself a dog; they are two very different things.  It is Jesus in His grace that removes the obstacle between us and makes us one body of believers together.)
  • What God describes to Isaiah is very similar to the conversation that God had with Abraham concerning the people of Sodom (Gen 18).  God had revealed His intention to Abraham that He was about to bring destruction upon the city for their wickedness.  Abraham interceded for the city in prayer, knowing that his nephew (Lot) lived there, and asked that even if there were 10 righteous people that Sodom might be spared.  God agreed, but sadly there were not even 10 righteous.  Yet instead of destroy the righteous with the wicked, God sent two angels to go collect Lot & his family from Sodom, prior to its destruction.  In a sense, there was good wine found within the bad cluster (to use the analogy in vs. 8), and God would not “destroy them all.
    • Even in His judgment, God is merciful!
  • The basic idea here is that God’s wrath (which is justified) was still restrained because of His mercies.  God describes that that looks like in vs. 9…

9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, And from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, And My servants shall dwell there. 10 Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, For My people who have sought Me.

  • As a whole, the nation would be destroyed, but it wouldn’t stay that way forever.  There was a remnant of God’s people who would remain faithful, and God would ensure their survival & restoration to the land.  The picture here is not one of a nation barely-holding on through wave after wave of oppressive invader (as what has happened through history), but of a nation experiencing profound peace. 
  • Who experiences it? “My people who have sought Me” = those who have faith.  This time of blessing & prosperity is not for someone who just claimed to be a Jew, but for those who truly are believers in the true God.  Of course, this is exactly what we will see during the Millennial Kingdom (which will be addressed in fuller detail later on).  At the close of the Great Tribulation, only those who have faith in Christ Jesus will enter the Kingdom, and the people of Israel will have the peace in the physical land of their inheritance, just as God has promised.

11 “But you are those who forsake the LORD, Who forget My holy mountain, Who prepare a table for Gad, And who furnish a drink offering for Meni. 12 Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”

  • Obviously, not everyone would have faith.  The remnant did, but others did not – contextually, it seems to refer to the current generation of Jews in Isaiah’s day.  They had proven themselves unfaithful to the Lord, practicing pagan idolatry.  “Gad & Meni” are most likely names for Canaanite gods, but their names could be translated “Fortune & Destiny.”  It’s very possible there is a double meaning with the double names.  There was document idolatry among the people of Judah, perhaps to these very Canaanite gods.  Yet those who did not literally bow their knee to Gad still gave themselves over to Fortune.  They tried to worship their own version of Destiny.  IOW, they had completely abandoned the God of their covenant, whether by using a pagan statue, or an idolatrous idea in their own mind.
    • That is often where people in our own culture fall to idolatry.  It’s relatively easy to stay away from worshipping physical idols (though a good argument can be made that it happens more often than we think, in regards to houses, cars, vacations, sports, etc.).  What can be more insidious & more prevalent is the worship of false ideas of God in our own minds.  People give themselves over to Fortune/Ego, and they worship themselves.  Either way, it’s still idolatry, and it is rebellion against God.
  • God has an answer for the idolatry of Israel: judgment.  They would face “the sword & slaughter.”  These are not exaggerated terms – the Jews faced terrible death during the onslaught of the Babylonians, the Romans, during the Nazi holocaust, and those who don’t turn to have faith in Christ Jesus will face wholesale slaughter again during the Great Tribulation.  It’s not that God didn’t reach out to them to repent…He “called,” but they “did not answer.”  They chose to endure in “evil,” knowing it was abhorrent in the sight of God, and they would face the terrible slaughter that would be the result.
    • God will judge, but God does not desire judgment!  God desires salvation!  The Bible tells us clearly that God desires all men to come to repentance (Acts 17:30).  That includes Jews AND Gentiles.  He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).  That is His desire for all the world, but undoubtedly many reject the gracious offer of God.  What is left, besides judgment?  God must judge, and He will.
  • Contrast between true & false believers (vss. 13-16)

13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed; 14 Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit.

  • The contrast is clear.  Those who have faith experience God’s blessing.  Those who reject God experience His punishment.  Contextually for Israel, those who seek after God will experience the blessing of the Kingdom promises.  Those who do not will be cast out – unable to enter into the Kingdom of God.
  • Not only are they left out – they are cursed…

15 You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord GOD will slay you, And call His servants by another name;

  • Those who continually reject God will find themselves destroyed by God.  The only legacy they leave behind is one of judgment.
  • Again, if we think of the Jews that rejected Christ, what happened historically afterwards?  The good news of salvation went to another people – “servants” of God who were called “by another name.”  Jesus said that He had other sheep in other sheepfolds that He needed to gather (Jn 10:16) – a reference to this same idea.  God gave the gospel of salvation first to the Jews, but it did not remain only with the Jews once they rejected it.  God gave it afterwards to the Gentiles.
  • What happens to those who have faith (be they Jew or Gentile)?  Vs. 16…

16 So that he who blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My eyes.

  • They do not have a legacy of judgment, but of blessing. Whatever trials and tribulations come will not last forever.  Those who had faith in the Lord would eventually see a day in which “the former troubles are forgotten.
  • Praise God that we look forward to a better day!  There’s no doubt that we experience troubles now, but it won’t always be the case.  We bear the burden of stress, guilt, sin, conflict, and all sorts of things.  But because of the promises we have in Christ, we look forward to something far better.  When we’re with Jesus, the former things are “forgotten & hidden.”  When we are in the physical presence of our Lord Jesus, how will the trials of this life compare?  They will all fade in dim memory…gloriously so!
  • Promise of future kingdom and eternity (vss. 17-25)

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

  • How far removed will we be from earthly troubles?  There eventually won’t be a troubled earth!  Something new is coming: a “new heavens and a new earth.”  The physical universe is going to go through a fundamental change, and will be made brand-new.  Peter wrote of a day in which the heaves and elements will dissolve in fervent heat, in anticipation of the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:12-13).  John actually witnessed the appearing of it, in his visions of the future: Revelation 21:1–4, "(1) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. (2) Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”" []  This is what is in store!  We have a glorious future with our Lord Jesus…and it will never end.
  • We can talk about this using terms like “restoration,” but notice it really does go beyond “restoration” all the way to re-creation.  When God ushers in eternity, He will do more than simply repair what is already here; He’s going to provide something brand-new.  The new heavens & new earth isn’t going to be a patch-job repair project; it will be brand-new, entirely untainted by the stain of sin.
    • Keep in mind that this is what He had done in each of our lives through Jesus.  The Bible says that in Christ, we are “new creations.” (2 Cor 5:17)  When you asked Jesus to be your Lord & Savior, you received a new birth via the Holy Spirit, and you became a brand new person.  The old person that you were is gone; the new person that you are was made by the will of Jesus Christ.  You weren’t simply patched up; you were made brand-new.  THAT is an amazing gift of grace!
    • That’s also why it’s downright bizarre that we fall back into the old habits of old sins.  After all, that’s not who we are any longer.  It’s as if we go back & pick up a corpse & try to wear it as a jacket.  We’re not to try to live in the dead flesh of the past, but to live as the new creation that God has made us to be.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying.

  • What a contrast for what Jerusalem was about to experience!  They were about to endure one of the horrendous times of tribulation that they had seen thus far as a nation.  And as bad as it was, it was just a foretaste of what was to come!  Yet there was something more – something better that God had in mind for them.  In the present, many would “cry for sorrow of heart” (vs. 14), but as a nation, the Jews would not always weep.  The people were currently rebellious against the Lord, provoking Him to anger (vs. 3), but future generations arising out of the faithful remnant would cause God to “rejoice in Jerusalem.”  The people and their God would be able to rejoice in each other, as all the times of trial and “weeping” are put forever aside.  No more crying, no more pain – just joy in the Lord as the people dwell with their God.

20 “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

  • This might raise some questions.  On one hand, Isaiah refers to the new heavens & new earth, and we know that during that time, death itself will pass away.  How could anyone die (even at 100 years old)?  How could anyone be a sinner in heaven?
  • At this point, it becomes evident that Isaiah is talking about two different time periods, though from his perspective in the past they may have appeared to be the same.  We’ve looked at the idea of the “mountain peaks of prophecy” in regards to Jesus 1st & 2nd comings – this is the same sort of thing going on in regards to the Millennial Kingdom & the eternal state.  God is giving a prophetic word to Isaiah about events thousands of years in the future, and from Isaiah’s perspective these things easily run together, but there is no doubt they are different. 
  • The Millennial Kingdom begins at the moment of Jesus’ return to earth.  He comes in power & glory at the battle of Armageddon, defeats Antichrist & the armies of the world, and ushers in a kingdom of peace from which Jesus reigns in Jerusalem.  During that time, Jesus fulfills the promises made to David, and while Antichrist & the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, the devil is chained for 1000 years in prison while Jesus reigns on the earth.  Those who survived the Great Tribulation & made it through the judgment of the nations (sheep & goats) enter into the Millennial Kingdom, and live, marry, and even die during those years.  The longevity of a lifespan will seemingly be restored to what it was prior to Noah’s flood, with people living for centuries at a time.  As Isaiah writes, a death of a 100 year old will seem like the death of a child in comparison.  It will be a time of tremendous blessing upon our current planet as it stands.
  • At the end of that 1000 years, Satan is released for one final rebellion, and apparently he is able to raise up an army from among the nations of the earth.  Though they would have lived under the perfect reign from the perfect King, humans born in that time still are born with a nature of sin & many of them will choose to rebel against Jesus.  The rebellion will be dealt with immediately by God, and finally the devil will be tossed into the lake of fire.  It’s at that point that the eternal state begins, when death itself will be cast into the lake of fire with the devil & Antichrist.  This is the time of the Great White Throne judgment, when all humans who have ever lived will stand before God and find if their name has been written in the Lamb’s book of life.  Finally God brings the new heaven and the new earth, and those who have had faith in Christ will live with our Savior forever freed from the very presence of sin ever again.
  • That’s a lot of detail, but it helps explain the seeming difficulties in Isaiah’s prophecy from the Lord God.  At first, he saw the eternal state – now he sees the Millennial Kingdom.  Death exists & sin exists, but it is different than what we see today.  During that day, even with the existence of those things, the nation of Israel will experience blessing like they have never experienced before.  All of the things that they were promised through the Son of David will come to fruition, and they will live in the Kingdom that God always meant them to have.

21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, And their offspring with them.

  • What kind of blessings will they have?  Total freedom – total independence – total sovereignty.  No longer will the Jews be ruled over by other nations.  No longer will the Jews have to see their fruits and their labors stolen away from them.  No longer will they experience the consequences of the hatred of the world towards them.  They will truly live in the blessings of God.

24 “It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.

  • The best part of the Kingdom?  They’ll finally know Jesus as Lord!  They will dwell in close relationship with their King.  Whereas in their rebellion God did not answer their prayers, in the Kingdom God WILL answer.  God will hear, and God will be with them always.
  • What Israel looks forward to is the relationship we experience with the Lord Jesus right now!  What a privilege it is that the Lord hears us & answers us!

25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD.

  • How peaceful will that day be?  Carnivores become vegetarians.  This same imagery was used by Isaiah before, back in Ch. 11, in reference to the perfect reign of the Messiah, the “Rod from the stem of Jesse” (11:1).  There will be no need for fear of wild animals, because the Creator of the animals will dwell among us, and will take away their fierceness.
  • Notice the diet of the serpent: “dust.”  Seems to be a purposeful reference to Genesis 3, when God cursed Satan the serpent.  At that time, God told him that the serpent would eat dust all the days of his life, and proceeded to speak of a time that the promised Messiah would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen 3:14-15).  For all the judgment that will no longer be placed on the Jews during the Kingdom, the one judgment that WILL come will be upon Satan.  He will never be victorious, no matter what.

Answering the question of whether or not His judgment was over, God told Israel assuredly that it was not.  He would fully repay the Jews for their continued idolatry, rebellion, and hypocrisy against Him.  Those things would not be ignored, and God’s wrath was coming.

But so was His blessing.  God had given a promise of a future kingdom, and He has every intention of seeing it fulfilled to the letter.

One of the amazing privileges we have being the Body of Christ living in the last days is that we get to see much of this coming to fruition before our eyes.  For the first time in centuries, there is a nation of Jews that dwells in the land promised to Abraham.  There is a faithful & visible remnant of Israel that has faith in Jesus as the Messiah.  The gospel has gone out among all the world, and Gentiles have from to Christ by the multitudes.  The stage is set & the time is right for Jesus to take the Church home, and return His focus to the people of Israel.  There will indeed be Tribulation, but there will also be blessing – more than the world has ever seen.

Today, not only can we wait with anticipation for the fulfillment of these prophecies, but we can thank God that we currently live in the relationship with Jesus that the Jews await.  Right now, our God is with us.  Right now, He wipes our tears away.  Right now, He strengthens us for our trials.  And right now, we have the promise of being with Jesus immediately when we die.  We don’t have to wait for the Kingdom – we’re experiencing part of it today, even as the fullness will come later.

Ultimately, what it is it we see?  The overarching plan of salvation that God had in place from the very beginning.  This is our sovereign God – and this is Someone whom we can be in awe of & praise.

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