Continuing in the book of Isaiah, my previous post on which covered the first nine verses of chapter 2; bear in mind that chapters 2-5 are a single prophetic utterance. The first nine verses pertained to the establishment of New Jerusalem; the acceptance of people of all nations into the Kingdom of Christ, and an exhortation to the Jews to come unto the Lord through this new reign of Messiah.
We explained that the ‘last days’ was the term used by the prophets of the Old Testament to refer to the time of the coming Messiah. In verses 10-22, begins discusses briefly what Christians in our day view as the ‘last days,’ refering to the ‘day of the Lord.’ Just as the term ‘last days’ had a specific meaning to the Old Testament prophets, another common phrase used by many of them is the ‘day of the Lord,’ by which they spoke of the event we know as the second coming of Christ: more specifically, ‘judgment day.’ The final judgment takes place at the end of the ‘last days,’ which period started at Christ’s first coming (see the introduction to Isaiah 2:1-9 for clarification).
The coming of Christ completely fulfilled God’s promises of the Old Covenant. Under God’s covenant with Abraham, the land of Canaan was the inheritance promised (Gen 17:8); God fulfilled the promise under the ministry of Joshua; Jesus Christ came at a time when the Jews inhabitted the land per that promise. Having fulfilled both the promise of land, and the promises of Messiah (whose coming was the very purpose for the promise of land – that Messiah may have a people, and a country to come to), Jesus established the new, ‘last days’ covenant to be in place until His return (‘the day of the Lord’). Jesus will not fulfill again, or reinstate the old covenant for He has already both fulfilled, and superceded the Old Covenant at His coming (see Hebrews 8:6-13). The promised inheritance of the New Covenant was preached from the days of John the Baptist; not land but the kingdom of God: heaven, itself (Mark 1:15; Matt 11:12). Even as I mentioned in a prior post: the reason the Sanhedrin finally murdered Jesus was because they wanted the land (John 11:47,48); refusing the Kingdom of God for their own kingdom. Isaiah predicts the very phenomenon that Jesus declared in the flesh: ‘And I say unto you that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. But the children of the kingdom [those whose earthly kingdom was built to demonstrate the kingdom of heaven] shall be cast out into outer darkness…’ Matt 8:11,12
It is important to understand these doctrinal specifics of the change in covenant both because Isaiah is speaking of the change in the covenant eras, and also so that we can see why Isaiah speaks to the nation the way he does.
When speaking of Israel THE NATION in the last days, Isaiah is speaking to a people who are fully in rebellion to God. Before His death, Jesus declared to Jerusalem, and the Sanherin that ruled there that they would remain DESOLATE until such time as they put faith in Messiah (Matt 23:37-39); the writer of Hebrews confirms doctrinally that the old covenant of land has passed away (Heb 8:13).
It is interesting to see the ages in the light by which the prophets foresaw them coupled with he New Testament revelation, which gives greater clarity (for, indeed, Christ fulfills the Law, and the prophets). The ‘last days’ are the days of HARVEST (Rev 14:15); the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, (Pentecost was celebrated 50 days after Passover, and was the harvest festival of the Jews;) its principal sign was TONGUES: God finally calling together all the nations of the earth which He had seperated and dispersed through language diversification at the tower of Babel. I might also point out that His dispersion of the nations was pre-requisite for His selection of a single nation through which to come as Messiah. The era of preistly exclusivity was established, and the Jews were called to be the preistly kingdom – priests to the nations (Ex 19:6).
Once Messiah had come, and established the Melchizidek priesthood (the eternal, spiritual preisthood (Heb 7:24)), the old order of priests passed away – such an order of perishable men being insufficient as humanities’ preisthood (Heb 7:23). Just as Melchizidek, Christ was established both Priest, and King in New Jerusalem (the spiritual kingdom); JESUS’ FIRST ACT AS KING OF NEW JERUSALEM WAS TO CALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH TO HIMSELF (just as Isaiah predicted). In ratifying a call to gather all nations together, the old system which was established in the dispersion of nations must be abolished. Jesus has cancelled the Levitical preisthood (Hebrews 7:11 & 12) by which change, also, there was a change in the Law (Heb 7:12) (not as though Christ abolished the law, but that man’s response to the Law was PERMANANTLY changed in that our observance of the Law is through obedience to the Man Jesus Christ, and not to the ‘carnal commandment’ (Heb 7:16) of the letter (Rom 7:6)).
The era of the Messiah is the final era in history until the day of the Lord. Those who seek to approach God through the order of the previous era are, in fact, cut off from the inheritance of the spiritual kingdom of Christ (Gal 5:4). The very typology of Israel is the snare (Romans 9:31-33; 11:9 & 10); which is both prophesied by Isaiah, and was the very commission that God gave to Isaiah: And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed but perceive not.
Isaiah expounded the Truths of the Gospel in spiritual continuance through the types of the old covenant; it is essential to realize the biblical timeframe: the LAST days commence at the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom, the ‘last days’ end at the ‘day of the Lord’ which is the second coming of Christ – at no point does the Old Covenant return, and the old types of national Israel do not return because Messiah has established the eternal reign over ALL PEOPLES (New Jerusalem). Isaiah does prophesy about the NATION of Israel in the last days (as we saw in verses 5-9 of the last post), but his call to them is to warn and admonish them to come to the kingdom of Messiah for they are not counted God’s people through race or nationality but through Messiah in these last days. Wrath and judgment is what Isaiah foretells of the last days for the nation of Israel which seems shocking and fearful, but understanding the New Testament truth that salvation is granted to ALL (Jew or Gentile) that accept the Mesiah, we know also that those who reject Him (though Jewish, or called by the name ‘Israel’) already have the wrath of God upon them (John 3:36; Matt 3:9).
In chapter 1, Isaiah painted the precise picture of the nation of Israel at the time of Christ’s coming; in versess 5-9 of chapter 2 he described their present condition in the last days, these verses describe the ‘day of the Lord.’ Then, begining in chapter three, he returns to discuss the entire process described in chapter two more thoroughly; describing what will happen to the nation of Israel in the ‘last days,’ starting again with the initial judgment at the first coming of Messiah. It gets a bit gritty and Isaiah (like many of the OT prophets) speaks pretty brutally – which I think is one big reason why many contemporaries don’t care to delve into study of the book: the wrath and judgment don’t seem (to us) to jive with New Testament love and acceptance. Yet the mystery of God’s intent as revealed in the New Testament is salvation for all mankind; Isaiah’s hope is to admonish God’s people to flee from the wrath and believe in the Messiah.
The followi g verses speak of Christ’s return, and the judgment of all the earth (not the nation of Israel particularly).
Now to continue Isaiah 2 – The text, itself, will be in italics; my commentary un-italicized, and in [brackets] wherever inserted into the text. Any emphasis (bold, or underlined) by me.
10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty.
Jesus Christ is the Rock; man is made of dust, and with the clarifier of the first statement we see that Isaiah is admonishing us to enter into the man Jesus Christ. Hide in Christ in the fear of the Lord, it will be our only hope of escaping the wrath in the day of the Lord. Just as Jesus fulfilled the Passover sacrifice, so also His blood being applied to us; our entering into His Person is the Rock of refuge.
11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
In these verses, Isaiah is declaring the result of a wrong response to the Gospel in the day of the Lord’s return. Notice how similar this language is to the cry of John the Baptist (as also prophesied by Isaiah: ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain (Is. 40:3 & 4); the precursor to this event was the call to repentance. Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He shal lift you up; yet the wrong response to the call of repentance is pride. When Christ returns with judgment, the lofty looks of man shall be humbled; everyone that is lifted up shall be brought low.
13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
The trees mentioned represent the strength, and wealth of the nations; the wrath of God will come upon all that refuse to repent, and be found in Christ.
14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up,
15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,
Upon every high tower, and every fenced wall. Remember that the tower of Babel was built that those of the city might make a name for themselves & so that they would remain congregated (Gen 11:4). Man often thinks he has stength in numbers, and united fortifications but congregations, vast cities, bodies of people gathered together will not be a help in the day of wrath.
16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.
Tarshish was a major economic center of business, and trade. Pleasant pictures doesn’t necessarily refer to idols, but art; there is no security in success, wealth, fine living. God’s wrath will come upon all.
17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.
19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
These verses are rather self-explanatory, Christ will abolish every form of worship and religion; only service to God in spirit and truth will stand. People will seek any hiding place they can find – even death – to escape the judgment.
20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
This final verse tells us the basis of God’s wrath, and how to escape it: flee from the fear of man. The number of the beast (666) is man’s number (Rev 13:18); fear of man is the basis of the antichrist system which will be in place (in earthly Jerusalem) when Christ returns. Turn from the fear of man; he is nothing to be accounted of. ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to kill both body and soul in hell.’
To continue reading: Isaiah 3:1-11