A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.
I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. (Isaiah 28:14-18)
I first wrote about this passage from Isaiah in 2005. At the time Israel was in the process of giving up the Gaza Strip in the hopes of moving closer to peace with the Palestinians. Of course it didn’t work and since then things have only gotten worse for the Jewish people. Every effort they’ve made to accommodate world opinion has left them weakened, while their enemies have become stronger.
As I read the ongoing accounts of Israel’s current situation, Isaiah’s words still come to mind. Some believe that in his prophecies Isaiah was sending the Southern Kingdom three messages simultaneously. The first had to do with the near term and warned them of a coming judgment at the hands of the Babylonians. It would be similar to the one the Northern Kingdom was about to receive from the Assyrians. The second message concerned the times surrounding the first coming of the Messiah, and the third described events at the End of the Age. Scholars who hold this view claim that in some places Isaiah refers to all three time frames at once. If so Isaiah 28:14-18 is one of them.
What’s He Talking About?
The meaning of the passage is clear. By making treaties with countries committed to their demise, the Israelites were fooling themselves into believing that they’d be exempt from those countries’ plans for expansion and conquest. In truth Israel’s policies of appeasement would generate agreements based on wishful thinking that would be quickly broken whenever the enemy found it convenient to do so. It proved to be true with the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Syrians of Greek times, the Romans, and lately the “Palestinians.” This policy will finally culminate in the ultimate self-deception. Having rejected the One who came in His Father’s name they will accept the one who comes in his own name (John 5:43). The coming treaty with the anti-Christ will just about bring them to ruin.
The Lord had Isaiah warn His people that there was only one man in the world they could trust, and that was their Messiah. Only He would deal justly and righteously with them. All others, even their supposed friends, would lie to suit their own purposes, which would always run contrary to Israel’s.
Those of us with Biblical background and prophetic understanding watch closely as Israel’s current leaders are being pressured from all sides to once again evict their own people from God-given land, explaining that by doing so they’re achieving peace with their neighbors. (In Israel, the West Bank is known by the Biblical names of Judea and Samaria, both of which were part of the original Promised Land.)
As you read this, US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel discussing the latest US “framework” for peace. It calls for Israel to hand over 92.8% of the “West Bank” to the Palestinians. Eighty percent of all Jewish settlers on the West Bank would be confined to four major settlement blocs, which Israel would annex. The remaining 20% (about 80,000 people) will have to either be absorbed into these settlements or be moved to other locations inside Israel.
Jerusalem would be divided to create a capitol city for “Palestine” but sovereignty over the heart of the Holy City, with its unique and historic concentration of Jewish, Christian and Muslim shrines, would pass to an international commission comprised of the US, Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Personally, I don’t think Bible prophecy favors a successful conclusion to this current round of negotiations, at least not in any long term sense, because I think the goal is to leave Israel permanently weakened to the point where they can never again be a threat to Middle East Peace. Our leaders never seem to learn that a weakened Israel has always made war more likely, not less so.
Who You Gonna Call?
But there is an ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy coming, and when it does it will signal the commencement of Daniel’s 70th Week. Before their eyes are finally opened to the fact that Jesus is and has always been their Messiah, Israel will pin its hopes for protection on a man made covenant one final time. A Muslim coalition led by Iran and armed by Russia will take advantage of Israel’s careless assumption that peace has come and will mount a mammoth sneak attack, intending to destroy the Jewish nation once and for all.
Ezekiel 38-39 tells us this coalition will be soundly defeated by God Himself. Following that battle, the one we know as the anti-Christ will rise to enforce a seven-year treaty that includes provisions for building a temple in Israel (Daniel 9:27). Israel will realize that the One who put the attacking forces to flight was God Himself, and will renew their Old Covenant, dormant for so long, for its final seven years. Old Covenant worship requires a temple and for reasons of his own the anti-Christ will help them get one.
In the middle of the seven years their supposed benefactor will pull the ultimate betrayal, proclaiming himself to be their God (2 Thes. 2:4). Then he will set about to destroy every last one of them. He’ll do this from the very temple he helped them build, and then he’ll bring the military resources of every nation on Earth to bear against them. Betrayed by friends and beset by enemies, they’ll have no one to turn to and with Jerusalem surrounded it will look like the end is upon them at last. In desperation they’ll call upon the Lord once again.
“Come, let us return to the LORD,” they’ll cry. “He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”
“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)
And their Messiah Jesus, Who has been waiting for 2000 years for them to say this, will respond. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zech 12:10)
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. (Zech 13:1)
Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zech.14:3-4)
The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zech 14:9) The One Who is faithful and true will have fulfilled His every commitment to them, and as King of the whole Earth He’ll have the power to make it stick.
If you’re like me, you grieve over the current plight of God’s people. Know that the Lord grieves as well. Know also that even as conditions steadily worsen for them, their victory and ours is coming steadily closer. For the One Who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, and is ever alert for any sign that His people are ready to return to Him.
In the meantime Psalm 122:6-7 instructs us on the proper response to the events of our time. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 01-04-14