A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
In this installment, we’ll gain a little more detail on the blessings Israel will receive in the Kingdom Age, and we’ll also see the Lord’s response to those who claim that His promises to Israel were canceled because they rejected the Messiah.
Isaiah 40:1-14. Comfort for God’s People
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1-2)
After the 2nd Coming, the surviving world’s attitude toward Israel will change as the Lord commands them to speak words of peace and comfort to His people. In Isaiah 61:7 we’ll see that instead of their shame, God’s people will receive a double portion of joy in their inheritance.
A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
John the Baptist quoted the first part of this passage when the Jewish officials asked who he was (John 1:23). It’s complete fulfillment will come when the Lord returns. In Biblical times, when a King was about to take a journey, construction crews were sent ahead to smooth and level the road. Gullies were filled in, hill tops leveled off and all irregularities removed from the way, so the King would not feel any discomfort or experience any delay on his journey. When the Lord returns this will be accomplished supernaturally in plain view of all as the creation itself responds in joy to the arrival of the Messianic King.
A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)
Throughout the last 2000 years many people have doubted it would ever happen. Learned theologians have stood in the lecture halls of our seminaries and the pulpits of our churches and denied this day. Peter warned us this would happen.
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)
Some have taught that all prophecies concerning the Lord and Israel were fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and that we are to view the Bible’s prophetic passages as being historical.
Others have said there would be no literal return of the Lord for anyone, that prophecies speaking of such were to be seen as allegory, not fact, fulfilled when we invited the Lord into our hearts.
And still others have said that even if the Lord does come back, it won’t be for Israel. They said that by rejecting the Messiah Israel had been disqualified from receiving God’s promises, leaving the Church as God’s sole beneficiary. This doctrine, known as replacement theology, is at the core of liberal protestant belief even today.
But these views of man are of no more value than the grass and flowers that dry up and blow away. The Lord has made clear promises to His people and His word stands forever.
You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)
Those who are being told to comfort His people are now asked to go before the Lord and present Him to them. Jesus quoted from this passage in Revelation 22:12. “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” And what is His reward? They will be His people and He will be their God. It’s the final fulfillment of the 4th cup of the Passover, “I will take you as my own people and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:7) Like a shepherd tends his flock, he’ll see to all the needs of His people.
And As For The Rest Of You … Isaiah 40:12-14, Isaiah 41:8-16
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind (Spirit) of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? (Isaiah 40:12-14)
The smug intellectuals who scoffed at the prophecies and said they meant something else will have a tough time answering these questions. This passage reminds me of the Lord’s confrontation with Job (Job 40-41), and like him they’ll be at a loss for words. It’s as if the Lord is saying, “Who are you to tell my people what I meant? Have you done the things I’ve done? Have you ever understood My Spirit? Did I ever seek your advice or ask for your opinion? Of that day the Lord has said, “The wisdom of the wise will perish and the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” (Isaiah 29:14)
“But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:8-10)
In spite of those who allegorize the prophecies away and say that Israel has no purpose in the world today, the Lord will gather His people from the the farthest corners of the Earth and bring them home, just like a shepherd gathers his scattered sheep and reunites his flock.
“All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:11-14)
Israel’s enemies will come to naught, and will no longer be found. As their shepherd, the Lord will protect and defend His people. The last phrase of this passage reveals an interesting secret. We already know that when we see the word LORD all in caps, it means the Hebrew text contains the 4 initials of God’s name, JHVH (YHWH). That means the name of God the Father belongs there.
But the Hebrew word for redeemer is only used for the kinsman redeemer, the Son. And even though both Father and Son are in view, God had Isaiah write “I myself will help you.” It’s one of the many hints in Scripture that Jesus was being literally accurate when He said, “I and the Father are one”. (John 10:30) Not just one in purpose, or from one family, but literally one. As He told Philip, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
“See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:15-16)
Even more than now “little” Israel will be a force to be reckoned with at the End of the Age. Mountains and hills represent governments here and before it’s over, the Lord’s government will be the only one left. All others will have blown away like chaff on the wind.
Daniel described the fate of the world’s governments when confronted by the Kingdom of God in similar terms. First the vision Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The statue represents the four Gentile governments who have ruled the world from Daniel’s time till now.
While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34-35)
And now Daniel’s interpretation.
The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands-a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. (Daniel 2:44-45)
History tells us that the iron represents Rome, the bronze Greece, the silver Persia, and the gold Babylon. Prophecy shows that the Rock that will crush them all is the Kingdom of God.
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zech. 14:8-9)
By the end of the day of His return, the Lord will be King over all the Earth and the seat of His Kingdom, Israel.
No More Curse Forever. Isaiah 41:17-20
“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Isaiah 41:17-20)
Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.” (Isaiah 55:13)
These two references confirm the Lord’s earlier promise that at His return the curse that has plagued the Earth since the days of Adam and Eve will be lifted. Israel will be a garden paradise with mountain streams and fertile valleys. Every one who looks upon it will understand that the Holy One of Israel has created it. Like the rainbow was a sign that there would never again be a world wide flood (Genesis 9:12-17), Israel will be a sign that the curse is gone forever.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:13-15)
Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. (Micah 4:4)
What we’ve learned so far is that at the beginning of the Millennium all of Israel’s enemies will have been vanquished. The Messiah will be King of the whole Earth. Every citizen of Israel will be a Messianic Jew. The curse will be gone and the planet will have been restored to the paradise it was when Adam arrived to take dominion over it. Satan will be bound and his demonic hordes defeated. It sounds pretty good, but there’s plenty more to come. Stay tuned. 03-07-09