Isaiah 66 has our prophet ending his book with a powerful start – reminding us of the greatness of God and just how different we are as mere man. “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest”. God puts things back into proper perspective. We can never understand much of anything until we understand that God is sitting on His throne in heaven, and that the earth is under His complete and total command – indeed, the earth is His footstool!
Here’s the reality of our universe. “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord”. God is Creator and Author of all. There is nothing that has come about He was not part of. We as man, try to do things to please or serve Him. But here God makes it clear what He is looking for in man. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word”. We may want to serve God – but serve Him our way. We tend to focus on ourselves rather than God. What God really wants from us is a humble and a contrite spirit, and to tremble at His Word.
God is going to judge all mankind. He will deal with those who have chosen to ignore Him or mistreat His own. He’s paying attention. Nothing passes Him without notice. We don’t get away with things He doesn’t see. There is a price for disobedience and wrong choices which is sin. “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory”. God hasn’t lost control and the day is coming when He will take control and claim His glory and the power of His throne.
When He exercises His place as God of this Universe, “they shall declare my glory among the nations”. It won’t be a subdued day. “The new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me”. It will be a glorious day when God’s power will reign and His glory will be on full display. Those who have chosen to walk with Christ and accept His grace will be part of that day. For others, the outcome looks bleak. “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me”. We have a choice with a very real and eternal outcome. What will you do with Jesus Christ and your sin?
Isaiah 65 has the prophet reminding us of God’s faithfulness and love to His people. The Jews in exile in Babylon were calling out asking God to fix their situation of captivity. But they weren’t walking with Him. It was a request based on their selfish desires, not a willingness to walk in obedience to their God. “I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually”. God is looking for a relationship where He is Lord and we are His people walking obediently with Him.
God loves us but He does expect us to walk humbly with Him. When we fall short, which we all do, it doesn’t go unnoticed. “These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day”. Just like our own children who make choices to disobey – and we must never forget that all disobedience (sin) is a choice – the relationship is not ended. We will always be mom or dad to our kids. That’s what happens when they are born. We take on an eternal role of being mom or dad. God will always be our Father, no matter what good or bad choices we make. Sin and disobedience can cause stress and even separation in a relationship, but it never changes the foundational relationship we have.
That’s why we never lose our salvation once we make the intentional choice to confess, repent and receive God’s grace through Christ. We become a Child of God at that point as a Christ Follower and while our sin will stress our relationship with our heavenly Father, it will never cause Him to take it away. We may cause plenty of smoke in His nostrils and frustration in His heart, but we don’t lose the bond that will ultimately bring us into eternity with Him. It doesn’t mean there won’t be pain and suffering because of our choices, but that won’t eternally separate us from God once we are His.
God is going to do a new thing. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind”. We are merely temporary residents here on earth. He has an amazing plan and we will get to share in that as His children and saved people. It will be an amazing place where God will “be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress”. There will be peace and harmony as scripture tells us the “wolf and the lamb shall graze together”. Oh what a glorious day that will be!
Isaiah 64 has the prophet recalling God’s amazing power and glory. And he reminds us of the why – “to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence”. If we’re going to summarize what we are to do as Christ followers on this planet today – that’s it. We are to make God known to the nations. We do that the exact same way that Isaiah does here – by recalling the wonders of His hand and the glory of His creation. We do it by living with His power in our life. We merely expose God to the world we live in.
The truth of the matter is that God has already done plenty. “When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence”. God doesn’t need us to convince people of who He is. We merely need to remind them and point them to His majesty. “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him”. It’s undeniable stuff – overwhelming and beyond what any man can imagine.
While God’s done amazing and great works, man has a problem. In a word it is called sin. “You were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved”? Sin is a problem. It makes us unclean and separates us from God. It prevents us from living in close fellowship with the Creator. It is a problem, and must be faced or it will prevent us from spending eternity with our Father. Most importantly is the reality that we cannot deal with it on our own. We’ll come up short. We need a Savior – and His name is Jesus Christ. He alone is the atonement for our sin. He alone can free us from the price sin will cost us if not addressed. “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment”.
God wants to work in our life. “O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand”. He loves us and wants to shape and mold us into what He desires. He has a plan. He is our Father and we are His. We need to cry out for mercy that God’s love will cause Him to deal with mercy and mold us into what He desires. But we have to address that which separates us from Him – our sin. We need to confess, repent and receive His offer of Salvation through Christ. Then God can take us and mold us into a new being that brings Him glory and honor and praise!
Isaiah 63 has the prophet answering the question (who is this) of who is coming from Edom, a land where God has judged first before coming to His people Israel. God took action in Edom to correct the wrongs it had done, and now is with His own people. “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save”. This is the Lord’s reply to the question in the prophecy. He identifies Himself by what He says (speaking in righteousness) and what He does (mighty to save). Even in the midst of judgment, in His glory and strength, He wants men to know He is mighty to save, not only mighty to judge.
After answering the first question of who was coming, a second question comes. “Why is your apparel red and your garments like his who treads the winepress”? The prophet asks why the garment of the Lord is red, and gets this answer: “I have trodden the winepress alone….their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel”. Guzik reminds us that ‘Jesus will accomplish two things alone. First, He atones for our sin alone. He alone hung on the cross, bearing the weight of all our guilt. Second, He judges the world alone. God does not need us to execute His ultimate judgment; we leave that to Him.’
We see the two contrasts to the tasks Jesus must do. “For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come”. He will be the judge of all mankind. God doesn’t love punishing sinners – that’s not really the message here. He does love setting them free and judging them as redeemed. That’s the second part of Christ’s mission – first He is judge, second He is redeemer. God uses the picture of a day for His judgment but a year for His grace. That’s what Jesus really came to do – to set us free from the punishment of sin and redeem us to eternity in heaven. But unfortunately many will not pass that judgment because they refuse to receive the gift of grace from God through Christ.
We have a very real problem, both in the days of Isaiah, and today as well. Sin gets in the way of our walk with God. “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them”. Rather than walk in obedience with Him, people responded with cold, rebellious, unresponsive hearts. God had to deal with this in His people. We follow that same path unfortunately and miss the blessing of God’s power in our life. If not for His undying love for us, we’d never have a chance. As He looked down at His people “He remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people”. God is faithful, which is good for us. Without that, we’d never have a chance to achieve eternity with Him!
Isaiah 62 has the prophet prophesying about the future of Jerusalem. Isaiah prophesied in a time when Jerusalem was still a functioning city, but was spiritually corrupt. “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch”. He looks forward to the time when Jerusalem is desolate because she has been conquered by the Babylonians, and prophetically speaks comfort and assurance to her discouraged and downcast citizens. The Lord assures them that He will not rest until Jerusalem is restored in shining righteousness.
They will come out of that dark time to be a light. “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God”. We often miss just how much God loves us. This isn’t a superficial change. God is in the redemption business and wants to bring us out of the darkness into the light. He wants to help us be someone He can hold up as beautiful and precious. He loves us that much and that way. We have to be willing to let His redemptive work take root in us, but when it does amazing things happen.
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth”. Because God loves and rejoices over His people, He will protect them. Day and night, night and day. He doesn’t take rest or remove His eyes from the horizon to scan for enemies. The watchmen are not critics; they are prayer warriors, who constantly pray, giving God “no rest” until God’s people and His city are restored.
“Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth….they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken”. When we appear before the Lord, we will be judged according to our work for and with Him. On that day, each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. God’s people will be holy and redeemed. Through her history, Jerusalem knew what it was like to be Forsaken. But in that day, she will be called Sought Out; everyone will know she was valued and chosen by God.
Isaiah 61 has our prophet prophetically speaks for the Messiah, and the Messiah announces that He is blessed and empowered by the Spirit of the Lord God. He also defines quite a long and detailed assignment. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to”:
- “bring good news to the poor
- bind up the brokenhearted
- proclaim liberty to the captives
- opening of the prison to those who are bound
- proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
- proclaim the day of vengeance of our God
- comfort all who mourn
- grant to those who mourn in Zion
- give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes
- give them the oil of gladness instead of mourning
- give them the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit
- call them oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord
- He may be glorified”
Talk about a detailed list of things Jesus came to deal with. The Messiah announces that He is here to heal the damage that sin brings. Sin has done great damage, so there needs to be a great work of redemption. Jesus went to the Cross to deal with sin once and for all. Because sin brings grief, He will comfort all who mourn. Jesus fixes it all. That’s how God shows His love. He sent Christ while we were yet sinners.
“They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations”. God loves to restore ruins. He wants to use His people to restore and rebuild things that are broken down and ruined. But He doesn’t merely restore broken down cities and nations. He builds up the ruins of lives that have fallen apart. If we follow Christ, He will come into our life and help us rebuild that which sin has broken down. He restores the devastation and makes us whole.
God has made a way. “For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them”. We need that way because God is a God of justice. He can’t ignore sin. He can’t overlook or ignore it. His nature will not allow that. He is faithful to provide a way for us to address our sin. In fact, He has given us an everlasting covenant that allows us to overcome the sin problem we have as humans and get right with Him through grace. Jesus is that way. We need to cling to the Rock and make faith in Him our own!
Isaiah 60 has the prophet telling us to “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”. This is God’s glorious rescue for us through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. The light has come – so God tells His people to respond to it, and to arise and shine! That’s really the only catch to the redemptive offer that God gives us. Salvation is free. Forgiveness of our sins is free (at least to us). But we have to rise up and receive it. We have to recognize our sin and confess, repent and turn the other way, and just take what God holds out free for us. It really doesn’t get any better or simpler than this. God has paid the price through the shed blood of Christ. We merely need to make that gift of grace our own.
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see….then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult”. God’s got a great plan for His people. He’s calling them together and they’ll all come home. We need to keep our eyes on heaven and see what He’s up to, even now. God’s not dead, and isn’t sitting on the throne twiddling His thumbs all day. He’s active and alive and making things happen all around us. We need to pay attention and see His actions. We need to be thrilled with His goodness.
God’s clear that His relationship with His people is not always smooth sailing: “for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you”. There are times when we need a good swift whack to the side of the head. God has to do something pretty strong to get our attention and point out that we can’t just keep doing whatever we want. Obedience still matters. Sin still carries a price. At the same time, in His love, He stands ready to pour His mercy out on us in spite of what we do and who we are. He loves us. Always has, always will!
God’s going to make Himself known: “you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob”. If we were to boil down what our purpose on earth really is as a Christ Follower – it is this – to make God known and let the world see the power of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in us. God is the center of what our message should be. Life isn’t about us. It’s about Him. It’s about who He is and what He has done. He is the only One worthy of praise. Too often we get in the middle of that. It’s all about Him and we need to point to Him!