Mercy Hill Church of San Jose
Isaiah Describes the Future
Isaiah Describes the Future
Let’s turn to Isaiah 66. If you need a Bible, go ahead and raise your hand and we will bring one to you. Isaiah 66 is on page 625 in the Bibles we are passing out.
Today we come to the end of Isaiah – we are going to hear Isaiah’s final words. And to set the stage for what we are going to hear -- imagine that you were heading on a trip. Think of how differently you would approach it if you knew it was a trip to the North Pole or a trip to Hawaii. Imagine how differently you would act if it was a trip to fight in Afghanistan or to sight-see in Ireland.
In these final words of the book of Isaiah, he tells his readers what kind of trip they will be going on. He describes the future God has for God’s people. And his purpose is so we will know what we are supposed to do.
Last week we covered vv.1-4 of chapter 66 – so this week we will start at v.5. And as I studied vv.5-24 I saw Isaiah telling us about four major events that are coming. So I’m just going to take us through all four, and then share what I think God wants to say to us through this.
First, those who shame believers will be put to shame. During Isaiah’s time those in Israel who were unfaithful to God mocked those who were faithful to God. But vv.5-6 Isaiah encourages the faithful believers --
5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: "Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy'; but it is they who shall be put to shame.
6 "The sound of an uproar from the city! A sound from the temple! The sound of the LORD, rendering recompense to his enemies!
But it was not just in Isaiah’s time that faithful believers were shamed by unbelievers. Jesus told us that until the Second Coming faithful believers would be shamed by unbelievers. As we are reach out in love, and share the good news of Jesus, some will not be happy and will shame us.
But Isaiah says that those who shame us will themselves be put to shame. Now we don’t gloat over that. But Isaiah wants us to understand that if people shame you for Jesus’ sake now – the day is coming when they will be shamed. And you will be honored. Your faithfulness to Christ will not bring you shame forever – it will bring you honor forever.
But there’s more. Second, God will easily and quickly give birth to a new people. That’s the second truth about our future – it’s the main point of vv.7-14. Let’s start with vv.7-9 –
7 "Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.
8 Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.
9 Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?" says the LORD; "shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?" says your God.
This is a bit cryptic. Some think it refers just to the nation of Israel – maybe her return from Babylon, or her becoming a nation in the last century. But we will see in v.12 that this involves the glory of all the nations, and in vv.20 and 21 that this new people includes both Jews and Gentiles. So I think this refers to what God did in creating the church – the new people of God -- through Jesus in the city of Jerusalem. His death paid for our sins, His resurrection demonstrated His truth and power, His ascension to heaven let to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Through all of that God easily and quickly gave birth to the new people of God – both Jew and Gentile. Then in vv.10-14 Isaiah says that being part of this new people will bring us great joy. How do we become part of this new people – not by being good enough – but by trusting the Messiah, Jesus Christ, as Savior, Lord, and Treasure.
When we do that we become part of God’s people and Isaiah says it’s like we are babies and the Church is our mother – look at how he describes this –
10 "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her;
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance."
12 For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.
That last line brings Isaiah to his next point – the future is not going to be comfort and joy and nurture for everyone – God will punish all who continue in rebellion against Him. Throughout the Old Testament God revealed Himself to humanity – but many refused to bend the knee. And even now that God has come to earth in the person of Jesus – showing us that God is real – paying for our sins so we could be completely forgiven – many continue to refuse to bend the knee.
And here’s what will happen to them -- vv.15-17 –
15 "For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many.
17 "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the LORD.
We know this is talking about eternity – because of what Isaiah says at the end of v.24 –
And they [speaking of those who were saved through trusting Jesus] shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.
That language about their worm not dying and their fire not being quenched is used by Jesus in Mark 9:44-49 to describe eternal conscious punishment in hell.
So as we look ahead to the future – we can see that forever God will punish all who continue in rebellion.
But there’s one more crucial part of the future that Isaiah wants to describe – God will save many from this punishment by sending His people to the nations. Look at vv.18-24 --
18 "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 [so God is going to save people from all nations and tongues and show them His glory],
19 and I will set a sign among them [God is going to save them, by setting a sign among them – this probably refers to events like Jesus’ birth, His miracles, the Cross, His resurrection, the Day of Pentecost]. And from them I will send survivors [that might refer to all those believers who survive being persecuted by unbelievers] to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations.
Notice that all the survivors – all those who trust Christ and survive persecution from unbelievers – all the survivors are sent to declare God’s glory among the nations. So if you are alive and trusting Jesus – then God is sending you to the nations – which might mean unreached people groups and other countries – but certainly means to our neighborhoods – workplaces – families – friends.
And what will happen? We will see people saved --
20 And they [that’s us] shall bring all your brothers [new converts] from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries [camels?], to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD.
21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. [So those from the nations who trust Jesus will be equal to Jews who trust Jesus.]
22 "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. [These converts will never fall away.]
23 From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD.
24 "And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
They will see the punishment that they – by God’s grace – through Jesus’ death – escaped.
So God will save many from this punishment by sending His people to the nations.
So what does this mean for us? It means God is sending each of us to the nations – that might mean Central Asia or North Morocco – but it certainly means your neighborhood; your workplace; your circle of friends; your family.
So here’s my challenge. Jesus is sending you to the nations this Christmas season. So ask Him how He wants you to go to them. Take 5 minutes this afternoon – and pray and ask Him what He wants you to do.
Maybe He will lead you to bake cookies for your neighbors, or people at work -- and take them to them, and get to know them better. Maybe He will lead you to invite people to the Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning service. Maybe He will lead you to ask a friend out to coffee so you can share with them what Christmas means to you.
He has sent you – and He will lead you. So ask Him.
As we are faithful to do that we will have the joy of more baptisms, like we get to have this morning with Ben and Emily.
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