2000-11-11 - Messiah His Final Call to Israel
Messiah: His Final Call to Israel Series, Part 12
Last week we looked at the "real peace process" from Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This week I think it would be good to continue onward and upward with another passage of Scripture from the Prophet Isaiah. We have covered a lot of ground in the past 11 devotionals, describing the details that will bring "real peace." The "Final Call" series builds a little more on each devotional. It is our hope that when it is complete that it will prove to be a comprehensive study help on this subject of Mideast peace. A second version of the confessions and prayers, which the people of Israel will one day make, can be found in the following passage of Scripture. This passage lays bare the heart of the faithful remnant of Israel of the end time, as few passages do.
Isaiah 63:7-64:12 "I will make mention of the lovingkindnesses of Jehovah, and the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: So he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: In his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit: Therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying, "Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he that put his holy Spirit in the midst of them? That caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? That divided the waters before them, to make himself an everlasting name? That led them through the depths, as a horse in the wilderness, so that they stumbled not?" As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of Jehovah caused them to rest; so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name. Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: Where are thy zeal and thy mighty acts? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassions are restrained toward me. For thou art our Father, though Abraham knoweth us not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us: Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father, our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name. O Jehovah, why dost thou make us to err from thy ways, and hardenest our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. Thy holy people possessed it but a little while: Our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. We are become as they over whom thou never barest rule, as they that were not called by thy name. Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence, as when fire kindleth the brushwood, and the fire causeth the waters to boil; to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains quaked at thy presence. For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God besides thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: Behold, thou wast wroth, and we sinned. In them have we been of long time; and shall we be saved? For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: And we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us by means of our iniquities. But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter. And we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Jehovah; neither remember iniquity for ever: Behold, look, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. Thy holy cities are become a wilderness; Zion is become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned with fire, and all our pleasant places are laid waste. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Jehovah? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?
Being carried forward in vision by the Spirit of God to the end time, Isaiah identifies himself with the penitent remnant and then prays, pouring out his soul in gratitude for God's having delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, having "carried them all the days of old," and having brought them into the promised land (Isaiah 63:7-14). According to verse 8, God the Father became their Saviour; according to verse 9, God the Son, "the angel of his presence," saved them. And according to verses 10-14, God the Holy Spirit like a good shepherd, "caused them to rest" in the land of their fathers. This passage reveals the fact that the people of Israel will understand thoroughly the scriptural teaching of the triune nature of God and will recognize each of the divine personalities and the part each played in Israel's redemption from Egypt.
Turning from the past and looking toward the future, the Prophet, identifying himself with the remnant, prays to the Lord to look upon His people and have mercy upon them: "For thou art our Father, though Abraham knoweth us not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us: Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name. O Jehovah, why dost thou make us to err from thy ways, and hardenest our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance." (Isaiah 63:16-17) The petition, "return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance, "is indeed revealing when studied in the light of this context. In 63:15 the Lord is asked to look down from heaven; in 63:17 He is urged to "return for thy servants' sake." And in 64:1 these penitent ones pray, saying "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down …" What does the word "return" imply? A person can return only to places where he has already been. The petition "return," when addressed to Jehovah, implies that He has been here previously, that for some reason He has left, and that the penitent remnant are praying for Him to return.
According to 64:1-3, they urge Him in prayer to come down from heaven to earth, as He did at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). Obviously since Isaiah 63:15-64:3 is a single petition, the looking down from heaven of verse 15, the returning "for thy servants' sake" of verse 17, and the coming down and making the mountains quake of verse 64:1 refer to one and the same event -- the returning of the Lord at the end of the Tribulation, as seen in related passages.
The God for whose return the remnant are praying is a God "who worketh for him that waiteth for him" (64:4). When penitent Israel genuinely assume the attitude of this prayer, God the Messiah, who works in behalf of those who wait for Him, will not disappoint them, but will return and champion their cause; for, of the Messiah, the inspired Prophet declares, "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways...." (v. 5a).
In 64:5b the Prophet declares "behold, thou wast wroth, and we sinned: in them have we been of long time; and shall we be saved?" A glance at the history of Israel and at the writings of the Prophets shows that the people continued to disobey the Lord. The Prophet Isaiah in his statement "thou wast wroth" evidently refers to God's wrath because of Israel's continuing in sin. Instead of repenting and reforming, the people as a group went on sinning: "Thou wast wroth, and we sinned."
To what does the Prophet refer when he states, "thou wast wroth and we sinned?" Evidently it was some outstanding sin--a single act--in the life of the people of Israel. Otherwise construed, the words lose their force. In view of these facts one is not far afield if he sees in this statement a reference to the national sin of Israel, mentioned by Moses, by Hosea, and by Isaiah in 53:1-9. Concerning Israel's sinful condition, Isaiah declares, "in them [sins] have we been of long time …" (v. 5). Since in this confession and prayer the Prophet sees the remnant of Israel of end time, the long time in which Israel has been in their sins covers their entire history--from the beginning of the nation to the end of the present age.
The Prophet asks, "and shall we be saved?" It is the will of God that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance: "who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:4) "The Lord is … not wishing any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9) Christ tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). Whosoever will may come to the Lord and be saved. Being under deep conviction, the remnant express amazement at the possibility of their being saved, "for we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousness are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (Isaiah 64:6) There is none that doeth good, no, not one (Psalm 14:3b). In the sight of God all the good works of unregenerated men are as a polluted garment. Man, in his sinful condition, cannot engage in any works that will be acceptable to God.
When this wave of genuine repentance begins to move in upon the remnant, "there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us by means of our iniquities" (Isaiah 64:7). As the Spirit of God moves upon the hearts of the penitent people of Israel, they are brought to the point where they suddenly burst forth saying, "But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Jehovah, neither remember iniquity forever: behold, look, we beseech thee. We are all thy people" (Isaiah 64:8-9). When a person is under conviction of sin before God and truly can say, "O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand," God will graciously and lovingly receive him and regenerate his heart.
And so we bring to a close this week's devotional. Like the Father of the prodigal son, God is anxiously waiting for the return of his prodigal Israel. Next week we will turn to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, who amplifies the message of the Prophets and clearly sets forth the requirements for real peace to come and real peace to last for Israel. Thank you for your prayers for the peace of Jerusalem. Some day Israel will learn the facts about Jesus and will accept Him as their longed-for Messiah. Then He will return and deliver Israel and establish a reign of righteousness. Shalom
In His Service,