Sunday, November 29, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Call to Repentance (Part II)

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." 
(Isaiah 1:18)

These last two commands emphasize the redemptive love of God. God tenderly calls for His people to come, and to come immediately. God has given mankind something which He has not given to any beast - the ability to reason. The Lord wants man to consider his present course, his past and his future. Just like most people of today, many of Israel's population were content to live in the here and now, not considering the far reaching consequences of a failure to honestly seek God. God gave man the ability to reason. Human reason is a great privilege, but it has dire consequences if not used to follow after God's commandments.

God promised Israel spiritual cleansing if they would hear. Salvation comes not by religious ritual or rule-keeping. It comes only through faith in the righteousness of God. When God saves a man's soul, nothing is left to chance. Israel's sins were many and very vile. They had been guilty of child sacrifice, idolatry, perversion, oppression, drunkenness and much, much more, yet God promised a full cleansing to the sinner who would turn around and flee to God's saving grace.

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." 
(Isaiah 1:19-20)

It was not enough for Israel to simply acknowledge their disregard for God's Law; they needed to demonstrate a change of heart through obedience. God's grace is sufficient to cleanse the sinner, but it is not intended to enable the continuance of an unbiblical lifestyle. God called Israel to obedience, and today He is calling lost men of every nation to obedience.

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (Romans 16:25-26)

If Israel would change their ways, they would enjoy the physical prosperity of God's blessings upon the land. This promise is to Israel and not to the Church. The two must never be confused; otherwise, serious doctrinal error will occur. However, the principle of this promise may safely be applied in any dispensation. Obedience always brings spiritual prosperity; and, in many instances, physical prosperity. Many professing believers are not at peace in their souls because they are attempting to remain loyal to the world when God has called them unto obedience to His holy character.

The LORD offered Israel an alternative. They could choose rebellion, but it would come at a great price. God does not respect persons. The same rules apply to everyone. Unholy living comes with an expensive pricetag.

The LORD did not provide His people with a third option. Man's heart is deceptive. Many people believe that they will be able to harbor some rebellion and still enjoy God's blessings. The Bible presents no such alternative.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Call to Repentance

"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:16-17)

In calling Israel to repentance, the Lord gives them eleven commands. The first two deal with their need for regeneration. God is not simply asking for moral reform; He is insisting upon conversion. The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem did not need Jewish ceremonial washings; they needed soul washing. They needed to repent of their sin and turn to faith in the saving grace of God as promised through the Person of the Messiah. To the audience of Isaiah's day, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was yet future; therefore, a man would have to exercise faith in the shed blood of a future Messiah as pictured in the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law. God called them to this cleansing faith when He said, "Wash you, make you clean." If they would acknowledge their wickedness and trust in the righteousness of God, the Lord would cleanse them from the inside out.

The next seven commands are not teaching salvation by works; they are demonstrating the reality of a changed life. True conversion results in a change of mind and behavior (II Corinthians 5:17, I John 3:8-10). A willingness to put away evil is indicative of genuine repentance. The man who claims to be God's child yet is unwilling to put away his old ways is a liar.

The Lord commanded Israel to cease from evil and to learn good works. The unconverted individual belongs to Satan (II Timothy 2:25-26). His thoughts, motives and actions are ultimately against the righteous will of God (Romans 8:7); therefore, engaging in evil comes naturally to him. On the other hand, when a person turns from sin to faith in Christ, he is given a new heart, a new mind. The Holy Spirit gives him an understanding which was not before present. Because the believer is God's child, he is taught of God to love and to do well. This does not mean that a believer cannot sin. He certainly can and does; however, he will not do so without the conviction of God's Spirit nor will he do it apart from the chastening of God. God teaches His children to do well. In giving these commands, the Lord confronted Israel with their need to come to God as their sole means of righteousness.

God first commanded Israel to seek judgment and then qualified the meaning of His command by telling them to relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless and plead for the widow. Doing these things demonstrates a love for others. This type of love characterizes the love that God has toward the lost sinner. A man who cannot or will not love others is a man who is destined for hellfire (I John 3:14-15). Israel was displaying their unregenerate nature through the oppression of these helpless people groups; therefore, God called them to repent and to assume a behavior that is worthy of genuine repentance.

The oppressed, the orphan and the widow are unable to repay. They cannot promote their deliverer to a position of honor. They cannot give large sums of money in order to make the prospect of assisting them more enticing. In short, they can offer nothing. Reaching out to these unfortunate people would be a tremendous demonstration of God's love. Such acts of kindness would be in perfect keeping with God's commandment to love one's own neighbor as himself. Jesus echoed these words which the LORD spoke through Isaiah when He said to the Pharisees, "But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:13-14)."

The oppressed need a deliverer. The fatherless need a father. The widow needs the provision and protection of a husband. God is all of these things to those who seek Him. In light of this, reaching out to these people with the intention of showing God's love comes closer to accurately representing the holy nature of God than anything else a man might do.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Comparison to Sodom (Part III)

"Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them." (Isaiah 1:13-14)

Secondly, God declares His disgust with Israel's solemn meetings. The new moon signified a time when Israelites would reconsecrate their lives to God. This involved sacrifices, the reading of Scripture and so forth; yet, what use was such activity when the hearts and lives of the individuals involved remained unchanged? Solemn meetings do not have to be vain. In fact, in Joel 1:14, the LORD encouraged Israel to engage in such a meeting. "Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD." Performed in an attitude of repentant faith, the solemn meeting has great value, but outside of this, it is useless.

The phrase I cannot away with has the idea of I am not able (to bear). God cannot bear outward expressions of devotion while the heart remains unchanged. In Hosea 6:6, the LORD said, "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." What eternal significance is the religious gathering of a disobedient people?

The temple of the Israelites was very beautiful. The facilities were elaborate, the decorations ornate and very valuable; yet, none of this impressed God. The courses of the various priests and Levites were detailed and well thought out. Psalms were sung to God by talented and beautiful voices, yet God was not pleased. The physical beauty of buildings, the vast number of sacrifices, the expense involved and the talents of people have never been the things which have obtained God's favor. God looks to the faith of the God-fearing man, and He delights in that man's obedience.

"And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood." (Isaiah 1:15)

Having the God of heaven hide His face from one's prayers is a frightening prospect, yet such is the plight of the one who will not be admonished by Scripture. The Lord does not take pleasure in hiding His face from people. He openly declared why such things had come about. The hands of Judah's citizens were full of blood. This is a picturesque way of saying that the people had been guilty of murder (much of which occurred through child sacrifice), robbery, hatred and oppression of all kinds. God will not hear the man who claims to love the Lord while hating others (I John 4:20-21). By doing such things, Judah's inhabitants had openly declared the reality of their unregenerate state.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Comparison to Sodom (Part II)

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?" (Isaiah 1:11-12)

Firstly, God declares His disgust with Israel's sacrifices. In Leviticus 3:15-17, the LORD had made it clear that the blood and the fat of the animal sacrifices were to be His.

And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is the LORD'S. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.

Offered in a spirit of humble dependence upon God, the Old Testament sacrifices of God's people were precious in His sight. These things pictured the future sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and man's need of spiritual cleansing through His holy blood; however, when offered in disobedience to the heart of God's Law, the sacrifices did nothing but weary the LORD'S soul.

The word for tread means to trample (under foot). The same Hebrew verb appears in a different form in II Kings 7:17 where the Bible says, "...and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died...." Giving God lip-service and physical offerings apart from obedience is nothing short of trampling upon His holy things. If the Israelites were not going to respect God's holiness by keeping the heart of His Law, they were better off to steer clear of His holy temple. The Lord gave a similar warning in Malachi 1:10 when He said, "Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought...." A literal rendering would read, "Who (is there) also among you? and let him shut the doors, and do not kindle (fire) on my altar out of favor." If Israel were to continue being disobedient to Scripture, they would be better off shutting the temple doors and extinguishing the altar fire which was never to go out (Leviticus 6:13).

By way of application, professing Christians who will not heed the Bible's rebuke concerning their sins would be better off to shut the church doors and to walk away than to continue their displays of rebellion and hypocrisy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Comparison to Sodom

"Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah." (Isaiah 1:10)

Such an indictment would have been very distasteful to the Israelites. However, the religious rebel is no better off than the godless pervert, because they both share the root sin of pride. Perverseness is not where Sodom and Gomorrah's sins started. They started with pride which led the inhabitants of these two cities into all sorts of lasciviousness. Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares this to be so when it says, "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."

Man's tendency is to look down upon those who are involved in gross sin while passing over the root sin which is in every man - human pride. The disobedient believer has more in common with the Sodomite than he may think.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Consequences of Rebellion (Part III)

"Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah." (Isaiah 1:9)

This section ends on a note of divine mercy. Salvation is all of God. Ultimately, Israel could not look to her so-called righteousness. She had nothing to offer God. Neither her pedigree nor her position could save her. Like every man, the Jews had failed to live up to God's standard. If Israel was to be saved, it would have to be through the tender mercy of God. Had the Lord not remembered His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, there would be no trace of Israel just as there is no trace of wicked Sodom and Gomorrah.

Like Israel, every man is in need of God's saving mercy. Every individual has hopelessly broken God's standard and completely missed the mark of holiness through sin (Romans 3:10-23). If a man is to escape the hell fire which now torments the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, he must turn in faith to the righteous merits of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Consequences of Rebellion (Part II)

"Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." 
(Isaiah 1:7-8)

Rebellion also breeds desolation. Not only was Israel spiritually ill, she was physically ill. Ever since the departure of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, northern Israel had been consistently oppressed by her enemies. In the southern kingdom, things had not been much better. In the days of Rehoboam, the pharaoh of Egypt had been successful in attacking and looting Judah. The Edomites to the south, the Moabites and Ammonites to the east and the constant pressure of Israel's hated enemies to the west, the Philistines, had all been used of God to inflict punishment. Sin had literally ravaged the land and made it far less desirable than what it once was in the days of Joshua.

Sin's consequences have not changed over the years. Many believers have found themselves in great need because of sin. A lack of having one's needs met is not always an indication of sin; however, it often is. Not only can a believer find himself lacking physical provision due to sin, but he can also experience consistent and oppressive turmoil in the home and workplace. Many professing Christians live in daily chaos and disorder without admitting that such things may be the result of sin. Righteousness breeds physical peace (Isaiah 32:17), so a lack of peace means a lack of righteousness.

Judah's position had become very precarious. A cottage (literally booth or tabernacle) in the middle of a vineyard is in danger of being overcome by the vines. A lodging place in the middle of a cucumber patch is in danger of the same. Cucumbers grow on the vine. The cucumber plant spreads itself far and wide. Without the gardener's pruning, the cucumber plant would overrun the lodging place. Also, a besieged city is in immediate danger of falling to the enemy. God used all of these illustrations to aid Jerusalem in recognizing its dangerous position. To the north, Israel and Syria were plotting against Judah. On the west lie the Philistines. To the south was Egypt and the Edomites. To the east were the Arab nations, and beside all of this, the ravenous nation of Assyria was just a few years away from invading Judah. Rebellion had robbed Jerusalem of God's protection, and she was open to attack.

When a believer chooses to wander from God, he will find himself in a very dangerous position. The Lord is the One Who protects His people, and when a Christian removes himself out from under God's protective hand, he is asking to be destroyed. Jesus said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves...(Matthew 10:16)." This is not a threat to the one who is under God's watchful eye; however, it should be a major concern to the rebel.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Israel's Rebellion: The Consequences of Rebellion

"Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment." (Isaiah 1:5-6)

Rebellion breeds sickness. God asked Judah, "Why should you be smitten any more?" Stricken means smitten or beaten. In an effort to bring His people back, the Lord had allowed them to be invaded by numerous enemies. Foreign countries, plagues, civil unrest and famine (both physical and spiritual) had all been used in an effort to encourage Israel's repentance. God is not eager to punish mankind; He is desirous to see men repent and turn to faith in the righteousness of their Creator. The rebellious human heart paints God as a cruel oppressor, but the Scriptures depict Him as a merciful King who takes no delight in administering correction.

Despite God's many rebukes, Judah and Jerusalem continued to rebel more and more. Man's heart is deceitful and wicked. Divine chastisement does not guarantee a man's repentance. God has given every individual a free will, and it is up to that individual to humbly respond to God.

The Holy Spirit paints a very vivid picture of rebellion's results. Spiritually, Judah did not resemble a healthy happy human body, but rather it resembled one who was diseased, whose body was full of open sores which perhaps oozed with infection; or perhaps it resembled the battered and torn body of a soldier whose wounds had not been treated and wrapped. Such disgusting illustrations represent the way God views a disregard for His doctrine. Israel's lax view of the Lord's doctrine had touched every area of her body. She could not come before the Lord and flaunt any form of spiritual wellness. She was sick with apostasy, idolatry, oppression and hatred. Her only hope of healing was through the avenue of biblical repentance.

By disregarding the doctrine of separation and holiness, the professing Church has acquired many wounds, bruises and putrefying sores (fresh wounds). Disobedience is often presented on the silver platter of large church buildings and fancy facilities, but God is not deceived. Sooner or later, the putrefying sores come out.

Through it all, God's desire was to heal His people. When a believer is being chastened because of sin, the only intelligent and profitable response is repentance. When a man returns to the fear of the Lord, he will find healing for his many spiritual wounds. He may then return to spiritual growth through the study and application of Scripture, and he may also rediscover the peace that comes through walking with Christ.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Isaiah's Introduction (Part III)

"Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward." (Isaiah 1:4)

The Holy Spirit gives Israel four titles. He calls them a sinful nation, a people who are loaded down with iniquity, a seed of evildoers and children that are corrupters. In Exodus 19:6, the Lord said, "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." Yet, now He calls them a sinful nation. By disregarding the commands of Scripture, Israel had become the direct opposite for which she was intended.

When a Christian engages in disobedience, it is not a light thing. Rather than fulfilling his calling of being a believer-priest within a nation of holy people (I Peter 2:9), he finds himself serving his flesh and indirectly serving the powers of darkness.

Iniquity carries with it the idea of bending and twisting that which is right. Iniquity perverts the holy standards to which a believer has been called. Judah was weighed down by such things and so is every Christian who bends and twists God's commands in order to justify his own desires.

God reminds Israel that justification is not found in human lineage. Even though they could trace their heritage as far back as Abraham, they were still nothing better than a seed of evildoers. Abraham was saved by faith. Without the justification which comes only from God, he would not have found eternal life. Likewise, apart from God's righteousness, every man is hopelessly lost in his own sin; and when he forgets such things and takes lightly the admonitions of God's Law, he finds himself raising up a generation of evildoers just like himself.

Lastly, sin corrupts. It does not deliver or breed life in any way. Romans 6:23 declares this to be so when it says, "For the wages of sin is death." Sin breeds eternal death, and it also kills the fruits of one's actions which otherwise may have been profitable.

The Holy Spirit also accuses Israel of three actions. He says that they had forsaken the LORD, provoked (despised or abhorred) the Holy One of Israel and gone away backward. How foolish to forsake the very One from which life and wellness issue, yet such is the way of disobedience. When a believer engages in sinful thoughts, actions and motives, he departs from the very One Who has given him life.

Through her disregard for God's holy covenant, Israel had despised her Holy One. God's holy nature will not permit Him to pass over such attitudes. He will deal with such things. In his rebellion, a man often thinks that God will not deal harshly with him if need be. Such thinking is not only naive; it is extremely dangerous. As time progresses, professing Christians think less and less of God's holy character and the biblical obedience to which such character calls the believer.

Not only had Israel turned away, it had turned away and gone backward. Rebellion and disobedience always lead away from the direction of productivity. God will not just leave a man alone to live his life as he so chooses. The Lord will see to it that such decisions lead into the pathway of destruction. God allows such things so that men might repent and return to the fear of the Lord.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Isaiah's Introduction (Part II)

"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." (Isaiah 1:2-3)

The children represent Israel, and the cause of God's rebuke is immediately given. Judah had rebelled against God. As the book will soon declare, they had failed to keep the two greatest commandments of Scripture, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind... and ...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39)." Rebellion may be defined as an open effort by people to change the government or leadership of a country by the use of protest or violence, open defiance toward a person or group in authority or a refusal to obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior. Rebellion is a serious matter, and it always breaks the heart of God, especially when it involves His people who should know better.

God esteemed two creatures as being more loyal than Israel: the ox and the donkey. An ox is not known for its intelligence, and yet it has the ability to recognize its owner. Donkeys are famous for their stubborn foolishness; however, even they have retained the ability to appreciate the value of their owner's feeding trough. In contrast to the humble dependence of these base creatures, Israel had grown independent of God. It had wandered away through its vain traditions and hedonistic ideologies.

When a Christian rebels against God's commands and principles on any level, he is displaying less wisdom than an ox or a donkey. Rebellion is deceitful. The rebel often thinks that it will be well with him, but the Scriptures promise his destruction. "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1)."

How sad it is when God's own child does not stop to consider the One Who has redeemed him, delivered him and kept him through all adversity. Judah was guilty of this, and the rebellion of Israel is alive and well in every human heart, just waiting to rear its ugly head.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Isaiah's Introduction

"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." (Isaiah 1:1)

The main place of Isaiah's prophecy was Judah and its capital of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the place of God's temple and God's priests. Of all places, Jerusalem and its suburbs should have known the danger of disobedience and apostasy; however, the very city which housed God's temple was guilty of idolatry, murder, oppression and immorality of all kinds. The intensity of the Lord's rebukes may well be understood when one considers the vast amount of divine light which had been shed upon the holy city.

Every born-again Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. With the privilege of God's divine presence comes the responsibility of responding to God's light as seen in His Word. To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). If God did not take lightly Jerusalem's departure, He certainly will not take lightly the departure of those whose bodies serve as the dwelling place of His Spirit.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Overview of Isaiah (Part III)

The Layout and Theme of the Book

The book of Isaiah can be divided into two main sections. Chapters one through thirty-nine deal primarily with the subject of judgment. Before a man can return to God, he must first be made aware of his departure. Interestingly, these chapters are occupied with the Assyrian oppressions which plagued both the northern and southern kingdoms. As God warned His people of judgments, He used the Assyrian Empire as both an illustration and an actual instrument for the purpose of inflicting that punishment.

The latter half of the book, chapters forty through sixty-six, is focused primarily on words of comfort and the coming redemption of Israel. By this time, the Assyrian Empire was fading into the historical horizon, and the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia were on the rise. As Judah would continued to experience the failure of kings such as Manasseh, Amon, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah, God brought assurance of a future redemption. Eventually, Jerusalem would be devastated by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and many of the Jews would be led away into Babylonian captivity; however, these things would not transpire without the divine promises of redemption given in the latter part of the book.

Direct references to Jesus Christ the Messiah are extremely common throughout the book. Since the subject of redemption is the main theme, the Redeemer's presence is not surprising. His spotless character and holy kingship are seen in 11:1-9. He is the servant mentioned in 42:1-25. In 49:1-50:11, He appears again as the Servant-Savior. His Messiahship is clearly the subject of 52:13-56:12. Within these chapters appear such blessed passages as Isaiah 53:1-12 where Christ's future death, burial, resurrection and glorious triumph are foretold. It is within this chapter where man is directly confronted with his need for a spotless, sinless human sacrifice such as Jesus Christ the Son of God. Lastly, in chapters sixty through sixty-six, the LORD'S glorious return is put on display. Because of his many prophecies concerning the Messiah, Isaiah was frequently quoted by Christ; and the gospel narratives are filled with fulfillment of Isaiah's revelations.

The coming glories of the Millennial Kingdom are numerous throughout the book. From the very start, the blessed state of Christ's future kingdom is put on display in 2:1-5. In chapter twelve, the God-fearing man finds his righteousness and peace in the righteous character of God through the promise of verses such as 12:2. "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." The last chapter of the book ends with a magnificent exhibition of God's final victory over Israel's enemies. The LORD will someday return; and when He does, evil will forever be suppressed, and God's saints "shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against [the LORD]: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh (Isaiah 66:24)."

The LORD of hosts is Isaiah's favorite title for God. The term appears fifty-three times and denotes God's supreme authority over all things. The armies of Israel, the armies of the world and the supernatural armies of both light and darkness are fully at His disposal. With such magnificent power available to the man who comes to God through faith in Christ, what remains to threaten the God-fearing?

The Holy One of Israel is also a prominent title for God found throughout the book. In other Scriptures, it appears five times while appearing in Isaiah twenty-six times. God is first and foremost holy. Because of His holy character, He cannot allow the wicked to enter His kingdom. No amount of religious ritual can atone for man's sins before a holy God. No act of human effort or sacrifice is sufficient to reconcile a man's offenses. Only the holy character of Christ is found to be adequate in the eyes of God. The Holy One of God is a title attributed directly to Jesus in Mark 1:24 thus linking the Lord Jesus to this singular title found throughout the book of Isaiah.

The Lord is also commonly referred to as the Redeemer. This title is found thirteen times, and it appears exclusively in the last half of the book where God's redemption of His people is put on display in a more prominent way. The Lord is the one who has the power to buy a man back from the slave-market of sin. Apart from the choice to believe, a man is utterly helpless to bring about his redemption. Salvation is all of God. Man fails, but God is faithful. Hezekiah was a godly individual; yet his failures are clearly put on display in chapter thirty-nine. Uzziah was also commended for his righteous character, but the Scriptures also speak of his rebellion (II Chronicles 26:16-21). Had the nation of Israel been looking to either of these two men for redemption, the people would have been ultimately disappointed. In like manner, if a man looks to anyone or anything other than the one and only Redeemer (Jesus Christ) he will be gravely disillusioned.

Although the redemption of Israel is the primary theme of Isaiah's prophecy, a man must not gloss over the fact that any God-fearing individual may grasp the principles of the commands and promises found in this book. While Israel is the primary audience, God's love of the Gentile nations is found throughout the book (42:1-7, 45:22, 56:1-8, 65:1).

God's love has always extended to the entirety of mankind, and the merciful promise of Isaiah 66:2 brings everlasting joy to the soul of every repentant sinner.

"...But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."