Thursday, June 30, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Babylon's Destruction

"Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children." (Isaiah 13:17-18)

This verse clarifies the context. Primarily, God is predicting the fall of the Babylonian Empire through the rise of the Persian Empire. Cyrus the great conquered the larger Median Empire, and many of its laws and practices greatly influenced the Persian Empire. Even the first king put in charge over Babylon under King Cyrus was a Median (Daniel 5:31). Perhaps this is why God mentions Babylon's conquerors as being those of Media and not Persia.

In his conquest of the Assyrian Empire, Nabopolassar allied himself with the armies of Media. His son, Nebuchadnezzar, was married to Amytis, the daughter or granddaughter of Cyaxares (the Median king who aided Babylon in the overthrow of Assyria). In light of this reality, God's prediction of Media's victory over Babylon carries with it extra force. Before Babylon had even risen to power and prior to her alliance with Media, the Lord clearly predicted by whom He would accomplish her downfall. The allies upon which Babylon would lean for support would be the very ones to terrorize her in the end.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: The Day of Vengeance (Part V)

"Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land. Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." (Isaiah 13:13-16)

Babylon, a center of idolatry, had incited God's irrevocable wrath. Fierce anger means burning hot anger. Marduk, Babylon's chief deity, would not deliver her in the day of restitution. All of her necromancers and astrologers for which she was so well-known would be of no more value than they were in Nebuchadnezzar's day. Absolutely nothing could deliver Babylon from her decline into oblivion. Such will be the case when God overthrows the rebuilt Babylon of the antichrist's kingdom. That future city of unimaginable wealth, power and sin will become a heap of ashes within one hour. The Chaldeans prided themselves in predicting the future through the signs of the heavens. God promised that the heavens would be shaken at His appearance - a sign which no man could mistake.

As a pursued gazelle and as a lost sheep, Babylon would be alone, desperate and terrified in the days of her judgment. The rejection of truth often seems pleasurable for a time, but the end result is always terrifying and lonely.

God promised to bring Babylon's alliances to nothing. The nations which would attempt to help her would be chased and confounded as well.

Taking the children and beating them upon the rocks or against trees was a favorite practice of middle eastern warfare. The Babylonians had done this to the children of Jerusalem (Psalm 137:8-9), and God promised that the same thing would happen to Babylon's young. All the horrors of war inflicted by the Babylonian troops would come back to haunt them. God does not forget the heart behind the actions. It is one thing for a man to fight for his country or to defend himself; but it is quite another to delight one's self in the death and pain of others. This attitude is entirely contrary to God's command to "love thy neighbour as thyself (Leviticus 19:18)."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: The Day of Vengeance (Part IV)

"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine." (Isaiah 13:9-10)

God's wrath is a serious matter. His mercy is abundant, and His patience is great; but He will not bear with man's rebellion indefinitely. His wrath is not to be trifled with. The Lord destroyed the inhabitants out of the land of Canaan because of their sin. He destroyed the Israelites out of their land because of sin, and He destroyed Assyria and Babylon because of their wickedness. God does not play favorites. The disobedient Christian is not above punishment. Human parents are often unjust and swayed by emotions. Their standards are often flexible and changeable. Such is not the case with the Father.

The language of verse ten is typical of that which is seen when judgment day is being prophesied. The Lord used similar language in pronouncing judgment against Israel (Isaiah 5:30). This terminology also parallels what Christ told His disciples concerning the end times in Mark 13:24-26.

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

In these pronouncements against Babylon, one can visualize the day when Christ returns to personally deal with the sins of the earth.

"And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." (Isaiah 13:11-12)

The word for world conveys the idea of the inhabited world. Undoubtedly, the primary application is God's punishment of the Babylonian kingdom; however, there is strong apocalyptic undercurrent in this passage.

Great arrogance was displayed by Belshazzar on the night in which his kingdom was overthrown, but God made his pride to cease. The word for terrible means awe-inspiring or terror-striking. God would take those who struck terror into the hearts of their prey and would lay them low in the dust.

So complete would be God's judgment upon Babylon that a man would become a scarce and valuable thing. The gold of Ophir was known for its quality and beauty. It is mentioned numerous times in connection with Solomon's reign, twice in the book of Job and once in the Psalms. No one knows for certain where this city was located; however, it was obviously accessible from the Red Sea (I Kings 22:48). As valued as this gold was, God would make a man more valuable through the fires of His judgment. Such will be the case with a man in the days of the Great Tribulation. Through famine, warfare and disaster, much of the earth's population will be killed. So intense will be the judgment that Jesus said, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved...(Matthew 24:22)."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: The Day of Vengeance (Part III)

"The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land." (Isaiah 13:4-5)

As Cyrus moved forward in his conquests, he assimilated numerous people groups from the conquered nations into his army. Perhaps this is what is meant by kingdoms of nations.

The LORD of the armies is the One Who assembles the armies. The hosts of both heaven and earth are at the disposal of the One Who created all things. Ultimately, it was not Cyrus' army that assembled upon the mountains in preparation to attack Babylon; it was the Lord's army. God promised to use this army to destroy the whole land. Unchecked sin will leave a country in ruins.

"Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames." (Isaiah 13:6-8)

Howl means to wail. The day of the Lord is not limited to a single twenty-four hour period. It is a term used to describe the end of God's patience and the beginning of His wrath. As will be seen, God did not do away with Babylon in a single day. He brought her down to the dust slowly over time; however, the end result was the same as if God had destroyed her in a single day.

Man is often very confident and carefree in his sin; but when the end comes, all arrogance and confidence come to an end. On the night that Babylon fell, Belshazzar began his party by desecrating the holy vessels of God's temple; however, after seeing God's hand of judgment write upon the wall, "the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another (Daniel 5:6)." When God says, "Enough," all pride comes to an end.

This passage brings to mind the response of those who will witness the destruction of Revelation's Babylon.

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate (Revelation 18:19).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: The Day of Vengeance (Part II)

"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles. I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness." (Isaiah 13:2-3)

The Medians and Persians conquered Babylon in 539 BC. This account is recorded in the book of Daniel. Here, they are pictured upon the mountains as they approach the city of Babylon. The phrase high mountains would literally read mountains of barrenness. Likely, this refers to the rocky and bare Zagros Mountain range to the north of Babylonia. As the Median and Persian forces approach their final target, they give shouts of motivation and direction while waving on the troops and pointing them to their ultimate destination. The final goal is to penetrate the city's massive walls and to sit victoriously in her gates - the place of prominence and respect.

God called Cyrus the Persian both His shepherd and His anointed (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1). Unknown to Cyrus, he was nothing more than a rod of chastening in the hands of the Great Shepherd. God had sanctified, or set apart, Cyrus and his army for a special purpose; and nothing could change that. The Almighty is not limited to the use of only those who love and obey Him. All things, both good and evil, are at His divine disposal. The last phrase is not in reference to those who righteously understand and appreciate the glory of God; but rather, it pictures a group of people who are exulting in the fact that they see themselves as the instruments of divine justice upon a hated nation. Even though their view of this divinity was heathenish and greatly skewed, God used it to accomplish His will upon Babylon.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: The Day of Vengeance

"The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see." (Isaiah 13:1)

In passages like this, the word burden refers to the weightiness of God's judgment upon the sin of the nation under examination. Rejection of God and His truth is a weighty matter, and sin's consequences are unbearably heavy.

At the time this prophecy was given, Babylon had not yet become a world power; although, its influence had been felt by society for many years. As early as the days of Joshua, Babylon's influence upon world trade may be seen (Joshua 7:21). The miracle of God's ability to predict with perfect accuracy future events is amplified in this passage through His condemnation of a nation which had not yet taken the forefront in world history.

God's Old Testament condemnation of Babylon is filled with apocalyptic undertones. As is so often the case with Old Testament prophecy, the things pronounced against ancient Babylon seem to have both a near and a far fulfillment. In a near sense, Isaiah's and Jeremiah's prophecies have come to pass. The once glorious Chaldean Empire has long since faded into the dark shadows of history and almost nothing remains of her once proud existence. In a distant sense, the terrible judgments pronounced by the Old Testament prophets will find their full fulfillment in the speedy and disastrous overthrow of the city which will be used of the antichrist to appeal to the world but will eventually become the target of his wrath - a city known as Babylon the great (Revelation 18:2).

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Song of the Kingdom (Part IV)

"And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." (Isaiah 12:4-6)

Seven imperatives are seen in these last three verses: praise, call, declare, make mention, sing, cry out and shout. The last two could be considered as one and the same, thus leaving six imperative ideas.

In the day of Israel's redemption, the converted inhabitants will encourage one another, as well as the citizens of all countries, to praise the King of kings. The verb behind praise is the same Hebrew verb which is seen in verse one. As previously mentioned, this word means to make confession (before God). Rather than offer the insufficiency of his own righteousness before God, the regenerated Israelite of the Millennium will make full confession concerning his own failure versus the inerrant righteousness of God.

Israel will also encourage men to call upon the name of the Lord. God's grace and deliverance have always been available to the one who is willing to call upon His name. After the fruit of Adam's sin revealed itself in the murder of his son Abel, men began to call upon the name of the Lord. Quite likely, this was due to a realization of their hopeless condition apart from the Sacrifice of God which is able to remove the stain of sin (Genesis 4:25-26). As Jeremiah resided in the dungeons of Jerusalem with the Chaldean army just outside the city walls, God encouraged His servant by commanding him, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3)." David wrote, "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:6)." David's faith was in the righteousness and mercy of a God Who has commanded the repentant sinner to call upon His name. Concerning salvation, Paul wrote, "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:12-13)." This he penned in reference to the writings of the prophet Joel who spoke of God's deliverance in the last days by saying, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call (Joel 2:32)." Yes, the Lord desires for people to call upon His name in sincerity, and Israel will be the witnesses of this desire in the latter days.

Israel will also declare the works of God to all people. Gone will be the days of her self-righteous, smug attitude. No longer will she look down her nose with an attitude of closure toward those who are not Jews; but instead, she will openly declare the great things that God has done in bringing about her deliverance. The imperative make mention means to remember. By continual mentioning, the Israelites will be encouraging the world's inhabitants to remember that God's name should be exalted.

A new song will take up residence in the hearts of Israel's citizens. It will be a song of joy and gratitude, a song of humility. It will be focused on the excellent things that God has done - things which will not be hidden from the eyes of the world's peoples. When Christ returns and destroys the kingdom of the antichrist, who will not have heard of His great wonders? Who will not be affected by His knowledge? Israel will be instrumental in spreading this knowledge. Instead of inhibiting people from coming to Christ, they will be leading others to Him.

The last two imperatives are given in the singular as the inhabitant of the future Jerusalem is encouraged to burst out with song and praise of Christ's glorious character and reign. Without the knowledge of Christ, Jerusalem is no better off than Sodom and Egypt (Revelation 11:8), but her filthiness and unattractiveness will be purged at the presence of the Holy One of Israel. Befittingly, the song ends with the One Who will make the future Zion great. Jerusalem's true beauty will not be found in the ornate construction of her walls and gates. It will not be found even in the glorious nature of her temple just to the north, a temple covering more than one square mile of area (Ezekiel 45:2) and boasting a pure river which will issue from the house's threshold and empty itself into the Dead Sea thus giving life to the sea (Ezekiel 47:1-9). As amazing and glorious as these things will be, they will not be the source of Israel's beauty. Her true beauty is found only in the beautiful character of the Holy One of Israel.

Why cannot each Christian practice the heart of Israel's future song? Each believer's praise should be characterized by reverent and honest confession. Christians should call upon God's name through prayer in good and bad times; and they should encourage others to do so through word and lifestyle. God's people should be declaring His works, not their own. They should be prompting each other to remembrance through continual mentioning of God's unfailing character. Believers should have a new song in their hearts, one of joy and gratitude. This song should be seen and heard by others. Lastly, every believer is obligated to cry out and shout the greatness of God. This is not license to engage in fleshly, charismatic confusion; but rather, it is encouragement to express the holiness of God's character through speech and lifestyle. Why should not the believer visibly display a better offer than the world when the Holy One of Israel lives in each and every saint (I Corinthians 3:16)?

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord gave to king Ahaz and his people many admonitions and comforts concerning the coming of the Assyrian Empire; and He ended it all with a focus on the future hope of Israel's complete restoration. The end of this song marks a distinct transition into the burdens of the nations - a topic which will encompass the next fifteen chapters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Song of the Kingdom (Part III)

"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3)

The word behind wells refers to a fountain or spring in contrast to a well or cistern. God's salvation is a life-giving fountain to the one who is willing to drink in faith. A clear illustration of this was given by Jesus when He witnessed to the Samaritan woman who had come out of the city to fill her bucket with water from the city's well. Jesus said to her,

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).

The salvation Christ offers is free, abundant and refreshing. It also brings great joy to the one who takes it. Someday, the people of Israel will experience this joy as they partake of God's life-giving water through faith in the fountain of Christ's blood (Zechariah 13:1).

In this verse, God is the One Who provides the well. No man can create his own life-giving water (salvation). Salvation is all of God and none of man (Isaiah 59:16, 63:5). This verse also teaches that each man must make a choice to drink. God offers the water, but a taste for sin can keep a man from having his soul cleansed by Christ's blood. Many people want deliverance from the consequence of sin, but they do not want to be permanently changed from the inside out. The individual who wants to be transformed is the only one who is going to come and take God's water by faith.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Song of the Kingdom (Part II)

"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." 
(Isaiah 12:2)

Generally speaking, the nation of Israel has continually rejected God as the sole means of her salvation. At Mount Sinai, the people told Moses, "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do (Exodus 19:8)." This they said not realizing that they had not permitted God to first circumcise their hearts through repentant faith in His merit (Deuteronomy 10:16). In Christ's day, the Pharisees had perverted the heart of God's Law and made it a system of salvation through lawkeeping rather than a guide to the righteousness of Christ. Israel has yet to grasp the concept that righteousness is all of God, but in the Millennium, she will finally understand.

Faith in God to accomplish fully the work of salvation brings peace of mind and freedom from fear of any condemnation. Perhaps this is why Paul likens salvation to a helmet which protects the head (Ephesians 6:17). Salvation delivers the mind from the haunting fear that one will not be accepted into the life which is to follow.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).

The LORD will someday be the strength and song of every Israelite just as He should be to every Christian in this dispensation. Believers can draw temporary strength from many things and have various songs of the world in their hearts; however, every source of strength and every song pales in comparison to hwhy hy (Yah Yehovah - LORD JEHOVAH).

The last phrase is a tremendous argument for Christ's deity. The name Jesus means salvation. Israel's millennial song clearly states that Jehovah has become salvation; therefore, Jesus Christ is clearly Jehovah Who has become salvation for all who are willing to turn to Him in faith.

A literal translation of this end part would read, "He has become to/for me to/for salvation." Salvation is "not by works of righteousness which we have done (Titus 3:5)" but "by grace are ye saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8)." Jesus Christ became salvation for all who are willing to trust in Him. David said in Psalm 62:7, "...God is my salvation... ." Paul told the Corinthian believers, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30)." God and God alone has always been and always will be salvation for the repentant sinner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Song of the Kingdom

"And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me." (Isaiah 12:1)

"That day" is in reference to the commencement of the millennial kingdom when the nation of Israel will finally acknowledge the Lord Jesus as her Messiah. Obviously, "thou" is speaking of Israel as a whole. This entire chapter is written as a song; therefore, Israel is personified as an individual who, out of a heart of gratitude, sings a song of praise in the Savior's honor. Explanation of these things may seem unnecessary; however, all too often people read the Bible or portions of the Bible without ever asking obvious questions such as who, what, when, where, why and how. Any believer can claim the principles of God's redemptive mercy found in this chapter, but the direct promises belong to Israel.

After years of suffering God's chastisement due to the sin of unbelief, the Israelites of the Millennium will burst into song as they delight themselves in the peace and security of God's salvation. The root meaning of the Hebrew verb behind praise means to confess one's own sin and faulty character while acknowledging the holiness and righteous character of God. If this Hebrew verb were transliterated into New Testament Greek, the verb exomologew (to fully confess) would be used. Unlike the shallow, fleshly and irreverent "praise" offered by much of the professing modern-day church, Israel's praise will be characterized by great humility, gratitude, godly fear and genuine love. This type of praise is what every believer should offer.

God's anger was poured upon Israel through the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans. Down through the centuries, Israel has often felt the sting of God's wrath as she has been the hated target of numerous countries; but the Great Tribulation will prove to be the time when Israel experiences the worst of God's anger as He breaks "the power of the holy people (Daniel 12:7)" in an effort to bring about their national repentance.

The world presents God as being cruel and unfeeling, One Who delights in bringing destruction and seeing people suffer. The Bible, on the other hand, presents God as "abundant in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6)." The Lord brings judgment only as a last option. Concerning God's desire toward Israel, the Psalmist wrote, "Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger (Psalm 85:3)." When facing hardships and disappointments, the believer must be careful not to accuse God of being uncaring or unfair. The Lord is waiting to heal and to comfort; and He has reasons for doing all that He does.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Outreach of the Kingdom (Part III)

"And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt." (Isaiah 11:15-16)

The Egyptian Sea is in reference to the Mediterranean Sea which borders Egypt to the north. The tongue pictures the many tributaries of the Nile River which empty themselves into the Mediterranean.

The Nile Delta of modern times has many branches and canals due to years of flooding and intervention by man; however, in ancient times (as documented by ancient historians such as Pliny) the Nile River consisted of only seven main branches which broke off from the main river and terminated in the Mediterranean.

In Ezekiel 29:3, God condemned the Pharaoh of Egypt for boasting that he had made the Nile River for himself - a river which is the lifeblood of Egypt. "...Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself." Rejecting God and establishing themselves as deity, the Pharaohs of Egypt placed all their confidence in the fertile Nile Delta which is made rich by the floodwaters of the Nile River. In the end times, God is going to smite this river and its tributaries to the point where people will be able to cross in ordinary walking shoes. This will come at an opportune time as God makes highways for His dispersed people to return to their homeland.

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isaiah 35:8-10).

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Outreach of the Kingdom

"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:10-12)

Paul quoted verse ten when he wrote, "And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust (Romans 15:12)." Although Isaiah was prophesying mainly of the outreach to the nations in the days of Christ's earthly kingdom, these things have come to pass in a near sense through God's use of the Church to reach the lost.

The end of verse ten declares Christ's rest to be glorious. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)." The sinner who comes to Christ in faith will experience his burden of sin removed and the righteousness of Christ imparted. The Lord Jesus Christ is the repentant sinner's refuge now, and He will continue to be in the millennial kingdom.

When Christ returns, He will fully recover the Jews who have survived the Great Tribulation. The text says that God will recover the remnant a second time. The first recovery would seem to be in reference to God's deliverance from the Babylonian captivity. Just as the Lord took the remnant from Babylon so that they might serve Him back in the land, He will gather the Jewish survivors in the last days so that they might worship Him in sincerity and truth.

Pathros means southern region. It refers to the upper part of Egypt which lies south of the Nile Delta. Cush is the land of Ethiopia. In II Kings 19:9, Tirhakah is called "king of Ethiopia" or literally "king of Cush." Elam was east of Babylon and northeast of the lower part of the Tigris River. This ancient area is now the modern day country of Iran. Shinar means two rivers. This is in reference to the Euphrates and the Tigris. Babylonia encompassed this area. Hamath was north of Damascus on the Orontes River. The islands of the sea refers to the many islands of the Mediterranean and beyond. From every place imaginable, the Lord will recover His people. God told Amos the prophet, "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth (Amos 9:9)." Rebellion has led to Israel's scattering, yet not one Jew is out of God's sight.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Outreach of the Kingdom (Part II)

"The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them." (Isaiah 11:13-14)

As already seen in previous chapters, the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) and the southern kingdom of Israel (Judah) had been in serious conflict. Part of the reason for Ephraim's envy may have been due to the fact that the religious center of the entire land was located in Jerusalem. Regardless of the reason, northern and southern Israel should never have been at odds. God's original intention for the nation involved unity around the doctrine of Scripture.

In the kingdom of Christ, all the jealousy and division which has characterized Israel will be abolished. Ezekiel prophesied extensively of Israel's unity in the last days.

Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand ... Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them ... Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore (Ezekiel 37:16-17, 20-24, 26).

Verse fourteen provides reason to believe that God will revive the ancient nations of Philistia, Edom, Moab and Ammon. The context is the end times, and the mentioning of these nations in such a context leaves little room for doubting their existence when Christ returns.

Edom's enduring hatred of Israel will finally be subjected as the Lord Christ openly displays where His blessing and inheritance lie. Also, the nations born out of Lot's incest with his daughters will be subjugated. The four nations mentioned have been the enemies of God since their establishment, but the Lord will be victorious at last. His presence will bring victory and peace.