Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cyrus' Creator (Part III)

"Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right." (Isaiah 45:18-19)

Isaiah speaks now of the conversion of the nations in the messianic period. He recognizes that the national deliverance of Israel at Christ's return will result in the salvation of many Gentiles. Paul spoke of this truth when he said,

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness (Romans 11:11-12)?

The tone of the prophecies recall Isaiah's previous prediction of Egypt's deliverance in the future kingdom of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 19:23-25). Whether the chains are literal or symbolic of a submitted people, it is difficult to say. One thing is certain, the people of Egypt and Cush will recognize the singularity and worth of Israel's God as they acknowledge His supremacy.

In contrast to those who submit themselves to the righteousness of God, the resistor of God's authority will be destroyed by the Lord, because "...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6)."

In the righteous blood of Jesus the Messiah, Israel shall be saved. This event will take place in all of its fullness at the second coming of the Lord. As John so aptly put it, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20)." The phrase world without end is literally as far as eternity. God's salvation knows no end. Whether Jew or Gentile, the penitent believer finds in Christ everlasting security.

As a token of His gracious intentions, God reminds Israel and the world that He did not create the earth to be a desolate heap of lifeless confusion. In the aftermath of Jerusalem's destruction in 586 BC and again in 70 AD, it would be easy to think that God would never again restore His chosen people. Here, He reminds mankind that He delights in fellowship with His creation. After the tribulation has taken its toll on human life, Christ's kingdom will provide the perfect environment for the production and nurture of human life. Resurrected saints and glorified saints will be in the kingdom, but they will also be accompanied by the humanity which God has seen fit to preserve from the seven years of horror.

God makes it clear that He has not taunted Israel. The Lord would not command a man to seek Him if He could not be found. As the personification of wisdom, Jesus Christ "crieth without; [He] uttereth [His] voice in the streets: [He] crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city [He] uttereth [His] words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you (Proverbs 1:20-23)." The righteousness of God as seen in the Law clearly points a man to the saving grace of God. Man's rebellion, not God's distance, has blinded his spiritual eyes. As Paul said in Athens, "...He be not far from every one of us (Acts 17:27)."

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