The last chapters of Isaiah point us to the future, particularly in relation to Israel. To understand God’s plan for the ages, we must understand Israel’s unique role in it. This in turn will cause us to grow closer to Israel’s Messiah, our Lord Jesus.
The Final Word on the Future
We have arrived now at Isaiah chapter 60, and the wonderful future of Israel is spelled out here, beginning in verse 1:
Arise, shine, for your [Israel’s] light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. . . . the Lord will arise upon you . . . And nations shall come to your light. (verses 1-3)
Now this has not happened yet, beloved. If you have checked the news lately, you know the nations of earth are not going to Israel to ask for wise advice; in fact, they have done nothing over the centuries but try to keep Israel from having a voice at all.
But during the millennial kingdom—that thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth following the tribulation—Israel will be restored. Jerusalem, the capital of Christ’s kingdom, will be a glorious city of light.
Imagine this kind of peace in the Middle East during the kingdom age that Isaiah prophesies in verse 18:
Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
The opening verses of chapter 61 focus on the earthly ministry of the Messiah:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (verses 1-2)
This is the text Jesus read in the synagogue in Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 4. After reading it, Jesus said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). In other words, “Your Messiah just showed up.” How clear can it be?
But the people of Israel were expecting the Messiah to be a conquering king. They expected Him to overthrow Rome; they certainly did not expect Him to die on a Roman cross. So, the nation eventually refused Him—and to this day they are unwilling to follow a suffering Messiah who died for their sin.
But that was not the end of the Messiah. The rest of Isaiah 61:2 tells us that the Lord will come back one day “to proclaim . . . the day of vengeance of our God.” Jesus did not read that portion of verse 2, however, because that will not happen until Jesus comes back again. Jesus did not arrive the first time to conquer but to be crucified; He did not come the first time to deliver judgment but to invite people to believe in Him as the sacrifice, once for all, for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Now in chapter 62 the Messiah reassures Israel with these words:
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. (verse 1)
In verse 4 He adds, “You shall no more be [called] Forsaken, and your land shall no more be [called] Desolate.” That hasn’t happened yet either, but it will happen when the Lord restores Israel in their land, never to be forsaken again.
Isaiah 63 begins to describe the vengeance of God’s judgment on earth. The Lord is described in verse 6 as coming from the battle of Armageddon, at the end of the tribulation, when He defeats the armies that have gathered to destroy Israel under the direction of the Antichrist. The Lord says, “I trampled down the peoples in my anger . . . I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
Beloved, there are a lot of people today who think Jesus is some kind of fragile, rather spineless, powerless man who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Well, according to Isaiah, the Messiah will return one day to deliver holy judgment against all who defy Him.
Many people are passionate about being politically correct—they say they don’t want to be “on the wrong side of history.” Well, let me tell you, my friend, you don’t want to be on the wrong side of God! Surrender now to Jesus Christ—the coming King—and get on the right side of God!
The reality of this coming judgment moves Isaiah to record a prayer on Israel’s behalf in chapter 64. He asks God to graciously act on behalf of His people, and in verse 9 he says, “Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever.” This request for salvation is tied to a confession of sin and trust in the Lord.
And so it is for you today. God invites you to confess your sin and trust in Christ as your Savior and Lord.
God’s concern is not for Israel alone, however. Notice His words here in Isaiah 65:1:
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.
Here the Lord invites to Himself not only the nation of Israel but every other nation—every other person on the planet.
The first half of Isaiah 65 informs us that because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, their dispersion and suffering will continue right into the seven-year tribulation period.
Now let me clarify an important point here—namely, the purpose of the tribulation. I have heard Christians say it is designed to purify the church—to get the church cleaned up and ready for heaven. Well, let me tell you, through Christ, the church is already purified. The idea that the church has to be purified before being taken into the kingdom is horrible theology. It’s salvation by works. You might as well believe in purgatory—and there is not a verse in Scripture about that either.
The church has not been promised the wrath of God but rather deliverance from the wrath of God—the hour of tribulation that is coming on the whole world (Revelation 3:10). The blessed hope of the church is not the appearance of the Antichrist but the appearance of the true Christ (Titus 2:13), as He comes to rapture His church and keep her from God’s wrath during this tribulation period. Let me put it this way: the purpose of the tribulation is not to get the church ready to meet the Lord but to get Israel ready to meet the Lord, their returning Messiah.
Here in Isaiah 65:17, the prophet says God will create “new heavens and a new earth.” This refers to what takes place at the end of the millennial kingdom when God creates everything new, just as He promised, as the eternal state begins.
But most of what follows here in chapter 65 describes the millennial kingdom immediately following the tribulation. You could describe this coming kingdom as a return to the garden of Eden. God is going to change this old earth, including the animal kingdom. We have already talked about this. A child will be able to have a lion as a pet—won’t that be something?
Chapter 66 continues the description of the millennium and especially the sudden change of heart in the people of Israel. Isaiah writes in verse 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?”
This sudden reviving of Israel is the work of God’s Spirit as they welcome their Messiah at His return.
For those who believe, the Lord promises here in verse 12 that one day they will have “peace . . . like a river.” And in verse 13, He says, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.”
Let me ask you, are you listening to Isaiah? Are you ready to meet the Lord? Here is the invitation: Trust Jesus Christ with your life; receive His gift of forgiveness, and follow Him now. If you do that, you will be able to worship Him one day in that kingdom, where peace will flow like a river and the comfort of God will never end.
And with that we conclude the book of Isaiah—this Mount Everest of prophetic Scripture.
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