June 11, 2021
"For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make will endure before Me” – the Lord’s declaration – “so will your offspring and your name endure."
“For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make will endure before Me” – the Lord’s declaration – “so will your offspring and your name endure. All mankind will come to worship Me, from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, says the Lord. As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their maggots will never die, their fire will go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” Isaiah 66:22-24
Having begun his prophecy with a statement of Israel’s sinful and apostate condition, Isaiah closes with a vision of the new heavens and the new earth.
“Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1
The word of “comfort” promised in chapter 40:1 has by now reached its climax. Throughout the exile, the true Jew lived inwardly as an inhabitant, not so much of a foreign prison but his own broken heart. The healing of that broken heart has come through the prophet’s evangelical insistence on the centrality of Messiah in the redemption of God’s covenant people. Jesus came to provide the atonement necessary for sinners to be reconciled to God.
Isaiah portrayed God as the sovereign Lord of history and as the supreme Creator of the universe, powerful and majestic. He made the very planets, which ignorant men were worshipping. He knows the end from the beginning, determining the outcome of the universe. In short, Israel’s exile was no accident but part of His plan. It was God’s punishment for Judah’s apostasy, but He arranged a way back for the remnant, those who remained faithful and believed through it all.
Yet, for all God’s power and holiness, He is also tender and gracious. This is a reality of God that is lost on many “New Testament” Christians. That is, many people believe there are two “Gods” in the Bible. To them, the “Old Testament” God is angry and unappeasable. Their “New Testament” God is loving and gracious. Isaiah describes God in both terms. He is obviously holy and powerful…but also Israel’s Lover (43:4), their Mother (49:15), and their Husband (54:5). It is inconceivable – blasphemous even – to think that He would abandon his own people. “His people,” Isaiah is quick to point out, are those whose righteousness is counted to them when they believe, by faith, in Messiah. Nobody expects to see Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:25-33), Korah (Numbers 16:32-33), or Judas (Matthew 26:23-25) in Heaven…even though they are all Jews. Simply being Jewish does not ensure salvation. Only those who lived in faithful expectation-of (pre-advent) and faithful belief-in (post-resurrection) Messiah Jesus will be saved.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
The good news of the gospel is that while salvation comes exclusively through Messiah, it is offered to men of all nations, who will believe on Jesus, by His grace, through faith.