Isaiah

Be glad in the salvation of God. 25:1-9

 
Introduction

Our passage for study is found in the section of the book of Isaiah, chapters 24-27, which deals with the judgement of the world and the ultimate deliverance of Israel. It follows a more specific section dealing with judgement on the pagan nations, those nations which sought to destroy Judah and Israel, chs.13-23. Chapter 24 is an apocalyptic poem which predicts world-wide judgement and is followed by our two poems for study: A song of praise for God's deliverance, 25:1-5, and salvation for all the nations in Mount Zion, 25:6-8.

 
The passage

v1-5. A song of praise for God's deliverance. This poem expresses the joy felt by God's people as they are delivered from the power of the enemy. Isaiah could easily have written this poem following the retreat of Sennacherib from Jerusalem in 701BC, 2Kings19, Isaiah 37. The poem speaks of the destruction of the enemy's fortified cities and the salvation of God's distressed people. The people of the nations will stand in awe of Him. As for God's broken people, those who have stood the full blast of the winter storm, the searing heat of summer (the enemy's attack), they are at peace - the "heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud."

This first poem is written from the standpoint of a child of God delivered from the enemy's power. In the fullest sense, the poem speaks of a future age. The destruction of Nineveh (the Assyrian capital), or Babylon, is a possible setting for the poem. For us, Satan's defeat at Calvary fulfills this poem, as does Satan's defeat in our day-to-day living for Christ and his ultimate defeat at the day of Christ's return.

v6-9. Salvation for all the Nations in Mount Zion. This poem speaks of the final day of salvation and makes a number of points which, for the people in Isaiah's day, would be regarded as quite revolutionary. In the coming day, the nations will gather as one people in Jerusalem. It will be a time of fellowship, of feasting, a time of great joy for all peoples and not just the descendents of Abraham. It will also be a time when death will be no more; the tears of mourning will be wiped away. In that day all will rejoice in the God in whom they trust.

The concept of all the nations sharing in the day of salvation at the coming of the kingdom of God is not new, but was seldom considered by the people of Israel. As for the notion of a defeated death, of no more dying, or even better, of resurrection, this was indeed a novel idea. For us, even now we experience unity in the church through oneness in Christ, and we experience new life through the resurrection-life of Christ. We look forward to the day of Christ's return when we will all be completely one in Christ and the tears and mourning of death will be wiped away.

 
Discussion

1. In what way do believers today experience victory over the powers of darkness?

2. Is there a sense where "all peoples" have come together today? If so, define.

3. In what ways has the "shroud" been removed for believers today?

 
Freedom from sin and death

Human despair is something that touches all of us. Whether it is the terrible destruction of the twin towers in New York, the displacement and constant harassment of the Palestinian people, or the mutilation of Iraqi civilians by suicide bombers, right through to the death of someone we love; in all this we know and feel human despair.

In the first poem in our passage for study we read of a people lifted out of that despair through the destruction of the enemy. In international affairs it would be like the destruction of the hatred that exists between Israeli and Arab. In our personal lives, it would be like the removal of the enemy of debt, bitterness in our job or marriage, even the enemy of fear, anxiety, guilt, jealousy.... In spiritual affairs it is the destruction of the power of sin, evil, even death, in our lives. Satan may be a roaring lion, prowling, seeking someone to destroy, but in Jesus the believer is surrounded by a divine power which protects us from this ferocious beast. The powers of darkness may rant and rave, but they cannot take us from the protective hand of our Lord.

The greatest enemy we face is sin and death, yet both are done away with in Christ. They no longer have reign over us such that the "song of the ruthless is stilled." Death has lost its sting in that it is but a vale through which we pass. Sin has lost its power in that it can no longer condemn us. In Christ we are free from sin and death.

In the second poem, the prophet speaks of the lifting of human despair, not just for the people of Israel, but for "all peoples." The Lord will "swallow up death forever", "wipe away the tears", "remove the disgrace", such that all who trust in him will be saved - "rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

The destruction of the enemy of sin and death is not just for a handful of the elite, but for all who trust in the Lord. All of a sudden the joy we feel for our salvation becomes a joy shared by a multitude of people from all nations. We are not alone, it is not just our little group of believers, but rather, our faith is shared by a multitude of believers throughout the world.

Human despair is a real experience. We all taste of the desert at some point in our lives. Of all human despair, sin and death are the masters. Yet, in Christ they are no more, and they are no more for a multitude of people. In this we rejoice.

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