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Lowell Brueckner

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Tne End of Death and Tears


24. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 25

Isaiah praises his God

Isaiah joins the praise of the remnant, the only positive movement in chapter 24 (v.14). I am certain that I cannot be mistaken in saying that every true ministry begins with and springs from a relationship with God. This is true in the Old Testament, as well as in the New. Isaiah says, “You are my God” (v.1). Personal knowledge is required, if he is to be a representative on earth of His person, having experienced firsthand, who He is and what He can do.

His deeds are wonderful and the hand of the Lord is recognized because of the supernatural character of His works. Because they are so great, Isaiah exalts and praises Him. Praise can explode on a horizontal level to declare His wonders to human beings, as well as towards God vertically.

This first verse also shows that the marvelous works are according to plans formed in an ageless eternity. For this reason also, Isaiah must have a personal relationship with Him, in order to hear directly from God, as to His purposes. Those are the plans that must be carried out in time and men have no part in the blueprint or in the manner, in which they are done.

The degradation of cities

Cities are a demonstration of man’s highest ambitions and labors. They are targeted by the Lord, in order to bring the builders down from the pride acquired by their high level of achievement. I wrote a book, contrasting God’s work, demonstrated by nature, with the work of men, depicted by a city (God Made the Country). These are totally opposite creations and call forth totally opposite reactions from the observer, who gazes upon one and then the other.

You will remember Nebuchadnezzar’s boast as he looked from the roof of his royal palace over the city of Babylon: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dn.4:30). Is this the “foreigners’ palace” to which He is referring in verse 2? We learned much about a curse of lasting destruction in the prophecy concerning Babylon.  God will never once tolerate such boastful meditations from the human heart, in thought or in word. Human pride is the enemy of God’s glory!    

It takes a strong manifestation of the power of God to bring strong people to recognize Him and give Him glory. Otherwise the world will lose the fear of the Lord. “Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you” (v.3). People, let me beg of you to join together now to call upon the true and living God for a special demonstration of His glorious might. How imperative and urgent it is for us to unite our hearts and bow our knees before Him! The world’s nations have lost the fear of God and see no reason to give Him any part or attention in their affairs. The spiritual crisis cannot be any more acute and we will be held accountable for passivity in this day of atheistic activism. God heard Israel’s cry under Egyptian slavery and once again from their captivity, Israel cried out to God “by the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion…” (Ps.137:1).

The mysterious defense of the weak

By ruin and judgment, the mighty ones on earth are brought to fear God, but by the weakness of the poor and needy, God is a stronghold of refuge. His hand upon the weak is also a testimony to the strong. Notice the word for at the beginning of verse 4: “… cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a stronghold to the poor.” It was so in Egypt, where God’s hand directed the plagues, which came upon Pharaoh and his powerful nation, away from the territory of the race of slaves. They ask, “From where does their confidence come, if they are defenseless and vulnerable? They are sheltered, while the storms rage upon us and they are under shade, while the heat beats mercilessly upon us.” Soon, the Israelites’ confidence in God and His protection will be very evident to the Assyrians. Their proximity, the breath of the Assyrians, breathing down the necks of the Israelites, is only like a rainstorm against a solid wall.

The poetic nature of divine language is impressive from beginning to end in Isaiah’s prophecies; here it takes its metaphors from Israel’s climate. The Creator knows His people and how to move them on the inside, as His Spirit stirs them to react in the way that He desires. Look at verse 5 in this way: The dry place is Israel and the heat is the aggressive tumult of the ruthless nations against it. The cloud is the shadow of the Lord lowering the temperature and stopping the exultant song of triumph. You see, the wonderful word of comfort is driven home to the heart by the metaphors.

Now, in verse six, the metaphors change from climatic terminology to that of a banquet, answering the following question: Why is the Lord so careful to watch over Israel and why has He chosen this people in the first place? From this land and upon this mountain, Mount Zion, God has destined a bountiful and rich feast for all nations. He will serve the finest of food with aged, well-refined wine to accompany it. Once again, Isaiah has put us into the Millennium!

Swallowing death

This prophecy is rich in spiritual truth. Divine revelation is carrying us in the opposite direction of Pharaoh’s dream in the time of Joseph. There the lean cattle were the dominate forces that prevailed to swallow up the fat ones, bringing a horrible draught upon the Middle Eastern world. When the Great Tribulation has passed, the blessing of God will swallow up the curse upon the people who live around Mount Zion and from there it will be removed from all nations: “He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations” (v.7). The veil of spiritual ignorance will fall, as the knowledge of the Lord fills the earth.

In the Apostle Paul’s doctrine, the veil that hides the glory of God is taken away: “When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed” (2 Co.3:16). Grace overcomes and the free gift prevails over sin: “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Ro.5:15). And then, life prevails over the consequences of sin, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Co.15:54).

Seven hundred years before, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah and the blazing light of eternal, gospel truth broke through: “He will swallow up death forever” (v.8)!  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit of truth would show His disciples things to come. I, for one, want to partake of His prophetic truth.  He carried Isaiah to the end of the age to the time when “the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces!” It was not enough for the Holy Spirit that only Isaiah should see and tell of this future bliss. The Apostle John met Isaiah there some 800 years later to see and to share with his readers the day when grief would no longer exist! “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev.7:17). But it was not enough to tell it just once; at the end of the Bible, he tells it again: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev.21:4)

This is all God’s idea, conceived in Him before the worlds were created. He has set the table and prepared the feast; He has opened the dining room door and called, through His word and by His bride in the Spirit, to a veiled world to come: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev.22:17). Can you possibly doubt His good intentions? Come in to the millennial banquet; come in to the tearless eternity!

Waiting on God

Waiting on God means to place all our trust and future in His hands. Waiting means patience and a refusal to accept the first thing that comes along… to refuse the stew, in order to get the birthright (Ge.25:34). “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them” (Jn.10:8). Waiting means to accept nothing but the best; to let the prime of youth pass you by, in order to experience His strength in your time of weakness: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Is.40:30-31). Those who wait on the Lord were born to fly!

Then, we will be able to declare to the world, “Behold, this is our God”… this is the One we have been talking about! “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…” (S.S.6:3). Now people of this earth, perhaps you can see why we didn’t accept the bright, glittering offers of security from the world and refused to trust in its salvation. The world had its day, but now it is our turn, “let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (v.9). It’s the wedding day: “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure… for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev.19:7-8). They were righteous deeds, for they were the supernatural working of the Spirit of God working through the saints to His glory. Nothing else could be acceptable.  
A song from the 1950’s said, “O Lord, keep Your precious hand on me.” When God’s hand is on something or someone, it means that He is giving His special protection. In verse 10, He has His mighty hand on a mount that is mentioned throughout the Bible as requiring His constant attention… Mt. Zion.

Graphic ugliness

Moab, an ancient foe, because of its proximity to Israel, was especially disdained and alienated from contact. It is representative of whatever enemy that might bring a threat to this critical point in the city of Jerusalem. In its own land… and the inspired word becomes a bit graphic here, speaking of straw in a manure pile, stepped on by the cattle… the enemy will be trampled. Limited graphic language is not a problem with God, when He describes something, which He means to disgrace. You will find these kinds of terms here and there throughout the Bible.

It’s a disgusting scene all right, more graphic yet, as the next verse continues to describe a swimmer spreading out his hands to swim in this mostly liquid manure (please forgive me… I am simply passing on Isaiah’s description). But you see the Lord wants us to be repulsed by His enemies, and catch their filthy, perverted ways. He wants us to avoid, not physical contact, but any kind of moral or spiritual integration with them. The example is of a nation close to Israel, therefore within easy reach of their contamination.

“The Lord will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands” (v.11). Always the Lord’s target is the high places, in which men take pride. In verse 12 it is the skill involved in the fortifications of the walls, which He will bring down to the ground.  In the past, Israel had corrupted themselves with the Moabite women, through the mediation of Balaam (Num.25:1-6), so now, God is making sure that His people will clearly see Moab’s true ugliness.

Let the church beware… the teaching of Balaam had joined itself to one of the Asia Minor churches in the first century! (Rev.2:14). It can happen again, and in fact, it does in our day, as churches and individuals fall.  God’s method of degrading that, which the flesh finds attractive, was also the practice of the Apostle Paul: “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal.6:14). He dug deeper than the superficial glitter and glow and discovered the stench and putridness of the world, as that of a condemned and crucified criminal. On the other hand, Paul could see beyond a pierced and beaten body, to gaze upon the unmatched beauty of the Lamb that was slain.


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