1 – Isaiah 19:23-25 (ESV) 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”
RAF: One cannot help but be struck by the scope of this prophecy. One we would love to see come to pass. To imagine that those very nations which were first among Israel’s oppressors, Egypt and Assyria would one day be converted. This must have rung in the ears of Isaiah’s hearers as nigh unto impossible. First, it speaks of God’s dealing with the nations positively and outside of Israel’s covenant relationship to God. Israel is still spoken of here as God’s “inheritance.” It retains its unique status. But that status was never meant to be thought of as so exclusive, that God had no love, no compassion, no plan for those outside the covenant He had made with the Jews. Egypt here is called “my people.” And Assyria is called “the work of my hands.” This speaks very pointedly to us as Christians in terms of our evangelism. To not allow ourselves to assume God is not at work in the world to bring men to Himself. We should evangelize with the greatest hope that God is indeed at work – bringing those to Himself we would never imagine. Our labors are not hit-or-miss. He is working outside of our narrow scope. And note that the idea here is not that Egypt and Assyria remain idolaters or have some other way to God. The idea here is that they will come to worship the true and living God rightly (see vs. 21), and that it will be in concert with God’s covenant people.
2 – Isaiah 22:12-13 (ESV)
12 In that day the Lord God of hosts
called for weeping and mourning,
for baldness and wearing sackcloth;
13 and behold, joy and gladness,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating flesh and drinking wine.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
RAF: When men’s sins have caught up with them, some despair of any forgiveness and hope in God, and with the ones noted here – leave off seeking Him, and just say “what’s the use? We may as well just live as we please, for there is no hope anyway.” This is such a grave error. Though the Lord may have set enemies all about you, and beseiged you in your sin – yet He waits for you to humble yourself. He waits for us to own and mourn properly for our sin – and then to see His delivering and restoring hand. But we, having already fled from serving Him, coming to the end of our own resources, fail to go and cast ourselves upon Him once more. We forget that He is a God of abundant mercy. A God of unfailing love. A God of unfathomable grace. A God who receives all those who humble themselves before Him. It is never fitting to say “we may as well just live in our sin, we’re going to die because of it anyway.” He is calling for weeping and mourning, for baldness and wearing sackcloth – because He is a God who forgives. There is no place for existential despair in the economy of God’s people.
3 – Isaiah 26:3-6 (ESV)
3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
5 For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
6 The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”
RAF: The one-word theme of Isaiah is: Holiness. In its outworking we observe these awe-inspiring realities painted and repainted before our eyes throughout its chapters – God must punish sin according to His holiness and sin’s heinousness. And yet, God is merciful and gracious, and makes a way of salvation even in the horror of His justice perfectly carried out. In other words, Isaiah is constantly pointing us to the Cross. There alone can God’s just wrath be poured out undiluted, while mercy and grace preserve a remnant. These twin themes are hammered home to us again and again. Make no mistake, sin WILL be punished – utterly. And, God is gracious. It is as though Peter wrote the summary to this great book when he penned by the Spirit: 2 Peter 3:10-12 (ESV)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
4 – Isaiah 26:12 (ESV)
12 O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
RAF: Oh, do not let the exceeding preciousness of these words escape your notice. “For you have indeed done for us all our works” – is the most precise expression of God’s grace in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the Believer we can find. Let your heart wallow about in this luxurient pool. Drink in the sweet wine of these words. Revel here. All that God requires of us, He has provided in the person and work of Christ Jesus His Son. This is the Gospel.
5 – Isaiah 28:13 (ESV)
13 And the word of the Lord will be to them
precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little,
that they may go, and fall backward,
and be broken, and snared, and taken.
RAF: It is a sign of God’s judgment when men treat God’s Word like a book of rules and regulations to be followed in order to make ourselves acceptable to God. Legalism doesn’t lead to judgment, it IS judgment. Oh that we would look to God’s Word first and foremost as the revelation of His Son in His saving grace. Then we would see how the Law exposes sin, but Christ deals with it at the Cross, rather than looking to the Law to save us. We can no more use the Law to heal our sin than we can use an x-ray machine to heal a broken bone or a cancerous tumor. Reveal it, it can. Cure it, it can’t. Christ must be our sole salvation.