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Shall we turn in our Bibles to Isaiah 31.
Now as a backdrop to these scriptures in Isaiah 31 is the impending invasion of Assyria. Assyria is the world-conquering power at the moment. Assyria has destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Assyria has destroyed Syria; has conquered over Babylon. And now the Assyrian troops are moving in a massive invasion of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Having taken some of the cities of Judah already. And there is pressure against Hezekiah and the pressure groups are seeking to have him to make an alliance with Egypt and to go down to Egypt and seek the help of the Egyptians against this Assyrian invasion. And so Isaiah is saying, "No, your strength is in standing still and doing nothing. God is going to deliver you from the hand of the Assyrian. Don't trust in the arm of flesh; trust in the Lord." And so as a backdrop to this is this pressure group that is moving towards an alliance with Egypt to withstand this Assyrian invasion. So Isaiah says,
Woe unto them that go down to Egypt for help; who would trust on horses, and in chariots [for help], because they have many of them; and in the horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! (Isa 31:1)
So he is pronouncing a woe upon them that would be seeking the help from men and not seeking the help of God. Now for some strange reason, it seems that we always turn to God as a last resort. It seems like the very natural thing for us to do in a crisis is to turn to the arm of flesh. To try to figure out how to work things up and turning to the arm of flesh, turning to our friends and all, trying to get support for our cause, instead of turning to the Lord and seeking the help of the Lord. So he pronounces woe on them who are ready to look to Egypt for help, to depend and trust in their chariots and in their horsemen, who do not look to the Lord for their help.
May that be a real lesson to us. May we learn to trust in the Lord. For, "It's better to put your trust in the Lord than your confidence in man. It's better to put your trust in the Lord than your confidence in princes" (Psalm 118:8-9).
Yet he also is wise, he will bring evil, he will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, they're not God; their horses are flesh, they're not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helps shall fall, and he that is helped shall fall down, and they shall fail together (Isa 31:2-3).
Don't trust in the arm of Egypt. They're only flesh. They're not God. They're only men. Their horses are flesh, not spirit. The greater strength, the greater help is in the Spirit of God, for God is able when He stretches out His hand to do the job completely.
For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof (Isa 31:4).
Now, trust in the Lord; don't trust in the Egyptians. Put your trust in God. For God is going to come down. And like a crouching lion on his prey.
Now when a lion would grab one of the sheep out of the flock, it would crouch upon its prey and the shepherds would, all of them, come around and they would start yelling and making a lot of noise and all and they would try to scare the lion off. They would try to get the thing all frightened and scared off by just yelling, make a lot of noise and all. But the Lord said, "Like a lion that is on his prey, and though the multitude of shepherds make a lot of racket, he's not going to move. He's going to hang on to it." So the Lord is going to come down. And He's going to fight for Zion. God is going to defend the people. You don't have to depend upon the arm of flesh. We sing the song, "The arm of flesh will fail you. Ye dare not trust your own. Put on the royal armor."
Now here is an interesting little verse, verse 5. And as we have noticed in prophecy, so many times there is a dual fulfillment of prophecy, or so many times there'll just be... He'll be talking about a local situation, and this particular situation is the impending invasion of Assyria and don't go to Egypt. Trust in the Lord for your help. And he's talking about the local situation. But now we get this interesting little verse, verse 5. And this is typical of so many prophecies. Suddenly it will jump way on out and be speaking of a future event that is totally unrelated to the particular local scene.
Or it could be relating to the local scene and yet have a fulfillment in the future. And you'll notice this many places through the prophecies of the Old Testament, because these men wrote things that they did not understand. In the New Testament it said that these prophets really desired earnestly to look into these things but they were hid from their eyes. They didn't really understand. They only wrote as God inspired them. Not always understanding what they were saying.
Now when in the New Testament you have many times an exposition from a remote prophecy of the Old Testament. There is a psalm that talks about "He shall fall and let another take his bishopric," and it goes on. And Peter picked up this one little verse of this psalm and he says it was referring to Judas Iscariot. That he by transgression would fall and it would be necessary for another one to take his bishopric. So let's choose one to take the place of Judas Iscariot. And yet, if you would read the psalm, in just reading the psalm you wouldn't see where that related.
Reading in the scriptures, the prophecy concerning, "he shall bring him out of Egypt." In the New Testament, Matthew said that that was referring to the flight of Joseph and Mary to Egypt. Now you read that in the Old Testament and it's hard to pick out. But yet, inspired by the Holy Spirit the commentaries of the New Testament help us to understand the prophecies of old. I believe that this is possibly one of those little prophecies that are just nuggets here; that they're just thrown in and had a future fulfillment.
For in 1917, when the Turks were holding the city of Jerusalem, General Allenby came with the British troops and they had set up their artillery around Jerusalem and were planning an artillery barrage to weaken the defenses of the Turks within the city before they made their assault against Jerusalem. Because there were many holy sites in the old city of Jerusalem, General Allenby wanted to be careful in the directing of the artillery that he would only direct it as much as possible against the Turkish positions. He did not want to just a wholesale destruction of the old city because you would lose priceless monuments, buildings and all of the past. So he ordered some planes to fly over Jerusalem to observe where the Turkish military locations were in order that they might direct their artillery against the Turkish defenses. When these planes came over, the Turkish captain who was in charge of the garrison ordered that Jerusalem be evacuated by the Turkish troops. He thought that Allenby was going to actually begin to bomb their positions in the city. And so they evacuated from Jerusalem and Allenby was able to go in and take the city of Jerusalem without firing any artillery rounds, without destroying any of the ancient sites, and the city was spared the artillery bombardment as the result of these airplane, the reconnaissance planes that he sent overhead.
Now in the light of that historic background from 1917, you read this particular verse in Isaiah and it stands out very interesting.
As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it (Isa 31:5).
The city of Jerusalem was preserved from the destruction of the artillery bombardment of the British troops in 1917 because of these planes, the reconnaissance planes that struck actually terror and fear in the heart of the Turkish garrison leader. So it's interesting how that here in the midst of his prophecy concerning Assyria that he puts in this little nugget and that in 1917, whether or not it was intended to be a prophecy concerning that, yet it was so aptly fulfilled in 1917 when General Allenby took Jerusalem from the Turks.
Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted (Isa 31:6).
Now the cry of the prophet to turn to God. "You've revolted against God, but He will defend. He will be your defense."
For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin (Isa 31:7).
They had created their own little gods. They have turned to idolatry. The thing that God had forbidden they indulged in. So it speaks of the reformation of the people.
Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. And he shall pass over to his stronghold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace is in Jerusalem (Isa 31:8-9).
So here Isaiah is, of course, predicting that God is going to destroy these Assyrians and that they don't need to go down to Egypt or to depend upon the Egyptians for help. But that in reality, the Lord will destroy them. But not with the sword of man, but God Himself is going to destroy them.
Now it is important for understanding of the prophecy of Isaiah to really put it in its historic setting. And so as a background to this area, you should be reading Second Kings again beginning with chapter 17 probably, which begins with the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria. And then eighteen which begins with the reign of Hezekiah. And then the threats from the Assyrians, Sennacherib sending his threats against Hezekiah and so forth.
In the nineteenth chapter, verse 35 of Second Kings we read, "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000: and when the people in Jerusalem arose early in the morning, behold, they looked out and they were all dead corpses. And Sennacherib the king of Assyria departed, and he returned, and he dwelt in Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead" (II Kings 19:35-37).
So here the prophecy of Isaiah before it happened. And, of course, then in Second Kings you can read of how this prophecy was fulfilled. The Assyrians fell, but not with the sword of a mighty man but with the sword of an angel of the Lord who in the one night destroyed 185,000.
Now brings up the subject of angels, which were created before man, which are a special class of creation. They are spiritual beings. They have the capacity of taking on a physical form. And in the Old Testament many times angels would take on physical forms. And we read where Abraham talked to the angel of the Lord. The angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon at the threshingfloor. The angel of the Lord appeared unto Samson's mother. And many times the angels appeared to people in the Old Testament.
Also in the New Testament. When Peter was in prison, about midnight an angel of the Lord woke him up and said, "Put your sandals on and follow me." And Peter tied his sandals on his feet and followed the angels as the doors of the prison opened of their own accord. And the angel led Peter out of the prison and then disappeared. Paul the apostle spoke to the people, "Be of good cheer," when they were on a boat and were expecting to be shipwrecked and were soon to be shipwrecked. "Be of good cheer, for last night an angel of the Lord stood by me and assured me that though the boat was going to be destroyed, there wouldn't be a loss of life" (Acts 27:22-23).
And so the Old Testament speaks of the angels and said, "He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all of thy ways. To bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against the stone" (Psalm 91:11-12).
So some way God has placed angels and given them the responsibility of watching over you as a child of God. In Hebrews we read concerning the angels, "Are they not all of them ministering spirits who have been sent for to minister to those who are the heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14) Satan at one time was an angel of God. He rebelled against the authority of God. There are indications that when Satan rebelled, that a third of the angels in heaven rebelled with him. In Revelation chapter 13 or chapter 12, he saw the dragon, and with his tail he drew a third part of the stars of heaven. The stars of heaven is an appellation for angels many times. So there is the concept that Satan drew a third part of the angels in his rebellion against God.
They are spirit beings. They remain to us today much of a mystery. But many otherwise unaccountable phenomena can be explained by the presence or power of angels. Things that we cannot understand. Interesting type of phenomena. I think that much of the psychic phenomena is in the realm of spiritism and is in the realm of angels, not necessarily the angels of God but those that have fallen with Satan from God. Now when the angels fell, because they rebelled against the authority of God and followed Satan, God prepared a place where they are ultimately to be incarcerated.
There is also a place of temporary incarceration known as the abusso in Greek, translated many times "the pit" or "the bottomless pit." But their place of final incarceration is Gehenna, which Jesus described as being outer darkness. Probably out in space beyond the light of the farthest galaxy. And Jesus declares that in the day when He comes back to the earth to judge the earth, He will say to certain of those who are upon the earth, those who have received the mark of the beast, those who have worshipped the false messiah, He will say unto them, "Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity." Into Gehenna that was prepared for Satan and his angels. And so Gehenna, even though it was prepared by God for Satan and his angels, those who have chosen to follow Satan will also be consigned to that same place of judgment.
And so, "The angel of the Lord," the Bible says, "encamps about the righteous" (Psalm 34:7). "His ear is open to their cry" (Psalm 34:15). And yet, we are not to pray to angels. Let no man deceive you concerning a false sense of humility by praying to angels. We are not to worship angels. When John tried to bow down to the angel that was giving him the revelation, he said, "Stand up, I'm a man just like you are. I'm in the same class as you are. I'm just a servant of God. Don't worship me, worship God."
Most of the time at the appearance of the angels to men, the effect upon men was that of fear. And so they were always saying, "Fear not." Two of the extraordinary angels seem to be Gabriel and Michael. Michael is called that strong prince. Gabriel it seems was in charge of the arrangements for the birth of Christ. Gabriel appeared to John the Baptist's father Zacharias. He also appeared to Mary to announce to Mary the fact that she was to be the mother of the Christ child. He appeared 600 years earlier to Daniel. Gave unto Daniel the prophecy by which the day that the Messiah would come was prophesied.
So they are interesting beings. They surround the throne of God. There is one class of angels known as the cherubim who surround the throne of God, cease not day or night saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." It will be very interesting and fascinating for us to discover the facets of these angels when we get to heaven. Our knowledge of them at the present time is very limited. But yet the Bible speaks of them and even tells us to be careful to entertain strangers. You never know but what you might be entertaining an angel without knowing it.
So the Assyrians were destroyed by one angel. A hundred and eighty-five thousand of them. So they are very powerful beings in ratio to man. Who can withstand a spirit being? An angel of the Lord. Brings up an interesting thought. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter pulled out his sword and began to swing away, cutting off the ear of Malchus the servant of the high priest, and Jesus picked up the ear and put it back on and said to Peter, "Put your sword away, Peter." He said, "Don't you realize that if I wanted to at this moment I could call for ten thousand angels to deliver Me out of their hands? I don't need your help, Peter."
So oftentimes we think God needs our help, don't we? Now let's help out the Lord. The Lord says, "Hey, Peter, I don't need your help. I could call for ten thousand angels to deliver Me." Now if one angel smote 185,000 Assyrians in one night, can you imagine what a legion, ten thousand angels, could do? Now that's why when God speaks of this coming situation with Russia and you think, "Oh, how could Israel ever withstand Russia and all," you don't have to worry about Israel, because God is going to set His forces and His power to work against the invaders. And it's just... it will be a time of great awakening as people awake to the realization of God.
Now as we get into chapter 32 Isaiah jumps over a couple of millennia at least, as he looks forward. As God is going to come down and as a crouching lion roaring and so forth, over her prey, in verse 4 going back to chapter 31. As the Lord of hosts shall come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof, He is likened unto a lion, a young lion that is roaring on his prey.
When you turn to the book of Revelation and you read there of the return of Jesus Christ, it declares in Revelation 10:3, "And He cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars: and when he has cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices." So Christ in His returning is going to let forth a great cry like a lion that is roaring. Now here, of course, it declares it in Isaiah 31:4. Also in Jeremiah 25:30. Also in Joel, and in many places of the Old Testament is referring to the day that the Lord has come roaring as the lion.
And so He has come.
Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in judgment. And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly (Isa 32:1-4).
There's going to be a restoration when the King comes and reigns. No more will people be stuttering, stammer. Will speak plainly. And at this time,
The vile person shall be no more called liberal (Isa 32:5),
I think that that's a very interesting verse, because we hear of liberals today, and for the most part, especially a theological liberal is an extremely vile person. But yet, they sort of hide behind the term of, "Well, I'm a liberal." And they use that as a covering for their vileness. And in that day, "the vile person will no more be called liberal."
nor the churl said to be bountiful (Isa 32:5).
A rude kind of a bullish person.
For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD (Isa 32:6),
Now what an apt description this is of the liberals. Their hearts are seeking to work iniquity and to practice hypocrisy. And what tremendous hypocrisy there is. As in theology, the liberals are always redefining terms so that you don't know what they're talking about. And you have to ask them, "But what do you mean by born again?" Because they've even picked up the term born again. They use the terms charisma, and they use all kinds of terms and you listen to them talk and you say, "My, he's right on! He was talking about Christ." Yes, but what does he mean when he says Christ? Does he mean an anointing that, you know, the Christ in me and the Christ in you? What does he mean when he says born again? And they've redefined these terms so that they can use the terms and you listen to them talk and you think, "My, he's talking about being born again! Isn't that wonderful?" But if you get a definition of their terminology, you'll find what they mean by being born again is entirely different from what we understand what it is to be born again by the Spirit of God into a new spiritual life.
So the hypocrisy by changing the definition of words so that they can give forth their villainy, really, but you don't understand what they're saying because you don't have the glossary that they are using. But, "they seek to utter error against the Lord."
to make empty the soul of the hungry; and will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail (Isa 32:6).
The thing about the liberal church and the liberal theologians is that they do not satisfy a person's real hunger for God. And people can go to church all their lives in these liberal churches and never really be satisfied. Their hunger for God's Word and God's truth never satisfied; their thirst for God never filled. Because the liberal theologians have absolutely nothing to offer of a true experience and relationship with God. Now they're extremely clever in their argumentation. In the presenting of their point. But their purpose is to become involved more politically and the presentation of the social gospel and the emphasis upon the social gospel. And to listen to them it sounds so good. It sounds so right. And here Isaiah is speaking of the day when the King comes and these liberals will be called what they really are.
The instruments also of the churl are evil: he devises wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. Rise up (Isa 32:7-9),
Now beginning with verse 9 he turns now the attention and the thought to the women at this particular time in Jerusalem. And let me say that women are usually the true barometer of the moral state of a nation. Women are the ones who usually set the moral standards. And when the women become corrupted in their moral standards, there's nothing left. And so the prophet speaks out again as he did in an earlier chapter against the women in Jerusalem.
Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip yourselves, make bare, and put on sackcloth on your loins (Isa 32:9-11).
In other words, the time has come really not to just be looking for pleasure and ease but to really be seeking God and turning to God. Sackcloth was a garment of mourning and begin to mourn over the condition of the nation, the condition of the country. I think that the message of Isaiah to the women of that day is extremely important to the women of our day. For defiled womanhood means a defiled nation.
They shall lament (Isa 32:12)
And he speaks of the lamentation, and it brings to mind what Jesus said will take place during the Great Tribulation period when the time has come for those to flee from Jerusalem to the wilderness place. "Woe unto them," He said, "who in those days are nursing a child or who are pregnant." Woe unto them because it will be hard to flee from Jerusalem in a hurry to get away from the man of sin, the son of perdition who will be coming to defile the temple and to blaspheme God. So the women lamenting.
The land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest (Isa 32:13-15).
Until God begins His work of restoration. Now it is interesting how that the land of Israel did remain for centuries wasted, desolate, wild. And how that under this modern Zionist movement and the establishing of the nation Israel the wilderness is being turned into a fruitful garden. The valleys of Sharon which were marshlands, the valley of Megiddo which was marshland has been drained and now cultivated and tremendous agricultural development there. And so he speaks of the desolation of the land which did take place, "until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high."
"In the last days," the Lord said, "I'm going to pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28). Joel prophesied that. And God is getting ready for this final outpouring. "The wilderness will be a fruitful field, a fruitful field be counted for a forest."
Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness (Isa 32:16-17)
I love this verse.
The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever (Isa 32:17).
What a beautiful verse. "The work of righteousness is peace; the effect of right living is just quietness and assurance for ever." I've done the right thing. I just rest in it. The quietness and the assurance. I've done the right thing. How beautiful it is.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass (Isa 32:18-20).
Now chapter 33 begins with a warning to the Assyrians.
Woe unto thee that spoilest, and you have not been spoiled; you that deal treacherously, you've not been dealt treacherously with! (Isa 33:1)
The Assyrians were extremely treacherous people. They often would mutilate their prisoners of war. Physically mutilate them. They would pull out their tongues. They would gouge out their eyes. They would physically mutilate their prisoners of war. They were extremely cruel. History records that many times cities when surrounded by the Assyrian army the inhabitants would commit suicide rather than be taken captive. So fearful were they of the Assyrians because of their barbarity, that rather than being taken captives by the Assyrians and be exposed to the torture that the Assyrians gave to their captives, they would just commit suicide. So Masada is not an isolated case in history. At the time of the Assyrian might, there were many records of citiesentire citiesthat, rather than being captives of the Assyrians, committed suicide. So, "Woe unto you who deal so treacherously."
when you shall cease to spoil, you will be spoiled; and when you shall make an end to deal treacherously, they will deal treacherously with you. O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble. At the noise of the tumult the people fled; at the lifting up of thyself the nations were scattered. And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them. The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regards no man (Isa 33:1-8).
He's talking about how the Assyrians have come and taken many of the cities already of Judah. And how the highways of Judah lie waste.
The earth mourns and languishes: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits. Now will I arise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. You shall conceive chaff, you shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might (Isa 33:9-13).
God said, "I'm going to burn them in my fire." Like thorns are going to be cut up and burned in the fire. And so at the destruction of the Assyrians, the effect upon those in Jerusalem:
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isa 33:14)
If the fire of God has wiped out the Assyrian army, this highly vaunted Assyrian army, who amongst us can dwell in that kind of fire? The sinners become fearful, afraid. The hypocrites filled with terror. When they see the effect of God's fire against the Assyrians.
In Hebrews we read, "Our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). In Hebrews we read that, "If we sin wilfully after we come to the knowledge of truth, there remains no further sacrifice for our sins, only that fearful looking forward to the fiery indignation of God's wrath which will devour His adversaries" (Hebrews 10:26-27). The fire of God.
Now the fire of God to us as children of God is not something that we fear. "Beloved, consider it not strange concerning the fiery trials which are to try you as though some strange thing has happened unto you" (I Peter 4:12). God puts us through the fire but it is the refining fire whereby God is purging out from our lives the dross in order that we might be pure.
When we come to Jesus Christ we have all of our hang-ups. We have all kinds of impurities within our lives. And so God puts us through the fire in order that He might burn out these impurities. We go through the testing. We go through trials, but God has a purpose in the testings and trials of refining us and making us pure, even as He is pure. And so I am in the fire of God. But because I am a child of God, the fire of God is only refining me and taking away the impurity from my life. You are in the fire of God. Whoever you may besinner, Christian alike. If you are a sinner, the fire of God is devouring and destroying and will ultimately destroy you. Where if you are a child of God, then that same refining process of God's fire is bringing about the purity in your life.
"Who amongst us can dwell in the devouring fire?" The answer:
He that walks righteously, he that speaks uprightly; he that despises the profit off of other people's ills or oppressions, he that refuses to take bribes, who will not listen to evil, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; For he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty (Isa 33:15-17):
Oh, how I long to see the King in His beauty and in His glory. Jesus prayed, "Father, I pray for these that have been with Me that they might see Me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world ever existed. And not only for these do I pray, but for all of those that will believe upon Me through their witness" (John 17:20,24). What is the Lord's desire? That you might see Him in His glory and see the King in His beauty. We have seen Him in His humiliation. We have seen Him as He was despised and rejected. But His desire is that we might also see Him in the glory that He had with the Father before the world ever existed. And they shall see the King in His beauty.
they shall behold the land (Isa 33:17)
The promised land, the kingdom of God.
that was very far off. Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers? Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand. Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our King; he will save us (Isa 33:17-22).
It speaks of that glorious day when Jesus will come and establish the kingdom of God upon the earth and He will reign there in mount Zion. And when Jesus comes, actually there's going to be a tremendous earthquake that will split the Mount of Olives in two. It is going to open up a subterranean river that will flow out from Jerusalem. Out from the throne of Jesus Christ there in Jerusalem. The subterranean river which will break into two riversone flowing to the Mediterranean and the other flowing down to the Dead Sea. And when the river flows into the waters of the Dead Sea, the waters of the Dead Sea will be healed so that it will no longer be a dead sea but it will become a center of fishing industry as they dry their nets around the area of Engedi.
And so Ezekiel prophesied of this river that flowed forth from the throne of God and how he measured the river and the depth that was so deep he couldn't walk across as it made its way down towards the Dead Sea. Isaiah also in another prophecy speaks of this same river. "The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers," not where ships navigate. Not like the river Euphrates or the Tigris where the ships navigated on it.
But, "The Lord is the judge, He is the lawgiver, He is our King; and He will save us."
Thy tacklings (Isa 33:23)
Speaking in terms of shipping now.
are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey. And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity (Isa 33:23-24).
"Oh how happy is the man whose sins are covered. Whose transgressions are forgiven" (Psalm 32:1).
But before the great day of the Lord comes, before Jesus sets up His kingdom, before He reigns there in Jerusalem, the nations of the earth are going to experience the most horrible bloodbath that has ever taken place in the history of man. And so chapter 34 he sees now this horrible bloodbath of the nations before the reign of Christ.
Come near, ye nations, to hear; hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation (Isa 34:1-2)
A term that is used in the Old Testament for the Great Tribulation period.
the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations (Isa 34:2),
Or the wrath of God, the Great Tribulation.
his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and the smell shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood (Isa 34:2-3).
Throughout the entire valley of Jezreel, the blood will flow to the horses' bridles we are told in the great battle of Armageddon, as God destroys the armies of man upon the earth.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree (Isa 34:4).
This phrase is used or this symbol is used by Joel and repeated by Christ in Matthew 24, but in Joel's prophecy chapter 2, verse 30-31, he speaks of the stars of the heaven falling as a fig tree drops its untimely figs. A tremendous meteorite shower that will strike the earth.
Out in the Arizona desert near Winslow, Arizona, there is a huge crater that is called the Meteorite Crater. Now most meteorites burn up in our atmosphere and don't hit the earth. But when one does hit the earth, if they are of any size at all, they leave a tremendous dent upon the earth. That meteorite crater is about a mile across and a couple thousand feet deep there in Arizona. Quite awesome to stand on the rim and look down in.
In 1906 there was a meteorite that hit in Siberia that leveled the pine trees for miles like they were toothpicks. In fact, so great was the destruction of that meteorite in Siberia that some scientists believe that it was perhaps composed of antimatter. For it is hard to conceive of devastation that extensive from just a plain meteorite. And so they believe that perhaps it was of antimatter. Now, antimatter would be a molecular structure that is opposite to what we generally know as atoms where you have the proton in the heart of the nucleus of the atom with the electrons revolving around it. In the antimatter it would be the electrons in the nucleus with the protons revolving around it. And they believe that if matter and antimatter hit that you have just this tremendous double-charged atomic explosion with matter and antimatter.
And it is something that the physicists have theorized as a possibility that antimatter exists in the universe, as well as matter. And that the combination of the two is devastating. And some have even suggested that that meteorite that hit Siberia about 1906 was of antimatter, and thus explain the tremendous devastation that was caused. But imagine the devastation that will come when there comes the meteorite shower upon the earth that just really begins to create these huge, awesome craters.
Now it is interesting that in about 1986 we are anticipating the return of Haley's Comet. And though it is possible that at this time Haley's Comet will make its turn on the other side of the sun, and it may be that Haley's Comet will not even be visible to those that are here upon the earth. Yet, the big concern of the scientists concerning Haley's Comet is not how close it's going to approach to the earth, but the fact that every time Haley's Comet comes along it leaves all kinds of debris in our solar system. And that as the earth makes its orbit around the sun, it passes through the junk, the debris that is left by the tail of Haley's Comet. The comet's tail is some a hundred million miles long and is just space junk. Just a lot of debris, meteorites and chunks and all out there in the tail of Haley's Comet. It seems to follow the comet around and give that long glow of the tail.
Two times a year the astronomers can predict tremendous meteorite activity. What has the scientists and the government right now concerned is that when Haley's Comet comes around again, it no doubt is going to createas our earth in its orbit (though we may not even see Haley's Comet)when we come into the fresh debris from the tail of Haley's Comet, we are going to have an unusually heavy bombardment of meteorites again. The thing that is of grave concern is the delicate balance of the ozone in our atmosphere. Already because of the fluorocarbon gases that have neutralized the ozone and turned it into a nitric oxide, and the blanket has been heavily depleted, what they are fearful of is a further depletion by the unusually heavy bombardment of the meteorites from the tail of Haley's Comet and it may be sufficient to deplete the ozone blanket to the degree that the earth will be subjected at that time to extra heavy ultraviolet radiation from the sun which will cause exposure to the sun to give you a violent burn and ultraviolet radiation rash.
Now last year in one of the water baptismal services where I was out in the water for a prolonged period of time, I got an ultraviolet radiation rash. Because of my length of time there in the water, the exposure to the sun, because the ozone blanket is being depleted constantly. Our atomic testing, atmospheric testing of atomic weapons had an effect upon the ozone blanket. The SST has an effect upon the ozone blanket, as do meteorites and as do the fluorocarbon gases used in the sprays. And though the United States has more or less created laws against the fluorocarbon gases, the other nations of the world haven't and they still use the fluorocarbon aerosprays and all.
With the depletion of the ozone it then creates this condition with the ultraviolet rays of the sun and the burning that you get, which all is interesting from a prophetic standpoint. Because the Bible speaks of this time when there's going to be a heavy meteorite shower. It will be like a fig tree casting forth its untimely figs, the stars of heaven falling. Now not literal stars, but we do call them even today. "Oh, did you see that falling star?" We know that they are meteorites, but they are still today called falling stars. And so he's using the language of the people in describing the stars of the heaven falling to the earth. Not literal stars, but the meteorite showers. And he speaks of this heavy meteorite activity.
But then he also speaks in conjunction with it in Revelation. "And power will be given to the sun to scorch men who dwell upon the earth" (Revelation 16:8). And men will become blistered and all as the result of the scorching of the sun. And so it is very interesting that these things are being anticipated for the year 1986 or so when Haley's Comet again makes its visit into our solar system.
And, of course, right now there is an intensive scientific project to seek to determine what effect the debris of the tail of Haley's Comet will have upon the ozone blanket around the earth. A group of scientists have been commissioned by the president to study this particular phenomenon and its possible effect upon the earth. Who knows? It's just food for thought. Put that in your little computer and work on it.
So, "The host of heaven will be dissolved, the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree."
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea (Isa 34:5),
The area of Saudi Arabia today.
and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah (Isa 34:5-6),
Which was one of the chief cities of Edom.
and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion (Isa 34:6-8).
God's vengeance, His year of recompense for the controversy of Zion or Jerusalem. Now it is interesting, of course, that Saudi Arabia has been the main financier of the armaments for the Arab states to attack Israel. Saudi Arabia is the main financier for the PLO and their arms. And Saudi Arabia has been the financial backer behind the attacks against Israel. God speaks about the day of the vengeance and the recompense for Zion.
And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch [or into oil], and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land shall become burning pitch (Isa 34:9).
I wonder what would be the effect there in Saudi Arabia where the oil is so close to the surface and there's such a tremendous abundance of oil. What would be the effect of an atomic bomb dropped in that area? Igniting the oils that are under the ground and what would be the effect of something like that. It said.
It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing (Isa 34:10-12).
Of course, Saudi Arabia is ruled by four thousand princes actually. This big family and all of the relations are the ones that are gaining from the wealth, not the general public there.
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: not one of these things shall fail (Isa 34:13-16),
"When this comes to pass," Isaiah says, "get out this book." When these things... when this area is burning with this fire and all, just get out this book and read it and you'll realize that God has written in advance and not one thing that God wrote of is going to fail. He's challenging you. So it's interesting we still have the book of Isaiah. We'll still be able to get it out and read when these things come to pass. So, "Seek out the book of the Lord and read it. No one of these shall fail." No one. Now the vultures you'll see, every one has a mate. You'll say, "Isn't that weird?" Every vulture has its mate, just like Isaiah said. Not one is lacking. It's unreal.
And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation (Isa 34:17)
Now chapter 35 is out of the darkness into the light. Out of the tribulation into the kingdom. The glorious day of the Lord to which we look forward to. In chapter 35, oh, what a glorious chapter as it speaks of the earth and its conditions when Jesus comes and establishes God's kingdom and He reigns upon the earth. For at that time
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God (Isa 35:1-2).
For the earth will be restored to its Edenic glory. And even in the desert and wilderness places, they will no longer exist upon the earth at that time. Buy up as much as you can in Death Valley--cheap prices now--because it's going to be glorious out there.
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, don't be afraid: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; and he will save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will sing (Isa 35:3-6):
The glorious restoration of God. You see, you do not see the world as God intended it or created it. You see a world that is suffering as a result of man's rebellion and sin. You do not see man as God intended him. With his physical ailments and impairments. With the deafness, blindness, handicaps. God did not intend that. And in the Kingdom Age, these things will not be. How can a God of love allow a child to be born blind? How can a God of love allow a child to be born deaf or something? Hey, wait a minute. This world is presently under Satan's control who has rebelled against God. Jesus came to redeem the world back to God and the day is coming when He is going to take His purchased possession unto Himself. And when He does, you'll see the world that God intended and it will be a world without suffering. It will be a world without pain. It will be a world without physical weaknesses, impairments of any sort. For the lame will be leaping as a deer. The blind will see. The dumb will be singing the praises unto the Lord. And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and there will be streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, they will not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up there upon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there (Isa 35:6-9):
Men will live in safety. No longer will the beasts be ravenous. The lion will lie down with the lamb and a little child will lead them and lion will eat grass like the oxen.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return (Isa 35:10),
Return with Jesus Christ.
and they'll come to Zion [to Jerusalem] with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isa 35:10).
Oh, the glorious day of the Lord! How we long for it, and our prayer is, "O Lord, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth even as it is in heaven. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus." Oh, how I love this thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah.
The Lord gave me this chapter in a time of great need, personal need, in my own life. When my mother was with us and was dying, one day sitting there in the room I said, "God, I just can't take it." I was looking at those beautiful hands that had ministered so much to me. I could remember when I had a fever and those hands felt so cool on my forehead. That she would wipe the perspiration off. I thought of all of the neat rolls, pies, cookies, cakes that those hands had fixed. And my heart was just being wrung out within me and I said, "God, I can't take it. Can't stand to see my mother suffering like this. God, I need help. I need it now." And I grabbed the Bible and I opened it and it opened to Isaiah 35. And I read of this glorious day that is coming when the blind will see, the lame will leap as a deer, and the deaf will be hearing and the dumb will be singing. And the glorious day of the Lord. Gladness, the day of joy. Sorrow and sighing gone. And oh, how the Lord ministered to me. It was just glorious. God just ministered to me in such a beautiful way.
About a week later, we took her to the hospital and as she was lying there in a coma, again I just became sort of overcome with grief realizing that I was losing this woman who was so dear and precious to me. I was going to miss all of those prayers by which my life had been strengthened and helped. And there in the hospital I just said, "God, I can't take it. I need help, Lord. I'm desperate. I need help. Please help me." And I grabbed the Bible that was there in the hospital room. Not... if you grab the same Bible you say, "Well, your Bible just falls open to Isaiah 35," but it was a different Bible completely. One that was there in the hospital room. I grabbed it and I just opened it upIsaiah 35. I read it and oh, how the Lord ministered to me again. Oh, thank You, Lord. Come quickly, Jesus.
And then when she was lying in the slumber room over at Flower Brothers in Santa Ana, and I went into the room and stood there. And I realized that this was it. My mom's gone. And I just... The rest of the family had gone out and I was there by myself. And again the memories in a time like that just come racing through your mind and the thoughts. Again, I just sort of became overcome and choked up and said, "God, I just need help. Please, Lord, I need help. Strengthen me, Lord, I just need Your touch. I need Your help." And I grabbed the Bible that they had set there in the room and I opened it upIsaiah 35. I said, "I've got the message, Lord. I've got the message!"
And so Isaiah 35 is a special chapter to me. God has so ministered to me through that chapter. And that is the longing of my heart tonight is for the fulfillment of God's promise. The glorious Kingdom Age when the trials and the hardships and the afflictions and all of this present existence are over. When sin is put away and when the kingdom comes and the righteous King reigns. And we behold Him in His beauty and the earth is restored. O Lord, hasten that day. I can hardly wait.
Now may the Lord bless you and be with you and keep you in His love through the grace of Jesus Christ as we look forward to that glorious day of the Lord when He comes for us that we might be with Him in His eternal kingdom, world without end. God bless you and may the strength of the Lord be your portion this week. In Jesus' name.