Isaiah's Little Apocalypse, Chapters 24 through 27, Part 4
by Karl Kemp
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We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Isaiah chapters 24-27 here in Part 4, starting with Isa. 26:9.
(9) At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently [The "night" corresponds with the time of God's judgments against His people (chastening, trials, affliction, persecution, etc.) that were spoken of in the first part of verse 8 (cf. Isa. 21:11, 12).]; For when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. [[The remnant of the nations that will be left after God's end-time judgment of the world will have learned righteousness. They will repent and turn to God; they will forsake their former unbelief and unrighteousness and begin to live for God. All the unrighteous who persist in unrepentance and unbelief will be removed in God's end-time judgment of the world.]] (10) Though the wicked is shown favor, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the LORD [Yahweh]. [[Though the "favor" of God doesn't bring about the conversion of the nations, His end-time judgments (and the salvation of His people, true Israel, in the last days) will bring about the conversion of the remnant of the nations (cf., e.g., Rev. 15:3, 4 with Rev. 20:3). Other things that God does in the last days, like the ministry of the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11, will help wake some people up.
The way the words "the wicked" are used here they apparently include all but the righteous of true Israel; however, the wicked can repent (cf. Isa. 55:7; Ezek. 3:18, 19; and 18:21-29). (I had a footnote: All these verses use the same Hebrew word for "[the] wicked" used here in Isa. 26:10. All people are sinners, but all people are not so enslaved to sin and committed to sinfulness that they cannot be brought to repentance, faith, and righteousness by the grace of God in Christ.)] (11) O LORD [Yahweh], Your hand is lifted up yet they do not see it. They see Your zeal for the people and are put to shame [The NIV has, "Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame," and the margin of the NASB is essentially the same. This sounds better; the second sentence of this verse looks to the day of judgment, when God will save His people and judge the world.]; Indeed, fire will devour Your enemies [and the enemies of Your people]. [Cf. Isa. 10:17; 24:6; and 66:15, 24.] (12) LORD [Yahweh], You will establish peace for us [In this context Isaiah is speaking of the peace (cessation of persecution, oppression, bondage, etc.) that will come to His people (true Israel) when their enemies have all been removed or transformed through God's end-time judgments.], Since You have also performed for us all our works. [[Everything good that had happened to Israel in the days before Isaiah wrote these words (including the righteousness of those who were [relatively] righteous) had come through the intervention and work of God. So too, the end-time salvation of true Israel and the judgment and removal of their enemies will come through the intervention and work of God. Believers are happy to acknowledge that they are totally dependent on God and His grace that is extended to them in all its manifestations (His plans, His forgiveness, His making righteous and holy, His intervention in their behalf by His almighty power, His guidance, His truth, etc.).]] (13) O LORD [Yahweh] our God, other masters besides You have ruled us [Isaiah is undoubtedly thinking of masters like the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.]; But through You alone we confess Your name. [[The NIV has, "but your name alone do we honor"; the Jerusalem Bible has, "but we acknowledge no one other than you, no other name than yours." Even when Israel was under the rule of the "world" kingdoms/nations (which they frequently were), the believers of Israel stayed faithful to God. Even when it was far from easy, they knew that God could be trusted. They knew that He is committed to save those who are faithful to Him and to judge and remove those who persist in rebellion against Him - He will have the last word; and He always intervenes on time, even if He waits for what seems to be a very long time.]] (14) The dead will not live, the departed spirits will not rise; Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And You have wiped out all remembrance of them. [[This speaks of the unrepentant, wicked dead from all generations, with some emphasis on those who God will remove in His end-time judgment of the world (the prime examples being Antichrist and the false prophet [Rev. 19:20]). The righteous won't have to be concerned with further problems caused by these people. (I had a footnote: The unrepentant wicked dead will be resurrected bodily, but it won't be a resurrection to life. See under Isa. 25:7.) It is also true, and very significant, that God will totally remove all His enemies and the enemies of His people in the spiritual dimension, starting with Satan (cf., e.g., Isa. 24:21, 22; and 27:1).]] (15) You have increased the nation, O LORD [Yahweh], You have increased the nation, You are glorified; You have extended all the borders of the land. [[Compare Isa. 54:1-3; Zech. 14:9. The NIV has, "You have enlarged the nation," which fits better with "You have extended the borders of the land." God will have "added" many people to His worldwide nation/kingdom. ((I had a footnote: The BDB Hebrew Lexicon gives "add" as the basic meaning of the Hebrew verb ("yasaph") translated "You have increased" by the NASB and "You have enlarged" by the NIV. He will "add" the resurrected, glorified members of true Israel from all generations. (As I mentioned, I believe all the members of true Israel will be glorified and reigning by the time the millennial reign begins.) He will also "add" the converted remnant of the nations left after His end-time judgment of the world to His worldwide kingdom. (They won't be glorified until after the millennial kingdom. Those among them that rebel will be removed by judgment.) He will also ultimately "add" the elect people of the nations who will be resurrected at the end of the millennium and whose names will be found in the book of life at the great-white-throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15), assuming that there will be such people, which I do assume.))]] (16) O LORD [Yahweh], they [the believers] sought You [cf. 25:9; 26:8, 9] in distress; They could only whisper a prayer, Your chastening was upon them. (17) As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, She writhes and cries out in her labor pains, Thus were we before You, O LORD [Yahweh]. (18) We were pregnant, we writhed in labor, We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, Nor were [the] inhabitants of the world born. [[As we discussed under verses 8, 9, God chastened the people of Israel on a rather consistent basis, and the righteous, believing remnant of the nation suffered (at least to some significant extent) along with the nation. (It is also true that some of their suffering came at the hands of the unbelievers in Israel. It is important to know that much of the suffering that comes to believers doesn't come because of their sin, and that when we stay faithful (by grace) in difficult places, we glorify God and come out of the difficult places/trials stronger in faith, etc. [see under Isa. 26:8].) Chastening was one means God used to keep a righteous remnant in Israel.
The next two verses show that the chastening of the people of God, even if we include the chastening and suffering of the new covenant saints (although it plays an important role in the outworking of God's plan of salvation), cannot overthrow death and bring forth the birth into the fullness of eternal life. ((I had a footnote: Compare Rom. 8:17-30. (Romans 8:16-23 are discussed verse-by-verse in my paper titled, "Romans 8:16-39 on this Christian article site.) The suffering spoken of in Rom. 8:17, 18 doesn't deal, at least not for the most part, with God's chastening of Christians.)) ((I had another footnote: The birth into the fullness of eternal life involves a lot more than being born-again by the Spirit when one becomes a Christian, as important as that birth is. The new birth is a preliminary stage of the birth into the fullness of eternal life, which includes the resurrection and glorification for those that will have died, and the glorification for those still alive, that will enable them to live in God's eternal kingdom. All the members of true Israel will be glorified. So will the elect of the nations pictured in Revelation chapters 21, 22, but the glory for the nations will be lower than the glory for Israel. For one thing, true Israel will reign.)) The people of true Israel cannot even save themselves, so they certainly cannot bring forth salvation and deliverance for (the elect of) the nations. What the people of true Israel cannot accomplish through their travail (or by any other means), God can and does accomplish through the travail of His Son, the Messiah, the Lamb of God and through His subsequent work of saving and judging. For a start, see Isa. 52:12-54:3. (I had a footnote: Many of the key verses of this very important passage are discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." See the Contents at the front of that book.)
God Himself (through the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit) is the only One who can bring forth this BIRTH into the fullness of eternal life. Jesus Christ was the firstBORN from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5); He was the first man (though He was and is much more than just a man) to be BORN into the fullness of eternal life (when He was resurrected and glorified). He is the "firstBORN among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29); His brethren, the members of true Israel, will all follow Him in the BIRTH into the fullness of eternal life at the end of this age. After speaking of Christ's being the first one raised from the dead (into eternal life) in 1 Cor. 15:20, the apostle Paul went on to mention that those who are Christ's will be MADE ALIVE at His coming (1 Cor. 15:23). "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we [believers] will not all sleep [die], but we will all be changed [we will all be glorified; we will all be BORN into the fullness of eternal life]" (1 Cor. 15:51).
All the elect (the elect of true Israel and the elect of the nations) are saved and born into eternal life through the atoning death (and subsequent work) of the Lamb of God. All the elect are BORN into the fullness of eternal life through the Lamb of God; they are the offspring of Him and His saving work. Isaiah 53:10 mentions "His offspring."
A major part of the fulfillment of the prophetic words regarding the BIRTH of Isa. 26:18, 19 will take place when the members of true Israel converted before Christ's mid-week return are BORN into the fullness of eternal life. ((I had a lengthy footnote: This glorious BIRTH is specifically mentioned (it is even spoken of as a BIRTH) in Rev. 12:5; Psalm 2:7; Isa. 66:7; and Mic. 5:3. These verses are all discussed in detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." See pages 314-316; 258-262; 239, 243; and 251-253. For other references to the birth into the fullness of eternal life that will take place in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, see number 13 on page 16 of my book. Most of the verses listed there are discussed in that book. These verses are all discussed to some extent in my series on this Christian article site titled, "The Mid-Week Rapture." (See the listing of the passages discussed in these articles at the beginning of my paper titled "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture" on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching]).
Revelation 12:5 is a verse of key importance. It is probably the most important verse to demonstrate that the resurrection and rapture (the birth into the fullness of eternal life for the saints converted before that time) will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Revelation 12:2 is an important cross-reference for the travail of the people of true Israel pictured in Isa. 26:8, 9, 13, and 16-18. The woman of Revelation chapter 12 represents true Israel (cf. Rev. 12:1). Isaiah 26:18 starts out "We were with child, we writhed in pain" (NIV); Rev. 12:2 has, "She [true Israel] was with child; and she cried out [was crying out], being in labor and in pain to give birth." The travail pictured in Rev. 12:2 covers all the travail experienced by the people of true Israel from the beginning, probably starting with the murder of Abel. All of Revelation chapter 12 is discussed in a verse-by-verse manner in chapter 21 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." It is also discussed in article #s 7-12 of my "The Mid-Week Rapture" series on this Christian article site.))
By the time the millennial kingdom begins, the members of true Israel converted after the rapture will have also been born into the fullness of eternal life. ((I had a footnote: See above under Isa. 26:1. Isaiah 66:8 prophesies regarding the birth into the fullness of eternal life for these members of true Israel who will not be converted until after the mid-week rapture with the words "GIVES BIRTH to her children" NIV. (Isaiah 66:8 is discussed in chapter 16 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." Isaiah 66:7, 8 are also discussed to some extent in Article #8 in my "The Mid-Week Rapture" series on this Christian article site.) Although many Gentiles will undoubtedly become part of true Israel through submitting to the gospel after the rapture, the spotlight will be on the conversion of the remnant of the nation Israel.)) Finally, after the great-white-throne judgment at the end of the millennium, the birth into the eternal life of God's eternal kingdom (as that kingdom is pictured in the last two chapters of the Bible) will become a full reality when the elect of the nations are born into eternal life. See under Isa. 25:7, 8 in this paper.
The whole creation is in labor and "groans and suffers the pains of CHILDBIRTH together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:22, 23). The creation knows that it "will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the [glorified] children of God [all the members of true Israel]" (Rom. 8:21) at the end of this age.
John 3:6 is an important verse that deals (in large part) with the BIRTH into the yet-future eternal life of God's eternal kingdom. I'll quote John 3:5, 6, "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water [I had a footnote: I agree with the widespread viewpoint that water here refers to water baptism. In the New Testament baptism in water, a baptism of repentance and faith, was typically preliminary to the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers with His life-giving presence. He brings life, which starts with the new birth. See the discussion on water baptism in my paper on 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that is available on this Christian article site; see under 1 Cor. 15:29, including the cross-reference to my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin").] and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." These verses (with all of John 3:1-8) include the very important teaching that we must be born of the Holy Spirit (to become Christians and) to enter the kingdom of God. We enter the kingdom of God in a preliminary sense when we are born again through Christ by the Spirit (cf., e.g., Rom. 14:17; Col. 1:13), but we won't enter the kingdom of God in its full and final sense until the end of this age when we are glorified and born into the fullness of eternal life (cf., e.g., Luke 19:11; Acts 14:22; 1 Cor. 6:9; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; James 2:5; and Rev. 12:10).
The word "flesh" in the words "that which is born of flesh" (John 3:6) refers to the fact that fallen man is in spiritual death, having been separated from God and His life - separated from His life-giving Spirit. Man in the flesh can only give birth to offspring that are in the flesh (spiritually dead/without the Spirit). For spiritual (by the Spirit) life to come, God (who is the only source of life) must transmit life by His Spirit. When Christians (through faith) are born again by the Spirit and indwelled by the life-giving Spirit (through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His saving work), they only receive the first installment of what it means to be born into God's eternal kingdom. At the end of this age, we will be born into eternal life in the full sense. This ultimate birth (this completed birth) will include receiving a glorified body, a body suited for life in God's heavenly kingdom (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-57). "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1 Cor. 15:50).
It is only after this birth into the fullness of eternal life by the Spirit that the birth spoken of with the words "that which is born of Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6) will be completed. Then we will have become "spirit" in the full sense with which this word is used at the end of John 3:6. The idea isn't that we will then be a spirit without a body, but that our entire being (including our glorified body) and our entire existence will have been glorified in a manner appropriate for citizens of heaven, and not citizens only, but even those reigning with Christ. We will have bodies; that is what the resurrection of the body is all about, but they will be bodies suited for heaven, not bodies made of the material of this world and for this world. In 1 Cor. 15:44 the apostle Paul called the resurrection body a "spiritual body." Adam (before the fall) was created with a "natural body" (1 Cor. 15:44); his body was designed for life on the earth (cf. 1 Cor. 15:47-50).
I'll comment briefly on the important idea that is assumed in these verses of Isaiah, that the people of God are (in some ways) responsible to bring deliverance/birth to the nations and the earth. Consider, for example, the promises made to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; and 28:14). Although the people of true Israel (Abraham is the father of true Israel [Rom. 4:11-17]) cannot bring to pass the things promised, a descendant of Abraham does bring all these things to pass, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God (cf., e.g., Gal. 3:15-22). It is interesting and significant that the Lord Jesus is called "Israel" in Isa. 49:3; He will accomplish all the will of God through His work of saving, judging, and glorifying.
I'll quote part of what John N. Oswalt said under Isa. 26:16-19 ("Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39" [Eerdmans, 1986], pages 482, 483). "Here Isaiah turns back to the present [from the future pictured in 26:14, 15], as in vv. 7-11 [or at least verses 8 through 11a]. As Delitzsch points out, this oscillation between the present and the future is typical of this section (chapters 24-27). ...." It is a great and necessary blessing for us to be convinced of our total need for God and His enabling grace, but we must also be convinced that His grace is sufficient, and we must submit to, and walk in, that grace with humble, persistent faith. (Now Isa. 26:19.)]] (19) Your dead will live [Apparently the word "Your" refers to true Israel.]]; Their corpses will rise. [[At the time of Christ's mid-week return, the members of true Israel who will have died before that time will be resurrected to eternal glory (cf. Psalm 2:7-9; Isa. 66:7; Mic. 5:3; Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 50-53; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; and Rev. 12:5). ((I had a lengthy footnote that goes on for three paragraphs: The members of true Israel who will be converted after the mid-week rapture who are martyred during the three and one-half year super-evil reign of Antichrist (during the second half of Daniel's 70th week) will be resurrected at the end of Daniel's 70th week (Rev. 20:4). I believe those members of true Israel who will still be alive at the end of Daniel's 70th week will be glorified and begin to reign with the rest of the members of true Israel at that time. For a start see under Rev. 20:4 in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22 on this Christian article site.
Revelation 20:5 shows that the "rest of the dead" (which speaks of the people who have lived and died throughout the history of man until the time that the millennial kingdom begins who aren't part of God's true Israel) won't be resurrected until the end of the millennium. Then they will be resurrected to stand before God at the great-white-throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). I believe (without being dogmatic) that the names of some of those people will be found in the book of life when they are judged. In other words, they are elect of God. For such people their resurrection at the end of the millennium will prove to be a resurrection that will result in eternal life; all such persons will experience eternal life (as part of the elect of the nations) in God's new earth with its new Jerusalem. For the others, their resurrection at the end of the millennial kingdom will prove to be a resurrection that will result in the second death, the lake of fire, when their names are not found in the book of life (Rev. 20:14, 15).
The (elect of the) nations are pictured in eternal glory in Revelation chapters 21, 22. (If I understand the picture, they are distinct from true Israel.) Revelation 21:27 demonstrates that (the elect of) the nations gain entrance to that glorified state through the Lamb of God. Significantly, the wording of Isa. 26:18, 19 (along with the important cross-reference, Isa. 25:6-8) fits the idea that those being resurrected to life includes (the elect of) the nations.))]] You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew [The "dew" here symbolizes God's life-giving work.] is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. [The only spirits excluded (we are dealing with human spirits) will be the unrepentant wicked/the non-elect (cf. Isa. 26:14).] (20) Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until [God's] indignation [cf., e.g., Isa. 34:2; 66:14-19; Dan. 8:19; and 11:36] runs its course. [[God always takes care of those who trust Him and are faithful to Him, one way, or another (cf. Isa. 3:10; Rev. 3:10). These words (of Isa. 26:20, 21) apparently build on the incident where God protected Israel at the time of the last of the ten plagues at the time of the exodus from Egypt. See Ex. 12:22, 23. Even as the people of Israel were protected from the death of the firstborn by the blood of the Passover lamb that had been applied to the doors of their dwellings (they were not permitted to leave their dwellings until the next morning), the believers of the last days (true Israel) will be protected from God's wrath that is poured out during the day of judgment through the blood of the Passover lamb that has been applied to their hearts and lives.
Noah and his family's being protected from the wrath of God by entering the ark with its rooms during the judgment of the flood (God even closed the door of the ark for them [Gen. 6:16; 7:16]) also serves as a type for God's protective care of His people in the last days. Jesus said (in Matt. 24:37-41) that His coming "will be just like the days of Noah. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away." The believers (true Israel) of the last days correspond with those who entered the ark; God will protect them while His flood of judgment falls on the earth.
The primary fulfillment of these prophetic words will come to pass when God raptures the saints from the earth at the time of Christ's mid-week return. They will be raptured from the earth at the same time the day of judgment begins on the earth, at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation. Those who are faithful in the days before Christ returns will be kept out of that hour of very intense testing (cf. Rev. 3:10). (I had a footnote: Isaiah 66:7 is an important cross-reference that helps confirm this interpretation. On Isa. 66:7 see under Isa. 26:18.) It is also true that the members of true Israel who will be converted after the rapture and will live on the earth during the second half of Daniel's 70th week will know something of God's protective care (Rev. 12:6, 14-16); but they will also know great travail, and there will be many martyrs (cf. Dan. 7:21, 25; Rev. 13:7, 15-17; and 20:4). God's "indignation" will have run its course (cf. Isa. 26:20) by the end of Daniel's 70th week. It is also true, however, that His end-time judgments will not be totally finished until after His judgment of the rebels at the end of the millennial kingdom and the great-white-throne judgment at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:7-15).]] (21) For behold, the LORD [Yahweh] is about to come out from His place [Compare Mic. 1:3; Isa. 13:11. I would translate these last words with the NIV, "the LORD is coming out of His dwelling," or the equivalent. There's no word in the Hebrew here corresponding with "about" of the NASB.] To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed And will no longer cover her slain. [On the serious sin of shedding innocent blood, see under Isa. 24:5 in this paper.]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Isaiah chapters 24-27 in Part 5, starting with Isaiah chapter 27.
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