Wednesday, October 04, 2023

2023.10.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 24–25

Read Isaiah 24–25

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is bringing this devastation (Isaiah 24:1Isaiah 24:3)? Upon what sorts of people (Isaiah 24:2)? From where (Isaiah 24:4)? Why (Isaiah 24:5)? How does God respond to this covenant-breaking (Isaiah 24:6)? What pleasures are taken away (Isaiah 24:7-9Isaiah 24:11) by the emptying of the city (Isaiah 24:10Isaiah 24:12-13)? Following this judgment, what will the remnant nations learn to do from west to east (Isaiah 24:14-16b)? But what is Isaiah’s experience in foreseeing the judgment (Isaiah 24:16-20)? Besides those of the earth, from what other realm will sinners be punished (Isaiah 24:21-23b)? Who, then will reign (Isaiah 24:23c)? Among whom (verse 23d–e)? Considering this outcome of the judgment, how does Isaiah now respond (Isaiah 25:1)? When did YHWH plan all this? What will have happened to the world-city (Isaiah 25:2, cf. Isaiah 24:4Isaiah 24:10Isaiah 24:12)? And what city will be left (Isaiah 25:3)? What was their former condition (Isaiah 25:4)? From whom will the Lord have spared them (Isaiah 25:5)? What is going on in the other city (Isaiah 25:6, cf. Isaiah 24:23d–e)? Who is hosting the feast? How rich/nice is it? What curtain/veil will He have removed (Isaiah 25:7-8)? What will He do for His people? Who are speaking in Isaiah 25:9? About what (Whom!) are they speaking? What about Him? How do they feel about this relationship? Whose hand brings prosperity and blessing to this mountain (Isaiah 25:10a)? What does this mean for their enemies (Isaiah 25:10-12)?

What will God do about this sin-filled world? Isaiah 24–25 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty-five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God will judge the covenant breakers and replace His people’s death and sorrow with life and joy. 

A world-city in rebellion, Isaiah 24:1–13. In chapter 23, Tyre was the city that made the world wealthy. Now, in chapter 24, the world that is addicted to wealth and pleasure is called “the formless city” (Isaiah 24:10a). The word is famously used in Genesis 1:2a. In his sin, man has brought disorder and chaos, where he was supposed to have taken God-imaging dominion. He has uncreated the world. Or, in the language of this chapter, they have “defiled the earth” (Isaiah 24:5a) and “broken the everlasting covenant” (verse 5d). Here, like Hosea 6:7, the arrangement in the garden is called a covenant—what we call the “covenant of works” (WCF 7.2) or “covenant of life” (WSC 12). 

So the Lord is wiping them all out. Isaiah 24:2 focuses especially on the purveyors of trade as it uses a series of pairs to say that this is a universal judgment. Just as in Genesis 6, man had defiled the earth by filling it with violence, so now man has defiled the earth (Isaiah 24:5), and YHWH is once again emptying it (Isaiah 24:3-4) putting an end to all of their drunken self-indulgence (Isaiah 24:6-13).

A day of worship, Isaiah 24:14–16. With the world emptied of wickedness, the way is now clear for worship. From west (Isaiah 24:14c) to east (Isaiah 24:15a) the song arises (Isaiah 24:14a) of the majesty of YHWH (verse 14b), and His righteousness (Isaiah 24:16b), until it reaches the ends of the earth (Isaiah 24:15-16a).

A day of terror, Isaiah 24:16–23b. For Isaiah’s part, he can hardly notice the song at first, because of the horrors (verse 16c–d) of fear and pit and snare (Isaiah 24:17). He clearly invokes the terror of the flood, with Isaiah 24:18f–g referencing Genesis 7:11. The flood anticipated final judgment, with the Lord delivering the godly and reserving the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (cf. 2 Peter 2:4–9). It should sober us that the prophet, who is among the godly, was yet so dismayed just seeing the vision of judgment. 

Many a believer ought to be more tender to the peril of the wicked as was Isaiah—like our Lord Jesus, Who wept over a city for what would happen to it for rejecting Him. And every unbeliever ought to tremble at the greatness of the glory that will express itself in righteous wrath upon him!

A world-city of rejoicing, Isaiah 24:23–25:11. While the former creation (Isaiah 24:23a–b) and His people’s enemies (Isaiah 25:2Isaiah 25:5Isaiah 25:9-12) will be wiped out, the Lord will wipe the tears from His people’s faces (Isaiah 25:8). The elimination of sin (Isaiah 25:7) and death (Isaiah 25:8) will pave the way for Zion and Jerusalem (Isaiah 25:23d) to be where the Lord hosts a banquet for His people as He once did for the elders on Mount Sinai (Isaiah 25:23e, Isaiah 25:6; cf. Exodus 24:9–11). His praise and glory before them will be not only for what He has done (Isaiah 25:1-3), but especially for Whom He has made Himself to be to them (Isaiah 25:9). Their very own covenant God. Their gladness.

Even now, this worship takes place in heavenly Zion, which we join in the Lord’s Day assemblies (cf. Hebrews 12:18–29)—anticipating that final and forever worship assembly (cf. Revelation 21:1–7). Those who have been delivered from sin and death and hell ought to worship the Lord for what He has done. Those who have come to know God as Father, in union with Christ, by the constant and indwelling companionship of the Spirit, ought to worship the Lord for Whom He has made Himself to be unto us. Such worship is practice for the feast of heaven!

When have you been horrified over what is coming upon the wicked? Why do you think that you will escape it? What will you receive instead? How are you preparing for and participating in the joy to come?

Sample prayer: Lord, as You once did with the flood, we know that You will ultimately do in the last day: destroy the wicked from the creation and produce a new creation. But we tremble to consider the greatness of our sin and self-indulgence, like the world city of which we have read in Isaiah. Truly, we deserve to be among the destroyed. But Christ has suffered wrath in the place of sinners, although He alone has perfectly obeyed You. For His sake, remove the curtain of ignorance from over us, and swallow up death forever, and wipe the tears from our faces. Bring us into the feast of knowing You to be ours, and knowing ourselves to be Yours. Bring us to Your banqueting table, with the knowledge that Your banner over us is love, we pray, through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH299 “Joy to the World!”

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