Wednesday, October 18, 2023

2023.10.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 26:20–27:13

Read Isaiah 26:20–27:13

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does Isaiah 26:20 offer shelter? For what event? Whose indignation (Isaiah 26:21)? Who will testify against sinners (cf. Genesis 4:10, Hebrews 12:24)? Whom else will the Lord punish in that day (Isaiah 27:1)? What will the vineyard of Isaiah 5:1–7 be like in that day (Isaiah 27:2)? How did it get this way (Isaiah 27:3)? What has He put away (Isaiah 27:4a)? What won’t He permit (verse 4b–e)? What has He invited briers and thorns to do instead (Isaiah 27:5)? Where will He plant them (Isaiah 27:6a–b)? With what result (verse 6c)? With whom has the Lord been most lenient (Isaiah 27:7)? What is measured (Isaiah 27:8a), though it will be severe enough (verse 8b–d)? What else does God’s restraint do (Isaiah 27:9a)? From what has this peace resulted (verse 9b)? What will no longer be necessary (verse 9c–d)? And, of course, what else will be done away with (verse 9e)? What then will happen to the world-city, with what benefits to the creatures (Isaiah 27:10)? How complete is this judgment (Isaiah 27:11, cp. Isaiah 24:13)? But how complete is His salvation (Isaiah 27:12)? How personal? When the final, jubilee trumpet is blown, from what conditions and places will the Lord’s people be gathered (Isaiah 27:13)? For what?

What is coming at the judgment? Isaiah 26:20–27:13 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fifteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that at the judgment, we will find that the Lord’s dealings in time with the city of His elect have had very different ends than His dealings with the world-city. 

The God Who saves His people from their guilt, Isaiah 26:19–27:1. The theme of this section of the book of Isaiah has been that God knows how to deliver the godly while reserving the unrighteous for wrath (cf. 2 Peter 2:9). And we have another example of that here at the end of ch26. He hides His people (Isaiah 26:20) from His own wrath (Isaiah 26:21)—a wrath that will be completely (and therefore terribly just), as the Lord had made clear to Cain (cf. Genesis 4:10). Indeed, that wrath ill be poured out not only on all unrighteous men, but demons and Satan himself (Isaiah 27:1, cf. Matthew 25:41). The day of the Lord’s wrath is surely coming. And the Lord Himself, surely, is the only safety in it.

The God Who recovers His people from their corruption and decay, Isaiah 27:2–3. In the earlier section of the book, when the prophet was introducing the King to come through a cycle of prophecies, He had argued His case against Judah as a vineyard for which He had provided every good thing but had borne poor fruit. In the last day, however, instead of producing wild grapes, the vineyard will flow with red wine (Isaiah 27:2). The character of the plant has changed (this is part of the background to Christ’s identifying Himself as the True Vine, cf. John 15:1–11). And now the Lord delights to attend to it and protect it continually (Isaiah 27:3). Sanctification is a prerequisite for glory, but it is also a consequence of union with Christ. As the justified grow more and more in His grace, they bear fruit and enjoy increasing, mutual delight—theirs in Him, and His in them.

The God Who recovers others to become part of His peopleIsaiah 27:4-6. As the Lord prophesies through Isaiah, He describes a day in which His people are no longer punished (Isaiah 27:4a), and when rather than permitting enemies to attack (verse 4b–e), He is now gathering them into His reconciled people (Isaiah 27:5), until the fruitful vine fills the whole world (Isaiah 27:6)! This is the hope of missions: the God Who will surely destroy all the unrighteous at the last, but is in the meantime reconciling a world full of unrighteous to Himself in Christ (cf. John 3:16–17). His vengeance frees us to love our enemies, knowing that wrath will be fully served (cf. James 1:20; Romans 12:19–20). And His offer of salvation compels us to petition Him and serve Him in gospel mission (2 Corinthians 5:17–21).

The great difference in temporal judgmentsIsaiah 27:7-13. So, there are two groups in history that come under temporal judgments. Isaiah 27:7 presses this difference by rhetorical question. God surely chastens His own city, whom He is redeeming (Isaiah 27:8), for the purpose of sanctification (Isaiah 27:9, cf. Hebrews 12:1–11). But the world city (Isaiah 27:10-11), He utterly destroys. Indeed, as He makes sure to gather every last one of His elect (Isaiah 27:12), we rejoice to see that He is doing so from far reaches of the nations (Isaiah 27:13). He gathers to Himself those who will worship Him as a holy Jerusalem in the great day. Dear reader, the temporal pains of those who are in Christ are all the pain that they will ever know, but the worst things the wicked experience in this life are just the tip of an infinite iceberg (fireberg?). Lay hold of Christ, and live in Him and for Him, so that you may know which ones you are receiving. Leave the “world-city,” and join the holy city that will delight in Him, and He in them, forever. And labor, under Him, both to have that mutual enjoyment now, and to see others brought into that mutual enjoyment!

How have you taken shelter in the Lord? What does this look like in a once-for-all way? What does this look like in an ongoing way? For whom have you been tempted to lose hope that they may be saved? How does this passage offer hope? How does this passage heighten the stakes?

Sample prayer: Lord we thank You for hiding us from the day of Your indignation. And we praise You for Your perfect wrath and vengeance, which are coming. Forgive us for how we have taken Your salvation lightly, so that we are not grateful like we ought to be. And forgive us for how we have taken others’ danger lightly and so have not been urgent in prayer or effort to bring them the gospel. And we thank You that You are the One Who makes us to bear good fruit. Forgive us for forgetting that our good fruit comes from Christ the vine, so that we have not been passionate about producing that fruit for His honor and pleasure. So forgive us, we ask, and keep chastening us until we are holy like Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP9B “Sing Praise to the LORD” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear?” 

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