END TIMES THROUGH THE EYES OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH (Part 1)

BACKGROUND ON ISAIAH AND HIS BOOK

Although he wrote during the period of 740 to 700 BC, Isaiah is the prophet most often quoted in the New Testament. He was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom at the same time as Hosea, Amos and Micah. Isaiah was of the tribe of Judah, and according to Rabbinic tradition was closely related to several Kings. Often called the greatest of Israel’s writing prophets, Isaiah’s book is exceeded in length only by the Psalms and (barely) Jeremiah. As the Bible has 66 books Isaiah has 66 chapters, The first 39 of them, equal to the books of the Old Testament, speak of judgment. The last 27, the number of New Testament books, focus on reconciliation and redemption. It’s true that chapter breaks didn’t come along until much later but it’s interesting that even in its form, the Book of Isaiah is a model of God’s word in total.

In John 12:38-41 Jesus quoted from both parts of Isaiah ( 53:1 first and then 6:10) attributing them to the same author. If you need confirming opinions, the Jewish historian Josephus thought so too, and evangelical Christianity overwhelmingly supports the book’s single authorship.

BACKGROUND ON OUR STUDIES

Many scholars believe that a number of his prophetic passages had a dual fulfilment in mind. The first would culminate in the Babylonian captivity, which came 100 years later, while the second was for the end of the age. In this study we are only going to look at those parts of the Book of Isaiah that clearly relate to the End Times, which will include the most descriptive passages of Israel’s Kingdom Age to be found anywhere in Scripture.

THE START

CHOICES TO ISRAEL

After beginning with a 17 verse litany of Israel’s sins, the Lord had Isaiah plead with the people for a rational discussion of their alternatives.
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20)

The choice is clear. Willingly obey and be blessed, or resist and rebel and be devoured. This choice was offered them in advance of the Babylonian conquest and it is being offered now.

“Therefore the Lord, the LORD Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: “Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.” (Isaiah 1:24-27)

The Great Tribulation is compared to a refiner’s fire in Zechariah 13:9 where all Israel’s impurities will be removed and the remnant made pure. In a refinery, silver and gold are heated by fire to their melting point. The impurities, called dross, float to the top and are skimmed off leaving only the purest form of the precious metal.

“But rebels and sinners will both be broken, and those who forsake the LORD will perish. “You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen. You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water. The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire.” (Isaiah 1:28-31)

As is often the case in Isaiah the prophecies of judgment contain a glimpse of restoration. And so chapter 2 begins with the following:
“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” (Isaiah 2:1-5)

The word mountain is used symbolically here referring to governments, as in Daniel 2:35. As the Kingdom Age begins, Israel will be the single super power on Earth. All other national governments will be subordinate, creating a one world government, headquartered in Israel, with King Jesus at its head. All the world will be subject to God’s laws and the Messiah King will be the final authority on their administration. Psalm 2:9 says that He wll rule with an iron scepter, and will tolerate no dissent.

The temple Isaiah mentioned here is the one so carefully described in Ezekiel 40-46. From Ezekiel we learn that the Temple itself will be situated a few miles north of Jerusalem, and from Zechariah 14:4 we see that the current Temple Mount will disappear in an Earthquake that divides the Mt. Of Olives in half. The gorge created by the earthquake will extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. Fresh water will emerge from under the Temple to fill the gorge, bringing life to a region that’s been an arid wasteland since the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Ezekiel 47)

But before those days can come, the world must first endure the worst time of tribulation ever witnessed on Earth. (Matt. 24:21) Isaiah’s first description begins in chapter 2 verse 6 and extends through the end of chapter 3. Isaiah will now provide more detail concerning the time just preceding the 2nd Coming.

THE DAY OF THE LORD

“You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots. Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” (Isaiah 2:6-8)

Here is another hint that in the End Times Israel will accumulate great wealth. Ezekiel also made reference to Israel’s wealth in the time leading up to the battle of Ezekiel 38-39. To explain Gog’s motive in forming a coalition to attack Israel, God had Ezekiel reveal his thoughts. “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” (Ezekiel 38:11-12)

A group of nations standing on the sidelines will confirm this, asking, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” (Ezekiel 38:13)

Recently, Israel discovered rich oil reserves – an incentive of the kind Ezekiel mentioned to goad Russia (Magog) into action and to lead the attack. Russia has a strategic interest in the world’s oil. The large discovery in Israel could serve as a tempting pay-off for Russia, sufficient to justify leading the Moslem coalition in its religious quest to destroy the Jewish nation.

“So man will be brought low and mankind humbled—do not forgive them. Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty! The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:7-11)

Notice that the Lord is not just talking about Israel here, but all of mankind. By the time He is finished there will be no doubt as to Who is exalted and who is not. Zechariah spoke of the day of the Lord’s return this way. “The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.” (Zechariah 14:9)

Later Paul would write: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) But sadly, after He comes back it will be too late for them to accept Him as their Savior and escape the judgment. They will be led off agreeing that He really is Lord and admitting that they refused His offer of pardon.

“The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel.

The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear. Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:12-22)

Three things mentioned repeatedly here give us a vivid scene of the End Times. Arrogant men, having engaged in idolatry in defiance of the Lord, hiding in rocks from the wrath of the Almighty. Idols are anything that man holds to be of greater importance in his life than the Lord. Zechariah 13:2 says, “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the LORD Almighty.”

And in Rev. 6:15-17 John wrote: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

With the opening of the seven seals, the Wrath of God will have come and mankind will begin experiencing the consequences of their disobedience.

JUDGEMENT ON JERUSALEM AND JUDAH (Isaiah 3) …

Now Isaiah’s focus narrows to deal specifically with the Jewish people.

“See now, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water, the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the soothsayer and elder, the captain of fifty and man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.

I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them. People will oppress each other— man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the base against the honorable. A man will seize one of his brothers at his father’s home, and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!”

But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.”

Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.” (Isaiah 3:1-10)

Israel will experience a vacuum of leadership. Their only thought will be for survival. They will search in vain for someone to help them solve their problems, but no one will be found. Having enjoyed great wealth, they will now have so little that a man with a coat will be thought to have leadership potential.

“Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done. Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.

The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people. The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 3:10-15)

As Peter wrote, The Lord knows how to rescue Godly men from trials, while holding the unrighteous for judgment. (2 Peter 2:9) One way the Lord judges rebellious people is to give them unworthy leaders who take them farther from God’s truth into the deception of mankind. We also do not realize that as rebellious people we have no right to expect that God will give us leaders who can solve our problems. More likely we will be taken further off the path.

“The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.

Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.” In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding. Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle. The gates of Zion will lament and mourn; destitute, she will sit on the ground. (Isaiah 3:16-26)

In ancient times captured women were branded, their heads were shaved and rings were put through their noses, by which they were led off in rags to servitude. Pictures from the holocaust reflect a more modern adaptation. In the End times the people of Earth will see this yet again.

THE BRANCH OF THE LORD (Isaiah 4) …

“In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” (Isaiah 4:2-6)

When the Messiah comes He will bring a Spirit of judgment and a Spirit of fire to cleanse the world. Living believers will be welcomed into the Kingdom (Matt. 25:34) while unbelievers will be taken away to eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46).

In verse 5 the word translated defense (KJV) or canopy (NIV) is chuppah, the Jewish wedding canopy, symbolizing that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 4:1 and “marry” all of them by bringing them under His protection, to be called by His name. And in verse 6 the word translated tabernacle (KJV) or shelter (NIV) is sukkah. It is the name of the shelter that Jews build on the Feast of Tabernacles, to symbolize the Lord dwelling with them. The pillar of fire by night and cloud by day complete the memorial of His time with them in the wilderness, (Exodus 13:21) and announce that once again God will dwell with His people in a time of complete protection and provision.

The next view Isaiah gave us of the End times is found in chapters 11-12 and concerns the Messiah.

THE BRANCH FROM JESSE (Isaiah 11)…

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD – and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Isaiah was foretelling that the royal line of David, from whom all of Israel’s Kings came, would be cut down like a tree, lie dormant, and then be restored. The process would begin about 150 years after Isaiah wrote this when the Lord pronounced a blood curse on the Davidic line, saying no more would these sons of David ever rule over Israel. (Jeremiah 22:28-30). The line would languish, like the stump of a chopped down tree. All during the Babylonian captivity and for 500 years afterward, there was no King over Israel. And then one day a shoot would spring forth, a Branch that would bear fruit. Since Jesse was David’s father and David was not the Branch, this is a reference to the Messiah, the ultimate Son of David.

The word Branch is capitalized, signifying that it refers to a person. There are four references to the Messiah as the Branch, and each of them carries a special modifier. Jeremiah 23:5 tells of a Righteous Branch, a King. Zechariah mentions “my servant, the Branch” (Zech. 3:8) and “the man whose name is the Branch” (Zech. 6:12). Finally, previously, we saw the Branch of the Lord in Isaiah 4:2.

The representations of these four modifiers are also revealed as the four faces of the Cherubim in Rev. 4. And they represent the dominant themes in the four gospels as well. Matthew wrote to the Jews proclaiming Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, the Lion of Judah. Mark showed Him to be the obedient servant of God, Luke portrayed Him as the Son of Man, and in John He’s the Son of God.

It’s pretty clear that the Branch is a Messianic title. The branch from the stump of Jesse is the Messiah, born of the Tribe of Judah into the Davidic line.

THE PROMISE …

Remember, God promised David that someone from His family would reign in Israel forever. David wanted to build God’s house, but God declined, saying He needed a man of peace and David was a man of war. So God chose David’s son Solomon to build the Temple and during Solomon’s reign Israel experienced peace as never before (or since). As for David, God promised to build him a “house”, making his dynasty everlasting (1 Chron. 17:1-14). From that time forward a descendant of David’s through Solomon’s branch of the family tree would sit on the throne in Jerusalem as King of Israel.

But by the time of the Babylonian captivity, these kings had become so evil and rebellious toward God that He finally said, “Enough”, and cursed the royal line, saying no son of theirs would ever reign over Israel again (Jer. 22:28-30). The last legitimate King of Israel was Jehoiachin, also called Jeconiah, who reigned for only 3 months in 598 BC. Was God breaking His promise to David?

In announcing the coming Messiah, the angel Gabriel promised Mary that her son would sit on David’s throne , the first one to do so since the curse had been pronounced, and when He did it would be forever. (Luke 1:32-33) But what about the cursed line of David? How could God promise such a thing to Mary?

If you compare the 2 genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38, and you will discover that Mary was of the tribe of Judah and descendants of David. Mary’s genealogy goes through Solomon’s brother Nathan.

JESUS WILL REIGN FROM THE THRONE OF DAVID …

This made Jesus the only man on Earth since 600BC with a legal right to the throne of David. It took a virgin birth to do it, but God kept His promise to both David and Mary. David’s throne will be occupied forever, by Mary’s son.

“He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” (Isaiah 11:3-5)

The striking contrast between the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah is evident. Psalm 2:8-9 confirms that He will rule the nations with an iron scepter. Rev. 19:15 agrees and adds that He will strike down the nations with the word of His mouth.

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Once the Messianic era begins, peace will be its most distinguishing characteristic. Earlier we saw that in the Messianic Kingdom nation would no longer take up arms against nation. Now we see that the Millennial peace will extend to the animal kingdom as well. Later on we will see that the creation itself will burst forth in joyful song.

“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.
He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish, and Judah’s enemies will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.” (Isaiah 11:10-13)

The first re-gathering of the nation took place after the Babylonian captivity. The second one officially began in 1948, continues to this day, and will be complete after the Battle of Ezekiel 38. “Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind.” (Ezekiel 39:28) After 2000 years, God’s people will have come home from the Diaspora and will be a single Kingdom again for the first time since 900 BC.

“They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east. They will lay hands on Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them. The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.” (Isaiah 11:14-16)

Chapter 11 closes with yet another promise that as the end of the age draws near the people we erroneously call Palestinians today will cease to be a problem for God’s people by reason of conquest. Israel will take hold of them and place them under subjugation. These verses likely refer to the battle of Psalm 83, which is very possibly the next event on the prophetic calendar.

SONGS OF PRAISE (Isaiah 12) …

“In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (Isaiah 12:1-6)

In the past, when Israel was in the land and at peace with God, the whole world stood in awe of the incredible blessing that accompanies a covenant relationship with our Creator. It has been a very long time since that has happened, but at long last God’s people will be one with Him again, and again the whole world will be blessed.

(Main source: Grace thru Faith – Jack Kelley)

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