Thursday, February 2, 2017

Isaiah: The Gospel in the Old Testament

From beginning to end the prophet Isaiah was called to deliver a message confronting God’s people for their many sins against their Sovereign God who created all things and had covenanted with them.  The message was both painful and uplifting: God would execute judgment on those who worshiped foreign gods or the idols their own hands had made, but He would graciously save a remnant who would believe in Him.  
Later in the book we learn that the remnant would be saved by the suffering of His chosen servant. Further, the salvation God provides would be eternal, climaxing with unending joy on the new heavens and the new earth centered in Jerusalem.  Thus, Isaiah’s message appears to be as follows:
  • “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear,” (Isaiah 59:2).
  • “He (the Servant) was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5).
  • “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 like crimson, they shall become like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken,” (Isaiah 1:18-20).
  • “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

Therefore, it has rightly been said this book could be called “The Gospel According to Isaiah.”  He had the beautiful and difficult privilege of foretelling the coming Messiah in humble servanthood and even glimpsing the returning King in glory for final judgment.  His swath of revelation from the LORD pertained not only to Israel but to all people through Israel.
Sadly, from his initial calling the LORD told him, “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes,” (Isaiah 6:10).  For then as now, without the Holy Spirit waking our hearts to the beauty of the Gospel: “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” (1 Corinthians 1:18).  God, teach me about His glory and about my desperate need for Him so that I never settle for idolatrous substitutes.

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