Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai ~ Yesha’yahu 66:15-25

In my last post, we continued to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14. In this post, we conclude our long journey through to the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai in Yesha’yahu 66:15-25.

15 For – look! – Adonai will come in fire, and His chariots will be like the whirlwind, to render His anger furiously, His rebuke with blazing fire.16 For Adonai will judge all humanity with fire and with the sword, and those slain by Adonai will be many. 17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves in order to enter the gardens, then follow the one who was already there, eating pig meat, reptiles, and mice, will all be destroyed together,” says Adonai.

Eating pig meat, reptiles and mice is another description of foreign rites, probably of Canaanite origin. There is no extrabiblical evidence illuminating this custom. [1] The wicked who receive the punishment described are those who entered illegitimate worship sites. They ate the most unclean food, defiantly rejecting Adonai’s law for Isra’el.

18 “For I [know] their deeds and their thoughts. “[The time] is coming when I will gather together all nations and languages. They will come and see my glory,

Adonai was never interested in Isra’el alone. His promise to Avraham extended to the nations (Genesis 12:3). Yesha’yahu looked forward to the day when the nations would recognize Adonai’s glory. When Yeshua returns to rule the earth, people in the farthest corners of the world will know of His salvation.

19 and I will give them a sign. I will send some of their survivors to the nations of Tarshish, Pul, Lud (these are archers), Tuval, Greece, and more distant coasts, where they have neither heard of my fame nor seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory in these nations;

The survivors, the remnant of Adonai’s people who survive the judgment, will go out to the nations to speak of Adonai’s glory. Among the representative nations named are those at great distance. Tarshish is modern-day Spain; Pul (ancient Put) is equivalent to modern Somaliland (though some think a part of Libya); and, Tuval is an area near the Black Sea. The distant coasts represent all the nations of the world. [2]

20 and they will bring all your kinsmen out of all the nations as an offering to Adonai — on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, on camels — to My holy mountain Yerushalayim,” says Adonai, “just as the people of Isra’el themselves bring their offerings in clean vessels to the house of Adonai.

Again, this describes the great gathering that will take place in the Kingdom Age, resulting in the Jews’ return to Yerushalayim.

21 I will also take cohanim and L’vi’im (Levities) from them,” says Adonai.

Yesha’yahu presented a remarkable picture of the nations producing people set apart for service to the Lord like cohanim and L’vi’im.

22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will continue in my presence,” says Adonai, “so will your descendants and your name continue. 23 “Every month on Rosh-Hodesh and every week on Shabbat, everyone living will come to worship in my presence,” says Adonai.

In this future day, no one will neglect the regular worship of the Adonai. Rosh-Hodesh (the New Moon festival) was a monthly sacred observance. What a great day it will be when the Jews join all people in converging upon Yerushalayim to worship. Sometimes I think we get a little taste of this in times of intense worship and fellowship even now.

24 “As they leave, they will look on the corpses of the people who rebelled against me. For their worm will never die, and their fire will never be quenched, but they will be abhorrent to all humanity.” ~ Yesha’yahu ~ 66:15-24 (CJB)

Sadly, while the Kingdom is celebrating, there will be incredible suffering as those who reject the King will be left to the consequences of their own will.

For those of you who have been on this journey through Yesha’yahu from the beginning, we started on January 20, 2019. This last post is the 140th post in the series. I hope and pray that you have enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed digging into the Word as proclaimed by Yesha’yahu.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the character and writings of Kefa (Peter).

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] HCSB Study Bible.

Rejoice with Yerushalayim ~ Yesha’yahu 66:7-14

In my last post, we learned about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6. In this post, we continue to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14.

7 Before going into labor, she gave birth; before her pains came, she delivered a male child.

The fate of the wicked will not spoil the rejoicing of those who enter Yeshua’s kingdom. Isra’el’s restoration in the Kingdom Age will be accomplished so quickly it will be like a woman delivering her baby before going into labor.

8 Whoever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Is a country born in one day? Is a nation brought forth all at once? For as soon as Tziyon went into labor, she brought forth her children.

Tziyon (Yerushalayim) has been described as Isra’el’s mother before. Here the return to Y’hudah after the exile is described as Tziyon giving birth painlessly to many children.

9 “Would I let the baby breakthrough and not be born?” asks Adonai. “Would I, who cause the birth, shut the womb?” asks your God.

In previous passages, God is imagined to be the husband of Tziyon. That idea might also be operative here, but He is pictured as the doctor who delivered Tziyon’s babies. Isra’el’s rebirth is inevitable because God never begins what he doesn’t finish.

10 Rejoice with Yerushalayim! Be glad with her, all you who love her! Rejoice, rejoice with her, all of you who mourned for her; 11 so that you nurse and are satisfied by her comforting breast, drinking deeply and delighting in the overflow of her glory.

Yerushalayim, the mother of the returned exiles, will not only give them birth but will nurse them and give them life.

12 For Adonai says, “I will spread shalom over her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried in her arm and cuddled in her lap.

Yerushalayim will be a place of abundant peace (like a river) and overflowing wealth (like a flood). Adonai, the mother, will care for and play with her children, the returned inhabitants of Yerushalayim.

13 Like someYerushalayim, you will be comforted.”one comforted by his mother, I will comfort you; in 

Likening Himself to a mother, Adonai says, “I’m going to bounce you upon My knee.” He identifies Himself not only as a strong Father but as a tender, nourishing Mother.

14 Your heart will rejoice at the sight; your bodies will flourish like newly sprouted grass. It will be known that the hand of Adonai is with His servants, but with His enemies, His fury. ~ Isaiah 66:7-14 (CJB)

Adonai’s people will flourish, but his enemies will receive His fury.

In my next post, we conclude our study of Yesha’yahu, learning about Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai in Yesha’yahu 66:15-25.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Humble and Contrite Spirit ~ Yesha’yahu 66:1-6

In my last post, we learned about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25. In this post, we learn about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6.

1 “Heaven is My throne,” says Adonai, “and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house could you build for Me? What sort of place could you devise for My rest?

One of the presumptions of the pre-exilic people of Adonai was that the Temple was the place where Adonai lived. This attitude had no justification, especially considering the speech King Solomon gave when he dedicated the Temple (1Kings 8:27). Thus, Adonai began the final prophesy in the book of Yesha’yahu by reminding His people that His presence fills heaven (My throne) and earth (My footstool).

The house spoken of here refers to the Temple. Before the Tribulation, Antichrist will work out a compromise between the Muslims and the Jews, allowing the Temple to be rebuilt on the Temple Mount. This will give him even greater power in the geopolitical, political arena.

2 Didn’t I Myself make all these things? This is how they all came to be,” says Adonai. “The kind of person on whom I look with favor is one with a poor and humble spirit, who trembles at My Word.

Adonai made everything. This means that people should honor and fear Adonai, which will result in humility, submissiveness to Adonai, and total obedience to His commands.

3 Those others might as well kill a person as an ox, as well break a dog’s neck as sacrifice a lamb, as well offer pig’s blood as offer a grain offering, as well bless an idol as burn incense. Just as these have chosen their ways and enjoy their disgusting practices,

The dog was not a sacrificial animal in Isra’el, although it was used in this manner in Hittite Anatolia. Pigs and dogs figured prominently in the rituals of the Hittites in Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age. When confronted with a ritual impurity, the Hittites often slaughtered a pig (usually by cutting it in half). Pigs and dogs were particularly prominent in worship of chthonic deities (those having to do with the netherworld. Some have suggested that the treatment of the pig in this type of ritual may have been one reason why the pig was considered unclean. [1]

Here, the Lord says, “I’m not impressed by your structures or your sacrifices. After all, you can’t offer Me anything I don’t already own. What I want is for you to humble yourselves before Me and be obedient to Me.”

4 so I will enjoy making fools of them, and bring on them the very things they fear. For when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not hear. Instead, they did what was evil in My sight and chose what did not please Me.”

Adonai would choose also; He would choose their punishment.

5 Hear the word of Adonai, you who tremble at His Word: “Your brothers, who hate you and reject you because of My name, have said: ‘Let Adonai be glorified, so we can see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame.” 6 That uproar in the city, that sound from the Temple, is the sound of Adonai repaying His foes what they deserve. ~ Isaiah 66:1-6 (CJB)

Trembling at Adonai’s Word indicates the kind of submission to Adonai that leads to obedience. The brothers (fellow Israelites) mocked the faithful by saying, let Adonai be glorified because they did not think that would happen. Adonai will see that the mockers get what they deserve.

There will come a time when the grace of Adonai will end, and those who reject Him will be confirmed in their choices. With Adonai repaying His foes what they deserve, no one will stand, no one will escape.

In my next post, we continue to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament. As I have stated in the past, there is no passage in Scripture that specifically explains why God considered pigs as unclean and therefore not to be eaten.

The New Heavens and A New Earth ~ Yesha’yahu 65:17-25

In my last post, we explored Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16. In this post, we learn about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25.

17 “For, look! I create New Heavens and a New Earth; past things will not be remembered; they will no more come to mind.

The Hebrew word translated create is bara and means to create from nothing. When we read in Genesis 1:1 that Adonai created the heavens and the earth, the term used is also bara. In other words, Adonai did not use preexisting materials to create the universe. He simply spoke the word, and it became. I must admit that when I first learned the definition of bara, I was stunned. We all know that Adonai gave us the ability to create things. But we don’t have the power to create something out of nothing. We need existing materials to create.

The use of bara here in Yesha’yahu means that Adonai is going to create something entirely new. It won’t be a matter of merely remodeling the earth and the heavens, for, in 2 Kefa, we read that this earth and heavens will be done away with entirely. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day, the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up. ~ 2 Peter 3:10 (CJB)

18 So be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for look! I am making Yerushalayim a joy, and her people a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Yerushalayim and take joy in My people. The sound of weeping will no longer be heard in it, no longer the sound of crying.

What a message of hope for the people of Yerushalayim today, where there is so much weeping and crying seemingly without a solution or an end. But in the day of the New Heaven and the New Earth, weeping and wailing will be replaced by joy and rejoicing.

20 No more will babies die in infancy; no more will an old man die short of his days – he who dies at a hundred will be thought young, and at less than a hundred thought cursed. 21 They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

The future blessing of Yerushalayim includes long life for its inhabitants. Infant mortality rates will disappear, and older people will survive even longer. If someone dies at age 100, it will be considered tragic because he was just a youth compared to others. A further blessing will come in the form of shelter and agricultural abundance.

As we have seen in earlier posts in the Book of Revelation, some believe that in the Kingdom Age, there will be health, peace, and rightness to such a degree that most people will live through the Millennium. We who are Believers won’t have physical bodies at that time. We’ll be ruling and reigning with Yeshua in the Millennial Kingdom. But we’ll have already been caught up to heaven and will have received our glorified bodies. Therefore, this doesn’t apply to us, but rather to those who come to the Lord during the Tribulation.

22 They will not build, and others live there; they will not plant, and others eat; for the days of My people will be like the days of a tree, and My chosen will themselves enjoy the use of what they make.

Jon Courson’s opines:

“In the kingdom age, the houses and vineyards people build and plant will be for their own blessing. This solves the problem of the corruption of capitalism. Communism and Socialism came to answer the corruption of capitalism—only for man to discover that they were even more corrupt systems. In the Kingdom, however, there will be a perfect blend of capitalism and communism in the best sense of the word.” [1]


23 They will not toil in vain or raise children to be destroyed, for they are the seed blessed by Adonai; and their offspring with them.

In the past, the labor of Adonai’s people had been enjoyed by others as He allowed foreign nations to take them over. Their children had been born to disaster since the enemy would either kill them or deport them. But this will change in Adonai’s New Heaven and New Earth. The blessing of work and childbearing was first troubled at the time of the fall into sin. The language of this verse suggests a reversal of these curses in Genesis 3:16-19.

24 Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

The presence of the Lord will be so real in the Kingdom Age that there will be no need for fasting, praying through, or pleading with Adonaifor before we even call, He’ll answer.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion eats straw like an ox (but the serpent – its food will be dust). They will not hurt or destroy anywhere on My holy mountain,” says Adonai. ~ Isaiah 65:17-25 (CJB)

In the Kingdom, harmony will replace ferocity, and humility will be the order of the day.

In my next post, we begin to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2

Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 59:1-11

In my last post, we looked at the subject of Fasting & the Shabbat in Yesha’yahu 58:1-14. In this post, we will begin to explore the issue of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 59:1-11.

The same people who had been fasting and worshiping, fellowshipping, and studying in Chapter 58 were also praying. But they weren’t being heard. The people complained that the Lord could not rescue them, but the real problem was that they had not repented (as we will learn later in 59:20) and were still living in sin.

Yesha’yahu 58 concluded with the assurance that the Lord would fulfill His promises to Isra’el: “I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya’akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken” ~ Yesha’yahu 58:14 (CJB). Chapter 59 deals with Isra’el’s national salvation.

1 Adonai’s arm is not too short to save, nor is His ear too dull to hear.

This prophecy begins with an affirmation that God can hear and act, characteristics that contrast with the powerless idols that tempted Isra’el (cf. 44:6-23).

2 Rather, it is your own crimes that separate you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you so that He doesn’t hear.

Despite what the people of Yehuda may have thought, God had not suddenly become impotent, nor did He get thrashed by the pagan God. It was the sins of the people that separated them from God; this was why he had refused to hear their prayers. He was unwilling to bless them regardless of their actions. They were the problem, not Him.

3 For your hands are stained with blood and your fingers with crime; your lips speak lies, your tongues utter wicked things. 4 No one sues with just cause, no one pleads honestly in court, they trust in empty words and say worthless things; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

Just some of their sins that separated God from His people are listed in these two verses. The list begins with acts of violence and moves on to deceit and injustice. They were guilty in thought and action.

5 They hatch viper eggs and spin spiderwebs; whoever eats their eggs dies, and the crushed egg hatches a snake. 6 Their webs are useless as clothing; their deeds are useless for wearing; their deeds are deeds of wickedness; their hands produce violence. 7 Their feet run to evil; they rush to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of wickedness; their paths lead to havoc and ruin.

Once again, the prophecy emphasizes that people are sinful in thought and deed. Indeed, they do not merely walk in the advice of the wicked (Psalm 1:1); they show their eagerness when they run after evil.

8 The way of shalom they do not know, their goings-about obey no law; they make devious paths for themselves; no one treading them will ever know shalom.

Yesha’yahu used the words way and paths to refer to the course of a person’s life. The first nine chapters of Proverbs talk about two paths, a straight path that leads to God and life, and a crooked path that leads to death. Yesha’yahu described God’s people as choosing the latter, and thus they were headed toward death, i.e., they will not know shalom.

At last, the people acknowledge the consequences of their sin. They want justice but don’t have it. They want direction but lack it, for they continue in their sinfulness.

9 This is why justice is far from us, and righteousness doesn’t catch up with us; we look for light, but see only darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

Note the transition from third person plural speech (they) to first person (us) that begins in this verse and continues for the rest of our passage. Yesha’yahu included himself along with the people. Since the content of these verses acknowledges the people’s sinfulness, it may be that the righteous are among those who are speaking here.

10 We grope for the wall like the blind; like people without eyes, we feel our way; we stumble at noonday as if it were dusk, we are in dark places like the dead.

Chapter 58 has already described the way to light in obedience to God, but they appear incapable of getting there on their own. While God’s hand of salvation could reach the people, Yehuda‘s citizens had convinced themselves that they were innocent and didn’t need it. The truth was that they were like the blind; they were in dark places like the dead.

11 We growl, all of us, like bears and moan pitifully like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. ~ Isaiah 59:1-11 (CJB)

Bears growl out of anger, and doves make a sound like the moans to a suffering person. These metaphors suggest that God’s people were angry and sad about their present state.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 59:12-21.

Click here for the PDF version.

Fasting & the Shabbat ~ Yesha’yahu 58:1-14

SPECIAL NOTE: This post is a tad longer than what I have been posting of late. However, the topic was just too short I felt to break-up into a two-post series. You may want to download the PDF version below.

In my last post, we concluded our series on Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 in Yesha’yahu 57:14-21. In this post, we look at the subject of Fasting & the Shabbat in Yesha’yahu 58:1-14.

The last section of Yesha’yahu’s book puts the final pieces in place for Adonai’s work of salvation and restoration both for Israel and for all of creation. The beginning of that restoration, from Adonai’s standpoint, is the re-establishment of proper worship. Once more, the Prophet is commissioned to shout out, and this time to call the people to repentance. Such will be the case during the time of the end. The first advent of the Lord was heralded by John the Baptist, who called the nation to repentance. Another call to repentance will precede the second advent. It is before us in this chapter. In this, we will have all the great future blessings of the converted remnant of Israel described.

1 Shout out loud! Don’t hold back! Raise your voice like a shofar! Proclaim to My people what rebels they are, to the house of Ya’akov their sins. 2 “Oh yes, they seek Me day after day and [claim to] delight in knowing My ways. As if they were an upright nation that had not abandoned the rulings of their God, they ask Me for just rulings and [claim] to take pleasure in closeness to God,

Adonai instructs Yesha’yahu to shout out the message that His people were sinning even though they came to the Temple and delighted in seeking His ways. In other words, these were people who loved to study the Word, to fellowship together, to worship Adonaiand yet Adonai indicts them. Why? Because, although they loved to learn about Adonai, they weren’t interested in obeying Him. How much is that like so many of us today. When the Ruach begins to convict us, when the Word of Adonai starts to speak to us, we usually only think of it in terms of how it applies to others.

3 [asking,] ‘Why should we fast, if you don’t see? Why mortify ourselves, if You don’t notice?’ “Here is My answer: when you fast, you go about doing whatever you like, while keeping your laborers hard at work. 4 Your fasts lead to quarreling and fighting, to lashing out with violent blows. On a day like today, fasting like yours will not make your voice heard on high. 5 “Is this the sort of fast I want, a day when a person mortifies himself? Is the object to hang your head like a reed and spread sackcloth and ashes under yourself? Is this what you call a fast, a day that pleases Adonai?

Adonai responded to His people’s challenges. He did not respond to their fasting because it was superficial and inauthentic. It led to divisions in the community and exploitative behavior toward underlings, as well as self-absorption. Adonai’s idea of fasting extended far beyond public expressions of mourning. Yeshua said the same thing in Matthew 6 when He said, Now when you fast, don’t go around looking miserable, like the hypocrites. They make sour faces so that people will know they are fasting. Yes! I tell you; they have their reward already! 17 But you, when you fast, wash your face and groom yourself, 18 so that no one will know you are fasting – except your Father, who is with you in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” ~ Matthew 6:16-18 (CJB)

6 “Here is the sort of fast I want – releasing those unjustly bound, untying the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke,

After condemning the people’s idea of fasting, Adonai defined what He understood to be legitimate and effective fasting. The emphasis is on social justice. Fasting must be connected to behavior that helps the exploited find freedom. The yoke is often an image of exploitation and bondage.

It should be noted that the only fasting that Adonai commanded was regarding Yom Kippur. All the rest are rabbinical mandates or personal acts of piety (see Leviticus 23:28).

7 sharing your food with the hungry, taking the homeless poor into your house, clothing the naked when you see them, fulfilling your duty to your kinsmen!”

What Adonai wanted was religious practice offered from truly humble hearts. Seeking to worship with false motives and with no concern for righteousness is not true worship. So, what does true religion look like? What is proper behavior for the subjects of the King? Believers are to help the oppressed (v.6), give food to the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless, and clothing the naked. As Believers, we are to “care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world” ~ James 1:27 (CJB). Fasting for a day would provide some extra funding to fulfill this need.

8 Then your light will burst forth like the morning; your new skin will quickly grow over your wound; your righteousness will precede you, and Adonai’s glory will follow you. 9 Then you will call, and Adonai will answer; you will cry, and He will say, “Here I am.” If you will remove the yoke from among you, stop false accusation and slander,

The people began by complaining that Adonai did not respond to their fasting. Fasting seems self-denying, but Adonai recognized that the fasting of His people had been manipulative. True self-denial means helping others, and behavior that is other-centered rather than self-directed will be rewarded. Adonai will remove the yoke upon us mentioned in v.3.

10 generously offer food to the hungry and meet the needs of the person in trouble; then your light will rise in the darkness, and your gloom become like noon.

Light and darkness stand for prosperity and need. Faithful obedience and a turning from evil will transform darkness into light.

11 Adonai will always guide you; He will satisfy your needs in the desert, He will renew the strength in your limbs; so that you will be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

Abundant, comprehensive blessings of physical health, answered prayer, and continual guidance is promised to those with a heart for the poor and afflicted of society.

12 You will rebuild the ancient ruins, raise foundations from ages past, and be called “Repairer of broken walls, Restorer of streets to live in.”

The prophecy looks forward to the restoration when Adonai’s people will leave their captivity and return to the land, but the land and its cities, especially Yerushalayim. Obedience will lead to prosperity and fertility. The parched land will turn into a watered garden. Obedience and faithful piety will also lead to the strength needed to rebuild the city of Yerushalayim and its defenses. This would be fulfilled when, under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people rebuilt the Temple and walls of Yerushalayim following their Babylonian captivity.

13 “If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on My holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, Adonai’s holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them.

According to later rabbinic writings, the Shabbat in the postexilic period took on the idea of laying aside the day to worship Adonai. The Shabbat became one of the primary means of showing loyalty to Adonai and His statutes.

 14 If you do, you will find delight in Adonai – I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya’akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken.” ~ Isaiah 58:1-14 (CJB)

In the ancient Near East, cities were typically built on hills because of their natural defensibility, and armies chose hills as strategic points of control. The metaphor to ride on the heights of the land speaks of victory and security.

In my next post, we will begin to explore the issue of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 59:1-11.

Click here for the PDF version.

Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 ~ Yesha’yahu 57:3-13

In my last post, we continued to explore the effects of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 57:3-13. In this post, we conclude our series on Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 in Yesha’yahu 57:14-21.

This passage closes with a statement about Adonai’s good intentions toward the righteous, with a brief statement about the fate of the wicked at the end. Adonai’s people were also assured that his wrath against them would not last forever (v.16).

14 Then He will say, “Keep building! Keep building! Clear the way! Remove everything blocking My people’s path!” 15 For thus says the High, Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy: “I live in the high and holy place but also with the broken and humble, in order to revive the spirit of the humble and revive the hearts of the broken ones.

Again, Yesha’yahu used the theme of removing obstacles between Adonai and His people to describe the restoration of an intimate relationship. In this instance, the road leads to Adonai, who lives in a high and holy place, so the way is one that goes up (build it up). Adonai may live in a high place, but the broken and humble are with Him. This is a good reminder for all of us to get our “humble” on.

 16 For I will not (emphasis added) fight them forever or always nurse My anger; otherwise, their spirits would faint before me, the creatures I Myself have made. 17 It was because of their flagrant greed that I was angry and struck them; I hid Myself and was angry, but they continued on their own rebellious way. 18 I have seen their ways, and I will heal them; I will lead them and give comfort to them and to those who mourn for them –

Adonai’s punishment of His people’s sins has a limit. He will not destroy them but will punish them in a disciplinary way. He removed His presence from them, but still, they continued to sin. Here Adonai’s people do not break their sin pattern, but Adonai in His grace always promises to heal them.

In other words, Adonai says, “I’ve seen the perversity of man. Yes, I’ve disciplined him. But I will heal, guide, and create peace within him. I will deliver him.” Adonai does not give up on me, and He won’t give up on you ever.

19 I will create the right words: ‘Shalom Shalom to those far off and to those nearby!’ says Adonai; ‘I will heal them!'” 20 But the wicked are like the restless sea – unable to be still, its waters toss up mud and dirt. 21 There is no shalom, says my God, for the wicked. ~ Isaiah 57:14-21 (CJB)

There is a distinction between those to whom Adonai grants peace and those who remain wicked. The wicked will have no peace but will be like the turbulent sea. The sea is commonly a symbol of chaos and wickedness in ancient Near Eastern literature, including the Bible. [1] Nevertheless, anyone who repented and returned to the Lord would enjoy his shalom and healing. However, there is no shalom … for the wicked.

In my next post, we will explore the issue of Fasting in Yesha’yahu 58:1-14.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] HCSB Study Bible.

FFFFFF

Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 56:1-8

In my last post, we began a journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 55:7-13. In this post, we will start to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 56:1-8.

The appeal to observe justice and do what is right was addressed to Isra’el because Adonai’s salvation was near (56:1). There was also good news for every foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord because, in the Millennial Kingdom, righteous non-Jews will also share in the blessings of the Messiah’s rule (56:3). Gentiles, who believed in the God of Isra’el and bound themselves to Him, had a place within His covenant community in the Old Testament dispensation. Here they were assured that they would also share in the kingdom with Isra’el, including sharing in Isra’el’s regathering to enjoy Adonai’s salvation and blessings under Messiah’s righteous rule. Adonai also promises a special blessing and kingdom position to those who maintain their sexual purity (1 Cor 6:9-19).

1 Here is what Adonai says: “Observe justice, do what is right, for my salvation is close to coming, my righteousness to being revealed.”

Salvation is also equivalent to victory or rescue since it envisions release from Babylonian bondage. This verse does not call for obedience that earns salvation. Obedience is a response to the promise of Adonai’s coming deliverance, not a way to earn His favor.

2 Happy is the person who does this, anyone who grasps it firmly, who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it and keeps himself from doing any evil.

Adonai pronounces happy (see Psalm 1) those who are obedient and who avoid evil. The Sabbath commandment (Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15) is singled out because it was considered the epitome of the Mosaic covenant (Ex 31:13).

3 A foreigner joining Adonai should not say, “Adonai will separate me from His people; “likewise, the eunuch should not say, “I am only a dried-up tree.”

Adonai reminds His people that foreigners who convert to the Lord are not excluded from worship. Yesha’yahu is not at odds with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 44:6-9) or Ezra (Ezra 4:1-3), because they addressed the issue of foreigners who had not converted. Indeed, Exodus 12:43 states concerning the Pesach meal that “no foreigner may eat it,” but Exodus 12:48-49 then makes it clear that if a foreigner converted and was circumcised, then he could partake of the Pesach.

4 For here is what Adonai says: “As for the eunuchs who keep my Shabbats, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant:

Eunuchs were typically excluded from worship, as it is written: A man with crushed or damaged private parts may not enter the assembly of Adonai. ~ Deuteronomy 23:1 (CJB) That law pointed out that gender and sex were divine gifts that should not be intentionally altered. However, this verse describes an obedient eunuch and thus one who had become a eunuch accidentally or who had converted to worship of Adonai after becoming a eunuch. Such devout eunuchs were invited to join in the worship of Adonai.

5 in my house, within my walls, I will give them power and a name greater than sons and daughters; I will give him an everlasting name that will not be cut off.

Eunuchs obviously could not have children and thus lacked progeny who would perpetuate their name. Adonai proclaims that He will provide a memorial for them.

6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonaito serve Him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be His workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, 7 I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Adonai will not turn away anyone who desires to worship Him, even foreigners (that’s most of us, folks) and eunuchs. His house, the Temple, will be a place where everyone can come to pray.

8 Adonai Elohim says, He who gathers Isra’el’s exiles: “There are yet others I will gather, besides those gathered already.”~ Isaiah 56:1-8 (CJB)

The dispersed of Isra’el refers to those Isra’eli, who were removed from the land of Isra’el as a result of foreign invasions (Assyrian and Babylonian) that Adonai sent as punishment against His people.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 56:9-57:2.

Click here for the PDF version.

A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 55:7-13

In my last post, we began a journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 55:1-6. In this post, we conclude our journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 55:6-13.

In our previous post, we are told to “seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby.” In this post, we will explore why.

7Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts; let him return to Adonai, and He will have mercy on him; let him return to our God, for He will freely forgive.

No matter how wicked you might be, Adonai says if you come to Him, He’ll have mercy upon you and abundantly pardon. Having been confronted about his adultery with Bat-sheva and murder of Uryiah, David said, “I have sinned against Adonai.” Natan said to David, “Adonai also has taken away your sin. You will not die. ~ 2 Samuel 12:13 (CJB). Adonai is so merciful. The moment we confess, we’re forgiven.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai. 9 “As high as the sky is above the earth are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Adonai’s invitation in verse 7 was gracious, but there was an urgency to it. If we’re honest, grace does not make sense to us because it does not reflect how people treat one another on earth. But Adonai’s perspective is not our perspective. That’s why we need a divine translator. We need the Ruach HaKodesh to enable us to have a heavenly perspective; we need “the mind of the Messiah” (1 Cor 2:16).

10 For just as rain and snow fall from the sky and do not return there, but water the earth, causing it to bud and produce, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 so is My Word that goes out from my mouth – it will not return to Me unfulfilled, but it will accomplish what I intend, and cause to succeed what I sent it to do.”

These verses offer rich encouragement regarding the power of Adonai’s Word. Even children understand this illustration about how Adonai cause rain and snow to water the earth. But Adonai says his Word works the same way. It proceeds from his mouth and does not return . . . unfulfilled. It will accomplish what He intends (55:11).

We often make grand plans. We plot and scheme. Sometimes we succeed, but, often we fail. That’s because they lack the power to guarantee their plans. Power is the ability to effect change or produce a desired result, and Adonai’s Word alone has that kind of guaranteed power. The unstoppable power of Adonai’s Word to accomplish all his purposes sets it apart in a class by itself. Adonai’s Word is always purposeful, and His purposes are always achieved. The Bible can be trusted.

12Yes, you will go out with joy; you will be led forth in peace. As you come, the mountains and hills will burst out into song, and all the trees in the countryside will clap their hands. 13Cypresses will grow in place of thorns; myrtles will grow instead of briars. This will bring fame to Adonai as an eternal, imperishable sign. ~ Isaiah 55:1-13 (CJB)

The greatness of Adonai’s salvation and grace will have tremendous effects on the earth in the millennial kingdom. These verses describe briefly the new earth Adonai has promised in His reversal of the curse of Eden. The thorns and briars, which began to plague the world after Adam and Havah (Eve) sinned (see Gen 3:17-18), will be replaced by plants of beauty and usefulness (55:13).

In my next post, we will begin to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 56.

Click here for the PDF version.

Shavuot (Pentecost)

God’s Appointed Times

We will take a break from our series on the Yesha’yahu and return to God’s Appointed Times ~ Shavuot (Pentecost). In 2019, Shavuot will be observed by Jewish Believers beginning at sundown on Saturday, June 8th. Christians will be celebrating Pentecost on Sunday, June 9th. Essentially, Jews and Christians will be celebrating on the same weekend, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Scriptural Basis

15“‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, 16until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai. 17You must bring bread from your homes for waving — two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven — as firstfruits for Adonai. 18Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for Adonai, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. 19Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Adonai, with the two lambs; these will be holy for Adonai for the cohen. 21On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.” (Vayikra [Leviticus] 23:15-21)

Basic Description

Shavu’ot was one of three festivals (Pesach/Matzah & Sukkot being the other two) appointed by Adonai where all Jewish males were to go up to Jerusalem. Shavu’ot means “weeks.” It comes exactly fifty days after Pesach. In Greek, we have come to know it as Pentecost. Pentecost means “fifty.” It was an agricultural festival to celebrate the latter fruits of the spring harvest. Recall that Yom HaBikkurim (First Fruits) immediately following Pesach celebrated the barley harvest and, as Believers, we recognize it as the resurrection of Yeshua – the first fruit from the dead. Shavu’ot celebrates the thanksgiving for the wheat harvest symbolized by the two loaves of challah.

Observance

The two loaves of challah were brought into the Temple and with great ceremony, waved in every direction before Adonai. In addition, blood sacrifices were offered to cover the sin of the people. Since sacrifices can no longer be made with the destruction of the Second Temple, the modern Jewish observance of Shavu’ot has changed. Rabbis calculated that Moshe received the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavu’ot. Hence, the rabbinic name for Shavu’ot is Zman Matan Torateynu (the Time of the Giving of the Torah).

The custom of decorating the synagogue in greenery, flowers and baskets of fruit to symbolize the harvest aspect of Shavu’ot; the practice of marking the holiday with a meal featuring dairy products in recognition of Scripture being described as the pure milk of the Word (I Peter 2:2); and the inclusion of the Megillah (scroll) of Ruth in the service are all the primary reminders of Shavu’ot’s agricultural prominence.

But Ruth’s story sounds another theme, one more relevant to the celebration of Shavu’ot by modern Jewish people and Messianic Believers. When her husband dies, Ruth – a gentile – elects to stay with Naomi, her mother-in-law, telling her “your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16) binding herself willingly to the people Isra’el. Ruth’s story is one of commitment to the Jewish people freely made and to the covenant with God that is the core of the Jewish religion and experience. Like Ruth, the gentile woman who was in the lineage of Yeshua, we have voluntarily said to our fellow Messianic Jewish believers your people will be my people, your God will be my God.

Shavu’ot celebrates the most important moment in the Mosaic covenant – the giving of the Torah to Moshe and its acceptance by Isra’el at Sinai. Shavu’ot has come to be dedicated to the idea of Torah study and Jewish education. Traditional Jews stay up all night on the first night of this festival studying the Torah. In keeping with the theme of Jewish education, Shavu’ot has traditionally been the time when many Jewish schools mark graduation.

Messianic significance abounds in this festival. From God’s perspective, the time of great harvest when large numbers of Jewish believers and later Gentiles came into a personal relationship with Him was initiated at Shavu’ot immediately after Yeshua’s resurrection (Acts 2:40-43). The two leavened loaves of Shavu’ot may, therefore, symbolize Jew and Gentile presented to God and now part of His family. God set us free from slavery to sin by placing His Spirit in us to enable us to live as He intended (Romans 8:1-4). Hence God visibly placed His Ruach HaKodesh in Yeshua’s followers on that important Shavu’ot centuries ago (Acts 2:4).

The coming of the Ruach HaKodesh served as the completion of Pesach, the completion of our atonement, in the sense that through the Ruach, God gives us the power we need to overcome our tendency to do evil.

The theme of Shavu’ot can be best summed up by the word revival. Isra’el was called to praise God for the first fruits of the ground, knowing that these early fruits assured the latter harvest. This also applies to the spiritual Kingdom of God. The first fruit of believers at Shavu’ot virtually guarantees a revival in the latter-day spiritual harvest for Messiah. Now we can understand why God included Shavu’ot in the three required festivals for every Jewish male. He had gathered Jewish men from throughout the region to hear the Good News of Yeshua in their own language. They would take that message back home with them to tell their families and friends. As Pesach speaks of redemption, Shavu’ot speaks of revival. The message of Shavu’ot is one of great hope and joy. It was a message heard and accepted by 3,000 Jewish people on that special Shavu’ot (Acts 2:41). Note that 3,000 Jewish people died because of their rebellion of worshipping the Golden Calf at the giving of the Torah.

When Is the Biblical Feast of Shavuot?

Many people desire to know the actual Biblical date for Shavu’ot. It is the only feast that God did not say fell on a specific date in the Hebrew calendar. Rather He gave a formula for calculating the day. Though the traditional Jewish community will celebrate Shavu’ot according to that traditional calculation, there is a difference of opinion on the matter. In the first century, the Pharisees and Sadducees differed on the date that Shavuot was to be celebrated. The question arose over which Sabbath does Firstfruits (see Vayikra 23:9-14) take place after the day after Pesach, which is generally considered a Sabbath or the regular seventh day Sabbath, i.e. Saturday during the week of Pesach?

The Pharisees claimed the correct day was the day after the first day of Matzah, the sixteenth of Nisan. The Sadducees taught that the correct day was Sunday, the day after the weekly Sabbath. Since the writings of the Pharisees survived and developed into traditional Judaism, their opinion is accepted in modern Judaism.

But who is biblically correct? Remember, the Scriptures state, “you are to count seven full Sabbaths until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days.” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

For it to be the day after the seventh Shabbat, the initial Sabbath would have to be the weekly Sabbath. So, it would appear the Sadducees were right. Consequently, I believe that the Sadducees got this one correct. Amazingly, the year that Yeshua died, the sixteenth of Nisan fell on the Sunday, which is the day after the Sabbath for the Sadducees as well. God worked it out that neither group would have a reason not to recognize Yeshua as the Firstfruits of the Resurrection.

In my next post, we will return to our series on Yesha’yahu.

Click here for PDF version.