Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 11 (2)

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples — of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching breath, and strike it into seven channels, and he will lead people across in sandals. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt. (Is. 11:10-16)

The Messiah at the initiation of the Messianic Kingdom will stand forth "as a signal for the peoples" (v. 10), and therefore this refers to the public nature of the coming of the Messiah on that day. The nations will come to submit (inquire) to Him and and His restful reign will be glorious, as He will subdue all His enemies under His feet.

Verse 11 tells us about the ingathering of the people of God who are found in various nations, which is made more explicit in verse 12 that are from the four corners of the earth. It must be noted that the Lord will extend His hand a second time, thus showing that this does not refer to the first prophesied and fulfilled gathering of Israel during the time of the Persian Empire. This gathering therefore is to be seen at the end of ages as the Messianic Kingdom intrudes physically into history, therefore telling us that the people of God, the elect, from all nations will be gathered by the Lord to Himself before that dreadful day, both believing Jews and Gentiles.

Ephraim and Judah represented the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, and they generally detest each other. Yet verse 13 shows forth that on that day, God Himself will unite all who are called by His name. Jealousy is the characteristic attitude of Ephraim towards Judah with its temple worship, while Judah was uncharitable of their northern cousins who have abandoned God. But in that day, God Himself will purge the church and purify her finally, and only then will the people of God be one. Visible unity in the churches, as it can be seen, is impossible this side of heaven. Visible churches are plagued with varying degree of compromise and apostasy, and only until Jesus returns will He make us wholly one. This is of course not to take a laid-back attitude towards ensuring the purity of the Church, but it most definitely should show us that there is no such thing as a perfect church, and we shouldn't expect one either. Perfection and perfect unity among believers will only exist when Christ returns, and we should long earnestly for that day.

In verse 14, we can see that that day would be the day of defeat of our enemies and oppressors. While on earth, the Church and individual Christians will always be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Only when Jesus returns will there then be total relief. Using the language of military victory and conquest of Israel's bitter and most immediate enemies figuratively, God depicts the ultimate victory of the church, NOT in literally plundering and killing people, but as those who will stand over them by the blood of Christ over the defeated rebellious reprobates who have no hope but only the stark reality of destruction and utter damnation in hellfire. Showing Himself strong, the Lord vindicates His people on their behalf against their enemies (v. 15) and delivers them once more from their persecutors. Just as the Lord has previously delivered them from Egypt, the Lord will also deliver them from Assyria and from other "Assyrias" that the people of God are found in (v. 16), removing all obstacles from their coming to Him (ie striking the Euphrates into seven channels) Broken but not crushed, subjected but not destroyed, the people of God under persecution will experience the power of God on that day in supernaturally delivering all of them, while God Himself will simultaneously destroy all His enemies, the oppressors of the Church, on that day of judgment.

Amen. May we yearn and long for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will vindicate us and bring all things to an end. So come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 20ff). Amen.

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