Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 61
THE VICTORIOUS SACRIFICE OF CHRIST
ISAIAH 51 – 53
I think most of our listeners know that we tape four of these programs in order when we do our taping, and in between we have a coffee break so we’re informal. I’m not associated with any one group. There’s no one underwriting us. We just depend on the Lord to supply our every need. It’s miraculous how He keeps doing it month after month. We get our bills paid and the bank account is just about down to zero but then here it keeps coming. So, we just thank every one of you for your help and especially for your prayers.
All right, we’re going to get right back into the book of Isaiah and we’re going to jump in at chapter 51 today. As I’ve done before, I like to spend at least a moment or so at the beginning of every taping session explaining the background of this particular portion of Scripture. Isaiah, remember, is a prophet writing in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, but he addresses the whole nation of Israel. He’s writing 700 years before Christ. He’s writing 100 years before the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar. That tells us that God’s wheels grind slowly. Even though Isaiah is prophesying some of these things as though they are going to happen next week or next month, yet it doesn’t become a reality for a hundred years.
You know, I’m reminded of the same thing today. My, as fast as things are pointing toward the end-time and we almost feel that the Lord could come next week, and He may, but, with God time doesn’t mean that much. It could go still go on for a good while, yet. To us it doesn’t seem possible, but it could. So, we don’t want to just get careless and say, “Well, the Lord won’t come yet for another hundred years.” On the other hand we have to realize that we can’t get over sensationalized and say, “Well, the Rapture will take place next week or next month or next fall or whatever.”
All right, so the book of Isaiah then is a book of prophecy. In it you will find no salvation for Gentiles. It is strictly a book that is detailing the things that are going to come to pass in the life and time of the nation of Israel. Now, this chapter again happens to come back on a high note. In the previous chapters we’ve seen how God is foretelling judgment to come and chastisement because of their rebelliousness and their unbelief. But, now, this chapter is a high note, again. Here we’re dealing with some of the good things that are in Israel’s future. All right, come in with me at Isaiah chapter 51 verse 1:
“Hearken (listen) to me, you that follow after righteousness,…” Now, what does that mean? Now he’s addressing the believing element. Again, I always have to emphasize, that a lot of Jews today think that every Jew is going to end up in Paradise or Heaven or whatever they think of, simply because they’re members of the family of Abraham. Well, I beg to differ because even the Lord Jesus Himself warned them constantly, “you are yet in your sin.” He spoke graphically of those who would be sent to the Lake of Fire because of their unbelief. So, there’s nothing to indicate that all Jews will be saved simply because they’re members of the nation of Israel. There’s always been the believing element, a small percentage, a remnant, and the rest have been doomed.
“Hearken to me, you that follow after righteousness, you who seek the LORD:…” Now, that brings up another thought. So many times we’ll get a letter in the mail or a phone call, “Well, how can I know that I’m saved?”
Well, this is our first response. “Where are your priorities? Would you rather be with God’s people or the people of the world? Would you rather be in a Bible study or would you rather be in a filthy movie? Do you have a hunger for the Word of God? Or do you never open its covers? Do you have a time of prayer? Do you talk to Him? What about your life style? Are we a believer or aren’t we?” Now, you cannot practice these things in the flesh very long. Now, anybody can do some of these things for a while, but you cannot just go on consistently living the agenda of a Christian unless you are truly a child of God. So, here again, it was to those who knew that they were believers that Isaiah is writing and he says:
“…look unto the rock whence you are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence you are digged.” I think he’s going all the way back to the onset of the Nation with the Abrahamic Covenant. Then, verse 2 makes that certain.
“Look unto Abraham your father, (the beginning of the Jewish race) and unto Sarah who bear you: (Not Hagar, but Sarah.) for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” Here, again, is what so many church people do not understand. That the nation of Israel came about because of God’s Sovereign decision to call one man, pull him out of the mainstream of the Adamic race and out of him bring about the nation of Israel.
It was supernatural because both Abraham and his wife Sarah were beyond the age of normal childbearing. So, everything about it was a supernatural phenomenon. Then out of that line of Abraham came Isaac and then Jacob and then the twelve sons and the Twelve Tribes. So, here is the progression of this little nation of Israel, never great in number, usually around six, seven, eight million, which is nothing. They have never been great in number and never been great in square miles, but they’ve been the least of the nations. Yet, this is the nation through whom God has chosen to give us the Word of God. It was this nation through whom Christ came. It’s this nation around which all of prophecy revolves.
If you take Israel off the planet there’s nothing left for prophecy. Nothing. This is why when these people claim that the Jews have disappeared they have to throw away prophecy, because there is no prophecy if there is no Israel. We just got through emphasizing that on our last two weeks of teaching up north, how everything rests on God’s dealing with the nation of Israel. All right, so it’s to these believing Jews, now, that the prophet, as the spokesman for their eternal God, is speaking.
“For the LORD, (Jehovah) will comfort Zion: (Remember, Zion is a hill in Jerusalem.) he will comfort all her waste places; he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD;…” Now, we’ve got to stop. Why is there that kind of language in an upbeat chapter? Because, you see, whenever Israel is out of the land it becomes desolate. It becomes totally unproductive, uninhabited, it becomes a barren desert.
While we were up north last week somebody gave me some more out of Mark Twain’s book The Innocents Abroad. I’ve read parts of it over the years, but this was even more graphic. When Mark Twain was traveling in the area of present day Israel, or what was then called Palestine, way back in the middle 1800’s, this was his description. “The land is totally barren, it’s desolate. The weeds of the desert don’t even grow here. The wild animals of the desert are unknown because it’s totally desolate.” All right, so this is what the Lord is showing them after they’ve been out of the land. They’re going to be captured in 600 BC (we’ve still got the timeline on the board from our last taping). Nebuchadnezzar came and took the whole nation of Israel captive out to Baghdad and Babylon. But, what happened to the land of Israel? It became desolate. For seventy years it was desolate.
We showed in our last taping that when they came back to Jerusalem, the Arabs hadn’t come in and made it productive. They hadn’t cleaned up all the residue of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and destruction. It was all still there. Then, a hundred years after that Nehemiah comes back and what does he say? “Everything was rubbish.” Well, why hadn’t the Arab’s gone in and made it livable? Well, God won’t let them. It’s always been that way. Every time Israel is removed from the land, nobody comes in and makes it their homeland. It remains desolate.
But, we’re dealing, now, with the first time, the 70-year captivity. It will be a wilderness, it’ll be desert, but when Israel comes into the place of blessing it will suddenly become productive again. It’ll be “like the garden of the LORD.” Now, verse 3, reading on:
“…joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” In other words it will be normal life, especially for the believers.
“Hearken unto me, O, my people;…” Now, “my people” in the Old Testament is Israel. Nobody else. Now, granted, you and I can come back here and make some applications, but by and large this is written strictly to the nation of Israel.
“…and give ear unto me, O, my nation: (See, that’s not us. That’s Israel.) for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment (or my rule, or my government) to rest for a light of the people. 5. My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, mine arms shall judge the people; the isles (or the borders of all this) shall wait upon me, and on mine arm they shall trust. 6. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath:” Now, this is leaping clear out now, clear to the end of the millennium even. That’s what I told you earlier in this book of Isaiah. You’ve got three periods of time that are distinctly referred to, and you have to almost go to the text to find out which one it is.
The first one was the near-term Babylonian invasion, 606 BC. The next one would be the destruction by the Romans in 70 AD, but then the final one, leading to the end of everything as we know it and ushering in eternity, is at the end of the millennium. So, this is looking all the way to the end of the millennium when it says :
“…the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, the earth (the planet as we know it) shall wax old like a garment,…” Now, what do you do with an old garment? Well, you pitch it. However you’re going to get rid of it, whether you burn it or whatever. You just cast it aside; it’s gotten rid of.
“…and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. “ In other words, after this old planet has run its course, eternity kicks in and we go into eternal things. Now, it’s amazing how many times Scripture refers to this very fact. Back up, if you will, to chapter 50, and verse 9.
“Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.”
Now, back up for another portion of Scripture, which is in Psalms 102, verse 25, and we’ve got the same kind of language.
“Of old thou hast laid the foundation of the earth; the heavens are the work of thy hands. 26. (Now look what’s going to happen.) They (the earth and the heavens, I think the whole universe) shall perish, but thou (the believer) shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:” In other words, all the things that God has created. All right, now, let’s jump all the way up to the New Testament and we’ll see how we have the same language repeated even in the New. Come with me to Hebrews chapter 1, and let’s jump in at verse 10.
“And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth (Now, that goes back to creation of Genesis 1:1.) and the heavens (The universe and everything that God’s created.) are the works of thy hands: 11. They shall perish; (It’s not going to last forever.) but thou (the Creator) remainest; and they (back to creation) all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: (In other words, it’s all going to cast aside someday.) but, (the Eternal God) thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” All right, let’s go ahead a few pages to II Peter chapter 3. Here we have almost the same thoughts but in different wording. All right, II Peter, chapter 3, verse 10, it wonderful how all of Scripture fits when you get on a certain theme.
II Peter 3:10-11
“But the day of the Lord (Now, that starts with Christ’s first advent and goes all the way past the millennium.) will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (The very things that make up matter.) shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11.Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, (see just like working in a chemistry laboratory) what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy manner of living and godliness.”
II Peter 3:12-13
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, (in other words when all of these things will supernaturally start taking place) wherein the heavens being on fire shall be (what?) dissolved, (melted down.) and the elements (that which makes up matter again) shall melt with fervent heat? (But, is that the end? No, next verse:) 13. Nevertheless we, (we who trust the Word of God) according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth (no wickedness, no curse but what?) righteousness.” That’s the hope for the believer.
All right, let’s go all the way to the last chapter of your Bible, or next to the last anyway. Revelation chapter 21 and how glorious it is to see that all of the writers of Scripture, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, talked the same language.
“And I saw a (what?) new heaven and new earth: (why?) for the first heaven and the first earth were (what?) passed away;…” They’ve disappeared. They’ve burned up. They’ve melted down, or however you want to put it. Then he sees in verse 2:
“And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Now, we know from another portion of Revelation that this glorious city is going to be how big? Fifteen hundred miles cubed. Some think it’s a pyramid, I think it’s a cube but that’s irrelevant. But now look, would a city of that size rest on this little planet? Why, it would be cantilevered clear over on every direction. So, what does that tell us? This new earth, I think, is going to be so huge it’ll make Jupiter look like a model. It’ll be of such dimension that that 1500-mile city can come down and won’t stick out over the edge one bit. This is the prospect, and we know that God is in total control. All right, that’s the beauty of Scripture. Now, back to Isaiah 51 again, reading on:
“… and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: (In other words, the unbelievers are going to be removed along with that earth that’s been under the curse for all these thousands of years.) but my salvation shall be (how long?) forever,…” That’s the hope of the believer. Nothing comes to an end for the believer. Even this old universe can be burned up and totally destroyed and a new one come in its place, and we’ll still be ready to enjoy it.
“Hearken unto me, (That’s a second time now that Israel is told to listen.) ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.” Now, isn’t it amazing? It’s God’s people who maintain order and blessing and yet the rest of the community reviled them. It’s always been that way. It’s never been any different.
It’s the same way today. You know, as I’ve mentioned before in this program, one of the editorial writers of Time magazine has made the statement that he hates, he detests Christianity. He thinks it’s the worst thing that has ever happened to America. Well, he’s free to express his thoughts. But, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He may be a highly profiled editorial writer but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Christianity is what made this nation; it’s not what has destroyed it. But, nevertheless, it’s always been that way. The believer has been reviled by the unbelievers, even in Israel.
“For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, (You know what moths can do to a wool garment.) and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” The unbeliever is only here for a little smatter of time and he goes to his doom. But, the believer is going right on into eternity to come.
“Awake,…” The first of three times this is said in the next series of verses going on into chapter 52. Well, what does that tell you? Well, just like we say today – wake up!
You know, we’re seeing evidence of this even in America today. Wake up and realize there are forces out there that want to destroy us. But, people have got their head in the sand. My, we had evidence of it again the other day in Minneapolis, how people are so ready to embrace all of these elements that want to destroy us. How can they embrace something like that?They’re asleep! They’re ignorant, and how sad. But, see, Israel was no different, so even the believers are told, come out of your lethargy – wake up!
“…put on strength, (He’s not talking to the unbelieving element, he’s talking to the righteous, awake, put on strength.) O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, and the generations of old, Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?” Now, that sounds like something hard to comprehend, but the Rahab here is an indication of Egypt when Israel was under their bondage, and the dragon is a reference to Pharaoh and how he misused them and enslaved them. All right, verse 10, speaking of the God of Israel:
“Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, (See how this is all evidence of Israel coming out of Egypt.) the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over.” Well, who were the ransomed? Israel. The believing element.
“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return,…” Now, what does that word “return” indicate? They’re going to be gone. You can’t return if you haven’t left. Now, this is all prophesied as if it’s already happened. That’s the beauty of prophecy. So, Isaiah is speaking of this first initial out casting from the land, which was the Babylonian captivity, only 70 years in length. But, in that 70 years, the land would become desolate and Israel would return. All right, he’s speaking as if it’s already happened.
“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. 12. I (the Lord says) even I, am he that comforteth you: who are you that thou shouldest be afraid of a man who shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;” In other words, he will go into the grave.
“And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, (Here we come back again to God’s power of creation, His Sovereignty.) and laid the foundation of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?” Now, you want to remember the oppressor in view here is Babylon. He’s going to be coming in less than a hundred years, and he’s going to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and take the nation of Israel captive. All right, verse 14:
“The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. 15. But (Take heart, Israel!) I am the LORD thy God who divided the sea, whose waves roared: (Referring back again to the Red Sea.) the LORD of hosts is his name. 16. And I have put my words in thy mouth, I have covered thee in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, (What’s the promise?) Thou art my people.” That’s God speaking to Israel. What an assurance! Yet, in unbelief, the vast majority of them constantly reject it.
All right, now here’s the second wake up call. There’s going to be a third one in chapter 52, but here’s the second wake up call:
“Awake, awake, stand up, oh Jerusalem, which hath drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury;…” In other words, they’re going to come through chastisement and judgment before they can receive the blessings of the God of Israel. So, it’s always been, and so it will be even in the future.