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Guest Article: Rod MacAruthur Continues on Isaiah 9f– #2

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The Promise of One on David’s Throne– By Rod MacArthurrod macarthur

Be sure to read the first article in this series on Isaiah 9-10 as Rod MacArthur continues his exegesis of Isaiah.

Isa. 97—permanence of the throne:

There will be no end to the increase of government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness.
The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will accomplish this.

Of His rule, verse seven says, there would be no end. Isaiah didn’t merely say there would be no end of His government or there would be no end of peace; rather he said there would be no end of the increase of His government or of peace. Scientists tell us our universe is constantly expanding. Just so, the peace and the government of Messiah continually expand as He sits on the throne of David and over his kingdom.

How thrilling is this phrase: “To establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness”? Contemplate these two Psalms, keying on “justice and righteousness”: 8914 and 972. Each says justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne. But in 8914, loving kindness and truth go before Him; while 972–3 says fire goes before Him and devours his adversaries. Both blessing (lovingkindness and truth) and protection (devouring fire) come from His throne! He upholds His government and His peace by the nature of His throne: Justice and Righteousness.

This should remind us of chapter five: His planted vineyard. Yahweh came looking for justice and righteousness; instead he found violence, murder and bloodshed. But He rules with justice and righteousness, He upholds His rule in justice and righteousness, He defends His realm with justice and righteousness, He blesses us with justice and righteousness, and He looks for the same qualities in us. He destroyed His vineyard because it lacked these essential qualities. But, He would re-establish a new vineyard to have such. So He said, the zeal of the Lord will accomplish this.

Isn’t it exciting to know that it would be God’s zeal that gets it done; not his apathy? Using a bit of anthropomorphism, picture God getting up in the “morning” with a goal to accomplish. He’s excited about doing it and He gets it done with a passion. This is why we Have Jesus today! That is why we have the “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 313).

The Current Darkness

Isa. 98–12—back to the darkness

The Lord sends a message against Jacob,
And it falls on Israel.
And all the people know it,
That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart:
“The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”
Therefore Yahweh raises against them adversaries from Rezin
And spurs their enemies on,
The Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west;
And they devour Israel with gaping jaws.
In all this, His anger does not turn away
And His hand is still stretched out.

We find in 91–7 a glorious glimpse of what it would be like when the darkness shrouding Israel finally broke. He was showing what it would be like in Israel’s future after the clouds. But here we return to Isaiah’s day: the people were arrogant and denied the situation. Instead of repenting, they exerted themselves to reverse the curse by other, human means. So God said, I’m going to send Assyria and Philistia against you. His hand continued to be out-stretched against them (to execute His wrath).

assyrian invasion of israel

Isa. 913–21—Israel’s societal ills

Yet the people do not turn back to Him who struck them,
Nor do they seek Yahweh of hosts.
So Yahweh cuts off head and tail from Israel,
Both palm branch and bulrush in a single day.
The head is the elder and honorable man,
And the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail.
For those who guide this people are leading them astray;
And those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.
Therefore Yahweh does not take pleasure in their young men,
Nor does He have pity on their orphans or their widows;
For every one of them is godless and an evildoer,
And every mouth is speaking foolishness.
In all this, His anger does not turn away
And His hand is still stretched out.

For wickedness burns like a fire;
It consumes briars and thorns;
It even sets the thickets of the forest aflame
And they roll upward in a column of smoke.
By the fury of Yahweh of hosts the land is burned up,
And the people are like fuel for the fire;
No man spares his brother.
They slice off what is on the right hand but still are hungry,
And they eat what is on the left hand but they are not satisfied;
Each of them eats the flesh of his own arm.
Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
And together they are against Judah.
In all this, His anger does not turn away
And His hand is still stretched out.

From the top to the bottom, from the most dignified man down to the wino in the gutter, everyone in Israel was an evildoer. So Yahweh said: their own wickedness cuts them off. Wickedness within society fed upon itself. They consumed one another, they viciously ravaged each other. The enemy wasn’t merely or even mainly outside; they were destroying themselves from within. This was, in part, the reason for the darkness. And, the fury of God would consume them in it.

The phrase, “In all this, His anger does not turn away; And His hand is still stretched out,” reminds us of the curses in Lev. 26. In the event that Israel failed to keep covenant with Yahweh, He promised a series of curses that were intended to turn them back to Him. It was to be an escalating series, with each failure to return bringing a more severe “discipline” from Yahweh. Note from Lev. 2618–19, 21, 23–24 & 27–28, the intent of the curses and the warning of escalation if Israel failed to repent. So here in Isaiah, His anger wasn’t turned away and His hand was still stretched out because they were not repenting of their gross and blatant covenant violations. 

 

More to come, so, be sure to check back!

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