Isaiah 1-27 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight ISA01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
So turn in your Bibles to the Book of Isaiah or we should say Yesha'yahu. Can you try to say that with me?
Yesha'yahu is how you say his name. He wasn't born in Rochester, New York or in California or New Mexico. He was born in Israel. And so his original pronunciation was Yesha'yahu . And Yesha'yahu, a.k.a. anglicized Isaiah, was a prophet during four kings-- actually, five. The last one may have actually killed him, according to tradition.
But Isaiah is like the prophets' prophet. He's like the most influential of the prophets. Sometimes God calls people to obscure ministries. Other times, He calls them to very influential ministries. And Isaiah would fall in the latter category.
He really had entrance into the palace. Some Jewish traditions hold that he was actually part of the royal family, if not at least an aristocratic family in Jerusalem. So well-known, well-connected, probably his pockets well-lined originally.
But he got a call from God in his life. You'll see that call in chapter 6. As we begin-- and, again, this is a survey of half of the book. The Bible has how many books in it?
66 books in the Bible, Old and New Testament. The Book of Isaiah has interestingly 66 chapters. If you look at the Bible, the Old Testament has 39 books. The New Testament has 27 books. If you look at the Book of Isaiah, once again, it's fascinating that of those 66 chapters, the first 39 chapters are markedly different from the second part of the book, the last 27.
In fact, the style is completely different. The subject is completely different. The focus is completely different. First part is mostly condemnation. The second part is mostly salvation, as the Old Testament has a theme of God's sovereignty, God's majesty, God's work through the nations but condemning a world apart from the good news of salvation introduced in the New Testament.
So there are similarities between the Book of Isaiah and the Bible itself. Now, I don't think that's necessarily-- well, let me put it this way. We got chapters and verses in the year 1227. So Isaiah wasn't writing chapter 1, verse 1. He was just writing.
And it wasn't until 1227 that Stephen Langton, the then archbishop of Canterbury, decided to make it easy and put numbers for chapters and versus. But it's just interesting how they coincide-- 66 chapters, 66 books of the Bible.
The first part is chapter 1 through 39. And these are prophecies of condemnation. Let's just call it that, prophecies of-- not all of the material is condemning material. There's some lighter moments and some highlights. But generally, they are prophecies of condemnation. Judgment is proclaimed. Strong pronouncements are made from God through the prophet Isaiah.
Then chapters 40 through 66, that second part of the book, are prophecies of consolation. It's a different style altogether. So prominently in the first section of Isaiah, chapter 1 through 39, it's government and law. Those are the grand themes, government and law, both God's government and legal government, government and law. The second part of the book-- grace and love. You'll see it. You'll see it when we go through it next time.
Now, Isaiah the prophet happens to be the most frequently quoted Old Testament book prophet quoted from the Old Testament in the New Testament. It's very obvious that the New Testament authors knew the prophecies of Isaiah, especially in reference to the Messiah.
It's interesting that John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus who came and announced the Messiah-- when he first comes on the scene, he quotes out of the Book of Isaiah. "A voice of one crying in the wilderness," he says. "Make straight the way of the Lord." Right out of the Book of Isaiah, chapter 40.
Jesus quoted from the Book of Isaiah when He started His ministry. He went into Nazareth. Remember when He went into the synagogue? And He was the speaker who walked up to the podium. He opened up the scroll to Isaiah chapter 61. And He began, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor."
And He worked His way through the prophecy, closed the scroll, and He said, "Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." I'm here to fulfill what Isaiah predicted, quoting Isaiah chapter 61. 21 times Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament. He is called the messianic prophet.
He is the only prophet in Scripture to specifically predict the Messiah will be born of a virgin. There are other allusions to it. But the specific reference comes out of Isaiah chapter 7, that the woman, the virgin will conceive-- the Lord will give you a sign. A virgin will conceive and bear a son. And she'll call His name Immanuel, Matthew says, which is translated God with us. It is the messianic prophecy that specifically mentions the virgin birth.
Also, Isaiah is the only prophet that calls Satan Lucifer. We understand one of his names because of the prophecy of Isaiah. Now, he's not the only one to speak about Satan. There are two Old Testament prophets that speak about Lucifer, Satan, the devil and give a little more description. One is Isaiah. The other is Ezekiel.
But in Isaiah chapter 14, we get the name Lucifer. "How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning." O you who did weaken the nations, you're cut down to the ground, for you said in your heart, I will ascend above the throne of God. I will rise up to the stars of God. I will be like the most high. So his name is given in the Book of Isaiah.
Now, Isaiah-- Yesha'yahu is a Hebrew word that means salvation is of the Lord or the salvation of the Lord, the salvation of God. Now, that's an interesting name because the word salvation shows up 31 times in the 66 chapters of Isaiah. OK, now we haven't even started in verse 1 yet, and we have 39 chapters to go. I know. Again, 30,000 feet. So hold on.
Some people-- Dr. Collins was mentioning that Isaiah was written by Isaiah. He said that. And I agree with him. But not everybody would agree with him. There are some scholars who are of the more liberal persuasion in scholarship. They do not regard any miraculous occurrences in the Scripture. They don't believe that God orchestrated the writing of the text.
So they have come up with an interesting theory called the Deutero-Isaiah theory that there wasn't one Isaiah, one author, but two authors, that chapters 1 through 39 was written by Isaiah. but chapters 40 through 66 was written around 540 BC after the captivity and by either a student of Isaiah or just by somebody else.
So they come up with the two author or Deutero-Isaiah theory. Now, there's another theory called the Trito-- T-R-I-T-O-- Isaiah theory, that the last 11 chapters were penned by yet another author. So these crazy things get spun, and people get fascinated by them. And they get shaken by them when the college professor says that. And they come and ask us, well, I heard this. And then they're all weirded out in their faith.
All you have to do is look at the New Testament authors who were Jewish who were closer to the time they were uttered or penned than we are. So you have John who quotes both sections of Isaiah, the first part and the second part, what they were called Deutero-Isaiah written by somebody other than Isaiah.
And when he quotes the first part and when he quotes the second part, he says, "As was spoken by Isaiah the prophet." Even Jesus Himself quotes out of the second part of Isaiah, saying that it was Isaiah who said it.
So that's good enough for me-- the authors of the Scripture, Jewish in their orientation, much closer to the events that happened than we are. It wasn't really until the last century that people started disputing the idea of Isaiah writing it. So those are the theories of the authorship of Isaiah.
You're going to see that Isaiah ministered during the reign of four kings. That's verse 1 of chapter 1. The four kings are mentioned. Actually, there is another king that is not mentioned where Isaiah ended his ministry during this king. And that is one of the most wicked men in all of the Bible called King Manesseh.
Now, I bring him up because tradition says that Isaiah died by King Manesseh murdering him. And the tradition is they took the prophet Isaiah, took a hollowed-out log, put Isaiah in that hollowed-out log in a very uncomfortable position, then took a huge saw, and sawed the log in half, cutting him in two. That's the tradition.
I'm bringing that up because in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, in that hall of fame, of faith-- remember that section-- it says, "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of aliens." Not from outer space but foreigners.
"Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourges, yes, of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned." Again, literally. Not--
--the other way. "They were stoned. They were sawn in two." The writer of Hebrews says, "Sawn in two. They were tempted, slain by the sword. They wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins," et cetera. It's believed that the author of Hebrews was alluding to that tradition and thus, perhaps because if he's referring to Isaiah, the fact that it was Manesseh who killed him by sawing him in two.
Now, something else I got to tell you. In 1946, a great discovery was made just south of the Dead Sea in these little rocky, sandy hills in the ancient Essene community. They're called the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scroll of Isaiah itself was found-- 24 feet long, a single huge scroll.
What we had in the Dead Sea Scrolls when we discovered that-- when they discovered that-- I wasn't around, 1946. But when they discovered that in 1946, now what they had in their hands was not only Isaiah but all these other Old Testament books. We had an Old Testament manuscript 1,100 years older than the earliest manuscript we had until that date.
You follow me? Up till that date, the oldest Old Testament manuscript in existence was called the Ben Asher codex discovered in Egypt, which is the basis for what we call the Masoretic Text, which your Old Testament is based off of the Masoretic Text.
So the Masoretic Text is around 1895 AD. That was the oldest text we had. Now, in finding the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholarship has a text of the Old Testament 1,100 years earlier. OK, stop right there. There must be lots of mistakes and discrepancies if you have something 1,100 years earlier than that.
Let's see what it really said, and let's see how different it is with that passage of time. You would expect enormous differences. When they examined the scroll of Isaiah, the only thing they discovered was the absence of mistakes. Only nine Hebrew letters were different. Just variant spellings is all.
Nine letters difference from the Ben Asher codex, Masoretic Text, and the Dead Sea Scrolls 1,100 years later. Shows you the meticulous nature of the copying and recopying of the scribes in their discipline. Amazing. Wanted to bring that up. I get stoked at that stuff.
OK, so part 1, yeah, the Book of Isaiah, we got to get to this. OK, so the first part, first 39 chapters all about condemnation, proclamations of judgment, announcements of judgment on Judah, on surrounding nations, on Babylon, on Assyria, and on Israel as well as Israel and Judah together.
And then there's a little interesting section. I'm just giving you a little prelude to where we're going tonight. There's this little intermission that is four chapters long, chapters 24 through 27, which I'm just going to whet your appetite with now, and I'll explain it as we get to it.
One of the notable features of all prophecy, and it's seen in Isaiah, though we're not going to be able to really uncover this-- we have done it in the past-- is the near/far fulfillment. Are you familiar with that? So the prophets-- picture it this way. They wore bifocals. I'm doing that because I have to do that.
I have a progressive lens, they call it. It's progressive in that it's just sort of-- you can see up close, but then as you work your way up to the top of the lens, you can see at a distance. And I find that I need that or I need the contacts I have in my head right now, one to focus on up close, one to focus at a distance.
That's how the prophets often wrote. With one part of their meaning, part of their vision, they were focusing up close on something that would happen in the very near future, given the circumstances around them at the time. And at the same time, like a variable focal length on a camera, they could zoom out to the future.
So in one breath, they might say something's going to happen in a few years, and it did. But then that becomes a template of a greater fulfillment. And it's obvious by the context that it is far reaching, sometimes worldwide, et cetera. So there is a near/far fulfillment. The prophets did this a lot. It's one of the particular aspects of Hebrew prophecy.
So Isaiah chapter 1, verse 1, we begin with the denunciation against Judah. Do you know what I mean when I say Judah? Do you know what I mean when I say Israel? Once again, let me give you the delineation. Judah is the name not of just the tribe.
But now when I say it in Isaiah, I'm speaking of the Southern kingdom of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. When I say Israel, I don't mean all the 12 tribes. I mean 10 tribes that are up north, the rest of the 12 tribes. So 2 and 10-- Israel is the 10 tribes. Judah are the two southern tribes. Judah is the southern kingdom.
Isaiah is a prophet to the southern kingdom, those two tribes. And this is a denunciation of Judah for their failure to trust God. Verse 1-- "The vision of Yesha'yahu," or Isaiah, "the son of Amoz," not the son of Amos. Amos was a prophet.
By the way, he was a prophet concurrent to Isaiah. He was a contemporary of Isaiah. But he was preaching to the northern kingdom, so he's not around. Amoz is somebody different. We don't know anything about him other than his name.
So Isaiah was the son of Amoz, "which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah." And it describes them as kings of Judah. Why is that important? It tells us how long this dude's ministry was-- 50 years in the pulpit. Isaiah preached for about 50 years. He influenced the nation for 50 years. I know I've only made it through one verse.
Bear with me. You were hoping that I would do it in three weeks instead of two. You might get your wish.
When you think of a prophet, you think of them foretelling the future, right? That's only part of prophecy. The other part of prophecy is forthtelling, speaking forth at the circumstance, at the time of need the nation was going through. It would be a message of God speaking forth to the nation about what they were going through.
Isaiah isn't just foretelling their future, but he is forthtelling their failure, their failure to obey God. Now, what do I mean, failure to obey God? One of the problems Judah had, same temptation that Israel up north had, and that is making alliances with other nations for protection rather than just trusting God.
It's hard to do, trusting God for your well-being, for your future. After all, the Assyrians had already captured and occupied the northern kingdom in 722 BC. I know you know that date already. We've gone through it. 722 BC, the Assyrians took over and occupied the northern kingdom.
150 years later, the southern kingdom is still a free nation. They're not under the Assyrian occupation. But the Assyrians are marching toward them. So they are facing the temptation to go make an alliance with a big superpower down south called Egypt.
If you'll be our friends, we'll sign a treaty. We'll give you a bunch of money. And then if the big bad Babylonians come and start wanting to beat us up, you be the big brother who beats them up. Deal? Deal. That's the alliance.
The northern kingdom tried that and failed. They did make an alliance with Egypt. 722 BC came along. The Assyrians still took them over. Isaiah is speaking to the south, telling them, don't make the same mistake. Verse 2-- "Hear, O heaven. Give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken-- 'I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.
The ox knows its owner, the donkey its master's crib. But Israel does not know. My people do not consider. Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evil doers, children who are corruptors. They have forsaken the Lord. They have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel. They have turned away backward."
Verse 12-- "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices. Incense is an abomination to Me. The new moons, the Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates. They are a trouble to Me. I am weary of bearing them."
What's all this about? What is God referring to through Isaiah? He's speaking about all the prayers, all the religious feasts, all the sacrifices that God established. Do you get that? God told him to do it. Now God says, oh, when you do it, it stinks.
Well, wait a minute. You're the one that told us to do that stuff, to make those sacrifices, make these prayers, go to the temple courts, bring the animals. Now You're saying, don't trouble Me with that stuff. You know why? Because God never separates the worship you bring and the worshipper who brings it.
We separate that. We try to compartmentalize that. This is who I am when I come to church. This is who I am really in the real world. God says, I see you all the time. I don't separate your worship from you the worshipper. I know how you're living. But then you're being religious when you come to the temple. And God says, I've had enough.
"When you spread"-- verse 15-- "out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood." Verse 18, here's the answer. "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'"
Isaiah from here onward launches into a series of sermons denouncing the sins of the people and the sins of their leaders. I want you to go to chapter 5 to a familiar passage. Verse 1-- "Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard. My Well-beloved had a vineyard on a very fruitful hill.
He dug it up, cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst. He also made a wine press in it. So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. 'And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge please between Me and My vineyard.'"
Here's a picture of God planting a vineyard, giving every opportunity to the ground to produce fruit. But it is fruitless. So He's not going to continue to work it. And He asked the people listening to this, judge between Me and My vineyard. What should be done?
This should ring a bell. It should ring a bell because Jesus gave a parable called the Parable of the Vinedressers. Do you remember that parable in Matthew 21? He said to the crowd one day, let Me tell you a story.
There's a guy who owned a vineyard. And he put a hedge around the vineyard. And he planted it with the choicest vine. And he built a wine press in it. And he even put a tower on it as a lookout tower. So he just dolled the place up.
Then he rented it out to tenant farmers. And about vintage time, he decided, I want to see how that vineyard is doing and take some of its fruit. That was his prerogative. So he sent servants to go gather some of the product. And Jesus said, when they came, those servants were beaten up, stoned, and killed. So he sent more, and they did the same.
Finally, the owner said, I know what I'll do. I'll send my own son. Surely they'll respect him. As soon, Jesus said, as they saw the son, they said, that's the heir. Let's kill him. And the inheritance will be ours. And Jesus asked them to judge what God should do. And they all say, got to destroy those people and give it to others.
And Jesus basically said, OK, you'll get your wish. He's going to take it from you, Israel, and give it to the Gentiles, which caused quite a reaction. The Scripture says they perceived that He spoke this parable against them. They knew this parable. That's why they perceived it was against them. He is using the very words of Isaiah to give that parable in Matthew 21.
So Isaiah is painting a very bleak picture but not a hopeless one because in the midst of the mess comes a messenger. I like that about God. We say, oh, the world's so dark. What a mess. Awesome time, great opportunity, perfect timing for a messenger.
Send a messenger in the midst of the mess who brings the message of light. And so the messenger is Isaiah the prophet. Chapter 6, his calling comes to us as God gives him a vision of His majesty to prepare him, the prophet Isaiah, and to prosecute them, the people of the land.
Verse 1-- "In the year that King Uzziah's died"-- very significant little phrase. Now we can date this prophecy. 739 BC is when King Uzziah, good king who had reigned for about 51, 52 years, brought great reforms. But the good king is dead.
And when you have a good leader who's been a good leader and brought economic stability and righteousness for 52 years, when that leader dies, people have a tendency to go, oh, no, now what? Now we're lost. Now we're toast. The throne is empty. And probably Isaiah was thinking, oh, man, the throne is empty. So God gives him a vision of His own throne.
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim," angelic beings. "Each one had six wings. With two, he covered his face." So they couldn't look directly at God.
"With two, he covered his feet," acknowledging the lowliness of their position before God. "And with two, he flew." How fun would that be? "And one cried to another and said, 'Holy, holy, holy.'" He's not just holy. And he's not just holy, holy. He's holy, holy, holy. This is called the Trisagion or the thrice repetition of the word holy, acknowledging his supreme holiness.
"'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out. And the house was filled with smoke. And so I said, 'woe is me.'" Now, Isaiah was influential. Isaiah perhaps was even royalty. Certainly he was upper echelon, upper crust, blue blood.
So it would be easy for a guy like Isaiah to go, wow is me. I just saw a vision of God. Wow is me. I've heard people on television-- I had a vision, a dream of God. And they write books about it. And it's like, wow is me. Not Isaiah. He saw god and said, "Woe is me."
And that's important. "Woe is me, for I am undone because I'm a man of unclean lips. I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." You see, when you get a true vision of God, you see yourself in the light of who God is.
And it's never wow is me. It's wow is God, but woe is me because I see myself next to him. Peter, when he recognized it was Jesus who calmed the sea and could walk on water and that He is the Son of God, he realized he was in the boat with Him, Peter just said this. "Depart from me, Lord. I'm a sinful man." Not get a picture with me and Jesus. I'm going to post it.
It's like I'm not even fit to be seen with you. "Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar." Speaks of cleansing from sin. "And he touched my mouth with it, and he said, 'Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away. Your sin is purged.'" Special cleansing for special service. He's called to be a great prophet.
"So I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I. Send me.'" So this important vision-- in a leaderless kingdom, God is still in charge on the throne, sending a messenger with a message in the midst of the mess.
Now, in chapter 7 and 9, even in this midst of condemnation and negative proclamation, in the early ministry of Isaiah, there are predictions of the Messiah, his birth and his reign. But it is going to be fulfilled in the future. But it's couched in the local prophecies about the king on the throne at the time, King Ahaz.
So for example, chapter 7, verse 14, that famous prophetic passage-- "The Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and call his name Immanuel." That's chapter 7. That's the famous prophecy. Followed by chapter 8, where we have the birth of Isaiah's own son, his second son with the longest name of any kid ever-- Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.
Poor kid. You know Johnny Cash used to sing that song, "A Boy Named Sue"? How about a boy named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz? You think he would be made fun of? Yeah, I bet he was. It's an odd name. And if you're looking for biblical names, please skip that one. It would be an odd baby dedication.
But the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Bar means speed the spoil, hasten the booty. And the name of the son was a prophecy of the coming judgment, that they're going to despoil the surrounding region of Jerusalem and Judea. Judgment is coming soon, in other words.
Followed by chapter 9. So you got 7, 8, and 9-- another messianic prophecy. Chapter 6-- "For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. The government will be upon his shoulders." And it's over the house of David, et cetera. So you have this kind of mix of local and far off, hopeless, hopeful prophecies all in one.
John Phillips, who wrote commentaries, his comments on this book-- he said this one moment, his book is black with the thunder and darkness of the storm, the next the rainbow shines through, and he sweeps readers on to the golden age that still lies ahead. Get used to that near and far stuff. Isaiah does it a lot.
Again, we see in chapter 11, verse 1, great prediction of Jesus. "There shall come forth a Rod." My Bible has a capital R. Does yours? R, Rod, because the translators are saying, we believe this refers to a person, the Messiah, Jesus. "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse. A branch shall grow out of his roots."
Jesse, the Father of David, David whose dynasty God promised blessing and eternal kingdom to. David, the tree of David almost cut down, right? Because the kingdom was divided, split, two down south, 10 up north. Now there's a threat of captivity. The 10 northern tribes are already gone into captivity.
Now Judah is threatened with captivity and will indeed go into captivity. So if you were to look at the lineage of David and the promises God made to King David as a tree, man, that tree got chopped down. But go down to that stump. And look really closely at that stuff.
And you'll see this little stem just poking up through that dead wood, it would seem, but not dead-- a little stem, a little rod coming up. What's that? There's still life in it. And that life will blossom one day. There's going to be a branch. And that branch is the Messiah, the son of David, the offspring of King David.
And you say, well, how do you know it speaks of a person? Maybe it speaks of the nation. Because of Verse 2-- "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him," singular, "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." So here is Isaiah predicting a future restoration under this branch under the Messiah.
Chapters 13 through 23 are a bunch of burdens, they're called in the Scripture, burdens-- the burden against this nation, the burden against that nation. A burden is a pronouncement. It is an oracle. Isaiah got a message from God.
It weighed on him. It was a burden to him. And he unbore, unleashed his burden on the people. He was faithful to give it to them. So there's nine nations. I'm just going to read through them, just brush through them, nine burdens with nine nations.
Here's the deal about these nations. All of the nations mentioned are nations that had some contact with the nation of the Jews, Israel and Judah. Let's just call it Israel here. They touched Israel usually negatively. They hassled the Jews. So God said, I'm going to hassle you. You hassle Israel, I'm going to hassle you.
So chapter 13, verse 1-- "The burden against Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw." Followed by Assyria and Philistia, chapter 14. Followed by chapter 16, Moab, eastern side of the Jordan River. Followed by Damascus up in Syria, a superpower, chapter 17. Followed by Ethiopia in chapter 18. The burden against Egypt in chapter 19. The burden against Babylon again and Edom in chapter 21. And then chapter 23, the city of Tyre.
As I go through this list, you know what comes to my mind? What we read in the Book of Ecclesiastes. There is nothing new under the sun. These are the nations still hassling the Jews. To this day, many of them would love to see Israel annihilated completely, calling Israel the great Satan and the United States the little Satan. Not all of them, but many of them. They're occupied by people who deny the legitimacy of Israel to exist.
Now, why are these burdens given? Answer-- probably to reassure the Jewish people in the midst of conflict, later on in the midst of captivity that God still is on the throne, that God still has a plan. He's reassuring them of that great promise in Genesis chapter 12-- "Whoever blesses Israel I will bless. Whoever curses Israel I will curse."
So he's saying, don't despair. I'm going to punish Israel and Judah, the Jews. I'm going to punish them. But then I'm going to punish the people I used to punish them because they are still responsible. They are the ones saying, let's get rid of those Jews.
Let's mount siege engines against them, and let's annihilate them and destroy them. So that is in their heart to do that. I'm going to hold them responsible for their choice. But in their choice, because I'm God and I'm sovereign, I'm going to actually use them as a chastening rod for my people. Do you understand?
So if you don't, let me reinforce that with-- the prophet Habakkuk complained to God that his own people, the children of Israel, were sinful and bad and doing wrong things. And, God, you ought to punish them. So God says, well, Habakkuk, since you're bringing it up, I want you to know that I'm going to do something that's going to cause your ears to tingle and everybody else who hears about it.
I'm actually bringing the Babylonians as my chastening rod to take your people captive. I am going to do something about it. Then Habakkuk gets all mad again at God. God, I know we're bad, but they're worse. Why would you use somebody worse to get at somebody bad? Because it's going to work.
It's going to work. It's going to cause repentance. And I'm going to bring you back into the land. And for their sin of wanting to destroy you, don't worry. I'll get them. It's an amazing display of God's sovereignty. So it's sort of like this. Let's say I break into your house. I never would.
But for the sake of analogy, you see, hey, Pastor Skip is breaking into our house.
And so you call the police, rightly so. You call them to protect yourself. But when the police come to arrest me to protect you, they discover in your house a meth lab.
Now it's different. And they notice above your fireplace the original Mona Lisa that you've stolen from the Louvre in Paris. And so now you're really in trouble. They've come to arrest me, and they're going to get me for what I did. But you're also guilty of crime. So guess what? You're going to probably be in longer than I am. So God is using all of that this way.
Chapter 23, verse 1-- "The burden"-- there it is again. "The burden against Tyre." You know Tyre. It's right up on the Mediterranean coast, north of Israel, modern day Lebanon, ancient Venetia. "The burden against Tyre. Wail"-- now listen carefully to this prophecy.
"Wail, you ships of Tarshish. For it is laid waste so that there is no house, no harbor. From the land of Cyprus, it is revealed to them. Be still, you inhabitants of the coast land, you merchants of Sidon"-- that city next to Tyre-- "whom those who cross the sea have filled." Stop there.
After this prediction was made, Tyre, the city of Tyre was besieged five times. The last time it was besieged, it was destroyed by a guy named Alexander. Yes, that Alexander, Alexander the Great. Now, it says here in verse 2, "whom those who crossed the sea have filled," right? So you got that before you.
Now listen to this. This is another prophecy to the same city out of Ezekiel chapter 26. God says, "I will scrape her dust from her and make her like the top of the rock." OK, hold those thoughts.
Philip of Macedon, ruler of Macedonia, had a boy named Alexander. He didn't think he'd amount to much. He thought Alex was a good kid, but he's not going to really be much of anything. He's a bookworm. He's kind of an indoor kid. That's how Alexander was at first.
So Philip decides to hire a tutor for him by the name of Aristotle to be the personal tutor to Alexander. Well, in the midst of his education, Philip of Macedon is murdered. The murder is blamed on-- oh, who came after Babylon?
Persians, but-- Medes and the Persians. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. It happens at my age.
The Medo-Persian Empire is blamed for Philip of Macdeon's death. Something comes over Alexander. He decides to take up his father's cause and march against the Medo-Persians. He comes to Tyre. It's a very swift amassment of troops to meet for the battle, and this battle has been made into movies.
But he comes to Tyre and asks for supplies. They reject the request. So Alexander wants to lay siege to the city. Well, here's the problem. The city at one time that was on the coast had been almost annihilated at one time by the Babylonians. So the people who were left moved the whole city to an island a half mile off the coast. So the city of Tyre is now an island off the coast.
By the time Alexander the Great gets there and he sees the kind of city he's up against, an island, he says, I can't defeat them. The Phoenicians are masters at warfare by sea. I'm not. So what does he do? He builds a causeway.
He builds a jetty using the materials from that city that had been destroyed. He essentially scrapes the dust and all the materials off of the city, piles it in the sea, makes a jetty, and attacks and destroys the city of Tyre. So, again, "you merchants of Sidon, whom those who cross the sea have filled." And then Ezekiel 26, "I will scrape her dust from her and make her like the top of the rock."
I'm going into this detail for this reason. It should make you think logically that if events predicted in the past have been fulfilled to that degree of accuracy, whenever you read future predictions yet unfulfilled, you should sober up and take them to heart. It's the word of God. And if God can do that and speak of these things in advance, then the rest of it you can take to the bank.
And this is God's calling card. Isaiah 46-- God says, "I am God. There is no other. I am God. There is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done." That's the awesome nature of prophecy.
Well, in the midst of the prophecies of condemnation comes this little section I told you about, this intermission, the next four chapters, chapters 24 through 27. It's a parenthetical set of chapters. Think of it as a pause. Think of it as an intermission in a movie so you can get up and get popcorn, OK? And come back.
It's an intermission scholars call Isaiah's little apocalypse. The language now becomes more vague, more worldwide, more all encompassing than the previous chapters. And they interface with-- they parallel with what occurs in Revelation chapter 6 through 20, the great tribulation period on into the millennial kingdom, from the tribulation into the kingdom age.
So it speaks here about the day of the Lord. And the day of the Lord is the eschatological day of the Lord, that future ultimate day of the Lord in the tribulation period. Jesus said in Matthew 24, "Then there will be great tribulation such as not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."
In this little pericope, this little set of verses, this parenthetical statement is that little apocalypse. Chapter 24, verse 1-- "Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty, makes it waste, distorts its surface, scatters abroad its inhabitants." Verse 4-- "The earth mourns and fades away. The world languishes and fades away. The haughty people of the earth languish."
Earth is mentioned in that passage that I just read three times. It's alluded to five times. In the whole set of chapters, it's mentioned frequently. God is judging the Earth. There is today-- I'm going to call it an environmental atheism-- Mother Earth.
Respect your mother, the bumper sticker says. And it has a picture of the Earth on it. Ever since 1970, I think April 22nd is Earth Day. Hey, you know what? I'm all for being a good steward of what God put in our hands. I'm all for taking care of the Earth because it's a stewardship. It's given by God.
I believe in creation care but not to the point where it becomes idolatrous and we worship Mother Earth or Mother Nature, as she is called. We're simply stewards. And I'm bringing this up because you need to be forewarned if you're an Earth bound, Earth worshiping whatever that, yes, we have messed up the Earth. But let me just say, if you think we've messed it up, wait till you see what God does with it.
He will absolutely trash this planet in the tribulation period. And it's his prerogative. You know why? The Earth is the Lord's, the Bible says, and the fullness thereof. So there's going to be a point-- and it's fleshed out in detail, more detail in Matthew 24 by Jesus but certainly the great detail of Book of Revelation chapter 6 through 20 that day of the Lord.
Verse 19-- "The earth is utterly broken down. The earth is split open. The earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard. It shall be removed like a cottage. The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall and not rise again."
I don't want to belabor this. Some scholars see in this a possible polar shift, which many scientists say is a possibility. It's an interesting possibility. I don't know if I'm going to go that far. But I do know that in the tribulation period, the kind of cataclysms that are described are, well, monumental, right? Where huge population bases of the Earth are decimated because of the natural phenomenon taking place on the Earth.
If you were to look at the moon through a telescope, you suddenly realize that our universe is not docile. You look at the surface of the moon, and you see the pockmarks from all the activity of things slamming into and making all those craters, right? When you see them on the moon, they're pretty sizable.
Now, the Earth has been called the inhabitable zone, that in the universe, there's just a strange thing about where the Earth is positioned in the alignment of the planets. It's like it's been protected from the kind of cosmic battering that others, even our moon, have experienced.
But if we just go a few miles west over the border, there's the Barringer Crater, which is a mile wide, 500 some feet deep. That is put there by a single asteroid at some point in history past. That hitting of the Earth caused such a devastation as can be seen. And I encourage you to go see it at some point. It's amazing.
The surface impact that created that great Barringer Crater is or was 40 million tons of TNT's worth of surface impact. In other words, when that asteroid hit the Earth, it created the kind of blast equal to a thousand-- 1,000 times greater destructive power than the bombs that went off at Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together.
In Revelation, the Book of Revelation, one of the judgments on the Earth is great hail from heaven fell upon men, and each hailstone will weigh a talent. A talent is 125 pounds. Some of you remember those old ice houses. I used to work in one as a kid. You could get 25-pound blocks of ice for a couple bucks. Anybody remember those? No? OK, so I do.
And was at Hugo's Delicatessen where I worked. And I'd go out there and chip off the ice blocks and sell it to a customer, 25-- and, man, they're like sizable chunks of ice. Imagine a block of ice not 25 pounds, 125 pounds. They're going to strike the Earth, causing real damage. You say now, why would that happen?
Well, did you know that in the Old Testament, the punishment according to the law of Moses for blasphemy was stoning? It's as if God is saying because of the unrepentant blasphemy that will fill the Earth, God is stoning the Earth for it.
Now chapters 25 to 27 are happy chapters. After all of that messy ice stuff, we get the kingdom age. It gets good. It's this little hint of coming attractions. The king takes his rightful place. It's filled with songs of praise, songs of salvation.
I want to bring you ahead to chapter 26, verse 20. "Come, my people. Enter your chambers and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment until the indignation is past." A possible-- I'm not saying necessary-- but possible hint at the rapture. "For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth"-- that is the tribulation-- "for their iniquity. The earth will also disclose her blood and will no more cover her slain."
Go down to chapter 27, verse 6. "Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob. Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit." This is a prophecy of the kingdom age, the millennial kingdom, the thousand-year kingdom age that the Bible speaks about, mentions in Revelation but really is detailed in the book of Isaiah.
I worked in Israel for about six months on a farm. And I saw the kind of fruit production that that country was capable of. Now that was 40 years ago when I lived there and worked there. That's a long time ago.
So when Israel became a nation, since 1948, the cultivation has increased the cultivation of land from 408,000 acres to presently over 1.07 million acres, so that Israel today-- not even the millennial kingdom yet. Israel today is the fourth largest exporter of fruit in the world.
So I like reading this-- going to fill the world with fruit. This is just now. This is just the beginning. Can't wait to see what happens in the millennium under the reign of the Messiah and the fruit of righteousness and peace with it. Now there's a series of woes in the next few chapters. We're moving pretty well here, speedily through this, although time's up. And--
Woe is me if I keep going and violate my promise to you. So I'm going to heed the woe and go, whoa, slow down. And we'll pick up the rest next time, shall we? Father, thank you. I know I get excited about these things and maybe take too much longer than I should.
But nonetheless, we thank you, Father, for the amazing predictions of a man who lived when he did and yet was able to see such clarity, especially things concerning the Messiah, a virgin birth, his name called God with us, a person who would be born, a son who would be given who is the Prince of Peace, and the mighty God, the Everlasting Father.
All of that could only be fulfilled in one person. And then he saw-- Isaiah 53-- the suffering servant, the crucifixion of Jesus. And it's just so unmistakable.
Father, I'm wondering if perhaps somebody is here who maybe for the first time has considered the power of prophetic Scripture. We're not dealing with another holy book like so many others that are in this world. It is filled with very detailed complex predictions that nobody could ever know in advance and yet written in advance.
So that when it happens-- and it has, so much of it-- we're blown away. And it draws us to believe in You and to place our faith in You for the rest of it. But some of you-- some people here haven't even begun by trusting in the God who created them and placed them here not by accident but on purpose. They have a purpose.
But, Lord, they're wandering until they place their trust in You. I pray that some here would just take a simple step of faith in saying yes to the hero of the Bible, Jesus Himself, the one who said come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest.
I pray that some might put their trust in Jesus right here tonight, heads bowed, eyes closed. You're here tonight. You've never given your life to Christ or perhaps raised in a religious home, but you're not walking-- you're not obeying Him. Maybe you need to rededicate your life. Maybe you just need to actually dedicate your life where it's real and honest and truthful.
If you've never done that, I want to give you an opportunity right now to invite Jesus into your life, into your heart. If you want to do that, with our heads bowed, our eyes closed, I want you to raise your hand up in the air. Keep it up for just a moment.
I'm going to keep my eyes open so I can acknowledge you and I can pray for you. I need to know who I'm praying for. God bless you and you right there to my right in the middle and right a few rows back and a couple of you on the right again over here and up front. Anyone else? Raise that hand. Raise it up high.
Our Father, we just thank You for these and pray that You give them the strength to live for You. We pray that You will change these lives, forgiving of sin. We know you'll do that. Not counting it against them, we know you'll do that. But then I pray they'll take Your word and Your spirit to heart. And You will change the behavior, change the pattern of thinking and change these lives.
In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. Let's all stand. I know it's over time. But as we sing this last song, if you raise your hand, I'm going to ask you to do something very quickly. Get up from where you're standing right now. Find an aisle and stand right up here. Come right up front. I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ.
I want you to know that you know that you know that tonight was the night you said yes to Jesus. You just get up and come. If you raised your hand in the front, in the middle, on the side, I'm going to wait for you. I'm going wait for you till you come. But you get up here and make that stand for Jesus. You can hear the encouragement of those around you.
(SINGING) Dry bones awaken. The Lord is in this place.
(SINGING) The Lord is in this place.
Come on up.
(SINGING) Not for a minute was I forsaken. The Lord--
So glad you came.
(SINGING) --is in this place. The Lord--
Come on over.
(SINGING) --is in this place. Oh.
Those of you who have come, now's the moment. I'm going to lead you in a prayer to say, Jesus, come into my life. Now this is you talking to God. So if it's possible, tune all of us out and say these words from your heart directly to your God.
Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know I'm a sinner.
I'm know I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in Jesus.
That He came from heaven.
That He came from heaven.
That He died on a cross.
That He died on a cross.
That He shed His blood for me.
That He shed His blood for me.
That He rose again.
That He rose again.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus the Savior.
I turn to Jesus the Savior.
And to live for Him as Lord.
And to live For Him as Lord.
It's in His name I pray.
It's in His name I pray.
Come on. That's so good.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 Feet.