SS Lesson for 09/11/2016
Devotional Scripture: Rev 21:1-7
The lesson reviews, for understanding, the concepts pretaining to The Mountain of God. The study's aim is to see the connections between the future mountain of God and our lives today. The study's application is to rejoice in the sovereignty of God in His provisions for us today.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.
This chapter is a praise psalm extolling the Lord’s deliverance of His people. Soon after God in His judgment will wipe out sinful people (chap. 24) the Messiah’s glorious kingdom will begin. In poetry Isaiah described the praise that will be ascribed to the Lord in the Millennium for His marvelous work.
Praise to the Lord for the coming kingdom.
25:1-5. Speaking in the first person Isaiah described the situation which will exist when the kingdom is established on the earth. The prophet ascribed praise to the Lord’s name (His revealed character) for His marvelous acts of judgment (vv. 2-3) and deliverance (vv. 4-5). God’s judgment on the city, representative of the world (cf. 24:12-13), will cause peoples from ruthless nations to honor and revere God. This will fulfill the promise given Abraham that all the world’s nations will be blessed through Israel (Gen. 12:3). The theme of Gentiles knowing and worshiping God in the kingdom is common in the prophets (see, e.g., Isa. 2:3; 11:9; 49:7; 56:6; 66:20-21; Zech. 14:16-19; Mal. 1:11). When the Lord will establish His kingdom on the earth, a reversal of fortunes will occur (Isa. 25:4-5). The poor (dal, “feeble, weak, helpless”) and the needy (ʾeb̠yôn, “oppressed”) will be rescued and the ruthless will be stilled. God’s care for the poor and the needy is mentioned many times in the Old and New Testaments. The reversal of fortunes, in which those who depend on God are helped and those who depend on themselves are judged, is a major theme of Scripture (e.g., 1 Sam. 2:1-10; James 5:1-6). The ruthless in their harsh treatment of others are like a storm and the oppressive desert heat. But God’s judgment on them will be like a cloud that suddenly covers the sun, thus limiting its heat.
Effects of the coming kingdom (25:6-12).
25:6. God’s deliverance of His people in the kingdom is pictured as a banquet feast on the mountain of the Lord Almighty. Mountains are often symbols of governmental authority (e.g., Dan. 2:44-45) but here the mountain probably refers to Jerusalem (Mount Zion) from which the Messiah will rule in the kingdom. Food will be provided for all peoples, which fact once again stresses the worldwide extent of God’s kingdom over those who believe. This does not mean that everyone who lives in the Millennium will be saved (though only redeemed people will enter the Millennium at its beginning); instead it means that people in all areas of the world will be saved. The best of meats and the finest of wines picture God’s ability to supply the needs of His people during that time. Some Bible interpreters say this refers symbolically to God’s care for His people in the present age. However, Isaiah was speaking of a future time when (after God’s worldwide judgment) His people in Israel and other nations will feast together in peace and prosperity. This is the 1,000-year reign of Christ.
25:7-8. Death, pictured as a shroud and a sheet, the covering placed over a dead body, will be swallowed up or done away with. This will mean that tears of grief caused by the separation of the dead from the living also will be a thing of the past. This removal of death and wiping away of tears will take place at the end of the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Rev. 21:4), when death, Satan, and hell will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14) and the new heavens and new earth established (Rev. 21:1-3). Since God’s future kingdom includes both the Messiah’s millennial reign and the eternal state, Isaiah telescoped them together (cf. Isa. 65:17-25). Elsewhere the first and second comings of Christ are seen together (9:6-7; 61:1-3). The certainty of future prosperity and joy and absence of death would encourage Judah in Isaiah’s day to trust in the Lord and not lose heart.
25:9. In that day (cf. 24:21), the day when the believing remnant will be delivered, they (the saved ones) will affirm their trust in the Lord, who saved them. In response they will say let us rejoice and be glad in the salvation He provided. Meanwhile, in Isaiah’s day, believers in Judah were to rejoice in the Lord’s salvation.
25:10-12. Isaiah referred to Moab as representing those who oppose God and will be judged by Him. Moab was east of Israel across the Dead Sea. Israel and Judah had many altercations with Moab, that was known for her pride (v. 11; cf. 16:6). She felt that the works of her hands and her cleverness would protect her, but it would not. Moab—and all God’s enemies—will be totally destroyed, trampled, and brought down... low (cf. 26:5) to the very dust. Only God’s people, in Israel and in other nations, will enjoy God’s time of prosperity and blessing.
Isaiah 24 through 27 is often called Isaiah's apocalypse, for these chapters focus on events related to the end times, with chapter 25 speaking specifically about the blessings of the kingdom (Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, Moody). Isaiah's prophecy reveals more about the coming millennial reign of Christ on earth than any other book of the Bible. So when John the Baptist and then Jesus Christ arrived on the scene, preaching that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17), people immediately—and rightly— thought of Isaiah's descriptions of the glorious kingdom to come. What they did not and could not understand was that the kingdom in its full, literal, and physical manifestation awaits Christ's second coming. God's wiping away of "tears from off all faces" is a promise repeated in Revelation 21:4. However, the Revelation passage refers to the eternal state that follows Christ's thousand-year reign on earth, after He has "delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father" (I Cor. 15:24). The text has the millennial kingdom in view, and the promise seems to apply specifically to Israel, the Jewish people, as the following phrase suggests. Their tears wilt be no more, for they will rest in the loving care of the Saviour, their Messiah, free from the suffering of the past. The removal of Israel's tears will be the result of the Lord's taking away "the rebuke of his people ... from off all the earth." The Hebrew word translated "rebuke" here means "scorn," or "reproach." In its verb form, it can mean "taunt." Its use in Proverbs 14:31 shows that it is "the antithesis of ... honor" (Harris, Archer, and Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody). God's promise is that when the kingdom arrives, He will remove Israel's disgrace, or dishonor. Israel was uniquely chosen by God to be His special people and to bear witness to the world of their all-powerful, just, but gracious God. The Old Testament recounts Israel's repeated failures—from disobeying His law, to rejecting His prophets, to abandoning the Lord and embracing idolatry. It is a sad history, and Israel alone bore the blame for their wickedness. Israel was and is undeserving of God's blessing; yet the Lord declared that by His grace alone in a future day, He will remove their disgrace. Israel will finally embrace their Messiah, and they will reap the benefits of the kingdom and of the Lord's pleasing presence. The Jewish people serve as an amazing example of the grace of God. In spite of their centuries of rebellion, God will redeem a believing remnant and shower them with His eternal blessings. The Jewish people are not alone, of course. We all have rebelled against our loving Creator, and it is only by His grace through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can enjoy His presence and blessing forever.
One weekend during the fall of 2013, our daughter and daughter-in-law planned a weekend getaway for our family at a cabin up in the Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The cabin turned out to be much farther up in the mountains than we first had thought; once we turned off the main highway, it was still another 30 or 40 minutes of curving and swerving our way up the road until we finally arrived at the cabin. Our family had never gone on an excursion like this, but it became one of our most memorable experiences. For my wife and me, having our children and grandchildren together in one place for three days created an array of truly precious memories. Of course, the day came when we had to come down from the mountaintop and face life back in the real world. That is typical of any “mountaintop experience”; eventually one has to return to the valley below. Many mountains are mentioned in the Bible, including Mounts Horeb, Gerizim, Ebal, Sinai, Nebo, Zion, Carmel, and Hermon (which may have been the mount of Jesus’ transfiguration). Some of the most significant events in Scripture occurred on those mountains. In today’s text Isaiah describes a mountain where some truly memorable events will take place in the future.
Our lesson title ties nicely into last week’s text from Isaiah 11:1-9. That passage concluded with the statement that nothing harmful or destructive is to have any place in God’s “holy mountain.” Today’s text comes from a section of the book that is often called “The Isaiah Apocalypse” (chapters 24-27). This is because the scenes pictured are similar to the apocalyptic language (which is imagery describing the end of the world) found in the book of Revelation (compare Zechariah 9-14; Mark 13:24-27). Using the kind of vivid symbolism found there, the prophet pictures the whole earth coming under the judgment of God. Isaiah 24 in particular uses such language, illustrated quite well by verse 20. There Isaiah’s apocalypse opens with a description of the Lord’s plans to devastate utterly.
The tone shifts rather abruptly with Isaiah 25, moving from somber words of judgment to words of praise to God. (Such a shift is not unusual in Isaiah or in other prophetic books.) God is praised for the “wonderful things” he has done (25:1), including being a source of strength to his people and bringing judgment on their enemies (vv. 2-5). The language at the conclusion of verse 5 is especially noteworthy: “The song of the ruthless is stilled.” Last week’s lesson highlighted the marvelous things that God’s Branch would accomplish. “The branch” of chapter 25 has a very different future from the one of chapter 24! Isaiah previously described “the mountain of the Lord” as a place where noteworthy events in God’s sovereign plan are to unfold. Isaiah 2:2-4 pictures the place as “established as the highest of the mountains,” a place to which “all nations will stream.” They will do so because that is where the house of the Lord is located, a place where his Word is taught. The reference suggests Jerusalem, or Zion; indeed, both Jerusalem and Zion are mentioned in Isaiah 2:3. This sets a backdrop for today’s study.
6 And in this mountain The Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees.
11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne
30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
25 "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."
7 And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
14 "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? "I will have no compassion,
10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
9 And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
10 For on this mountain the hand of the Lord will rest, and Moab shall be trampled down under Him, as straw is trampled down for the refuse heap.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
6 But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
46 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you,
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
The prophet reflects a personal knowledge of God; he is a saved person. He exalts and thanks Yahweh his God because He supernaturally and faithfully executed the outworking of plans that He had formulated long before. The singer is probably Isaiah himself, who projected himself into the future time that he envisioned (cf. chs40-66). He spoke for the redeemed of that time, the beginning of the Millennium. Since Old Testament saints will be resurrected at the beginning of the Millennium (Daniel 12:2), Isaiah himself may utter this prophetic psalm of praise in the future. Isaiah included more praise of God among his prophecies than any other Old Testament writing prophet. We might even think of him as a psalmist as well as a prophet.
Pilgrims on the march (25:1-5)
What did God do? He destroyed the city of Prayer of Manasseh , the world of city-state culture (cf. Isaiah 24:10), as He said He would. The city, since the time of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), was a biblical figure of self-salvation. In the Tribulation, God will humble the pride of man who seeks to save himself.
Strong people and groups of ruthless individuals will fear God and respect Him for what He has done. They will not necessarily become believers in Him, but they will acknowledge that He has done great things (cf. Revelation 9:20-21).
Specifically, they will confess how He delivered those who trusted in Him (during the Tribulation) in spite of the fierce antagonism of their enemies, which was like driving rain (cf. Psalm 61:2-4).
As a passing cloud provides relief from the heat during a drought, so the Lord gives His people relief by humbling the song of their ruthless foreign enemies.
"In either the sudden intensity of the cloudburst or the steady, enervating heat, life is threatened. Unless one has a stronghold against the flood (cf. Matthew 7:24-27) or a shade from the heat [ Psalm 121:5], there is no hope."
All who enter the Millennium-everyone who does will be a believer-will stream to Mount Zion ( Isaiah 24:23) where Yahweh will provide a joyful banquet for them. Amillennialists typically take Zion as a figurative representation of the church. According to Young, the banquet signifies "the spiritual blessings that God brings to mankind through His kingdom." Inaugural banquets were fairly customary when ancient Near Eastern kings were crowned (cf. 1 Samuel 11:15; 2 Samuel 6:18; 1 Kings 1:9; 1 Kings 1:19; 1 Kings 1:25; 1 Kings 8:62-65). The new king often bestowed favors on such occasions.
The coming great banquet (25:6-8)
Having delivered His people from the Tribulation and preserved them to enter His earthly kingdom, the Lord will invite them to rejoice with Him at a great banquet at the beginning of the Millennium (cf. Exodus 24:11).
The Lord will also remove the curse of death that has hung over humankind since the Fall (cf. Isaiah 26:19; Genesis 2:17; Job 19:26; Daniel 12:2; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Hebrews 2:15; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4; Revelation 22:3). This will occur at the end of the Millennium, after the final rebellion and God"s creation of new heavens and a new earth. Isaiah"s vision of the future followed the course of events that later revelation clarified, but he did not present the eschatological future as consisting of consecutive watertight compartments for two reasons. First, he did not see the future as clearly as later prophets did ( 1 Peter 1:10-12), and second, he described the future here as a poet rather than as a historian. Isaiah here telescoped the millennial and eternal reigns of God-both aspects constitute His future kingdom-as He did the first and second advents of Christ ( Isaiah 65:17-25).
Sovereign Yahweh will wipe the tears from each face ( Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4), as a loving mother, and will remove the disgrace to His people from living in slavery to sin (cf. Joshua 5:9; Ezekiel 5:13-17; Romans 11:11-27). This is a promise from the Lord. It was customary for an ancient Near Eastern king at his banquet to demonstrate his power by performing some heroic act.
The redeemed will rejoice that they are finally in the presence of the God, whose rule and care they had longed to be delivered to for so long (cf. Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 7:9-12). Finally, hope will have given way to sight, and Old Testament saints will rejoice because they are finally with their Savior (cf. Romans 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 13:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:12).
The great joy to come (25:9-12)
The last part of this chapter returns to the emphasis of the first part: the joy that will come to God"s people at this time.
The reason for their rejoicing is that God"s hand of blessing that will rest on Zion then. In contrast, Moab, representing the godless nations antagonistic to Israel in the parallel oracle (chs15-16), will suffer judgment and humiliation under His foot. The mountains of Moab are visible to the east from the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.
"The same pride which held Moab back from seeking security in the divine promises in an earthly crisis (cf. Isaiah 16:6) will exclude Moab from partaking of the heavenly promises. This is the ultimate tyranny of false choices."
Moab would try to swim out of his predicament, as he had relied on himself and tried to save himself in the past, but the Lord will punish his clever pride. None of Moab"s defenses against divine judgment will work. The Lord will bring them all down.
(Adapted from URL:http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-25.html)
The news programs will not let anyone go unreminded that today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many can recall exactly where they were or what they were doing on that dreadful morning in 2001 when news of the attacks began to roll in. Death is difficult in any circumstance, but especially so when it involves a tragedy like the attacks of 9/11, when 2,977 victims lost their lives. Yet death occurs regularly; about 7,000 people die each day in the U.S. alone. You can be sure that people are dealing with death’s bitter sting everywhere in the world at the very moment you are reading this. They are planning or taking part in funeral services, visiting gravesites of loved ones, going through the belongings of deceased family members, and taking all the other difficult steps that accompany death’s unwelcome presence. It can be hard in the face of death (particularly an unexpected or tragic death) to think of promises such as those in today’s text from Isaiah. We should not try to hide or mask our grief or act as if all is well. The presence of death in this world is a sign that all is not well. This world is still suffering the effects of sin’s terrible curse. Yes, in Christ there is personal victory and peace in all circumstances; but Christians still reside in this broken world and are not immune to its heartaches. Jesus’ weeping at the grave of Lazarus was evidence of the Son of God’s distress regarding death (John 11:35). Yet the resurrection of Lazarus that followed was indisputable proof of Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection and the life (11:25). Jesus’ enemies could not deny what he had done (11:45, 46); consequently, they plotted his death to put a stop to his growing influence (11:47-53). Their efforts proved futile, however, when Jesus himself arose from the dead. That was the ultimate validation of all his claims (Romans 1:4). Death can leave us shaken and staggering. But the historical certainty of Jesus’ resurrection gives ultimate credibility to his many promises, including this one: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Rest assured that Jesus will have the last and best word regarding death. At his return he will put death to death—forever.
Bill Gaither and his wife, Gloria, have written numerous popular Christian songs over the last five decades. One of their most beloved is “Because He Lives.” In some respects, little has changed in the world since the Gaithers composed “Because He Lives” over 40 years ago. There is still much turmoil. Wars are still fought. Skepticism and doubt about the existence or relevance of God are still voiced, sometimes with great boldness. People still become discouraged by their circumstances. Anniversaries such as 9/11, remembering what occurred 15 years ago, can be very painful. But in the midst of all of this, Jesus still lives and his promises are still true.
1. There will be a great celebration at the enthronement of the Messiah (Isa. 25:6)
2. There will be a magnificent feast at this celebration
3. God will defeat the power of death in the future kingdom (vss. 7-8)
4. There will be no more crying, for there will be nothing left to mourn for
5. God will remove the reproach of His people Israel
6. God's promised salvation for His people will finally be complete (vs. 9)
7. God's hand will rest on the mountain, providing security for His people (vs. 10)