Biblical Research Monthly
As the Editor Sees Things
(Three radio messages expounding Isaiah, chapter 62)GOD'S INTEREST IN ISRAEL
By Dr. David L. Cooper
First Radio Message
Good morning, friends throughout radioland! Isn't it wonderful to know God? Isn't it marvelous to have the Scriptures? Isn't it wonderful to have a God who works in behalf of those who wait for Him? Such is what Isaiah the prophet said ...
Our lesson this morning is found in Isaiah 62:1-5, which I now read: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name. 3 Thou shall also be a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. 4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shall be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah; for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." May God add His blessings to the reading of His sacred Word.
Friends, I have called my message for today "God's Interest in Israel." Let me say, in the first place, that we are all God's offspring. Every man of every race, of every tribe, of every nation, of all the centuries are the offspring of God. The Apostle Paul asserted that truth (Acts 17:24-29). How can any parent be uninterested in a child--his offspring? Is that possible? Some may forget and lose interest in their children, but God never can. God is intensely interested in every mortal who has ever been born, and who will ever be born. I cannot emphasize that thought too much. Let me repeat it. God is interested in the Chinese, in his welfare, in his spiritual welfare, in his eternal welfare. God is equally interested in the welfare of the Indian; in every Hindu; in every man, woman, and child. God is interested in every man who lives in Australia; He is vitally interested in the Australian bushmen, those aborigines living in a very primitive manner. God is interested in the Africans--the colored man in Africa. God is interested in every Russian, in every German, in every American. His interest in these especially pertains to their eternal welfare. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Regardless of one's social position, regardless of one's intellectual attainments or special gifts, God is equally interested in all--especially in their eternal salvation. Everyone who knows the Bible knows that these things are true. God's great love for the Chinese, for the Russians, for the people of Siam, His great interest in the Hindu people, His great interest in the Hottentots in Africa, His great interest in the American people have caused Him, to focus His attention upon the people of Israel, not that they are any better, not that their souls are of greater value than those of any other nation; but God has a plan. God has a purpose. God has an objective; and that is to get the truth out to the greatest number in the shortest length of time.
God in His omniscience from all eternity planned and devised a way whereby He could get the truth out to all peoples in the most efficient manner. That is self-evident if we recognize that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; that He is holy and that He loves all His creatures equally. And we must recognize the further fact that a soul is of more value in God's sight than the entire material universe. What is a man profited if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Matt. 16:26) His life is but a miserable failure. But I say that the great love of God for all mortals has led Him to adopt a plan, a scheme of redemption, and a plan of getting that scheme of redemption out to all the peoples in the most efficient manner, and at the same time respecting their own individualities and never forcing Himself upon anyone.
God chose the nation of Israel to be the channel of world blessing. When He dispersed the nations at Babel, as we learn in Genesis, chapter 11, He set the bounds and allotted the territory of the earth's surface to the various nations, but related all of them to the children of Israel. This fact is seen in such a passage as the classic one found in Deuteronomy 32:7-9. Moses said to his generation,
"7 Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of many generations;
Ask thy father, and he will show thee;
Thine elders, and they will tell thee.
8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
When he separated the children of men,
He set the bounds of the peoples
According to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For Jehovah's portion is his people;
Jacob is the lot of his inheritance."
Before there was a Hebrew, before Abraham's birth, God dispersed the people at Babel and allotted to each tribe or group the territory which was to be their future homes. But in making these assignments God had a plan, God had a purpose, and He related each group to the people of Israel. Thus I am correct in saying that Israel is the hub of the nations. All things revolve around the Jewish people. You will bear with me, my friends, if I emphasize this thought, because it is so very vital.
Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will see that other nations, other peoples, are mentioned only as they come in touch with the Jewish people. From Genesis, chapter 12, on to the end of the Old Testament, we, read of Israel, the children of Israel, the Hebrews, the Israelites, the Jews. All these terms are synonymous in referring to the one group of people--the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. All these other nations are mentioned only (let me repeat) as they came in touch with the Jewish people. You see Israel still occupying the same position in the Jewish section of Romans, chapters 9, 10, and 11. And you see Israel in the Book of Revelation occupying this same central position. This is the Lord's doings; it is not mans. It is God's plan; it is God's purpose; and He in His love has made this arrangement in order to get His truth out to all men.
I want to use a little illustration. A number of years ago I went to Duluth, Minnesota, and was entertained in a certain home. As soon as I arrived, the little girl in that home asked me would I play with her. She brought out a game of tenpins. I had never seen such a miniature game as that. She placed the tenpins in a V shape, just as in the regular game. Then she told me to play first. There was a trigger-like affair with a spring on it that hit the ball, and I was to try to hit the king pin. If I hit the ball squarely, it would hit the king pin; the king pin would knock down the two pins immediately in front of it; they, in falling, would knock the three in front of them; and they, in falling, would knock down all the rest. Well, I played first. I shot directly and hit the king pin squarely, and they all went down. I was interested in getting all the pins knocked down. That is the best play. If one can hit the king pin first and get all at one stroke, he has won the game. God has put Israel as the king pin of the nations. To give the truth to them, and then get them to see the truth, will be knocking down the king pin. Then Israel, having received the truth, will give it forth to others. There is a prediction and a prayer in Psalm 67 that teaches this truth. This prayer shows Israel as having been given the truth of God's Word, of having been convinced of the truthfulness of the Scriptures and of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth; then, being conscious of their position in the plan of God, they will pray to God to be merciful to them, to bless them, and to cause His (Messiah's) face to shine upon them in order that His way might be known upon earth and His salvation among all the nations.
When the people of Israel are thus brought to that point by the preaching, by the proclamation, of God's Word, they will give forth the message and will lead all who survive the Tribulation--every man, woman, and child of all the nations of all tribes, regardless of culture, advantage, and everything else--all of them, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we shall have a converted world, and then will be fulfilled that marvelous statement found in Genesis 12:3: "I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Such is God's plan, friends; and I feel certain that everyone of you who is born again, everyone of you who loves Jesus Christ supremely, who wants to do the will of God, will welcome this truth; and that you will also fit your plans, programs, and purposes, to accord with the plan and the purpose of God.
Let us notice more particularly the text. I have spoken of the general principles of the teaching of the Word of God with reference to the people of Israel. In verse 1 the prophet said, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation, as a lamp that burneth." This passage shows intense love for the Jews and an interest in them, not because of themselves, but because of God's intense love for all peoples of all tribes. He knows how He can use saved Israel in bringing the truth of God's Word to all other nations. We can therefore see and understand clearly why it is that God says, in substance "I cannot hold my peace. I just have to talk and talk and talk about these people whom I am yet going to use in bringing my truth to all nations."
The Lord shows us in verse 2, however, that Israel as a nation is going to be saved: "And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name." Israel's turning to God as a nation is as certain, is absolutely as certain, as the sun is to set today or to rise in the east tomorrow. The prophet says it. But the salvation of Israel will never come, will never be, until they repudiate the national sin of rejecting the Messiah. You ask me why do I say that. I say it upon the authority of the prediction by Hosea--Hosea 5:15-6:3--which I now read to you and which I wish you to note very, very carefully. Hosea here is impersonating the Messiah who comes to the Hebrew people, and who is rejected by them. He says, "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly. 1 Come, and let us return unto Jehovah; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him. 3 And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth."
In this prophecy, the Messiah, having come, is rejected and is sinned against, by Israel. Then he says, "I will go and return to my place ..." His place is in heaven. The Messiah is the second person of the Holy Trinity who entered the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth in fulfillment, of the prophecies. He thus comes to earth; He is rejected by all the tribes of Israel; then, at the invitation of God, He returns to glory, returns to His place; and He says that He will never come back to this earth until the nation of Israel acknowledge that sin, that awful sin of rejecting Him--until they acknowledge that offence and seek His face. Then, He tells us when that will be-- "in their affliction ..." In the Tribulation, which is called the "time of Jacob's trouble," the time of real trouble of the Hebrews, "they will seek me earnestly." Then they will issue a proclamation, that is, the leaders of the nation will issue a proclamation, to the rest of the nation and say, "Come, let us return unto Jehovah; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up." They will say in substance, "We will appoint a day for our turning nationally to Him, and we will repent and confess our national sin. After two days [and two days means two days, two literal days, days of twenty-four hours] at the conclusion of two days will he revive us, give us life; infuse life, spiritual life, in us; and we shall live before Him." "And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth" (Hos. 6:3).
Yes, Israel is certain to repudiate that national sin when you, my dear brother and sister, realize Israel's place in the plan of God, when you arise and carry out the command that God gave us to give the truth of His Word to these people, that they may see the mistake of age long standing and then turn to the Lord. When they do that, their salvation will be sure, and their brightness, shall go forth. The spiritual light that will be lighted in their hearts by their accepting Christ, by their being regenerated and saved, will go forth to all nations; and they will lead all nations, all tribes and all tongues, to a saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ.
May God stir our hearts, dear Christian friends, and enable us to carry out His command in giving this truth to His ancient people, that He might use them in His plan of bringing all peoples to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Good morning.
Second Radio Message
PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM
GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS. Isn't it wonderful to know Christ, to know that you are saved, that you are saved for time and for eternity? Isn't it wonderful to have a heavenly Father who can and will listen to our every cry and answer our petitions according to His will? Then let us bow our heads and look up into His face by faith. Our Holy Father, we praise Thee for having taken care of us during the past night, for having allowed us to see another day with its light, its blessings, its opportunities, and its advantages. We thank Thee for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the redemption which He wrought for us upon Calvary's Cross. We thank Thee that He brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, that we heard of Him, that we accepted Him, and that now we are beloved in Him, the Beloved Father. We thank Thee that Thou dost provide everything that is necessary for us. We thank Thee that we can come and bring all of our cares and our needs to Thee with the assurance that thou wilt hear us. Wilt Thou bless the one who brings the message and bless those who listen? May much eternal and everlasting good be accomplished by this broadcast. Solve the problems of all of the listeners and lead us all closer to thyself, for we ask this in the name of Christ and for His sake. Amen.
Friends, in our study of Isaiah, chapter 62, we have come to verses 6 to 9, inclusive, as our special passage for consideration, which I will now read: "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that are Jehovah's remembrancers, take ye no rest, 7 and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. 8 Jehovah hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength ..." Here is God's oath, Surely I will no more give thy grain to be food for thine enemies; and foreigners shall not drink thy new wine, for which thou hast labored: 9 but they that have garnered it shall eat it, and praise Jehovah; and they that have gathered it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary." May the Lord add His blessings to the reading of this portion of His Word.
Remember that a text apart from its context is but a pretext, and we do not want to reduce any portion of the Scriptures to a pretext. We remember that as we looked at the first part of this chapter, we saw that the entire passage consisting of twelve verses constitutes one single oracle and should be studied as such; but on account of the limited time of each broadcast, it was impossible for me to handle this big chapter in one message. I therefore have to handle it in three.
We have already seen as we looked at the first two verses, that God is interested in Israel, God is interested in the Jewish people, Zion. There is a reason for that, but now let me reread the statement: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name."
You remember I told you that God is interested in all peoples. He is interested in the Hindus, in the Chinese, in the people of Japan, in the people of Burma, in the people of the isles of the sea, in the people of Africa, in the people of Europe, and in the people of America. God, figuratively speaking, doesn't see the color of the face; but He knows that each one has an immortal soul which will spend eternity either with Him in bliss or in darkness and in rejection--separated from Him forever. All people must spend eternity in one of these two places. What makes the difference? The difference is this: whether or not one hears of Christ and accepts Him as his Saviour. In other words, the place where I shall spend eternity is determined by whether or not the gospel is given to me, whether I accept it, and whether I allow God to regenerate my heart and my soul. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). In order to get the gospel out to all in the quickest time and at the same time not forcing anyone's will, God created the Jewish people, brought them into existence by a biological miracle which made possible the birth of Isaac. He also gave Israel His revelation and said to Abraham, "In thee [and in thy seed] shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). Since it is His plan to bless all nations through Abraham's seed, then, of course, God is from that standpoint interested in the evangelization of all Israel. In His being interested in the Jews, He is manifesting His great interest and His great concern for the Hottentots in Africa, for the Australian bushmen in the central part of the continent down under. Yes, it is His love and His interest in all peoples that has caused Him to select the Jewish people. Now, He says that they are going to be saved, that He can never take any rest until they are saved, "until her [Jerusalem's] righteousness go forth as brightness." This will be. It is just as sure as the morning. When the people of Israel are thus saved, they will "be a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God" (Isa. 62:3). A crown is a symbol of rule and authority. Thus God compares Israel to a crown and says that Israel converted by being led to the Lord Jesus Christ will be that crown, will be that diadem in His hand.
From that time and forward the land of Israel will never be called Forsaken, neither will Jerusalem be called Desolate: "but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." For then when the nation of Israel is converted God will take His delight in Jerusalem and in her land. Then the Jewish people will realize her spiritual calling as never before; and they will be devoted to the land that God gave to them. Such is the first part of this prophecy that leads up to the section which we now have for the morning lesson. It was necessary for me to review and also to call attention to those latter thoughts to which I did not have an opportunity in my last message to give.
Let us notice here in verse 6, God says, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day nor night." That is a marvelous statement: "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day nor night." I have been to Jerusalem; I have been there on two different occasions.* I spent three mouths each time in Jerusalem--spending the time largely there and traveling out over the entire land, both in west Palestine and in Trans-Jordan, the country east of the Jordan River. I have walked upon the walls of Zion. I have been on the wall on the east side of the temple area; I have walked up and down on it; I have looked down at the bottom of the wall on the outside and have seen the Moslem cemetery; I have looked down into the Kidron Valley and have seen the Garden of Gethsemane just across the Kidron. I have looked up to the Mount of Olives and have seen that sight. I have walked on the wall on the southern side, and I have walked all around the walls of the city of Jerusalem--a distance in circuit of about two and three-quarter miles. But, friends, as I walked around on that wall, I did not see any watchmen. No one else has seen any watchmen. Yet God says, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls," and that these watchmen will be there and that they shall never hold their peace. Did God make a mistake here? Did Isaiah just speak that out of his own heart? Or did God speak it? Let me tell you, friends, God spoke that and it's true. But I tell you I have been there and have never seen them. But my inability to see them does not change the situation; neither does it alter the Word of God.
In order for us to see this, we must remember this one thing: that the Word watchman, or watcher, is a term that is applied both to men and angels. Since this cannot refer to men as watchmen, and since the word in the Hebrew at times refers to angels, we may be certain that God has stationed angels on those walls and that they are there rendering service according to the will of God. Let us remember this one thing: that there are ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels. We learned that from the Book of Daniel. From the Book of Psalms we learned that their hosts are innumerable. Why does God have angels stationed there? A statement in Hebrew 1:14 throws a bright ray of light upon this question. I read: "Are they not [that is, angels, because he had just been speaking of the angels] all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?" The apostle was not asking for information, but he was asking in a rhetorical manner to emphasize the thought that they, these angels, these angelic hosts, are ministering spirits "which God sends forth to do service for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation." We have every reason to believe that the angels are used of God for the running of the material universe. If it were not for them, according to the plan of God, there would be some major catastrophes. I shall not be dogmatic on that point. But I know that the angels are God's ministers and that God dispatches this one and that one to render this service and that service. So here He tells us that He has dispatched angels, watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night, and that they are praying God for the future of Jerusalem.
To show you that this position is true, I shall just read, continuing at verse 6, "Ye that are Jehovah's remembrancers, take ye no rest, 7 and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." From the flow of thought I know that these angels who are thus stationed on the walls of Jerusalem are there--they are on the scene; they see Israel's past; they see Jerusalem's present; and they know her future. They raise their voices continually to God to fulfill His promises speedily and to carry out His purposes for the city of Jerusalem, namely, that she may be the praise, the joy spot of all the earth. In thinking of the ministry of angels, I am reminded of a statement that is found in Psalm 34:7: "The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear him, And delivereth them." Thus they render a real spiritual service and material aid also for those who are to inherit eternal salvation.
But I must pass on. Here he said, "Ye that are Jehovah's remembrancers, take ye no rest, 7 and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." "What is meant there by you who are Jehovah's remembrancers? He means you who remind God of His plans and His purposes. God knows all things; He is omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient; and yet He wants to be reminded of His plans and His purposes. The prophet says, in substance, "Since the angelic hosts who know very clearly the plans and the purposes that God has with reference to the Jewish people, they, voluntarily, spontaneously, are bringing Jerusalem's case to God, and in so doing they are co-operating with the Lord. Now, you believers, you people who know God in a spiritual sense, you are to engage in the same ministry."
Do you know what is your position, my dear brother and sister in Jesus Christ? Well, I'll tell you, and I wish I could emphasize it so that you would avail yourselves of your opportunities and perform the functions of your office. The Lord said, speaking to the Hebrew Christians through the Apostle Peter, in I Peter 2:9,10: "But ye are an elect race," you did belong nationally to the race of Israel; you have Hebrew blood coursing through your veins. Now he says "But ye are an elect race," talking to believers, "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may shew forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." Thus he tells us that all believers constitute a priesthood. My friend, I am a minister of the gospel. I have been proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for forty-odd years, and I trust that the Lord may allow me yet many more years, if Jesus tarry, to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. Thus, that is my vocation by a special call from God. God called me to preach and teach His Word. But I am here to tell you, first and last and always, my principal office is that of being a priest; and you my brother, I care not who you are, I care not who you are, my sister, if you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, if you have been born-again, you are a priest or a priestess. I am not speaking of one wearing robes, not that: but we are, by virtue of our having been born-again, priests. We are priests unto God. And let me ask this question in this connection: What is the function of the priest? or what was the function, of the priest in the Old Testament? Everyone who is acquainted with that subject knows that the priest was the one who approached God for men. The high priest approached God on the Day of Atonement, making the offering and the sacrifice for the whole nation. The priest always approached God for Israel. Now just as they approached God for Israel in their worship and service to the Lord, thus are we who are believers--whether we be preachers, whether we be housewives, whether we be storekeepers, or station attendants, whether we be clerks--no matter what we are, if we are children of God, we are priests; and God expects us to function in that capacity. You say, "How can I function as a priest?" Well, I'll just read you from the sixth chapter of the Ephesian letter beginning with verse 17 through 20: "And take the helmet of salvation, (said Paul to the Ephesian Christians) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, 19 and on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness, the mystery of the gospel; 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
Our function as priests and as priestesses is to pray, to pray at all times, to pray for all the saints. We are enjoined in the Ephesian passage, which I have just read, to do that. But here God has in this passage--Oh my brother, Oh my sister--enjoined upon you as a believer, as a priest, as a priestess to bring one matter before Him daily in earnest, sincere prayer and supplication, and that is that you pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Do you make the peace of Jerusalem a matter of daily prayer? I am here to tell you, my brother, my sister, if you do not pray for the salvation of Israel, if you do not pray for their welfare, if you do not pray for God to hasten the day when He shall establish Jerusalem the joy of the whole earth, then you are failing. You are failing miserably, not completely; but you are failing to a great extent to perform your functions as priests. And let me say in this connection that prayer changes things. How can prayer change things? By prayer we take hold of the throne of God and open up the way and make it possible for God to work, whereas He could not otherwise. So prayer changes things. And I pray and hope and trust that everyone of you, my brethren, who are listening to this message will put the cause of Israel on your daily prayer list and pray for them. And if you pray for them, you will become interested in them, and you will preach to them and give them the message of the gospel whereby they may be saved just as you were saved.
But now one other thing. God says in the latter part of verse 8 and in verse 9 that He has sworn that He is going to take care of the Jewish people and that the time will come when they will sow and reap and enjoy the fruit of their hands. Israel had their religious calendar which began with the Passover in the first month and the fourteenth day. They had in the end of their religious calendar the Feast of Tabernacles--the Feast of Ingathering, the Feast of Joy. That feast was emblematic, was typical of the final time when God will put down all Israel's enemies, when God, in the person of Jesus Christ will come back here again, will lift the curse, will deliver Israel from all their opponents and will place Israel at the head of the nations. Then, and then only, will Israel enjoy the fruit of their labors.
That reminds me of that marvelous passage found in Isaiah 65:21-25. Then Israel will enjoy throughout the great Millennial Age the fruit of her labors. Oh, my friend, are you enjoying the fruit of your labors? If you are laying everything at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and allowing Him to have His way in your life, He will bring abundant fruit for you and reward you throughout all eternity.
May the Lord bless this message to His glory and to your good is my prayer. Good morning.
*I was also in the State of Israel in 1949-50--for the third time.
Third Radio Message
GOD'S COMMAND TO PREACH THE TRUTH TO ISRAEL
GOOD MORNING FRIENDS. Isn't it wonderful to know God? I like to ask that question. For me it is, and oh what a wonderful, wonderful privilege God has conferred upon us that we should be called the sons of God ... Shall we pray? We praise Thee, our Father, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, volunteered to come, entering the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth, and to live and die for our redemption. We thank Thee that He rose from the tomb, bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel. We thank Thee that faithful men have proclaimed Thy truth through the centuries, that the message came to us, that we accepted it, and that we are now accepted in the Beloved. We thank Thee for the privilege of service, thank Thee that Thou hast given us Thy revelation which we may study and which we may proclaim as Thou dost give time and opportunity.
Wilt Thou grant that Thy servant may speak in the power of the Spirit of God, that those who listen may have their spiritual understanding, and that they may see things in Thy Word--new and old? Do so with us all, solving our problems, working out our difficulties for our good and for Thy glory; for we ask these things in the name of Christ and for His sake. Amen.
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. "Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him." (Hab. 2:20)
In our study of the Book of Isaiah the Prophet, we have come to Isaiah 62:10-12, the last three verses of this chapter, which I now read: "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up an ensign for the peoples. 11 Behold, Jehovah hath proclaimed unto the end of the earth, [here is the proclamation] Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 12 And they shall call them The holy people. The redeemed of Jehovah: and thou shall be called Sought out, A city not forsaken."
May the Lord add His blessing to this reading of a portion of His inspired Word--Isaiah 62:10-12.
Friends, as I have said before, Isaiah chapter 62, constitutes one single oracle and should be studied with that fact in view. We have seen also that in the first five verses God expresses Himself and shows His great intense interest in the people of Israel.
Let me say for the benefit of those who have not tuned in before to this broadcast that God is interested in all people of all races, of all tribes, of all nationalities, irrespective of culture, refinement, education, color, or creed. God is interested in all. They are all His offspring, for we are all the offspring of God, as the Apostle Paul told the Athenian high court in his speech before it, as is recorded in Acts, chapter 17. God showed His interest in all creatures, irrespective of everything else, by sending His Son to suffer and die for them. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal [everlasting] life." This statement means that God loved the Chinese; God loved the Russians; God loved the Hindus; God loved the Australians; God loved the colored men in Africa; the white men in Europe; the red men in America; and all colors of all races, irrespective of national lines.
God loves them all. God wills that none should perish but that all should come unto repentance. God desires that all men should be saved; for He endowed all with the priceless gift of choice and freedom of action. He will not force the will of anyone, but He turns heaven and earth upside down, figuratively speaking, to get the truth to every man without encroaching upon man's personality.
With this view of blessing the whole world, God chose Abraham and his seed through whom He plans and purposes to reach all nations. God, in fact, created the Jewish nation with that thought in view. That is the theme of this chapter of Isaiah's prophecy. Remember, friends, this is not my scheme or your scheme; but it is God's plan of the ages; and you and I, who know God in Christ Jesus, and who are surrendered to Him and who want the truth, are willing to accept God's statement of the situation and of His plan to bless all the nations of the world in and through Abraham and his seed.
We have also seen in verses 6 to 9 that prayer changes things. Prayer brings victory. Not that prayer in and of itself, apart from God and all other considerations, changes things--no. Prayer itself, in and of itself, does not change things. But by faith we take hold of God in earnest prayer, believing that what we ask we receive from God, the bountiful bestower of all gifts. And it is He who in answer to prayer does work, work all things, work all things together for the good of those who are His, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
In the section of Scripture which I read this morning, verses 10-12, is God's command to preach the gospel to the Jews. This is set forth in verses 10 and 11, which I now reread: "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up an ensign for the peoples. 11 Behold, Jehovah hath proclaimed unto the end of the earth, [here is the proclamation] Say ye to the daughter of Zion, [that is, to the Jewish people who recognize Jerusalem as their mother city] Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him." In verse 10 the command is to go through the gates; "Go through, prepare ye the way of the people [the Hebrew people]." How are we to do it? "Cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up an ensign for the peoples." This language obviously is not literal; it is bound to be figurative. To take it literally would make nonsense out of the passage. But to take it figuratively--a custom, with which the Prophet's audience was familiar--is to make good sense and sense that accords with all the facts of the chapter.
In Isaiah's day the custom was that whenever the king of a given country made the announcement that he was going to visit some other ruler, if there was not a highway from the border of this host king to his capital, then he, the host king, would order his men to go forth and build a highway from the border in order that his guest might come in royal estate to visit him. Isaiah had the same figure of speech in mind when he spoke in Isaiah 40:3-5; "The voice of one that crieth, [now, here is one proclaiming] Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah." Ah, Jehovah is coming. Now, I want you to prepare a way. "Make level in the desert a highway for our God." Our God is coming, Jehovah is coming to visit us. Now you make a road for Him. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain: 5 and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."
This ancient custom of preparing a highway, a road for a royal guest, is echoed in that which occurred back in 1898. The then-ruling Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm I, made the announcement to the Turkish government that he was going to visit Palestine. The Turkish authorities ordered men to go forth from Jerusalem and to construct a highway from Jaffa, the port to which the Kaiser would come. The government made a highway of about fifty miles from Jaffa to Jerusalem. A block of the wall now surrounding the old city of Jerusalem was removed in order that the Kaiser, upon reaching the city, might enter in royal estate the city of the great King. That opening is still there in the wall at the Jaffa Gate. I have seen it. Thus Isaiah, impersonating God, said in substance, "You people who believe in prayer, you people who know the plan of God and Israel's place therein, I give you a command to prepare this way [not a literal highway, as I have said, but a way for a royal guest who is going to leave heaven]." This one is Israel's king. He is going to leave heaven, and He is coming to Jerusalem. "Now you my servants, you my children who know me, who know the truth, who know the prophetic Scriptures, and who know my plans for Israel as revealed in the Scriptures, I am giving you this solemn charge, this command that you prepare the way for the coming of this one."
What are you, my friend, to do in preparing this way for the coming of Israel's King? The answer is that you are to proclaim to the daughter of Zion ... What is, or who is, the daughter of Zion? There are two expressions in the Prophets--one, "the daughter of Zion" and the other, "the daughters--e-r-s--daughters of Zion." They have two different meanings. Whenever this term is used in the plural number, it means the Hebrew women. When, however, it is used in the singular number, it refers to all the Hebrew people, men and women, boys and girls--all. Now God says to you, "You who know me, you who believe in prayer, as we have already seen, you have something to do for me. It is a special commission I am giving you. Proclaim to the Jewish people, my people, the daughter of Zion, no matter where they are--whether in New York City, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, regardless of whether these people are in Mexico, in Canada, in China, in India, in Egypt, Bagdad, Iraq, no matter where they are--I am giving you this solemn, serious, important command: You, my people, you who know me, you who know my plans, you who believe in prayer, you give the daughter of Zion, the Jewish people, a special message. You make an announcement to them, this most important announcement. It will bring joy and gladness to the Jewish heart when it is made to them, when it is made in such a way that they can understand it, and can comprehend it, and can see the reasonableness of this command and the divine inspiration of the message.
You tell these Jews everywhere, wherever they are, this message of salvation:
"Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him" (v. 11).
The word salvation in this verse transliterated from Hebrew into Greek and then translated into English means "thy Joshua, thy Jesus." The Prophet, impersonating God, continues in substance, "You believers, you children of God, regardless of all denominational lines, regardless of all circumstances, I lay this charge upon you: You say to the Jews, wherever they are, under all conditions, you tell them that their Jesus is coming."
But what coming does He here refer to? You know that there are two comings. He came nineteen hundred years ago, entering the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth. He came as the meek and lowly Nazarene, as a man, manifesting His divine qualities and characteristics through His human nature. He was God, the second Person of the Trinity, and at the same time He was man. He was not God and man, but He was the God-Man, one personality. He suffered and died for the redemption of your sins and for mine. But is that the coming of which the prophet is speaking? No. You ask me why the command says, "You tell them that their Jesus is coming, their salvation is coming," but you are also to say: "Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him." Did he come with a reward and recompense nineteen hundred years ago when he entered the world? Never. He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Being rejected by his people, and at the invitation of God, He left earth and went back to glory. He will come again. He is coming as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. When He thus comes back, He is going to bring His reward and His recompense for His servants.
My friends you who know Jesus Christ and who know God, who know the program of God, He is giving you a charge to give the message of salvation, approaching the Jew with the thought of the Second glorious, marvelous, personal, bodily Coming of Jesus back to this earth with His reward. And I'll tell you, you who carry out this command, will receive a marvelous reward. If you do not obey this command, you are going to suffer a lack of reward throughout all eternity. God is going to reward you for whatever service you render. But here is a service that will yield marvelous, untold dividends. You tell these people, approach them, tell them about the Second Coming of the Messiah, win their confidence, bring them face to face with this promise and with Him alone who can solve all their problems. When you have thus approached them in telling of the glories of the Messiah's Second Coming, they will want to know about the first coming. And then you can tell them about the time when He came as the Lamb of God to take away their sins. Tell them also the wonderful future that looms before them. When they thus repudiate their national sin of rejecting Him, and when they accept Him as their Lord, their Messiah, and their Saviour--then they will be regenerated, they will be saved, and they will be called the Holy People, and Jerusalem shall be called "Sought out, A city not forsaken."
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