Having a vision of the future, and working towards that vision, is a very important part of the Christian faith. In fact so important is it, that at the beginning of the church’s year—with the four weeks running up to Christmas we call ‘Advent’—the whole focus of the church traditionally turns towards the second coming of Christ. And that is particularly so, with the idea of judgement of those who are acceptable to God and those who aren’t; and with the concept of eternal life and living in God’s new creation.
Now, one of the people who had something to say about such times was the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. And in an earlier prophecy, Isaiah talked about the coming of God’s kingdom; about what that kingdom would be like; about the fact that we need to capture God’s vision; and that the test of any true believer would be that they would be active and have an urgency in helping to bring about God’s plan. And that, of course, is a challenge and a task for all of us.
However, that was only one of Isaiah’s prophecies about the end times. And with a focus still on the second coming of Christ, today we come face to face with a second prophecy from Isaiah, which continues that same theme.
This time, however, the focus is not so much upon the end times themselves. This time, the emphasis is more on the person who is at the centre of it—the person that everything revolves around.
Now, in Isaiah’s day, their world was very corrupt. People had no time for God, and corruption was rife at the very top. As a consequence, people needed rescuing. They needed a message of hope. And whereas a vision of the future was important, a vision of a good, strong and powerful leader was what they needed to give them real hope.
Sound familiar? After all, don’t we live in a world where people have little time for God? And aren’t we constantly hearing about corruption, particularly at the top? And isn’t what most people need: a good, strong and powerful leader?
And so the words that God gave Isaiah, to speak to his people then, may be very appropriate to us now. And in addition they give us yet another reason to want to capture and adopt his plan.
B. THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM
1. The Future King (1-5)
Now in his prophecy, Isaiah described the Messiah in a number of ways.
a). The Messiah: At the Centre (1)
First of all, Isaiah made the point that when God’s new creation is established, the Messiah will be right at the centre. Yes, somehow, historically, he will be a descendant of King David. But this Messiah will be set up in the centre of God’s kingdom, and he will be the central focus of everything that goes on. Everything will point to him, and he will be involved in everything. Indeed, whether we think in physical or spiritual terms, the image is that there won’t be one thing to which the Messiah won’t be at the centre.
b). The Messiah: The Greatest King (2)
The second thing about the Messiah is, according to Isaiah, that he will be far superior to any other leader than have gone before. In other words, when we think of some of the good and great leaders that this world has ever known—with the talents and abilities that they have demonstrated—well, the Messiah at the centre of God’s kingdom will have all of those. But not just in the measures that we have seen. But he will have them in ways far superior than we have ever seen or imagined. And he will have all sorts of other gifts and talents, as well.
Further, for Isaiah, this isn’t just going to be a political Messiah—someone who will rule his kingdom, in the way that people usually think of a king ruling. But his kingship will have a very spiritual focus. And he will be as concerned as much with maintaining and growing our relationship with the creator, than he is with the nuts and bolts of maintaining physical life.
c). The Messiah: The Bringer of Truth (3)
Now, the third thing, Isaiah said, about the Messiah, is that the ‘Truth’ will be a central focus of his work. He will introduce a time when half-truths, white lies, and out and out lies will no longer have any place. And it will be a time when only the whole truth will reign.
In fact, the Messiah will have the ability not only to distinguish between fact and fiction, but he will also be able to discern the inner motives of people—the reasons why people do certain things. Nothing will be hidden from him at all in this new kingdom.
d). The Messiah: The Righter of Wrongs (4)
Fourthly, the Messiah will bring in a time where every grievance ever known will be heard. And he will mete out justice personally—without favour—to those who have been wronged. And he will not hesitate to inflict the severest penalties on the perpetrators when necessary.
Not for the Messiah the idea of whether people can afford justice or not. Not for the Messiah, even, only helping the poor. But he will bring in true justice—without favour—simply based on whether an injustice has occurred or not.
And with this, we need to remember that the Messiah will be concerned with spiritual, as well as other matters. So his justice will also include injustices that have been done to God as well as to other people.
e). The Messiah: With a Focus on Justice and Good Order (5)
And then, fifthly, according to Isaiah, the Messiah’s whole office will be directed towards maintaining God’s kingdom, with its emphasis on justice and good order. And that includes . . .
2. The Future Age (6-9)
. . . ruling a world, where:
Divine power and blessing will be given to all people found worthy to share in God’s kingdom. And that will have a flow on affect to all other orders of life.
The inauguration of a new peaceful world order. Symbolised by the fact that even wild animals will become tame and harmless—and be able to live in tranquillity with domestic animals.
And it will be a world, where even the weakest and most vulnerable people (in this world) will have nothing to fear.
And that will be the result of the Messiah being at the centre, and bringing in a new world and a new order.
3. The Future Homeland (10)
. . . And it will be a time when God’s people, who are currently scattered around the globe, will be brought together to enjoy God’s presence. And to enjoy, and participate, fully in his kingdom.
Now, I think that’s quite a picture—that’s quite a vision. But yet it’s another piece of the puzzle about the end times that God has given us that we need to get excited about; that we need to adopt for ourselves; that we need to live life as though we want it to come about; and that we need to live life as though we want it to come about, NOW! And when you think about it, why wouldn’t we?
Well, I can think of only one reason. And that is, that we haven’t really accepted the Messiah for ourselves at all. And if that’s true, then that’s sad. Because if that’s true, then apart from the judgement aspect itself (and that will then take on a whole new scarier outlook), all those things we’ve just described we will miss out on. But then, we will not be enjoying the benefits of a relationship with God today either.
And there are plenty of benefits that we can enjoy today.
Because if Jesus, the Messiah, the descendant of King David, has already come to the world once., then there are aspects of this prophecy we can experience now (in part), and that we don’t have to wait until the end.
1. Jesus: At the Centre
Because if we can accept Jesus as the focus of our lives now—to which all else revolves—well, what that means is that even now we can enjoy a life where Jesus is at the centre. We can enjoy his love and his peace; we can enjoy his leadership and guidance; we can enjoy his presence and his prayers; and we can be confident that we will—no doubt about it—be one of those people that God finds acceptable and gets invited to join in his newly made kingdom.
2. Jesus: The Greatest King
If we accept Jesus as our great king now, then we can also take advantage of the fact that the Messiah isn’t someone who will only, at the end, have all sorts of gifts and talents available for his use. But that he actually has those gifts and talents available for his use now.
So, when things get rough, when things go wrong, and when things get beyond our own ability to help ourselves—and we need someone with all the supernatural skills they have at their disposal—if we have accepted Jesus, then we have a relationship with the one person who can help us now. And we don’t have to wait until the end of the world for his help.
Nothing is impossible with God. And, as believers, we can expect the unexpected, from Jesus, even today.
3. Jesus: The Bringer of Truth
If we accept that Jesus knows the truth from lies, then, in a world of fact and fiction—where it’s hard for us to always work out people’s motives and reasons, and where we need some guidance lest we walk the wrong path too—then that is something that Jesus can help us with today as well. And he’s actually already given us a number of tools we can use.
We have been given the bible—stories of people where fact and fiction often got mixed up, but where the truth becomes very evident. We have the Christian community—people who can help guide, from their own spiritual experience, and help direct us to which is the right path and which is the wrong. We have prayer—a direct means of communicating with God himself; a direct means of finding the truth. And we have the Holy Spirit—who comes and dwells in every believer—and whose job it is to guide and to bring truth.
4. Jesus: The Righter of Wrongs
If we accept Jesus as the central focus of our life now, we can rest assured that in God’s timing, not ours, any injustice that we have suffered, or are still suffering, will be righted.
With Jesus as our king, now, we don’t need to dwell on revenge, or the other person getting their due. We don’t need to. We can just let it go, knowing that, in the end, God’s justice will prevail. And that whatever it was, and whoever was the perpetrator, at some stage in time, that person will be asked to account for their actions and will be asked to pay for what they did.
Of course, the other side of this is the injustices that we’ve done—whether they have been done to others, or God himself. But with Jesus as our judge, we can live with the fact that although we will need to account for all the things we’ve done wrong too, that we can rest easy knowing that our judge is the same person who suffered horribly on our behalf for our mistakes. And, as a consequence, no further penalty will be required.
5. Jesus: With a Focus on Justice and Good Order
And, finally, if we accept that Jesus is the one who will inaugurate and ensure the eternal existence of paradise, we can live, even today, not only with the idea of Paradise being just a future event, but that in some way, even in only a spiritual way—because of all these things—we can actually experience Paradise now.
With Jesus at the centre of our lives, we can live in peace with the world now, knowing that everything has, or will be dealt with. That nothing will be overlooked—and there’s nothing for us to do. That is, nothing but to capture God’s vision, and be active, and active NOW in helping to bring it about.
For many people, thinking about the next life—or even our own mortality—may not be something they like to think about. And many may even choose to leave those sorts of thoughts (and consequent decisions) to another time.
Unfortunately, the prophecies of Isaiah—the words God gave Isaiah to share—do not allow for that kind of thinking. Isaiah’s emphasis is very much on the need for us all to capture God’s vision of the future; to be very active in working towards that vision; and not to delay, in any way, trying to hasten in the day when that vision becomes a reality.
Isaiah’s prophecies were given to a people whose world was very corrupt. As a consequence, they were intended to give the people hope. However, Isaiah wasn’t a man who told nice stories, just so that people could feel better about themselves. No! He told them the words God gave him to say, so that they could capture something of what God had planned; and so they could run with those visions themselves. And, in the same way, we are required to capture and run with those visions too.
Now for those who have accepted Jesus in this world, the words of Isaiah’s prophecy should be very comforting. But not so for those who haven’t really accepted Jesus at all.
So have we captured God’s vision? And are we active in working out that vision? Because that is the real challenge behind not only Isaiah’s previous prophecy, but behind this other prophecy too.
Posted: 3rd September 2021
© 2021, Brian A Curtis