Hope and assurance. Remembered and not forgotten. Defended and brought freedom. It is no preacher’s hyperbole to say that Isaiah 25 is a glorious word that shakes the core of us all. You’ve been thunderstruck!
God is not far off. The chapter begins emphasizing the personal nearness of God (“O Lord, you are my God”). To stand in the wake of such a revelation is displacing.
The Creator and Righteous Judge of all permits the use of a personal possessive from his creature, condescending to allow us to know him as our God—permitting me to know him as my God. There is an invitation present in this—one neither to be assumed nor missed.
This is not Oz; there is purposefulness behind the curtain. Somehow these “plans formed of old, faithful and sure” also place us in a different relationship to God, my God. The world is not merely spinning on its axis, flying by the seat of its pants. One is reminded of the fantasy worlds of Narnia or Middle-earth, with the ongoing subtext that there are deeper and older plans, faithful and sure, at work. Runes and markers are sometimes discovered, with the perspective developing later that they were not discovered so much as revealed.
Most fully, God has a way of working on mountains. More specifically, God has a purposeful plan “formed of old, faithful and sure” for working on this mountain—note again the particularity. Isaiah 25:6-8 are thunder strikes anticipating Golgotha, where God will “swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever.”
Indeed, from Isaiah’s perspective the covering will be torn in two, from top to bottom. The apostles John and Paul were plainly taken by this word from Isaiah, recognizing that death has met its death in the death of Christ (to borrow a title). Paul has such assurance as to mock death (echoing the words of Hosea) in I Corinthians 15:55:
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
And John states towards the end of the Revelation given to him by the Lord: “…God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more…” (Rev 21:3-4)
Behold, this is our God. Behold, this is your God. Behold, this is my God, and we have beheld his glory, the glory of the death of death in his death on this mountain, full of grace and truth.
The mystery revealed, known before time began has now been made known within time itself: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). And we have hope, assurance, and certainty that we are remembered and not forgotten, that we have been defended and brought freedom.
Isaiah 22-24 This winter I have the pleasure of being one of twelve table leaders for the sixth-grade confirmation class. This means that after the lesson of the day I get to spend time with a small group of kids discussing what they learned. Last week we were talking about sanctification (by the way, a […]
Isaiah 19-21 I am indebted to Professor Travis Bott of Nashotah House, who focused, for me, two ideas in Isaiah 19-21: The Lord strikes and heals (Isa. 19:22). Fallen, fallen is Babylon (Isa. 21:9). The Lord Strikes and Heals Isaiah 19 is a prophetic oracle concerning Egypt, and verse 22 is a key verse: […]
Isaiah 16-18 In a recent series of corporate meetings, consultant lingo was thick in the air. “I shared with her feedback about opportunities for personal development.” Translation: “I’m her boss and I told her where she had screwed up.” The prophet Isaiah was no obfuscating consultant: “For you have forgotten the God of your salvation […]
Isaiah 13-15 As a new convert, Saint Augustine approached Ambrose, his bishop, and asked, “What should I read to prepare me for my baptism?” What a great question. For those who have been around the recently converted, you know of the energy and joy of newly found faith. Augustine wanted to know. He had dipped […]
Isaiah 10-12 Isaiah’s words fall heavy from the page. “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression…” (Isa. 10:1). Woe… Woe to those… Good thing I’m not one of those people, one of the leaders of Israel, to whom Isaiah is writing. I have not decreed anything, let alone […]
Isaiah 7-9 “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel!” (Isaiah 7:14). These are some of the most exciting words of scripture, words forecasting the virgin birth, words that point directly to Christ. And yet as we discover them here in chapter seven of Isaiah, we find them […]
Isaiah 1-3 The Good News of a God of Wrath Bringing Sinful People to his Kingdom by the Ministrations of Christ and his Cross In 1937 theologian H. Richard Niebuhr famously mocked the Christian liberalism of his day summarizing its theology as: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment […]