the LORD will come in fire

Isaiah 66:15-16 (ESV)

15 “For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.”

I think we often forget that the LORD is a God of judgement as well as mercy.

And that His judgement will be harsh but fair (Romans 2:2).

Fire is considered a means of purification; a way of cleansing and refining. Like the process of melting down gold to separate the good bits from the bad bits and in so doing create a pure metal.

Because God hates sin, because He is angry with man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), He will one day act to destroy those who sin: to ‘slay’ those who turn their back on Him.

In some ways it is a “fire & brimstone” message.

And we should all sit-up and take note of it. Because no one – not one of us – is guilt-free.

We have all – every last one of us – rejected God and “gone our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Yet that’s where Jesus comes into the picture …

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your justice and mercy

action : confess my sin before God, repenting, and seeking His forgiveness and mercy

his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance

Isaiah 52:14-15 (ESV)

14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

This prophecy flies in the face of what the Israelites no doubt expected of a Messiah.

For Him to be brutally treated, marred, beyond human semblance, is painful to read.

How could mankind murder the Prince of Life?

Whip Him, and beat Him, and bash Him to a pulp. So much so that He was unrecognisable as a human being.

At the time of its release I thought The Passion of The Christ, the movie directed by Mel Gibson, was incredibly graphic and harsh. That the treatment of Christ depicted in the film was possibly exaggerated and certainly overemphasised.

But upon reflection, after reading this passage, perhaps it was too tame.

When we deceive ourselves that we’re not as bad as the next guy. That we’re, generally speaking, a pretty kind-hearted person. Someone who doesn’t do too much bad. Certainly less bad than good. Then perhaps we need to consider the blood on our hands from this cold-blooded killing?

We are all guilty of the death of Christ.

To think otherwise is to ignore our corporate responsibility as human beings.

Fortunately, His blood will “sprinkle many nations”. That is, His sacrificial death will bring blessing to the whole world, not just the Jews.

What appears to be a man-made calamity is actually a God-ordained “victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54f).

The truth of the gospel, this new revelation, is that Christ Jesus is not just the “King of kings” (Revelation 17:14) but that He was crucified on a cross, rose again from the grave and then ascended into heaven to sit at God’s right-hand.

And that those who believe will share in His resurrection.

Yes, this is hard to “understand” and was once a “mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51). But now these “kings” of the earth will be enlightened.

And not just them but “all people” (John 12:32).

Kim+

prayer : thank you God for revealing your “mystery” to me (Romans 16:25ff)

action : help me to be an instrument revealing your “mystery” to others (Ephesians 3:9)

he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted

Isaiah 52:13 (ESV)

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.

Not surprisingly, this verse reminds me of a great song called High & Lifted Up performed Live by St Paul’s Castle Hill in Sydney, Australia.

But I digress so back to the verse at hand.

I have this image first of Christ as He is nailed to a cross and then lifted up for all to see. To be mocked by the scoffers there on the hill of Calvary.

As insults are hurled at Him and scorn heaped upon Him, our Lord and Saviour appears anything but sovereign and majestic.

But irony of ironies, God lifted Him up in a way that no mere mortal could do.

For “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior” (Acts 5:31).

Kim+

prayer : thank you Jesus Christ for suffering on the cross in my place

action : you Lord are my King and your name shall be lifted up

how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news

Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

4 How beautiful on the mountains
 are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
 who bring good tidings,
 who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
 “Your God reigns!”

Indeed. It’s great to hear good news.

The announcement of a wedding. The birth of a child. The safe return of a loved one.

But imagine the news is “proclaiming peace”.

The “tidings” are that there is “salvation”.

The Israelites had suffered greatly and this would have been very welcome news. But I wonder if they understood the significance of what was about to be explained to them.

That the “salvation” was not just their imminent rescue but an ultimate restoration between God and man.

And that the precursor to God’s arrival in human form on earth was John the Baptist preaching this good news (John1:15ff).

If one’s message is that “God reigns” in the person of “Christ the Lord” then yes, it really is “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Kim+

prayer : help me to be bold in sharing this good news

action : “tell of his salvation from day to day” (1 Chronicles 16:23)

he will bring forth justice to the nations

Isaiah 42:1 (ESV)

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.

This verse is clearly prophetic about Jesus as indicated in Matthew 12:17ff.

Yet a few things are interesting:

Firstly, He is described as a “servant”. Despite being the Son of God (Philippians 2:6-7).

Secondly, He is “chosen” (Luke 23:35).

Thirdly, He is God’s “beloved” Son (Mark 1:11) and thus anointed with the Holy “Spirit” (Mark 1:10, Acts 10:38).

And finally, He will ultimately “judge the world with righteousness” (Psalm 9:8, John 5:30, Matthew 16:27, Revelation 20:12).

Plenty of food for thought.

Kim+

prayer : thank God for His Son, Jesus Christ

action : “tell of His salvation from day to day” (Psalm 96:2)