It’s not just Christians who recognize this world is imperfect. People from all cultures, walks of life aspire to something more. May be better world here and now, may be future, in another life, a higher state of consciousness. Actually more fundamental and personal than “the world”; every human being knows in their heart of hearts – they just like everyone else are broken. Fallen mankind denies or distorts the magnitude of that truth, but know it just the same.
Most would agree that the world needs fixing; comparatively speaking, not many would agree on how that should or will occur. Nuclear holocaust when the planet turns into a giant fireball and then disappears? A “time in which we can intentionally align ourselves with nature for rapid remaking of ourselves” (Marilyn Ferguson) and our world? A seemingly endless cycle of rebirths that eventually lead to cosmic oneness when all will be right again? There is one infallible source of truth on this subject (many others, also), it is before us.
If chapter 24-27 summarize and apply prophetic truths stated and prefigured in chapters 13-23, two entities identified in chapter 25 – this mountain, Moab – must be understood in larger context. Let me explain: previous chapters contain prophecies about number of nations/peoples surrounding Israel as well as Israel and Judah. God intended to deal with them just as he said, and he did. God also intended for those situations to be examples of how he would deal with mankind in general. God through prophet Isaiah described that in present section. It’s short-term perspective first – limited in time/people/geography in view; then long-term perspective that includes more detailed spiritual truth and application.
A. a song of praise v.1-5 singing
God had given Isaiah a vision of himself (chapter 6), high and lifted up, seated on his throne. All Isaiah could think about: his sinfulness in contrast to God’s holiness. God then gave Isaiah view into the future: all the brokenness that is inescapable part of all creation, how God will bring that to an end. But wait, there’s more! There is a life after this one, not reached gradually; only one Enoch, one Elijah. For rest of us, either through death or remarkable tranformation when Jesus returns.
David and Isaiah and Paul were brothers at different times: when they saw glory of God displayed in his handiwork, couldn’t help singing. Before Isaiah could tell any more about what God has planned, had to stop and praise the Lord. The works he identifies, the way he describes them highlights facets of God’s character – what we should be recognizing and doing when we consider God’s works.
my God (1a) – personal, relational – near enough to communicate, interested in his people
exalt you, praise your name (1b) – to be worshiped because he is worthy of worship, because he has done things no creature could
faithful (1c) – made Plan A, has kept the Plan; brought about things exactly as promised
strong (2a) – completely overwhelmed those who oppose his rule, city a complete ruin, unrecognizable as a city
victorious (2b) – thoroughly defeated and unable to ever rebel again, not simply put down for now
Savior (3) – former determined rebels enabled to worship
compassionate – care for poor and needy
protector (4a) – not passive bystander, God actively works on behalf of his people
safe refuge (5) – God is the wall on which storm beats with no effect, behind which people find safety; shelter from downpours, scorching heat; tough stuff of life that comes from God’s enemy and ours
B. a joyous salvation v.6-9 feasting
“this mountain” – Mount Zion – “the Lord who commands armies will rule on Mount Zion in Jerusalem in the presence of his assembly, in majestic splendor.” (Isa. 24:23)
more than physical Jerusalem, what it signifies: God’s dwelling place. Fulfilled in a small way in the Church, in its completeness in heaven.
full representation – all people (6a)
more than nation of Israel – all nations will be present: God intends his church, the body of Christ, to include representatives from the whole world. Those whom the Lamb has “redeemed to God by [His] blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. (Rev. 5:9)
full satisfaction – a feast (6b)
rich food, well-aged wine; what God intends to satisfy our needs in a measure now, in fullness at that great banquet table in heaven. We will “rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Rev. 19:7-8)
full vision – (7) – swallow up the shroud
honor veterans who gave lives for sake of liberty, defend constitution, etc. If we do that, we really should honor the one who secured our liberty from sin and death.
burial shroud over all people, veil over all nations – all mankind under the curse, viewing reality through sin-veiled eyes. Man has no power to remove that shroud: Jesus called Lazarus to life, called him out of his grave. Jesus also told the bystanders, “Unwrap him and let him go.” (John 11:44) Lazarus did not have the power to loose himself, nor could he see clearly through the cloth over his face.
Pig-Pen of the Peanuts cartoon had perennial dirt cloud surrounding him; best effort, he could only get half clean or clean for a moment before cloud returned. Even rainstorm didn’t settle the dirt cloud. So with mankind: but wait! Text says shroud and veil would be destroyed. And so they were, on the mount called Calvary, when Son of God experienced death so his people would have life.
full life – (8a) – swallow up death
not just life, fullness of life – no experience or even threat of death any longer. Not even a possibility. In this life, it’s true we are living. But it’s race between living and dying – babies grow because bodies produce new cells faster than old ones die. Adults – more or less keep up. Thanks to curse, inevitable that at some point dying will win out over living. UNTIL – resurrection, wonderfully expounded by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:54-57
“Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
full joy – (8b) – wipe away tears
everything that would get in the way: curse, sin, sinfulness, disgrace, death – swallowed up, removed, wiped away, taken away. God graciously provides what is necessary for full enjoyment, enables his people to experience it. Best family reunion banquet in world can’t be fully enjoyed if: part of family is missing, can’t see what you’re eating, know that it’s your last meal.
When we arrive at heavenly banquet: no more sin, “death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain”. (Rev. 21:4) God has provided salvation from much more than hell – from sin, curse, corruption. It’s a full salvation in which we will eternally rejoice.
C. a gulf fixed v.10-12 finality
now a contrast – this mountain and that mountain. God’s hand at rest on this, hand raised against that mountain. Standing on Mount Zion, looking at mountains of Moab, between is deep valley with Jordan River and Dead Sea. At its deepest, nearly 1/2 mile below sea level. Just as God’s hand of blessing on those who trust in Him, so his hand of punishment on those who try to save themselves.
Moab here signifies those too proud to do it God’s way, confident of own ability to get themselves out of trouble. Isaiah pictures them as straw trampled into a manure pile, they are trying to swim out of it. But when God’s hand is at rest, his judgment will be final; between this mountain and that “a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” (Luke 16:26)
God is great and merciful and patient and just; standing before him at end of this life determines ultimate destiny. No do-overs after death. For one trusting in own goodness to make it to heaven, the Lord Jesus says “then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7:23) They “will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 8:22)
For those who trust in Lord Jesus and his righteousness, a much different ending. When all our labors and trials are over, and we are safe on that beautiful shore, just to be near the dear Lord we adore, that will be glory for us!