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Isaiah: Prince of Prophets—"Declare His Glory Among the Nations”

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As we come to the last passage of the last chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, we are given a glimpse of God’s sovereign purpose for His people throughout history. The mission of Zion has always been to declare the glory of God to all the inhabitants of the earth. Throughout the millennia, the glories of God’s salvation has been evident. From the slain animal in the Garden to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, through the Old Testament sacrificial rituals, to the ultimate manifestation of God’s salvific work in Christ, God has glorified Himself through his redemptive grace.

Through His judgment of Israel and the restoration of a remnant of His faithful people after 70 years of captivity, Yahweh will begin to bring the nations of the world to Zion to behold His glories. That initial event took place with the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. ... After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1-2; 9–11, NIV84)

Since that moment, more and more of the Gentile nations have discovered the glories of the Lord, God. It’s the story of world evangelism, as succeeding generations of believers, beginning at Jerusalem then going to Judea, then to Samaria and finally to the ends of the earth. And in every part of the world where Christians went and settled, nations of people turned to God and saw His glories—particularly the glories of His salvation.

At the end of time, all the nations of the world will be drawn to the New Jerusalem where people from every tribe, and tongue, and nation and people will have a place with God.

The prophecy closes with a solemn warning for those who ignore God and continue in their sin. God is sovereign over life and in His time He will punish sin and accomplish His purpose concerning His faithful people. In this closing passage, the hope of God and heaven shines bright against the dark backdrop of judgment and hell. In fact, the final verse of Isaiah is so disturbing to the Jews that many Jews to this day do not end their reading of the prophet with verse 24, but go back and re-read verse 23 as the ending for Isaiah: "They will all come and bow down and worship before me."

Yet, it is fitting that Isaiah ends with a word of God's judgment, because as we shall see, God's judgment also reveals God's glory. In this final message I want you to see:

    • The glory of judgment
    • The glory of God's grace
    • The glory of God's heaven


            1. two verses I want you to see and understand—the first half of verse 18, and all of verse 24
              • “And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come ... ” (Isaiah 66:18, NIV84)
              • “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24, NIV84)


            1. we know that as Isaiah had foretold the judgment upon the children of Israel, it came to pass
                1. when Yahweh declares in v. 1 “I ... am about to come” these are ominous words
                    1. it’s a coming in judgment through the nation of Babylon
                2. as Israel rebelled against God and as they rejected God, they had to face that judgment
            2. reading the verses before these words, we realize the actions of the children of Israel were actions of rebellion
                1. their imaginations were the imaginations of the sinfulness and the wickedness of their hearts
                2. the Lord says, "I am about to come—judgment is about to come"
                3. then he describes for them that judgment
                    1. they are going to be rejected
                    2. through the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah, Yahweh declares "Since you are so wicked and evil, I am going to leave you behind; and I am going to gather all the other nations and peoples of the world to come and see my glory”
                4. this judgment is bad news for Israel, but this judgment is good news for the nations of Gentiles that they would be brought into God's kingdom
            3. at the end of the chapter, God describes the result of judgment
              • “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24, NIV84)
                1. it’s a vision of eschatological horror
                    1. this does not describe a pleasant sight
                2. Isaiah uses very, very descriptive language to paint a vision of hell and damnation
                    1. “Their worm (or soul) will not die", but lives on in eternity
                    2. "The fire will not be quenched", the eternal fires of hell will be burning torment but never consuming nor destroying
                    3. “They will be loathsome,” meaning they are despised, and unpleasant to look upon


            1. in this world and in this lifetime it seems as if God's judgment isn't discussed very much
                1. the evil seem to prosper, wickedness goes on, and the inhumanity of mankind continues endlessly
                2. the world grows evil and wicked more and more with each passing day, year and generation
                    1. sometimes the believer thinks: "Where is God's judgment? When will he return? When will he come back?"
            2. God's judgment is always around the corner
                1. God's judgment came upon Israel time after time as they forsook God
                2. God's judgment will come at the end of time with no one escaping it
                  • “I thought in my heart, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.” (Ecclesiastes 3:17, NIV84)
                3. God, in the end, will administer justice to the lost and He will be glorified in doing so
            3. we like to say that God is a loving God, and indeed He is a loving God for all his creation
                1. but the flip side of God’s love is God’s wrath
                    1. make no mistake, even though there are misguided people who think there isn't a place like hell because God is so loving, there is
                        1. Isaiah describes it
                        2. Jesus describes it
                    2. it is the place for those who forsake God and his word and His Son—they will spend the rest of eternity in eternal death
            4. there is a time of judgment, and that time of judgment will come—all to God's glory
              • “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41–42, NIV84)
                1. again, not a pleasant thought!
            5. Isaiah finishes up this book of prophecy and judgment with the words of promise and hope for God's people, for even in his judgment we see God's grace.


            1. God is going to judge Israel
                1. He says: "I am going to bring all nations and they will come and see my glory"
            2. but not all of Israel will be judged
              • “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.” (Isaiah 66:19, NIV84)
                1. there is a remnant of the righteous who will survive and return to the land so that God may accomplish His specific purpose to proclaim His glory
            3. with the coming of the Messiah, the world of the Gentiles will begin to turn to God and discover His glories
                1. Simeon was one of the righteous remnant in Israel who understood this
                  • “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit the at he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:25–35, NIV84)


            1. think of the ways this prophecy has come true
                1. Isaiah refers to all the places from which believing Gentiles will come
                    1. he lists a number of towns and regions: "To Tarshish, to the Libyans, and Lydians, to Tubal and Greece ... To the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory"
            2. Israel’s enemies will take the children of Israel captive
                1. these enemies did not acknowledge God
                2. they did not know God's fame or glory
                    1. yet, what would happen?
                    2. "They will proclaim my glory among the nations"
                      • ILLUS. Turn to Daniel and Ezekiel and see the prophets there who live in captivity. Yet, by the display of their faith kings come to acknowledge that the Lord God of Israel is the true God and the Lord God Almighty. These captive prophets and people would proclaim God's grace.
                3. Isaiah describes the result: 'And they will bring all your brothers from all nation to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD--on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,' says the LORD."
                    1. as you hear that, can you see the Ethiopian Eunuch in his chariot listen to deacon of the church preach Jesus?
            3. after the resurrection, a faithful remnant of believing Jews called Apostles took the Gospel of grace into all the world
              • ILLUS. We now that the Bible records Peter going out to Ceaserea, and Paul traveling West through the Roman empire. Historical works outside of the Bible indicate that John the younger would go to work in Asia Minor, Thomas would make it all the way to India, Andrew is believed to have gone to the Ukraine and southern Russia, Simon the Zealot preached through Northern Africa all the way to Britain, Bartholomew went North through Turkey and into Armenia, a few stayed closer to Jerusalem.
                1. and succeeding generations of believers continue to take the Gospel of grace into all the world
            4. you and I have heard about God's grace from very early on
                1. because we hear it and know it and believe it in our hearts, it almost becomes second nature to us
                    1. this faith-knowledge of grace is a good thing
                    2. we understand God's grace, his forgiveness
                2. but for the people around us it is hard for them to grasp the divine things of God
                    1. their minds are set on earthly things of man
            5. God's grace needs to be proclaimed boldly and loudly, not only with our words but also, especially with our actions
              • “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV84)
              • “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18, NIV84)
                1. this is grace—He pardons sin and forgives transgression
                2. He doesn't keep track of our sins or pay us back as we deserve
                3. He doesn't send us to eternal destruction of hell, but he takes us by his grace, his love into the gates and majesty of heaven forever
            6. this is the glory of God’s grace
                1. we are privileged and blessed to proclaim God's glory among the nations


            1. Isaiah ends the passage by referring to eternal things at the end of time
              • “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.” (Isaiah 66:22, NIV84)
                1. Israel is in rebellion against God and will finally even reject their Missiah
                2. then God would reject them
                3. then the kings of foreign nations would come and take them as prisoners
                4. they would have miserable lives, and there would be very few people left in Jerusalem and Judah
                5. the temple would be torn down, and Jerusalem would be destroyed
            2. it seemed there was nothing for them to look forward to
                1. but God never leaves His faithful remnant hopeless
                    1. they would not be forgotten or eternally forsaken
                2. God Himself declares this
                    1. these are not just the thoughts or opinions or hopes of Isaiah
                    2. their descendants would endure just as the heavens and the earth would endure because of God's care and concern
                3. this has laterally come true in the Church
                    1. we are the offspring and the decedents of Zion—we are spiritual Israel
            3. for all of eternity, God’s faithful people—both Jew and Gentile—will experience the glories of God’s Heaven
              • “From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:23, NIV84)
                1. this is Isaiah’s way of proclaiming we will worship everyday for all of eternity

In Revelation 5 John writes about the multitudes upon multitudes, thousands upon thousands—countless numbers from every tribe and language and nation and tongue. Hear what these multitudes sing: "In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! '" (Revelation 5:12).

May our lives always show the same glory in this world.

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