Study of the Book of Isaiah
By Neville V. Stevens
New International Version used throughout unless otherwise specified.
In this Bible study weíll be going through various books of prophecy in the Bible line by line, giving explanations as we go. The purpose is to reveal how God hid the keys to understanding until the precise time when all would be fulfilled. Much of what is written wouldnít have made much sense to the reader centuries ago, or even decades ago. But now itís all become very relevant and a timely reminder of what to expect in coming days.
In accordance with Bible principles, it will be precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little. While every verse will be inserted, not every verse will be commented on if it has no obvious reference to the topic at hand. Throughout the Scriptures there are pointers and markers. Pointers are verses that point to other verses to expand the understanding, and markers are like milestones that must be referenced and remembered as primary sources.
Down through the ages God spoke to the prophets at many times and in different ways (Heb 1:1-2). The importance of all that is written was emphasized by the Lord Jesus when He appeared on earth: Matt 5:17-18 ďDo not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.Ē All that is written in the Prophets must be fulfilled, and Jesus quoted from these Books again and again confirming that all is written will be fulfilled. Not only did Jesus reference these ancient prophecies, but He also prophesied of their later fulfillment Ė at a much later time.
Itís become fashionable today to disregard all the prophets and to focus on that which suggests good outcomes and rewards in the hereafter. This sort of wishful thinking however, ignores the purpose of prophecy and how it conforms to the final result of Godís Great Plan forever into the future.
In any society there has to be laws by which good governance is exacted and obedience to the law is required under the threat of penalty. The problem today is that legislation has introduced so many laws that the common man in the street couldnít possibly know what the law requires in all aspects of modern living. Indeed, it takes specialist lawyers to untangle it all when a case is mounted, and even then no-one can be certain as to what the law requires. In the US Supreme Court, seven judges are rarely in agreement as to the meaning of any given law.
Almighty God however, gave His Laws to His servant Moses on Mount Sinai (Horeb) and at a very critical time in prophetic fulfillment urged His people to remember them (Mal 4:4). The fact is that every prophet wrote about the importance of obedience to God as well as the consequences for failure to do so. Everything that is written in the Prophets is given for examples for us on whom the end of the age has come. 1Cor 10:11-13 ďThese things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.Ē So God is not offering wine and roses and glorious living, but warnings and testing and even more as the final days approach. Itís quite strange that people could see how Jesus was tested and how He suffered, and think they themselves are immune from the same. Yet Paul, in the above verses, is warning to expect troubles and trials and advising that God will make it possible for you to bear it. Most Bible students would know that the Apostle Paul was martyred.
In view of all the examples we have of past histories of the Tribes of Israel, surely no-one could possibly expect that peace and well-being will suddenly descend on all humanity in the days leading up to the return of the Lord Jesus. Jesus Himself spoke of horrific times which would bring humanity near to extinction. He spoke of persecution on an unimaginable scale. When the Bible speaks of persecution, itís speaking of real persecution Ė not the silliness of what we hear today where someoneís life is destroyed because he uttered something that was deemed to have racial overtones and someoneís feelings were hurt. The House of Israel is about to learn some severe lessons as to their conduct in this regard. God specifically expresses hatred for certain races of people; in short, there are races of people whom God detests and intends to wipe from the face of the earth. And here we have the House of Israel actually elevating these very brute beasts over Godís people Israel. Yet when the taunts are directed towards Israelites this racism is ignored with silly comments about moral equivalence.
As an example, itís worth noting that the nation of Jordan is to be marked by God for destruction by His army because they jeered and taunted the Israelis when they came under attack. For their insults every man, woman and child of them will be subjected to slaughter. God is furiously defensive of His people Judah, and in the day of slaughter, when all nations will be driven far from the Holy Land, all people will see the result of Godís fury. Youíll see the evidence of all these prophecies as we progress through this Bible study. The territory of Jordan was originally settled by Abrahamís nephew Lot. Lot was of the same bloodline as Abraham, but he does not descend directly from Godís servant Abraham. Two other major peoples in the Middle East do descend from Abraham, and these are Ishmael and Esau (also referred to interchangeably in the Bible as Edom). Ishmael was born to Abraham through the slave woman Hagar. Esau was born to Isaac and Rebekah and was the twin-brother of Jacob. God detests both Ishmael and Esau and intends to see them destroyed from the face of the earth. Both Ishmael and Esau constitute a large portion of the religion of Islam today. Both these peoples and all their confederates are extremely treacherous people and there is no place for them in Godís Kingdom. The true and sacred bloodline runs through Jacob and no other.
The type of persecution the Bible speaks about is like that which was suffered by the Jewish people in the holocaust just seventy years ago. Did the House of Israel learn anything from this? Have the Israelites resolved that the persecution of the Jews will never arise again? Would they ever allow another bunch of degenerates to openly advocate the destruction of the Jewish people without severe and catastrophic intervention? The House of Israel havenít learned anything it seems and today they are openly encouraging Godís most hated enemies Ė the Islamic nations Ė to openly threaten the Israelis with destruction. So it seems the House of Israel has learned nothing from history and now the lesson they must learn is right in their faces.
The solution is simple! Yet the consequences for failure to act on behalf of their brother Jews will bring Godís retribution on such a catastrophic scale that the House of Ephraim will cease to exist as a nation. And this is based on the sure word of prophecy. Iím sure it would be comforting to some to believe that this is in the distant future Ė but itís not! Itís now, itsí just ahead, and itís imminent. Could any Bible student today possibly imagine that God would permit His enemies to overrun the Holy Land and the Holy City and destroy His people of Judah without intervention? When this occurs, intervention will be swift and decisive and will actually send the nations of the earth reeling with shock. Youíll learn all about this in this Bible Study.
We are living in the days when the establishment of the Kingdom of God is imminent, so of course God is going to intervene! But donít expect to see any diplomacy as the solution. Those sort of fairy-tale solutions donít form any part of Godís resolve to destroy His enemies and reduce them to ashes.
God has forewarned that those who have been disobedient to Him and His Laws face destruction in a lake of fire. How much more should we expect that Godís enemies of old will suffer a similar fate? Of course they are going to be conquered, killed and burned up and cease to exist forever! When did God ever suggest that He would support any other culture or form of worship other than what He gave to the House of Israel for eternal obedience? Why would God want anyone to live who are not His people? Would He want these degenerates to habitually exist in order to continue to tempt the House of Israel into disobedience as they have done in ages past? God has made it clear how the Kingdom of God will be set up, and who will live there. He will decide, and as the Kingdom spreads throughout the world, all opposition to Godís rule and His Laws will result in the extinction of the disobedient. All those who have sided with Satan in rebellion against God and His Laws will be deemed to have no rights to life.
So letís stop crying crocodile tears over the degenerates of this earth who have made themselves Godís enemy. It really doesnít matter whether their conduct has been deliberate or in ignorance. Outside of the House of Israel, God has no interest in them anyway. They are not His people Ė they are Satanís people! God has said again and again that the House of Israel Ė all 12 Tribes are His people. Amos 3:1-2 ďHear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel--against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt: 2 "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins."
The Western nations (the House of Israel) have decided that only the leaders of the Islamic nations Ė like Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejab and other Islamic despots Ė are to blame for the terror and carnage they inflict on the West and have given their hordes a clean bill of health. Of course, circumstances have shown that itís not just the leaders who are plotting the destruction of the West but all of Islam. So God has decided that the conduct of the leaders of the West will determine the outcome of his retribution against the House of Israel. That seems fair! Whatever measure they use, the same will be measured against them. Since the West has chosen to ignore all the evidence, so God will ignore their pleas when the evidence proves to be true. So, in the same way the House of Israel will suffer the prescribed fate because of the conduct of their leaders Ė and especially one particular leader, foretold in Bible prophecy as the Ďwicked Princeí. The title ĎPrinceí being the closest word to the title ĎPresidentí; that is, one who presides over the people. All these things will become evident as we examine the prophecies concerned. The examples in the Prophets will become most evident when all end-time prophecy begins to be fulfilled. Not only do they contain examples for us today, but they also give dire warnings of what to expect in precise detail.
You will notice that the primary goal of prophecy is to detail the fortunes of the House of Israel and how God plans to punish them for their sins. You will also notice that God singles out one nation in particular Ė the very nation that received the greatest blessings of all time; blessings which are magnitudes greater than any other nation. And that nation is the United States of America, called Ephraim or the House of Israel interchangeably throughout all prophecies. The question one might ask is: Is the USA worse than any other nation in respect to Godís standards? No! The USA is the best that any nation ever offered in terms of human righteousness. In fact, many more times more righteous than any other nation today. Still their righteousness falls far short of the standards that God set in motion long ago for His chosen nation Israel. The USA is a Judeo-Christian nation, based primarily on the fundamentals of Christianity. Christianity though, chose to distance itself from anything that related to Judaism. This became very evident when Godís Sabbath and the Seven Annual Holy days were dispensed with in favour of days of their own choosing. Youíll learn very quickly how Godís Holy Days became corrupted anciently and the sort of reasoning that prevailed to bring it about.
Anciently, in the days of Jeroboam the Ephraimite, the House of Israel became divided into two nations. In the northern sector, ten tribes became known as the House of Israel, while in the south, the House of Judah (sometimes referred to as the House of David) became the southern nation. It wasnít long before these two nations were warring against each other. In time, the northern nation of Israel was sent into captivity and became somewhat lost in identity. After their period of punishment was ended, God resettled them in Europe to become nations again in their own right. And while they lost track of who they were, nevertheless, much prophecy concerning them was yet to be fulfilled, and so God chose to wait until the latter days to bring it all to remembrance.
In the aftermath of the settlement of the European nations, one tribe departed from Europe, taking with them the remnant of ten tribes and became a nation in their own right. Today, this nation is referred to again and again as the House of Israel or equally commonly as Ephraim. Nearly all prophecy concerning the House of Israel is directed against Ephraim Ė presently the mightiest nation on earth and the only super-power. In fact, God makes it clear that when Ephraim is Ďtaken awayí or defeated and ceases to be a nation, the same fate will befall Ephraimís brother nations in Europe. Though itís scarcely a couple of generations ago, Europe still exists only because of Ephraimís mighty power to intervene in their tribal squabbles in the Second World War (as well as WW1 of course). So a debt of gratitude from the Europeans wouldnít go amiss for the extra time that America bought for them, but perhaps this is asking too much. The Europeans were reminded just how much they still hang off Americaís coat-sleeves in the present financial crisis. The Europeans are ambitious, but even after a head-start of thousands of years, they are still the Ďpoor cousinsí of America. This was all a part of the meticulous planning of Almighty God but most people have a hard time noticing. So all the Tribes of Israel have seen the best and the worst of all that life has to offer. Whether they remain sanguine about this or not, everything is about to change!
God gave Satan six millennial days to do all his work. Satanís work entails habitually and offensively trying to thwart God and to institute his own form of governance. Satanís governance never brings peace and prosperity but only death and destruction Ė because this is his very nature. This is what he is, and this is what he strives for. He believes that everything should exist for his pleasure regardless of the cost of suffering and misery for others. Satan has instilled within his brood Ė his offspring Ė that their happiness lies in the destruction of all Godís people and they firmly believe it. Given half a chance, they wonít hesitate to carry out Satanís instructions and with all the fury and cruelty that only Satan could devise. Presently, Almighty God is allowing them to gain ground in their desire to see this fulfilled. Not out of deference to Satan though! Rather God is about to punish His own people for listening to Satan and being beguiled by him! They are certainly not listening to their Creator God.
Sure I know that some of our readers are firmly convinced theyíve been a child of God since the age of six or whatever, because their local preacher or Sunday-school teacher told them so. But donít be too sure. Although it may have been stated innocently enough because of ignorance, it doesnít make it right. All sorts of deceivers exist today who are dedicated to winning you to their own point of view. They have a plethora of Ďgentile Jesus meek and mild storiesí to deceive you into believing in a false Jesus and they generally only quote feel-good verses from the Bible. Such people are not the type to be mentoring anyone.
Jesus had a similar experience with the religious leaders of His day. They liked to wear elaborate religious clothes to be noticed. They loved to be seen praying on street corners and to be honourably received in the market places. And of course, they loved to give advice to others based on their myopic view of things. Jesus detested them, but still told the people to obey what they taught but not to do as they did because they were hypocrites. Notably, John the Baptist preceded Jesus in the criticism of these hypocrites and in a very outspoken way: Matt 3:7-12 ďJohn's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
God always sends a prophet to warn of impending doom Ė and John the Baptist was a prophet and much more! In those days, the deceivers were the religious leaders of Judaism, who were determined to thwart the advance of Christianity. Today we have hordes of Christian leaders who habitually deceive the people in many ways, including instilling disregard for the Prophets of the Bible. They offer false hope that the prophecies of the Bible will pass away unfulfilled and that their followers will be rewarded for doing nothing.
Deception takes on many forms, although in mainstream Christianity it has a form similar to the Scribes and Pharisees. Itís the same sickly-sweet, holier-than-thou type of deception that prevails and fools the preponderance of people. But leaving aside the religious tendencies today, there are other deceivers who have gained ground in recent years that have infuriated God just as much. These are the people who crave recognition as intellectuals, and who love to suggest that God is not the Creator and that all life evolved through some means or another. They fail to notice that all living creatures do what they were programmed to do from birth and thatís all they know to do. The one exception is humanity. Human beings are born helpless and dependent on their parents for survival. Yet they have the intellect to learn virtually anything and to develop skills that are god-like in that they can create new things and develop new techniques. God made humans in His own image for a very special purpose, and that purpose is to replace the present rulers under God. All heavenly rulers and counselors to God will relinquish their crowns in favour of these newly created beings. These will be especially selected from the vast hordes of humanity and will be endowed with eternal life. This great privilege will not be given lightly, but will be earned through obedience to God and a determination to serve God to the exclusion of all else. And isnít this exactly what Jesus did? Why would God accept a lesser standard than that which He required of His Son?
However, not everyone will be given eternal life and become kings and priests forevermore. The House of Israel will be reestablished in their ancestral lands and will live their lives as human beings until they reach a great age and then they will die and return to dust (Isa 65:20). There is no suggestion in the Bible of anything beyond the grave for these human nations of Israel in the Millennium. Still, God didnít create the universe in vain, and as a Creator who continues to work, He may well announce further developments at the conclusion of the Millennium. But Iím certainly not going to speculate on this except to say that it seems quite likely.
God is a Creator, who continues to work for the betterment of all His created beings. He knows that all creatures must be regulated to know the difference between right and wrong, and to realize the consequences when they go awry. So at the fulfillment of all Bible prophecy the outcome will be glorious for all the survivors or remnant of the House of Israel, and even for the surviving Gentiles who turn to God in obedience. After the climactic end, a millennium of peace will ensue. Almighty God will bring this all about and even pledges that the House of Israel will have twice as much as before. But first they must be tested in the crucible of war and destruction in order to be purified. But be aware, that the faithful Tribe of Judah have already been before you to set the example and emerged as a relatively righteous nation. For all they have suffered, they still emerged as God-fearing and obedient people. The same couldnít be said today for the majority of Christianity, but now Christianity has the opportunity to change all this, and to become like Jews.
Those who know their Creator God and who know that the time of the Seventh Millennium has come will know that God has plans to fulfill all that is written and to establish His Kingdom for evermore. God has made it clear that He plans to punish the House of Israel for their sins and to elevate the House of Judah to be the premier nation on earth and to secure and hold the Holy Land for this very purpose. The Israelis will be trained by Godís own tribe Ė the Tribe of Levi Ė for the purpose of destroying all the surrounding nations. While all this is going on, the House of Israel will be undergoing the appointed slaughter for their sins. This is the same type of persecution and slaughter the Jewish people have already endured in the past seventy years.
Not surprisingly, the exploits of the House of Israel grows silent in Bible prophecy after the day of reckoning comes. They will do no exploits, but the other two Tribes will. In this same period the wars in the Middle East will continue until the Holy Land is secured. You will find that a large proportion of Bible prophecy centers on the nations who have occupied the Middle East for thousands of years and still live there. These are the nations, with a couple of minor exceptions, that must be decimated and to undergo furious reprisals for their conduct over the millennia.
As a point of interest, the prophesied beast will emerge after all these things occur, so now is not the time to be expecting him. This beast is an evil, loathsome ruler of the heavenly realms who mentors a certain man, whom he is preparing for this very appearance. But for the time being, forget all about him! And donít expect him to make his move any time soon. Youíll have plenty to occupy your mind in the meantime. This Levite Brotherhood will keep you informed in regard to him but now is not the time.
The exploits of the House of Israel begins to emerge after some years as God sets His hand to redeem some of them, most notably some Ephraimites, who will join the armies of the Living God to clear all the land from the River Nile to the Euphrates River. And with this, weíll begin our study of the Book of Isaiah.