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Bible: What Does Isaiah 54-57 Teach Us About Covenants, Eternal Salvation, and Rewards?
Yahweh: "Abram, Count the Stars"
The Covenant of Peace
Now the LORD compares Israel to a once-barren woman who, because of His mercy, will bear a multitude of children.
He exhorts her to sing, rejoice, and prepare for expansion (vv. 1-3; cf. Gal. 4:27); she will forget the days when she was "fruitless" (v. 4).
[Why does the LORD say her "widowhood"?]
He seeks to comfort the nation by reminding her of His titles that indicate both His deep concern for her and His power to make a difference in her life (v. 5).
Yahweh once forsook her because she sinned grievously.
That separation, however, lasted in God's eyes for only a "mere moment" of judicial wrath, (vv. 6-7a, 8a).
Now He calls her back in mercy, now and forever (vv. 7b, 8b).
In His comparison between "My covenant of peace" and the post-Deluge oath, Yahweh swears not to remove the former promise from Israel (vv. 9-10).
He will rebuild the lives of His people, using the most precious materials for their "city" (vv. 11-12).
As for their children, a godly education will bring them peace (v. 13).
Israel itself will be righteous, at peace, and well-established, having no fear of enemy attack, because the LORD will grant them power over all adversaries (vv. 14-17).
Messiah's kingdom has come and Israel stands as the pre-eminent nation on earth.
What part do you play in salvation?
Eternal Salvation is a Free Gift; The Everlasting Covenant
To anyone who will only come to Him, Yahweh offers the free, but priceless gift of spiritual life in abundance.
[Yet we must also remember the other side of the antinomy: only if Yahweh "draws" someone to Himself will he "come to Him" (Compare John 6:37, 44)].
This wondrous possession will belong to everyone who “thirsts” and/or is “poor,” and comes to Him.
People who are satisfied with what they have will simply refuse to approach God to receive what He will freely give them (v. 1; cf. Rev. 22:17).
With searching questions the LORD exhorts His audience to stop wasting their money on material things, which will not satisfy their spiritual needs, but instead “ingest” what He gives them: His words of life (v. 2).
Once they have received His message, God will make an everlasting covenant with them--a covenant that will relate in some way to the one He made with David (v. 3).
Gentiles will hasten to the redeemed and glorified Israel, because they will see that God's favor is upon her (vv. 4-5).
The prophet then interjects exhortations for Israel to repent without delay, for only a space of time exists during which God responds to repentant hearts with mercy and pardon (vv. 6-7).
However, the text also implies that Yahweh will not act graciously when people spurn completely His offer of restoration (v. 6).
Blessings and Cursings
God encourages His people to keep living right because their deliverance will come soon (v. 1).
He pronounces blessings upon those who keep the Sabbath and restrain themselves from doing evil (v. 2).
Two classes of misfits—eunuchs (vv. 4-5) and sons of foreigners (vv. 6-8)—should also not despair of their condition (v. 3), but do what is right (vv. 4, 6).
As a result of their faithfulness, Yahweh promises "a place, an everlasting name" (v. 5), joy in God's temple, and His acceptance of their sacrifices (v. 7).
[Eunuchs and foreigners were not allowed in the temple during the historical kingdom].
On the other hand, Isaiah condemns Israel's leaders—the "watchmen" (v. 10)—for their blindness, ignorance, laziness, greed, lack of understanding, self-interest and drunkenness, calling upon the beasts (figurative or literal?) to devour them (vv. 9-12).
God Will Fellowship with the Contrite and Humble
Death is not a terrifying enemy to the righteous, but simply a door to peace and rest away from this evil world.
But no one considers that the righteous dead is now better off than the living (vv. 1-2).
Yahweh denounces the idolaters of the land, rebuking them for ridiculing the just who perish.
He says to them, in essence, “The righteous possess Me as their inheritance; you idolaters still worship your idols, commit abominable acts, and inherit these lifeless statues” (vv. 3-6).
By going after other gods to "sleep" with them, they have been unfaithful to the true God (vv. 7-8).
Though finding their own way wearying, these idolaters are yet unwilling to give up hope in their practices (vv. 9-10).
God zeroes in on the reason for their lack of devotion to Him: they fear someone else's disapproval more than His.
He has not forced them to worship Him, so they have turned their backs on Him (v. 11).
Their own "goodness" will not save them, nor will their worthless idols; the righteous, however, will inherit the land (vv. 12-13).
Yahweh then calls for the removal of stumbling blocks from Israel's way (v. 14).
This holy, transcendent One will only allow those who are contrite and humble to dwell with Him (v. 15).
He will discipline the struggling sinner (v. 17), yet He will not contend with him forever (v. 15).
Instead, He will heal him, restore Him (v. 18), and give him peace (v. 19; cf. Eph. 2: 13, 17).
Not so for the wicked; he will never have peace (vv. 20-21; cf. 48:22).
© 2012 glynch1