He Will Open Blinded Eyes …servant songs pt 4

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.(Isaiah 42:1-7)

Isaiah’s first servant song is set in the context of a universal assembly, before which the LORD, the God of Israel, calls all of the nations to produce their strongest arguments in order to justify the idolatry which they have embraced. But there is silence, because they can’t. Idolatry is indefensible. The gods of the nations are manifestly impotent, they are deaf, dumb and blind.

Therefore the world is spiritually and morally blind, and alienated from God. They have become vanity because they have worshipped vanities. To them the Lord proclaims, “Behold my Servant whom I uphold….” .

The Servant is the LORD’s own answer to the lost and blindly idolatrous world . He has been given a ministry of truth. He will establish in the world the truth of who God is, what man has become, what man’s problem is, and how man can be reconciled to God. He will bring a knowledge of Righteousness to the world. By his knowledge men will be made “right with God’.

He will faithfully carry out the ministry of “bringing forth judgment“, not giving into the inevitable temptation to be discouraged. His manner with those who are bruised, and burnt beyond use, will be to gently work with them, until the Truth of God is established and bearing fruit in their lives.

He is utterly loyal to the LORD and to the mission the LORD has appointed him.

The isles shall wait for His law… Here,Isaiah predicts a universal anticipation for the person and work of the Servant among the furthest nations. The teaching of the truth will extend far beyond the borders of Israel, the ends of the earth will eagerly receive the knowledge of the God of Israel through the ministry of the Servant.

Everywhere, former pagans and idolaters will abandon their vanities, and come to worship the LORD. They will put their lives into the hands of the only true God, because they will be won over by the Servant, and his work of redemption.

No matter what background or language, they will give their children names such as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Zechariah, and participate in the worship of the only true God, using Psalms, quoting prophets and apostles, and come under the liberating teaching of the Hebrew Prophets and apostles.

Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

The LORD invests himself completely into the labor of his Servant. He will be endued with the power of the One who created and who continuously sustains all things and all men, to carry out His assignment.

The LORD has had other servants through the centuries. He has used men who believed in Him and were devoted to Him to varying degrees, but He has also used even Pagan kings to carry out His will.

However this One comes as no other has ever come before, walking hand in hand with God, in perfect and unblemished personal Righteousness.This is humanity as it was meant to be lived, this is a man who perfectly pleases God in every way.

I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand,

This purpose of the LORD through His Servant is threefold; He would bring men into covenant with Him, He would give them the true light, and He would set them free of the bondage to sin and death.

I… will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

The Servant Himself would become the covenant agreement, a new and living covenant binding the holy God, to sinful and fallen men. The covenant is a person, a representative priest. As long as he stands before the Lord in Righteousness, so do also those who have entered by faith into Him.

Sin has blinded all men to divine reality. The Servant’s task is to open the eyes of the blind, causing them to see and perceive the truth and reality of God. He reveals the true nature of God, and causes men to know Him and by God’s light, they may see light.

Finally God’s purpose is to open the prison gates and to release the captives of sin. Those enslaved to various lusts, those enthralled and captured by illusions and lies, those in bondage to Satan through idols,are all included in the call of the Servant. By his work, men are liberated, the truth sets us free!

Centuries later, the apostle Paul echoed this first Servant Song in the testimony of his own divine commission;

And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:(Acts 26:15-19)

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The Servant’s Task…servant songs 3

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.(Isaiah 42:1-7)

The first of the Servant Songs of Isaiah, is presented in the context of a worldwide tribunal. The nations are summoned to “present their best arguments”, and to “bring forth their idols“to demonstrate the validity of following them. Can they save? Can they tell the future in detail, centuries in advance as God has done through His prophets?

But at the end, there can be only silence, for the idols are nothing, and those who worship them are left empty. The answer of the true God to the world, is “Behold my Servant whom I uphold…” .

This is God’s servant, the same term He used of Moses, and David, each a type of the Messiah to come. He is the ultimate and absolute Servant of God. When the LORD tells us that it is He “whom I uphold“, the word means to “grip fast”; the servant is in God’s hand. He has been selected and prepared by God for a special task.

I have put my spirit upon him…

Furthermore, God loves Him. By that I mean more than the love of Grace, mercy or covenant love. God actually ‘delights in Him”, the Servant pleases God in every way. The Lord will be with the Servant, by way of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This servant has been assigned a great task, that must be done in the power of the Spirit.

He will bring Judgment to the Gentiles…

The task of the Servant is to bring Judgment, “Misphat“, to the earth. This is a Hebrew word which has a broad definition. It can mean judgment in a legal sense, ie the rendering of a decision in a court. The Servant of the Lord is going to be the judge of men’s souls.

But Misphat can also mean those things which the LORD has firmly established, that is His revealed truth. The Messiah is going to bring Truth to the idolatrous world, as a result of his coming, the ends of the earth will come to see and worship the Jewish God.

Finally Misphat refers to setting things right, the establishment of a righteous order. The Messiah is coming to judge the earth, to set things right. A new day will dawn for man, a day of Righteousness and Holiness will be established in the earth, wars will cease, the curse will be removed, and all men will worship the only true God, all because of the work of the Servant.

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

What will his manner with the people be? He will not be self promoting, nor will he angrily overpower his adversaries, shouting over their voices. He won’t “advertise” or market himself.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench:

Tenderly he will receive the bent, broken, ruined, stained and spent ones who are drawn to him. None are counted as useless, or too far gone.The Servant binds up the broken ones, and gently fans to flame the spark that He has ignited in their hearts.

What good is a bruised reed? What does one do with it? How irritating is a smoky, spent flax wick ! It’s too far gone! Throw it away! But not so the Lord’s chosen servant, He throws no one away, He quenches none, but gently works with all who come to Him, no matter how ruined. He doesn’t give up on people. He keeps working with them.

…he shall bring forth judgment unto truth

The ministry of bringing forth God’s truth is a difficult one, but the Servant carries it out faithfully. Faithfulness to God and to God’s truth are the marks of the Servant’s works. He is the loyal witness of the Father even in the face of fierce opposition.

He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth:

People will resist, and virulently hate him; but he will not be a “bruised reed” or a “faltering wick” as the people whom He had healed were. Through all trial and difficulty, Isaiah predicts that He would stand firmly, and burn brightly all the way to completion. By the time He is done, the revelation of the “only true God” will be universally available.

All nations, for example, Indians, Russians, Arabs, Nigerians, Chinese and Finns, and some from every other nation or people group; will have forsaken their tribal gods, idols, and other vanities, and be united in worshipping the true God who has sent His Servant to “establish judgment in the earth”.

Matthew sums up this part of the song nicely in His gospel;

And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.(Matthew 12:9-20)

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Behold My Servant…servant songs pt 2

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.(Isaiah 42:1-7)

The context for this first “servant song’ is the Divine summons of the nations of the world to God’s throne for a trial. We have in Isaiah 41 a universal courtroom scene, the Gentiles and their gods are arraigned and put on trial before the Holy One of Israel.

Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.(Isaiah 41:1)

The nations have trusted in Idols, worthless vanities, the works of their own hands. The idols don’t speak, nor do they save, they make no predictions, they couldn’t even predict what would happen next week, for they are powerless, deaf and dumb.

The nations are challenged to “bring in your idols” and make the case for them, presenting your strongest arguments…

Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.(Isaiah 41:22-23)

But the God of Israel has intervened in human history time and again, and precisely predicted his actions centuries ahead of time. Predictive prophecy is one of God’s credentials, it is why we can confidently commend the Bible as the Word of God. What other Holy book has made such predictions as the Bible, and been so verified in every case? The answer is…none.

Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words.(Isaiah 41:26)

There is silence, none can answer these charges, for the nations of the world do not have a valid Word from God. Their manufactured gods have rendered them as deaf, dumb and blind as the idols they worship.

For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.(Isaiah 41:28-29)

The nations have no “counsellor” to speak for them, they have no advocate before the bar of Divine justice. There has been no “sure Word of prophecy” for them.

They have worshipped gods that are not gods, they have sought beauty and meaning in that which is grotesque, and even demonic! The Gentiles are drowning in vanity and meaninglessness.The nations are silenced, they have no answer for God, for they are lost. Thus they stand before him in silence,

“…when I asked of them, could answer a word.”(Isaiah 41:28)

But this is more than a legal procedure, for the true God, the creator of all things, and predictor of far future events, the God who makes deserts bloom and preserves Israel, actually cares about the fate of the nations. He would present to them a true alternative to the degrading vanities that they have bowed before.

What is God’s answer to the plight of the lost and idolatrous nations ? He loudly calls out for everyone who has ears to hear…

“Behold my servant, my chosen one, in whom I delight…”

The Messiah himself is God’s answer for the nations.

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The Servant of The LORD…servant songs pt 1

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.(Isaiah 42:1-7)

The Servant of the Lord, is a theme that develops throughout the prophecies of Isaiah. God’s chosen servant is his faithful one, loyal to Him in a world of unfaithfulness. He is God’s disciple, under God’s own tutelage called to carry out God’s purpose on the earth. In the service of God, the servant suffers reproach, but patiently bears up, looking to God for vindication.

Who is this Servant of the Lord? The immediate answer is that the nation of Israel is God’s servant. She is the one chosen to bear witness to God’s name to the very “ends of the earth”.

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.(Isaiah 41:8-10)

She is God’s chosen witness, called to know God, and to declare his excellencies to the blind and deaf among the nations.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.(Isaiah 43:10-11)

But the nation of Israel had herself become blinded by her sins in Isaiah’s day. She is still God’s witness but the identity of the Servant becomes narrowed, The Servant of the LORD is the faithful remnant of Jahweh. That is those who keep faith with the LORD, the disciples of Isaiah, the remnant of faithful Israel, these are the servant of the LORD.

Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:2Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:(Isaiah 44:1-3)

They are the “children” spoken of in Isaiah 8 “Behold I and the children God has given me…for signs in Israel”. They are the remnant of Isaiah 1:9 “Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

But the Servant theme narrows yet further as the prophecy progresses, for it comes to speak of an individual; one man upon whose shoulders is laid the heavy burden of the whole purpose of God. The Servant has a mission, He is to reveal the glory and salvation of God to the very “ends of the earth”. His dedication to God must be total and unwavering, for the mission involves the pouring out of his life.

There are prophecies in Isaiah ascribing to himself, Eliakim, Hezekiah and even the Persian King Cyrus(200 years before he was born) the title of “My Servant”, but they are only preliminary types of the ultimate Servant of God, partial fulfilment of his task.

The ultimate and final Servant of God is Jesus the Messiah, sent from heaven to become a man and to do God’s will..

There are four ‘Servant Song’ prophecies in Isaiah that describe the calling and task of the Messiah. We would do well to look into as we approach Holy Week. They are found in Isaiah 42:1-7, 49:1-6, Isaiah 50:4-9, and finally Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

From Isaiah 53 on the singular word ‘servant’ never appears, only the plural, for God obtains a host of Servants in the character of the Messiah, as a result of the work of the Servant. Enjoy.

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The LORD SHAll Be King in that day…Zechariah pt

And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.  And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.  All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses.   And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.  (Zechariah 14:8-11)

The siege of Jerusalem is over now, and a new day dawns. The old age of human rebellion, death and decay has passed, the LORD has saved his people, and the dawn of a new Age has begun.

The fight was extremely fierce.

When the utterly besieged Judah and Israel were introduced to their Messiah, and saw that He was the one whom they had once pierced, they mourned for him, and repented before their God. As a result of of this repentance, a new Spirit was poured out upon the besieged survivors,

In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.(Zechariah 12:8-9)

One of the horrifying aspects of the final battle, is ‘the plague’ which would break out upon the attackers of Jerusalem, in which the soft tissue of the faces of the attackers, evaporates off of them as they stand, something which appears to modern readers as is it were some kind of Nuclear reaction. But it is a plague specifically put upon them by the LORD.

And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(Zechariah 14:12)

The enemy coalition also falls upon each other, as in previous battles and seiges, such as in the days of King Jehoshaphat or as far back as in the battle with Gideon. This also occurs due to the intervention of the LORD,

And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor.  And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.  And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.(Zechariah 14:13-15)

There will be geographical changes also, for the Jordan valley shall be elevated and as a consequence, Jerusalem the city shall also be raised up high above the cities of the earth.This accords with the words of the other prophets as well,

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.   And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.(Isaiah 2:1-3)

There will be a new order; Jerusalem will be the center of the earth, for God himself will inhabit her again.

The nations that survive the battle and the judgment which will follow, will enter into a new relationship with Israel, Judah and Jerusalem, for as families, tribes, and national delegations they will stream into Jerusalem (at least annually) to keep the feasts of the LORD, and to learn of his ways.

Worship shall be a serious issue in that day, for the nations which had besieged Jerusalem and had survived the judgment . In the coming new order, the Messiah will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Those nations which neglect to come to Jerusalem, and participate in the  Worship will have to pay consequences of such neglect.

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.  And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.  This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles(Zechariah 14:15-19)

But everything in Jerusalem will be made holy, the whole city shall be the sanctuary it was long prophesied and expected to be. She will be purified, the place of the Revelation of God himself, the center for worship,  and for the teaching of the nations of the one true God. There won’t be” a holy place”, everything about the city will be marked “holiness to the LORD’, nothing of it shall be common, rather all will be holy vessels unto the LORD himself.

 

 

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The Final Conflict and Deliverance…Zechariah pt 25

Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.  For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.  And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.(Zechariah 14:1-4)

Through the prophet Zechariah, we behold the final battle of this passing age.

Israel  is besieged, especially Jerusalem and Judea (the West Bank). Those who hate her are on the verge of the full expression of their everlasting malice, also they have turned the world against her, now the armies of the Gentile nations camp at the very gates of Jerusalem.

Ultimately they breach the walls of Jerusalem, as the Babylonians and Romans and Turks and so many other conquerors had done in the past ages. The city is taken, people flee, and half of the city goes into captivity. Why half? How did the prophet Zechariah know that the United Nations had divided the city in half, apportioning half of the “city of the great King and the joy of the whole earth” to an artificially constructed Terrorist state…Palestine.

Thus when the city is breached only one half is taken, the Jewish half. The UN approved population of “Palestinians”are not cut off from the city, rather the Jews are. The  women are raped, booty is divided, and those who can flee, flee for their very lives.

It is at this point,  that the LORD himself arises from his throne and descends to fight and deliver his chosen but prodigal people.

The Most High has revealed himself to them, in their most desperate straits, as the one whom they had pierced, and they have seen a completely unexpected vision, forcing them to rethink everything they thought they knew about their own history and religion. It turns out that the Messiah had already come once, and they had rejected and repudiated him! Who could have imagined?

The national sin is confessed, repentance is working deeply as the Jews flee for their very lives out into the wilderness, to the place He had prepared for them from the beginning, as John the Revelater saw in the vision of chapter 12,

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.  And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.(Revelation 12:13-14)

The LORD’s very feet land on the Mount of Olives, the geographical location so rife with history and meaning in the Jewish experience.

It was on the Mount of Olives the David wept as he was pursued by his own son Absolam. Ezekiel saw the very cloud of the Glory of God from the Temple, leave the temple, and linger over the Mount of Olives, until it went up to heaven. Jesus was on the Mount of Olives when he described the events of the second coming and the end of the Age. Both Babylonian and Roman soldiers camped on the mount, during the sieges of Jerusalem.

The Mountain will cleave into two sections during the tumultuous events of the day of the LORD, and out of it shall flow streams of fresh water.

And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:  But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.  And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.(Zechariah 14:5-9)

There shall be a strange kind of twilight on that dreadful day, when the LORD comes with his saints to save Judah,Jerusalem, and to judge the world in righteousness.There will never be another day like it again.

Judah and many of the former inhabitants of Jerusalem will have fled, they will have run to the mountains upon seeing the sacrilege Jesus and Daniel warned of ;

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.(Matthew 24:15-21)

A good many of the scattered flock will re-live the Exodus in the harsh wilderness of Judea and Jordan, living in booths in the wilderness.  They will be hunted down by the forces of AntiChrist and the enemies of God, until they are shut up in a place called Basra, trapped and surrounded, the remnant of God will be on the verge of being wiped out, until the LORD comes to Edom, as “the Breaker” who breaks his flock out of the deadly confinement.

I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them.(Micah 2:12-13)

Praise the LORD, He shall come to Edom (Southern Jordan, as well as to Jerusalem, to rescue the trapped remnant in the wilderness.

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?  I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.  For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.(Isaiah 63:1-4)

The LORD shall save His people on that day and regather His flock in entirety, Yea,All Israel shall be saved on that day, and this shall commence the resurrection of the dead for this world.

 

 

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The Stricken Shepherd, The Scattered Flock and the 1/3 Remnant…. Zechariah 24

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.  And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.  And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.(Zechariah 13:7-9)

In the last part of the vision, Zechariah reveals what happens when Israel looks upon her Messiah. Profound repentance comes upon the nation at the horrifying realization of the national sin. They realize to their shock, they had already been visited by Messiah, but instead of receiving their King they had pierced and repudiated Him!

What follows is a nation wide,  profound soul searching and repudiation of false prophecy, and any intercourse whatsoever with idolatrous and false religion or syncretism in any way with paganism.False prophets are hunted down, renounced, repudiated in the national zeal to distance themselves from what had long deceived them, keeping them away from their God.

Now Zechariah’s prophetic attention is turned back to the Shepherd theme again. In the vision of Zechariah Chapters 10-11, it was shown that Israel’s false Shepherds  had led them astray, seeking their own and not the welfare of the Sheep.

Then we briefly see the good Shepherd, appointed by God to “the flock of slaughter”, sold for thirty pieces of silver and eventually rejected. He is replaced by the “Idle Shepherd”, who is worthless and against whom the LORD calls for the sword of judgment , which shrivels his arm and and darkens his right eye.

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.(Zechariah 11:16-17)

This is the Judgment of God upon AntiChrist, the other Shepherd who comes in his own name and not the name of the Father, and who for a brief moment deceives the flock of Israel.

Now in this prophetic song, the Good Shepherd is again in view, as is the flock.

Both Shepherd and Sheep, are slated to go through Divine Judgment.

The LORD calls for the Sword again , This time against his own Shepherd. Israel undergoes the judgment of God, but so also does her Shepherd! This Shepherd is the good Shepherd,  not a mere hireling, but  He is the “man who is his close companion”. It is He who must be smitten by the sword of the LORD.

. This echoes what Isaiah predicted and what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, that though it was the actions of evil men that condemned and even crucified the Messiah, it was all done also by the “Predeterminate foreknowledge of God…”.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief… (Isaiah 53:10)

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.(Acts 2:23-24)

Jesus applied this passage of Zechariah to himself when he warned the disciples on the night he was betrayed,

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.(Matthew 26:31-32)

That “flock” which should be scattered would go far beyond those 12 disciples entrusted to Jesus on the day of his death.

This prophecy is expansive, extending all of the way to the end of time and is a prophecy of the future of the whole nation down through time. Moses had centuries earlier predicted this scattering of the flock as a consequence of the Judgment of God on an unfaithful people.

The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:(Deuteronomy 32:25-26)

The sheep have been scattered and are going to go through a trial of purification. One third of the nation will come through and be saved, it will be one third who live to see the vision of the pierced one, and who mourn for him as for an only Son.

God deals in thirds with Israel. Ezekiel was to shave his head and count his hairs, dividing them into three piles,

 And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.(Ezekiel 5:1-6)

The flock of Israel down through the ages has suffered one of three fates;

A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.(Ezekiel 5:12) 

Yet the nation survives. It was estimated that in the holocaust alone, in 1933-1945, a third of all world Jewry was annihilated. It is a miracle that there is an Israel, but the nation will live and not die, and declare the good works of the LORD. Purified through the fires of affliction and judgment, but preserved, to be resurrected and saved at the end of the Age, Israel’s resurrection shall also be resurrection from the dead for the whole world!

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