With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.
Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.
Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name… Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. ( Isaiah 26:9-18)
The Prophet’s song takes us back into the crisis for Israel, which is the Great tribulation. The great tribulation is the night.
One of the purposes of the time of great Tribulation, is to bring Israel to repentance, which will require a total rethink of her experience over history.
The Prophet Hosea features God saying to Israel,
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.( Hosea 5:15)
He (God) will return to them when they are brought to the point where they desire Him, and admit to their national sin, and Hosea predicts they will be brought to this “In their Affliction”, i.e. the Tribulation.
When God’s judgments become manifest, (some) of the “Inhabitants of the Earth” will finally learn “righteousness”. Judgment will wake many up, to their need for Right Standing with God, which can only be obtained through faith in Jesus. We are already seeing a restless anxiety among many, who until fairly recently, only thought in terms of this earth and its horizons.
But Isaiah’s prophetic song tells us that it won’t work that way for everyone. Some will only wax harder and more resistant.They will not learn Righteousness, even in the face of Grace and favor from God. Instead they will only double down in their resistant rebellion and sin. This culminates in some frightening verses in the book of Revelation,
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. ( Revelation 9:20-21)
And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.( Revelation 16: 8-11)
Isaiah saw this also and warned of it. Though they refuse to see the Hand of God in the Judgements to come, (Like Pharaoh) , they will be forced to see and even acknowledge it in the end.
The enemies of God and his people have a self destructive principle working in them, they are hateful and envious at those who are His.
Isaiah see’s a chastened and repentant Israel making a series of confessions to God in the night, They admit that God himself has brought them to the place where they are at, and that through their stubbornness and rebellion , there have been “other Lords” who have ruled over them. But the true LORD, the God of Israel alone is who they now willingly ‘swear by’, (confess).
Israel takes no personal credit here, She admits that it took trouble to bring them to God, the text literally says, “We could only whisper out a prayer…” in the time of their chastening.
I believe Israel is a microcosm of the human race, and God’s dealings with her, mirror his dealings with all of us.
But Israel is special too. She has perpetually been pregnant, in labor to give birth. We learned in Genesis 3 that as a consequence of sin, nothing good comes into this fallen world without pain, blood, trouble and toil. Israel, was chosen to bring into the world the Word of God, in the face of incredible Satanic opposition. She was also in labor in the sense that for a time, the only valid worship of the one true God was centered in Jerusalem at the temple.
The greatest thing which came through Israel, and the reason for so much Opposition, is that through her came the “Seed of the woman”, destined to crush the Serpent’s head and undo the primal curse. This explains so much of Israel’s troubled and turbulent history. Every power in hell was focussed on preventing the entrance of the Messiah, and the nation formed to be the door through which he would come.
But that was two thousand years ago, and Satan failed to stop Messiah Jesus from coming and accomplishing his destiny. Yet Israel still labors and travails in pain, to give birth…
Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. (Micah 4:9-12)
What more could possibly come, beyond the scripture, the Worship and the Messiah? In what sense is Israel still in labor and travail?
Israel is in labor to bring forth the New Age of Righteousness. The problem is, that the New Age cannot commence until She is brought to the point that she confesses her national sin.
This is why the end of the Age is described by Jesus as being like unto the birth of a baby. “All of these (signs) are the beginning of Sorrows,(Birth pangs), said our LORD in Matthew 24. Jesus was drawing from Isaiah, Hosea, and the rest of the prophets, who spoke of labor pains accompanying the dawning of the new Age of Righteousness, the Millenium.
But Isaiah shows the besieged and beleaguered Remnant of Israel confess that She (Israel) has long been in labor, but after all these years, has not brought forth anything but wind. She has not delivered the nations from their paganism. When she says “…nor have the inhabitants of the World fallen”.. she is referring to “Falling” from between her knees, as in giving birth. Israel is confessing here (the remnant) that she knew she had a universal mission to deliver the nations, but did not accomplish that, as far as she could see. *
But in this song of the night, God himself consoles the repentant remnant, first with the truth of the Resurrection from the dead, and then with the assurance of a new Passover, in which the Remnant will “enter into chambers”, until the “Indignation “be past.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.( Isaiah 26:19-20)
- The True Israel, the Messiah Jesus, has in fact wrought the deliverance in the earth and brought New Birth to men and nations, fulfilling the true destiny of Israel.