Salvation in Isaiah 11 & 12
The beginning of Isaiah 11 that we thought about last week described the King who would come to God’s people – a descendant of the illustrious King David. His character and the nature of His rule was set out and His kingdom would be different from David’s in that it would not be a military based Kingdom nor a temporal one, lasting only a few decades – but it would be eternal in nature and characterised by righteousness and peace. The righteous King, the root and branch of Jesse, would give His subjects His own characteristics – so that they will live in peace and harmony for ever – with Him!
The second half of Chapter 11 and all of Chapter 12 describes more of this Kingdom to come.
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
Isaiah refers to THAT DAY. This is the time dealt with – the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – verses 1 – 5, and then the Gospel Age in which our carnal nature will be subdued by the Gospel call and the work of grace in our souls v 6 – 9. The ensign in verse 10 is the Messianic King – for Isaiah he was one to come in the future. For the Jews reading his prophecy 2000 years ago – he was the one crucified in Jerusalem during Passover. For us he is the one to whom we look and see the fulfilment of prophecy. The Lord Jesus Christ is the ensign – the rallying point for us who are numbered amongst the peoples – Jews and Gentiles as the 10th verse tells us. There will be more on the ensign in a moment.
Isn’t it remarkable that we can see ourselves in the scriptures! We are the Gentiles mentioned here, gathered in to the great Kingdom that is still being built.
This was confirmed in scripture as Paul, the Jew, wrote to the Christians at Rome –
Romans 15 v 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
Paul claims the right of the Gentiles of his day to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This verse is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ NOW. The Lord Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning NOW. And this prophecy finds its fulfilment in the conversion of sinners since Pentecost. Praise God!
There are two sections for us to focus on tonight.
1. Chapter 11 v 10 – 16 The King’s Policy of Gathering the remnant.
2. Chapter 12 The King’s People rejoice and Give Him thanks.
The first section at the end of Chapter 11.
1. Chapter 11 v 10 – 16 The King’s Policy of Gathering the remnant.
The Gospel Age is about gathering in a people whom God has loved and chosen and blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ. This age is this age! It is the period between the first coming of the Lord 2000 years ago and the second coming which of course has not yet occurred. In this age we find that God is gathering in a REMNANT.
When we think of a remnant we think of the end of a roll of material, carpet or linoleum flooring. Sometimes it refers to that which is left over or surplus to requirements. It can be off-cuts of wood, metal, plastic; it can be the remains of a meal that a family has not been able to finish.
Is this the Biblical term remnant? NO – a remnant always refers to people – people who remain after some devastating event;
When Job’s 4 servants came to him with the news of his animals and servants being attacked by the Sabeans, and that none were left – and then the news that the fire from heaven had destroyed his sheep; and then that the Chaldeans had attacked and carried away the cattle; and finally that Job’s sons and daughters had all been killed when a huge wind had destroyed the house where they were all assembled – except these 4 servants to tell the tale – they were a remnant.
Similarly the tribes of Israel, who had been carried away into exile by the Assyrians, were devastated first in fighting and then some died naturally as captives in Assyria; and many were scattered as refugees into other lands as a result of the Assyrian aggression – but there were just a few left who were able to return – a remnant, who, when they heard that the Assyrians themselves had been overrun, this remnant began to return. Isaiah would have witnessed this.
Paul looked back to Elijah’s time to think about a remnant –
Romans 11 v 1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
So the gospel age is all about the recovering of a remnant – those few out of a vast population of the world who will be for ever with the Lord.
Verse 11 speaks of the many directions that the remnant shall come – and to what purpose?
V 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Every June around the time of the Queen’s official Birthday, there is a Parade of soldiers on Horseguards’ Parade in London – it is called the Trooping of the Colour. If you didn’t know, a colour is a flag – a large embroidered rectangle of material fixed to a pole which can be lifted up high so that it can be seen. In this ceremony the colour, or flag is marched between the ranks of soldiers in order for them to see it and then to recognise it in the future. Why would the soldiers need to recognize their regimental flag? Because on the field of battle they needed to know where their rallying point was – where their commander was in case they became lost in the commotion and chaos of battle. Soldiers follow the colours, the flag. Something else about this flag – it is costly – extremely valuable. Security for these colours is high – kept safe in Regimental Headquarters. Some soldiers are assigned to guard the flag, so valuable and significant it is to the whole regiment.
Another word for flag is ensign. And ensign is anything lifted up for men to see. Anything that can be used to draw men together, a rallying point and assembly place – an ensign.
Moses was instructed to raise a visible object in the middle of the camp of the Israelites when the fiery serpents came to bite and to kill – a serpent – a brass serpent was put on a pole and lifted up high for the people to see – and when they looked at it, they lived and were healed of their deadly illness. The serpent lifted up was an ensign.
Isaiah spoke of the Root of the branch of Jesse as this ensign. A man would be lifted up for all to see and become a rallying point – what for? For the remnant to see and come to. Here were the hosts of God’s people, scattered by an enemy. What were they to do? How could they regroup? Where was the flag? The colours? The ensign?
Now listen to the words of the King –
John 8 v 28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
John 12 v 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Not a flag – not colours – but a man lifted up for all to see. This man is a perfect man. His name is Jesus Christ. If you have not looked to Him in your heart yet; if you have not looked to Him, that is looked at His life, His exemplary life; if you have not studied His actions and His teachings – then you haven’t looked to the ensign. When you look to this one lifted up you will be drawn to Him just as a soldier is drawn to his regimental colours when he sees the flag – you will be drawn. Have you seen the glory and the richness of the life of the Son of God yet my friend? Oh may He give you eyes to see Him – the King in His beauty. For when you see Him, you will feel how unlike Him you are. You will want to hide away from Him – you will realise how utterly unworthy you are of Him. You will recognise that you are a sinner, a law breaker, and that you have no hope unless you repent of your sins and apply to the one lifted up for pardon and deliverance.
This ensign did not remain lifted up on a cross – He died and came down – He was laid in a grave – but the third day he arose from the dead and is now lifted up – again – lifted up gloriously in heaven – now in the seat of Kingly majesty. And you must look to Him for mercy – and you must do it now – not wait until you die – for then it will be too late – do it now – look to Christ – what an ensign – one who gathers together His remnant – His people. Have you wandered a long way off? Are you like that prodigal son who went into a country far away from home and wasted his life? Come to look at Jesus Christ, the saviour of sinners – lifted up – once on a cross – now in heaven!
There are other interesting things in verse 11 – 16 such as a highway opened up for the remnant to travel along –
Verse 15 – this refers to the smashing down, by the Lord God, of tribal and national boundaries so that the ensign may be lifted up there too – as missionaries and evangelists go with the Gospel message they seek to lift up Christ so that the elect of those nations may be drawn in too – because the Lord Jesus Christ saves from every nation.
This gathering of the remnant was believed by the Jews in Jesus day. In John 11 there is the record of the words of the Jewish High priest Caiaphas –
v 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Verse 52 is remarkable coming from the lips of a bigoted Jew. But his words fit perfectly with prophecy and the reality of the gathering of the remnant.
Verse 16. It is a divine highway only for this elect remnant – it is the way to God. Some people think that they know the way to God – but as the song says “Calvary’s cross is where you begin when you come as a sinner to Jesus.”
Certainly there is much to think about in the ensign!
But we must press on into Chapter 12
2. Chapter 12 The King’s People rejoice and Give Him thanks.
Verse 1 continues from 11 v 16 – In that day – Isaiah speaks to His people reminding them of another day – when they were delivered from bondage in Egypt. That deliverance had evoked a song from the people – how glad they were for their rescue! Exodus 15 has their words!
But here Isaiah recognises that God had been angry with his people. You may recall that we thought about God’s anger a few weeks ago – Chapters 5 v 25; 9 v 12, 17 and 21 and 10 v 4 all said
“For all this his anger is not turned away – but his arm of judgement is stretched out still.”
But now His anger is turned away! What a relief – and now the Lord comforts them. This is the blessing of the redeemed – sin has been forgiven – and the Lord God is recognised and praised as the source of their salvation.
Only believers can truly and honestly sing this song of salvation! Only they can know for sure that God’s wrath has been turned away from them.
2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Here we have the exclusiveness of the gospel – salvation from sin is only through Jesus Christ. We notice what Isaiah is led to say in Isaiah 43 v 11
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
Just as the Children of Israel had to recognise who it was that had led them out of Egypt towards the Promised Land, so it is for the remnant, who see what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for them in dealing with sin, rescuing from hell. And as the Children of Israel sang, so too must we sing – He is my strength and song!
‘This is my story this is my song praising my saviour all the day long!’
3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
The consequence of trusting the Lord God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ is a valuing of His salvation, strength and all spiritual blessings. Joy and rejoicing should characterise the Lord’s people all the time. Is this our experience? Paul tells us to Rejoice in the Lord always. And because he thinks we haven’t heard the first time he says it again – Rejoice! God has provided everything necessary for life. In the desert there was an abundance for His people – food – water – clothes that did not wear out – security when they trusted. They came upon wells that supplied 3 million people!
And we can see wells of salvation – an abundance of water. 1 Corinthians 10 v 1 – 4 refers to this – and there is further symbolism – the rock was Christ who provided the water!
What do we draw from Christ’s well of salvation? What do we draw on when we let down our buckets?
We draw grace; His love – redeeming love; strength to cope with life and courage to persevere. And it all comes from Him – the rock from which gushes water. What did He say to the woman at the well?
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
What a chapter this is in Isaiah 12!
As we close we identify 6 things that we who love the Lord should SAY – in testifying to Christ our saviour let us be ready to say these things –
1. Lord I am thankful.
v 4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD,
Are we grateful, friends to God? Do we constantly express our appreciation to the Lord for redeeming us from the hand of Satan our enemy?
2. I call upon thy Name.
call upon his name,
God’s Name stands for all that He is – will we call on Him for guidance – for help in trouble – and for daily deliverance from our enemies – the world the flesh and the devil?
3. God has done great things for me.
declare his doings among the people,
This is such a challenge to us – how much do we declare to people around us God’s mighty deeds? Surely this is our responsibility to declare to everyone and everywhere God’s hand in the affairs of nations – he is in control of all things – Acts 17 v 26 reminds us –
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Let us apply this truth to the situation in Iraq today – it will help us make sense of what is going on, especially in the light of the myriad voices and opinions that we hear. God is on His throne!
4. Jesus’ Name is high above all.
make mention that his name is exalted.
Do we make sure that His name is on our lips often, in adoring testimony? He has been given a name above every name – let us be those who drop His name whenever we can!
5. I must tell of God’s excellent work in salvation.
5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion:
The task of evangelism should be a joyous task for us – cry out and shout – that Jesus is the Saviour of sinners and will save them when they repent and heed His call.
6. Jesus is amongst us – and He is great.
for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.
What a blessing to have the presence of the Lord amongst us. May we glorify his name in our worship and work together – and may people around us desire to be where the blessing is – where Christ is in the midst of His people!