Salvation in Isaiah 26
Isaiah 25 is a song; a song of liberation, and a song of praise to the God who liberates, as we thought last week.
This evening in Chapter 26 the song continues with a different theme – we can call it
The Song of Two Cities
Isaiah was speaking to Judah, the people of God, the covenant nation of Israel. But we can extend his words to us, the people of God, the spiritual Israel.
The first city is the City of God. It is a spiritual city and a strong city. Its walls are not made of brick and stone or concrete. It is not buttressed with steel girders or massive wood beams. It is built with walls of salvation, and it is salvation which keeps her citizens IN and her enemies OUT! Only the elect made righteous can enter the city and the ones who maintain truth can stay there. The defender of the City of God is God Himself – Jehovah, the rock of Ages that endures for eternity – and because He endures so will the city and so will the righteous who lives there. Violence and desolation will be unknown within her walls and complete security from alien forces is guaranteed. The promise is made in other prophets such as Zechariah 2 v 5
For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
The second city, called the lofty city in verse 5 – 6, is the City of Man. The inhabitants of this city are proud and arrogant – but, like Moab was pictured in Chapter 25, they will be trodden down like straw in a compost heap or a dunghill –
Isaiah 25 v 10 Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.
Everything that is lofty and high about this city and its people shall be brought down to the dust and become a wasted city –
Isaiah 24 v 10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in,
A heap and a ruin –
Isaiah 25 v 2 For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.
This stronghold of all that exalts itself against the Lord God must be brought down. Jehovah will overthrow it, this lofty city of wickedness – and it is a progressive overthrow lasting as long as the earth exists. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 10 v 3
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
We are interested in this first city – the city of God. Where is it? Is it Jerusalem? Not the Jerusalem that exists today – for that city is one of violence and strife, and unbelievers live there! The children’s hymn says
There is a city bright, closed are its gates to sin, Nought that defileth, nought that defileth, Shall ever enter in!
As yet the city is built but vacant! It is uninhabited – the gates have not been opened for the citizens to go in. God is working out His eternal purpose. Paul says in Ephesians 1 v 3 – 11 that the city will be inhabited after the counsel of His own will.
Ephesians 1 v 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Isaiah is looking ahead to the day when the preparation will be complete and a cry will be heard – and the call will be verse 2!
Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
Those who have been converted – those who have waited for Jehovah faithfully in Christian lives – when the proper time comes will be brought into this glorious and perfect city. And the two characteristics of those entering in are RIGHTEOSUNESS and STEADFASTNESS – keeping faith with God.
Can we see the picture that Isaiah is painting? There are two possible destinations for the inhabitants of the earth when they die – man’s city or God’s city. Man’s city will be utterly destroyed and the ruin is eternal hell. But God’s city will exist for ever and is a synonym for heaven with mansions waiting for the children of the King to occupy. This picture is a glimpse of the future that Isaiah gives to his own people in his day, and to us in our day, and to all true faithful believers to come in their day – until the saviour comes again to usher in the opening of the gates.
So what will it be like there? What conditions prevail in God’s City, the city of Heaven?
Isaiah gives us two in the next two verses –
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
PEACE and TRUST.
Peace is a much sought after commodity. Men and women search for personal peace because they wake up in the morning at war with themselves and with the world. Somewhere in their mental or spiritual landscape there is a conflict. Usually there is that little voice that tells them that they are wrong about something. God has given them a conscience and that conscience thwarts their plans – unless they have deliberately tried to suppress and squash the conscience.
Efforts to bring about peace in the nations of the world seem to be a pressing concern today. Nations rise up against each other – terrorism and guerrilla activity undermine rule and authority. The United Nations try to do their best – but world peace has never been achieved – there is always a war on somewhere in the world.
But like many things such as happiness, peace is not something that you may obtain for the mere asking or something obtained in isolation. Peace is the fruit of other things such as understanding and humility. Let us consider peace for a moment.
Peace in its highest form is born of Faith.
Peace belongs to the nation that keeps faith, and peace belongs to the person whose mind is steadfast – stayed.
Such a nation or man trusts the Lord God. Peace is not merely the absence of war and conflict, peace is trusting in the Lord forever. Peace therefore is the fruit of faith.
Peace is for the Righteous.
Look at verse 7
The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.
Indeed it is God who makes the path of the righteous level and their way smooth. Walking in His laws, desiring truth in the inward parts, desiring to do God’s will and desiring to delight in God’s law is a smooth and a level road. To such people alone, the righteous, God grants His peace.
Psalms 119 v 165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Peace comes from God.
As the righteous trust in Him, then God establishes peace for them. There is a two way process. The believer trusts in the Lord God and the Lord God gives peace and happiness of heart and mind.
How does this work my friends? Is this merely academic and theoretical? No – it is eminently practical.
What do you do when you receive bad news? A loved one or you yourself becomes ill – and it is serious. What happens to your peace? Is it disturbed? Does it rock? Do you question the Lord? Do you wish you had not heard this news and that everything is as it was before the news comes through? What does the righteous child of God do? The child of God goes to the father and hears His word. He goes to Psalm 112 and reads these words –
6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. 7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
Do you have a heart that is fixed and that trusts the Lord whatever He sends you?
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: PEACE and TRUST.
God’s peace is not merely PEACE – verse 3 says it is PERFECT PEACE. In the original perfect peace is PEACE, PEACE. The Hebrews used this expression doubling the word peace to communicate complete happiness, total well-being. And this is the promise to God’s children whose minds are stayed, dependant and trusting, on God. Can you admit to this tonight my friend? Are you a trusting believer? On what basis do you trust tonight – the basis of familiarity that everything in life is going the way that you planned it, more or less?
Are you trusting in the fact that you have your health and strength and that evil tidings have not yet reached your ears – therefore it is not too difficult to trust the Lord? If this is your basis for peace tonight – then you should think again – the Lord God is capable of taking all of those things away – and changing your life irreversibly! Therefore you need something else to be the basis of your peace – and that can only be sustained through trust in Jehovah Jesus.
4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
Trust is assured reliance on another’s integrity and absolute confidence in his abilities and attributes.
In verse 3 we had an emphatic rendering of peace. It was PEACE PEACE doubled up. How interesting then to find that here in verse 4 we have a phrase that occurs only here in the Old Testament. Notice in your Authorised Version (AV) these words in the middle of verse 4 –
in the LORD JEHOVAH
If you know anything about the 1611 AV you will know that whenever you see LORD capitalised then it means the special name for God – Jehovah. Isaiah therefore has written Jehovah, even Jehovah! This is the proper name of God the redeemer in the most emphatic form. A double emphasis, not just for literary effect – but to tell you and me that total confidence and security that leads to perfect peace and happiness resides and can only be found in Jehovah even Jesus!
Now another remarkable thing in verse 4 is this
in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
In the Hebrew ‘strength’ is a translation of a word usually rendered ‘ROCK’ –
in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting rock-ness – strength:
God is an everlasting rock. He is the rock of ages. How often the scriptures call God a rock – Moses said in Deuteronomy 32 v 3
Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
David said in 2 Samuel 22 v 2
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
47 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
And Paul uses the same figure in 1 Corinthians 10 v 4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Our Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ is a fortress and deliverer in whom one can take refuge. He offers shelter from the stormy winds and fierce oppressions of life and enables us to have peace in every situation no matter how bad it is.
Peace trust and righteousness are the hallmarks of this wondrous city. True believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are citizens in waiting for the gates to open.
But even when the gates do open there will be those who will not be admitted.
The righteous – true believers have a way that is upright according to verse 7 and 8. God weighs their path – which means He makes their path smooth into the city; and they wait for the Lord God as they walk uprightly.
A way – a weighing and a wait!
Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life – no man cometh unto the father but by me.
Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work is the only route, the only way, for any to go into that city of God.
Do you desire to know the Lord and His way? Do you want peace in your soul? Verse 9 – Isaiah’s yearning –
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.
There has to be a desire to know God – there must be a seeking in the heart. This comes when the Lord God enters your heart and brings you to feel for him, to reach out to Him. Are you longing for Him my friend?
You must recognise your need – and acknowledge your sin. He is such a wonderful saviour – he went to Calvary – to the cross – He suffered and bled and died. He cried in anguish Father forgive them – who did He mean? He meant Father forgive those who dealt so cruelly with me by their sins – all of those whom thou hast given to me – oh forgive them. And in His death he made sure that those of His own children, who will be those citizens of the City of God by right, will be there – enjoying eternal peace – peace perfect peace – for ever. Are you one of those? Are you one of His children?
Today there are millions who refuse to see the meaning of the cross of Christ and the righteousness that he brings through salvation. One day they will see God – but they will see Him as judge. Then there will be no more opportunity to trust in Him – it will be too late. They will have refused for too long – oh what a tragedy. Do not be amongst those who refuse to repent of your sins – rather desire God with all of your heart – search for him with all of your strength – and then He will grant you a perfect peace which nothing can destroy.
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within. Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed? To do the will of Jesus, this is rest. Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round? On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found. Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they. Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown? Jesus we know, and he is on the throne. Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours? Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers. It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease, and Jesus call us to heaven's perfect peace. Edward Henry Bickersteth 1825 – 1906