Salvation in Isaiah 27
The people of Israel should have much to be happy about. The prophets in their Torah, our Old Testament, have so much to say about their glorious future. In Isaiah 25 and 26 we have been thinking about a song of joy celebrating many of the blessings of belonging to the Lord God. Peace has been one of those principle blessings that has helped us over the last two weeks – rejoicing in the peace of God that passeth all understanding.
And in this 27th chapter tonight we find yet another reference to peace. But first there is an encouragement of a negative kind, for the chapter begins, in verse 1 with
1. The destruction of Satan and all his hosts and their power.
1 In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
We have heard much in Isaiah about God’s mercy and gospel grace. But this first verse brings us back with a jolt to a prophecy of the end times that is a display of God’s awesome might. Before we see what this Leviathan is let us notice the nature of God’s sword.
Sore, great and strong. Sore means severe so this sword has a three fold action and effect. Things grouped together in threes are always significant. There is an absolute capacity of the sword of God to utterly destroy the works of darkness and the agents of darkness. Satan is a defeated foe – he is an enemy who has been beaten. He is chained it is true for a season awaiting the final destruction and he has a little power now during this day of grace. But he is finished – because God’s sword will bring him to an end in due course – praise God.
To aid us in our understanding of the nature of evil and hostile opposition towards the Almighty God the forces of evil in the universe are pictured for us in this creature called LEVIATHAN. Once again it is described in three ways, Leviathan the piercing serpent; Leviathan the crooked serpent; and Leviathan the dragon that is in the sea.
Some commentators suggest that these three represent Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, the three world powers in Old Testament times. These three were all hostile to God’s Kingdom – and God dealt with them. However this suggestion is only as good as the history that they represent goes – there have been other world Empires since then, and other potential world empires who threatened to dominate the rest of the world, all of them evil in nature. One could easily have read into this Rome, Hitler’s Third Reich and Communism as the three super powers represented by leviathan. So this interpretation is not good enough because it does not go far enough.
No! God’s sword is going to put down ALL evil – every evil regime – every wicked scheme of man under the influence of demons.
A much better view is that Leviathan represents a picture of all the forces of unbelief from the creation and Satan’s work in the garden, until the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory.
Leviathan was a great aquatic animal which is mentioned in 4 places in the Old Testament – all of them poetic passages. This is significant because of the suggestive and symbolical meanings of many of these books.
Job 41 v 1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
Leviathan is too big to be caught by anglers. Obviously the writer has the thought that it is a huge animal, bigger even than a whale. Some think it is a fully grown dinosaur – a plesiosaurus perhaps.
Psalms 74 v 14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
Asaph the Psalm writer knew of the existence of such a creature which could not be caught or overwhelmed by man – but that God can do such a thing and provide food for those other animals in the desert places of seas and land.
Psalms 104 v 26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
Sailors saw this animal when sailing their ships. This text is the most plausible one to prove the actual existence of a creature known to men in Old Testament times. But that does not exclude the possibility of the Lord’s prophet Isaiah using leviathan as a symbol to represent the fierce powers of the godless world.
So leviathan represents the universal forces of evil – which are doomed! Because God’s sword is stronger than Leviathan and with it he is able to punish and destroy them.
Imagine it my friends – evil destroyed never to rise again. No unbelief – no hatred – no rivalry – no cruelty – no opposition to God, His kingdom or His church – no abuse – no selfishness – no terrorism – no power struggles – no empire building and desire to dominate – no more false religion and so many more things that characterise an evil world.
God’s sword will deal with it all and we His people will be free – absolutely free from those shackles of evil that disturb us and frustrate us.
What a blessing it is to be on the side of the Almighty God who wields this sword – to be saved by His grace and to be looking forward to heaven’s glory. Are you on God’s side my friend? Are you on the Lord’s side, ready to serve the King? Have you left the world’s side and been made willing to be on the Lord’s side?
Isaiah next tells us in his song that
2. God is building and protecting His church. V 2–6.
In verse 2 the vineyard comes to life again!
Why do we say that? Because of what had happened in Isaiah 5 v 1 – 7
1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
The funeral dirge that had been sung for the vineyard.
What do we make of these verses? Surely this is a beautiful picture of Christianity blossoming out of the remnant of desolated Judah and spreading its Gospel influences throughout the whole world. Israel as a nation was able to take great encouragement from Isaiah’s words for they spoke of Israel’s flourishing and her fruit filling the whole earth. We who are the spiritual Israel, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, see this as a glorious promise covering the whole of the Gospel age from Jesus’ first coming to his return the second time. There is confirmation of this in Colossians 1 v 5
The truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
What a different vineyard this is! The care of it will not be left to frail and fallible men – but God Himself will keep it –
3 I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
In Isaiah 5 verse 6 God had said
I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
What a difference and a contrast. I will water it every moment, constantly, regularly, even before severe need, with dew and showers. My church vineyard will never go dry. I will protect her as with a wall of fire around her!
How safe the church is, my friends! How certain is salvation! How definite it is that the elect will be gathered in and saved and made ready for heaven – and nothing can stop it – nothing can halt the march of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not become low and discouraged about the apparent pitiful state of the church today. The REAL church of Jesus cannot fail. The real Church of our dear Saviour is bound to succeed in the world. The real church has been secured in eternity past and this was confirmed at Calvary that day 2000 years ago when He gave His life for the many. Not one of His dear sheep will be lost!
Before we leave this section let us come back to peace again. There it is in verse 5
Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
The Lord God desires that men come to Him to worship Him in His holy mountain. He desires that they will come to Him for refuge. There is a storm of judgement not far away when he will judge all nations. You and I will witness it along with all the people who have ever lived at that final day of reckoning and judgement. But there is a place of refuge that God has provided for any who will be wise enough to seek it. When a storm comes we look for a place to shelter. If a gunman opened fire in the street firing randomly, we would dive for cover. If a shop with flammable liquids and gas bottles caught fire we would flee for safety a long way away from it – as far as possible.
Well my friend you need to know this – that the awesome judgement of Almighty God is far more threatening that these things and you will want to find somewhere to escape to – you will want a refuge; yet in it all, God has provided a refuge!
God is the refuge of His saints, When storms of sharp distress invade; Ere we can offer our complaints, Behold Him present with His aid. Let the mountains from their seats be hurled Down to the deep, and buried there; Convulsions shake the solid world, Our faith shall never yield to fear. Loud may the troubled ocean roar; In sacred peace our souls abide; While every nation, every shore, Trembles, and dreads the swelling tide. Isaac Watts, 1674 – 1748
let him take hold of my strength,
Mankind is divided into those who are God’s people and those who live in rebellion against Him. The lines are drawn. There is no middle ground. You cannot have a foot in both camps.
But God is so gracious – a God who cannot overlook sin in men and women – but must punish it. At the same time he is willing to show mercy and provide a refuge. He declares then to all men, you included –
Or let him come to me for refuge, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
What causes the Lord God to utter these words? Why should He offer peace to hell deserving sinners? Why should a refuge be provided and an offer of peace be made?
Because God is a God of Grace! And Salvation is by grace alone.
Therefore he calls to all – to you this evening – make peace with God. Come over to God’s side! Yield to the superior power of the Lord God Jehovah who is always ready to let his enemies make peace with Him. Do you realise that if you are an unbeliever tonight, a sinner whose sins are yet not forgiven, that you are God’s enemy? Why has He not judged you already? Why has he not called you to answer to Him and punished you with eternal death? Why does He enable you to continue to live? Because he loves sinners and is waiting for them, in His grace, to make peace with Him. He has already drawn up the conditions of peace – He has already punished His Son the Lord Jesus Christ when he poured out His wrath on Him on the cross at Calvary. Peace was made between God and sinners through the blood of His cross. What a thought! Peace has been made – so that you may apply in person to make peace with your maker.
How do you make peace?
You realise what it is that is causing the division and the war – your sin! Your rebellion.
Then you repent, turn from your sin – see what an offence it is to the Lord.
And then believe that there is only one way to make peace – and that is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to be saved.
There is a promise in this verse 5. Him that comes to me for refuge SHALL make peace with me!
Oh my friend, have you made peace with your God yet? This is so urgent for you – especially as there is no work for you to do – no exertion of energy for you to make – you are weak and can do nothing as you remain in your sin – yet hear this
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5 v 6)
God has done all that is needed in punishing His only begotten Son, and accepting that sacrifice for sins for His people.
Because the sinless saviour died, My guilty soul, is counted free, For God the just is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me. Charitie Lees De Chenez 1841 – 1923
Will you continue to be at war with God my friend? Why struggle any longer? Never mind what your friends will say. Never mind what your family will think if you become a Christian. Seek peace with God today – while you can. Go to the Lord Jesus Christ tonight and tell Him everything – and ask him to save you! He is ready, he is willing – don’t doubt any longer!
1 Timothy 1 v 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;