We begin Isaiah today, and what a glorious book it is!! The whole gospel is beautifully woven throughout the book…
It is important when reading Isaiah to remember that future events can be compared to a mountains in a horizon. It’s impossible to tell the distance between the mountains in the horizon. So as Isaiah describes future events, sometimes he is referring to the close mountains – or relatively short future events – such as the Babylonian exile. And other times he is referring to mountains farther in the distance – such as the coming of the Messiah – and oftentimes, he groups mountain ranges together! So his prophesies can have multiple layers and meanings.
His style is very poetic, and the language is beautiful, but ultimately, Isaiah leads us to Christ.
It is fitting that we are beginning Isaiah right alongside the last half of Romans 11, because these verses in Romans can only be understood in the context of all of history. Remember, Paul is trying to prove that God has not rejected his people. Yesterday, Paul argued that God had saved a remnant, but in the last half of the chapter, Paul looks forward to the day when the fullness of Israel will be saved!
Paul summarizes both past and future “history” in verses 11:30-32…
- vs. 30a: “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God…” Paul is speaking to the Gentiles, and for most of ancient history, God allowed the nations to walk in their own way while He focused on Israel.
- vs. 30b-31a: “but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient…” Most of the Jews stumbled over Christ and rejected the gospel – whereas the gospel multiplied among the Gentiles. We are still living in this part of history – where a large number of Gentiles have received and are continuing to receive God’s mercy, alongside a small remnant of Jews.
- vs. 31b: “in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy.” Paul is teaching that at some point in history, the Jews will receive mercy – just as the Gentiles have – and great numbers of Jews will be saved!
Paul’s last two points coincide with Isaiah’s message of hope for Israel’s future…
It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3).
Do you see how Isaiah describes blessing for the nations because the word of the Lord has gone out from Jerusalem? This is both a description of our current age and the age to come…Isn’t it amazing how we are seeing the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesies made thousands of years ago??!!!
But we must return to Paul’s teaching in Romans… He concludes 11 chapters of systematic gospel theology by summarizing the WHOLE of history in this one statement… “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (11:32).
Do you see the depth of grace in this statement? He has planned – from before the creation of the world – for all to receive mercy – both Jew and Gentile!
As we consider God’s great plan of salvation, which originated before the world was created and continues until the end of the age, we echo Paul’s doxology!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?” (Romans 11:34-35)
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (11:36).