In Days to Come Jacob Will Take Root

27: 2-13

    DIG: As God sings from His vineyard, what chords does He strike? Major or minor? Harmony or discord? High notes or low notes? How does this song harmonize with 5:1-7? What accounts for the change in tune? How fruitful has Isra'el been? What is the fruit that will eventually fill all the world (see 2:1-5, 19:23-25, or 26:18 for possibilities)? What has been the cause and purpose of the LORD's judgments against Judah (compare 27:7-11 to 11:11)?

    REFLECT: Is the fruit of your life mostly taking root (present, but unseen)? Or is your fruit budding and blossoming (it’s beginning to show its God-given potential)? This past year, have you sensed God singing about your garden? Or have you felt God was disciplining you in some way as in 27:7-9? Why? In retrospect (and in view of John 15), what do you see as the purpose of such discipline? What is your part, and what is the LORD's part in being fruitful and multiplying for God? Asherah poles and incense altars were idolatrous; even so, Israel used them. What things have possibly taken the place of God as the desire of your heart (26:8)?

    Isaiah declares: In that day, sing about a fruitful vineyard (12:2). There was a previous song of the vineyard back in 5:1-17. The vineyard symbolizes Isra'el. The point then was that God planted the vineyard so that it would produce good grapes, but Isra'el produced only bad grapes. So God left it unprotected to be trampled down, allowed weeds to grow up in it, and He withheld rain from it. But now with Isra'el’s regeneration there is another song of the vineyard, which is in contrast to the previous one. In that day, in her far eschatological future, the nation of Isra'el will be regenerated. At long last, there will be good fruit in the vineyard.

    This result will be completely the LORD’s doing. He will watch over it, water it continually and also guard it day and night so that no one may harm it (27:3). It is not some lesser laborer, the LORD Himself who will watch over His own (John 10:11-13). In contrast to Chapter 5, where the rain and the dew no longer fell on the vineyard, here, God waters it continually. What's more, instead of abandoning Israel to her enemies, ADONAI will be her watchman day and night (Psalm 121:4; Isaiah 5:2; Matthew 21:33).

    Here He will declare war on the briers and thorns, saying: I am no longer angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting Me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them on fire (27:4). However, in Chapter 5 He allowed the briers and thorns to spring up. Israel had not been a fruitful vine and was therefore judged. Here the LORD wishes they were present so He could defend His vineyard from their advancement. Like a young lover wanting to defend his beloved, so it is here. God’s love for His bride is the same, and will be the same on the last day (Ephesians 5:25-27; Second Corinthians 11:2).

    The contrast is that during the messianic Kingdom Isra'el will be fruitful. God wants to restore that relationship with Him that they once had. He says: Let them make peace with Me. In the far eschatological future, Jacob, another name for Isra'el, will be productive again (Isaiah 35:1-3 and 6-7; Amos 9:13-14; Zechariah 14:8), and the blessings conferred upon Isra'el will be enjoyed by the whole world (Genesis 12:3).

    Or else let them come to Me, yes, let them make peace with Me (27:5). The scene changes back to Isaiah’s day (27:7-8). If Isra'el feels unfairly treated by God and wonders how the prophecy of 27:2-6 could ever come true, she is invited to compare herself to her enemies, to discover that they have ultimately suffered worse than she. That this has happened is evident if one looks at Nineveh and Babylon today. The horrible slaughters, which have taken place in and around Jerusalem, have been multiplied in those places. God’s instruments of judgment are not exempt from judgment themselves.93 And if they punish Israel beyond which they are allowed, their punishment is even more severe (10:5-19, 33:1, 47:5-9).

    Since God will be Israel’s keeper in the last day, supplying her needs and subduing her enemies, she will spread out to cover the whole earth (Hosea 14:5-7). In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit (27:6). She will fulfill her calling, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through her (Genesis 12:3b).

    Has ADONAI struck her as He struck down those who struck her? Has she been killed as those were killed who killed her (27:7)? In other words, has God devastated Israel the way He devastated Israel’s enemies? The literary structure in Hebrew demands a negative answer. No! Then how has He punished her? God answers through His prophet: By warfare and exile you contend with her – with His fierce blast He drives her out (an allusion to the captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel after the conquest of Samaria by the Assyrians), as on a day when the east wind blows (a reference to Assyria which lay to the east of Palestine). Israel’s punishment was tempered by measure, just as much as Israel’s sins deserved; but no more. This was necessary so that Israel would not have been totally destroyed. The sin of the nation had to be atoned for and Jerusalem destroyed (27:8).

    Now Isaiah jumps forward 115 years to a near historical prophecy. By this, then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of sin: When He makes the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces, no Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing (27:9). The sin of the nation had to be atoned for. Of course atonement for all sin is through the death of Jesus Christ. But in view of Israel’s covenant relationship with God, she had to be driven out of the land because of her disobedience to the Torah (Deuteronomy 28:49-52 and 64). Evidence of that atonement would be her destroying her altar stones dedicated to false gods, and removing the Asherah poles, the wooden symbols of the Canaanite pagan goddess of fertility.

    Because of Judah’s sin, her City of Jerusalem would be destroyed and its people removed. True to God’s Word Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC and was left desolate. The fortified City stands desolate, an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert; there the caves graze, there they lie down; they strip its branches bare (27:10). Isaiah said calves would graze in Jerusalem’s ruins and being hungry, would strip tree branches of their bark.

    When its twigs are dry, then are broken off and women come and make fires with them. For this is a people without understanding; so their Maker has no compassion on them, and their Creator show them no favor (27:11). Women would cut off the branches and use them for firewood. In judging His senseless people, God, their Maker and Creator, temporarily withdrew His compassion on them and would show them no favor.

    The LORD's actions in our lives today continue to be for the purpose of refinement, not for destruction. If trouble and adversity have come our way, our attitude about God will make all the difference in how we receive them. If we think of ADONAI as passionately loving us, then His refinement will be easier to bear. But if we think of Him as the cruel judge determined to wring the last ounce of retribution out of us, the blows will be heavy indeed.

    Participating in the sufferings of Christ (First Peter 4:12-13) is not easy for us who are tempted to avoid pain at all costs. But we must realize that God does not have destruction in mind when He allows suffering to come across our path. If it is not for discipline, it may well be for a testimony of His grace in the conflict with evil. At any rate, we can know that just as Christ’s suffering led to glory, so may ours (First Peter 5:10), for God’s final purpose is to lead us beyond judgment to the hope of heaven.94

    Isaiah now reverts back to the far eschatological future. There are two regatherings for Israel. In the first, she will be regathered in unbelief, before the Great Tribulation (Ezekiel 20:33-38; 22:17-22; Zephaniah 2:1-2). What is in view here is the second where she will be regathered in belief, after the Great Tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:29-31; 30:1-10; Isaiah 11:11-12; 27:12-13; 43:5-7; Jeremiah 16:14-15; 31:7-10; Ezekiel 11:14-18; 36:22-24, and Ezekiel Chapters 38-39; Amos 9:14-15; Zechariah 10:8-12; and Matthew 24:21). The rabbis teach that even those that were exiled in the distant parts of Assyria, or dispersed in the remotest corners of Egypt, will be brought back. They see the current state of Israel as the fulfillment of these verses.

    In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites will be gathered up one by one (27:12). These form the farthest limits of the boundaries of the land of Israel (Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31). Notice they are gathered into all of the Promised Land. They will dwell from Egypt in the south to the Euphrates in the north. For the first time in all Jewish history the Jews will dwell in all of the Promised Land. Not only will all of their boundaries of the Land be inhabited, but also every Jew will be regathered. The emphasis here is one by one. No Jew living at the time of the Second Coming is left outside the Land. The regathering is worldwide with every nation helping the Jews to return to Isra'el, especially those nations that were once their enemies.

    Many passages in the Bible speak of Israel’s regathering, in belief, at the end of the Tribulation, in conjunction with Christ’s Second Coming and in preparation for the commencement of the Millennium. These references are not being fulfilled by the modern state of Israel. The fact that the last fifty years have seen a worldwide regathering and reestablishment of the nation of Israel, which is now poised in the very setting required for the revealing of the antichrist and the start of the Tribulation, is God’s grand indicator that all the other areas of world development are prophetically lined up. As I previously mentioned, Isra'el, the LORD's “super sign” of the end times, is a clear indicator that time is growing shorter with each passing hour. With what we have already seen, we can be assured that ADONAI is now preparing the world for the final events leading up to Israel’s national regeneration.95

    Like the raising of a flag, a sign of the final gathering, on that day a great shofar will sound. Those lost in the land of Ashur will come, also those scattered through the land of Egypt; and they will worship ADONAI on the holy mountain in Jerusalem (27:13 CJB). God will call His own home. But this return will not be merely a physical one. Rather, the LORD’s people will be fully restored when they worship Him on the holy mountain (2:2-4, 24:23, 25:6 and 10). What a day that will be!

    In contrast to the devastation of Babylon, there is the regathering of Israel. In that day, points to the fact that Isaiah is prophesying about the far eschatological future of Israel when God’s shofar will sound. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words (First Thessalonians 4:16-18). The fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets is going to be the Rapture of the Church (First Corinthians 15:50-58), which will include Jewish and Gentile believers (Ephesians 2:14-18). The order of the seven feasts of Isra'el are important to understanding God’s plan for His chosen people.

    The first four festivals all come closely together, within fifty days of each other: the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Weeks. All four of these were fulfilled in the program of the first coming. The Feast of Passover was fulfilled by the death of Christ. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by the sinlessness of His blood offering upon His death. The Feast of Firstfruits was fulfilled by the resurrection of Christ. The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, was fulfilled by the birth of the Church.

    Following the first cycle of feasts came a four month interval separating the first cycle of feasts from the second cycle of feasts. This four month interval is fulfilled by the Church Age. God’s program for the Church interrupts His program for Isra'el as revealed in the order of the feasts and the purposes of His plan for the ages.

    Just as the first four festivals come close together so do the last three; they come within two weeks of each other. The program of the Second Coming will fulfill the last three. The Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled by the Rapture of the Church. The Great Tribulation and Israel’s national salvation at the end of that period will fulfill the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled by the establishment of the messianic Kingdom. The Feast of Trumpets precedes the Day of Atonement by a number of days. Furthermore the Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled by the Rapture while the Day of Atonement will be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation. Just as the Feast of Trumpets occurs before the Day of Atonement, even so the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation.96 So while the sound of a great trumpet reveals nothing about the timing of the Rapture, the very sequence by which the feasts of Israel will be fulfilled teaches that the Rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation just as the Feast of Trumpets precedes the Day of Atonement.

 

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