Saturday, August 1, 2009

Isaiah, the Fifth Evangelist

In today's message, I would like to broaden your understanding of the book Christ read from while in the synagogue of His home town, Luke_4:16-30 so that you may better appreciate the book written by the Fifth Evangelist. While Isaiah is the most often quoted prophet in the New Testament, his book can be as obscure as it is interesting. Even many Christians will admit they know very little about the book and what it has to offer for their walk with Christ. Other than being familiar with a few famous passages that foretold the advent of Christ Isa_9:6 and his suffering Isa_53:1-12, most people don’t know that there are prophecies that coincide with the book of Revelations. Isa_13:1-13, Isa_14:1-22. Unfortunately, because of their unfamiliarity they miss out on the true gift Isaiah has to offer.

From the beginning of time the Lord had a plan of salvation for mankind, Gen_3:15. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."Ecc_3:15 "That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by." However, the first mention of His plan to give us the gift of His Son is Gen_3:15. The last mention of His plan for our salvation is in the book of Revelations, Rev_22:20 "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus". A promise that may be truly said to every person in every age, Jesus the Judge is at the door. In Isaiah, you will find God's plan for the salvation of mankind Isa_53:10, His plan of judgment for the world, and those who would refuse his gift Isa_13:6-13. His birth Isa_9:6, His death Isa_53:8, and His resurrection Isa_53:10are also foretold within the pages of this book. We can either ignore Isaiah's prophecies like the Jews did or, as Christ taught, we can embrace them.

This is the first time the Lord spoke of a savior for mankind and He did so at the very dawning of the gospel day. No sooner was the deadly poisonous wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed. The Lord had planed from the beginning that the one who was first deceived would be the one through whom the guilt of the world would fall. Since sin is handed down through the man, the sin nature of man was not handed down to the Messiah. So He is truly the unblemished Lamb whom the Lord accepted as the perfect sin offering. One can even glean from the Scriptures that the Lord had a plan for salvation even before He spoke the heavens and the earth into existence.

I called Isaiah the “Fifth Evangelist”, and I did so because Isaiah described what would happen to Christ for our salvation in such a way that one would think he had a front row seat at Golgotha. Not even John, the most beloved and only apostle to witness His crucifixion, wrote as detailed an account as Isaiah did. No, Isaiah the Prophet was not present, instead he received a first hand account from the very One who would suffer on that cross. So when you look at the way Isaiah spoke of future events, as if they were in his past, it’s easy to see why he is often referred to as either the fifth Evangelist or the first Apostle of Christ.

Isaiah's first reference to the Messiah is not a prophecy of His birth but a prophecy that the Jews would reject Him Isa_6:9-10. When you look at the traditions of the ancient writers you find that very seldom is the birth or childhood of a famous person mentioned. The Jews were exceptions in that they often mentioned the day of birth, but it was a man's accomplishments as an adult that gave the scribes a reason to write about him or his childhood. While Isaiah foretells many aspects of what the Messiah's life would entail, such as His birth Isa_7:14, His ministry Isa_9:1-2, and His many miracles Isa_35:5-6, it is the Lords rejection by the Jews that Isaiah mentions first. Without the Jews rejection of Christ the gentiles would not have been saved, thus it only makes sense that this would be the first prophecy Isaiah mentions. So just as they rejected the Lord time and time again throughout their history, they would also reject the very One they looked forward to for salvation.

Like many other prophets, Isaiah was also rejected and ultimately murdered by those he was sent to by the Lord. Christ would even allude to these rejection and murder in his parable of the absent landowner. Matt 21:33-44Isaiah came bearing a plan, given by God, for the restoration of the remnant of Israel who would truly return to Him. This plan also included the redemption for all mankind as Isaiah repeatedly pointed out Isa_11:10, Isa_49:1, Isa_53:10-12, Isa_59:15-16. Through Isaiah's writings, the Jews should have known that the Lord was also sending the Messiah to save the hated gentiles. As we now know, the Jews would be the first to persecute the Christians. Even before they crucified their Messiah they were expelling his believers from the sanctuaries John_9:28-34. Isaiah also conveys to us the compassion the Lord has for His chosen people and His desire for their redemption. Isa_65:19, Isa_65:24.

What an amazing prophecy! Long before I was born God knew I would be knee deep in transgressions against Him, and even before I called on His name he came to my rescue. When God destroyed the world by water, Noah and his family needed an
Ark designed by God Himself to survive the Flood. As Christians, we realize that we also need a type of an Ark and for us that Ark is Christ. Through Isaiah, God gives us the blueprints for that Ark. Unlike the Ark that saved Noah and his family however, the Ark Christians depend upon was completely constructed by God. It is this Ark that was promised from the day Adam and Eve ate from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”.Gen_3:1-7 Isaiah wrote about this some 760 years before the birth of Christ. Throughout the Bible we have evidence of the Lord's promises, and all we need to do is have faith in those promises, just as we have faith in the promise Jesus gave Nicodemus . “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. Jhn_3:16 For those who are skeptical about the timing of these prophecies, the evidence we have is backed up by many overwhelming facts as to the Historicity of the Scriptures. When the “Dead Sea Scrolls” were discovered, it was learned that the current translation of Isaiah has not changed through the years, other than a few nondescript grammatical errors. But probably the best proof of God's promises is the fulfillment by Jesus of the more than 120 Isaiah prophecies about the coming Messiah. Along with hundreds of other Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, I believe it takes an act of mental ignorance to ignore the prophetic evidence of God's faithfulness to follow through on His promises.

As for me, I have no reason to doubt the future fulfillment of the Lord's remaining promises. By studying Isaiah and his many prophecies, I have learned to see what they really represent; the Eternal as opposed to the temporal. The when, where, who, and how are just temporal, but the Eternal is what is promised and that is where my hope lies. My faith through the grace of God has allowed me to be washed by the Blood of the Lamb. My parched soul has been renewed by the life giving water flowing from the Rock that follows me through this desert of sin called the world. My salvation was paid for Christ' victory on Calvary, and I am assured of eternal life because of His resurrection. While I anxiously await His return so that I may enjoy an eternal rest in His Glory, I invite you to join me by accepting Christ as your Lord and savior.

I pray that those who have ears to hear will hear His voice and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.


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