Tuesday, March 24, 2015

God’s Vineyard

Isaiah 27:1-13

“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.” (Isaiah 27:1)

Job 41 describes the creature called Leviathan.  Many so called scholars have said that it is either a whale or a hippopotamus, but Isaiah makes it very clear is some kind of a reptile, whether a sea snake, or sea going lizard.   The vast number of sea dwelling dinosaur remains that have been discovered clearly indicates this was probably what was referred to.

The prophecy here is not about the dinosaurs, however, but refers to the destruction of  Satan himself. Revelation 20:2-2 declares, “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”  Later, when the thousand years are finished Satan himself will be cast into the lake fire, which is the second death, according to Revelation 20:10.  “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  

“In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.  I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.  Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.  Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” (Isaiah 27:2-5)

In that day, the Lord will care for Israel like a vintner keeping his vineyard, making sure it is watered and protected from frost, insects and hungry animals.  He will not be angry with Israel anymore, but will systematically remove any rebellious or wicked people who, like weeds or thorn bushes might interfere with the grape vines.    Those who will turn to him will find peace and blessing.

“He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.  Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?” (Isaiah 27:6-7)

Like a vineyard keeper starting new vines by burying certain branches and keeping that spot wet until the branch begins to put out roots, God will cause the Jews to put out new roots and begin to grow, eventually producing more fruit.  He has never just rooted them out like a bunch of weeds like he has done with some of the peoples who have tried to destroy them. 

“In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.  By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.” (Isaiah 27:8-9)

Like the vineyard keeper, God will carefully consider how best to prune the Jews, even protecting them from a wind that might chill or injure the vines.  When he gets done. The Nation of Israel will no longer live in rebellion against God.  In that day the altars will be ground up chalk and they will no longer go out to worship trees and idols, but will come directly to the father himself.   John refers to this in Revelation 21:22, saying, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.”

“Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.  When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favour.” (Isaiah 27:10-11)

Before the day when God reclaims Israel there will be a time when her fortresses are forsaken and the land is just a wilderness, used for pasture for livestock.  People will come and gather the branches of dead fruit trees for firewood because the people of Israel have not learned to follow God.  He will not show mercy of favor until they change their attitude toward him.    From the time Israel was destroyed in 70 AD, until 1948, Palestine was occupied by other groups and the cities were deserted.  Even Jerusalem became just a ruin, and was eventually taken over by the Turks. 

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.” (Isaiah 27:12)

As we’ve already seen, God will cause an earthquake which will redirect the rivers, changing the Gulf of Suez, and the courses of the stream known today as Wadi El Arish and the Nile River, providing easy access for the Jews who were displaced into Africa to return to Israel.  He will then cause those Jews to individually return to Israel, not out of nationalism, but as a result of desire to serve God.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:13)

Revelation 11:15 describes the sounding of that trumpet.  “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”  When that happens, the Mount of Olives will split and the Gulf of Aqaba will open up to the Dead Sea, making Jerusalem a seaport.  At the same time the Euphrates will be diverted providing easy access for those Jews who were carried away by the Assyrians to return, as well as those who had fled to Egypt.

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