The Book of Isaiah
James J. Barker


Lesson 23
WHEN CHRIST RETURNS

Text: ISAIAH 25:1-8


INTRODUCTION:


1.     When the Lord Jesus returns He will establish His kingdom in Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23).  Isaiah 25 & 26 (and many other chapters in Isaiah) deal with this theme – the millennial kingdom. 

2.     We refer to Christ’s coming kingdom as the millennium because Revelation 20 tells us Christ will reign for 1,000 years.

3.     We reject amillennialism.  Amillennialism (from the Latin prefix a meaning “no,” and mille meaning “thousand,” and annum meaning “year”) denies a literal, future, thousand-year, physical reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth.  The amillennial view holds that the number of years in Revelation 20 is merely a symbolic number, not a literal number.

4.     Amillennialists teach that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the church age.  They believe that Christ’s reign is spiritual in nature during the millennium/church age, but at the end of the age Christ will physically return in final judgment.

5.     Amillennialists believe that Christ is now sitting on the throne of David (in heaven) and that this present Church age is the millennial kingdom.  But consider Isaiah 11:6-9 and many other prophecies. 

6.     The Bible does teach that Christ is now sitting on a throne, but nowhere in the Bible does it teach that He is sitting on the throne of David in heaven.

7.     Another unscriptural teaching is postmillennialism.  Like the amillennialists, most postmillennialists see the thousand years more as a figurative term meaning a long period of time (although some postmillennialists do hold to a literal millennium of 1,000 years).

8.     Postmillennialism teaches that the forces of Satan will gradually be defeated by the expansion of the kingdom of God throughout history leading up to the second coming of Christ.

9.     Therefore, those who hold to postmillennialism believe that this world will become better and better, with the entire world eventually becoming “Christianized.” After this happens, Christ will return.

10. However, this is not what the Bible teaches.   The world will not get better and better, but worse and worse.  “Iniquity shall abound” (Matt. 24:12).  Revelation 13:4 tells us that during the tribulation, people will worship the dragon (Satan) and the beast (antichrist).

11. Let us see what the Bible really teaches regarding the millennium.

 

I. GOD WILL BE EXALTED (ISA. 25:1).

1.     Today God’s name is a curse word for most people.  But when the Lord returns, God will be exalted (Isa. 25:1).

2.     Isaiah 25 and most of 26 is a song of praise to the Lord from the remnant of believers that survive the Great Tribulation (cf. 24:14, 15; 26:1; 35:2).  Songs, like poems, are often difficult to interpret.

3.     FC Jennings (Studies in Isaiah) wrote, “The strains of those ancient prophets are for the most part sad rather than joyous, and any burst of singing, amid their confessions, tears, and stern denunciations, is like that song in the prison at Philippi, a striking witness to the intervention of the blessed God in grace.”

4.     Last week we saw that the word “city” in these chapters is a generic term for all cities (cf. Isa. 24:10, 12; 25:2, 3), though 25:2 could be a reference to Babylon (Rev. 17 & 18).

5.     In Bible times people would flee to the walled cities whenever war broke out.    But these walled cities will be destroyed during the catastrophic judgments of the tribulation period (25:2).

6.     For believers, God alone will be their refuge (Isa. 25:4).   He will protect a faithful remnant “until the indignation (tribulation) be over-past” (Isa. 26:20).

7.     Apparently there will be great feasting in the millennial kingdom.  “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things…” (25:6) on Mount Zion.

8.     The Lord’s banquet feast is a figure of the spiritual blessings of the millennial kingdom.  And yet it can be taken literally.

9.     When our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said to His disciples, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom” (Matt. 26:29).

10. Mark that our Lord said, “Fruit of the vine.”  Isaiah 25:6 refers to “wines on the lees (dregs) well refined.”  Bible teachers have pointed out that this means, “there will be no more strong and intoxicating elements in them” (Harry Bultema, Commentary on Isaiah).

11. Our Lord said to His disciples in Luke 22:29 & 30, “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

12. In Luke 14:15, one of them that sat at meat with our Lord said unto him, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

13. In Matthew 8:11, our Lord said, “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”

14. Sitting down at a feast is a picture of joy. One of the characteristics of the millennial kingdom will be joy and gladness (Isa. 25:9b).

15. Another is peace (26:3, 12, 13).   This is because the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) will be reigning from Jerusalem (26:4ff).

16. The literal reading (marginal reading; cf. Scofield Bible) for “everlasting strength” in Isaiah 26:4 is “Rock of Ages.”  Augustus Toplady was inspired to write his famous hymn based on this Scripture.

17. “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.”

18. This hymn was sung at the fun­e­ral of Will­iam Glad­stone in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, Eng­land.

19. The hymn was al­so sung at the fun­er­al of Pre­si­dent Ben­ja­min Har­ri­son be­cause it was his fa­vo­rite hymn, and the on­ly one he ev­er tried to sing.

20. In addition to joy and peace, other characteristics of the kingdom will be holiness (Isa. 35:8) and the universal knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9).

 

II. DEATH WILL BE SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY (25:8).

1.     The LORD will swallow up death in victory (25:8).   The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:54, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

2.     Isaiah 25:8 also reminds us of the book of Revelation. 

·        “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17).

·        And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

3.     The doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in the NT, but it is found in the OT too (Isa. 26:17-19).   Paul’s quotation in I Corinthians 15 shows that Isaiah 25 refers to resurrected saints in the millennium.

4.     The millennial kingdom will be preceded by two stages of the first resurrection.  Christ is “the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (I Cor. 15:23; cf. I Thess. 4:13-18). 

5.     When our Lord returns to set up His kingdom there will be the second phase of the first resurrection.   “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).

6.     The Bible teaches that OT believers and the tribulation martyrs will be resurrected at the end of the tribulation. Revelation 20:5 tells us that this is all part of the “first resurrection.” 

7.     Our Lord referred to this first resurrection in John 5:29 as “the resurrection of life” and in Luke 14:14 as “the resurrection of the just.”

8.     In John 5:29, our Lord also referred to “the resurrection of damnation.”  Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

9.     We see this resurrection of damnation described in detail in Revelation 20:11-15, the Great White Throne Judgment.

10.Interestingly, the Bible does not use the term “second resurrection.”  It uses the term “second death” (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).  This brings us to my third point. 

 

III. THE WICKED WILL BE PUNISHED.

1.     Moab is used by Isaiah (25:10) to represent all the wicked nations that vex God’s people.  God will humble proud Moab (cf. 16:6, 7). They will be trampled down even as straw is trodden down into a dung heap (manure).

2.     Isaiah 25:11 says, “And he (Moab) shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim…” Moab is pictured swimming through the dung.  What a vivid picture of a dirty sinner!

3.     God judges sin (cf. Isa. 26:5).

4.     A Bible doctrine that is constantly attacked is the doctrine of divine retribution.  Most preachers stay away from it.  Many purposely avoid words like judgment, damnation, hell, etc.

5.     Many try to water down the doctrine of hellfire and brimstone.  Spurgeon said, “Do not begin telling me that there is a metaphorical fire in hell. Who worries about that? If a man were to threaten to give me a metaphorical blow on the head, I should worry very little about it; he would be welcome to give me as many as he pleased.

6.     Many cults have been started because certain individuals (e.g., Charles T. Russell) did not like the doctrine of divine retibution.

7.     The JW’s insist that hell is nothing but the grave.  Unless they repent they will suffer for all eternity in a “grave” filled with fire and brimstone.

8.     If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches the doctrine of divine retribution. Isaiah 26:20, 21 refer to the Battle of Armageddon. 

 

CONCLUSION:

1.     God is merciful with the wicked, but the wicked will “not learn righteousness” (26:10).  There are certain sinners who refuse to obey God.  They love their sin too much.

2.     Harry Ironside said sinners “become hardened because of the favors (God) bestowed upon them.  At last they will have to learn the importance of righteousness in the hard way, when (God’s) judgments fall upon them, and all the nations are made to know His wrath because of their sin and rebellion” (Isaiah).

3.     We see this in Revelation 16 that when the vials of God’s wrath are poured out, rather than repent, men will blaspheme God.

4.     But those who trust in the Lord are safe (26:4). The steamship Lon­don went down in the Bay of Bis­cay on Jan­u­ary 11, 1866.   The last man who left the ship as his lifeboat pushed off from the London heard singing as the big ship went down.  It was the voic­es of the pass­en­gers sing­ing “Rock of Ag­es.”

5.     Friend, are you holding onto the Rock of Ages?



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