Friday in the Third Week of Advent

(If this day occurs after December 16, please refer to that date in the

list of devotions.)

Isaiah 34:1-35:10

A Contrast of Two Kingdoms

Isaiah 34 and 35 show a marked contrast between two kingdoms.  Isaiah 34 displays God’s judgment on the nations which shall come in the latter days.  No doubt, God judges nations even now; after all, where is the Roman Empire today, or the glory of ancient Greece, or Persia, or Babylon, or Assyria, or Egypt, and on and on?  Nations come and go; the word of the Lord abides forever (Isaiah 40:8).  Here in Isaiah 34 is a graphic depiction of our Lord’s coming judgment, which again is the theme of Advent – the coming of the Lord.  For some, it is a day of rejoicing; for others, a day of mourning as the wrath of God is finally poured out on sinful mankind.  “The Lord is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter … The Lord has a sword; it is sated with blood.”  The description of desolation that follows reminds one of the judgment of “Babylon” in Revelation 18:21-24: the sounds of the harp and flute, of craftsmen, of the mill, of bride and bridegroom, of merchants – in short, the sound of anything will no longer be heard, for the Lord has come and executed his just wrath upon the nations.

But it does not end there.  Isaiah 34:8 tells us that the execution of God’s wrath on the nations is his “day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion,” that is, God’s people.  Isaiah 35 then spells out that wonderful new kingdom of healing and restoration: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”  We saw this in our Lord’s ministry at his first coming, when he came in humility and worked signs and wonders.  But they did not believe in him.  But next time he comes shall be the inauguration of his visible reign, in which “the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water … no lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come upon it.”  In other words, in that Messianic kingdom for which we long, all shall be made right again; even nature itself, which was subjected to futility because of our sin (Romans 8:19-22), shall slough off its curse and readily comply with our Lord’s command for our well-being.  The passage speaks of the Redeemed coming to “Zion” with singing, and “everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”  But let us not overlook the highway that brings us to the city: “And it shall be called the Way of Holiness.”  It is holiness that gets us there – the holiness that covers us through the substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our growth in that holiness as we are sanctified by walking with Him (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Peter 3:18).  There is no other way.

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