The Work of a Gracious God
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Isaiah, chapter 30. We have been following the natural divisions of the book of Isaiah, and we have suggested to you that the first 39 chapters of the book are divided into a number of parts, the divisions indicated by the Holy Spirit within the text itself. We are in the fifth part of the book of Isaiah, which we have referred to as the Book of Woes because each chapter in that portion begins with the word woe . As a matter of fact, there are six woes in the chapter, and we have been looking at the fourth one as it is recorded here in chapter 30.

We said that chapter 30 was divided into two parts, the first part comprising the first seventeen verses, representing a woe pronounced upon a rebellious people. The last portion of the chapter, beginning with verse 18 and continuing through verse 33, represents the work of a gracious God.

The woe that was pronounced upon a rebellious people was pronounced upon those individuals within the nation of Israel who refused to turn to God for help and went down to Egypt that they might find an alliance that would stand them in good stead against their common Assyrian enemy.

God told them that such action was foolish and that He would have to deal with them about it. Before He began to deal with them, He said, in verse 15:

Isaiah 30

15For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…

But, as we learned in verses 16-17, they refused to return. They refused to place their faith and their trust in our gracious God. Therefore, God was left with no alternative but that alternative that is presented in verse 18.

The Lord Waits to Be Gracious

If you were not familiar with verse 18 and I were to ask you, “What was the alternative?”, I am quite sure you would immediately reply, “Judgment. There is nothing left for God to do but judge.” However, that is not what is presented in verse 18. Look at it, please:

Isaiah 30

18And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Those of you who have sat under my ministry for any length of time will recall that that verse is one of our year verses . It is a verse that God gave to us for the year 1961. We claimed that verse, and we found God working in many precious ways.

We will not take the time to review that verse in detail, but in order that we all might start off on the same footing, may I remind you that that verse actually begins with the words, “Yet, nevertheless,” instead of the words “And therefore.” “Even though, you [nation of Israel] have refused to return and find your rest in Me, nevertheless, will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you.”

Of course, if we were going to claim this by way of personal application, as we have the right to do, we would be amazed that our God is manifesting Himself in such a great manner. Do you realize what we are reading here? In spite of our rebellion, in spite of our self-will, in spite of our strong actions, nevertheless, will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto us. Yes, that means exactly what it says. God will wait for an opportunity to be merciful.

Here we are, going down the road, and God can't bless us in the present direction that we are going, because if He were to bless us, He would be endorsing our activity, so He withholds His blessings. But not with the intention of never blessing, as we are going to see before we are through with this chapter, but waiting until we can get to the place where He can bless us.

Look at that next statement in verse 18, where we read:

Isaiah 30

18…and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you…

Literally, that is, “Therefore will He stand up that He may have mercy upon us.” It isn't that we exalt Him, though we should, but in this particular verse, it is literally that He may rise up, stand to His feet, that He might manifest His interest in what is going on as He looks over the battlements of Heaven.

I never meditate upon this verse without thinking of the only place in the Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded as standing up in Heaven after He sat down at the right hand of God, having offered His blood as a sacrifice for your sins and mine. Do you remember where it was? It was when Stephen was dying for the cause of Christ. Stephen looked up into the Heavens, and it is recorded that he saw the Lord Jesus Christ—not sitting at the right hand of God, but standing at the right hand of God.

I don't believe that that was a slip of the pen on the part of the writer. I believe that it was the Holy Spirit's way of reminding us that God is so interested in us that He even stands up at times to manifest that interest.

A God of Justice

Of course, we would remind you as you glance again at verse 18:

Isaiah 30

18…for the LORD is a God of judgment…

Literally it is, “The LORD God is a God of justice.” That is the reason He has to wait to be gracious. Since He is a God of justice, He cannot ignore our disobedience. He cannot pat us on the head and say, “Oh, it really doesn't matter whether you obey Me or not.” It does matter, and so He will wait until we are in a place of blessing. The verse closes with the words:

We have suggested to you in our study of the book of Isaiah that we were going to have to keep in mind a principle related to the study of prophecy which must never be forgotten, and that is the principle that we have termed the principle of near and far fulfillment of the prophetic Word . When we speak of a near fulfillment , we recognize that the immediate problems, as far as Isaiah and Israel were concerned, was Sennacherib. We recognize that many of the things that are said in this chapter did apply to Sennacherib, the Assyrian, and that is the near fulfillment of the prophecy that is brought to our attention.

But if we are honest and are going to accept words at their ordinary, primary, literal meaning and not read something into them that is not there and not spiritualize them out of the way, then we must recognize that many of the things which are said in this chapter were not fulfilled when Hezekiah and his people, along with Isaiah, were surrounded by Sennacherib, the Assyrian. So, we must recognize that what has not been fulfilled will be fulfilled, and we understand that even more clearly when we recognize that because the Assyrian had been the constant foe of the nation of Israel, his name began to be applied to that final, ultimate enemy of Israel, who is known as the Antichrist.

If you think that is strange, just remember that we do this sort of thing every day in ordinary, everyday practice. How many times have you used the expression, “He met his Waterloo.” What do you mean when you say that? You mean that the individual involved was defeated shamefully, but he never was at Waterloo. He may have never been out of Abilene, Texas. You said that because you know the defeat administered to Napoleon at Waterloo was one of the most shameful defeats in all the history of the world, so you use the expression to explain the situation. God does the same. God says, “The Assyrian,” and when He uses that term, the context must determine whether He had Sennacherib in mind or whether He had the Antichrist, who is yet to make his appearance at the end of the age. If the things which are said can be applied to Sennacherib, fine. If they can't, don't just pass over them. Recognize that God is giving you a double fulfillment of the prophetic Word.

God's Acts of Graciousness

In verse 18, we have been introduced to a gracious God. I would like for us to notice in the paragraph which begins with verse 19 and concludes with verse 26, acts of graciousness which this gracious God will perform when (notice this carefully) His people are ready for them, for He is waiting to be gracious. I think it would be well if we read the passage, and then looked back over it for a bit and learn what we can from it. Notice beginning in verse 19:

Isaiah 30

19For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
20And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
22Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.
23Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.
24The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.
25And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

Before we point out the acts of graciousness, we want to emphasize the time when the acts of graciousness will be manifested, literally, in the lives of the nation of Israel. Someone may say, “I'm a little disappointed. I thought some of these things applied to us, and here you are telling us that they are things that God is going to do in a future day for the nation of Israel.” Well now, let's watch our language. You are right. They do apply to us in some instances, as any passage of Scripture applies to us if it does not contradict the body of the Word of God. For example, look at verse 20. How precious this verse has been to the saints of God all down through the ages. Notice:

Isaiah 30

20And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Broadly applying this verse to the life of a Christian, think about this: How many of you have had the bread of adversity to eat? How many of you have drunk of the water of affliction? I am sure that many of you can say, “Oh, I have. I have eaten the bread of adversity, and I have drunk of the water of affliction. I know what it is to have a hard time. I know what it is to be completely forsaken of the Lord to all appearances.”

When Israel is In Place

Then if I were to ask you how many of you after you went through the time of trial were in such fellowship with the Lord that, figuratively speaking at least, you could hear His voice saying, “This is the way. Walk ye in it when you turn to the right hand or to the left.” Many of you could give testimony to the fact that God has been your constant guide and strength through many hours of trials, so application of many of these verses are yours; but the interpretation, as we are looking at it, represents what a gracious God is going to do when the nation of Israel is in the place where He can do that.

I would like to point out to you several fine points, so you will know what we are talking about. Verse 19 tells us that these things will occur when the people shall dwell in Zion, at Jerusalem, under certain circumstances that will be made manifest when we have read the remaining portions of the paragraph. They were not in that fashion in Isaiah's time. They were not all down through the years, and though they are in the Holy Land today, they are not in the city of Jerusalem yet. But, when they are, God will do these particular things.

That this is speaking of a particular occupation of the city of Jerusalem is indicated by the last phrase of verse 25, where you read:

Isaiah 30

25…in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

The nation of Israel has been through much trouble, through many battles, but there is only one battle that is referred to as “the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall,” and that is the Battle of Armageddon, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall return from glory to do battle against the Antichrist in defense of His people. Look at the last part of verse 26, and notice another time point:

Isaiah 30

26…in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

When is He going to bind the breach between the northern and the southern kingdom, between the two tribes of Judah and the ten tribes of Israel? The breach has not been bound up yet, and it won't be bound up until that day when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to a united nation, who will look into the Heavens and cry out to Him to return in their defense.

When is He going to heal the stroke of their wounds? That phrase, “the stroke of their wounds,” is the wound which He hath made—the wound He has made with His own chastening rod. When is He going to do that? Not now. They are still under His chastening hand, and He is going to apply the rod even more heavily than He has applied in the past.

You say, “Are you anti-Semitic? Are you mad at the Jews? Are you saying that they are going to suffer a whole lot more than they have ever suffered? ” I'm not anti-Semitic. I love the nation of Israel, and God loves them, but I believe the Bible, and the Bible says that the Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, is yet to come; and the suffering that the nation of Israel has known and experienced is a minor thing in comparison to what they will suffer by and by. But, when the gracious God does the things suggested in this chapter, it will be when He has healed the stroke of their wound.

When God Hears Their Cry

What is He going to do? As we look at these gracious things which He is going to do, we realize that He isn't doing them now, and we realize there is no time in history when they have been done, so we realize that the day is yet to appear. Look at verse 19:

Isaiah 30

19For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.

The implication of the verse is that He will attend immediately to every cry that comes from His people. Now, listen carefully to what I am saying. God does not do that now for Jew or for Gentiles in every instance. He does not attend immediately to every cry that you give. You know that, don't you? Haven't you had to wait for God to answer your prayer? Haven't you even had to wait for God to answer your prayer for such a long time that you wondered if God had even heard you or not? But in the millennial reign of Christ, when the Lord Jesus Christ is here personally, immediately every cry will be heard. And as we learn from another portion of the book of Isaiah, even before we are done speaking, He will hear.

Blindness Removed

If you will glance at verses 20 and 21, we will remind you of another gracious act of God that is going to be full direction from the LORD in every instance. Glance down at verse 20, and notice the last part of it:

Isaiah 30

20…yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:

Recognize that the word teacher s, which in our translation is in the plural, but in the original Hebrew, it is in the singular. It should be capitalized for it is referring to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are reading, “In this day, our Teacher will not be removed into a corner where you cannot see Him. He will not be hidden from your eyes. You will be able to see Him and hear Him, as He gives you that direction.”

That is not true for the nation of Israel today. The Apostle Paul tells us that as they read the Scripture, there is a veil over their eyes where they can't even understand what they read. Their Teacher is removed into a corner away from them, where they cannot behold Him, but there will come a day when He will be visible to them, and they will hear His every word, for it will be another act of graciousness on the part of a gracious God.

Delivered From Idolatry

Look at verse 22 and recognize that at that time they will be completely delivered from every kind of idolatry. You name the kind of idolatry, whether it be images of gold or silver, whether they be plain or ornamented, in that day they themselves will defile those idols, and they will cast them from them as an unclean bloody cloth and have nothing to do with them.

That isn't true today. Oh, it is true in a sense that the nation of Israel is not an idolatrous nation as some heathen tribe in Africa might be, but the nation of Israel has so far departed from the plain teaching of the Old Testament that they are willing to recognize anyone as their Messiah who will provide any guarantee of deliverance for them.

Some of you are too young to know this, but some of us older folk can remember when the leaders of the Zion Movement approached Franklin Delano Roosevelt with the proposition of recognizing him as their Messiah if he would guarantee their possession of the Holy Land. There will come a day when there will be none of that. Their eyes will be completely upon the Lord.

A Fruitful Harvest

In the paragraph which begins with verse 23 and goes through verse 25, the gracious act of God is manifested in the abundance of rainfall and fruitful harvest and ways of production and irrigation that they had never known before. Notice what He says in verse 23:

Isaiah 30

23Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.

Even in Abraham's day, when the blessing of God was resting upon the patriarch, they had trouble as far as pasture room was concerned. But, in this day of blessing there will be large pasture room, and the production will be so marvelous that we read in verse 24:

Isaiah 30

24The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear [cultivate] the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.

I don't know if you know what that means or not but that is unusual. Ordinarily, they would take the grain that was going to be harvested and they would take a shovelful of the grain and throw it into the air. They would take something like a palm leaf, brush through it, knock all the chaff away, and the good wheat would fall to the ground. They put it in containers, took it into their homes, and that was what they made bread out of. But, there will be such an abundance of harvest during the time known as the Millennium , that they will even winnow the grain in this fashion—not only for themselves, but for the donkeys and oxen, as well. Now Beloved, that is prosperity. Look at verse 25:

Isaiah 30

25And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters…

That sounds strange, doesn't it? I have mentioned often that I am so grateful to be living in this generation to see the hand of God working in such a tremendous way. Do you read your newspapers and periodicals and relate them to the Scripture? Do you realize that one of the biggest controversies that Israel has had with Egypt is illustrated in this verse? Israel was taking water out of the Jordan River and pumping it up on the high plateaus and turning them into fertile fields, and the Egyptians further down were saying, “That's not right, and we are not going to stand for it, and we will do something about it.” And the Israelites were saying, “Well, do it if you want to, because this is what we are going to do.”

The Stage is Set

I would not be so bold to say that this is the exact fulfillment of this prophecy, but I would be bold to say that the stage is being set for the end of the age for the fulfillment of the prophetic Word, when our God is going to work in a mighty way.

We are prone to think about all of these things as miracles, but need we think of them as that? Is there any reason that Isaiah, who knew nothing about pumping water up a hill and making a fertile plateau, would speak of it in this manner as though God had done it if God led His people to do it? Many of the things that are being done today by modern science are miracles if we would recognize them as such.

For years, from the age of twelve, I lived with the sentence of death. Every time I went to the doctor, they would say, “Do you know how bad your heart is?” “Yes, what can you do about it?” “Nothing.” Yet, in the last few years God has enabled the human intelligence to grasp truth in such a fashion that as far as I am concerned, He has used human hands to perform a miracle, and I am able to stand here today.

Now, why can't God do this very thing that we are talking about in relation to water? Why would we be amiss in suggesting that the stage is being set for the fulfillment of this prophecy which Isaiah made when the land of Palestine will be such a fertile field that there will be more than an abundance of grain?

Signs In the Sky

This next verse intrigues me in light of all the explorations in space, the discovery of solar power—lunar power if you please. Look at verse 26:

Isaiah 30

26Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun…

What does this mean? The light of the moon, during this age, will be as powerful as the light of the sun. How powerful will be the light of the sun? Look at it there:

Isaiah 30

26Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days…

The implication of the language is that sunlight during the Millennium is going to be as strong as if you concentrated seven days of sunlight into one day. That speaks of power, doesn't it? Would there be any point, particularly, in having seven days of sunlight concentrated into one day unless power were involved? I am of the opinion that what Isaiah is talking about here is that we are already heading in the direction where solar power will be the order of the day. We are already seeing it manifested in minor ways, but there could very well be a day when power such as that which is generated by such mighty bodies of water, such as Niagara Falls, will be outmoded; because God, when He takes charge of things and when we are in the place of blessing, will generate solar power to sevenfold intensity.

Let me remind you that I am not saying that these discoveries that are being made aren't a fulfillment of the prophecy. I am saying to you that they are reminding me that I am living in a tremendous generation because the stage is being set.

A young man mentioned to me just this week that out of curiosity, he began to figure out according to a prophetic year, 360 days, how many more years were left before the end of a 1000 year period in which God usually works. Not that He works at the end of every 1000, but He works in the periods of 1000 years. He said that 9 years are left.

Nobody is going to be dogmatic about that, and nobody is going to set a date, so don't get alarmed and go out and say, “Well, you are doing what the Bible says not to do.” No, we are not setting dates. We are trying to be as wise as the Savior said we ought to be. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “You are able to look at the sky, and you are able to tell the signs of what the weather is going to be, what kind of season it is going to be, yet you are not able to look at the signs that are given in the Word of God, and know what is portended.” I believe that this is an indication of what to expect.

Blessing and Judgment Intermingled

In the last portion of the chapter, beginning with verses 27-33, if you were reading this in the original text, you would find that we are entering a portion of the Word that is written in prose. What we have been reading is written in poetic form. This portion that is written in prose is an intermingling of blessing and judgment. We have been talking about blessing, but in this paragraph there is going to be an intermingling of blessing and judgment. There is going to be judgment for the enemy of the people of God, and blessing for the people of God. Notice verse 27:

Isaiah 30

27Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
28And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.

Do you think about chapter 19 of the book of Revelation as you read verse 27 of Isaiah, chapter 30? I do. Revelation, chapter 19, says that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come back to this earth, and He is going to slay the wicked with the sword of His mouth. It will not only be the army of Sennacherib; it will be the nations of the world who are sifted in the sieve of vanity, and God will put a bridle in their jaws, causing them to do what He wants them to do.

We are told in the book of Revelation that all the nations of the world at some future day are going to be gathered outside the city of Jerusalem. Do you know how they are going to get there? God is going to send out evil spirits to all the leaders of the world, and He is going to put into the minds of all of them at the same time, “Let's go down to Jerusalem, and take that land. It is profitable. Let's take the spoil and take the prey.” When they get there, they will be met by the Lord, who will slay them, as we learned in Isaiah, chapter 11, with the breath of His lips.

What about the nation of Israel at this particular time? Look at verse 29:

Isaiah 30

29Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.

A song in the night was always related to the Feast of Tabernacles—a glorious time of rejoicing, when they would worship the LORD all night long; when they, with pipe and harp would go up the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel. Notice verse 30:

Isaiah 30

30And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
31For through [notice] the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.

The eternal enemy of the nation of Israel, who will find his culmination in the person of the Antichrist, will be dealt with with the rod of God at the end of the age. We read in verse 32:

Isaiah 30

32And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it [the Assyrian] .

Yes, there will be rejoicing on the part of Israel, but there will be earthquakes and tremendous physical upheavals throughout the entire land as the world feels the brunt of the wrath of the Almighty God.

What is going to happen to the Assyrian? What is going to be his end? Look at verse 33:

Isaiah 30

33For Tophet is ordained of old…

What is Tophet ? If you are familiar with your Bibles, you know that outside of the city of Jerusalem there was a valley. In that valley there was a burning refuse dump. In New Testament times it was called Gehenna. In Old Testament time it was called Tophet , because it was a place where animals, individuals, and materials were destroyed by fire, and the fire never ceased to burn. It became a symbol of eternal Hell. Isaiah says in verse 33:

Isaiah 30

33For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

Do you get the picture? Here in the valley of Tophet there is a great pile of wood. It has been prepared, figuratively speaking, since before the foundation of the world. It is for one special person—the Assyrian. When God's judgment comes, He is going to be put on that pile of wood and the breath of God is going to light the pile of wood, like you might strike a match and light a pile of wood. This pile of wood becomes an eternal funeral pyre for this last emblem of rebellion against almighty God.

You see, this gracious God cannot bless until Israel is in a place of blessing, but when she is, He will. Part of His blessing will be the visitation of judgment upon those who oppose themselves and exalt themselves against all that is called God.

The Trumpet Sound

You may be wondering, because we have been talking about the nation of Israel, where you are in all of this. If you are a born-again believer, one of these days you are going to hear the trumpet sound; the rest of the world won't hear it. You have heard of dog whistles that only dogs can hear. You can blow your whistle and your dog will come running, and nobody will even know you called it. That is the way that this trumpet is going to be. The only people who are going to hear it, according to I Thessalonians, chapter 4, and I Corinthians, chapter 15, are those who have been born again. When we hear it, we are going to look up, and then in a twinkling of an eye, we are going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

Someone may say, “Surely you're not silly enough to believe a thing like that.” Yes, I am. I believe that, because the Bible declares it so plainly and to me it represents a blessed hope. Just think about it. Do you love your family? You don't want to see your family circle separated. Wouldn't it be wonderful for all of us to go together? We will, if we know the Lord as our Savior.

When the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to this earth to do all of these gracious things that I am talking about, we're going to come back with Him. We are going to help Him, because He is going to give us certain things to do as His lieutenants on the earth.

Somebody says, “I can't accept that. It is beyond my comprehension.” I am not surprised. You have a finite mind, and this is infinite truth. I do not profess to understand how it all can be, but I believe it, because the Word of God declares it.


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