Consummation of the Age
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, that you might look at the Word of God as we talk about it together. We are going to consider the book of Isaiah, chapter 61. Follow along in your Bibles as we read and then we will think about some of the things that the Lord would have us consider at the moment. We read from verse 1:

Isaiah 61

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
4And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

We have been discussing together the book of Isaiah, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, from the very beginning. We are in the last section of the last half of the book. You will recall that the last half of the book contains one primary theme and other smaller themes. That one primary theme is one of comfort. The last section of that last half in which we find ourselves is one of consolation related to consummation. That is, the comfort that is promised is related to the consummation of the Age, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth.

We do not attempt to spiritualize what we find in the book of Isaiah. We accept it literally, and we believe that it speaks of that great event yet to be when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come to this earth.

If you are familiar with your Bibles, you will recognize that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, both the first coming and the second coming, are often blended into one so that it is difficult for us to know, unless we know related passages of Scripture, just what coming the Spirit of God had in mind when He made reference to it.

You do not need to berate yourself for a lack of understanding in this respect, because the Apostle Peter reminded us that even the prophets themselves didn't know. Isaiah himself, for example, who wrote of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that was to follow, was puzzled and sought what manner of time this sort of thing was going to occur.

As we approach this chapter, I would like for you to keep in mind that it is based upon the coming of the Lord, but both the first coming and the second coming are mingled together in such a fashion that if you do not notice the very delicate line of cleavage, you might fall into the common error of many people of trying to spiritualize that which should be literally interpreted.

You will remember in chapter 60, at which we looked in our last lesson, the nation of Israel, more particularly the city of Jerusalem, was addressed with the words:

Isaiah 60

1Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

We reminded you that this was a reference to a fact in the future, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, when the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel, downtrodden in the dust, is addressed in this fashion, she will be able to look up and to stand up and to lift up, because she who has sat in darkness is now dwelling in the presence of Light that far outshines the glory of the sun and the moon. That Light is none other than the One who said, “I Am the Light of the world.”

The Mission of the Messiah

As we come to chapter 61, we have His testimony. We have the mission of the Messiah presented to us in the first three verses. Notice them with me:

Isaiah 61

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

I repeat, these verses emphasize the mission of the Messiah. Of course, you understand when we use the title, the Messiah , we are referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. The word Christ in the New Testament is the equivalent of the Old Testament Messiah .

A very normal question in the mind of any seeking person is, “How do you know? How do you know that this passage of Scripture is speaking of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ?” The answer is twofold. One of them is found in the word anointed , which you find in verse 1:

Isaiah 61

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me…

There is only one individual who was anointed above all other creatures, and that is the sense of this particular paragraph. Turn with me to Psalm 45, where we have another picture of our Lord Jesus Christ which cannot be doubted. There, in the midst of Psalm 45, in verse 7, we read:

Psalms 45

7Thou [Lord Jesus] lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed [see the word] thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Above all the creatures of the world God has anointed one individual, and that one individual is the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want further proof, and you have a right to it, let me suggest that you turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 4, to a reference to this individual about whom we speak. The scene is a synagogue in Nazareth. Notice in verse 16:

Luke 4

16And he [the Lord Jesus Christ] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet [listen carefully] Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written…

Stop for a moment. You see in verse 17 the New Testament spelling of the Old Testament word Esaias . We read that the Lord Jesus Christ opened the book of Isaiah and He found the place where this statement is written. I never read that without thanking God for the men of past centuries who so laboriously divided our Bible into chapters and verses. Have you ever stopped to thank God for the tremendous heritage that we have that makes our journey through the Bible so much easier than it would ordinarily have been?

You may not have had the opportunity of pursuing the book of Isaiah in Hebrew, but if you were to do that, you wouldn't find a verse or a chapter. You would have to be very familiar with your Bible to find the place. You know and I know that it isn't always easy to find your way through the Bible even with chapters and verses. Sometimes you get the idea that the book that you are looking for is in the Old Testament when it is in the New Testament, or visa versa, but the Lord Jesus Christ found what we know as chapter 61 of the book of Isaiah, verse 1. Remember, it wasn't designated that way then, but He found it, and this is what He read in verse 18:

Luke 4

18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21And he began to say unto them, [listen carefully] This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

That is just another way of saying, “I'm the One about whom Isaiah was talking. The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, and I have come to do all of these things: to heal the brokenhearted, to preach the Gospel, to preach deliverance to the captives, to restore the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.”

If you have any further question than that, you might remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said to the disciples of John the Baptist when John, in prison, discouraged and blue, wondered if maybe he had made a mistake. After all, John the Baptist was the greatest of men born among women, but he was human. One day he saw the Lord Jesus Christ and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world.” It was not long after that that he was put in prison and everything seemed to go bad. Satan slipped up alongside of him just like he slips up alongside of us and he said, “John, you probably made a mistake. That probably wasn't the Messiah.”

John knew deep down in his heart it was, but he was human enough to want to be sure, so he sent his disciples to Jesus, and they said, “Are you the One who was to come? John wants to know. Are you the One?” Do you remember what He said? He said, “You go back and tell John that the poor have the Gospel. You go back and tell John that the brokenhearted are having their wounds bound up. You go back and tell John that the blind are receiving their sight.” That is all He said, but that was enough for John, because John had a very good practice that some of us need to develop and that was believing the Word, taking the Word at its face value without any question. John said, “The Bible said it and that is enough for me.” He said, “That is all I want to know.”

This passage of Scripture, beyond all doubt, is the prophecy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you remember what I said when we first began our discussion? The first and the second comings of Christ are mingled in this passage of Scripture, and if you do not pay close attention and observe the very nth line of distinction, you might miss where the passage speaking of the first coming ends and the passage speaking about the second coming begins.

Look again at Isaiah, chapter 61, and notice that the Lord Jesus Christ said everything that we have in Luke, chapter 4, down to the middle of verse 2, in Isaiah, chapter 61. Notice:

Isaiah 61

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…

In Isaiah, chapter 61, you have half of one verse and all of another one. I wonder why the Lord Jesus Christ stopped after the statement, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD?” Well, glance back there at Luke, chapter 4, and you will see. He stopped right there. What was it He said? “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” If He had read one word more, He couldn't have said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ear,” because, if you will turn back to Isaiah, chapter 61, you will see that the second coming of Christ and the mission of the Messiah at that particular time begins with the words in the middle of verse 2, “And the day of vengeance of our God.” What did He come to do the first time? To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. What is He going to come to do the second time? To declare the day of the vengeance of our God.

Are you thinking? Do you notice the wise choice of words by the Holy Spirit? A year and a day . Those are comparative terms, for the acceptable year of the LORD began with Calvary, and it has been going on nearly 2000 years. It is a long year, isn't it? It is called the acceptable year of the LORD because it is the Age of Grace. So long as this year is in session, any individual anywhere can come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, but this year will soon be over, Beloved. Now, I'm not talking about the current year; I am talking about the acceptable year of the LORD. I'm talking about the Age of Grace. I am saying to you, Beloved, that the acceptable year of the LORD is nearly over. If you but keep your eyes open, you will see that.

One of my children handed me the newspaper the other day and said, “Isn't that thrilling?” I had just glanced at it without looking at it in detail, and I said, “What?” And this child of mine placed a finger upon the article. It was a news article related to Egypt gathering at the borders of Israel ready to make war, and the promise of other nations to come to her defense. Now, wait a minute. I am not foolish enough, nor was my child, to believe that every war that you see mentioned in the newspaper means that Jesus is coming, but, the Bible plainly says that when Israel is gathered in her land, and she becomes the prey of the nations of the world, you can begin to look, for the end of the Age is almost here. The acceptable year of the LORD is almost gone.

If you are here without the Lord Jesus Christ, let me remind you that you cannot play fast and loose with the mercy of God, because the Word says, “ Now is the accepted time.” Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

May I remind you if you are getting involved to the extent that it can be said of you as it was said of the Apostle Paul, “I can find no man who cares for the souls of men because they mind earthly things,” you had better revise your thinking because there isn't much time left. The acceptable year is nearly up.

God to Give Israel Beauty for Ashes

Did you notice the contrast when the Lord Jesus Christ said, “When I came the first time, it was to declare the acceptable year of the LORD, but when I come the second time, it will be to declare the day of vengeance,” for the windup will be as brief in comparison with this Age of Grace as a day is to a year? When the Lord Jesus Christ comes, He is coming to take vengeance upon all those who are obeying not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is also coming for another reason, for as the first coming of Jesus Christ meant the salvation of the world and the Rapture of the Church is particularly related to the Church, the second coming of Christ in glory is related to the nation of Israel. Just as He came the first time to preach good tidings to the meek, He is going to come the second time, as we see in verse 3, “to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion.”

You will notice that word appoint , for the way it is translated in our text it would seem as though it was an unfinished sentence, but we would remind you that this word appoint , when you examine it in the original text, literally means “to make a change,” and a change He is going to make. What kind of change? He is going to give them beauty for ashes. Oh what a metaphor! What a figure of speech! Here is the nation of Israel, by the end of the age, having gone through the fire, all scarred and burned, but God is going to give them beauty for ashes.

What other change is He going to make? He is going to give them the oil of joy for mourning. In that part of the world, in the day in which Isaiah spake, they didn't powder their faces to keep them from shining, they oiled them to make them shine. It was a sign of joy. Here they were mourning, their faces pale and distraught, but the Lord Jesus Christ, when He returns, is going to give them the oil of joy for mourning. Notice what He said, “The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Oh, the burden of heaviness they bear, and that burden of heaviness will become increasingly great, but one of these days the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return, and He is going to give them a garment of praise for the burden of heaviness which they bear.

In the first three verses we have the mention of the Messiah. He comes the first time for the benefit of the world. He comes the second time for the blessing of Israel.

I want to remind you, because I would not want you to miss this blessing, of what I have said to you many times. Every Scripture has one interpretation and then as many applications as is consistent with the Scripture. Even though these statements refer to specific things, they do have a spiritual lesson. We don't do away with the literal interpretation; we simply make the spiritual application. I wonder how many of you have had God deal with you in such a way that He was able to give you beauty for ashes. Oh, I love that—how God is able to take a ruined life, a life that is all consumed and nothing left. Folks say that it is a hopeless thing, but God is able to turn it into a thing of beauty.

Testimony could be given over and over again that God is able to take the ashes of a wasted life and turn them into a beautiful thing. Thank God. I am sure that most of you, if not all of you, have been able, by the grace of God, to have a change of clothing. Oh, the garment of heaviness. Are you wearing it? Are you burdened? Do you feel like you can't stand one thing more? Then, let me remind you that God is able to give you the garment of praise for the garment of heaviness, for He is able to lift burdens as no other one can. We do not have time to make further applications, but I trust that you will meditate in this passage of Scripture and make those applications as the Lord leads.

The Ministry of the Remnant

Back to the literal interpretation of this passage of Scripture, and notice the paragraph which begins with verse 4 and ends with verse 6, as I remind you that we have presented to us the ministry of the remnant—that is, the ministry of believing Jews. Don't jump to the conclusion that just because the nation of Israel is designated God's chosen people, they are all going to be saved. They're not. Don't jump to the conclusion that just because a man is a Jew, he has an inside road to blessing that you don't have. He has to be saved just like you have to be saved. He has to know the redeeming grace of God just as you have to know it, so we speak of it as a remnant because the Spirit of God says, “Though all Israel should be destroyed, God has a remnant.” He has a group who is going to believe Him. He has a few who will believe in Him, and these believing Jews are going to have a real ministry to perform. In verse 4, literally, they are going to go into the contracting business, because they will build the city of Jerusalem and all the old waste places and the desolation of many generations.

You must be careful not to let the indications of fulfilled prophecy represent prophecy fulfilled. Don't stop short of the real thing. Doesn't it thrill your heart to know that you are living in the generation when the desolations of many generations are being rebuilt in the land of Palestine? It thrills my soul. I have said to you before that thirty years ago when I began to preach some of these truths, I had to preach them and believe them because they were in the Book, but now I can even draw your attention to the beginning of it. The desolations of many generations are being changed.

In verse 5, there is another reference to the fact that the Gentiles will be used to further the interest of God's chosen people.

In verse 6, the nation of Israel shall be named priests of the LORD, and men shall call them the ministers of our God. Remember, we have emphasized to you before in our study of the book of Isaiah that the nation of Israel will be the spiritual leaders of the world in the age which is fast approaching. We have emphasized to you that in that period of time known as the Tribulation , the evangelists of the nation of Israel will be able to do, in a period of three and a half years more than Christians have done in 2000 years.

We don't boast about that. We say that to our shame. The Apostle Paul said that we ought to be ashamed. He describes it in Romans, chapters 9-11, in the terms of an olive tree. He said the nation of Israel became derelict in their duty, for they were the natural branches of the olive tree, and He cut out the natural branches. He took some wild branches, known as Gentiles, and He grafted them into the tree. Then we notice something about those wild branches. They were getting too big for themselves. They were boasting about what they had done and what they had accomplished, and the Apostle said, “It is wrong. Don't boast. If God cut out the natural branches, He is able to cut out the wild branches.” Then he said, “That is what He is going to do one of these days.”

How ashamed we ought to be that one of these days the commission which was given to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which has been so carelessly handled, will be taken away from it. The wild branches will be cut out and the natural branches grafted in again. That is the why I say to you, Beloved, we do not have any time to waste. It will not be long until it will be cut off. It will not be long until the privilege will be taken away. It won't be long until the privilege of telling someone about Jesus Christ will be taken away, and that privilege that you and I neglected will be given to somebody else. They will take it up, and they will run with the ball, if you will permit the expression, with such great rapidity that they will do in a brief span of time what we have failed to do in a great expanse of time.

The Mercy of God

Look at the next paragraph. It begins with verse 7 and concludes with verse 9, for here we have the mercy of God for a trade Remember in verses 1-3, we had the mission of the Messiah, and the next three verses, the ministry of the remnant, and the next three verses, the mercy of God. This is a proper place for the mercy of God, because anything that we as Gentiles do, anything that the Jews do is done purely and simply by His mercy, for God describes in these three verses that the time of chastisement and the time of punishment for the nation of Israel will be brought to an end. He expresses it this way:

Isaiah 61

7For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double…

“You have had enough chastisement now,” God said, “and I am going to give you joy instead of punishment.” He explains the reason for the chastisement and the reason for His mercy in verse 8, when He says:

Isaiah 61

8For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them [that is the believing Jews] .

The everlasting covenant is described in verse 9, which reminds us that all the world will be able to see, when God is through with the nation of Israel, that Israel, indeed, is the seed which the LORD hath blessed.

You will remember what is recorded in chapter 12, of the book of Genesis when God gave Abraham a promise. He said to him, “I'm going to bless you, Abraham. I am going to bless your seed, and through your seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed.” The second seed is the Lord Jesus Christ, but the first seed is the nation of Israel, and God said, “I am going to bless your seed, and by the time the sands of time have drained out, the whole world will know that this is the seed that I promised to bless.”

What is Isaiah's response? We find it here in the paragraph which begins with verse 10 and concludes with verse 11. We might, for the sake of alliteration, refer to it as the music of the redeemed . The first three verses, by way of review, is the mission of the Messiah. Then the next three is verses the ministry of the remnant, and the next three verses is the mercy of God. The last two verses is the music of the redeemed.

The Music of the Redeemed

Are you noticing what I am saying? The music of the redeemed. Though we have been considering, primarily, the nation of Israel, we do not want to limit these two verses only to them because when men are born again, there is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither bond nor free, but all are one in Christ Jesus. God said:

Galatians 3

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Jew, figuratively speaking, can sing the song of the redeemed just as sweetly as the Gentile can, and likewise, the Gentile can sing the music of the redeemed just as sweetly as can a Jew.

Notice the song:

Isaiah 61

10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God [then He gives the reason for it] ; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…

Pause there for a moment as I ask each one of you individually, is this the testimony that you can give? Can you say, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God, because He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Thank God for this clothing. I have a failing. I like nice clothes, and sometimes, I suppose, it has brought me in for a bit of criticism. Sometimes when I pass a clothing store with some fashionable clothes, I have to restrain. But, you know, all the clothing in the world that I desire, I have for I have been clothed with the garments of salvation, and I am covered with the robe of righteousness. All of the ugliness that you might see is hidden by those garments.

Then we notice in the last part of verse 10:

Isaiah 61

10…as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

You see, He doesn't want you to think that these garments are meager. He doesn't want you to think that these garments are barely covering your nakedness. He doesn't want you to think that they are makeshift. He doesn't want you to think that they will shrink in the first good rain. He wants you to realize that they are beautiful. Of course, men in the western world wouldn't be interested in decking themselves as a bridegroom. The best they would do is put a carnation in their buttonhole, but over yonder they dress themselves up, and they were almost as pretty as the bride. Isaiah was speaking in terms which he could understand, for these garments are beautiful. Isaiah is saying that these garments are as beautiful as the ornaments of a bridegroom and as beautiful as the jewels of the bride. We are talking about salvation and we are talking about righteousness, but the song continues in verse 11:

Isaiah 61

11For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

This is a literal reference to the fact that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. But if we make it the music of the redeemed of any age, let me remind you that these garments are living garments.

I don't recommend television, but we have one and we watch it, and I learn a lot from the commercials. I have seen so many spiritual lessons in the commercials. I'm sure they didn't intend it that way, but I have.

Have you seen the commercial with the sweater that is alive? Here is this sweater moving about on a table. There is a girl looking at it, and the sweater is saying, “Don't send me to this cleaner, or don't do this or don't do that.” The sweater says, “I am growing hair,” and you see hair growing all over the sweater. Isn't that ridiculous? A sweater isn't alive, and a sweater doesn't grow, but get this: There is a tremendous spiritual lesson in this for us, for the garments of righteousness about which we speak today and the garments of salvation are not made of dead fabric. They are alive, and that is exactly what the Spirit of God says. “He will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth.” You have that righteousness on. You've got that praise on. It is a garment, but it is a living thing. If it isn't living, Beloved, your music is off key, for this is the music of the redeemed.


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