Saturday, December 14, 2013

Still looking forward to "Then"

Peter heals a lame man - Acts 3:8
Peter heals a lame man - Acts 3:8
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Isaiah 35:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert."  Isaiah 35:5,6


The first word in our focus verse, "Then," refers back to verse 4, where Isaiah says, "Behold your God will come with vengeance … He will come and save you." Bible commentators interpret these verses to refer to the coming of Messiah—Jesus.

What a beautiful picture Isaiah paints of unheard-of fruitfulness ("the desert shall rejoice and blossoms as a rose"), the return of courage ("strengthen the weak hands / And make firm the feeble knees"), and restored health as sight replaces blindness, hearing deafness, song gushes from the throats of the mute, and the lame "leap like a deer." Hallelujah!

As we review the life of Jesus we find that many of these wonders characterized His ministry. We read how he healed blind men in Matthew 9:27 and again in John 9:6,7. He had a great healing conference "on the mountain" when "great multitudes came to Him having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed and many others … and He healed them" (Matthew 15:29,30). He actually quoted words from our Isaiah reading to John the Baptist, referring to Himself as a fulfillment of these prophecies (Matthew 11:4,5).

But there is also an aspect of Isaiah's prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled. The "Day of the Lord"—and I think we're safe in equating the "Then" in verse 4 to that "Day"—has layers of fulfillment in prophecy. A footnote in my Bible explains:

"'The Day of the Lord' is used by OT prophets to signify a time in the history of mankind when God directly intervenes to bring salvation to His people and punishment to the rebellious..."

The explanation goes on to identify four stages of the Day of the Lord:
1. The time of the prophets.

2. The time of the fulfillment of their prophecies.
Periods of fulfillment were typically merged in the prophets' views, however (they couldn't differentiate between near or distant fulfillment). From our vantage point, though, we can recognize the first coming of Jesus and the church age as part of the coming of "The Day."

But there's more to come as we look forward to the fulfillment of the "Then," the "Day of the Lord."

3. The Second Coming of Christ: is another part of this, "… during which Christ's personal righteous and universal rule will restore God's order to earth - Isaiah 11:6-9; Amos 9:13."

And finally…

4. The ultimate fulfillment
of "The Day … with its new heaven and a new earth - Ezekiel 47:1-12 compared with Revelation 22:1-5" - Timothy Mark Powell, footnotes on Obadiah 15, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 1190.

And so our Christmas celebration isn't only rejoicing in something that has passed, but also anticipation for the future and the "Then" we still have to look forward to!

PRAYER:
Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to show God's heart of abundance, restoration and healing. Help me to live with faith and soberness as I anticipate the next unveilings of "Then." Amen.

MORE: Isaiah 35 in the Messiah


Handel put the words of Isaiah 35 into the alto recitative "Then shall the eyes of the blind…" It precedes the familiar "He Shall Feed His Flock" in  this Tafelmusik presentation of Handel's Messiah.



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New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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