Lent Fifth Sunday Morning Service (3 April 2022) Isaiah 35:10
Prophet Isaiah lived during 760–700 BC. He prophesised about the birth, passion, death and the judgement of our LORD Jesus. His prophesies were warnings that called the Israelites to repent and turn to the LORD Almighty. In today’s reading portion, Prophet Isaiah prophesised about the events that happen after judgement. Although the books of the Bible were written by many people, they are interlinked with one another. This is because they all wrote the Bible by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Because of this reason, we will understand the Bible verses with the right context only when we refer to the related verses.
The title for today’s meditation is Jesus’ passion, death and judgement based on Isaiah 35:10: “the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”. We read a related verse in the book of Revelation, chapter 21, verse 4: “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”. Based on these two verses, I would like to meditate on the relationship between judgement and the passion and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. When we meditate Jesus’ passion, death and judgement, it is important to meditate the reason. It is important to refer to the related portions in the Bible to rightly understand about the final judgement. I would like to meditate on three important judgements from the Bible: (1) Judgement on the cross; (2) Judgement of Israel and (3) Judgement of non-believers.
1) Judgement on the Cross
When humans committed sin, they were judged. When Adam and Eve sinned against the LORD God, they were judged by sending out of the garden. When sin covered the whole earth during Noah’s time, the world was destroyed by water. When Sodom and Gomorrah was filled with sin, the city was destroyed. In Isaiah 53, we read that He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. He hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Jesus did not commit any sin. He lived his life following His Father’s commandment. But the verses say He was judged for our sins. This means He bore the sins of the whole world. He was judged on the cross for the sins of the human race. Sin was condemned and in turn the fallen angel was condemned and judged on the cross. Peter is referring to this in his first epistle chapter 2, verse 24 when he says, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed”.
Paul is also referring to the judgement in Romans 8:3: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh”.
Daniel’s prophecies in chapter 9 verses 25 and 26 were fulfilled when Jesus was nailed on the Cross: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined”. Jesus’ death on the cross brought salvation to the gentiles. We are all given this grace time until antichrist’s reign, which is postponed by the grace of our Almighty Father. We, the church or the bride, are in this age of grace and are waiting for the second Advent of our LORD Jesus. When Jesus comes to receive the church as His bride, it will be the judgement for us, that is the church or the believers.
2) Judgement of Israel
After the church is received as the bride, the whole world will be given to antichrist. The first three and a half years will be tribulation period for the whole world. Israel will not face tribulation during this time because antichrist will make a covenant of peace with Jerusalem. The fallen angel is the liar and the father of lies. So, the covenant will be false peace. In the second three and a half years, antichrist will sit on David’s throne and ask the Israelites to worship him. This will be the time of both tribulation and salvation for the Israelites. Revelation 7 says 144,000 Israelites will be sealed by the LORD God during this time. Armageddon war between Jesus’ army and antichrist’s army will be the final great war. The beast and his army will be judged at the end of this great war. Jesus will be the last king from the tribe of Judah and rule Israel for a thousand years. Isaiah 1:25–27 also explains about the salvation and judgement of Israel. Mathew 24:15 also gives us a picture about tribulation. We can also read about the wrath of God and God’s judgement from Revelation chapter 6 onwards. We, the church, do not need to worry about this judgement because the church will be with Jesus and taken away before this tribulation period.
3) Judgement of non-believers
The great White Throne Judgement will be the final judgement in this world. This will happen after Jesus’ 1000-year kingdom. We read about this in Revelation 20. The angel, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain, laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. The angel cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. When they are gathered to fight against God’s city, God will send fire and judge them. Revelation 20:10 says, “the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”. This is the judgement of the devil or the fallen angel. The church or the bride will be with Jesus and does not need to worry about this judgement.
Following this is the White throne judgement. We read about this in Revelation 20:11. Those who do not believe in Jesus will be judged during the Great White throne judgement. Everyone will be judged based on the book of life. Revelation 20:14 says, “death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”. Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Matthew 25 says, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. This will be the final judgement of this world. After this, God will create new heaven and new earth. The church will be standing at the right side and as said in Matthew 25:34, the King shall “say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.
The purpose of Jesus’ passion and death was to save us from eternal death and the final judgement. That is, Jesus laid down His life for us to save us from being tormented in the lake of fire and brimstone. He does not want humans created in His own image to be tormented day and night in the fire. Hence, He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He poured out his soul unto death and bore our sins and made intercession for us. He did this because He wants us to be with Him in the kingdom of heaven for ever. He did this to fulfil the prophecy in our reading portion. Isaiah 35:10 says, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”. The purpose of Jesus’ passion and death is to bring us back to Zion which is New Jerusalem.
Let us self-examine ourselves. Every year we are celebrating lent and remembering the passion and death of our LORD Jesus. Is the passion and death of our LORD Jesus be meaningful in our lives? Have we fulfilled the purpose of Jesus’s passion and death in our lives? John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. If we say we believe in Jesus, His passion and death will be meaningful in our lives. When we live our lives as His witnesses following Jesus’s example, we will fulfil the purpose of Jesus’s death. Isaiah’s prophecy and warnings are relevant to us even today. Are we ready to face our Lord as His bride? Have we prepared others to be part of the Lord’s Church? Are we prepared to face our Lord’s judgement? Our Lord says “behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
May the love of our Lord help us to bring more people to his fold. May the LORD Jesus prepare and preserve us for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Amen!