Second Sunday After Epiphany - Morning Prayer (17 January 2021) Isaiah 62:1-5
Today’s meditation is based on our Old Testament Reading, the prophetic book of Isaiah, chapter 62, verses 1-5. Isaiah is the first book of the major prophets and was a call to the people to turn to God. Isaiah came from the royal family, but he was worried about the people and their salvation to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Some of the prophecies in the book of Isaiah were fulfilled during Isaiah’s time, some were fulfilled after his death and some will be fulfilled during the second coming of Jesus. In Isaiah 62 verses 2 to 5, we read the prophecy about the second coming of Jesus. “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee”. These verses mention three gifts or rewards at Jesus’s second coming to those who are faithful: 1) New Name 2) Crown and 3) Bridegroom shall rejoice.
1) New Name
When God created a new creature, He named him a new name and called him 'man'. He made man out of dust, gave him His breath to live and called him Adam. The new creature became a living soul when God the Father gave him His breath of life. The Lord God gave him Eve as a help meet for him. They were with God the Father Almighty in the Garden of Eden. But when they sinned against God, they were separated from His presence and were sent out of the Garden of Eden. When Prophet Isaiah called people to turn to God, he prophesied that they would be called by a new name. When will we get a new name from God? What are the requirements to receive the new name?
We have discussed the answers to these questions in our present Bible Study series 'Seven Letters to the Seven Churches'. After Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, the Jewish leaders and the Roman government rose against the early church to destroy them. The early church in Pergamos faced tribulation. Some followed the principles of prophet Balaam and the Nicolaitans while some followed the principles of Jesus. The angel of the LORD saw the church was the dwelling place of Satan. But God said He knew their work and even though they were in tribulation, they did not deny God. Antipas was a true martyr of the Pergamos church.
Revelation 2:17 says the promise and prophecy given to the early church in Pergamos. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it”. The church in Pergamos was given the commandment to overcome temptations. If they did, they were given the promise and assurance that they would receive eternal life with the bridegroom Jesus in the kingdom of heaven.
Revelation 2:10 promises “I will give thee a crown of life”. This promise was given to the early church in Smyrna. However, the church was also given caution in Revelation 2:9. “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan”.
We can read two conflicting points in this passage. The church was said to be in poverty but was rich and the people called themselves as Jews but were not. Theologians say that the early church was poor but showed themselves to be rich and many of them were pretending to be Jews. They did not show their reality to the world but showed an untrue scenario and fake characteristics to others.
God said He knew the works of the early church in Smyrna. We cannot read others’ minds and hearts but the God of Trinity who created us can see and read our inner heart. Proverbs 17:3 says that the Lord trieth the hearts. We can hide the truth and show ourselves very different to others, but we cannot cheat God. Truth was lacking in the early church of Smyrna. But God also found a few faithful and truthful Christians in the church. The angel of the LORD was told about the persecutions, tribulations and difficulties they had to face and asked them to be faithful unto death. When we overcome, Isaiah’s prophecy will be fulfilled and we will receive a crown from Jesus in our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.
3) Bridegroom shall rejoice
We all believe and accept the second coming of Jesus. In John 14:2,3 Jesus said that He would go to prepare a place and would come again to receive the church as a bride to be with Him. He also said about this event in Luke 17:24: “For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other”. But there is difference of opinion about the second coming. Some people believe in rapture or secret coming. The English word ‘rapture’ is derived from the Latin word ‘raptum’ which means hijacking. During Jesus’s time, the prospective groom travelled from his father’s house to the home of the prospective bride. He paid the price for the bride and established the marriage covenant. Once betrothed, the groom would return to his father’s house to prepare living accommodations for his wife in his father’s house. The groom would then come for his bride at a time not known to her.
Isaiah 57:1 says “the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” Jesus will come and receive the church before the evil comes, that is, before tribulation. 1 Thessalonians 4 verses 16 and 17 say, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. ‘Secret coming’ is not mentioned in the Bible but it got its name because the time that this will happen is a secret to everyone. Jesus said in Mark 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” He also said in Luke 17:34-36: “in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left”. This is also mentioned in the Gospel according to Matthew 24:40&41. In 1 Corinthians 15:51&52 Paul wrote, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” The seven-year tribulation period will follow this.
Some do not believe in Rapture. They believe that Jesus will come to mount Olives to save Israel after the church has gone through Tribulation. Acts 1:11 says, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”. Jesus ascended to heaven from the mount of Olives. According to the above statement, Jesus will come again to the mount Olives to save Israelites from Antichrist. Zechariah 14:4 also confirms the same. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south”. This second coming will be at the end of the seven-year reign of Antichrist. Jesus will fight with the beast and his whole army and establish His kingdom in Israel.
Isaiah 62 verse 5 promises “as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee”. This promise will be fulfilled in heaven when the church is received as the bride during Rapture. We are in church period or grace period or the Holy Spirit age. This grace period will end with rapture when the church is taken as the bride.
Like the early church in Pergamos, we the church are facing difficulties and tribulation. Where is our faith in these last days? We are also given the commandment to overcome temptation to receive a new name. We must repent and turn to God. We must endure unto the end. Only then we can inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven and receive the new name from Jesus.
Today, we have freedom to worship LORD Jesus. There are many who are refused the freedom of worship and churches are under persecution because of their faith on Jesus Christ. A time will come when the churches in the whole world will be persecuted. Matthew 24:9 says, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake”. Matthew 10:22 says, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved”. When we face such situations, we are also asked to be faithful unto death. Revelation 2:10 reads, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”. We will receive the Crown if we face tribulation and remain faithful to the end.
The Bridegroom will rejoice over His bride, that is His church, because the purpose of His first advent will be fulfilled during Rapture. He was sent to save us from eternal and everlasting death. When Jesus receives the church as His Bride, He will celebrate the fulfilment of His first advent.
We are living in this uncertain world. We see all the signs of the end times around us. I would like to close with a couple of questions. Are we ready to face Him as His bride? Will we receive a New Name and Crown? Will He delight over us? I pray we live our lives pleasing in the sight of God, remain faithful when we face tribulation and endure till the end. Amen!