Isaiah was a man before his time and he suffered because of it.
His books can be divided into two distinct pieces: part one, judgment; and part two, mercy. The parts of his book are so distinct and so chock full of prophecy years and years beyond the end of his life, that some suggest that Isaiah did not write his entire book. Yet Jesus attributes both halves of the book to Isaiah in John 12:37-41. And though the first half of his book focuses on judgment, mercy is also found there, and judgment in the mercy half of the book as well.
Today, however, I would like to highlight to you that his book concludes with radical mercy for mankind and is a fitting verse for part 3 of Optimism Out of Control. Consider Isaiah’s final prophecy,
"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me," says Yahweh, "so your offspring and your name shall remain. It shall happen that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh will come to worship before me," says Yahweh. "They will go out, and look at the dead bodies of the men who have transgressed against me; for their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."Isaiah 66:22-24 (WEB)
First, we see that the permanence of God’s people is compared to the permanence of the new heavens and new earth. God permitted Isaiah, though only an Old Testament prophet, to see all the way to the new heavens and new earth fully explained in Revelation 21-22. Furthermore, a wonderful promise is found in this verse, God’s people will live eternally.
Second, we see that God promises that all mankind will worship the Lord. Currently we see that the men of earth are dragged so low into the depths of filth by bondage to sin that they cannot even see that God is good. Though the current view is pitiful, God promises that the day is coming when all mankind will worship God for his goodness.
Third, we see that those who rebelled against the Lord will suffer wrath for their offenses. Yet who are these rebels? All mankind has rebelled for sure, but we have already shown that they will all be rejoicing before the Lord. So who remains? Isaiah teaches us that Satan and the angels that followed his rebellion will be embodied and sentenced to eternal fire, the 'men' who rebelled against God. Currently Satan and his demons exist as purely spiritual beings, but at some point God will give each of them a body suitable to represent their character and with which to inflict torment upon them.
Fourth, we see that all mankind has repented to see that Satan and his ways are loathsome. Mankind will no longer be double minded. God’s goodness will be praised and Satan and the rebellion he led will be hated. Finally, Isaiah makes a point of mentioning "all flesh" and "all mankind" twice so that we have no doubt that all mankind will worship God and all mankind will loath Satan and his ways.
Certainly Isaiah was not sawn in two by his fellowman because of preaching the limited atonement! Jewish hearts are glad enough to believe that God’s blessings are limited to them. Rather, Isaiah enraged the self-righteous and risked his life by preaching against the sin of ALL mankind AND comforting ALL mankind with God’s forgiveness.
If this is good news to you, feel free to join me in stoking the fires of our optimism out of control… but don’t forget the hard gospel fact that unbelieving mankind must be punished in Hades.