Derek looks at three charges given by God through the prophet Isaiah concerning the inhabitants of the earth in the last days. They have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinance, and they have broken the everlasting covenant. The description of what happens next could be frightening if our trust were not in the Lord.
I’d like to go on a little further. Go back to Isaiah for a moment, Isaiah 24. This is a staggering chapter. I’ll read the first six verses and then I’ll read a little further on in a minute.
“Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants. And it shall be, as with the peoples, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with their mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor.”
God is very specific. There will be nobody exempted from this. Often we tend to think that wealth and social position can provide security. But here Isaiah tells us neither. The master will be in the same position as the servant, the mistress with the maid, the creditor with the lender. No form of financial security will be effective.
Then he goes on in verse 3:
“The earth shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away; the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.”
God gives three reasons why this will happen concerning the inhabitants of the earth. They have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinance, they have broken the everlasting covenant. Now, those might be interpreted in various ways but in my thinking there are certain laws which God has instituted for humanity which will never be broken with His permission. And when God made a covenant with Noah and all those who descended from him, one thing He said was whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. That’s an eternal edict of the Lord. No human government, no human legal system can set aside that law.
And then it says they changed the ordinance. In other words, I believe it means they changed the pattern of living which God has instituted for humanity. And primarily, that is the family. The structure of the family in the Bible is not based on culture, it’s based on the eternal nature of God Himself. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man, the man is the head of the woman. It starts with God Himself.
And those women who feel it’s unfair to be placed in a position of subordination need to remember that Jesus is in a position of subordination to the Father. And I said earlier, the changing of that ordinance ultimately has taken away the whole stability of society. And there are professional sociologists and others who have seriously questioned whether society can survive when the institution of the family has been broken down.
And then the third charge against humanity is that we have broken the everlasting covenant. That could be interpreted in various ways but for me the everlasting covenant is the covenant that God has made with men and women through Jesus Christ. And when we break that covenant and depart from its requirements we must inevitably be subject to the judgment of God.
As I look at the world around me, and at Britain, and I grew up in this country between the two world wars, and I’ve had longer to observe the world than most of you, though not all of you, I’ve seen every one of these things happen before my eyes. I’ve seen the whole structure and nature of society totally change. If things that are done today and are taken for granted had been done sixty years ago, there would have been an uproar. The kind of thing that’s presented on television, some of the kinds of things, would have created a demonstration sixty years ago.
You know the little parable about the frog, which I heard from somebody. If you put a frog in a basin and pour in boiling water, the frog will jump out. But if you put the frog in a basin with cool water and gradually heat it, then the frog will stay there till it dies. And that’s how the devil has been treating us. He didn’t pour the boiling water in immediately but he has steadily and gradually heated the water until we’re ready to die.
Now I want to go on in Isaiah 24. I hope you take time to study this passage for yourself. We’ll go on to verse 17 of Isaiah 24:
“Fear, and the pit, and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he who comes out from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth are shaken. The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall falter like a hut; its transgressions shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall and not rise again.”
I don’t know that language could be more vivid. In half a dozen different phrases it presents exactly what the writer of Hebrews says, all things that can be shaken will be shaken. There are no exceptions.
Then I want to read the close of this 24th chapter because it indicates the climax which God has appointed. And, God has His own climax, His own plan, His own program. Beginning in verse 21:
“It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host and exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in a pit [or a dungeon]; and will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished [or dealt with]. Then the moon will be disgraced, and the sun ashamed; for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His elders gloriously.”
What is the climax? It’s the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom on earth with Jerusalem as its capitol. And, it’s going to take all that Isaiah has described to bring us to that place. So when we pray as we should pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” whether we realize it or not, we’re releasing the events that are described in Isaiah 24.
It says the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed. As I understand it, the glory of Jesus in His kingdom will be so awesome that the moon and the sun will look pale by comparison. Jesus said in Luke 9:26:
“When the Son of man comes in His own glory, the Father’s glory and the glory of the holy angels.”
There’ll be a triple glory: the glory of Jesus, the glory of the Father and the glory of the angels. Any kind of light that most of us have ever even imagined will be totally insignificant by comparison with the brightness of that light. I have spoken to friends, more than one, who had a brief visitation in heaven and they all said the same thing. The light was as bright as a million suns but it never hurt the eyes. So, I am not preaching a negative message, I’m just describing what will happen for the kingdom of God to be established on earth.
So, the next time you feel like praying the Lord’s prayer, just stop and say do I really mean what I’m saying.