The Gospel According to Isaiah

Some have called Isaiah the “fifth gospel” because it is so blatantly clear about the coming Messiah.  It was written before the gospel narratives in the New Testament, so perhaps it’s not “fifth” in order.  Perhaps a better name could have been given.  Nevertheless, Isaiah preaches the gospel of Jesus, and it couldn’t be more clear.

Isaiah speaks of a day that is coming Jacob shall take root and Israel will fill the whole world with its fruit.  He speaks of a day when Jacob’s guilt will be atoned for.  He speaks of a day when people from all over the world will worship Jehovah in Jerusalem.  Here’s what he writes in 27:6-9, 13:

In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.  Has he struck them as he struck those who struck them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain? Measure by measure, by exile you contended with them he removed them with his fierce breath in the day of the east wind.  Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be atoned for,and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing…And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.

“Jacob” is going to take root and “Israel” is going to bear fruit in the whole world.  We know that all those who are of Christ are the true Israel.  What will this taking root and bearing fruit be?  Colossians 1:6 says, “[The gospel] which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing — as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”  This fruit of Jacob is truth of God’s grace in the gospel of Jesus.  This fruit is gospel fruit which God works in us, and it is the only fruit that will last forever (John 15:16).

In verses 7-9, the main idea is that God uses affliction to purge his people. Even during exile (v. 8), God’s discipline of his people was carefully considered. Everything that happened to them was done for their good (Rom. 8:28). Isaiah tells us that God’s people (“Jacob”) will be atoned for through suffering so that “no…altars will remain standing” (v. 9). God wants to bring his people to idol-free worship of himself. The great fulfillment of this is seen in Jesus, as he atoned for our guilt through suffering and death. He was stricken and crushed by God (Isa. 53:10) so that his people’s sin would be removed. Atonement for sin requires death (cf. Isa. 22:14), and Jesus made the final atonement on the cross.  This great atonement gives God’s people the ability and access to come to God’s altar instead and worship him instead of worshiping at the altar of idols.

The chapter closes with a beautiful picture of God’s people worshiping him “on the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (v. 13).  Everyone who was lost in Assyria or driven out of Egypt will come and sing praises to God. These people are the people of Israel — everyone who worships Jesus as God and Savior. This is God’s chief end for the world — that people should be gathered together to glorify and worship him.

The story of the planet earth is that God is making one people for himself and his Son is the one shepherd who provides atonement for these people.  God’s Son is the one king who leads these people.  This grand story is working toward a climactic ending where the people of God will come to worship him in his holy city.  This is the story of earth.

And it couldn’t be more clear.

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