Daniel's vision of the son of man and of God's kingdom
(Day 38 of 40 in the Old Testament)
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’ …And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
Daniel 7:13-18, 27 ESV
Daniel had a gift from the Spirit of God to see and impart a secret and hidden wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 2:7). About 500 years before the time of Jesus’ ministry, he saw a vision of Jesus, the Son of Man, being glorified by God the Father, the Ancient of Days. The discussion below considers two main aspects: the kingdom of God ushered in during Jesus’ ministry and the clouds of heaven that refer to His second coming.
The kingdom of God. God had promised an eternal kingdom that was composed of nations to Abram (Genesis 16:6-7), who became Abraham, meaning father of many. God also made this promise to his descendent David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). This eternal kingdom was spoken of also by Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6-7) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:15-22). Daniel saw this kingdom given to Jesus in his vision.
The angel Gabriel said of Jesus before His birth, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:32-33 ESV
Jesus’ ministry consisted of preaching that this kingdom had come near (or was at hand), teaching, and healing all who were sick and afflicted (Matthew 4:23-24, 9:35-36) out of His great tenderness and compassion. Through His ministry and especially through His resurrection from death, Jesus demonstrated the power, the authority, and the good will of God to bring freedom, salvation, and life (zoe) to any that show faith in Him (Matthew 8:17, 28:18, Acts 10:38).
When Jesus was on trial by the Jewish Council, He claimed to be the fulfillment of this vision given to Daniel: “But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.”
Mark 14:61-64 ESV
It was this claim by Jesus to be the son of man spoken of by Daniel which caused the Jewish Council to feel justified in sentencing Him to die. Yet, Jesus was speaking what was true. The unbelieving dead will be raised and stand before Jesus at the judgement (Revelation 20:11-12, Jude 14-15).
“…And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
Because of Jesus’ obedience to carry out His Father’s will, “…God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11 ESV
The ministry of Jesus continues through the church, the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote that the end will come “when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:24-26 ESV
All dominions are subject to Jesus. Through the good works of His body, the body of Christ, He puts His enemies under His feet even now (Matthew 16:18-19).
The clouds of heaven. “…with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man…”
The clouds of heaven are mentioned in the passages from Daniel 7 and Mark 14. The Apostle John also wrote the following from God’s revelation to him:
“…Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
Revelation 1:5-7 ESV
From this passage, one sees that the kingdom of God consists of the people of God, those made in God’s image and likeness, who will live eternally with Him in His presence. They are God’s glory. At His second coming, every eye will see a vision of Him coming with the clouds, including those in power responsible for killing Jesus. The clouds the Bible refers to are probably the clouds of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12:1, those who have been faithful to God. These holy ones are also mentioned by Jude:
“…Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Jude 1:14-15 ESV
These faithful ones are not made perfect until joined by the rest of the body of Christ (Hebrews 11:39-40), His precious bride (Revelation 19:7-8), an answer to His prayer in John 17:21-13. The church will be with Jesus when He is revealed so that every eye can see Him in His glory, His good work surrounding Him.
The prophet Zechariah also speaks to this time of Jesus’ second coming:
““And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”
Zechariah 12:10 ESV
The tribes will mourn separately (Zechariah 12:12-14), and forgiveness will be given (Zechariah 13:1). God’s people started out of Israel, and the last additions to the bride of Christ, grafted in as branches to the Vine, will be out of Israel as well (Romans 11:24).
While Christ offers Life in the present, the future hope of His church is even brighter (Isaiah 60:17-21). Ultimately, the eternal kingdom for the body of Christ is the new heavens and earth described in Revelation 21:1-7. This is good news for Christ’s church:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV
The generous, Creator God has a love plan of abundant, eternal life (zoe) in store (John 10:10, 14:1-3) for His children in faith that is better than can be imagined (Ephesians 3:7-21), making their joy full (John 15:11).
The faith of the men of Judah in Babylon
(Day 37 of 40 in the Old Testament)
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my Lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
Daniel 1:8-17 ESV
“In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king… The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins… [They replied “]The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”
Daniel 2:1-2, 5, 11-19 ESV
“Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.”
Daniel 3:14-18, 21, 24-26 ESV
Jeremiah had written a letter to the exiles of Judah in Babylon, telling them that God had plans for their welfare (Jeremiah 29:11), and they were directed:
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
Jeremiah 29:7 ESV
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were youths among these exiles, men who had strong faith in who God is and what His plans were for them. As exiles, they received a world class education for three years, learning the literature and language of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:4-5). Meanwhile, they were expected to eat and drink the food given to them to make them strong for future service to the king. Daniel resolved to be faithful to God, who had commanded them to abstain from some of this food. God honored Daniel’s faithfulness, giving him favor with those put in charge of him despite the risk posed to their lives of not obeying the instructions of the king. God also strengthened Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah physically on their limited diet, even more so than the others who were on the Chaldean diet. God blessed them in their learning, and he also gave Daniel a gift of His Spirit that allowed Him to understand the way God speaks in dreams and visions. In this, Daniel was enabled by the Holy Spirit to have a supernatural understanding of the revealed mind and purpose of God. God honors faith and obedience.
When Daniel was told that they were about to be executed at the whim of the king, he trusted the plan of God for his welfare and he took action, completely confident that God would come through by way of the gift God had given him. He stayed the executions by making an appointment with the king to recount the king’s dream and reveal to him its meaning. Daniel and his companions sought the mercy of God in their complete dependence on Him. They asked in faith for wisdom from God and did not doubt (James 1:5-7). God was faithful to come through for them, revealing the wisdom needed to save the people of Judah to Daniel as he slept. Daniel’s response was to bless (praise) God. He worshiped the living God, steadfast in His love and rich in mercy.
The result was glory to God and continued favor and blessing for Daniel:
“The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”
Daniel 2:47-48 ESV
Yet the king, having no real understanding of God and no relationship with Him, proceeded to command everyone to worship an idol at the penalty of death for disobedience. However, Hananiah (meaning Grace, Mercy), Mishael (meaning Who is Like God?), and Azariah (meaning helped by God) were men of faith. The men would not obey the king to save their lives. They trusted God with no backup plan. They released their faith when they said to the king, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Who is like God? No one. They knew they would be helped by the God of grace and mercy, just as their fathers, including Moses (see Psalm 91) and David (see Psalm 40), had been. Like Joshua, they were strong and courageous. In their steadfast faith, they were made invincible, God acting on their behalf, and the rest is history. They were protected in a supernatural way by the Lord God Almighty (El Shaddai) when their faith activated the power of the Spirit of God that was with them.
The men of Judah had the kind of faith that Jesus instructed in the face of death and major difficulties:
"Do not fear, only believe" (Mark 5:36).
'...“Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. ' (Mark 11:22-23)
Through Jeremiah, God said the following about those who trust in Him:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Steadfast faith allows God's people to stand firm as the men of Judah did (Ephesians 6:13,16), nourished by the Spirit of God, and it releases the blessings of God that flow from His very nature , character, substance and essence.
A new covenant written on the heart
(Day 36 of 40 in the Old Testament)
““Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.””
Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.”
God spoke through Jeremiah about the time when He would make a new covenant with His people through Jesus Christ. God dearly loved Israel as a bride, yet Israel had broken covenant with God again and again. God has continued to pursue union with men and women and communion with them, as a husband seeks such from a bride and a bride from her husband. This is a relationship that men and women understand, as God has written it on the human heart that such faithfulness should be expected in a marriage relationship, or any serious relationship leading to marriage. With respect to Israel, God, who is known by His character of steadfast love, had been faithful, and He had desired faithfulness in return. In the time of Jeremiah, the people were unfaithful though.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Through the new covenant brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God Himself made atonement for His bride in order to forgive her iniquity, giving the Holy Spirit to make alive in spirit those who put their faith in Jesus’ finished work. When men and women give themselves over to the redemptive work of God and consecrate themselves to Him, the Holy Spirit writes the law of love on their hearts. Love for God draws them to love God as He desires to be loved. Love for men and women made in God’s image and likeness causes them to keep God’s law of love in regard to others. This is the type of love that the Apostle Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the generous, unselfish, abundant love that everyone wants; it only comes from union and communion with the Almighty God. (It is probably also the Apostle Paul that wrote about this prophecy from Jeremiah in Hebrews 10:12-24.) It is the tender love for all that was exhibited by Jesus Christ during His ministry, while He was connected with His Father through the Holy Spirit.
Also during the time of the rule of Babylon (around 600-550 BC), the Spirit of God prophesied nearly the same thing through the prophet Ezekiel:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV
In the work of sanctification, God writes His law of love on a man or woman’s heart. He does this on hearts consecrated to Him because it is to those that His Vine is connected (John 15:1) through the Spirit of God. Fused to God in Christ, the Spirit of God infuses the resurrection Life of Jesus Christ and the Love of God into the spirit, soul, and body of His church. Jesus commanded His followers,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
John 13:34 ESV
It is God’s will that His children show His love, growing up into the image of Christ. God is love, and to love others well with an unselfish love (charity, grace) is to be formed to His image. This includes loving the marginalized, the unlovable, and loving one’s enemies. Rightly connected to God in steadfast faith, men and women are filled with God’s love and it flows out of them in various ways as a fruit of this connection (Romans 5:5). (The next discussion is taken from the words of an unknown author.) Joy is love on wings. Peace is love folding its wings, and nestling under the wings of God. Longsuffering is love enduring. Gentleness is love in society. Goodness is love in activity. Faith is love confiding. Meekness is love stooping. Temperance is true self-love, and the proper regard for our own real interests, which is as much the duty of love, as regard for the interests of others (Galatians 5:22-23). Possessed of the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ partakes of the divine nature of love.
This is the type of love that God has for each person He has made: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:9-20 ESV
The depth of the love of God is astounding! In view of God’s great love, the Apostle Paul encouraged the church:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”
Hebrews 10:23-24 ESV
God's King and High Priest
(Day 35 of 40 in the Old Testament)
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever. Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”
Jeremiah 33:14-18, 20-22 ESV
Jeremiah lived in the day where God judged Israel and Judah for its unfaithfulness to Him. Some of the prophets speaking the word of God compared God’s people to a bride (e.g., see Jeremiah 2:2) that had given herself away to other lovers. God told Jeremiah, “… to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak” and “I am watching over my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:7,12). As a prophet, Jeremiah was mainly to speak God’s words of judgment: “Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
Jeremiah 23:29 ESV
This made for a difficult life for Jeremiah, who said:
“For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
Jeremiah 20:8-9 ESV
Jeremiah could not help but be obedient to speak the words God gave him to speak.
Although most of Jeremiah’s prophecies were about judgment for Judah’s disobedience, he also spoke words of hope from God for what Jesus Christ would begin to bring to the world starting about 600 years later. Although the house of Judah had been cut down to a stump due to God’s judgment (Isaiah 11:1), given over to captivity in Babylon, a righteous branch would spring up from the line of Judah and David. This branch is Jesus, who made available the rightness of God not only for Israel but for anyone from any nation that has faith in Him. Faith in Jesus’ finished work puts men and women in right relation with God, even as the Apostle Paul wrote:
“For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
The righteousness Christ brings is in many parts.
The righteousness of God is for each believer. When Christ, the true Vine (John 15:1), abides and dwells in a life consecrated to Him, steadfast faith in the Lord can lead to the rightness of God in one’s spirit (the part in contact with God), soul (mind, emotions, will), body, home, affairs, business, everywhere. As the regnant King of Kings with all authority over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18, Revelation 19:16); the High Priest who makes intercession at the right hand of God for the saints (Hebrews 4:14-5:10); and the One who dwells in believers (Colossians 1:27), even as they dwell in Him (1 Corinthians 12:27), Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit respond to faith to provide for that which is lacking due to the effects of original sin. God provides for the advancement of His own will, purposes and glory. Jeremiah said God would make his church into priests who minister to Him, and priests are servants of men, doing God's will, not their own will. Abiding in the Vine, each believer is quickened by the Word of God (Psalm 119:107,1 Peter 1:23), becoming a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), part of His body, Christ living in them. Each believer is a jewel in the diadems of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:12), each one precious to God (Zephaniah 3:17).
The righteousness of God is for the church. The church is made right as members of the body of Christ that joins them to God, making them more like God through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Ultimately, this will lead to God’s children, the church, being made kings and priests (Revelation 1:6,5:10), “that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward [them] in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). This includes a great multitude from all nations that no one can number (Revelation 7:9), just as God promised to Abraham in response to His faith (Genesis 22:16-18). In following God on His own terms, there is reward both in life now and especially in the life to come according to God’s promise of abundant life (John 10:10).
The righteousness of God is also for Judah and Israel (although there are some theological differences about how Scripture is to be interpreted in this respect, i.e., in what order Scripture will be fulfilled). To Judah, Jeremiah proclaimed:
'“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.'
God watched over His word spoken through Jeremiah to perform it. Furthermore, in Christ’s second coming (Acts 15:16-17), Jesus will be revealed to all of Israel (Zechariah 12:10). The people of Israel will believe in Him and be made righteous (Isaiah 25:9,Isaiah 60:21). Jesus will reign as King on earth for a thousand years, delivering those in Israel, bringing justice, righteousness, and security (see also Micah 4:24;Isaiah 2:3, 33:24, 65:19). Then they will also inherit the immeasurable riches of God as part of God’s church (Revelation 21:1-7).
In His steadfast love, this is what the Lord our Righteousness (Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jeremiah 33:16) has prepared for His beloved bride (Revelation 19:7-8), made alive together with Christ and blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3,2:5).
For now though, God desires to multiply His church, and so He has commanded His beloved people to
' “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. '
God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh
‘“Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near… Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster… And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”’
Joel 2:1, 12-13, 28-32 ESV
“Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near”
A number of prophets spoke of the coming day of the Lord, a day of God’s final judgement, including Isaiah:
“For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low; And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”
Isaiah 2:12,17 ESV
The Apostle Peter was also a prophet, and he spoke of this day as well:
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed... But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
2 Peter 3:9-10, 13 ESV
It’s also discussed in the Apostle John’s vision in Revelation 20:7-21:7.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes…For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”
These prophecies refer again to events during the second coming of Jesus Christ, including the coming day of the Lord, which Jesus describes in the gospels of Matthew, Luke and Mark. Isaiah (13:10), Ezekiel (32:7), Zephaniah (1:15), and Zechariah (12-14) also describe this time. Just as it was likely difficult to imagine what the life of Christ and the New Testament times would be like before the time of Christ, given the prophecies of the Old Testament alone—it is doubtful that anyone really knew—it is difficult to know details about the period of the second coming of Jesus beyond the glimpses into the future recorded in such passages.
‘“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
Just as the other prophets did, Peter included, Joel also called God’s people to repentance. To repent is to change one’s mind in a way that is confirmed by one’s choices; it is to put one’s soul (mind, will, emotions) in the right relation to God. God, merciful, gracious, and patient, does not wish that any should perish. This is the way God revealed His character to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7). God desires all to repent so He can show His great love.
“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit…And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
God gave a word of wisdom to the prophet Joel to allow him to see a glimpse of what would occur hundreds of years later where Jesus brought the kingdom of God near. Before His death, Jesus gave more information about this Spirit to his disciples:
' “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. '
To the believers that were identified with Jesus in faith through His death and resurrection, He promised them that the Holy Spirit who had dwelled with them, empowering them in their ministry (e.g., Matthew 10:7-8,17:14-20, Luke 10:9,16,19), would instead live in them as a Helper for their continued ministry as Jesus’ ambassadors. After Jesus’ resurrection, the following conversation happened between Jesus and his disciples:
'So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” '
The following passage represents the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy:
'Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, '
'When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. '
The Holy Spirit came upon about 120 persons, male and female followers of Jesus, who spoke through their spirits in foreign tongues they did not know, praising God in the languages of the Jews who had come to Jerusalem from distant lands to celebrate Pentecost. This is prophecy as it is described in the Old Testament—when the Holy Spirit comes on those who are anointed (e.g., 1 Samuel 10:6-13). The event in Jerusalem was a sign from God for those visiting, causing thousands to put their faith in Jesus. Peter, after being led by the Spirit to preach and teach the crowd, described though how the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit from Jesus was for all flesh:
'And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” '
In addition to tongues and prophecy, there are records of God speaking to believers through many visions throughout the rest of the book of Acts. Joel’s prophecy did come to pass after the resurrection of Jesus, and the Apostle Paul taught that these gifts from God, exercised in love, should continue to build up the church (1 Corinthians 12-14).
Joel lived about 2800 years ago, and yet his prophecy from God was one that showed equality among all of God’s children. The beginning of Christianity started to bring this to bear. Christ’s followers were male and female, coming from all classes of society. God sees neither male nor female, slave nor free; all believers are loved children of God (Acts 10:44-48, Galatians 3:28, Romans 10:9-13). All who put their faith in Jesus may experience God’s full salvation. Additionally, for societies that have experienced significant explosions of the gospel of Jesus Christ over the last two thousand years, one important part of the legacy has been increased freedoms for all men, women and children, including human rights.
Come to the waters
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55:1-13 ESV
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters… Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?”
The Giver provides for His covenant people and satisfies them with good and with plenty. Yet those God has created seek satisfaction according to their own ways and purposes:
“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Jeremiah 2:13 ESV
God has freely offered living water to the Jews through faith in Him, and God freely offers living water to all through Jesus Christ (John 4:13-14,7:37-39), the Way and the Life of God, which starts with putting faith in His atoning work, thereby entering into covenant with God. Despite what God had done for His people, He says that His people have forsaken Him, instead laboring to hew out cisterns for themselves, hoping what is in the cisterns will bring life. However, any cistern built apart from God is broken. Any pursuit that does not seek first the fountain of living water will not satisfy. It holds no life and it leads in a way opposed to that of God’s way.
To those who put their faith in God and then give themselves fully to God, seeking to do His will (see Isaiah 58:6-10), God promised that
“… the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
Isaiah 58:11 ESV
God accomplishes this through His Spirit, first bringing life and then further nourishment. When God saves a son or a daughter, the at-first-invisible transformation is a miraculous one, a completely new creation (John 3:3-6, 2 Corinthians 5;17), yet His work is not done (Ephesians 4:22-23). Giving Life to their spirit by His Spirit, the creative work of God has only started to take root. God wants to bless them and make them a blessing as they continue by their daily, God-given choices to come to the waters. The Spirit He gives is an earnest of heaven — a handful of the heavenly inheritance and the Life to come (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:20-22). The seed of the kingdom continues to grow and mature as one comes to the living waters, undistracted by the cares of the world (Mark 4:26-32, Matthew 13:22-23, Colossians 2:19).
God invites any to “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” The covenant-keeping God has offered His steadfast love and good to all who will come to Him through Jesus Christ, listening diligently. Every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17), who is love (charity,agape) and grace (charis). The kindness and the compassion of God is meant to lead His children to turn to Him (Romans 2:4), the Giver. God desires for His children to believe that He wills their good and He will provide it. In His great love for His children and as a reward for seeking Him (Hebrews 11:6), God continues to quicken any who come to Him for Life (Ephesians 2:5-10, Romans 8:11). Jesus Christ, the Word of God, quickens spirit, soul and body, by way of the connecting medium of the Spirit of God in them.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
The ways of God and His kingdom that Jesus brought near are not the ways of mankind and the kingdoms they build for themselves. In accordance with the Love plan of God, Jesus came to seek and save the lost as the Good Shepherd (in fulfillment of the prophecy made by Ezekiel recorded in Ezekiel 34:11-13), rejoicing in every lost sheep that is found and returns (Matthew 18:12-13). It is God’s will that His children align their wills with His will (John 5:30, Romans 12:2), their ways with His ways, their thoughts with His thoughts, becoming doers of the Word of God (James 1:22-25), not just hearers that act upon their own wills and go their own ways, building their own kingdoms for their own glory. God’s words are His servants, and they will come to pass. They do not return to Him empty. And so the word of God planted in a life as an imperishable seed (1 Peter 1:23), when nourished, cherished, and fed at the waters, grows, brings Life, and bears fruit, accomplishing the will and purpose of God (John 15:7-8). The children of God (those quickened with Christ) then sow and reap, together bringing a harvest to God for the glory of God (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). The church, the body of Christ, is victorious in accomplishing God’s redemptive and Life-giving purposes.
And here is the result as the blueprint of God unfolds as His Word is accomplished: “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
The trees of the field are the people of God, the body of Christ (see also Ezekiel 17:22-24), those whose spirits have been made alive by God and connected to Him. The church goes out in joy. It is led forth by the Spirit of God in peace (shalom). God’s people rejoice as He makes things right through Jesus Christ and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. His will is done through the redemption and sanctification of God’s people and through the good works done by the church and by God’s Spirit in the church, bringing honor and glory to God. Through the redemption and sanctification that God brings, He turns lack, pain and death (the thorn and the brier) into healing, uprightness, perseverance, strength, beauty, and Life (the cypress and the myrtle). In Israel, the tall cypress has represented healing, uprightness, and the hope of eternal life; cypresses are long-living trees able to endure harsh climates and poor soil. A myrtle is a slow-growing, fragrant tree, always green, with a strong root system and beautiful blossoms; even if cut to a stump, it sprouts again. God is the famous One. His kingdom and His goodness never ends, and He will continue to be exalted.
God calls everyone — each one like a potter’s flask (Jeremiah 18-19, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18) — to come to the waters. He is the fountain of living waters. There is fullness for filling (Colossians 2:9-10, Ephesians 3:19), pouring out (Proverbs 11:25), and refilling at the waters (2 Corinthians 4:7-11,16). One can even jump in, immersed, infilled, caught up and led by the flow. Jesus invites any who thirst to come to God and drink (John 4:10,13-14), saying that rivers of living water will flow out of the hearts of those who put their faith in Him (John 7:37-39).
Isaiah’s prophecy of the atonement of God’s servant
“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations”
Isaiah 52:13-15b ESV
“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
Isaiah 53:1-12 ESV
Isaiah, a prophet who lived about 700 years before the time of Jesus Christ, had words of wisdom from God, supernatural revelations of the mind and purpose of God communicated by the Holy Spirit. The purpose of God revealed in these passages was that of His servant, the Son of God who would become the final atonement for God’s church among the nations in order to defeat evil and its effects, redeeming them as children of God for God’s glory and for their good.
The servant of the Lord is the Word of God that became flesh (John 1:14), Jesus of Nazareth. God’s Word is His servant to accomplish His will on earth just as God’s words are his servants to accomplish His will (Ps 119:89-91).
“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
This purpose of God is only for those who believe in and confess Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, deciding to follow and live for Him (Romans 10:9-10). Their spirits, although born dead as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, are made alive, identified with Jesus Christ. To them the power of God, the arm of the Lord, for salvation is revealed.
“For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”
Jesus was born in a dirty animal stable to common, working people of Nazareth, a town in Israel that was not at all impressive among the Jews. He was a carpenter by trade, having no form or majesty about him, just as there was none about David when the Lord chose him as king, and just as there was none about the disciples that Jesus chose to follow Him in changing the world. One of Jesus’ disciples, Nathaniel, said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
“He was despised and rejected [or forsaken] by men, a man of sorrows [or pains] and acquainted with grief [or knowing sickness]; and as one from whom men hide their faces [or as one who hides his face from us] he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs [or sicknesses] and carried our sorrows [or pains]; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” [Notes from the English Standard Version are included in brackets]
This passage is referred back to in Matthew 8 that describes part of Jesus’ ministry:
'That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” '
These events occurred at the Apostle Peter’s house, right after Jesus healed his mother-in-law. Peter, who had been directly taught by Jesus about the prophecies concerning Himself (Luke 24:27), interpreted Jesus’ atonement in the following way to the church:
'He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. '
1 Peter 2:22-24
These passages describe the atonement of Jesus Christ at the hands of the Jewish people who rejected Him, led by the Jewish teachers of the law, the Sadducees and Pharisees. Some of the Jewish people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as King within the week turned on him and demanded His crucifixion at the hands of Pilate, a Roman, although He was not guilty of wrongdoing according to Roman law. The main charge brought against Him by the Jews was that He claimed to be the Son of God, which He was indeed. The purpose of God revealed through Isaiah was for the suffering servant, Jesus, to be turned over to the will of Satan for a time, where He would be falsely accused, tortured at a whipping post, sentenced to death, and made to be a curse (Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13) as He was hung on a cross to die a brutal, shameful death. According to Isaiah, Jesus’ atonement allowed for the payment of the sin of mankind (transgression, iniquity) once and for all. Turned over to Satan, Jesus knew great pain and was also made sick. According to the Spirit of God that inspired the writing of Matthew, this passage of Isaiah means that Jesus through His atonement took our illnesses and bore our diseases. Jesus’ finished work, including His stripes at the whipping post and His suffering and death on the cross, brought the opportunity of complete deliverance for sin and the problems caused by sin for all of mankind. The problems of sin that may be canceled by a steadfast faith in Jesus include eternal death, separation from God, sickness, pain, sorrow, and any infliction or infirmity. Any that put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and confess it (Romans 10:9-10) are able to receive salvation (sozo), oneness with God, physical healing, freedom from any affliction, and peace (shalom). Healing and salvation are a double cure for the effects of sin, coming hand in hand in a full salvation, as understood by David (Psalm 103:2-3) and as demonstrated by the ministry of Jesus and the apostles (where the latter is described first in the Acts of the Apostles). During His ministry, Jesus looked at sin and sickness, an effect of sin, hand in hand, saying,
'For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he then said to the paralytic— “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” '
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
The atonement of Jesus was a transaction that by the workings of legal system of God set Him up for the ministry that He had on earth, as Peter explained to the Gentiles when they received the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension:
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Acts 10:38 ESV
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was subjected to the oppression of the devil so that He could completely deliver all of the men and women of the world that were and are oppressed. Jesus, still present on the throne at God’s right hand and also through the Holy Spirit in each believer’s spirit, continues this ministry. Jesus endured suffering and death in order to counter the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus laid down His life in order to give abundant Life (John 10:10-11).
“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle [startle] many nations.”
Jesus subjected Himself to the will of God the Father. God’s purpose was to redeem mankind, dearly loved and made in the image and likeness of God. Jesus was lifted up on the cross for the reason He spoke to Nicodemus: ‘… as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”’
John 3:14-16 ESV
The passage from Isaiah also describes some detail of Jesus’ suffering that was revealed to him by God: His appearance was astonishing, marred beyond human semblance. The Apostle Paul wrote about how Jesus Christ, God’s servant, was exalted: “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:8-11 ESV
Jesus Christ has been exalted by God the Father, the atonement making this possible according to the legal system of God. He is exalted with authority over any kingdom on earth, over every heavenly being, and over the kingdom of Satan. The servant Jesus, the Word of God, speaks the words of God; everything and everyone must obey these words, which function as God’s servants that carry out His will (Psalm 119:89-91), as already mentioned. Even during His ministry, every evil spirit had to obey Him. The King James Version translates the interpretation of Isaiah’s prophecy the following way:
“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
Matthew 8:16-17 KJV
The disciples who wrote the gospels called some of the evil spirits that afflicted people spirits of infirmity (e.g., Luke 13:11). Jesus’ authority drove away any spirit of infirmity at a word or at a touch:
“And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God… And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?”
Luke 13:11-13, 16 KJV
The Apostle John wrote that
'...The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.'
1 John 3:8b
Whatever faults or weaknesses one has, the full salvation brought through Jesus Christ allows for Him to make them faultless and blameless in God’s presence (Jude 1:24). The redeeming and freeing blood of Jesus has sprinkled the nations, and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as Jesus’ church continues to be built up (Matthew 16:18-19, 24:14).
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief [he and made him sick]; when his soul makes [when you make his soul] an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” [Notes from the English Standard Version are included in brackets]
Jesus, the Righteous One, died alongside criminals, ordered to die by the Roman authority to appease a violent mob of Jews who demanded for Him to be crucified, although it was known He had done nothing wrong. He only spoke the truth and did good according to the will of His Father. One of the criminals recognized he had done wrong while Jesus had not, and showed faith when
“…he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.””
Luke 23:42 ESV
For this simple confession of faith, Jesus gave to him eternal life, saying he would be with Jesus in paradise the same day. His iniquities were borne by Jesus, and he was made right with God (righteous). This is the way to Life for any that put their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ for them. Jesus’ atonement makes men and women who receive Jesus as Lord at-one with the munificent God, taking care of every need and countering every effect of sin. Because Jesus was made sick in His atonement and because His body was bruised and broken, the arm of the Lord was also revealed to heal during His ministry in person and in His ongoing ministry through the body of Christ. Jesus’ victory over sin, sickness and death became the same victory also for His church, accessible “ by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). Jesus was buried in the grave of a rich man who was a disciple of his (Matthew 27:57-60). Meanwhile, the spirit of Jesus was in paradise with the criminal He saved and He descended to hell to preach the gospel to those who were dead in order to bring Life (1 Peter 4:6). Jesus returned to earth to appear to His disciples many times and to interpret Scriptures concerning Himself to His disciples, preparing them for their ministry to the world as apostles led by the Spirit. Jesus ascended to heaven, sitting on a throne at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for His church (the “many” mentioned in this passage), having been given all authority over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18-20). The regnant, living Jesus still rules on this Throne, and the Spirit of God that He received to give to His church is with each believer in some measure (Ephesians 4:7-16). This is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11)! Through the atonement of Jesus, God has made believers the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17,19-20), the living Christ dwelling and abiding in each of them, spirit, soul, and body (1 Corinthians 2:16, Ephesians 5:30), as branches connected to the Vine (John 15:1,4-5). He has divided His spoil with His church: deliverance, salvation, freedom, healing, peace, wholeness, abundant life, blessing, belonging, hope. Jesus will continue to make intercession for the children of God (Romans 8:34,Hebrews 7:25), those born again by faith, until all evil is put underneath His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). This is the design of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). The Word of God living in them and empowering them as they each grow into the image of Christ, the church does the word of God (James 1:22-25) and the will of God for the glory of God, meeting the needs of the world. The will of the Lord has prospered and will continue to prosper in His hand; Jesus is never defeated. The atonement was God’s great, complete victory of the Father for His children (Colossians 2:13-15), a product of His giving nature (His grace) and His great love for all men and women formed in His image and likeness. Jesus has redeemed His church out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, making them kings and priests to our God (Revelation 5:9-10). As kings, the church is the royalty of God, sons and daughters of the King of kings. As priests, each part of the church is a servant of God to the world, hiding behind the form and the loveliness of God’s servant, Jesus of Nazareth.