Disease. Famine. War. These perennial blights on the world are increasing in frequency and intensity with every passing day. Even so, nothing compares to the chaos and carnage to come. The Lord Jesus speaks to the dire conditions at the apex of God’s judgment:
For there will then be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor may be. And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would have been saved; but because of the chosen will those days be shortened (Matt. 24:21–22, LSV).
Even without the knowledge or understanding of the Day of the Lord, unbelievers are nevertheless prepping and bracing for further disaster. It is the “end of the world” as they know it.And judging by the extreme cognitive dissonance, escapism, and psychological distress, many are not feeling fine!
And instead of seeking shelter underneath the shadow of God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the Lord Jesus Christ, unbelieving Israel, who is partially-hardened and equipped with 21st-century technology and military acumen, will seek refuge under false pretenses. Just as they have done in the past, they will forge alliances with greater Gentile powers in the very near future to save their own skin from the Tribulation judgments of disease, famine, and war.
Perhaps no other Old Testament prophet speaks more about Israel’s pattern of dangerous deal-making than Isaiah. Throughout his book there are a number of passages that highlight Israel’s propensity for courting the enemy of their enemy rather than running to the Rock who gave them birth (Deut. 32:18).
Isa. 2:6-8, “For You have left Your people, the house of Jacob. For they have been filled from the east, || And [are] sorcerers like the Philistines, || And strike hands with the children of strangers. And its land is full of silver and gold, || And there is no end to its treasures, || And its land is full of horses, || And there is no end to its chariots, || And its land is full of idols, || It bows itself to the work of its hands, || To that which its fingers have made.“
Isa. 8:12-15: “You do not say, A confederacy, || To all to whom this people says, A confederacy, || And its fear you do not fear, || Nor declare fearful. YHWH of Hosts—Him you sanctify, || And He [is] your Fear, and He your Dread, || And He has been for a sanctuary, || And for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of falling, || To the two houses of Israel, || For a trap and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them have stumbled and fallen, || And been broken, and snared, and captured.”
Isa. 21:2-3: “A hard vision has been declared to me, || The treacherous dealer is dealing treacherously, || And the destroyer is destroying. Go up, O Elam, besiege, O Media, || I have caused all its sighing to cease. Therefore my loins have been filled [with] great pain, || Pangs have seized me as pangs of a travailing woman.”
Isa. 27:4-5: “In that day respond to her, “A desirable vineyard, I, YHWH, am its keeper, || I water it every moment, || Lest any lay a charge against it, || Night and day I keep it! Fury is not in Me; Who gives Me a brier—a thorn in battle? I step into it, || I burn it at once. Or—he takes hold on My strength, || [That] he makes peace with Me, || [And] he makes peace with Me.”
Isa. 28:14-15, 18: “Therefore, hear a word of YHWH, you men of scorning, || Ruling this people that [is] in Jerusalem. Because you have said: “We have made a covenant with death,|| And we have made a provision with Sheol, || An overflowing scourge, when it passes over, || Does not meet us, || Though we have made a lie our refuge, || And have been hidden in falsehood . . . And your covenant with death has been annulled, || And your provision with Sheol does not stand, || An overflowing scourge, when it passes over, || Then you have been to it for a treading-place.”
Isa. 30:1-3: “Woe [to] apostate sons, || A declaration of YHWH! To do counsel, and not from Me, || And to spread out a covering, and not of My Spirit, || So as to add sin to sin. Who are walking to go down to Egypt, || And have not asked My mouth, || To be strong in the strength of Pharaoh, || And to trust in the shadow of Egypt. And the strength of Pharaoh || Has been to you for shame, || And the trust in the shadow of Egypt confusion.”
Isa. 31:1-3: “Woe [to] those going down to Egypt for help, || And [who] lean on horses, || And trust on chariots, because [they are] many, || And on horsemen, because [they are] very strong, || And have not looked on the Holy One of Israel, || And have not sought YHWH. And He [is] also wise, and brings in evil, || And He has not turned aside His words, || And He has risen against a house of evildoers, || And against the help of workers of iniquity. And the Egyptians [are men], and not God, || And their horses [are] flesh, and not spirit, || And YHWH stretches out His hand, || And the helper has stumbled, || And the helped one has fallen, || And together all of them are consumed.”
When compared to related passages of Scripture (Dan. 9:27; Hos. 12:1; 1 Thess. 5:3), this sampling from Isaiah testifies and confirms that Israel will once again forsake the Lord and forge an alliance with other nations to protect themselves from death and destruction. However, this habitual pattern of callous covenant-making will backfire in a big way when the Lord comes to judge.
And as soon as Israel strikes the last bad deal, the Lord Jesus Christ will open the first seal!
As we continue watching for Jesus’ return to rescue His bride before God’s final judgment commences (Isa. 26:20-21), we will also persevere through our study of Peter’s first epistle. Note the number of references to the book of Isaiah—especially the highlighted portions below:
- 1 Pet 1:24–25 (see Isa 40:6–8)
- 1 Pet 2:6 (see Isa 28:16)
- 1 Pet 2:8 (see Isa 8:14)
- 1 Pet 2:22 (see Isa 53:9)
- 1 Pet 2:24 (see Isa 53:5)
- 1 Pet 2:25 (see Isa 53:6)
- 1 Pet 3:14–15 (see Isa 8:12–13)
In this week’s section of 1 Peter (3:13–22), we will find many relevant applications for today. Not only is there personal application in regard to the threats, accusations, and dangers that we face as believers day-to-day, but also in relation to Israel, we hear a word of warning for a wayward nation who is in the process of making a deal with death. Like King Ahaz in Isaiah’s day, the leaders of Israel are fearful and unbelieving, refusing to respond to God’s signs (Isa. 7:14; Rev. 12:1–2) and therefore asking for trouble…Jacob’s trouble!