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A Banner For The Nations

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is, “A Banner for the Nations.” The text is Isaiah chapter 11 verses 10 through 12. Listen to the Word of God.

In that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from lower Egypt, from upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonian, from Hameth and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel. He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. This is the Word of God.

In our study text here in Isaiah 11 we have a passage that is rich in meaning and significance on many levels and applicable to us as believers also even today, even as Gentiles, even as the Church, not just for Israel. For example, for many unbelievers, skeptics today, the Bible is just like a museum book that focuses only on the past. However the Bible focuses also on the present with principles to live by for today and also focuses on a fantastic future for all believers. One of the primary evidences, by sight, of God’s existence, God’s working even with the modern nation of Israel, the modern people of Israel, the Jew and also of the inspiration of Scripture is the prefilling and fulfilling of Bible prophecy, even today right before our very eyes. An example of this is Isaiah chapter 11 and verses 10 through 12, which is a powerful witnessing tool to reach unbelievers today that we can use.

Well, how so? Well, consider some of the background concerning Palestine. At the turn of the 20th century, that is, in the year of our Lord AD 1900, Palestine, according to eye witness accounts was a destitute, desolate land of primarily deserts and malaria infested swamps, a land of only about 17,000 trees, terribly eroded with infertile soil, a land of sand and scorpions no longer the land of milk and honey. It was predominantly a waste land that no one really wanted. In 1900 there were only about 40,000 Jews in Palestine. It was a land of a defeated and devastated people whether Jew or Arab, occupied, controlled by the Ottoman Turks. In fact, the ancient nation of Israel was destroyed in AD 70 and so ceased to be a functional sovereign nation in 1900 by already 1830 years, wiped off the world map of nations. Israel as a nation was in the dust bin of history. Yet according to Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 11 it says, in part: In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people. That day started in large part after World War II and has continued to today.

Now you understand World War I prepared the land of Palestine for the Jews as the Ottoman Turks were defeated and ousted from Palestine after about 400 years. That is four centuries of Ottoman Turk rule. The land was taken in 1917 by Britain and pledged to be a Jewish homeland. But it took World War II to prepare most Jews to immigrate to Palestine. It took the horrific holocaust of Hitler to convince especially European Jewish survivors that they needed a homeland. In Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 11 it says also, in part, that the Lord will reach out his hand a second time. The first time was the exodus or exit out of Egypt when the Jews became a nation of people, seeking to reclaim their Promised Land. This second exodus is happening before our very eyes and ears. In a limited sense, this was partially fulfilled when the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity. But the final ultimate fulfillment is to the end of the Church age and through the great tribulation when the Lord reaches out to regather and reunite his righteous remnant of he nation of Israel. And that is happening now. It is already happening.

How do you and I know this? Well, consider the details from the ending part of Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 11. It says: The Lord is reaching out to them from Assyria, from lower Egypt, upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hameth and from the islands of the sea. Obviously this is not just from the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. The Lord will reach out to his people, the Jews, from the east—that is those that are coming from the east, that is Assyria and Elam and Babylonia—from the south, that is lower Egypt and upper Egypt and Cush—from the north, that is Hameth—and from the west, referring to the islands of the sea. And the sea here is the Mediterranean Sea. And all of this, of course, all of these compass directions, north, south, east and west, all are in relation to the location of Israel. So from all of the major points of the compass, according to the known world in Isaiah’s day, the Lord has been reaching out to all of these Jews, coming back to their original homeland. And this is confirmed and affirmed in Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 12 that says, in part, that he will gather the exiles of Israel. He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth and Jews are still today returning from a world wide dispersion to the modern nation of Israel as established in May of 1948.

Consider that from about 40,000 Jews at the turn of the century of the 20th century in 1900 Palestine there were only about 40,000 Jews. But today there are about 7.7 million citizens in the modern nation of Israel and growing and prospering. Today, for example, from the east you have Jews returning to their homeland, to the Promised Land, to Israel, to the modern nation of Israel from Iraq, from Syria and even from China. Today from the west you have Jews returning and settling, immigrating to Israel from the United States of America and from Europe. From the north there have been reportedly more than 300,000 Russian Jews alone that are returning to the modern nation of Israel. And fro the south you have Jews from Egypt and Ethiopia that are returning to the modern nation of Israel. All of his is ongoing right before our eyes.

Do you remember, for example, back in 1991 about 14,000 black African Jews were flown to Israel on a secret airlift that took a total of about 37 hours. At times reportedly there were 33 planes in the air. For example, a Boeing 747 was stripped of all of its seats with about 1180 Ethiopian Jews including the crew crammed into the space intended for 400. They sat on mattresses and sang non stop for about a three hour flight to the Tel Aviv airport in Israel. All of this, can it just be happenstance? Can all of this just be coincidence? No. It is God’s insistence, because it is written, predicted, prophesied even about 740 years before Christ came to the earth the first time by his prophet Isaiah and now about 2750 years ago. That is amazing. No, that is almighty God and amazing.

Notice also Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 12 where it says: Both the exiles of Israel, that is, of the former northern kingdom and the people of Judah, that is, those of the former southern kingdom, will be assembled and reunited into one nation. All Israelites. They don’t know their tribes today, undoubtedly, but still they are all Israelites. They are all Jews. They are all together in the modern nation of Israel today. That is the case today. And this all points to the inspiration and the inerrancy of the holy Bible and that God is still at work and not only at work, but at work with his original covenant people Israel. God has not forgotten or forsaken his people Israel. This is a powerful witness to unbelievers and something for people to think about and to consider, that we can see by sight right before our eyes and ears today. And not only to have a powerful witness concerning prophetic truth in Scripture, but this can be a bridge for those who need to hear and believe the gospel, to receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, to believe that Jesus the Christ died on the cross in his substitutionary atoning sacrifice when he took the place of all of us sinners and that his blood on the cross as we receive him by faith through faith, when it becomes effectual for us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and believe and acknowledge that his work on the cross, not our work, nothing that we can earn is what saves us as we receive him and accept his work on the cross to atone for our sin. And then we can also certainly believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Whenever the cross is mentioned we should also refer to the empty tomb. Raised from the dead after parts of three days and three nights, Jesus Christ is alive. That is the gospel. That is the core of the gospel. That is this central truth of the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For those that need to hear the gospel, we can use powerful witness of prefilling and fulfilling of Scripture right before our eyes to bridge them to the gospel, that they would receive Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.

But what about us as Gentiles, all the other nations regarding this yet future time? Is this just fabulous news for Israel? No. It is for us also. Those of us who are Gentiles, those of the other nations, apart from the nation of Israel. In Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 10 it says, in part: In that day… Well, what day? Well, look at Isaiah chapter 11 and verse nine, the immediately preceding verse where it says: When the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Well, when is that going to be? That is going to happen after the second coming of Christ to this earth, when he is reigning and ruling in the messianic age of Messiah’s kingdom on the throne of David. In that day. And then Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 10 goes on to say, in part, that the root of Jesse will stand as a banner or as a signal that is Jesus Christ who is the ultimate root of Jesse from the lineage of King David’s father Jesse in his humanity. Jesus, Messiah King will stand, as it were, as a banner or as a signal for the rallying of all of God’s peoples, of all of the nations as the nations will rally to him. That is what it says in Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 10. And that includes you and me as believers in Christ Jesus as part of God’s family, as the Church, as part of God’s people and for all of the nations that are to go in to that golden age, that messianic age. That includes you and me as part of God’s people whether Old Testament or New Testament as God’s family all together. Jesus Christ himself even predicted this, alluding to this in the New Testament in Luke chapter 13 and verse 29. Jesus said: People will come from the east and the west and north and south and will take their places at the feast. The imagery here is of a feast in the kingdom of God.
In Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 10 it ends with these words. And his place of rest will be glorious, because at that time there will be rest from injustice, rest from unrighteousness, rest from wars and rumors of wars. It will be a glorious future, a golden age for all of God’s people. That is incredible. Yes, but that is also the inspired Word of God, because the Bible is for real and it is not just about the past. It is about the past, present and future, including prophecy which is also personal and practical. We need to be in Christ Jesus. Are you in Christ Jesus? Have you joined his family to be part of this fabulous future? You and I need to have received Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, as Savior believing that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God, our personal Savior and as Lord as we repent of our sins, as we turn from our sins and turn to the Lord as we confess him as Savior, as the Son of God and as our personal Savior and as we obey him in baptism as we are immersed into Christ Jesus and as we persevere in him may we do these things, may we be pleasing to God, may we share these truths and may we ponder and meditate on this Scripture as we consider the fabulous future, the fantastic future that is in store, not only for the righteous remnant of Israel, but for all peoples in Christ Jesus for all the nations that are given the privilege by Jesus Christ to go into that glorious golden age.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, Indiana




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