We live in unprecedented times. India today, with the second biggest population in the world, has ordered a three week stay at home lockdown. This follows the UK yesterday and the most populous states in the USA before that. International air travel has all but ceased. Many nations have closed their border to others. This is unprecedented, and no one knows how long it will last or how devastating it will be to both physical health and economic wealth. The Lt. Governor of Texas called for the economy to be opened and grandparents to be sacrificed for the sake of the economy.
In the Los Angeles area where I live there are three kinds of stores that have had lines waiting to enter. The three stores are groceries, guns, and cannabis. In some states cannabis stores are saying they should be left open because they offer an essential product for people handling the stress of the times. Somehow, guns and cannabis best express the places our neighbors look in their stress. Churches though are closed. Even online service productions are threatened by the current stay at home policies. This is unprecedented. We have never seen anything like this on a global scale.
In the midst of these times the Word of God has taken the form of living hope, which it should be. Some verses are now commonly shared. Psalm 91 brings the Lord as our
Refuge. Philippians 4:6-7, where God calls us to turn all our anxieties into prayers, and He will give us peace. There is one passage that seems directly written for us. It flows from Isaiah 24-26 as the promise is given in 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The promise is that God gives perfect peace to those who put their trust in Him. This peace is one of the great words of the Bible. In Hebrew, the word is Shalom. Shalom peace is the result when you are in the center of God’s will, pleasure, protection, provision. It is the well being that flows when you know God is on the throne and you live in the center of His pleasure. It is the peace Jesus said comes from Him (John 14:27). It is a peace the world can’t give, and it is a peace the world can’t take.
While this promise of perfect peace has stood for all generations of those who walk by faith, the context of Isaiah 24-26 is written for those who live at one point in time. It is very direct in what it is saying to us who long for the coming of the Lord Jesus for His church and then to bring His kingdom to earth and bring peace. I urge you right now to read carefully through Isaiah 24-26 and then reflect on the rest of this blog.
Isaiah 24 is a prophecy of God bringing judgment to the earth. He will work to bring an end to the rebellious kingdom of man. He will desolate the earth as described in Revelation 4-19. Here is the prophecy from Isaiah 24:1,3-6, “Behold, the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants … The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.”
The Covid-19 virus is just the latest of the evidences of God’s rising in judgment of the earth for its rejection of Jesus and God’s rule. We have observed waves of crises in Australia this past week. They have gone through the scorching heat of summer as fires ravaged the nation, killed about a billion animals, and changed the ecology of the land. They then had torrential rain in places that added to the damage. Now they are closed down because of the virus. A plague of locusts in Africa and the Mideast threaten crops and are likely to bring severe famine. An interconnected world economy finds its stability at risk with warnings of depression. Governments are flooding the markets with cash accumulating debt and decreasing the value of money in ways that threaten collapse.
As God is moving to desolate the earth, we see the utter futility of political leaders to solve the crisis. As the prophecy says in 24:4, “… the highest people of the earth languish.” One who is claimed by some as destined by God to make America great, now sees a stock market lower than when he started, and there are no answers. Calls to prayer are given but they are totally absent from cries of repentance and turning from our sinful ways. We are the generation of 2 Timothy 3 that finds ourselves compelled by three loves: the love of self, the love of pleasure, and the love of money. We have not cared about what happens in the rest of the world as long as we are living the good life we feel we are entitled to have. But now all of that is threatened.
The prophecy also says in 24:21, “On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth.” The judgment of God will not only be on the rulers of earth. It will come on Satan and the demonic legions with him. It seems likely that this time of crisis will bring about Satan’s plans to unite the world in rebellion against God and against His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is easy to see how the joining of nations to gather together in a new world order will happen when the health crisis passes. It is easy to see how there will be a need for a new world currency following the inevitable collapse of the weight of personal, corporate, and government debt. It is easy to see how a solution for peace with Israel and its neighbors will happen in a region decimated by the virus. It is easy to see how the world is ready for some world leader to emerge who will seem to have the answers needed.
As dark as Isaiah 24 is, the glory of the prophecy of Isaiah 25 that is so much greater, and promises the true new world order. Isaiah 25:8-9 describes what is just about to come. “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.’”
We are just about to see the rapture of the church, the resurrection of our bodies, our going home to be with Jesus forever. He has already conquered death through the cross and His resurrection triumph. Now He will swallow up death, and it will never more be. He will wipe away all the tears we have had from the trials and adversities of life. He will rule the earth from the New Jerusalem, and the surviving nations of the world will come to the gates to bring Him honor. The prophecy describing Jerusalem as the mountain of the Lord as it says in 25:6, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” We see the church there made up of people of all nations. We see Israel there joining. The last work of the Gospel is in Jerusalem among Israeli people, as the church has been raptured and the witness comes through two prophets sent by God.
We know the darkness the world is in now will be briefly lifted by a man of peace who will unite the nations together. He will be a magnetic personality. He will be supported by a false prophet of the church who will join the major religions together in support of what will become a new religion which worships the leader as a god. There will be a time of joy coming for the world, but it will lead to the desolation of the earth by the judgment of God.
It is with the soon coming of the desolation of the earth and God swallowing up death and the wiping away of all tears that the promise of Isaiah 26:3-4 comes, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” This peace comes to those who put their trust in Him. These are people who do not fear what is coming because their future is secure in God’s plans. It is not a peace that comes not from some mental or meditation discipline – it is a peace that comes from God Himself. We don’t create it. We rest in it. We live in Shalom because our times are in His hands and His promise is gloriously bright.
It is interesting what the Word of God tells us as we shelter in our homes. It is almost as if the work of the church among the nations is all but done. Here is God’s invitation to stay at home resting in His Shalom in Jesus. He says in Isaiah 26:20-21, “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.”
Shalom church. Keep your mind stayed on Him. Judgment is coming to the earth. Hold out the Good News of the Gospel to all. But Jesus is coming for us. As Isaiah 26:8-9 says, “In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” Jesus is the desire of our soul, and He is coming for us. Righteousness is the longing of our will, and He will perfect it in us and bring its perfection to the world. Just a little while more for us to endure the fury, but we do that in the shelter of our home in Him.
If you don’t know the Shalom of Jesus I encourage you to read the post, A Time to Be Sure. For those of you who do know Shalom of Jesus, may He fill you with His perfect peace. Shelter at home in His Shalom.