Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The King In Combat by Matt Leasher

Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who
 is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. (Isaiah 63:1-4)

 The above passage from Isaiah 63 is a fascinating Scripture in that we see a Q&A exchange going on between the prophet Isaiah and the Lord.  Isaiah foresees a time in the future when the Lord Himself will be on Earth and in actual combat with those that wage war against Him.  This is expressed in the next two verses, (5&6), where the Lord goes on to say:

 “I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth.” (Isaiah 63:5-6)

 The visions that Isaiah wrote in these passages are no doubt referring to the latter part of the 7 year Tribulation in which Christ will physically return to earth to do battle with His enemies that are persecuting His people, the Jewish remnant left on earth at that time that fled to Edom [southern Jordan] from Israel to escape the fury of the anti-christ after he had entered Jerusalem and entered the Holy Temple declaring himself to be God, (Matthew 24:15-16).  Apparently the Jews hiding in Petra, (today’s modern name in which the area of Bozrah would be located), will be in trouble, most likely surrounded by their enemies. At this time in the Tribulation only one third of the Jews on Earth are remaining according to Zechariah 13:8, so it is a necessity that the Lord comes to their rescue for the Lord promised to always preserve a remnant of His people as He always had and this promise will continue until the last days of this age. 

There are many things from this passage in Isaiah 63 that are worth noting.  For one, we are informed as of how Christ got blood on His robe that we read about when He returns with His saints in Revelation 19:13-14.

“He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”

This blood on Christ robe is not His own blood. Christ left His bloodstained robes in the tomb at the Resurrection and was then given glorified clothing. Evidently Christ makes His rounds doing battle before escorting the saints back to Earth to wipe out the false prophet, the beast and their armies at the final battle at Armageddon, (which is Hebrew for Megiddo, a modern town today located approximately 25 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in the Kishon River area). In the Isaiah 63 passage the Lord says that He acts alone in this Jordanian combat. Apparently the previously raptured saints are still in their heavenly chambers, (Isaiah 26:20-21 & John 14:1-4) waiting for the Lords furious indignation to pass before they return with Him.

The winepress that the Lord has trodden in His anger is the same winepress that is trampled in Revelation 14:20 as it is “outside the city.” Even the 144,000 Jewish witnesses have been removed from the Earth at this point, (Revelation 14:3-4), leaving only the Jews in Petra, (Bozrah), as the only remnant of Christ’s brethren alive. To the Tribulation Gentiles that have helped this Jewish remnant they will be rewarded at the Sheep and Goat judgment, but to those that opposed them they will be cast out of the Kingdom, (see Matthew 25:31-44).

This battle that Christ will participate in is also referenced in Isaiah 34, which is a passage in reference to the judgment against the nations at the end of the age.  In verse 2 of that chapter it says that “the Lord is angry with ALL nations and His wrath is on all their armies.” Then in verse 4 it says that the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll. This is in no doubt speaking about the end of the age as described in the book of Revelation.  Then beginning in verse 5 we again see the reference to the battle in Edom of the Lord rescuing His people in Bozrah, (today’s Petra).

“My sword has drunk its fill in the heaven; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. The sword of the Lord is bathed in blood, it is covered with fat – the blood of lambs and goats, fat from the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause. (Isaiah 34:5-6, & 8)

This day of vengeance is spoken of in Isaiah 61, a Messianic prophecy of the coming Messiah’s mission written in the first person from the words of the Lord Himself. Interestingly enough, when Christ went into the synagogue, as recorded in Luke 4:16-28, He read from His owns words from this very passage in Isaiah 61:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

 After Jesus read this Scripture from Isaiah 61, He then handed the scroll back to the attendant and sat down and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  The very next line on that scroll that Jesus stopped at and DID NOT read from says this:

“…and the day of vengeance of our God.” (Isaiah 61:2b)

 He stopped at the scroll where He did because His first advent was not yet the day of vengeance of God, but His second advent will be!  The Messiah’s mission is not yet complete. His atonement for sin was completed at the Cross but His mission to establish His physical earthly kingdom is yet to come.

This battle in Southern Jordan, (Edom), will likely be moved northward towards Jerusalem by the sword of the Lord which will lead into the battle spoken of in Zechariah 14 in the Day of the Lord.

“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.” (Zechariah 14:1-3)

Once again we read that the Lord will “fight in battle”!  Also note that it is the Lord that gathers the nations into this battle. This is indeed a time of the Lord’s vengeance. When He returns to wrap up the end of this age it will not be a pretty sight for the people left on this earth. When Christ came to Earth the first time He came as the suffering Servant but when He returns to Earth the second time He is coming as conquering King and He’s not going to be so nice this time! We are used to the illustrations of the gentle Christ holding lambs and cuddling children and this is indeed the loving Savior that we should all have a relationship with.  But there is another side to Christ. Christ the warrior!  Joshua seemed to have seen a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ the warrior before entering to do battle in Jericho. We read in Joshua 5:13-15

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)

This “Commander of the Army of the Lord” that Joshua encountered can be no one else but the pre-incarnate appearance of Christ for Joshua calls Him “Lord” and Joshua is instructed to take off his sandal because the place he is standing is holy. This is the same thing that the Lord told Moses at the burning bush, (Exodus 3:5).  We also know that this is not an angel because no angel is referred to as Lord, and we are not to worship angels (Revelation 19:10).  So here we have a preview of the warrior Christ!

It is difficult to fathom that even after all that Christ has already done for us all, that He even has to come down to earth and fight at the end of the age but Scripture says it will happen. In ancient times it was actually customary for kings to go out and lead in battle against enemy forces. King Saul, King David and most of the kings listed in the two books of Kings are prime examples of this. This tradition even carried on into medieval times. But could you imagine if this was true today?  World leaders wouldn’t be so fast to declare war or move into offensive strikes if they had to go out and lead the battle themselves! After all they might get their suits dirty!

To those that know Christ right now as their Savior, you are not appointed to this forthcoming wrath, (see 1 Thessalonians 1:10 & 1 Thessalonians 5:9).  For all intensive purposes God’s wrath towards planet Earth begins in Revelation 6:1 where the Lamb, (Christ) opens the first seal of judgment. This begins Christ campaign against a Christ rejecting world, hence the Church (His bride) would have to first be removed. This campaign progressively gets more and more severe throughout the 7 year Tribulation as the purpose of God’s judgments at this time isn’t just to punish the world but to purge the world into repentance. For God is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9).  If the severe judgments described in Revelation chapters 6-19 are what it takes for His people to come to Him in repentance and accept His salvation through His Son Jesus Christ so that they can have an eternity of holy bliss with the Lord then so be it!  There are many that will indeed be saved during this time of tribulation but it is almost unfathomable to read in Revelation 16:9 that there are those that STILL will not repent even this far into the final set of horrific bowl judgments brought forth onto them by God. It no doubt grieves God that He has to do this because in Revelation 15:1 we read that the wrath of God is complete with these final judgments and then in Revelation 15:8 that the heavenly temple of God is filled with smoke and no one is allowed to enter in until the final seven plagues upon Earth are completed.  God is so grieved at what He has to do that He has to be alone in the throne room while His angels carry out the task.

When all is said and done and the world is purged of sin and evil, the King will sit on His throne in Israel to finally rule the world in righteousness. The kings of the earth will bring gifts to Christ the King, (Isaiah 60:3 and Psalm 72:10-11), and will worship Him as He will be King of Kings!  The resurrected King David will be king of Israel again (Jeremiah 30:9) and Israel’s land will be expanded to the measurements it was promised to Abraham, from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. We live in a time in which Israel has no king as it did during the times in the book of Judges.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

Today isn’t much different than it was in the times of the Judges. There is no king in Israel and the majority does what is right in their own eyes but from the way things are looking on God’s prophetic timeline, this will all soon change because the King is coming!