Summary: An advent talk including reference to Narnia, Christmas.Forestry, Climate Change, Gardening, Legend if the Guardians and Take the High Road. The Big Society that the UK Prime Minister (David Cameron) talks about was God’s idea
Coming up this morning we’ve got climate change, forestry, gardening, the Warner Brothers Film ‘Legend of the Guardians’, reservoirs, Christmas, Narnia, Take the High Road, and the choirs of Jerusalem – all in the space of about 20 minutes, and all because they have been shouting out at me during my preparation this week.
The Book, or more accurately the Prophecy of Isaiah was written during Isaiah’s Ministry in the Promised Land between 739 and 686 BC. Liberal commentators have for the last 150 years suggested that the book was written by either 3 or 7 different authors, for two main reasons. 1: They claim that Isaiah could not have predicted with such accuracy the events that would happen after his death and 2: They point to the fact that the Book contains three distinct literary styles. Argument one is weak because prophecy by its very nature deals with future events including the birth of Jesus the Messiah!
Argument 2 is weak because, for example, the Lord of the Rings contains three distinct styles – narrative, dialogue and poetic but that doesn’t mean it’s got three different authors. Likewise I don’t write songs, letters and sermons in the same way, they’re different but that doesn’t mean I haven’t written them!
The Prophecy of Isaiah contains so much. In Chapters 1 to 5 Isaiah writes about the disobedience of God’s people (1:2-4) having spurned the Lord, the Holy One of Israel; he writes about sin needing to be judged (1:5-6) but also affirms that God still has a future for his people (4:2-6).
In Chapters 6 to 12 Isaiah speaks of a future perfect King who will come; and today as 2010 draws to a close we know that the promised King was and is Jesus. He came as a babe, lived, ministered, revealed God’s love, was tortured and died on a Roman cross, and rose again for us; but He will come again in glory one day and that is the theme of today’s Bible Reading Isaiah Chapter 35.
In Chapters 13-27 Isaiah reveals that the coming King will not just rule over the Promised Land, He will also rule and reign over the entire cosmos. His care will be for the whole of heaven and earth but at the centre of this will always be his care for his people Israel, the Jewish Nation, into which, we as believers in Jesus have been grafted! Chapters 13 to 27 speak of two cities. One is the world’s city, representing Humanity’s failed attempts to organise the world without God (24:10) – sounds familiar (!); and the other is the City of Salvation, God’s City that will stand firm (26:1).
Chapters 28 to 37 concern a history during which Israel was squeezed between the then world-superpower Assyria and the would-be superpower Egypt. The tiny kingdom of Judah became entangled with Egypt and Assyria and Jerusalem looked doomed; but God delivered tiny Jerusalem from the hands of invading armies; and God’s judgement upon wicked nations was clear and plain to see; and it is in the midst of this section that we come to Chapter 35.
The preceding chapter 34 is full of terrible judgement for wicked nations; and that same judgement awaits wickedness at the end of time when Jesus as Lord of His Church and Judge of the Earth returns. Do I really think this will be an actual future event in history? Yes, categorically 100% I believe it because Jesus Himself said it would happen, and other Bible writers tell us that one day we will see Jesus coming on the clouds; and since Jesus said it, I believe it!
Does that make me simple minded? I believe not! The Bible not only talks of the future, coming perfect King, but Isaiah chapter 35 is a wonderful poem about the world, about life, and about his people after judgement has taken place; and it is wonderful! I kid you not! It is going to be fantastic, magnificent, marvellous, perfect, and so much more; because for all of God’s people (35:10) “gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away!” Is anyone else looking forward to that day? No more sorrow, no more sighing, only gladness and joy!
Chapter 35 verses 1 to 2 speak of the future Day, after God has judged the nations, when ‘the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom …The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord’. This prophecy has yet to happen but oh how the Promised Land; or the land of Promise needs this prophecy right now. How timely is this Bible reading this week! Forrest fires in Israel, quite possibly arson, have destroyed an estimated 5 million trees and 12 to 15,000 acres of lush landscape in Carmel forest, and Lake Galilee is dangerously low as the winter rains have come so late again this year; but on the future day of the Lord ‘climate change’ will be reversed, forests will be repopulated, and even wilderness will bloom. God’s coming rule and reign will restore the Land perfectly. Our world’s climate will be put back to work as it should. Climate change, forestry and gardening are all on God’s agenda.