On This Mountain
At the end of a lengthy presentation of the sure judgment of God on evil, in both nations and cities in this life (24:7-12) and eternally in individual lives (24:21, 21)Isaiah, as his name implies, turns to discuss salvation. This need for salvation includes the nation of Israel (Judah) 24:1-3) but also all nations of the earth, for they too are seen as breakers of an everlasting covenant, the original covenant with Adam and the covenant of the law written on the heart (24:4-6). In the midst of this, many will recognize the glory of the operation of the righteousness of God (24:14-16). Another who recognizes the universal sinfulness of humanity looks at himself and sees his personal unrighteousness (24:16) while he observes the continued treachery of sinners even in the midst of the righteous judgment of God (16). All of this culminates in the victory of God for the sake of his people, the most near manifestation of which will be the punishment of Judah’s enemies (24:23).
I. Praise to God for having accomplished his counsels of old (25:1). This great display of judgmental wrath does not deter the praise given to him by those who know his saving grace. Praise is given in this instance on the basis of
- Isaiah’s personal sense of the praiseworthiness of God (Isaiah 6:1-6).
- He has observed the things that God has done that show the wonder of His character.
- Isaiah has knowledge of the eternal counsels of God and how He has executed these counsels faithfully and truthfully.
II. Verse 2- God has destroyed a particular political system (he speaks either of Assyria or Babylon) as a demonstration as to how thoroughly he will discredit all false religion and render naught the entire system of the world before he brings in the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 17, 18).
III. “The strong people will praise you,” refers to the praise, foreshadowed here, of the righteous and holy ones at the destruction and final judgment of all godlessness (Revelation 19:1-5) Those nations so defeated will express their despair and lamentation and fear (Revelation 18:15).
IV. This mighty, fearsome God whose plans are executed with faithfulness, who will by no means clear the guilty, and whose judgments are terrible is a safe haven for the poor and needy. Those who confess “I am ruined! Woe is me.” God is the Savior and he saves in Christ. Christ has become the refuge and shade and the wall of those who will take refuge in him (Hebrews 6:18). He has become their cover and the wrath of God does not touch them. The church of the Newborn throughout the ages has witnessed endless fascination with the grace and, justice, and wisdom of this spiritual dynamic, unmuted praise for the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain, and joy in the consideration of all granted us in the virtue of the dying Lamb of God.
Complete atonement thou hast made
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed.
How then can wrath on me take place
When sheltered in Thy Righteousness
And covered by Thy blood.
If Christ hast my discharge procured
And fully in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand
First at my Bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.
The Lord’s our rock, in him we hide,
Secure whatever ill betide.
A Shade by day, defense by night
No fears alarm, no foes afright.
A Refuge in the time of storm
The raging storms may round us beat
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
Be thou our helper ever near
A Refuge in the time of storm
(Vernon Charlesworth, 1880: This person was peculiarly in tune with the plight of the needy and distressed as he served as principal/headmaster of Spurgeon’s orphanages. The power of gospel love and gospel power in their lives was remarkable.)
V. All the threatening of the evil of the world will matter little to those who have found refuge in Christ. Boast as they may, intimidate as they may, threaten as they may, all their godlessposturing will be less than nothing when they see the righteousness of God in his acquittal and acceptance of his elect and the verdict of condemnation against them. Their threats will dissipate like heat on a dry day. It will fly away as be as wispy and unsubstantial as hot air. This is true because of the infinite strength, wisdom, grace, and mercy described in verses 6 – 8.
VI. The prophet writes now of events that will take place on Mount Zion, “this mountain,” Jerusalem. The great riches that he describes point only to the results of what the Lord does, for he refers to fruit arising from the culmination of the covenant of redemption.
- Standing with rigid righteousness and justice in the background is a dying Savior forsaken of every common human mercy and bringing to completion his role as propitiatory sacrifice.
- What flows from it? Likening the resultant redemption to a banquet, the prophet describes the most lovely, tasty, and satisfying display of food imaginable. This is that bread and drink from heaven given to us that we will never thirst again nor hunger again.
- It is about this Jesus spoke when he said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56).
VII. Again the prophet points to universal and ultimate blessing arising from the work of God on “this mountain.” The blessings reverse the gloom that has been spread “over all nations.” They might not know of it now, or even be convinced if told, but death is spread without exception to ALL THE SONS OF MEN IN EVERY AGE IN EVERY PLACE. This is twofold.
- All persons are totally corrupt morally, have no spiritual regard for the law of God or for the holiness and divine prerogative expressed in it. They are, therefore, dead to spiritual things, blind to infinitely glorious spiritual things, and walk in all the ways of sure eternal death. (Romans 3:9-19; Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:3,4). How dark such a life is, how veiled from the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:15-18), how infinitely sad are those who live under it will not be known until the excellence of Jesus Christ is seen (Phil 3: 8, 9).
- All persons are under the veil of legal condemnation. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” With Adam as our covenant head, when he sinned, we sinned. “By one man’s offense many died. . . . For the judgment which came from the one offense resulted in condemnation. . . . Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation. . . . Sin reigned in death” (Romans 5: 12, 15, 16, 18, 21). When we consider this universal reality, no ground remains for accusing God of unfairness, lack of kindness, injustice either toward nations or individuals. His warning of judgment and his promises of a remnant how that in wrath he will remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2) find their contextual fullness in the doctrine of a pronouncement of universal death.
- This verse, however, begins with that divine ray of divine hope, “He will destroy on this mountain.” The next verse expands this prophetic assertion of ultimate hope.
VIII. “He will swallow up death forever.”
- Christ’s atoning work took care of the death problem in all its dimensions. By the virtue of his death Christ sent his Spirit to open the eyes, remove the veil, raise his people from spiritual death to spiritual life. He removed the verdict of condemnation and granted them eternal life thorough his righteousness. He suffered under the power of death for a brief time, but “death could not keep its prey,” for “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him (Acts 2:24). He had come to engage the demonic forces in their claim of the impossibility of forgiveness, a weapon of accusation against all the promises of God to all his elect of all ages. This trump card of the promise of death issued in the garden of Eden could not be contradicted, for Satan, an outcast from heaven forever, could see no way for God to compromise his threat. In the wisdom of the cross in its relation to the incarnation and the perfect life of Christ and the covenantal principle of substitution, Christ bore our sin, suffered our death, went to the grave, and having done all demanded in the curse of death was raised again. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14, 15).
- The sorrow of a fallen world will be removed from his people. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). In this fallen and as-yet-unrenewed world, God’s people will suffer sorrows of disease, rejection, family distress and times of national calamity. But they live ever in the “hope of eternal life” with the firm assurance that nothing can separate them from the love of God (Titus 1:2, and 3:7; Romans 8:35-39).
- “The rebuke of his people he will take away from all the earth.”Nor do they live with the rebuke of guilt (though they know above all others the nature of their guilt) but find in the work on the mountains sufficient certainty that guilt has been removed, righteousness conferred, eternal life bestowed, and condemnation eradicated. He invites his people to find secure refuge in him when “the Lord comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity” (26: 21).
IX. The exclamation of those who experience this redemption is full of praise and recognition of how such abundant mercy gives an excellent glow to all the manifest attributes of God. “This is our God.” they say as more of his beauty unfolds. God is patient and resolute in the call to salvation of his people (2 Peter 3:9). Also they wait for him. They have experienced his patience with them, have seen the deliverance he has given, have absorbed his promises into their hearts and thus with joy and confidence they wait. “not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope,, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” Romans 8:23 – 25).