Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, and more specially is found in the fortieth chapter of the book. This passage marks a turning point and a powerful transition that takes place in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah. It has been said that the prophetic book of Isaiah is essentially the Gospel message found within the Old Testament. If you examine the prophetic book of Isaiah you will notice that it has within it sixty-six books—a striking similarly to the totality of Scripture which has sixty-six books. The first thirty-nine books of the Bible make up the Old Testament and represent the Old Covenant. Within this Old Covenant and Old Testament we find the books of the Law, we find the historian all books, we find the wisdom literature, and finally we find the writings of the prophets. Contained within the Old Testament and Covenant is not only the poetic writings of men such as David and Solomon, but there is also the prophetic writings of men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the like. The Old Testament begins with the law, transitions to history, then moves to poetry ,and concludes with prophecy. LAW! HISTORY! POETRY! PROPHECY! If you want to truly understand the Old Testament you must understand that it essentially begins with law and concludes with prophecy. The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and Old Covenant comprise what we know as the “Torah,” or the five books of the Law written by Moses. The Old Testament and Old Covenant concludes with seventeen books which are all prophetic in nature—books which were written by sixteen different authors [the Old Testament book of Lamentations is believed to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah]. I believe that if we want to truly understand the entirety of the context of Scripture we must understand that the Old Testament begins with law and concludes with prophecy, while the New Testament begins with grace and concludes with prophecy. FROM THE LAW TO PROPHECY! FROM GRACE TO PROPHECY! The first five books of the Old Testament deal exclusively and specifically with the law of God being established in the earth while the first four books of the New Testament deal with the grace of God, the truth of God, and the mercy of God which are displayed through the life, ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ who is the Messian and Son of David.
One of the most interesting concepts surrounding the fortieth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah and the first four books of the New Testament is that within these five books [one from the Old Testament and four from the New Testament], we find them each beginning with the same prophetic word. The fortieth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah introduces a prophetic reality that would be manifested for the first time in the days prior to the manifestation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Just as there are twenty-seven chapters in the second part of the prophetic book of Isaiah, so also are there twenty-seven books in the New Testament. The first chapter of this new section of the prophetic writing of Isaiah begins with the prophetic utterance concerning John the Baptist, while the first prophetic word.found within the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew is concerning John the Baptist. How incredibly interesting is it that the first book of the New Testament reveals the fulfillment of the first chapter of the second half of the prophetic book of Isaiah. When reading and studying the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, we must see the first thirty-nine chapters as being a type and shadow of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. Within the first thirty-nine chapters of the prophetic book of Isaiah we find the Law, we find history, we find poetry, and of course we find the prophetic. The fortieth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah marks a transition in the book much like the Gospel of Matthew marks a transition between the Old Testament and the New Testament. It may very well be said that the first thirty-nine chapters of the prophetic book of Isaiah demonstrate, manifest and reveal the Old Testament, while the twenty-seven remaining chapters manifest, demonstrate and reveal the reality of the New Testament. How incredibly interesting it is that this transition in the prophetic book of Isaiah is marked by a prophecy concerning John the Baptist, and the New Testament begins and is marked by the emergence of John the Baptist. This second portion of the prophetic book of Isaiah may very well be considered the Gospel of Isaiah, for within these twenty-seven chapters we find a vast array of Messianic prophecies concerning Jesus the Christ. Such. Messianic prophecies begin with the prophetic oracle concerning the ministry of John the Baptist.
When moving beyond the thirty-ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah it is imperative that we recognize this transition, for within these final twenty-seven chapters we will find a powerful message of hope and encouragement. Consider with me if you will how the fortieth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah begins—with the words “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1-2). With this brand new section of the prophetic book of Isaiah we find the prophet being instructed to speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and to proclaim a very specific message unto her. YOUR WARFARE IS ACCOMPLISHED & YOUR INIQUITY IS PARDONED! Pause for a moment and consider these words, and how incredibly powerful these words truly are—especially when you consider them in light of your own life. The prophet Isaiah was instructed to comfort the people of Jerusalem and to proclaim unto them two distinct realities—the first is that her warfare is accomplished, and second that her iniquity is pardoned. Consider how absolutely wonderful such words are within your life—especially when they are manifested within every area of your life. Essentially what the prophet Isaiah was declaring unto the Lord’s people was that their struggle was over—the conflict they experienced and endured had drawn to a close. What’s more, the prophet Isaiah also proclaimed and declared unto Jerusalem that her iniquity is pardoned. Oh dear brother, dear sister—do you truly understand and grasp the significance of these words within your life? Can you consider what your life would be like if your warfare is accomplished and your. Iniquity pardoned? What an incredibly powerful place it is when the saints of God not only experience deliverance and freedom from the conflict and struggle they have continually faced, and when their iniquity is pardoned. What a tremendous place of freedom one dwells in when their warfare is accomplished and when their iniquity is pardoned. These two phrases not only speak of a place of victory, but also a place of forgiveness. How absolutely wonderful and amazing it is for one to not only live in a place of victory, but also a place of forgiveness. WHEN THE STRUGGLE IS OVER AND SIN IS PARDONED!
I am completely and totally consumed by the words which Isaiah spoke—“that her warfare is accomplished.” I can’t help but see how incredibly fitting these words are when considering them in light of the direct comparison of the second half of the book of Isaiah and the New Testament. If you read and study the Old Testament, you will find that it was through His servant Moses the Lord established His law upon the face of the earth. Of course we recognize and understand that the first law every given was the command to Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Everything we read in the Old Testament is man’s attempt to produce a righteousness of their own by adhering to and obeying the words contained within the Law. This reality is further confirmed and manifested in the New Testament when one came to Jesus asking which was the greatest commandment. This reality is confirmed even more when another came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Perhaps the greatest manifestation of this reality is found in the Pharisees which existed during Jesus’ day—this. In addition to the scribes, the elders, the priests and the Sadducees which also existed during Jesus’ day. Everything we read in the Old Testament is centered upon the need to bring an offering and sacrifice to the Tabernacle or the Temple which the priest would then offer upon the altar of the Lord. The entire Old Testament is centered upon a works-based system, for all those who existed under the Old Covenant sought to please the Lord by observing and obeying the commands, the statutes, the precepts, the decrees in His holy Law. I can’t help but think of the great and incredible struggle it must have been to observe all the commandments which were given unto Moses by the Lord atop Sinai in the wilderness. There were Ten Commandments which the very core and foundation of the Law of the Lord which was given atop Sinai in the wilderness—that which was known as the Royal Law. In fact, even when speaking of the nation and people of Israel, the Lord of hosts distinguished them apart from the various other nations of the earth by asking to what other nation was His Law given.
YOUR STRIVING HAS CEASED! YOUR STRUGGLE IS OVER! YOU DON’T HAVE TO STRIVE ANY MORE AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO STRUGGLE ANY LONGER! As I read the words of the prophet Isaiah in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but see a tremendous significance in the words which we find in the second verse—“her warfare is accomplished.” I am sitting here writing these words and the only thing that keeps entering into my spirit is the declaration that our struggle is over and our striving has ceased. I keep hearing in my spirit that we don’t need to strive any more, and we don’t need to struggle any longer. Within the Old Testament there was a constant striving to be accepted before the Lord—especially as it pertained to sacrifice and offering. Consider how the very first offering madam by man in Scripture was that of Cain and Abel. Abel brought forth unto the Lord the firstborn of his flock while Cain brought the fruit of the ground, which was an offering of fruit and vegetables. Of course Scripture reveals how Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, but Cain’s offering was rejected. When we come to the Old Testament book of Leviticus we find Nadab and Abihu attempting to offer strange fire before the Lord, and how their unholy offering was rejected by the Lord, and fire came out and consumed them both. What’s more, is that the high priest when entering into the Holy of Holies—and that only once a year—would not only wear small bells attached to his garment, but would also wear a rope tied around him. The reason for each of these objects was to alert those outside if the High Priest perished beyond the veil. If the bells ceased to make noise, the rope was tied around his person to remove him from within the Tabernacle and Temple. If the offering which the high priest brought before the Lord and presented beyond and behind the veil was accepted, the nation and people of Israel would experience forgiveness of their sins. If the offering beyond the veil was not accepted, the converse reality holds true. Those who lived and dwelt within the Old Covenant constantly sought to strive and struggle to please the Lord, and countless men and women sought to obey the commands of the Lord, and bring sacrifices and offerings which pleased the Lord.
I can’t help but be reminded of Jacob whose name would later be changed to Israel after he wrestled with the angel throughout the night by the Jabok River. When we begin studying the account of Jacob we find that he was involved with two distinct actions while living underneath the roof of his father’s house. The first was to deceive his brother out of his birthright by appealing to his hunger and pleasure and offering him a bowl of stew. The second was to deceive his father by assuming the appearance and identity of his brother Esau and entering into his father’s presence to receive the blessing. Scripture is quite clear that Isaac loved Esau while Rebekah loved Jacob—a sure sign of dysfunction within that particular home. It was perhaps this reality—the reality that his brother Esau was the object of his father’s affection—that caused him to enter into his father’s presence pretending to be someone else. I would dare say that Jacob sought for acceptance and affection within the house of his father, and even from his father himself. As a result of this tremendous need gnawing at Jacob’s heart and soul, he actually pretended to be his brother in order to receive the blessing of his father. Jacob pretended to be his brother when in the presence of his father, thus striving and struggling for acceptance of his father. Essentially Jacob struggled and strove in order to be accepted of his father—a struggle which would ultimately lead him to pretend to be someone he was not. When Jacob finished wrestling with the angel the angel declared to him that his name would no longer be called “Jacob,” but would be called “Israel,” which meant “prince of God,” for he not only strove with men, but also God, and survived. I can’t help but consider the account of Jacob and the words of the prophet Isaiah in this chapter and get the strong sense that there are countless men and women in this generation who are striving for acceptance from their Father in heaven. There are men and women who continually struggle and strive upon the earth to receive the blessing of the Father, and may even go so far as to pretend to be their brother or sister. These words of the prophet Isaiah suggest that their striving and struggle was over—a striving and struggling for acceptance of the Father, and to please the Father.
THAT HER WARFARE IS ACCOMPLISHED! Do you know that your warfare is accomplished? Do you know that you don’t have to strive or struggle any longer? Even up until the day Jesus Christ hung naked, bleeding and bruised upon the cross of Calvary men and women were still struggling and striving to please their Father who was in heaven. Even up to the moment Jesus hung there upon that cross men and women diligently strove with both God and man to be accepted. When we come to the New Testament, one of the single greatest realities we encounter is that Jesus came to the earth to eliminate all striving and struggling before the Father in heaven. When Jesus came to the earth He came bringing grace and truth with Him as He sought to bring men and women into that place where they no longer have to strive before the Father. Do you know that you don’t have to strive to please the Father? Do you know that you don’t have to struggle to find acceptance before the Father? If you are continuing to strive and struggle before the Father, I would dare say to you in love that you have not accepted and embraced the work of Jesus upon the cross of Calvary. When I read the words “her warfare is accomplished,” I can’t help but see a powerful word to the bride of Christ. This chapter within the prophetic book of Isaiah was directed to Jerusalem, and is found in the portion of the book that begins to speak encouragement to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. If this particular chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah points to the beginning and opening of the New Testament, than one of the single greatest realities surrounding the New Testament is that our struggle is over and our striving has ceased. Jesus came to this earth to eliminate any and all struggling and striving to find acceptance before the Lord, and to please Him. It is in Christ and in the finished work of the cross that we find acceptance before the Father and are found in right standing before the Lord. In the Old Testament we find a constant striving and struggling to find acceptance and forgiveness before God, and the Tabernacle and Temple were implemented in the midst of the people of God to they could enjoy fellowship, communion and intimacy with Him. The Old Testament is replete with examples of men and women who continually struggled and strove with God in order to find acceptance in His sight. Even the system of sacrifice and offerings represent a striving and struggle before the Lord, for one needed to present their offerings and gifts continually before the Lord. Men and women needed to continually bring and present their gifts and offerings to the Lord in order that the priests might offer them before the Lord as a sacrifice on their behalf.
The words “that her warfare is accomplished” and “her iniquity is pardoned” are incredible signposts which point men and women to the New Testament. When we begin reading this second portion of the prophetic book of Isaiah we find the prophet beginning to point men to the Messiah, and more specifically to the work of the Messiah upon the cross. It is unclear whether or not Isaiah actually saw the instrument of death which the Messiah would experience death, but it is true that he saw the suffering of the Messiah. I am convinced that these words spoken and written by the prophet Isaiah point men and women to the reality of the New Covenant—the reality that the Lord would bring to and put an end to the striving and suffering of man through the life and work of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ we not only see the complete end to our striving and struggling, but we also find pardon and forgiveness for our sins. John the Baptist emerged on to the scene as the forerunner for the Messiah—as the one who would prepare men for the arrival of the kingdom of heaven. The prophet Isaiah goes on to write “The voice of him that criers in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. And all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 40:3-5). These words directly apply to John the Baptist, and it was John the Baptist himself who quoted these words when questioned and asked concerning his identity. John the Baptist was the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” and “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” It would be John the Baptist who would prepare a people for the coming of the Messiah through baptism—a baptism of repentance in the waters of the Jordan River. John the Baptist prepared a people to receive the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but he also prepared them to cease their striving and struggling. Baptism was the first act in their moving away from striving and struggling, while belief in Jesus Christ, and faith in His finished work upon the cross would ultimately bring men to the place where they would no longer have to strive or struggle, but trust and believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
I read the words of the prophet Isaiah and I find them to be a powerful signpost that points to the reality of the New Covenant—a covenant that would be sealed with the blood of Jesus the Christ as He gave His life as a ransom for many. I read these words and I find a tremendous and powerful picture of how we must arrive at that place where our striving and struggling ceases, and where our iniquity is pardoned. I believe with all my heart the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is declaring unto men and women that not only can their sins be pardoned and forgiven, but also that they no longer have to strive or struggle. What’s more, is that when you continue reading this chapter you will discover references to idols which were made by the hands of men. The prophet Isaiah not only pointed men and women to the reality of a struggle that has drawn to a close, but also to the reality of sins forgiven. What an absolutely incredible place it is for our sins to be forgiven and our struggle to please and find acceptance before the Lord to draw to a close. The single greatest and most secure place in all the earth is in Christ as we allow ourselves to be found in Him, as we live and move and have our being in Him. Our identities are no longer found and wrapped up within ourselves, but are now found in the life and person of Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah not only points men to the reality that their struggle is over and that their sins are forgiven, but also that idols are utterly and completely futile and worthless. “To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto Him? The workman melted a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. HE that is so impoverished that he hath no oblations chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved” (Isaiah 40:18-20).
Within this passage of Scripture the prophet goes on to powerfully and wonderfully distinguish and set apart the Lord of hosts, the Holy One of Israel from idols. IN other words, in order to truly embrace the reality that our struggle and striving is over, we must forsake and abandon all the idols, images and false gods we have made and allowed to creep and enter into our lives. With this ceasing to strive and struggle must also come the complete and total abandonment and abolishing of every idol, image and false god we have made—even false images of the God we profess to serve. Let us read these words from the prophet Isaiah and understand them to be a powerful signpost that points us to the end of our struggling and striving—the life and finished work of Jesus Christ. Let us read these words from the prophet Isaiah and recognize them to be a powerful signpost that points us to the ultimate source of our forgiveness of all our iniquity—the blood of Jesus which began being shed at His betrayal and continued to be shed even after His death until He was brought down from upon the cross. My dear brother, my dear sister—your days of striving and struggling are over, and your iniquity can be pardoned and forgiven. Behold the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world, for this Lamb is your Lamb and He came to deliver and set you free from all attempts to strive to receive the acceptance and blessing of the Lord. There is no need for you to pretend to be someone else you are not in order to receive and secure the blessing of the Father. The Lord is speaking comfortably to you today and calling out of that place of struggling and striving, and into that place of grace and mercy. Your days of serving your cruel taskmasters of sin, iniquity and rebellion must draw to a close as you are forgiven of your iniquity and walk in the newness of life as you are a new creation. Old things have passed away and old things are passing away, and you are becoming a new creation before and in Christ, and are not only loved, but are the beloved of the Father. Read these words with tremendous hope and encouragement for that is the spirit and context that surrounds them. These words mark the end of judgment and condemnation as there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Let us live in the power and freedom of no more struggling and striving, and our sins being pardoned and forgiven by the Lord of hosts.