The Arm of Flesh; Isaiah 31-35
December 1, 2014

C. R. Oliver

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December 1, 2014

The Arm of Flesh
Isaiah 31-35


Chapter 31

          The opening lines of this great condensed work form a principle of the Lord. He will not tolerate His people using man's means. It has been tried in success programs, implementing agendas in government and religion, as well as, personal dependency…it always fails.

Isa 31:1-2
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
And rely on horses,
Who trust in chariots because they are many,
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
Nor seek the LORD!

Now this is His Principle:

2 Yet He (the Lord) also is wise and will bring disaster,
And will not call back His words,
But will arise against the house of evildoers,
And against the help of those who work iniquity.
(These verses prompt a question.) Who wants to be in the place where God has to use such a response? Yet ministries and men continue to "go their own way."

One may ask, "Why do you continue to point out this factor?" The answer is simple, because men like to line up with power, they like to reason their opportunities and dictate their own lives.

Proverbs 3: 5, 6 says,

'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, Lean NOT on your own understanding, In all thy ways acknowledge Him And He shall direct thy paths.'

How much simpler formula does man need????????

The Study:

The balance of this chapter is very localized to the time frame of Isaiah. It is an assurance that Assyria will fail and the Hand of the Lord is responsible for their failure. This is an assurance that He defends Jerusalem (not some man).

(This is evident even today with the protection Israel has experienced, especially Jerusalem.)

Isaiah 31:5
So will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem.
Defending, He will also deliver it;
Passing over, He will preserve it

Chapter 32

          A brief summation will suffice for this prophecy. It is linked to the previous word and is about the defeat of the Assyrians (Sennacherib). The low estate of the people of God is reviewed as Isaiah calls an end to their ignorance and low esteem. (Probably under Ahaz the demoralization took place, but a new king and a reign of righteousness will rectify their estate.)

Isaiah, no doubt, describes the reign of Hezekiah.

Isaiah 32:1-2
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice.
2 A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Two powerful promises emerge. First, the people will regain their spiritual hearing and their spiritual eyes. (Eyes that see not and ears that hear not continue in darkness and represent a curse.) Second, discernment will return to the people of God. They will no longer be a part of calling evil good and good evil.

Isaiah 32:5
5 The foolish person will no longer be called generous,
Nor the miser said to be bountiful;

The principles of God will be re-established.

Isaiah 32:8 A generous man devises generous things, And by generosity he shall stand.

The prophet warns of a bumpy road of austerity that will precede the "reign of righteousness." Isaiah does what Amos did before him; he addresses the "ladies of luxury," who have adopted a lifestyle of materialism. Amos called them "cows of Bashan," which was a most unpopular characterization. Isaiah tells them to prepare themselves for austerity.

Isaiah 32:9-11
Rise up, you women who are at ease, Hear my voice; You complacent daughters, Give ear to my speech. 10 In a year and some days You will be troubled, you complacent women; For the vintage will fail, The gathering will not come. 11 Tremble, you women who are at ease; Be troubled, you complacent ones; Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare, And gird sackcloth on your waists.

Even though there is a period of calamity and ruin, there is coming a time when God makes all things right for them. These passages offer the "blessed Hope," as they branch in two directions.

First, Isaiah declares the onset of change will be when the Spirit is poured out upon them. That which happened in the Upper Room caused Israel and the world, which had no message for 400 years, to hear the gospel in amplified terms. Wildernesses of ignorance were overcome by the planting of the Lord. The fields were white to harvest.

Second, Righteousness was loosed from the bondage of religious tradition, and its offspring were "quietness" and "peaceful habitation" and "assurance" forever!

Isaiah 32:15-33:1
15 Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
17 The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
19 Though hail comes down on the forest,
And the city is brought low in humiliation.

20 Blessed are you who sow beside all waters,
Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.

Next, that wonderful verse 20 comes into focus. It is the great missionary passage where blessings flow toward those who "sow beside all waters." Reports from vast fields of evangelism ministered to by God's saints are a continual source of inspiration and edification to the body. Those who travel to the fields, and those who send them supplies and cover them with prayers, are blessed.

Chapter 33

Spoken to the haughty Assyrians, the Lord's response to His people's faith is massive.

First, The Lord declares their defeat. Though their army generals were, at that moment, sizing up Jerusalem as to the amount of booty they would gather in victory, God assures the prophet it will be Israel who will garner spoils (even the lame will have their share).

Second, the Lord intended to address the nations through His actions. When He brings down Assyria, it will be a testimony of His power to all the other governments.

Isaiah 33:10-13
10 But the Lord says, 'I will stand up and show my power and might. 11 You Assyrians will gain nothing by all your efforts. Your own breath will turn to fire and kill you. 12 Your armies will be burned to lime, like thorns cut down and tossed in the fire. 13 Listen to what I have done, O nations far away! And you that are near, acknowledge my might!'

(Next is an Open Letter to the fearful and unbelieving: "Your meditations have come up to Me.")

Isaiah 33:14
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"

Unfortunately, verse 14 is the question of the day for most moderns. Under the threat of armed aggression, acts of terrorism and threats from the ungodly, the power of the Lord slips from their view. Yet, THE message for today is taken from Elisha, "Lord, open His eyes" in order for his servant to see the army of God above every soldier.

Righteousness prevails!

(God's response to people of faith is His provision in spite of the odds.)

Isaiah 33:15-16 15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.

The faith-filled person will see a defeated Assyria and their enemy's broken navy. They will see a peaceful Jerusalem, while having been supplied with food and water. Jerusalem's inhabitants will not be sick and their sins will be forgiven. What greater assurances could any people have?

Isaiah 33:22
22 For the LORD is our Judge,
The LORD is our Lawgiver,
The LORD is our King;
He will save us;

Isaiah 33:24
4 And the inhabitant will not say, "I am sick";
The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.

Chapter 34

          This message is primarily directed toward Edom. The chapter opens with a word to the nations that God will judge all nations like He judged Edom and the cliff dwellers of Petra. The opening verses of Obadiah's prophecy suffice for an example to any haughty nation who comes against God's people. (Obadiah preceded Isaiah in chronology.)
Obadiah 1-4
1:1 In a vision the Lord God showed Obadiah the future of the land of Edom. 'A report has come from the Lord,' he said, 'that God has sent an ambassador to the nations with this message: 'Attention! You are to send your armies against Edom and destroy her!' 2 'I will cut you down to size among the nations, Edom, making you small and despised. 3 'You are proud because you live in those high, inaccessible cliffs. "Who can ever reach us way up here!' you boast." Don't fool yourselves! 4 Though you soar as high as eagles, and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you plummeting down,' says the Lord.

There really is very little difference between the prophetic words given by these two men of God. One variant is apparent. That is a universal promise to the nations, and I believe it speaks to the current time.

Isaiah 34:1-4
34:1 Come here and listen, O nations of the earth; let the world and everything in it hear my words. 2 For the Lord is enraged against the nations; his fury is against their armies. He will utterly destroy them and deliver them to slaughter. 3 Their dead will be left unburied, and the stench of rotting bodies will fill the land; the mountains will flow with their blood. 4 At that time the heavens above will melt away and disappear just like a rolled-up scroll, and the stars will fall as leaves, as ripe fruit from the trees.

Judgment time has come, not only for those who have maligned Israel, but for those who have persecuted all of God's children. These verses reach far into the future and incorporate End-Time days. The nations are lining up now for judgment. Just as Edom thought itself impregnable, in actuality, they were "sitting ducks" for God's earthquake. (An earthquake opened a path through the mountains that did not require going over the top and passing through Petra. It's magnificent palaces and stone work are, to this day, the habitat of jackals.)

Chapter 35:

Keeping the last days theme, this chapter is filled with God's promises for those who wait for Him.

Isaiah 35:3-6
Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
'Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.

Verse 4 should be the order of our day! The number of the fearful mounts daily, and the message most hear is "doom, despair, misery and woe, if it weren't for bad luck, there'd be no luck at all."

Looking down centuries, Isaiah's words might well have inculcated both Jesus' first and second coming. During Jesus' earthly ministry, verses five and six became common place. When He comes the second time, those verses will burst forth and become common place once again upon the earth, like streams in a desert.

One of the greatest passages in Isaiah comes next.

The "highway of Holiness" is described, along with its occupants, who are the righteous and the redeemed! (I used this passage extensively in the Regal Pair.)
Isaiah 35:8-36:1
8 A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.
But the redeemed shall walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The Highway of Holiness is not an extension of the "yellow brick road," and its destination is not whimsical Oz. Holiness is a requirement for heaven, regardless of current trends and theology. Verse eight makes a declaration as to who will not be on this highway. The description could approximate whole congregations today!

There are, however, certain promises for those who are "walking the walk."
Verse eight says the travelers on that highway will not veer to the right or left; they will not wander off (though fools…are these Holiness Fools?).

On that road there are no detour signs, no obstacles or threats. The redeemed, the ransomed of the Lord, have nothing to fear. The heavenly Zion is visible and their destination assured, for they will move along with Song. Everlasting (eternal) joy will surround their heads (ie: picture of The Glory of God), and they "shall obtain" joy and gladness as sorrow and sighing flee away.
(Sorrow and Sadness can't travel that highway.)

Hallelujah, Glory to God… (Pardon Me: I must burst forth with tongues)!

(The last lines of this chapter were taken and put to music. Often when I hear services include this Scripture Song, I wonder if the congregation even knows it is the song sung on the Holiness Highway?)

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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