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Saturday, November 7, 2020

ALTAR OF THE ALMIGHTY – Part Two of Two


Meeting in the Sanctuary of PSALM 22 and ISAIAH 53

~ by James Fire

Abraham, the one that Scripture refers to as “the friend of GOD” was called upon to offer up his son, Isaac. Undoubtedly, this would be an extreme test for any loving father, but more so for Abraham, because it was first of all, his only son (at least the only one that GOD recognized, discounting Ishmael as a son of promise, but a work of the flesh (self-will) see GAL 4:28-31), and the only means by which the LORD would fulfill His promises to Abraham, as there were no other sons.

It was in Abraham’s obedience by faith, that he came to realize that the LORD would simply have to raise Isaac from the dead once he killed him. Yet, he never had the chance – GOD stopped him and pronounced Abraham’s faith as true and genuine.
Previously, he was asked by Isaac about the sacrifice that he intended to offer up to the LORD and Abraham’s response is telling:

GENESIS 22:8
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together
.

Not, “GOD will provide for Himself” but rather “GOD will provide Himself” – and we know Who the LAMB of GOD is, don’t we?

This is why I believe that Abraham saw in a vision what would transpire on Calvary, some thousands of years later – the death, burial, and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ:

GENESIS 22:14
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen

What was it that would be seen? That which I believe God revealed to Abraham on that mount where he offered up Isaac - that there would come a day when another Father would offer up His Son as a sacrifice on the Altar of the Almighty (JOHN 3:16; 8:56)! Let us know look into this chapter from the book of ISAIAH.

We have to backtrack a bit into chapter 52 to get the full scope of this Messianic prophecy:
ISAIAH 52:13
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high
.
This is speaking of GOD’s servant of righteousness (vs. 11); this relates to the four-fold meaning of “the branch” as outlined in Dr. Scofield’s notes on ISAIAH 4:2:
(1) "The Branch of Jehovah" (Isaiah 4:2), that is, the "Immanuel (GOD with us)" character of Christ (Isaiah 7:14) to be fully manifested to restored and converted Israel after His return in divine glory (Matthew 25:31).
(2) the "Branch of David" (Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15) that is, the Messiah, "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3) revealed in His earthly glory as King of kings, and Lord of lords;
(3) Jehovah's "Servant, the Branch" (Zechariah 3:8) Messiah's humiliation and obedience unto death according to; (Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Philippians 2:5-8) [Note: this is where we will focus for this TTUF Study; JF].
(4) the "man whose name is the Branch" (Zechariah 6:12-13) that is His character as Son of man, the "last Adam," the "second Man" (1 Corinthians 15:45-47) reigning, as Priest-King, over the earth in the dominion given to and lost by the first Adam.
Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch of David" [the King of Israel]; Mark of "Jehovah's Servant, the Branch" [servant of GOD]; Luke of "the man whose name is the Branch" [Son of man]; John of "the Branch of Jehovah. [Son of GOD]".
The selfless, sacrificial, humble Jesus of Nazareth because of His willing humiliation will “be exalted and extolled” (PHIL 2:8-11) and declared both LORD and Christ (ACTS 2:36), exalted as the Name above every name! Yet before this honor, comes humility (PROV 15:33).

ISAIAH 52:14
14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men

Isaiah is given revelation knowledge about how the LORD would be abused. The verbiage in this verse strongly suggests that He would be beaten beyond any recognition as a man. To be “astonied” in the Hebrew sense of the world is “to cause horror and consternation, to be made desolate and ruined, destroyed and ravaged of face and body”. 

We all caught just a glimpse of the brutal savagery of what was done to Christ in the portrayal: The Passion of the Christ. While we cannot endorse the film for its affirmation of various mythic contrivances, it at least presents a semblance (understated though it was) of how Christ suffered physically (to say nothing of the greater spiritual suffering He endured, for the sake of His love for us!).

ISAIAH 52:15
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider
.

“SprinkI[ing] in this sense is a Levitical term, for the high priest was to take the blood of the offering and sprinkle the people of Israel, declaring them guiltless of their sin (EXOD 24:8), though the blood of animals merely covered over their sin, but did not expiate (remove) their sin. Only the LAMB of GOD’s blood has done this under the New Testament (HEB 10:3-9) – and “He shall sprinkle many nations”. 

I think that there could be a two-fold perspective of the above verse. Certainly no man ever suffered to the depths that Christ suffered, and those who beheld Him first hand would be struck mute at the agonizing brute force with which He was beaten; throughout history, it would be proclaimed all the things that the KING of Kings suffered, and all of the lesser regents of the world, and especially the meek of heart would be humbled to hear of such devotion by such a king that would serve His servants in this astounding way.

I also think that the rulers of this world, for all their earthly pomp and majesty (mundane by comparison) as opposed to the glory of heavenly splendor of Christ’s own reign, will be struck mute when He arrives in the fullness of His power and glory to take up His rightful rule over the Earth that He redeemed by His own blood!

This reminds me of HABAKKUK 1:5, though while it refers to GOD’s Judgment in using Babylon against His people Israel, we know that the Father has given all judgment to the Son (JOHN 5:22), that He is coming with fire and fury (2 THESS 1:7-9) and that such awesome holiness and power displayed by GOD the Son will stop every mouth (2 THESS 1:10; ROM 3:18-19).

ISAIAH 53:1
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

The very idea of GOD assuming flesh and blood, sharing in our humanity, and then offer up Himself, the Holy One of Israel as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire fallen race is something far beyond the scope of any of the religions of the world! Every religion demands deeds and rules and regulations “to do” in order either to be saved or even only eligible to be saved. 

Only in the Christian faith, is it stated that “it is done” (PSALM 22:31). These are the very words of Christ on the cross (JOHN 19:30). “[T]he arm of the LORD” is mentioned previously in ISAIAH 51:1-10; esp. vs.9; where mighty acts of GOD are magnified. Saints are encouraged to “seek the LORD [‘the rock’]” and the LORD Himself promises to comfort Zion, that His “righteousness is near”, and His “salvation has gone forth” – and He states that “on Mine arm they trust”. The arm of the LORD was pierced, as was His other, and by this One “mighty to save” (ISAIAH 63:1), is this revelation of the Gospel is revealed!

ISAIAH 53:2
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him
.

He (GOD the Son) shall grow up before Him (GOD the Father) as a tender plant, that is a young shoot, vibrantly green and teeming with life (JOHN 1:4; 7:37-39) – in the midst of dry ground which is sparse in life if not utterly bereft of such. And while the inward is overflowing with the potency of eternal life, the outward has no beauty or fairness by which those who are blessed with such, find others easily attracted to them. 

Not so with Jesus – there was no Hollywood stardom in His visage that we would desire Him or take delight in any good looks.
Only those who are spiritually hungry would see the true beauty that is in Jesus, and be attracted to Him on that basis, rather than a carnal one.
It’s my personal belief that when we see the LORD in His glorified state, He will no longer bear the humility of base features, but be seen outwardly as handsome and beautiful as He has always been inwardly! 
Perhaps that is why, after He resurrected in that glorified body, His disciples had trouble recognizing Him?

ISAIAH 53:3
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not
.

This world is full of rejects – those who don’t fall within the norm and seen as odd, either in appearance, status, or behavior. I myself was such a reject, often alone and friendless as a child growing up because of my ‘weird’ appearance.

The LORD Jesus Christ should have been eagerly and enthusiastically received, for Who He is – the very embodiment of love, truth, grace and holiness; yet this world crucified Him, revealing their wickedness of heart; which is precisely why He was rejected and hated!
JOHN 15:18
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

JOHN 7:7
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil
He relates to the rejects of this world, those humbled and humiliated because of their appearance, status, or behavior. He is the Friend to the friendless and receives those that this world despises.
Those beautiful outwardly, who have abundance in wealth, possessions, position, so-called friendship, the self-sufficient see no need and have no desire for GOD; those who are poor will often see the value of other things like love, compassion, mercy, and many times are more open to the truth of the Gospel.

Even so, we all have turned from the LORD, and none of us find in ourselves the desire to seek GOD (vs. 6).
It bewilders me that GOD made flesh should experience such rejection by the very souls that He created! It reminds me of how GOD, with broken heart, comforts the prophet Samuel when Israel demanded a man for a king so that they could “be like the other nations” and said to him:
1 SAMUEL 8:7
7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them
.
There are times when I read that passage with tears, and I hurt for GOD; because for all His gentleness, His goodness, His tender compassions, and mercy – He is despised and rejected.
He came in the flesh, and dwelled among us to that we could behold first hand, His glory and majesty and beauty (JOHN 1:14) but though He came to meet with us, none of souls of this world recognized Him for Who He is (JOHN 1:10), even among His own nation of Israel (JOHN 1:11).

In the ultimate demonstration of love and grace, the LORD Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and ‘Now’ one would think, ‘He will be received and adored and worshiped, for all He has done for us.’

Not so – He is rejected, despised, disbelieved, even blasphemed by the majority of this Rebel Planet. And He Who sits at the right hand of the Father is still acquainted with grief. That is, He recognizes grief when He sees, perceives it; knows it as one would a familiar friend. Yada  is the Hebrew word that entails this word “acquaintance” – which also means “to experience fully”. Our estimation of Him accounted Him worthless. 

To be despised in the sense of our passage is to see that which is considered vile, contemptible, despicable, worthless; this is the attitude of the world towards the LAMB of GOD slain for the sins of the world!

That He would be known as “a man of sorrows” is a comfort to me, because He understands me when I am sorrowful, and I don’t have to try to force ‘happiness’ when my heart is broken, but rather look to Him as He ministers to me, this Man of sorrows, and grants to me, rather than a shallow, emotional happiness, the lasting fruit of the joy of the LORD!

ISAIAH 53:4-5
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed
.

The Two Members of the Trinity did not hold a counsel and voted in the absence of the Third Member, to have the absentee go and die for the sins of the world, and then inform Him after the vote. No, the LORD Jesus came willingly to bear our griefs, our sorrows – born themselves from sin as its evil fruit reeking of corruption, as vile as our best self-righteousness we would bring before GOD (ISAIAH 64:6).

The horrible reality of our deception reveals itself in thinking that He got what He deserved – we esteemed Him stricken of GOD, when in reality of the truth, He took upon Himself all of the punishment for our transgressions, iniquities, and sin.

Not for sins only, but for the most depraved of sins (iniquities) and not only for sins done in ignorance, but in blatant defiance of the Holy Law of GOD (transgressions, and trespasses as well).

In order for us who are citizens of this Rebel Planet to have peace with GOD, His holiness must deal with our sin; He cannot merely dismiss sin any more than a righteous judge could dismiss a serial killer of children; as much as we should demand a righteous verdict from a mere man, in the role of a judge in a human court, infinitely more may we expect righteousness from the GOD of all creation!

Thus, He received the chastisement for our sins, so that we could acquire peace with GOD, all charges against our crimes dismissed because the fines were paid by His blood! It’s because of JESUS that we are redeemed and received by our Holy GOD and Father!!

ROMANS 5:1-2,8-10
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life
.

We think of “stripes” as those inflicted upon our LORD by the Roman soldiers, and in a prophetic sense, this is true, for this was done to Him – a cat o’ nine tails, a vicious instrument that could literally rip flesh from bones! 

Yet I think in a more profound sense, these stripes were those brought down by GOD the Father, Who lashed Him with every sinful act, thought and desire of every human being who ever lived in all the history of the Earth (ROM 8:3)!

We think upon the Son of man, who suffered so terribly on our behalf, but we often forget the suffering that the Father endured, in seeing these things done upon His own precious and only begotten Son; a grief far deeper and greater than the grief experienced by Abraham in considering the slaying of his own son, Isaac.

Yet our healing of this sinful state of ours is enabled because the Father authorized this Supreme Sacrifice that both Abraham, and all of us have seen, and rejoice, because we are delivered from death and destined to divine dwelling in the glories of heaven with our GOD!

ISAIAH 53:6
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all
.

Sheep are natural born domesticated creatures; they have an inherent need to be cared for, unlike any other animal GOD created. They are prone to wander, they follow blindly other sheep that would lead them off a cliff to their death; they have no sense of direction, and if they cross the crest of a hill and are no longer in sight of the shepherd, they are immediately lost and will bleat urgently, even when there are wolves nearby. If they are caught in the rain, and their wool becomes saturated so that they are top heavy, they will fall over and not be able to right themselves.

Spiritually speaking, we are just as helpless – and to be blunt, just as stupid as sheep! The human race wanders in every degree of the compass, going off in 359 directions, but that One Degree (that 360th degree) that leads to Jesus, to life – we ignore!
This is why the LORD Jesus expressed such compassion for the multitude, for they were just like sheep without ‘the GOD Shepherd’ (MATT 9:36), wandering aimlessly towards eternal destruction.

ISAIAH 53:7
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth
.

“Oppressed” here can mean hard-pressed, which is what happens in an olive press; which is what Gethsemane means; the very place where this oppression began when our LORD prayed to the Father and was sweating drops of blood. 

In all of the violence done to Him, the horrible violation, the harsh ravishing – as the LAMB of GOD, He opened not His mouth. Had He done so, and spoken but a single word, He could have banished them all from the universe! What holy determination and fortitude to stay the course and complete this sacred sacrifice!

ISAIAH 53:8
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken
.

He was arrested, he was brought before Pilate, the Sanhedrin, and Herod and judged, then decreed to be executed (“cut off”) and buried among criminals, having no children to carry on His lineage (“who shall declare his generation?”). 

The nation of Israel rebelled against the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, preferring “their kingdom to GOD’s” as it was once said, and for their transgression, the Father struck His Son. Though He spoke no evil, much less committed any, and no one could testify otherwise; regardless, a temple soldier (JOHN 18:22-23) smote Him, but the greater blow came from the Father. 

ISAIAH 53:9
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth
.

Jesus was crucified in ignoble, deeply humiliating circumstances – between two common thieves (LUKE 23:39-43), and given no regard above them, but counted among them. He was buried in Joseph of Arimathaea’s tomb (MATT 27:57-60). The LORD Jesus gave opportunity to His enemies to inspect His life and condemn Him of any sin that they could prove – but none came (JOHN 8:46), because He is the “sinless Lamb of GOD”!

ISAIAH 53:10-11
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities
.

Why would it please the Father to bruise His Son and to put Him to grief? Because the Father as well as the Son knew that by this offering of His righteous soul as a suffering sacrifice, taking upon Himself the wrath of GOD contained in the cup of holy fury (MATT 26:42) and thus satisfying the Father’s absolute justice, so judgment would not fall upon those who place their faith in Christ (ROM 8:1-2)!

As a result, the joy of Jesus would behold the seed of His offering (HEB 12:2), the salvation of souls beyond count! “He shall see His seed” of these who are justified in His atonement (ROM 5:1-2). We bear the light burden of His yoke (MATT 11:29) as we learn of this meek and lowly in heart Savior Who bore the insurmountably heavy and burdensome weight of iniquity for us. He is pleased to come alongside us, and even in our walk with Him, take the heavier load of this yoke, allowing us the “light burden” instead. He is beyond the scope of human love and overflows in the generous offering of His own love for us, His children that He accounts as preciously dear to His Holy heart!

ISAIAH 53:12
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors
.

By covenant GOD promised Abraham a land, and a people (GEN 15); later He promised David an everlasting kingdom with his own issue on the throne of Israel (2 SAM 7; PSALM 89); both covenants are sealed and ensured at this, the Altar of the Almighty, for He shall commence the kingdom of Israel at the Father’s bidding (ACTS 1:6-7) and it shall encompass all the land that GOD promised Abraham (GEN 15:18).

He poured out His soul, as in a drink offering https://www.gotquestions.org/drink-offering.html freely given out of a devotion to us, those He was determined to redeem, though we counted Him an enemy before our conversion – His perfect love was, and is overflowing, as is His grace and peace.

He made intercession for the transgressors (LUKE 23:34); just as He will one day condemn the transgressors, He is desirous to see such souls redeemed instead – and so He continues by the Holy Spirit to minister to this fallen world (JOHN 16:8), and seek to draw them (JOHN 7:37), just as the Father Himself draws people to Jesus (JOHN 6:44), so that they cannot ignore Him, but must make a decision either for, or against Him.

That being said, there is a terminus of this offering: a time in which the grace offered to this rebellious world will come to an end. The world that is determined to refuse He Who is the Lamb of GOD will be visited by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, where the same One Who brought salvation, will render judgment and condemnation, without reprieve or parole, and sent into everlasting punishment (MATT 25:46) while those who receive this gift of eternal life (ROM 6:23) will enjoy the blessedness of fellowship with GOD!

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