Is. 9:8-12, 21; 10:4
I remember reading through Isaiah and studying it seriously using a Navigator’s LifeChange book (which I can’t recommend highly enough). That was the first time I really sat down and read all the works of that prophet, and that was when I fell in love with his book. If someone asked me what my favorite book of the O.T. would be, I’d have to say Proverbs. But it only leads by a nose: Isaiah comes in pretty close, and it really depends on what day of the week it is.
The reason I love Isaiah so much is because it’s so complete. There’s hardly a subject of theology which isn’t addressed in Isaiah: the depths of man’s sin, the heights of God’s grace, God’s love, mercy, holiness, sovereignty, and even quite a bit on the afterlife (Heaven and Hell). And don’t forget Jesus: There are more prophecies about our Savior’s coming (1st and 2nd) in this one book than anywhere else I know of (with the possible exception of the Psalms).
But people don’t like reading the prophets. They might look here and there guided by the latest best-seller on the Second Coming to try to find out who the Anti-Christ is, but that’s about it. And one of the main reasons is the nature of passages like today’s reading.
But you miss out on so much if the only thing you look for are clues about the End Times. And today’s readings are a hint as to the sort of things you miss out on.
At first glance, it seems like other passages you might've seen elsewhere: God is ticked off at his people. It might or might not list exactly why he’s so mad, but he’s certainly mad for some reason.
I particularly remember reading chapters nine and ten together with the Navigators book, and I recall thinking to myself “Wow, I noticed something. There’s a pattern here.” Did you notice it? Isaiah keeps repeating one phrase over and over and over: “Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” The passage gives details about a specific punishment God is about to pour out on Israel, and someone might ask “So is that enough to satisfy his anger against us?” And the answer—repeatedly—is “Nope, not yet!” He’s going to hit your nation again and again and again, and it still won’t be enough! No matter how bad he hits you, it still won’t be enough to satisfy his holy anger against your sin.
Again, I remember asking myself while reading this “So what will satisfy his anger against sin? What will finally turn his anger away from them (and us)?” Then it hit me. I remember reading this phrase before, not in the Old Testament, but in the New.
1 John 2:1-2. A great alternative translation of verse 2 from the Greek would be “He is the one who turns aside God’s wrath.” The theological term is propitiation. It’s such a rich term, and unfortunately not one out of a thousand modern American Christians has ever heard of it.
It means that the righteous anger which God must (because of who he is) pour out upon our sin was poured out on Jesus on the cross, and his anger was completely satisfied. There is a way in which NASA uses the term which is really illuminating. When the Shuttle comes in from orbit, the air friction produces enough heat to burn it to a crisp. So the bottom of the shuttle is lined with tiles which provide propitiation from the heat. They’re designed to take the heat upon themselves and direct it away from the rest of the shuttle.
So it could truly be said that Jesus “took the heat” for us.
When was God’s anger against my sin satisfied? When was it turned away? How? By redirecting it upon a Man upon a cross.
Lord Jesus, what can I say to that? What measly sacrifice could I ever offer which could approach that? Thank you. I’m yours.