The the book of the prophet Isaiah, and the Revelation of John can both be a bit hard to understand at times, because they are written as apocalypses. An apocalypse is a specific type of prophecy, written to warn or comfort readers in a time of crisis, by retelling a vision the author has had from God, in which God’s provides His heavenly perspective on current events in the light of history’s final outcome. So both the readings today talk of the “end times” when Jesus will return, yet both books also speak to the events of their own times as well.
In the final chapter of Isaiah (66) we continue to see the contrast between those who reject God and do not repent of their own sin, and those who humble themselves before God. We are reminded of God’s contempt for ceremonial services in the absence of moral righteousness. Our attempts to meet God through building a temple are ludicrous in the light of Him using the earth He created as a footstool. In contrast there is rejoicing with “the servants” who will inherit the New Jerusalem where God will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream.
Beyond God’s deliverance of Israel from Babylon, we also see the culmination of God’s plan to save all who turn to Jesus who will declare God’s glory to all the world.
and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord.
Since John borrowed heavily from the language of the old testament prophets, you’ll notice obvious parallels between our Isaiah 66 and Revelation 19 readings. John has just finished describing the fall of Babylon in chapter 18, which is actually code for the Roman Empire to his first century readers, but more broadly for later readers represents all kingdoms of this world that require allegiance to them rather than God. Now he moves on to describing rejoicing in heaven, much like rejoicing with Jerusalem in Isaiah.
And just like Isaiah describes God’s calling to himself people from all nations and tongues to witness and declare his Glory, so John describes The Marriage Supper of the Lamb where the bride, who we know is the church, has made herself ready.
The final part of Revelation 19 describes the judgement of the Lord. The Word of God riding at the head of an army in white. Notice that even before the battle, his robe is dipped in blood. His own sacrificial blood, by which He has saved those who ride with him, and by which He ultimately conquers the world. And it is from the mouth of the Word of God that justice will come.
From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
And yes we read something like this earlier in Isaiah 66
For by fire will the Lord enter into judgement,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the Lord shall be many.
Both our passages today talk of the judgement of the Lord for the wicked, and the proud who rebel against God and insist on their own power, but also of His salvation of those who are the servants (Isaiah) who have humbled themselves, and the Bride (Revelation) who has made herself ready.
As you read these passages today, do you stand among the proud or among the servants? Are you fulfilling God’s plan as one of the multitude called to Himself to both witness and proclaim His glory to the world?
Why not take a moment to think about the plans for your day, your week, your year, in the light of history’s final outcome, and consider whether it moves you to rethink them. When you have, why not tell God about your conclusions in prayer.