The study of prophecy is truly fascinating and we must understand its purpose to benefit from it as God intended. First, I may say what it is not; it is not to enable us to predict future events.
Jesus clarifies the issue in John 13 : 19, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He.” Yes, through the prophets God revealed His plans so that later, when the events forecasted happen, our faith is strengthened and we can believe the promises of God. During the second Sunday in advent, we read the prophecy contained in Isaiah 40, which pertains to the Christmas story in that it foretells the work of John the Baptist. But it does not stop there; God revealed to Isaiah the events to follow at the end of the age, some twenty-six hundred years beyond Isaiah’s lifetime! I would like to look at the prophecy in more detail, contained in Isaiah chapter 40.
Verse 1 opens with, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received at the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” This part of the prophecy refers to a distant future, since the city was destroyed by the emperor Titus after the crucifixion; this occurred about six hundred years after the life of Isaiah.
Then, comes the prophecy regarding John the Baptist. Verse 3 “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” So, we have the prophecy. What of the event foretold? Look to Mark 1:2-4, “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”
And then, Isaiah leaps two centuries to the end of the age with the following; verses 4 & 5, “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.” Jesus amplifies this declaration in Matthew 24: 27 & 30, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. And then shall appear the the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall ALL the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” So again, here is the confirmation of the prophecy in that Jesus states that He is coming in glory and that ALL men shall see it.
Verse 10 tells us, “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand and His Arm shall rule for him: Behold, His reward is with Him and His work before Him.” The arm of God is mentioned many times in scripture and in to-day’s language, we would refer to Jesus as His right hand man. Yes, it says that Jesus, his right arm and strong hand Shall RULE FOR HIM! The apostle Paul speaks of this coming event in 1st Corinthians 15:24&28, “Then cometh the end when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject to Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” Isaiah’s declaration that, “His reward is with Him and His work before Him” is confirmed by Jesus in His book of Revelation 22:12, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” So, we can look forward to working with Jesus in His Kingdom to accomplish His purpose, armed with the tools and knowledge to perform the tasks assigned. Hallelujah!
In verse 11 we find these words, “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” In Genesis 49:10, Jacob, blessing his son Judah, proclaims, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering. of the people be.” A further reference is found in a discourse of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24:31, “And He shall send His angels with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Yes, Jesus will gather His people into His kingdom where they will reign with Him as kings and priests. And at that time all iniquity will be removed from the kingdom and it shall not be defiled by any sin.
I find it fascinating that the prophecy of Isaiah has verification in the New Testament and that the story told by the Bible is consistent, whether told twenty-six hundred years ago or at any time since.
l would like to give the last word on this subject to St. Peter, who in his second letter, chapter 1:19-21, declares, “we have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”