Tag Archives: Isaiah 66

I Don’t Want to Ruin the Surprise

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
Isaiah 66:22-24 (NIV)

Today we end our long journey through Isaiah’s prophetic tome. Granted, it’s a long slog at 66 chapters. Yikes! We started in late September last year. Isaiah’s work ends with a vision of the end times. It’s what theologians call eschatology: the study of the end times and the final destiny of humankind. Once again, there are clear connections between Isaiah’s vision in today’s chapter and that of John in Revelation.

The study of eschatology has never been an exact science.  Intelligent, knowledgable, and sincere scholars have forever argued this theory and that theory regarding how all things are going to end. I was raised in the conservative protestant evangelical tradition to believe that Jesus would someday call all believers on earth to be “raptured” to heaven, triggering a seven-year tribulation of hell on earth, followed by the return of Jesus to earth, the imprisonment of Satan, and a 1,000 year reign of Christ, followed by a final battle and judgment in which the saved go to heaven and the unsaved go to hell.

There are countless other versions of the end times in which the same Biblical texts are interpreted a myriad of different ways. There are versions in which there is no rapture, or the rapture will happen half-way into the tribulation, or the rapture will happen after the seven years of tribulation. There are versions in which there is no 1,000 year reign, or perhaps the 1,000 year reign has all already happened, or perhaps it’s happening all right now, or perhaps it will never happen literally, or perhaps it will happen but with no real eternal damnation, or perhaps… you get the picture.

When I was younger I studied it all more fervently, presented my own interpretation more dogmatically, and took it all more seriously. The longer I’ve continued in my journey following Jesus the less important it has become to me. Please don’t read what I’m not writing. I will forever continue my journey into God’s Message and pursue Christ. I have just noticed along my journey that we who claim to follow Jesus have historically been quick to place too much importance on theological litmus tests at the expense of the only two things that Jesus Himself said were truly important.

This morning I’m thinking about Wendy. My wife hates when surprises are ruined. She will blissfully ignore hints, turn a blind eye, and put things out of her mind if she thinks that it might ruin what is intended to be an eventual surprise. When Jesus was asked about His return He deferred knowledge and said, basically, “it’s a surprise.” I think I’ve adopted Wendy’s attitude as my theological bent toward eschatology. It was obviously meant to be a surprise.

So, taking a cue from Wendy, I think I’ll let the whole end-time thing be the surprise Jesus intended. Today, I’ll just keep focused doing the two things Jesus said were important for me to do:

  • Love Him.
  • Love others (even Amillenialists)

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Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 66

Rally cap. You'll see all this and burst with joy
   —you'll feel ten feet tall—
As it becomes apparent that God is on your side
   and against his enemies
. Isaiah 66:14 (MSG)

A couple of years ago Wendy and I took Taylor and Clayton to an Iowa Cubs game. The game looked to be a real downer as the I-Cubs were losing by three runs going into the bottom of the ninth. Then, the four of us witnessed the quintessential baseball moment. It was Casey at the Bat come to life. The Cubs loaded the bases, and with two outs and the count full at 3 and 2, there was just one pitch to determine the outcome of the game. Everyone was on their feet. The crowd was going crazy. It happened. Our hometown boy knocked it out of the park for a Grand Slam to win the game. We walked out of the park that night feeling ten feet tall. I will never forget that game.

There is nothing quite like the moment of victory for an athlete or a fan. I think we all have experienced the thrill of victory at one time or another. The last second shot goes in. Coming from behind against impossible odds to win the match. A Hail Mary pass is caught in the end-zone.

God promised salvation through Jesus, and delivered in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. He has also promised an ultimate victory for any who would believe. We will all know a bottom-of-the-ninth Grand Slam to rival no other. We will stand and feel ten feet tall as we witness God victorious.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and dim7chord