Chapter 23



“He shall not fail.”


I am endeavoring to give a survey of the Scriptures. But I want to give you more than a factual survey of the Bible. There are several good surveys of that kind available[1]. I want to show you the message of the Book. Specifically, I want to clearly demonstrate the fact that the message of each Book in the Book of God is Christ and him crucified. I want you to see that Christ himself is “all the counsel of God.


We now begin looking at the prophetic books. We will, of course, begin with Isaiah’s prophecy. As with other Books of Holy Scripture, the prophetic Books of the Old Testament are not arranged in chronological order. Sixteen ''holy men of God'' were chosen to write ''as they were moved by the Holy Spirit'' (2 Pet. 1:21). Their writings come at intervals covering a period of nearly 500 years.


Isaiah’s name means ''salvation of the Lord'' or ''the Lord will save.'' His prophecy is prominently placed at the beginning of the prophetic books. He is often called the prophet of redemption. Isaiah’s message might be summarized by the word of the Lord given in the fourth verse of chapter forty-two. After calling upon us to behold his Servant, the Lord God declares by the prophet, “He shall not fail.” The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Jehovah’s righteous Servant, shall not fail to fully and perfectly accomplish the work he came to do.—He shall not fail to completely save all his people (Matt. 1:21).


The prophecies of Isaiah were delivered during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Isa. 1:1). He spoke primarily to Judah prior to their exile. In the opening verse he stated that he was about to relate a vision he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem; that is to say, concerning the church and kingdom of God, represented by Judah and Jerusalem.


A Prophet


A prophet is one who receives a message from God and delivers it. The prophecy is God’s revelation of his purpose to his people. As we read the prophetic Books, we must understand them in three ways.

1.                The prophet’s message was God’s message to his people in their day.

2.                The prophets of the Old Testament declared, infallibly, things God would do in time to come.

3.                The prophet’s message is intended for God’s people in this day (in every age and place).


Isaiah’s Vision


Let’s begin this survey of Isaiah in chapter 6.


"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." (Isa. 6:1-8)


With those words the prophet of God explains his own experience of grace and ours. When Christ is revealed in a sinner’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, the very first thing experienced is a deep sense and heartfelt confession of his own depravity, sin, and helplessness. Then the sin-atoning blood of Christ is effectually applied to the heart by the power and grace of the Spirit through the preaching of the gospel, assuring the trembling, believing soul that his iniquity is purged and his sin is taken away by the blood of Christ.


      Throughout this prophecy, Isaiah speaks as a man who has seen Christ in all the fullness of his redemptive, saving glory and grace. These sixty-six chapters are full of Christ. I cannot show you every picture of Christ in the Book of Isaiah in this brief study; but I do want to show you enough that every time you read these pages in the future, I want you to see Christ leaping through every line


The Preface


The first four chapters are really introductory. They might be looked upon as the preface to the book.


      Chapter 1 shows us our need of a redeemer to make us holy and acceptable to God. Isaiah begins his prophecy with a declaration of our utter depravity and corruption and the total impossibility of self salvation (vv. 2-17). In the ninth verse, he declares that there is an elect remnant who must and shall be saved. In verse eighteen sinners are called to the obedience of faith in Christ. Then we are assured of the certainty and efficacy of Christ’s redeeming, saving work in verses 25-27. —“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness."


      In chapter 2 Isaiah tells us that the church and kingdom of God shall be established according to God’s decree and that the word of grace would go out of Zion into all the world, calling God’s elect out of every nation.


      Chapter 3 gives us this blessed word of promise and assurance, "Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings” (v. 10).


      Chapter 4 declares that the result of all this shall be the exaltation and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and the everlasting perfection and righteousness of God’s elect.


"In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning." (Isa. 4:2-4)


      Now, let’s look at some of the delightful, instructive pictures and descriptions God the Holy Spirit gives us by the pen of his servant Isaiah.


Pictures of Christ


The prophet calls our dear Savior, the Beloved, the Wellbeloved. —"Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill" (5:1). What a suitable title for the Son of God. He is indeed our Wellbeloved! Our beloved Savior is the Lord, sitting upon his throne, high and lifted up (6:1; John 12:37-41).


      In the seventh chapter the prophet of God describes our Savior as the virgin born incarnate God.—"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (7:14).—The incarnate Savior is described more fully in chapter nine.—"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (9:6-7).


      He who is the sanctuary of salvation to all who believe was long ago declared to be a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense to the self-righteous and unbelieving. —"And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken" (8:14-15).


      Isaiah declared Christ to be the Light of the world. He is the Light that shines in darkness, the Light of life, the One who is the Light of the glory of God. The only light there is in this dark, dark world is our Lord Jesus Christ. —"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (9:2). —"And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth" (49:6).


      In chapter eleven our Lord is portrayed as the Root and Branch of David, the ensign to whom chosen sinners must be gathered, and that one by whom we have both the Spirit of God and the glorious rest of faith and salvation. —"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious…And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (11:1-2, 10, 12).


      Then we read that the Lord Jesus Christ is both our God and our Salvation, the Holy One of Israel in the midst of us. —"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation…Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee" (12:2, 6).


      As I said before, I cannot possibly go over all the pictures of Christ given by Isaiah. In chapters 13 - 21 our Redeemer is set before us as the Breaker of Babylon—the Lord of Lucifer—the Master of Moab—the Destroyer of Damascus—the Executioner of Egypt, and—the Watchman’s Judge.


      Let’s move on to chapter 22. Still we can only pick up the highlights as we move along. Here the prophet of God describes Christ as the sovereign King of the universe. His rule and dominion, to those who know him, is as a nail in a sure place. Because he has earned and fully deserves it, he has all the glory of his Father’s house. —"And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons" (22:22-24).


      The Lord Jesus is the Crown of Glory and the everlasting Beauty of his people. —"In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people" (28:5). Again in chapter 28, the prophet declares that our Savior is the Foundation Stone laid in Zion (28:14-18). He is a tried Foundation, a precious Foundation, and a sure Foundation. He that believes on the Son of God, he that is built upon this Foundation shall not make haste, be in confusion, be confounded, or be put to shame.


      The Lord Jesus Christ is the only safe Refuge and sure Hiding Place for our souls.n—"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (32:1-2).


      Christ is the Giver of all grace. He is that one in whom chosen, redeemed sinners are made to see and experience the glory and excellence of our God (35:4-7). He is the way, the only way to God. —"And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (35:8-10). Christ is the high way, the holy way, the safe way, the way of the redeemed, the joyful way, and the only way (John 14:6).


      Christ is the Good Shepherd who rules and disposes of the world for the salvation of his sheep. —"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" (40:11).


      The Son of God is our great Redeemer. He says, "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (41:14). Our Redeemer is Jehovah’s Servant, chosen to be our Savior, a Servant who “shall not fail!”—"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law" (42:1-4). He is that Servant of whom the law of the bond slave (Ex. 21:1-6) was typical and by whom it was fulfilled (Isa. 50:5-7). He who is Jehovah’s unfailing, successful Servant, our Redeemer, is also our ever-present Lord Protector (43:1-5).


      Jesus Christ is the just God, our Savior, to whom alone we must look for salvation. —"Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (45:21-22).


      The Son of God is our great sin-atoning Substitute, by whose stripes we are healed (53:4-11).


      Our Lord Jesus Christ is that one who makes all things new. —"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (65:17-19).


He began making all things new when he accomplished redemption and poured out his Spirit upon all flesh (Isa. 43:18-21). He is presently making all things new for poor sinners by his grace (2 Cor. 5:17). Soon, he shall come again to complete his new creation (Rev. 21:1-7; 2 Pet. 3:9-14).

[1] It is important to understand the factual material, date, authorship and structure of each Book in Holy Scripture. But there are numerous sources from which these things can be obtained. The Guide, by Roger Ellwsworth (Evangelical Press, Darlington, England) is an excellent volume serving this purpose.