This is the first study in a series that focuses on what I am calling “the necessity of the gospel.” The idea is that, although the gospel was not revealed until the Lord Jesus Christ was incarnate and then went to the cross and was gloriously resurrected, the gospel is necessary to understand many of the passages of the Old Testament. What I mean by this will become apparent as we proceed in our studies. The first illustration will be from Isaiah 12.
The prophecy of Isaiah contains more foreshadows of the Messiah than perhaps any other book in the Old Testament. In the pages of Isaiah are many vivid and explicit prophecies of Jesus that are clearly fulfilled when He finally appears in the flesh. These are some of the most well-known of the passages in the entire Old Testament.
But there are also passages in Isaiah which describe events that are impossible to explain or understand except through the lens of the gospel. Isaiah 12:1-3 is such a passage, which requires the gospel to make sense of what occurs. In this way, Isaiah 12:1-3 shows the necessity of the gospel.
Then you will say on that day,
“I will give thanks to You, O LORD;
For although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me.” Isaiah 12:1
For the one who is carefully considering the words before him, the mysteries and the questions leap off the page and they spring from the text.
- What is this day called “that day,” the day in which the LORD’s anger is turned away and is replaced by the LORD’s comfort?
- Why was the LORD angry in the first place?
- Most importantly, how is it possible for the LORD’s wrath, which is always holy and righteous and just, to ever be turned away? Once the LORD’s wrath has been kindled, how can it ever be quenched?
We will leave these questions unanswered for now as we move on to verse two.
“Behold, God is my salvation! I will trust and not be afraid.
For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
Although it is not explicitly stated or clearly explained here, the second verse offers some clues to the answers to the questions posed in the first verse.
Isaiah boldly proclaims, “God is my salvation!” Now if God has indeed become Isaiah’s “salvation,” then that would explain why God’s anger is turned away, but immediately other questions rise up to take their place.
- How did God become his “salvation” rather than his Judge?
- How is it possible to trust the LORD as your Savior rather than be afraid of the LORD’s judgment?
How do we answer these questions? If we search in religion or philosophy for these answers, we search in vain. Only the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ answers all the questions about our salvation. These few verses in Isaiah 12 show the necessity of the gospel, the gospel that proclaims that, through the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross and through faith in Him, the Lord’s just and righteous anger against the sinner is completely and forever quenched and in place of the wrath of God is instead the love and comfort of God, a love that is as the love of a perfect father for his beloved child. It is the gospel alone that accomplishes such a radical reversal in which the sinner is justly forgiven of all his sin and is instead declared righteous.
Notice how the gospel answers the questions that were raised by our text.
- What is “that day” (V. 1,4)? In this context, “that day” is the day of salvation, the day when a person first places their faith in the Lord and trusts Jesus for salvation. It is the day they are “born again” (John 3:3-8). It is the day they first repent of their sins.
- Why was the LORD angry? The Lord is holy and is perfectly pure and righteous. The LORD’s wrath is His settled response to all sin and unrighteousness and evil. All sin will be judged and all who sin are under God’s wrath and condemnation. It is from this terrifying situation that every person must be rescued.
- How is it possible for the Lord’s wrath to ever be turned away? Once the Lord’s wrath has been kindled, how can it ever be quenched? The Bible declares, “The soul that sins will die (Ezekiel 18:4).” Also, “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” All are therefore justly under God’s awful wrath. But when any sinner trusts in Jesus, the wrath of God toward that sinner is wholly quenched and God’s wrath instead is fully expended on Christ on the cross and His wrath is thus justly satisfied. For the one who trusts in Jesus, the Lord’s wrath is turned away and the sinner is brought into the family of God as an adopted child.
- By placing my faith and trust in Jesus, God ceases to be my Judge and immediately becomes my Savior. My dread of God’s judgment is replaced by a trust that He will accept Jesus’ death on the cross as the death that I deserved to die for my sin and that God will impute Christ’s perfect righteousness to my account. (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18)
Then Isaiah 12:3 says: “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” Because of the gospel, my joy is made full and my salvation is secured.
Thus we see the necessity of the gospel. It is only the saving gospel of Jesus Christ that allows us to make sense of the startling transformation described in Isaiah 12:1-3.
SDG rmb 10/23/2017
Next: 2 Samuel 12:13