In the last several posts we have been looking at Isaiah 26:19ff and considering what I have called “the eschatology of Isaiah.” At this point I want to take a short break to do some general musing about eschatology before moving on to look at Isaiah’s vision of the coming of the LORD in Isaiah 26:21.
First, I want to define the word “eschatology.” Eschatology is, from its etymology, simply the study of “last things,” from the Greek word ‘eschatos,’ meaning “last.” Of course, eschatology is much more than that. Eschatology is the study of what the Bible says will be “the last things,” what the Bible says about the events that will occur at the end of the age. These events all revolve around and relate to the bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and in glory, which has been referred to as “The Second Coming.” So, that is eschatology.
Second, I wanted to state that eschatology is a uniquely Christian concept and field of study. No other philosophy or form of religious tradition has any meaningful explanation or concept of “last things,” because no other religion has clear and consistent teaching about last things in its holy book. In fact, no other tradition even sees world history as linear and as heading toward a necessary, predetermined end, and it could be argued that all religions could go on forever, because there is no final event and no requirement for an end. By contrast, the Bible presents history as decidedly linear with a clear beginning and a certain end, both of which are determined by God. As soon as sin entered the world with Adam’s disobedience in Genesis 3, the world headed toward destruction and there arose a requirement for an ultimate judgment for sin. The Bible warns mankind that there is certainly an end coming when God will judge all sinners and the Bible uses these means to impress upon sinners the urgency of repentance and the peril of its delay. Now that Jesus has come the first time, the Second Coming (and the end) could occur at any time. As biblical revelation unfolds, the details of the end times become clearer and more detailed. Thus, Christians study what the Bible has to say about eschatology so that we may discern the signs of the times and so that we can glorify God by understanding His patience in delaying the end and we can praise Him for His holiness and righteousness in judging sin. So, only Christians study eschatology, because only Christians have anything to study.
Third, God’s plan for the “last things” (‘eschatology’) has been in place since before the foundation of the world, but God graciously reveals the features of that plan to us in the progression of Scripture. What is remarkable about the Bible is that the eschatology of Isaiah that we are looking at in these recent studies is consistent with the eschatology of Jesus in the gospels and of Paul and of Peter in the epistles, and of John in the book of Revelation. There may be a difference in the amount of detail or in the emphasis of the text, but there is nothing contradictory in these different texts. There will be a Resurrection of the righteous. The world will grow increasingly hostile toward believers as lawlessness persecution intensify. The Lord Jesus will return bodily to this earth in power and great glory to judge the earth. The wicked will be destroyed and cast into the lake of fire, along with their evil prince the devil. That is the basic framework that occurs again and again in the Bible, and this attests to the divine authorship of the Scriptures, which are breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16).
SDG rmb 12/24/2019