Yahweh Armies or the LORD God of hosts is the Holy One of Israel who called and commissioned Isaiah ben Amoz as an 8th century B.C. prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. As the one true and living God of the Bible who reigns in majesty supreme, Yahweh is the eternal Creator and gracious Redeemer of depraved sinners through the vicarious sacrifice of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Is 52:13-53:12 cf. Rm 3:25). Almighty God is sovereign in power, absolute in holiness, and exclusive in salvation in contrast to the false gods of the nations to whom Isaiah’s prophetic utterance was also directed. As the “prince of the prophets”, Isaiah’s name which means “Yahweh is salvation” (ESV Study Bible, 2008, p.1233) displayed God’s heart. Whether it was through the direct instrumentality of Israel under God’s prophetic program or in spite of them and through the Church, the Body of Christ, under God’s mystery program in the dispensation of grace today entrusted to and through the Apostle Paul, the heart of God has always been to reach the nations with the light of the knowledge of who He is and what He has done to reconcile mankind unto Himself. This research therefore establishes Yahweh’s sovereignty over false gods in Isaiah, the differences between His Creation and Great Commission mandates, the distinctions between His commissions for Israel and the Body of Christ, and the contemporary relevance of His historic and global purpose of redemption to the life and ministry of the local church.
Yahweh’s Sovereignty Over False Gods
Sovereignty as the Holy One of Israel
Call of Isaiah. Judah’s King Uzziah was dead after serving a very long and prosperous reign, no godly leadership to replace him was in sight, Judah’s enemy Assyria was building military strength, so Isaiah ben Amoz sought Yahweh for guidance (Is 6:1). In this time of national crisis, the LORD God delivered the very thing which his prophet would need to enthrall his heart in the triumphs and sustain his heart through the trials of the ministry to which Yahweh would call him. A fresh glimpse of the sovereign majesty and absolute holiness of the KING of kings and LORD of lords is what Isaiah was given in an otherwise uncertain time of insecurity (Is 6:1-8). The glorious reality of this experience is that Isaiah saw the Lord Himself “sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (Is 6:1b NKJV). Despite national instability from the finite perspective of man, Yahweh was seated on His throne ruling and reigning as the sovereign King.
Song of Seraphim. As if straight out of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, several otherworldly six-winged creatures called seraphim or “burning ones” were crying the Trisagion over the King’s throne (Sproul, 1998, p.26). They declared to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory” (Is 6:3). Reformed theologian, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains that this is the one time in God’s Holy Word that an attribute of God’s character is lifted to the third degree. This three-fold repetition is unique to God’s holiness as no other attribute is magnified to such a level as in this account of Isaiah’s call to ministry (Sproul, 1998, p.26). For the rest of his life, Isaiah’s worldview, theology, and ministry were profoundly affected as this experience indelibly impacted his heart (Beyer, 2007, p.33). In fact, the prophet’s favorite term for God was the Holy One of Israel which is he used 25 times out of the 31 occurrences in the entire Old Testament (Beyer, p.33). This name “runs like a golden thread through his entire prophecy, proving thereby the unity of the book, in the first part as well as in the second” (Bultema, 1981, p.20). It is distinctly Isaianic and many scholars agree that the term is drawn from the song of the seraphim which he heard at his consecration to the prophetic office (Bultema, p.21). Yahweh’s sovereignty as the Holy One of Israel impacted Isaiah’s life by exposing not only his own depravity but also his entire generation’s depravity in the light of the LORD’s absolute moral purity and therefore their moral accountability before the Creator of the ends of the earth.
Sovereignty as the Infinite Creator
Yahweh’s Transcendence. The LORD God is consistently demonstrated by the prophet Isaiah as the infinite Creator who is sovereign over His creation. Yahweh spoke all things into existence from nothing in six-literal twenty-four hour days just several thousand years ago (MacArthur, 2001, p.49,62-63). He is the eternally self-existent God who is “from everlasting to everlasting” the great I AM (Ps 90:2; Ex 3:14 cf. Jn 8:58). He is the God who is and the God who has spoken (Heb 11:6; 1:1-3). He is the Author and Giver of “life, breath, and all things” for it is “in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:25,27). His glory is declared by the work of His hands throughout the vast expanse of the cosmos and the heavens spangled with celestial balls of fire and gas known to Him personally by name (Ps 19:1-6; 33:6; 147:4-5 cf. Rm 1:20).
Yahweh’s Immanence. Yahweh is the transcendent God reigning in sovereign majesty above His creation but also the immanent One who is intimately involved in creation working out all things by His providential hand in accordance with the eternal counsel of His will (Rm 8:28; Eph 1:11). Isaiah upheld this reality perhaps nowhere more poignantly than in chapter 40 of his prophecy. This text systematically delivers an indictment against the impotence of the false gods of the nations which both Israel and Judah were prone to worship instead of the Holy One of Israel. “‘To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One” (Is 40:25). Yahweh is completely in His own category in contrast to the false gods of the nations. He is the Omnipotent One possessing absolute power and authority, the Omnipresent One unbound by the temporal measures of the time-space continuum which He Himself spoke into existence, the Omniscient One understanding all things from the end to the beginning, and the Omnibenevolent One who upholds His creation in unbridled redemptive love as the only Savior of mankind. Hindson rightly noted that the pagan nations around Israel were unable to testify of a god like the Holy One of Israel (Hindson, 1999, p.822). Yahweh’s sovereignty as the infinite Creator impacted Isaiah’s life by igniting the passion of his heart with unshakeable confidence in a God big enough to believe in.
Sovereignty as the Exclusive Savior
Monotheism. Judah’s spiritual heritage was rooted in the ancient Hebrew “shama’”, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut 6:4a). This compound unity affirms both the exclusive character and tri-une nature of the Godhead (Hindson, p.155). Isaiah’s ministry beckoned to the heart of God’s people to repent of their idolatrous ways and turn back to the Holy One of Israel as He is the only God and Savior. Yahweh’s glory is magnified through the salvation of depraved sinners as He alone is the Author of Salvation. “There is no other God beside Me, a just God and Savior…Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Is 45:21b,22). The uncanny difference between Yahweh’s exclusive position as the only Savior is striking here in this context as He mocks the false gods of wood and their inability to save anyone from anything let alone the LORD’s judgment against their sin (Is 45:20). Beyer said that Isaiah declared Yahweh’s absolute sovereignty as the only Savior (43:11-13) (Beyer, 2007, p.179).
Position of Privilege. Israel and Judah’s privileged position as Yahweh’s chosen people who had received the covenants of promise and the giving of the law also carried with it much responsibility. The LORD’s plan was to bring the light of the knowledge of who He is through Israel unto the nations engulfed by spiritual darkness (Gen 12:1-3; Is 60:1-3). From the vantage point of this side of the cross, it is readily evident in the testimony of Holy Scripture and clearly seen throughout the course of church history that Yahweh’s salvation was ultimately provided by the vicarious sacrifice of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Beyer, p.210-211). “The New Testament writers are unanimous in stating that the Servant of the Lord is a messianic figure and that Jesus is that Servant” (Lockyer, 1986, p.966). Yahweh’s sovereignty as the exclusive Savior impacted Isaiah’s life by driving him with a missional vision to deliver the light of truth to Judah and through them to the nations.
Yahweh’s Creation Mandate
Basic Characteristics of the Creation Mandate
Stewardship of Life. A Christian worldview rooted in Scripture affirms the Biblical precedent that mankind has been uniquely created by the LORD God in His image with a stewardship responsibility to take dominion of the physical creation for Yahweh’s glory (Gen 1:26-28). This foundational knowledge and the structure of theology built upon it is the factor that makes Isaiah along with all the Hebrew prophets unique amongst other literature of antiquity (Oswalt, 2015, ATLA Religion Database). At the heart of this worldview is the stewardship of life recognized as the managing of Yahweh’s property, resources, and priorities (Lockyer, 1986, p.1011). Having been blessed with unique gifts and abilities, God’s people are responsible before Him to surrender their time, talent, and treasure in His service as vice-regents or representatives in a world whose resources must be managed according to Biblical principles and the Christian ethic for the sake of human flourishing and the furtherance of Yahweh’s truth for His glory (ESV Study Bible, 2008, p.51-52).
Basic Characteristic #1. There is therefore three basic characteristics of the creation mandate (Beyer, 2007, p.265). The first basic characteristic of the creation mandate “commands good stewardship of the earth’s resources” (Beyer, p.265). “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28 cf. Ps 8:6-8).
Basic Characteristic #2. The second basic characteristic of the creation mandate “applies God’s principles to human relationships” (Beyer, p.265). “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gen 9:6 cf. Mt 22:37-40). All mankind from the very earliest stages of human development to the end of life possesses inherent dignity, value, and worth by virtue of having been created in the image of God. Relationships ought to be characterized by treating others with dignity, love and respect (Beyer, p.265). “To be created in the image of God means that we humans have the ability and the privilege of knowing, serving, and loving God and that we are most fully human when fulfilling our spiritual potential. Every human life is precious to God, and this is exactly how we should treat the people with whom we share the world” (Lockyer, 1986, p.502).
Basic Characteristic #3. The third basic characteristic of the creation mandate “focuses on the present age” (Beyer, p.265). “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is 1:17 cf. Mic 6:8). The LORD designed the world and life in such a way that fixed principles or abiding laws which govern the way things work provide a foundational understanding toward living well. For example, Biblical wisdom affirms the law of reaping and sowing, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal 6:7). Choices have consequences and when decisions are consistently made in accordance with Biblical principles-God’s blessing follows (Ps 1:1-6). The LORD honors those who live by the precepts, principles, and parameters set forth in His Word through what scholars call “common grace” (Elwell, 2001, p.519-520). Beyer noted that society suffers when God’s principles are abandoned (Beyer, p.265). The Christian worldview rooted in Scripture affirms a Biblical anthropology and embraces mankind’s stewardship responsibility before Yahweh to spread through all the earth abroad the glories of His name in every possible measure, through every means, and in every arena of life.
Yahweh’s Great Commission Mandate
Yahweh’s heart for mankind extends beyond human flourishing in this temporal, fallen, and sin-cursed world and into eternity through a personal relationship with Himself by the redemption that He alone provides. Adam’s rebellion against the Creator’s command in the Garden of Eden resulted in the entrance of sin and death into the pristine paradise of creation which Yahweh pronounced “very good (Gen 1:31; 2:15-17; Rom 5:12). In the midst of the LORD’s judgment against sin, He also issued a hope-filled promise of a coming Redeemer who would triumph over sin, death, and Devil (Gen 3:15). This prophesied “seed of the woman” is the virgin-born eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose vicarious sacrifice as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” is the ultimate means by which Yahweh provided redemption (Matt 1:21-23 cf. Is 7:14; 9:6; Rev 13:8 cf. Jn 1:29; Rom 3:25).
Basic Characteristics of the Great Commission Mandate
The injunction of God by which He commands the light of the knowledge of who He is and what He has done to redeem the nations unto Himself has historically been called the Great Commission and taught by both the Old and New Testaments (Elwell, 2001, p.534). Beyer emphasizes that the Great Commission mandate “focuses primarily on the spiritual realm and on eternity” and defines it as “Jesus’s command to his followers to proclaim the gospel of God’s salvation through Jesus to the ends of the earth (Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16 [not in many early manuscripts]; Lk 24:45-49; Jn 20:21-22; Acts 1:8) (Beyer, 2007, p.283). There are three basic characteristics of this mandate which are laid out by Beyer as involving 1. “a sacred stewardship in matters pertaining to the spiritual realm” (Beyer, p.266), 2. “establishing eternal relationships through reaching people with God’s eternal truth” (Beyer, p.266), and 3. “an emphasis on eternity” (Beyer, p.266). Both the Creation and Great Commission mandates come from Yahweh and even though the former is temporary—it provides the framework by which the latter is obeyed (Beyer, p.266).
Israel’s Relationship to the Great Commission Mandate
An astute analysis of Yahweh’s Great Commission mandate observes that Israel held a special relationship to the LORD’s mission of reaching the nations with His message of redemption (Beyer, p.266). This is readily evident not only in the gospel records of Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel but also in the Hebrew prophets in general and especially Isaiah (Is 56:7) (Beyer, p.249). “Isaiah pictured those from all nations streaming into Jerusalem in the last days (2:2; 66:18-20), participating in the eschatological banquet (25:6-7), enjoying worship of God (56:7), righteousness and praise (61:11)” (Moore, 1997, ATLA). Ever since Yahweh called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees, the LORD began relating to one man particularly and to the nations through the direct instrumentality of his family line (Gen 12:1-3). Israel was to be the channel of blessing through which Yahweh would bring the nations unto Himself (Is 60:1-3 cf. Zech 8:23). The fullness of this purpose will be brought to pass in the prophesied millennial kingdom of heaven on earth where Messiah will rule and reign with a rod of iron from the throne of David in Jerusalem (Is 9:7; Lk 1:32-33; Acts 2:34-35; Rev 20:6). Dispensational theologian, Charles Baker poignantly noted that
“In fact, the prophetic kingdom program was that the Gentiles were to be blessed through Israel; therefore, Israel must first be blessed before she could in turn pass on the blessings to the Gentiles. It is axiomatic that wherever the message is to Israel only, or to Israel first, the ministry is that of the Messianic Kingdom.” (Baker, 1978, p.128).
The temple in Jerusalem was intended by Yahweh to be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Is 56:7) as His plan was to reach them by “relating to Israel in particular” (Goldingay, 2014, p.125). By recognizing the vain futility of idolatry, Judah was to “proclaim Yahweh’s honor among the nations (Is 66:19)” (Goldingay, p.121). There was a dual dynamic of Israel’s witness before the nations described by Beyer as a centripetal and centrifugal aspect (Beyer, 2007, p.266-267). In other words, the quality of Israelite society as governed by Yahweh’s civil and moral law was to attract the nations and they were to also bring their spiritual light beyond their borders themselves. Yahweh’s prophetic program is distinctly characterized by Israel’s unique and privileged relationship to His Great Commission mandate.
Yahweh’s Grace Commission Mandate
The LORD’s eternal glory and infinite holiness is magnified through the redemption of depraved sinners through the salvation that only He provides as the one true and living God and Savior of mankind. His Great Commission mandate emphasizes this heart but oftentimes not holistically in the context of mainstream evangelicalism (Baker, 1994, p.566). In his magnum opus, “A Dispensational Theology”, Baker’s reflection on this trend is poignant, “Other factors of that commission are either omitted or entirely neglected” (Baker, p.566). The main theological features of the Great Commission mandate are enumerated as 1. Universal Preaching (Mk 16:15), 2. Carried Out in Definite Order (Acts 1:8 cf. Matt 15:26), 3. Commanded Faith and Baptism for Salvation (Mk 16:16 cf. Acts 2:38), 4. Teaching of the Mosaic Law (Matt 28:20 cf. 5:23-24; 23:2-3), 5. Preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14), and 6. Promised Miraculous Signs for Believers (Mk 16:17-18) (Baker, p.568-569). His observation was that various denominations champion different aspects of what he describes as the so-called Great Commission (Baker, p.569). This is done in accordance with their theological convictions, denominational history, and religious traditions that are not necessarily faithful to the Bible as God’s authoritative revelation and especially its dispensational character (II Tim 2:15; 3:16-17).
Church’s Relationship to the Grace Commission Mandate
In contrast to Yahweh’s prophetic program to reach the nations through the direct instrumentality of the nation of Israel, the LORD is operating under His mystery or secret program today in the dispensation of grace which He distinctly entrusted to and through the Apostle Paul (Eph 3:1-3). The Church, which is Christ’s Body, has a unique relationship and responsibility to this Grace Commission mandate.
Seven Super B’s of Grace. First of all, this Church is called the Body of Christ and is a living organism-separate from Israel-that is composed of Jews and Gentiles in one joint body reconciled together through the cross (Eph 2:14-18). Christ’s blood is the means by which Gentiles have been brought near having been formerly estranged from Yahweh (Eph 2:11-13). God the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the Body of Christ completely identifying them into His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-4; I Cor 12:13; Col 2:11-13). This transpires at the moment of salvation when they receive Christ as Savior by grace through faith alone apart from any required expressions of faith as under the prophetic program and the gospel of the kingdom (Rom 4:5; Eph 2:8-9 cf. Jam 2:24). Whereas the primary sphere of Israel’s blessings were physical on earth, the Body of Christ is primarily blessed spiritually in heaven (Deut 7 cf. Eph 1:3). Through Christ’s finished work at Calvary, God has blessed His people with all that His love will allow and His omnipotence can afford. In the dispensation of grace, Israel has been partially blinded and temporarily set aside while God is doing something new and different among the Gentiles (Rom 11:11-12; 11:25). At the end of the dispensation of grace, Christ will return in secret and catch away the Body of Christ prior to the outpouring of His wrath in the dreaded tribulation period (I Thes 4:13-5:11). He will resume His prophetic program subsequent to the Rapture of the Church because Yahweh is faithful to the covenants of promise which He made with the patriarchal fathers of the nation of Israel. Prior to the triumph of God’s grace at the Rapture, the mission of the Church, as ambassadors for Christ, is to faithfully evangelize and disciple the nations through a borderless commission. By “preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom 16:25-26) and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), the Church labors by God’s power in order to present every man, woman, boy, and girl among all nations worldwide spiritually mature at the judgment seat of Christ for the glory of God (Col 1:28-29 cf. II Cor 5:10). This commission is two-fold as it involves “the ministry of reconciliation” and establishing believers by “making all see what is the fellowship of the mystery” (II Cor 5:14-21; Eph 3:9; I Tim 2:3-4) (Baker, p.570-572). The Body of Christ, Blood of Christ, Baptism into Christ, Blessings in Christ, Blindness of Israel, Blessed Hope in Christ, and the Borderless Commission of Christ are central components of God’s mystery program and the Grace Commission mandate (Stam, 1985, p.64-66). These “7 Super B’s of Grace” are included in what the Apostle Paul writing by divine inspiration of God the Holy Spirit to the local church in ancient Ephesus as “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8)
Critical Distinctions Between the Two
Yahweh’s Great Commission and Grace Commission mandates have similarities in that they flow from the heart of a sovereign God to reach the nations with the light of who He is as the Holy One of Heaven. This intent must be kept as a central focus because dispensational distinctions have a way of overshadowing the big picture of God’s heart of compassion for people.
Contemporary Observations. It is interesting to see that Beyer commented that many scholars agree that Israel’s relationship to the Great Commission was unique and that the Church’s relationship differs at least somewhat from Israel (Beyer, p.266). In speaking of Gentile salvation through Israel, he said “Isaiah also proclaimed God’s grace in all its fullness” (Beyer, p.270). God’s grace is certainly in the book of Isaiah but by sheer virtue of its conspicuous absence in comparison to the Pauline epistles, this statement is unfounded (Rom 5:20-21). Elsewhere he mentioned that “God’s plan includes a new priesthood created from all nations, not only from Levi’s line through Aaron (I Pt 2:9)” (Beyer, p.272). That may be the case but these Gentiles would still be considered Jewish proselytes though. The same could said regarding his statement that, “It was one thing to suggest the nations would one day obtain blessing from their relationship with God’s people, but it was quite another to assert that they would stand before God on equal spiritual footing. But this was not the first time Isaiah had proclaimed such an idea, and it would not be the last” (Beyer, 2007, p.220). Capitalizing on a play on words, “As we have seen, the concept of a Great Commission was no mystery to Isaiah” (Beyer, p.275). This is indeed the case but the revelation of the mystery of God’s grace certainly was as it had not yet been revealed (Rom 16:25-26; I Cor 2:7-8; Eph 3:5; Col 1:26. In another instance, Goldingay highlighted that “Yahweh’s plan was to reach the world by relating to Israel in particular” and that this specifically “characterizes the Scriptures as a whole” (Goldingay, 2014, p.125). This is a brilliant analysis of the privileged position that Yahweh blessed His chosen people with according to His prophetic program, plan, and purpose. His observation would be entirely correct were it but for the Pauline epistles and the mystery program laid out therein to reach the nations in spite of Israel’s direct instrumentality and through the Church, the Body of Christ. This is a case in point example of the need to consistently apply the dispensational hermeneutic that has been historically called “right division” (II Tim 2:15) (Stam, 1985, p.15-20). Baker once again lucidly articulated the importance of distinguishing between Yahweh’s Great Commission and Grace Commission mandates,
“This commission for member of the Body of Christ contains no mention of sign gifts and water baptism, which are such a prominent part of the Great Commission. But it does contain the greatest motivation, the greatest scope, and the greatest message which God has ever revealed in His eternal counsels. It is impossible for the Church today to carry out all of the precepts of the Kingdom commission, simply because it is not God’s order for today. But it is entirely possible for the Church to carry out this Pauline commission, for it is God’s will and purpose for today” (Baker, 1994, p.572).
Contemporary Relevance of Yahweh’s Redemptive Purpose
Driven by Yahweh’s Infinite Holiness & Eternal Glory
The LORD God’s historic and global purpose to redeem men, women, boys, and girls among all nations worldwide to Himself bears a tremendous impact upon the life and ministry of the local church today. Just as Isaiah was awestruck by Yahweh’s infinite holiness and eternal glory in his call to ministry, the Body of Christ also has a sacred calling from on high (Is 6:1-8; II Tim 1:9-11). To be surrendered to this call means that every member of the Church lives “coram Deo”, before the face of God, knowing that one day their lives will flash before their eyes and give account of their stewardship responsibility before the KING of kings and LORD of lords (I Cor 3:10-15). Just as Isaiah was undone before supreme majesty and the embodiment of absolute moral purity, the Church ought to be characterized by a reverential fear of the Almighty and an insatiable passion to magnify His eternal glory. If Israel under the letter of the Mosaic law was called to holiness, how much more should members of the Church, the Body of Christ, being disciplined by God’s grace have a testimony of “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts” and “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Tit 2:11-12). Apostle Paul charges Titus to exhort his hearers to godliness in light of Christ’s imminent return described as the “blessed hope” (Tit 2:13-14). There are very few things in life quite like the anticipation of seeing Christ face to face that are designed by the LORD to cause His people to take heed to themselves in this fashion (Rom 13:11-14). An old man once responded to a question regarding what difference it would make on his life today if he knew that Christ was returning next week by humorously yet honestly saying that, “I’d get my act together today!”
Cultural Intelligence. Cultural analyst and social science researcher, David Livermore, champions a paradigm known as cultural intelligence (CQ) which is defined as “The capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures” (Livermore, 2015, p.4). He also insightfully points out the inability of temporal pursuits to sustain one’s drive to engage people. “Culturally intelligent leaders need to consider something bigger as the ongoing source of motivation for culturally intelligent behavior. Ultimately, a bigger cause is needed to sustain CQ Drive” (Livermore, 2015, p.60). There is nothing greater and more transcendent than the infinite holiness and eternal glory of Yahweh and therefore living to magnify who He is and what He has done.
Driven by Yahweh’s Sovereign Power
Just as Yahweh’s sovereign power and omnipotent authority invigorated Isaiah to boldly exhort Judah to fidelity and to forsake idolatry, the Body of Christ is also empowered by the One we proclaim (Is 40:28-31; Col 1:28-29). God’s grace liberates His people to become who He has called them to be in Christ and to accomplish what He has called them to do through Christ (Eph 2:10; Phil 2:13). In every arena of life, the LORD is faithful to empower those who belong to Him to faithfully carry out His purposes as they keep in step with the Spirit of God Himself (Gal 5:16-17). David Platt, president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, captured this heart of being driven by God’s power when he poignantly noted that there are multitudes of people still unreached with the gospel not because they are easy to reach and the American church lacks the resources but rather that they are difficult to reach and the church lacks the resolve to take the gospel to the most dangerous and darkest places on the planet (Platt, 2011, p.). If Yahweh can be trusted for eternal salvation, then His children can also trust Him in the day to day knowing that nothing can separate them from His love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).
Driven by Yahweh’s Love as the Exclusive Savior
“The Song of the Suffering Servant” in Isaiah 53 (52:13-53:12) is a love song from Yahweh’s heart straight to the heart of mankind (ESV Study Bible, 2008, p.1337). Scripture itself and the testimony of church history bear witness that this Servant is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Beyer, 2007, p.211-212). There is only one God and Savior whose redemption provided everything that was needed to deliver a world of depraved sinners from the judgment that will be righteously poured out in undiluted measure at the Great White Throne (Rev 22:11-15 cf. Is 45:22). The exclusive truth claims of Jesus Christ unfolded in the gospel of John and popularized by C.S. Lewis through the logical syllogism known as the “trilemma” speak to evangelistic urgency and the missional mandate to engage the unreached in the regions beyond (George, 1993, p.9-12). Considering the ramifications of the exclusivity of Christ is a healthy exercise for every Christian. Consider Platt’s cogent words,
“If Jesus were just another religious teacher on the landscape of human history, offering his thoughts and opinions regarding how people should live, then it would definitely be arrogant, unloving, and outright foolish for me (or anyone else) to travel around the world telling people they need to either follow Jesus or face hell. But Jesus is indeed more than just another religious teacher, and Jesus is indeed the resurrected God, Savior, and King who alone has paid the price for sinners and paved the way for everlasting salvation, so telling people everywhere about Jesus is the only thing that makes sense. It is the height of arrogance to sit silent while 597 million Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs go to hell. It is the epitome of hate to not sacrifice your very life to spread this Good News among every person you know and every people group on the planet” (Platt, 2013, p.89-90).
Christ’s Body is driven by the love of their risen Savior that was demonstrated at the cross of Calvary where His blood was poured out in manifold measure on behalf of the ungodly (Rom 5:6-8; II Cor 5:14). Like Platt, every blood-bought born-again follower of Christ ought to pledge allegiance that they would gladly sacrifice the pleasures, pursuits, and possessions of this world and rather invest their time, treasure, and talent in eternity by prioritizing the gospel purposes of Jesus Christ (Platt, 2013, p.180). The local church would do well to deliberately cultivate missionary partnerships, proactively engage their communities, and not only help the home through Christian education but also to especially equip families to intentionally transmit Biblical truth to the next generation (Phil 4:10-19; Col 4:4-6; Eph 6:4 cf. Deut 6:4-9). At the judgment seat of Christ, how faithful the truth was advanced through bold declaration, defended through apologetic witness, and cultivated through discipleship mentoring will be borne out to praise of God’s glory (II Tim 2:1-13; Tit 2:1-10). Our motivation driving us to do what we do is certainly not in order to get saved or to stay saved but because we are saved. God’s love and grace has captivated our hearts and His Spirit has ignited an insatiable passion to magnify His eternal glory by investing in His historic and global purpose of redemption.
Yahweh Armies is indeed the LORD God of hosts who is the one true and living Creator and gracious Redeemer of mankind. His prophet Isaiah was obedient to the call he received from the Holy One of Israel. Such faithfulness beckons to members of the Church, the Body of Christ, living today in the dispensation of grace (Heb 11). This research established Yahweh’s sovereignty over false gods in Isaiah, the differences between His Creation and Great Commission mandates, the distinctions between His commissions for Israel and the Body of Christ, and the contemporary relevance of His historic and global purpose of redemption to the life and ministry of the local church. May the testimony of our lives resound to the praise of God’s glory in eternity. Ad majorum De glorium!
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Hindson, E (1999) King James Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
Lockyer, Sr., H (1986) Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Livermore, D. (2015) Leading With Cultural Intelligence (2nd ed.). New York, NY: AMACOM
MacArthur, J (2001) Battle for the Beginning. Nelson Books
Moore, T (1997) The Lucan Great Commission and the Isaianic Servant. ATLA Religion
Oswalt, J (2015) Is There Anything Unique in the Israelite Prophets? ATLA Religion Database
Platt, D. (2013) Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale
Platt, D. (2010) Radical. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah
Platt, D. (2011) Radical Together. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah
Raabe, P (2004) Look to the Holy One of Israel, All You Nations: The Oracles about the Nations
Still Speak Today. ATLA Religion Database
Sproul, R.C. (1998) The Holiness of God. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale
Stam, C.R. (1985) Things That Differ: The Fundamentals of Dispensationalism. Germantown, WI: Berean Bible Society
The ESV Study Bible. (2008) Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles
*Written 2/20/17 for BIB 540 in Grace Bible College’s Online Graduate Studies Program