Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small
remnant [of survivors], we should have been like Sodom,
and we should have been like Gomorrah.
This first Chapter of Isaiah has such profound meaning! Although this vision and prophecy was given to the prophet Isaiah about the destiny of the nation of Israel during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, the kings of Judah; it also foretells the future of the tribe of Judah during the End Times. Furthermore, I believe its message should be heeded by our own nation, as well. I just love the multiple layers of significance that the Bible holds throughout all generations! Those who say it is no longer relevant in our time are sadly (and dangerously) deceived.
Isaiah laments his sinful nation ... he accuses them of immorality and criminality; they have forsaken the God who made them a great nation above all others, and they now only show Him contempt -- and worse, still, they ignore Him. Because of their "detestable disobedience", the future of their country is bleak. Their land has been attacked by enemies and strangers occupy what was once so generously bestowed upon them. And then the prophet tells them something that should have stopped them in their tracks, and caused fear to bring them to their knees. The nation of Israel -- indeed, all the world, including today -- knows what befell Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel, Chapter 16, tells us: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me...". The purpose of this post is not to dwell on the sexual immorality and perversion that were practiced in Sodom and Gomorrah, but to take to heart the judgment that fell on them, and to recognize the hope that is in the remnant that survived.
Isaiah received spiritual perception in the 7th Century B.C. to minister to the nation of Judah. He knew that God had a purpose for them, but he needed to make them see how far they had wandered from Him. All Israel knew that God had poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants. (To this day, the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland.) So Isaiah wants them to ultimately understand what God did out of the midst of that tragic judgment, and how they deserve the same verdict. He points to a particular nature of God as their reason for hope.
He tells them that "the Lord of hosts" spared a remnant, and it is that Sovereignty and Mercy that He wants his nation to recognize. And it is very important to take note of the name for God he uses in this verse. In Hebrew, "the Lord of hosts" is spoken of as Jehovah-Sabaoth. From our human perspective, this is the name of God to run to when there is no other help. From God's perspective, this is the name He uses when He wants us to know that He is not only the One who delivers us, but also the One who judges us. He wants us to bow our knee to Him. This particular name of God meets our failure, and offers deliverance.
Isaiah wants Judah to realize that their actions deserve the devastating and complete punishment that befell Sodom and Gomorrah. They need to acknowledge that Jehovah Sabaoth -- "the Lord of hosts" -- has rightly judged them, but He is also going to deliver them by the means of that remnant. A small group will survive His judgments in order to fulfill God's purpose for them.
Over 700 years later, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah's forewarning of a remnant, in Romans, Chapter 9. He says, "And Isaiah solemnly cries aloud over Israel: Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved [from perdition, condemnation, judgment]! Paul is trying to tell the Hebrew nation that God's own prophets have foretold this sad and frightening truth -- that their disobedience deserves full destruction [as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah], BUT through God's mercy, He will leave them a remnant that will survive ... a Jewish remnant that will bow their knew to their King and Messiah.
It is for the hope of this remnant that the Message of the Gospel was taken to the Gentiles, and the Church formed. We, as Christians, are members of an incomplete Body of Christ. It is not only to other "Gentiles" that we are to reflect God's gift of salvation; but our ultimate purpose is to draw that remnant to their destiny. Because, in the end (and I believe we are very close), God's name will be more honored through this Jewish remnant, and the world will be more blessed. This is the purpose of "God's chosen people" -- that a remnant will come forth and declare God and offer salvation to the world.
Isaiah knew it; Paul knew it; and we as the Christian component of the Body of Christ need to know it. We need to come out of our own Sodom and Gomorrah and fulfill our purpose in God's will!
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