In Hebrews 9, we read this: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Death and judgement are events all humanity will face one day. For most of the people in the world, this will be their future. But what about for the Christian? Is this what we have to face going into eternity?
In Isaiah 24, we see how this idea of judgement on the earth will become a reality. But going into chapter 25, Isaiah speaks of a day of hope and favour from the hand of God. The hope characteristic of that day is based on the things that God will do and these lead to praise towards Him.
Firstly, in the day of His salvation, God will lead a celebration of His triumph. In verse 6 we read, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” The setting of this text is on Mt. Zion, the center of God’s Kingdom on earth. According to this prophecy, God will reign victorious over all at the consummation of the present age, when his Messiah returns in power and great glory, to put an end to sin and to rule and reign upon the earth.
The literal glory of that day is expressed here in symbolic imagery by Isaiah. Here God is seen to be preparing a lavish banquet, an occasion of great celebration. The invited guests to this glorious event include all peoples. Nothing is spared for the occasion; it is a “feast of fat things,” the ﬁnest of food. The ﬁnest of wine is served – another symbol of the joy and celebration of the occasion. In the previous days of his judgment in chapter 24, no celebration was to be found. All things were in ruin; the wine was bitter. But now the prophet foresees a new day, in which gloom has been turned to celebration! This new day is the day of the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth, a day that in Matthew 8 and 22, is also described as a great feast.
Secondly, in the day of His salvation, God will make known the truth of the Gospel to all. In verse 7 we read, “And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.” The veil or covering mentioned in this verse is usually identiﬁed as either a veil of mourning, something expected under a state of judgement. In a time of celebration, it would be removed. This might also symbolize those things that obscure the truth of the gospel to the nations. It may represent the ignorance and blindness that keeps us from receiving Christ’s offer of salvation in the present day. What Isaiah is prophesying here is for the people to look for the day when the religious confusion and conﬂict in the world are replaced with the true knowledge of Christ.
Thirdly, in the day of His salvation, God will swallow up death. In verse 8 we read, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” Christ, in His ﬁnished work at the cross, conquered death. Although we know death as a real and present enemy, Christ knows death as a defeated foe. And in Christ, death will one day be forever vanquished. Revelation 21:4, John writes, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
The Apostle Paul argued the theology of eternal life and death in 1 Corinthians 15. Near the end of his discussion, he cites the coming of Christ for his own and the resurrection of believers as fulﬁllment of the prophetic words of Isaiah 25:8. Often we stand at a graveside, grieving the loss of one loved. The separation of death brings a sting. Yet as the earth swallows the remains of the deceased, we are reminded that death, the great swallower, will one day itself be swallowed up in victory, forever!
Fourthly, in the day of His salvation, God will eliminate sorrow. Looking again at verse 8, the prophet further assures us that God will wipe away the tears of all people. The reason or cause of these tears is not mentioned. Perhaps it is best understood as nonspecific, given the many possible causes of grief in this life. I think for most of us, the grief of death brings tears. Grief for our sin does as well. A broken relationship or a conﬂict with another often prompts tears. A godly mother grieves over a spiritually wayward son. A prodigal son grieves over the sin that has ruined his life. On the day of his salvation, God will ease the pain and wipe away the tears.
On the day of His salvation, God will remove the reproach of His people. Another word for reproach is blame or shame. Again in verse 8, this is promised. God’s people would be vindicated. The disgrace, the same or their reproach, to which the prophet refers, was a consequence of Israel’s sin. While they are heirs of a promised salvation, they were suffering His chastening or discipline for their sins. But in that ﬁnal, glorious day of salvation, their wandering hearts will be securely devoted to him. That reproach would now be reserved for godless people. But on those who are identiﬁed with Christ and His cause, this promise assures that the day is coming when all will bow the knee before the King in his glory. Rather than mocking His name, they will join in His praise.
Lastly, in the day of His salvation, God’s people will rejoice in His salvation. Verse 9 says, “It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”” The salvation of the last day is the fulﬁllment of a long-held expectation by God’s chosen people. They have waited for him to save them, which is an indication of faith. For faith sees not the difﬁculty of the present moment but expects the promised future.
In waiting, they have trusted Him to do that which they could not do. They were powerless to make all things right among the nations; they could not remove the blindness of sin; death and sorrow seemed to be inevitable experiences, and the cloud of reproach was dark above their heads. Yet their hope and their ultimate joy are found in the God who saves. Christ, His Anointed One, at His ﬁrst coming died for sinners. At His second coming, He will establish His Kingdom on earth. Let the celebration begin.