Dear Wake Up Family:
As you will see in the enclosed book, Isaiah was given the task of sharing a message with his fellow Israelites. God sent the prophet to tell Israel and Judah that He was preparing destruction for both of them unless they repented of their apostasy. From Obadiah through Isaiah, it’s the same story with Israel: lack of integrity, lack of compassion, and lack of morality. What is God supposed to do when His creatures don’t listen or respond to extreme patience? I believe the Books of Isaiah and Revelation disclose the answer to this immense question.
Isaiah is about Plan A, while Revelation is about Plan B. The main difference between Plan A and B is that Plan A was to culminate at the end of the seventy weeks, which ended in AD 33. Only today, in Plan B, the names of nations and players are different than they would have been back then. For those who have not heard of Plan A / Plan B, the concept is pivotal in understanding the Old Testament prophets.
In Plan A, God chose the descendants of Abraham to be His representatives on earth. These people were not unique in that God loved them more than anyone else. They were special because they had the duty, opportunity, and privilege to be His intermediaries—a holy nation leading the rest of the world to a knowledge of the living God. But Israel failed to achieve what God planned. Under Plan A, the first generation who came out of Egypt was supposed to enter the Promised Land but died in the wilderness. Plan A was conditional. God provided and allowed for man’s participation.
In Plan B, God will unilaterally do what must be done. Plan B is unconditional. Under Plan B, which we live in, when the time comes to enter the Promised Land, ready or not, the saints will enter it. We cannot hasten the second coming nor delay it. Plan B will happen as God has planned.
Plan A and Plan B are similar but have slight differences. Under Plan A, Jesus would have established His kingdom on earth and gradually brought in people from surrounding nations. That didn’t happen. In Plan B, Christ will appear and suddenly speak the nations out of existence by the sword out of His mouth. (Revelation 19:15)
Under Plan A, Christ would have come as a babe (just as He did in Plan B) and died for the penalty of the sins of the redeemed (just as He did in Plan B). The Father would have killed the son in Plan A (just as He did in Plan B), but Israel would not have needed to cooperate in slaying the Messiah (as they did in Plan B).
When Jesus lived upon the earth and walked its dusty roads, He looked like you or me. Jesus didn’t travel in a gold-plated chariot with ten thousand angels hovering above. He didn’t ride about waving at crowds. He was just an average-looking guy. It is astonishing that the Creator of everything visible and invisible was willing to give up the privilege of eternal life so we could have the opportunity to live with Him for eternity. Christ went all the way to the second death on Calvary, although He personally had no sin for which to provide restitution. No human can conceive of this kind and level of love.
Jesus hung on a cross between two criminals. In the ordinary course of events on a cross, death took three or four days, depending on the method used. The Roman soldiers were going to break their legs to expedite death that Friday, but when they approached Jesus, He was already dead. This surprised them. That is why one of the soldiers pierced Him with a spear. God crushed Jesus, yet Jesus didn’t open His mouth to complain. He instead went meekly to His death. I wonder whether we really understand what was done to Him and why. My point is, it was the Father who took Jesus’ life.
Some say that Jesus gave His life. He did in that He was willing. He agreed to die. But Jesus did not commit suicide on the cross. In John 10:17–18, Jesus said, “I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” Jesus willingly agreed to become the lamb, the sacrifice, the sacrament. When Jesus died on the cross, He died at the hand of the Father.
Jesus’ birth, life, and death are integral to Revelation’s story. So, as we enjoy the holiday season to visit family and friends, remember this: Jesus, once the mighty archangel Michael, was willing to come to earth, live in poverty, and give His life so we could live with Him forever. Jesus, our Creator, was willing to die the second death so that we could have the opportunity to live! Jesus was willing to cease to be so that you and I could have the offer of eternal life. This is a gift that no one should refuse, a sacrifice that should cause each of us to relent!
I’d like to end this article with a story. I first read this story, as told by Col. John Mansur, in the mid-nineties. It was so moving, I’ve never forgotten it. I have no way of knowing if it is factual, but considering the chaos of war and the innocent honesty of children, I believe it to be true.
“Whatever their planned target, the mortar rounds landed in an orphanage run by a missionary group in the small Vietnamese village. The missionaries and one or two children were killed outright, and several more children were wounded, including one young girl, about eight years old. People from the village requested medical help from a neighboring town that had radio contact with the American forces. Finally, an American Navy doctor and nurse arrived in a jeep with only their medical kits. They established that the girl was the most critically injured, but without quick action, she would die of shock and loss of blood.
A transfusion was imperative, and a donor with a matching blood type was required. A quick test showed that neither American had the correct type, but several uninjured orphans did. The doctor spoke some pidgin Vietnamese, and the nurse a smattering of high-school French. Using that combination and much impromptu sign language, they tried to explain to their young, frightened audience that she would certainly die unless they could replace some of the girl’s lost blood. Then they asked if anyone would be willing to give blood to help.
Their request was met with wide-eyed silence. After several long moments, a small hand slowly and waveringly went up, dropped back down, and then went up again.
‘Oh, thank you,’ the nurse said in French. ‘What is your name?’
‘Heng,’ came the reply.
Heng was quickly laid on a pallet, his arm swabbed with alcohol, and a needle inserted in his vein. Through this ordeal, Heng lay stiff and silent.
After a moment, he let out a shuddering sob, quickly covering his face with his free hand.
‘Is it hurting, Heng?’ the doctor asked. Heng shook his head, but after a few moments, another sob escaped, and once more, he tried to cover up his crying. Again, the doctor asked him if the needle hurt, and again, Heng shook his head.
But now his occasional sobs gave way to a steady, silent crying, his eyes screwed tightly shut, his fist in his mouth to stifle his sobs. The medical team was concerned. Obviously, something was very wrong. At this point, a Vietnamese nurse arrived to help. Seeing the little one’s distress, she spoke to him rapidly in Vietnamese, listened to his reply, and answered him in a soothing voice. After a moment, the patient stopped crying and looked questioningly at the Vietnamese nurse. When she nodded, a look of great relief spread over his face.
Glancing up, the nurse said quietly to the Americans, ‘He thought he was dying. He misunderstood you. He thought you had asked him to give all his blood so the little girl could live.’
‘But why would he be willing to do that?’ asked the Navy nurse.
The Vietnamese nurse repeated the question to the little boy, who answered simply, ‘She’s my friend.’ ”
Isaiah - really compressed