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THE YEAR OF HIS REDEEMED-- THE SIGN OF THE DAY OF VENGEANCE Isaiah 63
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF, MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS SABBATH, MAY 31, 1947 MT. CARMEL CHAPEL WACO, TEXAS
We are to study the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah. In this chapter we find recorded a prophetic conversation among three persons: the prophet, the Lord, and a person living at the time the prophecy of this chapter is fulfilled. The subjects of the conversation are Edom, ancient Israel, their deliverance from Egypt, and the people's redemption in the day this scripture is fulfilled. The part that should concern us most is to know the time. To gain this information, I shall read verse 16. "Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy name is from everlasting." Isa. 63:16.
The words of the person speaking in behalf of the people who are brought face to face with the revelation of this chapter, reveal that he and his people are unknown to Abraham. Since Abraham well knew of the rise of ancient Israel, but understood practically nothing of the rise of the Christians, then the Christians must be the people of whom he is ignorant. The truth, then, stands out clearly that the chapter finds its fulfillment in the Christian era. Now to find whether it is concerning the early or latter day Christians we
shall read verses 18 and 19; also Isaiah 64:10, 11, for the subject matter of chapter 64 is but a continuation of chapter 63:
"The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down Thy sanctuary. We are thine: Thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by Thy name." Isa. 63:18, 19.
"Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste." Isa. 64:10, 11.
Here is seen that the longing of the people is for the restoration of the temple, and for their repossession of the promised land. Now the fact that the "temple" and the "land" are still in the hands of Arabs and unbelieving Jews (those who were never called by His name, never called Christians) is proof positive that chapters 63 and 64 are fulfilled in the latter part of the Christian era, the part in which the time of the Gentiles in the promised land is fulfilled. Moreover, that these chapters are now unveiled to us, and also the fact that the message for today has caused us to cry to the Lord for just such a deliverance, the facts are that the time for the fulfillment of the prophecy that is in these chapters is already here.
Since you now positively know that these chapters are concerning you and me, we are ready to start the study of the chapters, verse by verse--
Isa. 63:1 -- "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in
His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
In vision the prophet saw someone with bloodstained garments hastily returning from Edom and Bozrah. To the prophet's question, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?" came the answer, "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
Who else could this person be but the Lord Himself, the Saviour of the world, the Mighty One to save?
Again the prophet asked,
Isa. 63:2 -- "Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?"
The answer to these questions introduces a series of solemn events, the events recorded in
Isa. 63:3-5 -- "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment. For the day of vengeance is in Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore Mine Own arm brought salvation unto Me; and My fury, it upheld Me."
The statements, "I have trodden the winepress alone," "I looked, and there was none to help; and I
wondered that there was none to uphold" (all in the past tense) show the Saviour's zeal and determination to save His misled people at His first advent, though there was no one with Him to help; that is, all the priests and religious leaders -- the General Conference of His day (the Sanhedrin) were against Him instead of helping Him in His work. But the statements, "for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment; for the day of vengeance is in Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come"; and "I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore Mine Own arm brought salvation unto Me; and My fury, it upheld Me" (all in future tense) -- show the present church's condition not only equally as bad as at His first coming, but even much worse. How true that history repeats! As the day of vengeance approaches, those who are supposed to uphold and help in the work of redemption, the ministers and religious leaders, the antitypical Sanhedrin of today (the General Conference), are seen to be hindering, standing in His way of reaching the people. Thus they incur His displeasure, and necessarily He girds Himself to free His people from the hands of unfaithful shepherds. They cause Him to stain His garments with their blood as He tramples them in His fury.
Isa. 63:6 -- "And I will tread down the people in Mine anger, and make them drunk in My fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth."
The Lord's brief explanation of the situation is amplified by the prophet Ezekiel. Says He:
"He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon
in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; and the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house." Ezek. 9:1-6.
Ezekiel's prophecy plainly reveals that this cleansing work takes place in the church (in Jerusalem), in the time to separate the unfaithful from among the faithful, the time to destroy the "tares" (Matt. 13:30), to cast out the bad fish (Matt. 13:47-49), to purify the church ("Testimonies," Vol. 5, pg. 80), to purify the ministry (Mal. 3:1-3); to cleanse the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14) -- the Judgment work for the Living. The Spirit of Prophecy in our day has this to say:
"...But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel.
The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor....
"Here we see that the church -- the Lord's sanctuary -- was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God's power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. He is too merciful to visit his people in judgment. Thus peace and safety is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God's people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs, that would not bark, are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children, all perish together." -- "Testimonies," Vol. 5, pp. 80, 211.
And the apostle Peter adds: "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" 1 Pet. 4:17, 18.
Since God's people of today are not in the land of Edom, south of Palestine, but are scattered throughout the earth, and since the Lord is to slay their enemies in order to free them, the truth is obvious: These are antitypical Edom and Bozrah.
After Esau of old sold his birthright for a mess of
pottage he was called Edom; and the name Bozrah means "sheepfold." Plainly, then, the Edomites of Isaiah 63:1 are those who in our day have sold their birthright, and who at the same time are persecuting (as did Esau persecute Jacob) those who have bought it, so to speak. Thus it is that as God's people had to be delivered from the Sanhedrin in Christ's day, they must now be delivered from the General Conference, the antitypical Edomite brethren, in order to be led into all Truth, and into their fathers' land.
The words, "the year of My redeemed is come," and "the day of vengeance is in Mine heart," clearly says that the Lord's strange work in Edom and Bozrah is the day of vengeance and a sign of antitypical Israel's (the church purified) returning to the home land.
Isa. 63:7-10 -- "I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He hath bestowed on them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie: so He was their Saviour. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed His holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them."
The testimony of this person reveals that a complete transformation has taken place in him, that he has caught a vision of the Lord's goodness, of His longsuffering and of His tender mercy -- he is convinced
that the Lord will not acquit the guilty. From his testimony is also seen that the Lord is not a cruel, brutish person, seeking to kill and to destroy, but that He is kind and merciful, patient and just, that He is worthy to be praised. This person endeavors to prove this to others by calling attention to the Lord's dealings with His ancient people, showing that He bore long with them, that only for their own good did He punish them -- to bring them back to Him, and away from idolatry and eternal ruin.
Moreover, the scripture plainly shows that the need of deliverance today is similar to that of Moses' day.
Isa. 63:11-15 -- "Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? where is He that put His Holy Spirit within him? that led them by the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make Himself an everlasting name? that led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble? As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so didst Thou lead Thy people, to make Thyself a glorious name. Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of Thy holiness and of Thy glory: where is Thy zeal and Thy strength, the sounding of Thy bowels and of Thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?"
Since there is in prophecy a cry for a similar deliverance as was seen in Moses' time, the facts are obvious: The church has been led into bondage and now needs to be delivered. Years ago Inspiration forewarned:
"The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from his word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us." -- "Testimonies," Vol. 5, pg. 217.
Isa. 63:16, 17 -- "Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy name is from everlasting. O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our heart from Thy fear? Return for Thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance."
The people that are crying deliverance are those whom Abraham did not know, and whom Israel of today (the Denomination) does not acknowledge. That is, as pointed out at the beginning of our study, Abraham was ignorant of the Christians, and the people that cry out for deliverance at the fulfillment of this prophecy are not by antitypical Israel (the Denomination), acknowledged as such. Thus it is that though Abraham of old does not know us, and though the Denomination does not acknowledge us, yet we know that God has given us a message, and that a change has taken place in us: that we are no longer satisfied, lukewarm, and that we are no longer unconscious of our Laodicean wretchedness, misery, poverty,
blindness, and nakedness. We know that this is the work of God in our hearts, that we are truly being "born again," born through the Holy Spirit -- that we are now better Seventh-day Adventists than we were before. We can, therefore, with confidence say: Doubtless Thou are our Father, our Redeemer, Thy name is everlasting, though we are constantly and sarcastically told by our brethren, "No, you are not Seventh-day Adventists."
Isa. 63:18, 19 -- "The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down Thy sanctuary. We are thine: Thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by Thy name."
True, our ancestors were in the land and enjoyed the sanctuary service for a number of years, yet considering that they were to possess it forever, then the statement, "The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while," is altogether true. Arabs and unconverted Jews who now possess the land are not Christians; they are not called by Christ's name, and never have been.
Isa. 63:17 -- "O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our heart from Thy fear? Return for Thy servants' sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance."
Here is one who recognizes that the people of God are in error -- not following God's ways and that they do not fear Him. The messenger's plea is, therefore, for God to return to them, not to forsake them forever.
The prayer of chapter sixty-three continues
throughout chapter sixty-four, and gives a good example as to what our prayers should be about at this very time. Let us read it through.
Isa. 64:1-12 -- "Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence! When Thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at Thy presence.
"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember Thee in Thy ways: behold, Thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee: for Thou hast hid Thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
"But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech Thee, we are all Thy people. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our
fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt Thou refrain Thyself for these things, O Lord? wilt Thou hold Thy peace, and afflict us very sore?"
Now is our opportunity; now is our privilege to make this prayer personally our own. Now we can intelligently say, Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven. Now we can wholeheartedly exclaim: "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let My right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let My tongue cleave to the roof of My mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above My chief joy. Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof." Psa. 137:4-7.
Now that you plainly see the signs and the time of our redemption and of the day of God's vengeance against unrepented sinners fast approaching, you are urged to make ready, to sigh and cry against the abominations, to receive the mark of deliverance, to be among the firstfruits. Now you can happily and understandingly seek the Kingdom of Heaven and Its righteousness, and assuredly know that the material things of life should not predominate over the spiritual, that they shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:25- 34). Heaven, therefore, expects you without delay to definitely and openly take your stand on the side of Truth. Now that the year of His redeemed is come, that the signs of the day of vengeance are here, now is the opportune moment to make your decision. You cannot afford to procrastinate for says the Spirit of all Truth: "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was
grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day [not yesterday, not the day of Miller or of White]; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." Heb. 3:7-19.