The Lord of Armies on his throne (Part 2)

This post picks up where Part 1 ends.

Evidence of the angel

No doubt, Isaiah has encountered Yahweh on his throne. But before moving on, let’s summarize the evidence for Isaiah seeing the angel of the LORD in this vision. 

First, note how Isaiah describes the one seated on the throne. Isaiah calls him Lord (Adonai), the LORD of Armies (Yahweh Sabaoth), and the King. In our study so far, we have seen the angel of the LORD identified both as the Lord and the LORD of Armies, divine titles he shares with the unseen Yahweh. As for his role as King, the Israelites are promised a future king who comes from their stock (Deut. 17:14-15). David is promised a physical descendant who rules over an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12-16). The prophet Zechariah foretells the Messiah’s revelation to his people: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). 

Jesus is the fulfillment of these promises. An angel tells Mary her future son will reign over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1:30-33). Jesus presents himself to the Jews as king and they reject him (John 1:11). Jesus acknowledges his right to rule as king (John 18:36-37). He fulfills Zechariah 9:9 when he rides triumphantly into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:14-15). Even Pilate acknowledges Jesus’ claim to be King of the Jews (John 19:19). Paul urges Timothy to fight the good fight of faith in light of the imminent return of “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Victors on the sea of glass in heaven sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb: “Great and awe-inspiring are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations” (Rev. 15:3). And Jesus returns to earth triumphantly one day as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16). 

We could cite other passages, but these are sufficient to show how the Scriptures identify Jesus as the eternal King who humbles himself in the Incarnation and returns one day in glory – a glory that fills the whole earth (cf. Phil. 2:5-11; Rev. 21:22-25).

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Article IV-D of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Glorification

Following is another in a series of columns on the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order.

Article IV-D of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.”

Glorification is the final stage in God’s work of salvation. It is the crowning achievement of sanctification, in which Christians are fully conformed to the image of Christ. It is the perfection of the body, rejoined with soul and spirit in resurrection, as well as the restoration of the universe to its original state. 

Put another way, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

For the most part, when Christians talk about glorification, we are referring to our future resurrection, at which time we receive incorruptible bodies similar to the body Christ had when he rose from the dead. 

In this respect, Wayne Grudem provides an excellent summary statement: “Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own.” 

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The Lord of Armies on his throne (Part 1)

With the Book of Isaiah, we enter a new phase in the angel of the LORD’s appearances. Having mostly visited covenant partners like Abraham and Jacob, national leaders like Moses and Joshua, and deliverers like Gideon, the divine messenger now reveals himself to prophets at key points in the history of Israel and Judah. 

We begin in Isaiah, with a spectacular view into the throne room of heaven, where the LORD sits enthroned and the angel is implied but not identified. Later in Isaiah, the angel of the LORD is named as the warrior who sweeps through the Assyrian camp and slaughters 185,000 soldiers. As our study progresses, we watch the angel blaze across the sky in a chariot of fire (Ezekiel), approach the Ancient of Days to receive his kingdom (Daniel), and stand among the myrtle trees to counsel his spokesman (Zechariah). 

These appearances are some of the many ways God expresses his presence in the books of the prophets (Isaiah to Malachi). According to Vern Poythress, theophanies recorded in the writings of the prophets most often occur in four contexts. First, the LORD comes to commission a prophet. Second, he announces divine judgment, either on Israel or its enemies. Third, he declares salvation and deliverance for his people. And fourth, he reminds the people of God’s redemptive work in the past.

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Article IV-C of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Sanctification

Following is another in a series of columns on The Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Sanctification is God’s work of making Christians more like Jesus.

Article IV-C of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.”

Sanctification is the work of God making Christians more like Jesus. 

As Millard Erickson puts it, “Sanctification is a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer. In particular, sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s applying to the life of the believer the work done by Jesus Christ.”

Sanctification may be understood in two ways. First, there is positional sanctification, the state of being separate, set apart from the common, and dedicated to a higher purpose. 

The Hebrew word qados literally means “separate” and is used to designate particular places (like the Holy of Holies), objects (such as Aaron’s garments and the Sabbath Day), and persons (especially priests and Levites). 

Positional sanctification finds its place in the New Testament as a work of God occurring at the beginning of conversion. John Frame, who prefers the term definitive sanctification, calls this “a once-for-all event … that transfers us from the sphere of sin to the sphere of God’s holiness, from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. It is at this point that each of us joins the people of God.” 

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The angel of the Lord appears to Manoah and his wife

Judges 13

The sixth and final cycle of judges involves Samson from the tribe of Dan (13:1 – 16:31). By this time, the Danites have abandoned their God-given territory in the land of the Philistines, leaving Samson’s family and a few others in a refugee camp (13:25). Even before he is born, Samson is under a Nazirite vow, which he violates eventually by touching an unclean dead lion (14:8-9), taking part in a drinking feast (14:10), and shaving his head (16:19).

Equally tragic, his Spirit-charged physical strength proves no match for his untamed sensual passions. Encounters with three women, presumably all Philistines, lead to his capture and blindness. As the hair of his Nazirite vow begins to grow back, and especially as he calls out the LORD, Samson receives the power for one last feat: the ability to pull down the pillars of a pagan temple and kill more Philistines in death than throughout his life (16:30).

But this story has a most curious beginning, one that features two visits from the angel of the LORD. Judges 13 opens with a familiar refrain: “The Israelites again did what was evil in the LORD’s sight” (v. 1). In response, Yahweh hands them over to the Philistines for forty years. Normally at this point we see a cry for deliverance, but there is nothing of the sort here – although Judges 14:4 and 15:1 hint at an Israelite cry for deliverance. It seems Israel’s attitude toward its oppressors has changed. Rather than plead for Yahweh’s help, the people are resigned to coexistence with the Philistines. Thus, “Yahweh must seek and create an occasion to disturb the relationship between oppressor and oppressed (14:4).”

Enter the angel of the LORD, who appears to the barren wife of Manoah. The angel confirms the woman’s inability to bear children, then promises her a son. He instructs her to follow strict dietary laws during her pregnancy, and not to cut her future son’s hair. The reason: Her son is to be a Nazirite to God from birth and will begin to save the people from the Philistines (13:5). Nazarite vows include abstinence from wine and other alcoholic beverages, separation from corpses and other sources of defilement, and uncut hair. 

This is a peculiar prophecy. According to Numbers 6:1-21, Israelite men or women could voluntarily take a Nazarite vow, yielding themselves completely to God for a period of time. But the angel tells Manoah’s wife that her future son, Samson, would have no say in the matter; rather, the boy would be a Nazirite from birth. And since his hair never is to be cut, he is dedicated to the LORD his entire life. Like the prophet Jeremiah, Samson is called to the role of deliverer before he is born.

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