Calvary Road Baptist Church


Isaiah 33.17, 22


If you have ever read through the Old Testament, perhaps you were struck in your reading by the fierce attack upon the city of Jerusalem by the dreaded Assyrians during the reign of good King Hezekiah. Hezekiah had only reigned four years when the Assyrians sacked Samaria in the northern kingdom of Israel and displaced the male population, which gave rise to the racially mixed Samaritans of Jesus’ day seven centuries later.[1] Ten years after their conquest of Samaria, the Assyrian king Sennacherib moved south to attack Hezekiah’s kingdom of Judah.[2]

Surrounding the city of Jerusalem with invading troops, the Assyrian ambassador taunted those who manned the walls in defense of Jerusalem, ridiculed King Hezekiah, and blasphemed the God of Israel. In response to Hezekiah’s prayer to God for deliverance, in Second Kings 19.32-34, we discover what the LORD said concerning the king of Assyria: “He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” What happened next? I read Second Kings 19.35-37:


35     And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

36     So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

37     And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.


Using Peter Masters’ guide book to the British Museum when we were in London four years ago, Heritage Of Evidence in the British Museum, my wife and Sarah and I actually saw a burnt inscription recovered by archaeologists from the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh recording Hezekiah’s dealings with the Assyrians, and also what is called “The Taylor Prism” giving Sennacherib’s version of his invasion of Judah.[3] By the way, recovered Assyrian records totally substantiate the Biblical account of Assyria’s attack of Judah, wherein is found an implicit acknowledgment that Jerusalem remained intact after the Assyrian army returned home without a fight, where it is admitted Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons. The point that I seek to make here is that when history speaks to us about events pertinent to the Biblical record, history substantiates the accuracy of the Biblical record.

What I seek to draw your attention to at this time is the dark period before the mighty Assyrian army surrounded the city of Jerusalem, before they conquered every other fortified Judean city, and before God miraculously delivered His people by destroying most of the Assyrian army. Picture the scene. Assyria has already overwhelmed Samaria to the north and for six years posed a looming threat to Judah in the south. To prepare for the worst, Judah sought an alliance with Egypt against Sennacherib, displaying for one and all to see her lack of trust in God.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God makes His displeasure with their course of action known. I read from Isaiah 30.1-3:


1      Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

2      That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

3      Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.


Next, I read from Isaiah 31.1: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!”

Beginning in Isaiah 32.1, the prophet Isaiah looks to Israel’s future: “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.” Verse 18: “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Things are predicted to improve. However, before things improved, the situation became much worse. The Assyrians attacked and surrounded the city. In Isaiah 33.2, we find a prayer offered up by the prophet on behalf of the people to God: “O LORD, be gracious unto us.” In verse 5, we find a statement of fact: “The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.” No matter what is happening down here on earth, the LORD is still exalted. Draw no false conclusions about God from what you see happening around you.

Whatever dreadful events are unraveling the fabric of your life, there will come a time when the God who writes history and disposes of empires will make Himself known, verse 10: “Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.” When that day comes (and make no mistake, that day will come), take note of what God’s people will see, verses 17 and 22: “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.”

My friends, we each experience seasons of darkness and affliction, we all know disappointment and suffer the consequences of our own wicked behavior, bringing the storm clouds over our lives as they did in Hezekiah’s day. We even experience times when we feel surrounded by the enemy and there seems to be no hope of survival or life as we know it continuing. When such seasons come over you (and you may find yourself under the dark cloud of despair as I speak), keep in mind that the same LORD who sent His death angel to smite the dreaded Assyrians can smite your enemies, as well, and the promises made through Isaiah will be just as beneficial to you when they are someday fulfilled as they will be for anyone else.

Listen to the promises made to that one who belongs to God: “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” This is a prediction uttered by the prophet Isaiah about Israel’s Messiah at His second coming, who we know to be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me comment about each of these phrases in turn.




“Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty”


Of course, this passage has both a near term and a prospective fulfillment. Isaiah was giving hope to the people under siege in Jerusalem, just as God’s Word gives hope to the Christian who feels besieged by circumstances, by a bad economy, by personal betrayals, by factors beyond your control, and by doubts and fears. The prophet was telling those men, who manned the walls surrounding the city and who bravely remained silent while Rabshakeh, the Assyrian spokesman, tried to discourage them, that there was a better day coming. They would all see good King Hezekiah dressed in his regal splendor.

Of course, the long-term prophetical fulfillment of this prophecy comes when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His regal majesty. Oh, the beauty of our Lord in His glory! The Song of Solomon anticipated His beauty in 5.10, where the Shulamite speaks of her husband and lover, who is Christ in type: “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” Then again in verse 16: “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” Revelation 1.13-16 shows us what the Apostle John saw of Jesus in His glory:


13     And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

14     His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

15     And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

16     And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.


Then, of course, there is John’s vision of our Lord’s future return to earth in power and great glory, when Isaiah’s prediction will actually be fulfilled, and one and all will actually see the king in His beauty. I read from Revelation 19.11:


11     And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

12     His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

13     And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

14     And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

15     And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

16     And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.


Think of it, Christian. No matter how grim things seem to be at present, when you see the King in His beauty, you simply will not care about problems and grievances anymore, because He will make everything right.




Verse 17 concludes, “they shall behold the land that is very far off.”


To be sure, the short term fulfillment of this prophecy concerns the people shut up in Jerusalem, living under Assyrian siege, afraid to leave their homes, and unable to venture forth from the city. In a few weeks they can, the Assyrians will be gone clean out of the country, and they can go to any hilltop to look as far as the eye can see.

The long-term fulfillment speaks of the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ, when King Jesus comes to defeat the armies of the antichrist who have driven the Jewish people and the remaining Christians into hiding. Underground for three and a half years to escape detection and martyrdom, our Sovereign will bring a new day of freedom and liberty for His own when He reclaims this world.

Being able to behold the land that is very far off may also be an allusion to the topographical changes that are thought to take place at the time of the second coming of Christ, in which the city of Jerusalem will be at a higher elevation than the rest of the world, once the valleys have been lifted and the mountains have been lowered. This will all be related to the removal of the curse that has afflicted creation since Adam’s fall.




Isaiah 33.22 begins, “For the LORD is our judge.”


If there was any doubt that Isaiah was referring here to the as yet unborn Jesus Christ seven centuries prior to His incarnation, John 5.22 should settle the dispute once and for all. In that verse, Jesus declared, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Of course, it was not understood in Isaiah’s day that Jehovah our judge would be born of a virgin named Mary, in the village of Bethlehem, raised up in Nazareth, and live a sinless and perfect life before dying a substitutionary death on a cross just outside the city walls of Jerusalem, the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God. All Hezekiah and his subjects knew at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy was that it would be fulfilled by Jehovah our judge. Thus, when 185,000 Assyrian warriors were discovered dead the next morning, they only knew Jehovah our judge had, indeed, executed judgment on His enemies.

What motivation that should be for anyone living in our day to embrace Jesus Christ, so peace with God results and punitive judgment for sins will no longer be necessary. As Jesus said in Matthew 12.30, “He that is not with me is against me.” We know what He does to those who are against Him, for Matthew 25.46 clearly shows that His enemies “shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”




Verse 22 continues, referring to the coming Messiah, “the LORD is our lawgiver.”


Remember that the whole reason for the Assyrian army surrounding Jerusalem by God’s providence was the sinfulness of God’s people. He is Jehovah our lawgiver, and His elect nation disobeyed His righteous laws, thereby bringing judgment upon themselves. How could it be otherwise, since He is righteous and all men are sinful and incapable of adhering to any rule of law? The exciting truth in connection with Jesus Christ as our lawgiver is found in Galatians 4.4-5:


4      But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5      To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.


Of course, this happened by means of the virgin birth, so that He could live a sinless life as a means of fulfilling the Law that He enacted, which gave Him the right as the Fulfiller of His Law to forgive those guilty of violating His Law. Thus, when the repentant sinner turns to Christ in faith and is justified, his sins are forgiven, and he is adopted as God’s son, thereby becoming a member of the family of God. Who would have ever guessed apart from the revelation of truth found in God’s holy Word, that the only One who could fulfill the Law was the Giver of the Law, Jesus Christ, our Lord? Yet it must be so, for two reasons: First, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, making every person other than Jesus a guilty sinner in his own right and unable to fulfill the demands of the Law.[4] Then, salvation is by grace, apart from any works of righteousness that we can do for ourselves, and therefore must be procured by another and given to us through the means of our faith in Jesus Christ.[5]




The verse reads, “the LORD is our king.”


“Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” The wise men from the east asked that question in Matthew 2.2. Whom were they looking for, but Jesus, born in Bethlehem? Greater than His father David, for He is David’s Creator and God, even Pontius Pilate acknowledged Who He was, when he wrote His indictment that was posted on the cross, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”[6]

Do you doubt that He is our king? Is that why you rebel at His authority? Is that why you dispute His claim to your life? Would that explain why you retain control of your schedule and refuse to give Him His tithe? Is a king only a king when he is recognized as such by his subjects, or is a king a king as an objective fact, whether you acknowledge it or not?

Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews whether you acknowledge Him as such or not. As well, He is the King of kings, whether you see fit to bow to Him or not. You have already seen Him shown to be the King of kings and Lord of Lords in Revelation 19.16, and so He will be acknowledged by one and all when He returns to earth in power and great glory. Therefore, I urge you to own Him as your king before He comes again, for reasons you will plainly see.




The last phrase of verse 22 declares, “he will save us.”


The question, of course, is who is us? It is obvious that Jesus will not save everyone. Indeed, He said Himself that most will not be saved when He declared, in Matthew 7.21-23:


21     Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22     Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23     And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


That day, of course, is the great Day of Judgment when Jesus sits upon the great white throne and judges those vast numbers who died without knowing Jesus as their savior. They are those who can never rightly say “he will save us,” since they never trusted Him, never believed in Him, never came to Him for the forgiveness of their sins, and never owned Him as their own personal Lord and Savior. The “us,” then, is believers, Christians, born again people, those of us who have been justified by faith. We are those who have been convinced of our sinfulness, have been persuaded of our helplessness, and have turned to Jesus Christ as the only savior of sinful men’s souls.

Some will look upon us with a magnifying glass and rejoice when they find us guilty of committing sins. They seek to salve their own consciences when they find fault in us by declaring us to be hypocrites. However, they show their own foolishness and guiltiness in so doing. You see, only self-admitted sinners can ever hope to become Christians in the first place, and that by fleeing to Jesus to do for us what we gladly admit we cannot do for ourselves. We are sinners, we cannot save ourselves. Moreover, even when Jesus forgives us, we are still sinners in need of the cleansing blood of the crucified One, First John 1.7.

So, as the Jewish citizens of Jerusalem in Hezekiah’s day were helplessly pent up behind stone walls that were surrounded by the enemy Assyrians, so we are helplessly entrapped by our sins to an eternal destruction in the lake of fire, unless we are rescued from our own sins by the Lord Jesus.


Do you feel trapped and surrounded, my friend? Are you overcome by adverse circumstances that overwhelm you and discourage you? Are you drowning in sin? You need what only my Jesus, my wonderful, glorious, and beautiful Lord Jesus can provide. You need His salvation. He is our lawgiver, our judge, and our king, and He will save all who come to God by Him, Hebrews 7.25.

Are you suffocating in troubles, drowning in sorrows, smothered under an avalanche of difficulties, burdened by guilt, shackled by your own stubbornness? My friend, you are imminently qualified to come to Jesus.

Remember, it was Jesus, Himself, who said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”[7] Lift up your eyes in faith and behold the King in His beauty. Come to Jesus now.

[1] 2 Kings 18.9

[2] 2 Kings 18.13

[3] Peter Masters, Heritage Of Evidence in the British Museum, (London: The Wakeman Trust, 2004), pages 30-38.

[4] Romans 3.23

[5] Ephesians 2.5

[6] Matthew 27.37; Mark 15.26; Luke 23.38; John 19.19

[7] John 8.36

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