Isaiah66:18-25 “Where will you spend eternity?”

Today is the last message on Isaiah.  Just as the whole Bible is composed of 66 books, the whole book of Isaiah consists of 66 chapters. Also just as the Bible finishes with Revelation’s new heavens and new earth the end of Isaiah too describes the final goal of human history.

  1. Those who survive (Vs. 18,19)

First let’s look at verses 18 and 19. Verse 18 says, “And I because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.”

Here the Lord’s plan of missions is displayed. That it that “some of those who survive” (19) in other words, the remnant of Israel, will be sent and proclaim God’s glory “to the nations…that have not heard of “(19) the God of the Bible.

Here is says, “Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands.” (19) The Lydians were probably from Lydia in the western Asian Minor. Tubal was in the area of present day Turkey. “The distant islands” (19) includes Japan. In other words, God will send them to the entire world. Through them the Lord’s name will be proclaimed in the world. The Lord’s glory will be seen throughout the world.

If you look at verse 19, it says, “I will set a sign among them.” God “will set a sign” (19) among those who preach God’s glory to the entire world. What is this sign? Some people think that it is the stamp that is stamped on the heads of 144,000 people in Revelations chapter 7. Also other people think it is the 120 Jews of Acts 1:15. It is through them that the first church was born. It was through them that God’s Gospel was proclaimed though out the entire world. They say that since they were chosen by God to go to the nations and preach the Gospel that they are the remnant.

However, this “sign” (19) is probably Jesus. That’s because Matt. 12:38-40 says this, “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’

He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”

Jesus says that the sign is “the Son of Man” who “will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40) In other words, it is Jesus who died on the cross and went to down to hades and spent “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40)  God “will set a sign among them.” (19) “Them” (19) can said to refer to Christians who believe in Jesus. God has set a sign among Christians who are the remnant that God has chosen and through them to preach to the entire world that has not heard of Jesus, to prepare those who are saved, and to bring them before God. When you think of this, it can be said that the Word of God, now too is to be continuously and constantly preached. God has planned through us Christians to proclaim God’s glory to the ends of the earth.

It is for that purpose that God chose us. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16) You were chosen by God to do his precious work. You are those who survived. As one who survived are you prepared to do so? What are you doing to prepare yourself to proclaim God’s glory among the nations?

  1. History’s final goal (Vs. 20-23)

Next let’s look at verses 20 to 23. Verse 20 says, “’And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD- on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,’ says the LORD. ‘They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels.’”

“They” (20) are “those who survive”. (19) They will bring all the people who were saved “from all the nations”, (20) to the Lord’s holy mountain “in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD.” (20)  The reason they bring all the people is to worship. There the Jewish Christians that believed in Jesus and are saved and the Gentile Christians that believed in Jesus and are saved will in unity worship God.

Please look at verse 22. “’As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.’”

“The new heavens and the new earth that” (22) God will make “will endure before” (22) God. They will definitely never perish.  They will continue for eternity. Also God’s people that have assembled before God too will definitely never perish. They will continue to live eternally. At the end of the world all things will be burned up. However, “The new heavens and the new earth…will endure” (22) forever. Also the Christians that inherit the “the new heavens and the new earth…will endure” (22) forever.  There we will receive God’s never ending protection and help and will continue to live eternally with God. What we will do there is written in verse 23. “’From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.”

They will worship God there. “All mankind” (23) will come before the Lord and worship. This is heaven. Christians who believe in their Savior Jesus Christ and have become the people of God will praise God eternally. Revelations 21 talks about what that will be like.

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 「He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death」or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.  Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.’” (Rev. 21:1-7)

God’s people, Christians, are promised victory. “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them…God himself will be with them…He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”(Rev. 21:3,4) In the new heaven and new earth we will receive living “water without cost from” (Rev. 21:6) God. We will in this heaven worship God for eternity. What comfort!

This is the final ending of history. It is the final goal of history. “All mankind will come” (23) and worship before God. This is the ultimate purpose of God’s salvation. We were created for the purpose of worshiping God. We were created to praise God for eternity. It was for this purpose that sin was atoned for.  Therefore, there is not even one person in heaven that doesn’t want to worship God. There isn’t anyone who doesn’t believe in God. Everyone in heaven is moved by the work of Jesus’ salvation, and is thankful so they worship the Savior from their hearts.

In 1994 when I went to Korea for the first time, I attended worship at Korin        Church, the largest Holiness Church in the world. I was very surprised. In the sanctuary that is said to fit 3,000 we worshipped together with a large choir and orchestra. When the worship started the curtain opened automatically and the hymn that the orchestra was playing began. It was Hymn 27, “New every morning”. It was very impressive. As I was singing my body felt a holy trembling. I couldn’t stop crying. I was over whelmed by the Lord’s presence. It was a time of wanting to be there forever and praise the Lord forever.

Worship in heaven will be greater than that.  That is because the Lord will be there.  A large number of people will praise God. We will be surrounded by what we think is the greatest possible joy and inspiration. To be able to praise God eternally makes everything else of no significance.  That is heaven. There is no world that is as great as this anywhere. “All mankind will come” (23) before the God of heaven and praise God. This is the end that is promised to God’s people, Christians. Are you included in this?

III.Where will you spend eternity? (Vs. 24)

However, the book of Isaiah does not just end here. It adds verse 24. Although it would have been o.k. to have ended at verse 23, the words of verse 24 are added. I will read verse 24. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, that fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

In reality this is a description of hell. If you look at Mark 9:47 and 48 Jesus is quoting from this. “And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”

That Jesus quoted this means that there is really such a place. When a person dies, what happens?

Last Sunday evening on NHK’s special they broadcasted a program, “Near death experience, a documentary by Takashi Tachibana, When you die, what happens to your soul?”  Takashi Tachibana, a journalistic critic, who reported on near death experience over 20 years ago, has turned 74 years old. He has cancer and heart disease so now he feels death approaching.  Therefore, once again he is contemplating about the field of near death experience from the newest research and is rethinking about “death”. Since the near death experience that certain people on the verge of death see began to receive attention in the 1980s and on there have been mainly two explanations for it. One is the scientific explanation that it is an hallucination that occurs in the brain and the other is that after our physical body dies, our soul continues to exist. There are two scientists that when Takashi Tachibana had previously interviewed them, held strongly to the scientific explanation that it is an hallucination that occurs in the brain. However, now they both have now changed their position to there is definitely a world after death. Takashi Tachibana introduced these two people.

One person is Dr. Eben Alexander、a neurological surgeon who for 25 years rejected the notion of a world after death. However, now he asserts that his out of body and near death experience while in a meningitis-induced coma in 2008 proves that consciousness is independent of the brain, and that death is a transition into eternity.

The other person is Raymond Moody. He is a psychologist, but for many years he studied near death experiences and his written many books. When he was interviewed by Takashi Tachibana on “Takahashi Tachibana reports Near death experiences, What does a person see when he dies” aired on NHK in March of 1991 Raymond Moody rejected the idea of a world after death. However 23 years later in this report he said that during these 23 years he had psychological problems and attempted suicide. During his suicide attempt he had a near death experience himself so he came to believe that there is a world after death.

The program ended with the concept that there is a world after death, but admitting that no one knew where this world is. No one knows what a soul is. We don’t know how our soul or “I” is born and how it disappears. We don’t know what “I” is.

However, the Bible knows all these things. The Bible clearly says that when a person dies, even if his body perishes, his soul lives eternally either in heaven or hell. Those who believe in God’s son Jesus Christ as their Savior that saved them from their sin will live eternally with God in Heaven. Those who don’t will as this verse says, live for eternity in hell where “the worms that eat them will not die, that fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (24) Where do you want to spend eternity? You have only two choices, heaven or hell.  There are no other possibilities.  If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be best to believe in Jesus Christ and go to heaven? For that purpose God sent Jesus into this world. God wants you to be saved and to have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

This is the essence of the Bible and the conclusion of the book of Isaiah. Those who believe in the Son will not be judged. Those who do not believe in the name of God’s only Son so they have already been judged. So that you are not judged please believe in the Son.

“That f you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Only those who believe Jesus in their hearts and confess it with their mouths will be saved. Those who don’t will not go to heaven.  Such people will go to hell.  So that that doesn’t happen, please repent of your sins and believe in Jesus. If you believe, you can go to heaven and praise God for eternity and you will please God. This is the ultimate goal for us humans who were created by God.  Let’s praise God for eternity in heaven together. Heaven or hell, which will you choose?  The choice is up to you.