Isaiah 31: Devotional Journal 67

Isaiah 31: Devotional Journal 67

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at Isaiah 31: Devotional Journal 67 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 31    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Rebuke of Assyria and Israel

In Isaiah 31, Isaiah continues to rebuke Assyria. The rebuke specifically and locally (in the time frame of Isaiah’s own life) began in Isaiah 30:31-33. There is more to God’s anger, however. Isaiah also rebukes Israel.

1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, who trust in horses and chariots, for they are many; and in horses, which are a great multitude; and have not trusted in the Holy One of Israel, and have not sought the Lord. 2 Therefore He has wisely brought evils upon them, and His word shall not be frustrated; and He shall rise up against the houses of wicked men, and against their vain hope, 3 even an Egyptian, a man, and not God; the flesh of horses, and there is no help in them; but the Lord shall bring His hand upon them, and the helpers shall fail, and all shall perish together. (CAB, LXE) (1)

Who Is the Object of “Woe to them” Verses 1-3?

We know from biblical history that Assyria did not seek help from Egypt in their attack against Israel. On the contrary, Israel sought help from Egypt. It is likely that the regions of Judah not under the direct control and protection of King Hezekiah in Jerusalem may also have journeyed to Egypt for help (2 Kings 18:13). The Bible records that King Hezekiah appealed to and trusted in the Lord. Therefore, God preserved Jerusalem, while the rest of Judah fell (2).

Verses 1-3, quoted above, clearly state God’s anger against Israel and possibly those in Judah’s “strong cities” who went down to Egypt for help. In fact, Isaiah 31:2 (LXX) states that God himself “wisely brings evils upon them, and His word cannot be set aside…” 

Change-up in Verse 5

5 As birds flying, so shall the Lord of hosts defend; He shall defend Jerusalem, and He shall rescue, and save and deliver.

Rather suddenly, which is not unusual in Isaiah, the prophecy turns. Assyria is now the object of God’s anger. God protects Jerusalem.

Question: we know that God used Assyria to punish his errant children Israel. Why then, did he turn against Assyria? Isaiah 30:33 LXX gives one reason: Assyria overstepped its bounds.

Isaiah 30:33 For you shall be required before your time; has it been prepared for you also to reign? … (CAB, LXE)

Anyone reading the Rabshaka’s words (2 Kings 18:19-37; 19:4) will recognize the arrogant pride with which he spoke. Speaking in Sennacherib’s name, his emissary resembled Satan in his exaltation of self and denial of God. God had set limits upon the punishment of his children. He intended to spare Jerusalem all along. (At a later time, however, even Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians.) In keeping with his intent to spare Jerusalem, God placed the godly King Hezekiah there at just the right moment. Hezekiah called upon God’s name and asked mercy for Jerusalem. God granted this.

What About Verse 4?

A NET Bible study note, note 14, indicates debate over a preposition. Namely, is God, roaring like a lion, fighting for Mt Zion or against it? In addition to Masoretic translators disagreeing on the Hebrew, Septuagint translators also differ. Two of three independent translations indicate that God, the metaphorical lion, fights for Mt Zion. One translation indicates against.

The consequence is that if verse 4 indicates God fighting against Zion, then verse 4 belongs with verses 1-3. If, however, God fights for Zion, then verse 4 contains the sudden switch-up. In this case it belongs with verse 5.

The Main Points Are Clear

Ultimately, Isaiah’s main points are clear. And yes, Isaiah transitions very suddenly without warning.

  • Verses 1-3 prophecy against the Israelites who turn to Egypt for help, but not to God.
  • Verse 5 prophesies God’s defense of Jerusalem.
  • Verses 8-9 prophesy the defeat of Assyria by means of God’s own sword, “a sword not of man.

That Leaves Verses 6 and 7

In verse 6, God through Isaiah calls out to his people to return to him. Isaiah lived and prophesied in the years just before the northern kingdom’s fall. There was still time for them to repent, as the people of Ninevah did in response to Jonah’s prophesying there.

NET Isaiah 31:6 You Israelites! Return to the one against whom you have so blatantly rebelled! (Isa 31:6 NET)

6 Turn, you children of Israel, who devise a deep and sinful counsel. (CAB, LXE)

Verse 7 looks to the far future. A far future is indicated for two reasons, one textual and the other historical.

7 For in that day men shall renounce their silver idols and their golden idols, which their hands have made. (CAB, LXE)

1. The text. In that day” in Isaiah often indicates the future in which Messiah shall reign.

2. The historical record. First, the record of 2 Kings indicates that Israel the northern kingdom did not repent and turn to God. The Assyrians carried them off into captivity. Second, Sennacherib of Assyria overran the “strong cities of Judah” and took them (2 Kings 18:13 LXX). Third, King Hezekiah began his reign by removing the high places of pagan worship (2 Kings 18:1-7). Therefore, he is not specifically in view in these verses.

Take-aways

Isaiah does not present a new message in Chapter 31. Rather, he repeats the warnings of judgment he previously gave. He also prophesies, as he had in prior chapters, that Jerusalem would be spared (Isaiah 8:7-8; 30:31).

Repetition is good. Parents and teachers endlessly repeat, repeat, repeat what their children need to learn. Repetition indicates God’s great desire for the salvation of his people. God does not hide his counsel, but he proclaims it loudly.

Some things never change. Today as much as ever, the world and the people of God need to hear that there is final hope in none but God. Other people and nations may supply help for a season. But ultimately, only God saves. We as individuals, churches, people groups, and nations need to know and pay attention. God’s call for us to turn away from vanity and to him is as relevant today as it ever was in Isaiah’s time, as presented in Isaiah 31.

Finally, God is sovereign. What he says he will do, he does. God is not against people. Rather, God is for people. In his prophecies through Isaiah, God’s love shines through strong.

__________

1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible. Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito.

2 See Link to Isaiah 30 Two Kingdoms and 2 Kings 17-19. Isaiah 36-37 also records these details.

Septuagint Isaiah 30:20-21: Journal 66

Septuagint Isaiah 30:20-21: Journal 66

By Christina Wilson. Published simultaneously at Septuagint Isaiah 30:20-21: Devotional Journal 66 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 30    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Septuagint Isaiah 30:20-21 Differs from the Masoretic

Not uncommonly a reader encounters a Septuagint verse or word that casts a different color of meaning than the Masoretic text. Rarely, one finds an entire statement exactly opposite from what the Masoretic contains. Such is the case with Septuagint Isaiah 30:20-21. Its meaning is quite different from the often quoted verse found in the Masoretic text of most popular English versions.

The first quotation below is from the Masoretic. The second shows the same verses from the Septuagint.

Masoretic:

20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!” (ESV)

Septuagint:

20 And though the Lord shall give you the bread of affliction and scant water, yet they that cause you to err shall no more at all draw near to you; for your eyes shall see those that cause you to err, 21 and your ears shall hear the words of them that went after you to lead you astray, who say, This is the way, let us walk in it, whether to the right or to the left. 22 And you shall pollute the plated idols, and you shall grind to powder the gilt ones, and shall scatter them as the water of a removed woman, and you shall thrust them forth as dung. (LXE, CAB) (1)

What Are the Differences?

I The Well-Known Masoretic

As many will recognize, these verses from Masoretic (Hebrew) Isaiah are well known, often quoted, and the subject of devotionals. (I attended a Bible study on 1 John in which the leader quoted these verses just last evening.) They used to be among my personal favorites when I was a young Christian.

In this version, the Lord is the Teacher whom the subject sees (verse 20). And, presumably it is the Lord’s voice the subject hears behind her. The voice confirms that the believer is walking on the right path whenever they turn to the right or to the left.

Notice that the first part of verse 20 states that the Teacher had been hidden from the subject’s eyes. Some versions state that the Teacher had hidden himself (for example, ESV and NRS). Other versions use a passive voice, which removes the intent (for example, NET and NIV).

The end result of the action is that the subject will no longer be walking blind, as it were. She will have the Lord as both her visible and audible guide. This, of course, is very good and encouraging to someone who has just been eating the bread of adversity and drinking the water of affliction. Every believer desires guidance from the Lord during tough times. She is extremely grateful to see and hear the Lord.

II The Virtually Unknown Septuagint

The Septuagint verses (Greek) tell a completely different story. The end result of encouragement and blessing is the same, however. This link presents both a translation from the Greek (Septuagint) and a standard translation from the Hebrew (Masoretic) side by side: LINK TO TEXT.

A bit of context will help understand the Greek version. Israel as a whole had been unfaithful to the Lord, especially the northern kingdom. Verse 19 introduces a new section by stating that a “holy” people shall live in Zion. The Masoretic does not contain the word “holy.” Jerusalem repents in both versions, asking for mercy, which the Lord grants.

In the first portion of verse 20, both versions similarly state that the Lord will give the people the bread of affliction and the water of adversity. But immediately after this, the Septuagint diverges to tell a different story, “They that cause you to err shall no more at all draw near to you; for your eyes shall see those that cause you to err.” What is the difference here?

THE FIRST DIFFERENCE

One difference is that in the Masoretic, the Teacher, or teachers (Lord is not named but implied) either hid himself from their sight or was hidden from them. But in the Septuagint, the “holy people” and repentant Jerusalem will not be seeing the Lord. Rather, they will see those who had been leading them astray and stay far from them. In other words, the Septuagint tells the story that the decision makers had been listening to false counsel from deceptive sources. These deceivers had been leading them astray. They didn’t know that before, but now they do. And, it wasn’t that the Lord had been hiding from them. In Isaiah, the Lord bends over backward to get their attention.

A SECOND DIFFERENCE

A second difference occurs in verse 21. The Masoretic seems to assume that the voice behind the subject is the voice of the Lord. This voice verifies that the person is walking on the correct path whenever that person has turned to either the right or to the left. Again, the Septuagint tells a different story.

First, the blind eyes of the people had been opened, so that they could see their deceivers and their deception (verse 20.) Now, in verse 21, their ears hear and recognize as false the words that had been purposefully leading them astray. The idea is that the correct path proceeds straight. The deceptive voices had been attempting to turn the people off the correct path onto false paths that went either to the right or to the left. “Your ears shall hear words behind you leading you astray, saying, ‘This is the way; let us walk in it,’ either to the right hand or to the left.” (2)

A SUMMARY OF THE SEPTUGINT PLOT LINE

Deceptive counselors had led Israel astray. For one thing, they had given them advice to appeal to Egypt for help (Isaiah 30:2). The Lord complained that they had not consulted him at all (Isaiah 30:1). After the Lord sent them trials (verse 20), they woke up. Their eyes saw and recognized their deceivers as such (verse 20). Their ears discerned the counsel as purposefully deceptive (verse 21). Now able to distinguish truth from lies, they destroyed their idols (verse 22). The Lord blessed them (verses 23-26).

The plot of Septuagint Isaiah 30:19-26 relates the spiritual journey of new believers. Following lies from birth, a person reaches the end of their rope or the bottom of their pit. Crying out to the Lord for help, he responds. He opens their blind eyes and deaf ears. New believers see their deceivers as such and discern the voice of truth and error. They understand the deceptions of their former way of life. The young sheep recognize the lies of voices telling them to turn off the path, either to the right or to the left. As they continue to follow the Lord’s straight path (his teaching), they progress in the Lord’s way. And he blesses them with spiritual growth and prosperity.

Septuagint Isaiah 30:19-26 tells a good story, one filled with truth.

__________

1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito.

2 SAAS. “Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Repentance and Blessing: Isaiah Journal 65

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at Repentance and Blessing: Isaiah Devotional Journal 65 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 30    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Repentance and Blessing

The first section of this chapter (verses 1-18) left off with the northern kingdom of Israel rejecting the Lord, but here, introducing the second section (verses 19-26), Isaiah presents Judah in a posture of submissive prayer.  The Lord gives blessing when his children show repentance.

Because a holy people shall dwell in Sion, and Ierousalem wept with weeping, “Have mercy on me,” he will have mercy on you for the voice of your cry; when he saw, he listened to you. (Isaiah 30:19 NETS New English Translation of the Septuagint)

The contrast is stark between the repentance and blessing of verse 19 and the apostasy and its consequences of the prior section.

Isaiah 30:15 Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel: When you turn back and groan, then you shall be saved and realize where you were; when you placed your trust in vain things, your strength became vain. And you were not willing to hear 16 but said, “We will flee upon horses”—therefore you shall flee! (NETS)

Time Frame of Section Two

What is the time frame of the second section of Isaiah 30, beginning with verse 19? Isaiah transitions from the first section to the second in verse 18. The time frame of the first section appears to be specifically just before the Assyrians took Israel the northern kingdom into the captivity from which they never returned (Isaiah 30 Septuagint-Two Kingdoms: Journal 64 – justonesmallvoice.com). But the time frame of the second section of chapter 30, verses 19 through 26, is looser.

First, Isaiah writes completely in an unspecified future tense, unlike in the first section. There, he addressers a present condition which finds rapid fulfillment (the northern kingdom fell to Assyria). Second, in the Septuagint, the prophet uses the phrase, “in that day,” two times (verses 23 and 25). This phrase in Isaiah often signals a future day of Messiah’s reign (see, for example, Isaiah 4:2-6, Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–13 – justonesmallvoice.com). Finally, Isaiah uses metaphors that can signal a spiritual application. For example, he writes, “Your ears shall hear words behind you… “(verse 21), as though he were speaking to a concrete individual. The agricultural metaphors seem extraordinarily idealistic (verses 23-24). Also, the metaphors concerning the light of the sun and moon lend themselves readily to an eschatological (end times), spiritual application (verse 26). Finally, verse 25 seems very much eschatological. In light of the New Testament, verse 25 is also messianic.

The failure of the people of Israel as a whole (representing all people) and the victory of Messiah, who is God himself, is Isaiah’s overall theme.

Isaiah 1:18 And come, let us reason together, says the Lord; and though your sins be as purple, I will make them white as snow; and though they be as scarlet, I will make them white as wool. (CAB, LXE)

Time Frame of Section Three

In review, the first section of Isaiah (verses 1-17) speaks to the people of Israel the northern kingdom just before their overthrow by the Assyrians. It is a local chapter in an immediate time frame. The time frame of section two (verses 19-26) is an unspecified time in Jerusalem’s future, an eschatological period of Messiah’s reign. Verse 18 stands as a bridge between these two sections. Verse 18 foretells how God will show compassion and mercy when “He will be exalted.” This foretells the New Testament event of God’s Son being “lifted up,” or “exalted,” on the cross (Isaiah Devotional Journal 64. See also  John 3:148:28; and 12:34.) What then is the time frame of section three, verses 27-33?

1. A LOCAL SETTING AND TIME

Because the text names the “Assyrians” in verse 31, the third section of chapter 30 speaks to the kingdom of Judah’s near future. In good King Hezekiah’s sixth year, Israel the northern kingdom fell completely to Assyria, as Isaiah foretold (2 Kings 18:10). Some eight years later (2 Kings 18:13-17), Assyria stood outside the walls of Jerusalem. The remainder of 2 Kings chapter 18 and all of chapter 19 tell how Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and the Lord himself  delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians. Isaiah 30:27-33 poetically describes this historical event. In addition to the detailed record in 2 Kings, Isaiah 36-37 records the details of how God delivered Jerusalem and Judah.

2. AN ESCHATOLOGICAL TIME FRAME

But the third section of Isaiah 30 can carry eschatological prophesy, as well. Consider how verse 27 follows from verse 26 in the Septuagint.

26 And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold in the day when the Lord shall heal the breach of His people, and shall heal the pain of your wound.

27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes after a long time, burning wrath; the word of His lips is with glory, a word full of anger, and the anger of His wrath shall devour like fire. (CAB, LXE)

Verse 26 finds its fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus Christ. He in turn sends the Holy Spirit to continue what he begins. Then, “after a long time (1), burning wrath” and “the anger of His wrath shall devour like fire.” The remainder of section three describes God’s wrath with a poetic vehemence that could be applied to an end of time scenario. We find God’s wrath poured out during the end times depicted in the latter chapters of Revelation.

To summarize, first comes God’s salvation through Messiah, described in verses 18-26. Then, “after a long time” comes his end times wrath. Verse 27 combines the “glory” proceeding from the lips of Christ, with the “wrath” which will “devour like fire” in the last judgment. Additionally, Isaiah writes a specifically local application in verse 31, dealing with Sennacherib and Hezekiah. So, this section, as is so often the case in prophecy, describes an already/not yet time frame.

__________

1 The Septuagint differs from the Masoretic in this verse. The Septuagint states, “The name of the Lord comes after a long time,” while the Masoretic writes, “The name of the Lord comes from afar.”

Isaiah 30 Septuagint-Two Kingdoms: Devotional 64

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at Isaiah 30 Septuagint-Two Kingdoms: Journal 64 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 30 Septuagint-Two Kingdoms: Devotional 64

Isaiah 30    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Two Kingdoms, Blessing, and Judgment: Chapter Breakdown

  1. Tragedy for Israel, the northern kingdom — verses 1-18
  2. Blessing in Zion and Jerusalem — verses 19-26
  3. Judgment — verses 27-33

Two Kingdoms? A Reader’s Responsibility

As a reader of Scripture, when I appear before God and he considers my life (Hebrews 9:27), he may ask me what I did with his Holy Word. I doubt he will ask me what my favorite commentator or teacher did with the Word he gave me to read. I believe that I am ultimately responsible to God for my interpretation of the Scripture he gives me. I am always free to say, “Lord, I don’t know what this means,” just as the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:34. I find that God often gives wisdom, through various means, when I ask for it.

Many, if not most, commentators interpret Isaiah 30:1-18 as God’s message to Judah. I disagree. I interpret this portion as another of God’s messages to the northern kingdom, Israel. Here are my reasons why.

Why Is Isaiah 30 Septuagint about Two Kingdoms?

Verses 1-18 are about the northern kingdom of Israel, rather than about Judah. Why is this?

  1. The main reason is the text itself. The text harshly describes the stance of the subject as willfully unwilling to listen and obey God’s direction to them.
  2. This hardness of heart best describes the northern kingdom of Israel during this time frame, rather than the southern kingdom of Judah.
  3. The historical record in 2 Kings supports this conclusion.
  4. There is nothing in Isaiah itself to contradict this interpretation.

I. Language of Apostasy

The text describes an apostate people. Quotations are from the Septuagint, although the Masoretic does not differ greatly.

Woe to the apostate children (τέκνα ἀποστάται, vs 1)

they that proceed to go down into Egypt, but they have not enquired of me (vs 2)

For the people is disobedient, false children, who would not hear the law of God: (vs 9)

“Turn us aside from this way; remove from us this path, and remove from us the oracle of Israel.” (lit. the Holy One of Israel, vs 11)

Therefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye have refused to obey these words, and have trusted in falsehood; and because thou hast murmured (vs 12)

therefore shall this sin be to you as a wall suddenly falling… as the breaking of an earthen vessel, as small fragments of a pitcher, so that you should not find among them a sherd, with which you might take up fire, and with which you should draw a little water (i.e., complete destruction). (vv 13-14)

When you shall turn and mourn, then you shall be saved… yet you would not hearken; (vs 15)

When Israel traveled through the wilderness with Moses, such apostasy merited death.

And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he has brought us out of the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 1:27 LXE)

Let us make a ruler, and return into Egypt (Numbers 14:4 LXE)

As I live, saith the Lord… Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness… all that murmured against me… shall not enter into the land (Numbers 14:28-30 LXE)

Thus it is with thee and all thy congregation which is gathered together against God: and who is Aaron, that ye murmur against him? 12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiron sons of Eliab; and they said, We will not go up… we will not go up… the ground opened, and swallowed them up (Numbers 16:11-12, 14, 32 LXE)

II. The Language of Apostasy Describes the Northern Kingdom, Not Judah

WHAT TIME FRAME IS THIS?

The time frame is important, since King Hezekiah submitted to God but King Hoshea of Israel did not. Did their reigns overlap? Is it reasonable to suppose that Isaiah might address the two different kingdoms in the same chapter? (One should also remember that when Isaiah wrote, there were no chapter divisions.)

As revealed by the math of 2 Kings 16:2 and 2 Kings 17:1 and directly by 2 Kings 18:1, 9, and 10, King Hezekiah reigned in Jerusalem during more than half of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel. He was king of Judah when Israel was taken. Therefore, it is very possible that Isaiah in 30:1-18 could have been addressing the northern kingdom during the first years of King Hezekiah’s reign. Isaiah writes the first portion in present tense. The third portion consists entirely of future tense. Since the third portion of the chapter concerns Assyria and Judah, it seems reasonable to conclude that the first portion concerns Assyria and Israel at a slightly earlier time.

ISAIAH’S LANGUAGE AND THE HISTORICAL RECORD OF 2 KINGS

Compare the following verses written about King Hezekiah with the language of apostasy used in Isaiah 30:1-18 (see above).

And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. (2Kings 18:3)

He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. (2Kings 18:5)

For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered… (2Kings 18:6-7 )

Israel, on the other hand, “did not obey the voice of the LORD… They neither listened nor obeyed.” (2 Kings 18:12)

Therefore, Isaiah’s language in 30:1-18 meshes better with the historical record of 2 Kings that concerns Israel.

THERE IS NOTHING IN ISAIAH TO CONTRADICT HIS SPEAKING OF ISRAEL IN VERSES 1-18

1. What we’ve seen so far is that Hezekiah and Hoshea’s reigns overlapped. Hezekiah witnessed the Assyrians carrying off the northern kingdom to captivity (2 Kings 18:10). Eight years later, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah (2 Kings 18:10, 13).

2. Egypt enters into the text in the first section, verses 2 through 7. Biblical history records in 2 Kings 17:4 that King Hoshea of the northern kingdom did send messengers to Egypt to ask for help. In order to reach Egypt from the northern kingdom, the messengers would need to pass through the desert south of Judah, the Negev. This is where they would have encountered the lions and vipers of verse 6. The wealth carried on the backs of donkeys may have been a payment to Egypt for their help.

3. But when commentators say that King Hezekiah of Judah sent to Egypt for help when facing Sennacherib, they are merely inferring that he did. They use 2 Kings 18:21 and 24 as evidence. However, this evidence proceeds from the lying mouth of the agent of Sennacherib, the enemy. He is playing psychological games with Hezekiah. His information may have been outdated, from a prior king even.

The agent demonstrates that he is playing all angles, because in the very next verse, 2 Kings 18:22, he admits that Hezekiah had told him, “We trust on the Lord God:” (2Kings 18:22 LXE). Then he proceeds to argue against that position. The Assyrian shows by the words that proceed from his mouth that he neither understands God nor Hezekiah’s relationship with Him. In other words, Sennacherib’s agent is not a trustworthy witness to Hezekiah’s actions.

Scripture makes no direct statement that King Hezekiah himself sent to Egypt during the time when the Assyrians laid seize upon Jerusalem. Scripture does make such a statement about King Hoshea of the northern kingdom of Israel. And contrary to this, Scripture states that Hezekiah trusted in the Lord and sent to the prophet Isaiah for counsel.

2 Kings 19:1 And it came to pass when king Ezekias heard it, that he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, an went into the house of the Lord. 2 And he sent Heliakim the steward, and Somnas the scribe, and the elders of the priests, clothed with sackcloth, to Esaias the prophet the son of Amos. (LXE)

3. Finally, in brief, Isaiah 28, barely two chapters prior, spoke of the northern kingdom. Why shouldn’t chapter 30?

Why Does This Matter?

Why should it matter whether or not the first eighteen verses of chapter 30 in Isaiah reference Israel or Judah? For a reader such as myself, it is important to distinguish carefully concerning the language of Scripture. If the entirety of Isaiah 30 refers to Judah, then it is as though one need not take God’s warnings seriously. For example, in verse 15 God says, “When you return and groan [as in repentant prayer], then you will be saved… and you did not will to listen (SAAS).” (1) Rephrased in the positive, they purposefully chose not to listen. God calls them “apostate children” (vs 1), “a disobedient people, false children, children who are unwilling to hear the law of God” (vs 9) (SAAS). They said, “Take away from us the Holy One of Israel” (vs 11 SAAS)

When God expressed his willingness to forgive (vs 15), they “did not will to listen” (vs 15, SAAS). Aside from the fact that this text does not describe King Hezekiah, how could God move from the strong language of impending judgment in the first section of Isaiah 30 to language of blessing in the second and third sections with no sign from these people of any sort of repentance? At this point in history, with no repentance in sight, God chose to give up Israel the northern kingdom to their own will (Isaiah 30:16), just as he said he would. (See 2 Kings 17:23.) God’s actions were consistent with his words.

But…God’s Mercy, Yes…But, the Caveat of Messiah’s Cross

But, nevertheless, God is patient, longsuffering, and gracious. Verse 18 expresses God’s infinite patience and grace. Isaiah 30:18 speaks of the compassion and mercy of God for his people. God is willing to wait. But there is a caveat. His grace ultimately comes through Jesus Christ, Messiah. There is no grace without judgment. “The Lord our God is a judge” (NETS). God’s mercy arrives as his judgment falls on Christ. “And again God will wait to have compassion on you; therefore he will be exalted to show mercy to you, because the Lord our God is a judge… ” (NETS).

God expresses his mercy when Christ is “exalted,” or “lifted up,” (ὑψωθήσεται) on the cross. Septuagint Isaiah uses the same flexible Greek word (ὑψόω) that John uses in John 3:14; 8:28; and 12:34 . Yes indeed, God expressed his grace in Christ while we were yet enemies (Romans 5:10). But, neither Israel’s nor Judah’s salvation is automatic, nor inevitable, simply because they bear that name. When God expresses his grace, Israel must receive it according to God’s own standards. The prophet asks in Septuagint Isaiah 30:18 (SAAS, NETS), “And where will you leave your glory?” (NETS). They have a choice. Then Isaiah supplies the only right answer, “Blessed are those who abide in Him” (SAAS) (1).

Isaiah 30:18 And again God will wait, that He may have mercy on you, because the Lord our God is a judge, and where will you leave behind your glory? Blessed are all those who abide in Him.” SAAS (1) (See also NETS).

The Crux

And here is the crux of why it matters whether or not Isaiah addresses Israel or Judah in Septuagint Isaiah 30:1-18. The language of this passage is harshly accusatory against its recipient. Nevertheless, God is willing to extend mercy, but he will do so only on his own terms. His terms involve his own exaltation (the cross). At this point in history, there were two kingdoms with two exactly opposite responses. Israel the northern kingdom chose to reject God and walk away from him. They steadfastly pursued this course of apostasy. And God let them go, consistent with his statements of intention in Scripture.

On the other hand, Scripture records that Hezekiah of the kingdom of Judah “rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:1 LXE). He also sent to Isaiah for counsel and help. He trusted God and moved toward him, not away from him. The rest of Isaiah 30:19-33 shows that help and salvation came to Hezekiah and Jerusalem.

The crux is that salvation only comes through the cross of Christ, whether your name is Israel, Judah, or Gentile. There is no difference (Galatians 3:27). “All Israel” will not be saved until all Israel does it God’s way in Christ. Fortunately, God left a remnant, even for the northern kingdom of Israel. 2 Kings 17:27-28 records how the king of the Assyrians sent back a tiny remnant into the land of the northern kingdom, Israel. God is faithful to his promise. For this reason, Scripture also records that Jesus, Messiah, “had to pass through Samaria.” In preaching to the remnant there, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him… And many more believed because of his word” (John 4:39-41 ESV). As Paul writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33 ESV).

For those who refuse God’s offer of mercy, only judgment remains (Hebrews 9:27). Please, dear reader, don’t be one of those of whom Scripture says, “They would not” (2 Kings 17:14). But I hope and pray better things for those reading this.

__________

1 SAAS. “Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Blessing Returns: Isaiah Journal 63

By Christina M Wilson. Posted simultaneously at Blessing Returns: Isaiah Devotional Journal 63 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 29    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

(Chapter 29 Part 2. LINK to Part 1)

Divisions of Chapter 29

  1. Verses 1-4 are against Ariel, which is Jerusalem
  2. Verses 5-8 are against Ariel’s enemies
  3. Verses 9-16 judge the people of Jerusalem, especially its leaders
  4. Verses 17-24 concern a new season for Abraham and Jacob’s family

Blessing upon Abraham and Jacob’s Progeny

Verse 17 introduces one of Isaiah’s many reversals, or switchbacks. In the preceding verses, God through the prophet condemned the people of Jerusalem and their rulers. He promised to remove them, as a potter would his clay. But in verse 17 through the end of the chapter, he blesses his people. But are these the same people he condemns immediately before this section begins?

When and What?

First, the phrase “a little while” in verse 17 would indicate a future that is not the end, end times, as in the very end of time which ushers in a new heaven and a new earth. The age of Messiah’s incarnation therefore might be the “little while” Isaiah holds in view.

Next, the metaphor of verse 17 is widely accepted to indicate a reversal of fortune. According to NET Bible’s study notes, “The meaning of this verse is debated, but it seems to depict a reversal in fortunes. The mighty forest of Lebanon (symbolic of the proud and powerful, see 2:13; 10:34) will be changed into a common orchard, while the common orchard (symbolic of the oppressed and lowly) will grow into a great forest.” This interpretation matches the Septuagint of verse 14, which speaks of God’s “removal” of the leaders and people of Israel who opposed him (See Journal 62).

More Reversals

Verse 17 introduces the first of a series of reversals. What are these?

  • the deaf shall hear (v 18)
  • the blind shall see (v 18)
  • the poor (meek) shall rejoice (v 19)
  • the hopeless (poor) shall be filled with gladness (v 19)
  • the lawless man has come to an end (v 20)
  • the arrogant man has perished (v 20)
  • the malicious are utterly destroyed (v 20)
  • those who give false witness will be gone (v 21)
  • these are they who “entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate” (NET) [devious lawyers] (v 21)
  • these are they who “deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges” (NET) (v 21)

Verses 18 and 19 bear a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ’s statement in Matthew 11:5.

the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:5 ESV)

Also, it’s as though Jesus took portions of his Sermon on the Mount straight from the book of Isaiah.

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:3-6 ESV)

The Reversals Reveal Two Groups

Isaiah in the verses from 18-21 divides his subjects into two groups. The first group begins low and rises high. The second group begins high and sinks low. Who are those receiving the blessings in verses 18-19? They are the deaf, the blind, the meek, the poor in spirit, and those wronged by the law and the court system. Who are those to be condemned and destroyed in verses 20-21? They are the lawless, the arrogant, the malicious, and the liars who harm their neighbors. These people sound remarkably like the teachers and leaders of Jerusalem whom Isaiah described in Isaiah 29:1-4 and 13-16.

Zooming In on the Who?

Where do the poor people come from, those whom Isaiah prophesies God will bless in “a little while”? There seem to be two plausible choices.

ONE, they could be the progeny of the people and religious leaders whom Isaiah prophesied against in verses 1-4 and 13-16. Perhaps they will repent and have a great change of heart. They may recognize their blindness and deafness and poverty of spirit and turn to the Lord. The Apostle Paul says this is possible.

Romans 11:23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. (ESV)

TWO, they could be the progeny of those few who always hoped in the God of Israel. Or, perhaps they are a small group who repent and turn back to the Lord. In either case, they are those whom Isaiah calls the remnant (Isaiah 28:5; 10:20-22). They are the blind, the deaf, the poor, the hopeless, and the victims of legal injustice. This remnant resembles the crowds who believed in Jesus, and after his resurrection continued to believe in God and his Son. Paul speaks of this remnant in Romans 9-11.

Significance of Abraham

Isaiah 29:22 in the Septuagint (NETS, SAAS) names three names: Abraham, house of Jacob, Jacob himself, and Israel. The Masoretic (Hebrew) uses the names Abraham, house of Jacob, and Jacob. The naming of “Abraham” is new in Isaiah. This is his first appearance. The name Jacob, on the other hand, occurs frequently. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32:28. “Jacob” and “Israel” are most likely synonymous in this verse.

Why does Isaiah use the name Abraham in reference to the group of people whose lowly state will be so radically changed to blessing? There are only three other uses of Abraham in all of Isaiah: Isaiah 41:8; 51:2; and 63:16. Is Isaiah’s use of this name in chapter 29 significant?

Here is what we know about Abraham.

  1. God justified Abraham because of  his faith (Romans 4:3, 9, 12, 13, 16; Galatians 3:6).
  2. Those who are of faith are the sons [children] of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 9).
  3. Abraham predates the establishment of national Israel by many generations.

One reasonably wonders if Isaiah purposefully chose the name Abraham in order to emphasize these distinguishing characteristics.

HOW WILL ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN RESPOND?

Isaiah continues.

Isaiah 29:23 But when their children shall have seen my works, they shall sanctify my name for my sake, and they sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. (LXE)

The religious leaders of Jesus’s day saw all his works. They witnessed paralytics walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, lepers cleansed, and even the dead raised (John 11). Did they sanctify God’s name? No, they crucified Messiah, God’s Son. But many did see and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob. They were the poor, the sinners, and the outcasts whom Jesus blessed, just as Isaiah prophesied.

VERSE 24

Isaiah 29:24 indicates that some will be given a new heart. The chapter closes with this final blessing of reversal. “And they that erred in spirit shall know understanding, and the murmurers shall learn obedience, and the stammering tongues shall learn to speak peace.” These people with changed hearts would be the same ones of whom Isaiah speaks in verses 22 and 23.

Conclusion: Interpretation of Isaiah

Isaiah and the gospel narratives are interrelated. Isaiah points forward to the Gospel, and the gospels themselves look back upon Isaiah. In the four gospels the enmity between Christ and the religious leaders of his day is apparent (witness the crucifixion). Yet Jesus preached for the most part to his own people, the Jewish nation (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:25). Those who believed, beginning with the eleven disciples, were Jewish. These preached to other Jewish people, who also believed. Eventually, the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to Gentiles. These believed in far greater numbers than the people of Israel. Paul addresses this situation in Romans 9-11. National Israel to this day has not believed in Messiah Jesus Christ. However, many individuals of ethnic Israel have believed throughout the ages: a group within a group.

Paul in Romans specifically speaks to Gentiles and Jewish believers who may be thinking that the word of God–that is, his Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–had failed (Romans 9:1-6a). Verse 6a reads, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.” Immediately, he states, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9:6b). He develops this theme in chapters 9, 10, and 11. Who are the ones whom Paul claims “belong to Israel”? They are those who believe in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

Paul and Isaiah both teach that Messiah is from God. God is for Israel. God sent Messiah, his Son, to redeem Israel. The children of those who were faithful to God in the Old Testament (very few, says Isaiah), will continue to be faithful to him when he sends Messiah. Or, if not consistently faithful, then repentant. Messiah is Christ. The Gospel of Christ flows in a smooth stream from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Isaiah speaks of Christ. Christ is the “foundation,” the “precious cornerstone” upon which the church is built (Isaiah 28:16).

Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied of Messiah and those who receive him. Then, in the New Testament, Messiah comes. This is all very Jewish. Messiah, Christ Jesus, is Jewish. The problem arose with the actual identity of the God-man. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’s day rejected Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. They did not reject the Scriptures, such as Isaiah, which prophesied that Messiah would come (John 5:39-40, 45-47).

The “remnant” includes the faithful Israelites of the Old Testament (those like Isaiah) and the faithful Israelites of the New Testament (those like the eleven disciples, Elizabeth, Mary, Paul, and all the rest.) This is the best way to understand the jerky flip-flops that Isaiah makes. He alternates between the faithful and the unfaithful, the obedient and the disobedient, the repentant and those who refuse to repent. These are two groups. 

Is this “replacement theology”? Does Paul use Isaiah’s “remnant” to replace Israel in the New Testament? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that faithful Israel replaces national Israel. Faith is an issue of heart, not of national boundaries. And no, Paul does not “replace” Israel. Paul claims that the people of Israel are natural branches in God’s olive tree (Romans 11:16-21). The unfaithful branches were broken off. The Gentiles are the ones who have been grafted in. When ethnic Israel lines up once more with God’s purpose in Messiah, says Paul, they can be grafted in again (Romans 11:20, 23). But God’s olive tree consists of faithful people, not political nations. “My kingdom is not of this world,” says Christ (John 18:36).

Who is Jesus of Nazareth, if not a Jew? (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38; John 1:11). The church does not “replace” Israel. Rather, the church is what faithful Israel becomes. The church equals faithful Israel and those Gentiles whom God grafts in. This is what Isaiah consistently teaches all along. I personally think of the church as the butterfly that emerges from Old Testament Israel’s cocoon, no irreverence intended.

Once the reader understands Isaiah’s method of switching back and forth between Israel’s two essential groups–those faithful to God the King, and those unfaithful to him–she can see that God is consistent to himself. He is not a God who changes his mind (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:21).

I join with Paul in his prayers for his kinsmen, those of Paul’s race, ethnic Israelites. I pray that they awaken from their deep sleep, that the blind will see, that the deaf will hear and understand, that “those who erred in spirit shall know understanding, and those who complained will learn to obey” (Isaiah 29:24 SAAS).

And many blessings, dear readers, upon us all. May God’s purpose in Christ be fulfilled.

Ariel and Her Enemies: Isaiah Journal 62

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at : https://justonesmallvoice.com/ariel-and-her-en…ional-journal-62/.

Isaiah 29    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Divisions of Chapter 29

  1. Verses 1-4 are against Ariel, which is Jerusalem
  2. Verses 5-8 are against Ariel’s enemies
  3. Verses 9-16 judge the people of Jerusalem, especially its leaders
  4. Verses 17-24 concern a new season for Abraham and Jacob’s family

Characteristics of the People within the Divisions

The people of Isaiah’s day, as described in verses 9-16 are contrasted with a people of a later day in verses 17-24. Both of these groups of people are called “Israel.” Paul in the New Testament (this is a Christian viewpoint) describes the relationship between these two groups.

Romans 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (ESV)

Who are the elect? They are a group within a group. Isaiah also presents these contrasting groups. However, he does not give the “elect” group a label, as Paul does. We will see in a bit how he handles the distinction.

Ariel and Its Leaders

1. “Woe to the city of Ariel” (verses 1-4)

Context (verses 3 and 7 LXX, 8) indicates that Ariel is another name for Jerusalem. David conquered it shortly after becoming king (2 Samuel 5:6-7). She will be no better off than the pagan nation of Moab (Isaiah 25:10-12). God himself in this oracle will afflict Jerusalem, encircling her with a barricade, as David did. In particular, God will take for himself her strength and wealth (vs 3) and will humble her words and speech (vs 4).

2. The enemies of Ariel/Jerusalem

In American politics, people often think that if a person is against a certain political party, then they must favor the opposing party. For many, however, this description fails to capture the reality that some people condemn both parties. Isaiah always makes the fact of punishment against both Israel and her enemies very clear. God judges and punishes his people, yes. But, he also judges and punishes “as many as have fought against Ariel, and all they that war against Jerusalem” (Isaiah 29:7). In verses 5-8, God turns these enemies to dust-like chaff and blows them away. His wrath in verse 6 is extreme. Notice that the Septuagint uses both the names Ariel and Jerusalem synonymously in verse 7. The Masoretic does not.

3. “A spirit of deep sleep” (verses 9-12)

If God were a man, we would say that he is deeply frustrated with the lack of understanding of his people. Verses 9-12 describe the Lord’s chastisement upon them–he will put them to sleep (vs 10) and take away even what little understanding they may have (11-12). These verses describe a deep, spiritual blindness, a total inability to perceive the Lord and his ways. The Lord intensifies their stubborn spiritual rebellion by giving them a “spirit of deep sleep.

Isaiah 29:9 Faint, and be amazed, and be overpowered, not with strong drink, nor with wine. 10 For the Lord has made you to drink a spirit of deep sleep; and He shall close their eyes, and the eyes of their prophets and of their rulers, who see secret things.

The Apostle Paul quotes this portion of Isaiah.

Romans 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (ESV)

Paul neither gloats nor rejoices over the fact of Israel’s failure. No Christian should. Paul grieves tremendously over the state of his fellow kinspeople (Romans 9:2-3).

4. Punishment for the Hypocrites (verses 13-16)

THE CAUSE

An appropriate word for the religious leaders portrayed in verses 13-16 is hypocrites. While Isaiah does not use the word “hypocrites,” Jesus certainly does. Both Isaiah and the Lord Jesus describe very similarly the characteristics of the religious leaders of their respective day.

Isaiah directly quotes the Lord God in verse 13.

13 And the Lord has said, This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and they honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; and in vain do they worship Me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men. (CAB, LXE)

And Jesus chooses this verse from Isaiah to quote.

Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
(ESV)

According to the concordance, Jesus uses the word “hypocrites” seventeen times in the three synoptic gospels.

THE PUNISHMENT OF REMOVAL

Isaiah 29:14 Therefore behold, I will proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them; and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent. (CAB, LXE)

Verse 14 above from the Greek Septuagint differs from the Hebrew Masoretic. The Hebrew text does not contain the word “remove.” A comparison of the two textual traditions (see Link) reveals that in this instance, the Septuagint word choice best matches the context of this verse and the surrounding verses, both before and after. For example, a change of circumstance brought on by removal fits well with the imagery of a potter who speaks to his rejected pot in verse 16. Very commonly, potters remove an unsatisfactory clay vessel from their wheel. They crush the clay and toss the used lump back into a bulk bin to be reworked and formed into another, brand new pot. But the word “remove” is not critical, in any case. Verses 13-16 of both textual traditions display negative judgments toward “this people” Israel.

To Be Continued: Blessing upon Abraham and Jacob’s progeny in Isaiah 29:17-24

A Plea to Listen: Isaiah Journal 61

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at A Plea to Listen: Isaiah Devotional Journal 61 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 28-29    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

In this section, Isaiah pleads with three groups of people to listen to God’s instruction. Two groups scoff, and one group hears.

Three Groups and a Savior

Chapter 28 presents all three of the people groups Isaiah frequently mentions and God’s own Chosen One.

  1. Israel, the northern kingdom (Ephraim, Samaria)–Isaiah 28:1-4 and 7-13
  2. Jerusalem, representing the southern kingdom–Isaiah 28:14-21
  3. The Remnant–Isaiah 28:5-616
  4. The Savior appears in Isaiah 28:516.

Complaint Against the Northern Kingdom

Group 1 (Israel): The prophet Isaiah pronounces woe upon Ephraim. Pride and drunkenness characterize their sin. God had given them a rich and productive land in Canaan, which their greed caused them to exploit, as though they were merely hired servants, rather than owners. After the enemy sweeps through like a violent storm, then the land will rest (Isaiah 28:2, LXE).

Group 3 (the Remnant): When the enemy washes away the false pride of Israel, God will leave behind a remnant of his people Isaiah 28:5). These will steward the land with just judgments and strong encouragement in the Lord (Isaiah 28:6).

The Savior (4 above): In a latter day statement, Isaiah prophesies that the Lord of hosts will himself replace Israel. “In that day, the Lord of hosts shall be the crown of hope, woven of glory, to the remnant of My people” (SAAS) (1). In the words of a popular preacher, the Lord never takes something away without putting something better in its place. God will remove the northern kingdom, which failed him, and replace the nation with himself (Messiah, the Son).

Group 1 (Israel): Verses 7-8 confirms with further detail the judgment against the nation’s leaders, given in verses 1-4.

Israel Rejects God’s Instruction

God attempted to teach his errant people. He did so simply, as to young children just weaned from milk. He gave them, “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little,” (Isaiah 28:10 and see v. 13, ESV). But Israel neither listened nor learned. Even when the foreign invader would arrive, they still refused to listen.

The Southern Kingdom

Group 2: In Isaiah 28:14-5, the prophet turns his attention to the southern kingdom (Jerusalem). They did no better, perhaps worse, than the northern kingdom. In what appears to be a metaphor, Isaiah charges that they boldly asserted they had made a contract with death. These people, having been blessed by God, turned against God and bartered with his spiritual enemy, death. They think that evil deception will protect them from the punishment God will send.

The Savior

In one of the most quoted verses of Scripture, God declares–

therefore thus says the Lord, See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16 NETS) (1 Peter 2:6-8Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 8:14).

The Remnant

The careful reader can perceive Isaiah’s weaving together of God’s pattern. First, God called Israel as a people–Abraham and his seed. The people, under Joshua, became a nation. The nation divided into two nations after King Solomon. Both of these nations failed to remain loyal to God their king. But–however–in spite of that–God always preserved a remnant people who remained loyal to his ways. This remnant includes “whoever believes in him” and “will not be put to shame.”

God’s Warning and Instruction

God warned the nation. Isaiah 28:17-19 explains how his judgmental discipline and mercy would benefit the nation if they were to heed it. “Learn to listen, you in difficult straits, (SAAS) (1)” he pleads in Septuagint verses 19-20.

The remainder of the chapter cautions the southern nation not to mock and make sport of God’s words through the prophet. Isaiah patiently uses agriculture to describe God’s teaching method. God is not an overly harsh teacher. He proceeds step by step, everything in its order and season. As though he were a farmer, he knows how to teach all different kinds of people. He varies his instruction depending upon his purpose and the nature of the one he handles. The chapter closes by stating, “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29 ESV).

But Do They Listen?

Chapter 29 will answer this question.

To Be Continued…

__________

1 SAAS. "Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Switchback–Blessing Disappears: Isaiah Journal 60

By Christina M Wilson. Posted simultaneously at Switchback-Blessing Disappears: Isaiah Devotional Journal 60 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 28-29    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Blessing Suddenly Disappears

As the reader continues in Isaiah, a pattern appears. Isaiah fills his writing with “switchbacks.” A switchback is when a pathway turns back upon itself and leads in an opposite direction. In Chapter 28, Isaiah abandons the blessing upon Israel of Chapter 27 and heads back in the direction of judgment and doom. That is, until…he switches back again. (See Switchbacks in Isaiah.)

Secondly, Chapter 27 contained strong suggestions of an end times synopsis. Isaiah 27:12-13 seemed to be writing of an ingathering that included all Israel. But here, Isaiah treats the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom separately. This is noteworthy, because Isaiah has not specifically mentioned Northern Israel (Ephraim in Isaiah 28:1) since Isaiah 17:3. Both kingdoms, as distinct from each other, have not been mentioned since Isaiah 11:13. But here, the prophet singles out Ephraim in Chapter 28 and Ariel (Jerusalem, the City of David) in Chapters 28 and 29.

Unravelling the Mystery

The fact is that Isaiah presents God as judging and condemning Israel one moment and blessing her the next. What is a reader to make of these constant flip flops?

Possibilities

  1. God is schizophrenic.
  2. God is a “parent” who cannot make up his mind. His hand of discipline is not to be believed. When he disciplines, he will surely change his mind and turn the judgment into blessing. Therefore, his discipline need not be taken seriously.
  3. God can rightfully discipline his child, Israel, and he does. However, the disciplinary judgment will not be the last word, because long ago, God promised Abraham that he would bless his seed. God cannot go back on his word of promise. Therefore, the final state must be blessing. Again, Isaiah’s pronouncements of severe judgment need not be taken too seriously.
  4. Isaiah addresses several different groups of people. These groups do not overlap. In this scenario, judgment is judgment and will not be rescinded. The blessing is blessing that fulfills God’s promises, but not everyone will be blessed. It is wise to pay attention and believe the words of judgment Isaiah speaks.
  5. My point of view is the latter, number four above.

What Groups Does Isaiah Address?

  1. Ephraim (northern Israel), mostly disobedient to God.
  2. Judah (southern Israel), mostly disobedient to God.
  3. A remnant from all Israel (northern and southern), repentant and mostly obedient to God.

This grouping solves the question of why the constant switching back and forth. No, God is not schizophrenic. Yes, God knows his own mind and is thoroughly consistent. Yes, God’s word is God’s word. When he speaks judgment, he means judgment and will carry it out. When he speaks blessing, he means blessing and will carry it out. God will fulfill his promise to Abraham, but most of Israel will not receive it. A repentant, contrite, obedient, faithful remnant will receive the full blessing of God.

Note that in Isaiah’s day, there were not three concrete, political groups. That is, only a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom were visible. There did not exist a political boundary for a geographical area called “Remnant.” The Old Testament remnant, a remnant people, remained hidden and scattered throughout both kingdoms. That is, there were always a few people interspersed among the nation who remained faithful to God, his word, and his law. It is fascinating to watch as God protects this remnant throughout Israel’s history.

The Manner of Blessing

Finally, the prophet makes clear that the manner of God’s blessing the remnant of his people will be through a Man of his own choosing (Isaiah 28:16).

Isaiah 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord, See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame. (NETS) (See 1 Peter 2:6)

Therefore, the focus is not on the remnant, nor so much upon God’s promise, but upon the Stone, the precious stone, the costly foundation. The focus is also upon belief in him. With this Stone for a foundation, God himself accomplishes what he intended to do. Isaiah grants no blessing to rebellious Israel.

Next Time: Examples of Isaiah’s groups in Chapters 28 and 29.

Blessing Israel: Isaiah Journal 59

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at Blessing Israel: Isaiah Devotional Journal 59 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 27:12-13    Septuagint Modernized

Preface

Isaiah brings his four-chapter apocalyptic vision to a close with verses 12-13 of chapter 27, the blessing on Israel. The “apocalypse,” or end time vision, began in Chapter 24. Briefly, here is an outline of these chapters in the Septuagint tradition.

  • Chapter 24: Worldwide judgment, destruction; worldwide rejoicing in the Lord by a spared, “left behind” remnant (24:14).
  • Chapter 25: Worldwide salvation by God in Zion and worldwide judgment on evil.
  • Chapter 26: A back and forth movement between praise for worldwide salvation and statements of worldwide judgment and removal of the ungodly.
  • Chapter 27: Israel–God’s judgment and blessing.

Dividing Septuagint Chapter 27

Except for verse 1, Chapter 27 speaks of Israel only. I divide this Septuagint chapter as follows.

  1. Isaiah 27:1 describes the final destruction of Satan. This verse best fits with Chapter 26. It provides a suitable ending for the three prior apocalyptic chapters that deal with the entire world.
  2. Septuagint chapter 27 gives three statements of blessing for Israel: verse 6, verse 9, and verses 12-13. Verses 2-5 in the Septuagint differ significantly from the Masoretic text. They are in fact at opposite poles (See Journal 56). While the Masoretic sees blessing for the vineyard, the Septuagint prophesies that God “has set her aside” (v. 4).
  3. Because the totality of chapter 27:2-11 appears to prophesy concerning Israel throughout, verses 12 to 13 best apply to Israel alone, rather than to the whole world. Christians everywhere know that they have been sought out, chosen, and accepted by God. They have been grafted into Israel’s olive tree (Romans 11:17 and elsewhere). Here though, I believe Isaiah is not describing the ingathering of Gentiles. He has already done so in chapters 25-26, and he will do so again elsewhere. But here in verses 12 and 13, I believe the text specifically speaks again of the “children of Jacob” (vs 6).
  4. On the other hand, there is no reason, other than chapter context, to exclude Gentiles from the meaning of verse 13. The vocabulary itself does not appear to do so.

Details of Septuagint Verses 12 and 13

12 And it shall come to pass in that day that God shall fence men off from the channel of the river as far as the Brook of Egypt; but gather one by one the children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day that they shall blow the great trumpet, and the lost ones in the land of the  Assyrians shall come, and the lost ones in Egypt, and shall worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE) (1)

These two verse of Isaiah raise more questions than they answer. Two things are clear, however. First, these verses are not clear in their details. Second, God intends to bless the children of Israel.

The Boundaries

1. Both verses open with the phrase, “in that day”. In this end times context, “in that day” refers to the end times. This could include any time from the advent of Christ and the spread of his kingdom through the gospel message (Isaiah 26:1-6) to Satan’s destruction near the very end of this age (Isaiah 27:1).

2. The geographical boundaries indicated in verse 12 approximate the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham by God (Genesis 13:14). These ideal boundaries reflect times of blessing and prosperity in Israel’s long history.

3. In verse 13, the “great trumpet” will call “the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians” and “the lost ones in Egypt” to worship. These boundaries reflect times of hardship and abandonment by the Lord. Assyria and Egypt are the nations to which many Israelites fled or were led before the last invasion by Babylonia. These are Gentile nations, although the reader should not forget Isaiah 19:24-25, in which God specifically blesses these peoples.

4. Placed together and in totality, the two verses seem to indicate that the in-harvesting of Israel shall be complete, encompassing all the known places where they lived, up to and including Isaiah’s day. (Greece had not yet conquered Israel, nor had Rome.) Note: The fact that Assyria and Egypt worshiped pagan deities in Isaiah’s day does not indicate that the “lost ones” include Gentiles.

The “Lost Ones”

1. What about the Septuagint phrase, “lost ones, οἱ ἀπολόμενοι,“–the “lost ones” in the land of the Assyrians and the “lost ones” in Egypt? The verb base of this noun represents a strong form of destruction. It first appears in Genesis for the destruction, or sweeping away, of Sodom. It shows up in Exodus 10:7 for the destruction of Egypt. Leviticus 7 uses the word for a cutting off in the sense of complete separation. (See Leviticus 7:20.) In Numbers 14:12 the word means “disinherit.”

2. Isaiah uses the verb form of “lost ones” frequently. Examples are Isaiah 24:12; 25:11; and 26:14. In each of these verses, the verb means to destroy, even permanently.

3. In the context of verse 13, Egypt and Assyria were enemy nations. Those “lost” there were cut off, even to the point of destruction. Therefore, when Isaiah 27:13 speaks of bringing back the “lost ones” in Egypt and Assyria, it is as though he were saying that the great trumpet will bring them back from the dead “to worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”

4. Other biblical passages refer to Israel having been dead and resurrected. The most famous of these is Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Paul speaks of Israel’s having been cut off and grafted back in again (Romans 11:15, 17, 23-24). These verses display the mercy and goodness of God. 

NEW TESTAMENT PARALLELS

Matthew 10:6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

Matthew 15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The words “lost” in the verses above use the identical Greek word base as in Septuagint Isaiah. 

Jesus is saying that the people of Israel were “lost.” Further, he came to rescue them. 

The Great Trumpet

“They shall blow the great trumpet” (vs 13). What trumpet is this?

1. The word “trumpet” is first used in Exodus 19:13 to call the people to God’s presence on Mt Sinai. The trumpet sounded in Israel to call the people to war, to announce victory (1 Samuel 13:3), to stop the people from fighting (2 Samuel 2:28), and to announce a new king (2 Samuel 15:10, 1 Kings 1:41, 43). The trumpet therefore signifies an important announcement or command. Yet none of these are a “great trumpet.” This particular phrase seems to be unique to Isaiah, chapter 27.

2. The purpose of the “great trumpet” is to call the “lost ones” out from Egypt and Assyria in order to “worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” 

3. The Septuagint reads that “they” shall blow the great trumpet. Who could “they” be? Could “they” be the apostles and disciples of Christ who blew the gospel trumpet?

One by One

Verse 12 in the Septuagint states, “do ye gather one by one the children of Israel.” The text does not indicate who “they” are. (The Masoretic text displays a second person plural, “You will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel.”)

1. The Septuagint uses the word “gather, συναγάγετε.” This word is a verb form of the noun “synagogue.” The Hebrew texts, depending upon translation, use the metaphorical language of threshing grain or beating off fruit from a tree. 

2. The gathering in the Septuagint and in Masoretic texts is to be done “one by one.”

3. Ordinarily, grain on the threshing floor is not gathered up “grain by grain” or “one by one” after the chaff has been removed. Rather, the totality of the threshed grain is gathered together in heaps. Neither is fruit that is beaten, or knocked, from a tree gathered “one by one” out in the orchard. Rather, everything that falls is collected and separated out later. Isaiah uses his language carefully to indicate that the harvest is not bulk, but individual, one by one.

Summary 

These two verses in Isaiah 27, verses 12 and 13, stun with their brevity and enormity of meaning. 

1. They represent a reversal in the fortunes of Israel. Septuagint Isaiah 27 in its entirety describes a nation whom God rejects. The vineyard image in verses 2-5 portray judgment. Verses 7-8 and 10-11 expand the theme of exile.

2. Verses 6 and 9 stand out like large boulders in a rapidly flowing stream. The torrential waters flow around these verses of blessing, but not over them. Similarly, God’s wrath flows around his people, but does not drown them completely. God’s mercy is like a boulder that will not be moved (Matthew 7:24-25).

3. Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe the manner of God’s blessing upon his “lost” people.

Synthesis

God’s promise of blessing upon Israel stands today. What are the details of this blessing? 

First, God does not and will not bless stubborn resistance to his ways. People who persist in rebellion will be removed and cut off from his people and worse, his own presence (vv 2-5, 7-8, 9-11). 

Second, some will turn to the Lord, crying, “Let us make peace with him, let us make peace” (vs 5). These are the “children of Jacob” from whom “Israel shall bud and blossom.” “The world shall be filled with his fruit.” (The latter quotes are from Septuagint verse 6.)

Verse 9 speaks of atonement and sanctification. It speaks of atonement, because God himself will take away their sin. It speaks of sanctification, because the people shall themselves destroy and remove all their idolatry and signs of it.

Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe how Israel’s “fruit” (vs 6) shall be harvested. 

THE HARVEST–VERSES 12-13

The harvest will be of a remnant of the people. Not everyone born to Israel will be saved. The prior sections establish this. God makes no promises to the persistently rebellious. Even more specifically, verse 12 spells out that “the children of Israel” will be gathered “one by one.” 

“One by one” indicates several things. One, the phrase pronounces God’s sovereignty of choice. Selection is not by an automatic standard. Second, “one by one” indicates care and precision. God cares about each individual child. Third, and most importantly, “one by one” indicates the individuality of the selection process. The nation as a whole, as a group, shall not be harvested. Each grain or piece of fruit individually will be examined and either collected or rejected on its own merit. 

 John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (ESV)

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)

Matthew 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (ESV)

Conclusion

The advent of Jesus Christ, God’s chosen one, Messiah, changed everything for Israel. God did indeed set the nation aside, as a national theocracy. When its fruit ripened, the seed emerged. The flesh of the fruit then rotted and died. God wanted the eternal Seed, not the fleshly, outer husk. Further, the advent of Israel’s Messiah introduced a new standard of acceptance based on God’s grace through faith in Christ. Nevertheless, God gloriously fulfilled Old Testament Israel’s purpose. Messiah came. The physical seed of Abraham and David had been preserved. The eternal king was born of their genetic line. And, God spared a remnant of the people. Even though it’s a remnant, there is no limit to its size. The eternal kingdom of Christ can be infinitely large. God is willing. He is for descendants of Jacob, just as he is for all people–descendants of Cain, Ishmael, Esau, and every single ethnicity on the globe. Septuagint Isaiah 27, which concerns Israel, meshes well with the New Testament gospel message: God is for us.

God is for us, through his Son. Are you, dear reader, for him?

__________

1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible. Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito.

Israel’s Exile: Devotional Journal 58

By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at Israel’s Exile: Isaiah Devotional Journal 58 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 27:7-13    Septuagint Modernized

The Exile

Isaiah describes Israel’s exile in chapter 27:7-11. In its overall content the Septuagint (Greek) and Masoretic (Hebrew) texts agree. Most commentators also agree that these verses describe Israel’s exile. The chart below displays one translation from each textual tradition. The Complete Apostle’s Bible updates Lancelot Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint to modern English.

How Can the Reader Determine that This Passage Describes the Exile?

This passage presents one occasion when placing the two textual traditions side by side can help the reader determine the passage’s meaning. It is okay to do this. For example, when reading an English translation of the Septuagint (Greek), one occasionally finds a reference to the Hebrew text in the footnotes. And, conversely, when reading an English translation of the Masoretic (Hebrew based), one occasionally finds references to the Septuagint. In other words, modern translators often consult both textual versions when searching for God’s intended meaning.

Another helpful practice for verses with difficult wording is to consult many same language translations. Some free websites offer online readers a choice of multiple translations. Websites I often use are ONLINE BIBLE (bibliatodo.com) and NETS: Electronic Edition (upenn.edu). Both these sites offer highly readable English translations of the Greek Septuagint. The first site also provides multiple translations based upon the Hebrew text (Masoretic). Additionally, it presents the option of a parallel Bible format. (See the link at the very top of this and every post, titled Septuagint Modernized.)

A Look at the Details

Once the reader has chosen her Bibles and translations, she can compare details. Examination of the chart above reveals the following.

1. Verse 7 asks rhetorical questions which grammatically require the answer, “No.” NET Bible interprets this verse, “Has the LORD struck down Israel like he did their oppressors? Has Israel been killed like their enemies?” That translation is clear. The Septuagint, on the other hand, leaves the reader unsure of who “he” is. Could “he” possibly be God? Of course, in the Christian tradition, the answer would be “yes.” God himself was smitten and slain. However, this verse alone would not be enough evidence to establish that. We will ponder this in our hearts as we choose the Masoretic here.

2. No doubt exists that the language of verse 8 is difficult. The metaphor is that of a man divorcing his wife. Answering the questions of verse 7, verse 8 replies that no, God did not kill his people. Rather, he sent them away, as in a divorce. Nevertheless, it was not a congenial divorce, but God the sender was angry.

Hebrews 9:10 echoes this language, “then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.”  While the Septuagint translates the verb ἀνελεῖν (a-nay-leen) in Isaiah 27:8 as “slay” or “kill” (NETS), the translation in Hebrews is “does away with,” in the sense of to remove in order to replace. (Yes, it does appear that the Bible introduces replacement theology.) In either case, it is a permanent removal.

3. In light of verse 8, verse 9 follows smoothly. This verse explains the purpose of the exile, or divorce. God intends to bless Jacob after they have purified themselves by removing all the objects of their idolatry. John the Apostle echoes this in 1 John 3:2-3. As God is pure, so must his people be. In both Isaiah and 1 John, the believer bears the responsibility for removing idols from themselves. God does the atoning (LXX vs 7), but believers must actively participate in their own sanctification.

4. Verse 10 clearly describes the forsaken land of Judah during the exile.

5. Verse 11 details the horror of the exile by describing the parched brittleness of abandoned Israel, as though it were a vineyard of dead branches fit for burning by gadabout women (LXX). In the New Testament, Jesus echoes a similar metaphor while laboriously trekking to Calvary. He redirects the weeping of the women who follow him, “”Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28-31 ESV) Isaiah then confirms the image with very stark, non-metaphorical language, “for it is a people of no understanding; therefore He that made them shall have no pity upon them, and He that formed them shall have no mercy upon them.”  

There is yet more to this verse. The prophet writes in 27:11, “for it is a people of no understanding; therefore he that made them …, and he that formed them…” These phrases declare God’s judgment upon his handiwork. His people have no understanding of who he is, nor of their relationship to him. They do not understand his ways, nor his requirements of them. This is their choice. In setting the nation aside, God asserts his rights as creator and craftsman. Surely, the potter has the right to judge and set aside his own pot?

The added testimony of the New Testament, as presented in the several quotations above, gives the reader a distinct impression that Isaiah may have been speaking of more than a physical and temporary exile to Babylon. The strength of the vocabulary Isaiah chooses indicates that the passion and action of God were equally strong. What God does to Israel here is no light undertaking.

But…

Verses 7-11 describe Judah’s exile in consequence of God’s anger and rejection. On the other hand, verse 27:6 (Isaiah 27:6), verse 9 (Isaiah 27:9), and verses 11-12 (Isaiah 27:11-12) speak positively of God’s blessing. This is an example of the way in which Isaiah jumps back and forth between blessing and denouncing. Without understanding, a reader might think that God is “schizophrenic.” But we know he is not. So, how do we interpret these rapid alternations?

We will seek to answer this question in the next post.

To Be Continued…

%d bloggers like this: