Isaiah 51:9-16 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.36

By Christina M Wilson. Published at isaiah-51-9-16-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-36.

Introduction

Isaiah Volume 2 (the section from Chapter 40 forward) centers on God’s Servant. While Volume 1 introduces the Servant several times, presentation of the Servant consumes Volume 2 (1). The book of Isaiah previews the revelation of God’s Servant in the New Testament. Many think of Isaiah as The Gospel of Isaiah. 

Believers worldwide know Chapter 53 of Isaiah possibly more than any other section. In the portion remaining between what this blog has already covered and the beginning of Chapter 53, Septuagint Isaiah divides neatly into three sections.

Three Sections

The material in Septuagint Isaiah from 51:9 through 52:15 divides into three sections.

  1. Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-51:16
  2. Septuagint Isaiah 51:17-51:23
  3. Septuagint Isaiah 52:1-52:15

Three Direct Addresses to Jerusalem

Each of the three sections begins with a direct address to Jerusalem.

  1. Septuagint Isaiah 51:9 begins with the words, “Awake, awake, O Jerusalem, and put on the strength of your arm” (Brenton, modern English).  Note that the Masoretic text does not contain this address. Rather, the Hebrew states, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD” (Isaiah 51:9 ESV).
  2. Septuagint Isaiah 51:17 begins with, “Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem” (LXE). In this and the next instance, the Masoretic reads nearly the same, “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem,” (Isaiah 51:17 ESV).
  3. Septuagint Isaiah 52:1 reads, “Awake, awake, Sion; put on your strength, O Sion; and o you put on your glory, Jerusalem the holy city:” (LXE). The Masoretic writes, “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city;” (Isaiah 52:1 ESV).

Each of the three sections describes an oppression Jerusalem endures. Likewise, each of the three sections names the oppressor.

  1. In Section 1 “mortal man” oppresses Jerusalem.
  2. In Section 2 God oppresses Jerusalem.
  3. In Section 3 sin oppresses Zion and Jerusalem.

Section 1: Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-51:16

Clearly, the Septuagint text (Greek tradition) differs significantly from the Masoretic text (Hebrew tradition) in verse 9, the first verse of this section.

Awake, awake, O Jerusalem, and put on the strength of your arm; awake as in the early time, as the ancient generation. (Septuagint, LXE)

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon? (Isaiah 51:9, Masoretic)

Three Questions

  1. Whom is being addressed?
  2. Who is speaking?
  3. What can today’s readers glean from the words?

1. WHOM DOES THE SEPTUAGINT SPEAKER ADDRESS?

In the Septuagint text, the speaker addresses “Jerusalem.” Most readers will notice that the speaker in the Masoretic text addresses the “arm of the Lord.” The Masoretic phrase is a figure of speech known as metonymy. In this figure, the arm of the Lord represents the attribute of God’s might. To “put on strength” means to get ready for battle. One paraphrase states, “Yahweh, wake up and do something for us! Show your power!” (Translation for Translators). This post will consider the Septuagint text only within its own context.

Difficulties

With Jerusalem as the addressee, readers must make allowance in verse 9 (above) for the historical fact that Jerusalem the city did not not exist in the time of the ancient generation. Then there is verse 10.

Are you not 10 she who made desolate the sea, the water, the abundance of the deep, who made the depths of the sea a way of passage for those being delivered and those who have been ransomed? (New English Translation Septuagint, NETS) (Note: Brenton translates “she” as “it.”)

Likewise, Jerusalem the city or even its people did not part the Red Sea. That event long predated the establishment of Jerusalem. So what sense might we make of this? One suggestion is that the word “Jerusalem” is a figure of speech (synecdoche) in which the name Jerusalem represents the entire Israelite people from the time God first called Abraham.

Positive Consistencies

I. INTERNAL CONSISTENCY

1. Readers may perhaps overcome the interpretive difficulty inherent in this verse by remembering Septuagint Isaiah 51:1-2. There also, the speaker (God) addresses a group of people. He applies the active voice to their activities. This means that the people hewed the rock and dug the pit (to hold water) of their own historical foundations. Contrary to this, the Masoretic text uses passive voice. Passive voice indicates that the people were recipients of actions performed by God. We proposed in a prior post that a reasonable explanation might be that the active voice draws attention to the active role which faith plays in following God’s commands (See Footnote 2 in Isaiah Devotional 2.35). That is, the people of Israel actively participated in acknowledging and following the faith of Abraham and Sarah as their first parents. In that sense, they hewed the rock and dug the pit to hold life-giving water.

The point here is that the wording of Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-10 shares a similar construction with regard to point of view. That is, they crossed the Red Sea which Moses dried up by exercising their combined faith in God’s power. By faith, it is as though the Israelites themselves achieved that feat. Indeed, their faith in God’s power and protection did play an active role in their crossing over the dried up sea (Hebrews 11:29 ESV).

2. A second point embedded in its use of the addressee “Jerusalem” is the text’s acknowledgment of one people of God. These people, collectively named Jerusalem, formed one people from the beginning of their history to their current time.

II. COHESIVE SYMMETRY

1. Three sections begin with a vocative address (a command directed at someone). The first sections begins in Septuagint Isaiah 51:9, the second in Isaiah 51:17, and the third in Isaiah 52:1. In the Septuagint, each of these sections addresses some form of Israel, either “Jerusalem,” “Sion,” or both. In the Masoretic, however, the first section addresses God and only the second two address Jerusalem and/or Zion.

2. The Septuagint text maintains a consistency of speaker. God and his Servant speak throughout chapters 49 through 51 up to this point, with two brief exceptions. In Isaiah 49:14 Israel speaks, and in 50:10 the prophet himself speaks. Use of the vocative “O Jerusalem” in Septuagint 51:9 continues the dominant consistency of the divine addressing humanity. God also speaks in the section following verse 10, that is, from verse 11 through 16. The Masoretic, on the other hand, breaks the consistency of this flow. The Masoretic inserts a somewhat out-of-context exclamation from the people towards God.

III. CONTEXT

Context favors the Septuagint translation. God’s entire message from chapter 40 onward is that he is awake and on the move. Sion does accuse the Lord of forsaking her in Septuagint Isaiah 49:14. The Lord then uses the next thirteen verses demonstrating that this is not so. Following this the Servant’s speaks in Isaiah 50:4-9. Then after this, the Lord encourages and comforts his righteous followers. And, throughout all these chapters, the Lord offers salvation to the Gentiles (e.g., Isaiah 49:6, 8 LXE). Clearly, God does not sleep but is highly active. It could be, of course, that God’s people have simply not been paying any attention at all. This is the condition the Masoretic text describes. Or, as in the Septuagint, rather than the people of Jerusalem calling on God to awaken, it is God who tries to rouse Jerusalem.

2. WHO SPEAKS?

The Septuagint text allows two possible speakers in Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-11. First, God may be addressing the people of Jerusalem, or second, the prophet Isaiah may be addressing them. Because the text switches from second person vocative (direct address) in verses 9-10 to third person in verse 11, the grammatical structure leans toward Isaiah as speaker (see also Isaiah 50:10). It would seem unlikely that God would refer to himself in third person in 51:11, and the three verses 9-11 flow smoothly one to the other.

3. CONTENT

What can today’s readers glean from the words of the first of the three sections addressing Jerusalem and Sion (Septuagint Isaiah 51:9-11)?

To Be Continued

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1 I use the divisions “Volume 1” and “Volume 2” as a convenience. Whether or not the book of Isaiah was written by one or more than one author does not feature in my devotional considerations. There is a noticeable shift, beginning in Chapter 40, which places God’s Servant at the center of the book’s focus.

Isaiah 51:1-8 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.35

By Christina M Wilson. Taken from https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-51-1-8-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-35/.

Switchback and Bookends

Isaiah 51:1-8 LXX features another switchback. Bookends identify the addressees of this segment in verses 1 and 7.  Remember that in most of Chapter 50, God has been rebuking the unbelieving and rebellious among his people (See Devotional 2.34). Here in this section, God defines a new people and supplies comfort and promise to them.

BOOKEND ONE

Isaiah 51:1 LXX Listen to me, you that follow after righteousness, and seek the Lord… 

BOOKEND TWO

Isaiah 51:7 LXX Hear me, you that know judgment, the people in whose heart is my law: fear not the reproach of men, and be not overcome by their contempt. 

Clearly, in this set of verses, the Lord addresses his faithful followers. The verses between these bookends provide exhortation, comfort, and promise to the non-rebellious.

Exhortation

1. LISTEN

Listen to me, says the Lord in verse one. This exhortation echoes Isaiah’s own exhortation in Isaiah 50:10, Who among you fears the Lord? Let him listen to the voice of His Servant (SAAS) (1). Indeed, it could be the Servant who speaks the words from 51:1 through at least verse 8. God and his Servant have one and the same message.

Isaiah 51:4 repeats the exhortation of verse 1, Listen to Me, listen, O My people and kings, give ear to Me… Obedience begins with listening. The biblical Greek often uses the same word (ἀκούω ah-ku-oh) for hearing, listening, and obeying. Isaiah 51:7 again repeats the command to “Listen.

2. LOOK

God tells those who pursue righteousness to “Look to the solid rock which you hewed, and the hole of the pit which you dug” (SAAS). Verse 2, which follows, clarifies that those who seek the Lord should look to Abraham their father and to Sarah their mother (2).

Comfort

God’s intends to comfort his people when he exhorts them to look to Abraham and Sarah as their first parents and founders of their faith. God reminds them that Abraham “was alone when I called him, and blessed him, and loved him, and multiplied him.” (3) In other words, God says in effect, “Look what I did with Abraham and Sarah, who were just two individual people. Look how I blessed and multiplied them. I can do the same with you.”

Readers may be reminded that very few people returned from exile in Babylon. They would have been very intimidated by the task before them. But, the larger context includes the Servant and his ministry. The Lord continues to bear this ministry in mind, as he has for the last several chapters. As history demonstrates, the original faithful after the Servant’s death and resurrection, before the sending of the Holy Spirit, were very few in number (Acts 1:15 ESV).

In Isaiah 51:3 the Lord states positively that he will comfort Zion. In fact, he repeats the promise using prophetic past tense, as though the restoration of the desert places to conditions in the “Garden of the Lord” had already occurred.

And now I will comfort you, O Sion: and I have comforted all her desert places… (LXE).

Promise

God’s comfort takes the form of promise.

3 … and I will make her desert places as a garden, and her western places as the garden of the Lord [like Eden]; they shall find in her gladness and exultation, thanksgiving and the voice of praise. (LXE)

Topography and geography testify that a concrete-literal fulfillment of this prophecy has yet to occur. On the other hand, the spiritual-literal fulfillment of these words occurred immediately on the day of Pentecost and continues among God’s people to this day (Acts 2:46-47).

God Defines a New People

Throughout the Book of Isaiah, God periodically includes Gentiles in his promises of blessing. Most recently, God indicates his blessing upon Gentiles in Isaiah 42:1, 4, and 6 and 49:1 and 6. We have seen how verses 1 and 7 of Chapter 51 serve as bookends that unify what lies between. In this section, God specifically addresses those who “pursue righteousness and seek the Lord” (verse 1). He also addresses “My people” in verse 7.

GOD’S PEOPLE ONE

Verses 1-3 speak of Israel, as birthed by Abraham and Sarah. God includes Sion (or Zion) as a people and as a location that includes desert places (verse 3).

GOD’S PEOPLE TWO

Verse 4 transitions. In verse 4, God addresses “O My people” and “kings.” This is curious, since Israel has but one king at a time (with one or two brief exceptions). The word “kings” indicates more nations than Israel. But verse 4 also names “Gentiles” as those who should listen and who will receive the light of the Lord.

4 Hear me, hear me, my people; and you kings, listen to me: for a law shall proceed from me, and my judgment shall be for a light of the nations. (LXE)

VERSE 5 SEALS THE DEAL

Readers may perk up their ears in verse 4. But verse 5 spells out what perhaps they only suspect in verse 4. That is, God includes Gentiles in his promises to his people.

5 My righteousness speedily draws near, and my salvation shall go forth as light (4), and on my arm shall the Gentiles trust: the isles shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust.

Verse 5 contains no qualifications. Everything connects in verses 4 through 5 with a series of the strong conjunction “and.”

VERSES 6 THROUGH 8

From verse 6 through verse 8, the two are one. The text no longer distinguishes two groups–Israelite and Gentile. The two are included together in the phrase, “you that know judgment, the people in whose heart is my law” (verse 7).

Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the sky, and look on the earth beneath: for the sky was darkened like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and the inhabitants shall die in like manner: but my righteousness shall not fail. 7 Hear me, you that know judgment, the people in whose heart is my law: fear not the reproach of men, and be not overcome by their contempt. 8 For as a garment will be devoured by time, and as wool will be devoured by a moth, so shall they be consumed; but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation for all generations. (LXE)

“YOU THAT KNOW JUDGMENT” and “IN WHOSE HEART IS MY LAW”

Verse 4 identifies that God’s “judgment shall be for a light of the nations [Gentiles].” Verse 4 also states that “a law shall proceed from me.” What is this law? See Isaiah 2:3, which includes Gentiles. Verse 7 specifies the location of God’s “law” as the hearts of those he calls his people.

7 Hear me, you that know judgment, the people in whose heart is my law: 

The Apostle Paul speaks in Romans 2:15 concerning Gentiles in whose heart the law is written. But here in this section of Isaiah, God specifically includes Gentiles among his chosen people, as those for whom his salvation is also intended.

Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness speedily draws near, and my salvation shall go forth as light (4), and on my arm shall the Gentiles trust: the isles shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust. (LXE)

Gentiles will also have God’s law written on their hearts.

Obedience Not Ethnicity

The passage in Isaiah 51:1-8 narrows down to two people groups: those who follow God and those who do not. In these verses the emphasis falls on obedience, not ethnicity. God clearly elects to include the blessing of salvation to both the faithful of ethnic Israel and to the faithful among the Gentile nations. The two become one. This occurs within the context of God’s Servant.

What is of most importance to God? Faithfulness to his law of righteousness and honoring his justice. For those faithful people who honor God’s justice God promises, “My salvation shall be forever, and My righteousness will not fail” (SAAS). God wants an obedient, loyal people who reflect his likeness. These are the ones he chooses to bless. Ethnicity is of no importance.

Opposition

Verse 7 indicates opposition to the group who guards God’s law in their heart.

… fear not the reproach of men, and be not overcome by their contempt. (LXE)

The Lord’s followers will be subject to the same contempt the Servant experiences in the previous chapter.

Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to scourges, and my cheeks to blows; and I turned not away my face from the shame of spitting: (LXE)

And for both the Servant and the Lord’s faithful, the answer to those who oppose them is the same.

As concerns the Servant…

Isaiah 50:9 Behold, the Lord, the Lord, will help me; who will hurt me? behold, all you shall wax old as a garment, and a moth shall devour you. (LXE)

As concerns the Lord’s faithful followers…

Isaiah 51:7… fear not the reproach of men, and be not overcome by their contempt. 8 For as a garment will be devoured by time, and as wool will be devoured by a moth, so shall they be consumed; but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation for all generations. (LXE)

Conclusion

As a Gentile believer in both God and his Servant, I can only humbly bow in grateful and thankful submission to the Savior of my soul.

Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV)

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1 St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint, 2008.

2 Of note, the Septuagint uses the active voice in verse 1, while the Masoretic uses the passive. That is, the Septuagint states that they should look to the rock which they hewed and to the pit (to hold water) which they dug. The Masoretic, on the other hand, asks them to look to the rock from which they were hewn (passive) and to the pit (quarry) from which they were dug. See Isaiah 51:1 ESV. The active point acknowledges the active role that faith plays in following God’s commands. That is, the people of Israel actively participated in acknowledging Abraham and Sarah as their first parents.

3 Septuagint in American English, 2012. NETS translates similarly.

4 The phrase “as light” is not present in all Greek texts.

Isaiah 50:10-11 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.34

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-50-10-11-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-34/.

Isaiah 50:10-11 LXX: Introduction

The book of Isaiah simultaneously prophesies the best news in the world and the worst news in the world. The best news is the Advent of God’s Servant, Messiah, the second Person of the Trinity. As readers progress through Volume 2, the theme of God’s Servant grows larger and more dominant. Chapter 50 reaches a crisis point–a fork in the road. In Isaiah 50:10-11 LXX, Isaiah the man perceives the implications of what he reports. It is as though he runs onto the stage in verse 10 and proselytizes on his own.

A Brief Transition

Isaiah’s message has reached a critical juncture. God through Isaiah has been revealing the Advent of his Servant to his people Israel. The Servant himself has spoken several times (Isaiah 42:1-4; 48:16; 49:1-6; 50:4-9). Soon the people must decide: will they open their ears to understand and obey the voice of God’s Servant, or will they hurl their rebellious abuse at him (Isaiah 50:6)?

God recounts throughout the previous chapters how his people have been all too willing to worship idols which their very own hands had formed from non-living materials. Yet there are a few people, a remnant, who have not done so. These remain faithful to God, however imperfectly so. Addressing this group, verse 10 marks a brief transition from God’s previous speeches. The voice of Isaiah the prophet himself breaks through.

A Change of Speakers

Isaiah 50:10 LXX Who is among you that fears the Lord? let him listen to the voice of his servant: you that walk in darkness, and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon God. (Septuagint, Brenton, LXE, modernized)

Even though the name of the book is Isaiah, and even though God speaks through the prophet Isaiah, the voice of the prophet himself remains mostly silent in Volume 2, beginning with chapter 40. Readers mainly hear the voice of God. In Isaiah 50:10, however, the voice of the prophet briefly breaks through. The following paraphrase sums up the urgency of Isaiah’s outburst.

Paraphrase

Listen, O you people, my fellow Israelites! I know you’re out there–that small number of you who fear (worship, adore, reverence, and obey) the Lord. There’s something new going on here. Our dear and precious, familiar Yahweh is doing something new. He is about to send his Servant, whom he favors, to visit us. Yahweh’s Servant will accomplish Yahweh’s work. Listen to the voice of his Servant. It is imperative that you do.

I know you walk in darkness. We’ve been in exile a very long time. I know you have no light, but do this one thing. Trust in the name of the Lord and stay fixed upon God. We’re getting near the end here. Something new is about to happen. We are approaching the end of the tunnel. Don’t give up or go astray now. There will be great peril and destruction for those who ignore and rebel against Yahweh’s Servant. Don’t be one of them.

Verse 10 in Its Context

In the culture of today’s church vocabulary, verse 10 is an altar call wedged between two warnings of “hell.” The Servant himself warns of death and corruption in verse 9. Then God warns of great sorrow in verse 11. In between these two divine voices, Isaiah the prophet makes his plea to the people.

[The Servant:] 9 Behold, the Lord, the Lord, will help me; who will hurt me? behold, all you shall wax old as a garment, and a moth shall devour you. 

[Isaiah the Prophet:] 10 Who is among you that fears the Lord? let him listen to the voice of his servant: you that walk in darkness, and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon God. 

[God:] 11 Behold, you all kindle a fire, and feed a flame: walk in the light of your fire, and in the flame which you have kindled. This has happened to you for my sake; you shall lie down in sorrow. (LXE)

Notice how the statements of both the Servant and God resemble warnings the incarnate Christ gives.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, (Matthew 6:19 ESV)

“And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:47-48 ESV)

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41-42 ESV)

Darkness and Light

The themes of darkness and light dominate these verses. The prophet in verse 10 acknowledges that the then current season of Israel’s history in exile is dark. There is no light. He offers the people a choice, a way out. The way out is to listen to the voice of Yahweh’s Servant, to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay fixed and focused upon God, “… you that walk in darkness, and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon God.” (1)

Notice the timing. Isaiah speaks when the people are in exile, or even before then. The return from exile occurs many hundreds of years before the Servant arrives. Therefore, the context indicates events much larger than the merely local, historical return from exile.

God appears to foresee in verse 11 that his people will ignore his prophet’s warning. The alternative to the light that God will provide through his Servant is ordinary physical light–a fire, a torch, a flame. Go ahead, God says (paraphrase). Continue in the path you have chosen for yourselves. Kindle a physical fire, feed a physical flame, walk in the physical light of the fire you have provided for yourselves. Continue ignoring me and the voice of my Servant. Believe me, everything bad that befalls you is on account of me. Conditions will not improve for you. You shall lie down in sorrow.

WHERE ELSE IN ISAIAH DO DARKNESS AND LIGHT APPEAR?

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; who make darkness light, and light darkness; who make bitter sweet, and sweet bitter. (LXE)

Isaiah 9:2 O people walking in darkness, behold a great light: you that dwell in the region and shadow of death, a light shall shine upon you. (LXE)

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and I will cause them to tread paths which they have not known: I will turn darkness into light for them, and crooked things into straight. These things will I do, and will not forsake them. 17 But they are turned back: be you utterly ashamed that trust in graven images, who say to the molten images, You are our gods. (LXE)

Isaiah 45:7 I am he that prepared light, and formed darkness; who make peace, and create evil; I am the Lord God, that does all these things. (LXE) [Why then, Israelites, do you insist on walking in the paltry light of the flame that you fashion for yourselves? Turn to me, who creates the light that accompanies life.]

NEW TESTAMENT FULFILLMENT OF ISAIAH’S PROPHESIED LIGHT

Both the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John open with the Servant’s fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesied light.

76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79 ESV)

4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 ESV)

Looking Forward

Chapter 50 ends with God speaking. In Chapter 51, God continues to speak. That will be the topic, Lord willing, of the next post.

Isaiah 50:4-9 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.33

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-50-4-11-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-33/.

Isaiah’s Third Servant Speech: Introduction

Most commentators accept Isaiah 50:4-9 (ESV) as Isaiah’s third servant speech (see Septuagint translation here). This should have people jumping up and down. Christians everywhere know Jesus Christ God’s Son to be God’s Servant (John 5:30; 4:34; 6:38; 7:18; Matthew 26:39). To hear the preincarnate Christ speaking in the Old Testament is amazing. Don’t you find it so? God gave us the inestimable gift in Scripture of hearing two of the three persons of God in close proximity, interacting with one another. God does not hide himself. He reveals himself in countless ways. Everyone and anyone who wants to know God and his Christ need only approach him and honestly ask.

Isaiah’s Third Servant Speech: Verses 4 and 5

Here are the words of God’s Servant in Isaiah’s third servant speech, Isaiah 50:4-5 Septuagint (LXE).

4 The Lord even God gives me the tongue of instruction, to know when it is fit to speak a word: he has appointed for me early, he has given me an ear to hear: 5 and the instruction of the Lord, even the Lord, opens my ears, and I do not disobey, nor dispute. [See Isaiah 50:4-5 LXX.]

Isaiah 50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. (ESV)

Everyone familiar with the Gospels will recognize that Isaiah’s third servant speech aptly characterizes Jesus of Nazareth and his ministry. Some remember Jesus for his miracles, yet as much as he did do miracles, he also taught everyone, those who wanted to listen and those who did not.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)

Matthew 5:2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: (ESV) [See also Matthew 13:54; Mark 1:22; 10:1; Luke 4:15; 5:3; John 6:59; 8:2; 18:20.] 

Just as Isaiah prophesied, Christ–God’s Servant–claimed that he learned what to say and teach from God.

John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. (ESV)

Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (ESV)

As God’s singular Servant Israel, Christ gave what God’s people Jacob failed to give–his wholehearted obedience.

5 and the instruction of the Lord, even the Lord, opens my ears, and I do not disobey, nor dispute. Septuagint (LXE) 5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. (ESV) [Emphasis added.]

Isaiah 48:1 Hear these words, ye house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and have come forth out of Juda, who swear by the name of the Lord God of Israel, making mention of it, but not with truth, nor with righteousness;… 8 You have neither known, nor understood, neither from the beginning have I opened your ears: for I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and would be called a transgressor even from the womb. Septuagint (LXE)

8 You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel. (ESV) [Emphasis added.]

Isaiah’s Third Servant Speech: Verses 6 through 9

Christians everywhere know that Christ suffered and was crucified. They often read Isaiah 53 aloud to describe his sufferings. But here in Isaiah 50:6, the Servant himself prophetically describes in first person some of the things he will suffer. He uses the prophetic perfect tense (past tense) throughout. Then, in verses 7-9, the Servant describes how he trusts in God.

6 I gave my back to scourges [μάστιγας mas-tee-gas], and my cheeks to blows; and I turned not away my face from the shame of spitting: Septuagint (LXE)

Matthew 26:67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, (ESV)

Matthew 27:30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. (ESV)

John 19:1 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged [ἐμαστίγωσεν ay-mas-tee-go-sen] Him. (NKJ)

The Servant Trusts in God

Isaiah 50:7 but the Lord God became my helper; therefore I was not ashamed, but I set my face as a solid rock; and I know that I shall never be ashamed, 8 for he that has justified me draws near; Septuagint (LXE)

God’s Servant died and was buried (Matthew 27:50, 59-60; Mark 15:37, 46; Luke 23:46, 53; John 19:33-42). On the third day, God his Helper drew near and resurrected him from the dead. Jesus was not ashamed; rather, God glorified him and sat him on a throne right next to himself (Matthew 19:28; 25:31; Revelation 5:13).

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I [Paul] delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (ESV)

The Outcome of Those Who Hurt God’s Servant

For those who hurt God’s Servant and never repented, it will not go so well.

8… who is he that pleads with me? let him stand up against me at the same time: yea, who is he that pleads with me? let him draw nigh to me. 9 Behold, the Lord, the Lord, will help me; who will hurt me? behold, all ye shall wax old as a garment, and a moth shall devour you. Septuagint (LXE)

These verses do not prophesy directly the Servant’s death and resurrection. Isaiah 53 will do that. The Servant does, however, challenge his opponents and prophesy their death, “Behold, all ye shall wax old as a garment, and a moth shall devour you” (verse 9). The Masoretic text states it this way, “Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up” (ESV).

The Voice of the Prophet Breaks Through

In verse 10, the voice of Isaiah the prophet breaks through to comment upon the preceding revelations. That will be a topic for the next post.

Isaiah 50:1-3 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.32

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-50-1-3-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-32/.

Israel Displeases God

Septuagint Isaiah 50:1-3 LXX Fit Well with Chapter 49

Septuagint Isaiah 50:1 Thus says the Lord, Of what kind is your mother’s bill of divorcement, by which I put her away? or to which debtor have I sold you? Behold, you are sold for your sins, and for your iniquities have I put your mother away. 2 Why did I come, and there was no man? why did I call, and there was none to listen? Is not my hand strong to redeem? or can I not deliver? behold, by my rebuke I will dry up the sea, and make rivers a wilderness; and their fish shall be dried up because there is no water, and shall die for thirst. 3 I will clothe the sky with darkness, and will make its covering as sackcloth. (LXE)

In Isaiah 49:14, the people of Sion spoke.

49:14 The Lord has forsaken me, and, The Lord has forgotten me. (LXE

1. In the remainder of Chapter 49, through verse 26, the Lord replies to Sion. He declares his long-abiding love for Sion, as a mother would love her child (verse 15). He prophesies that Sion will become heavily populated with an inflow of Gentile children (verses 22-23; see prior post Isaiah Devotional 2.31).

2. Now, in Chapter 50:1-3, the Lord challenges Sion more directly. Rather than professing his never-ending love for them, he places the blame for their banishment upon themselves–upon their own sins and iniquities (verse 1).

3. Then, in verses 2 and 3, the Lord takes a new tack. He claims that he did go to save his people, but they did not respond.

Isaiah 50:2 Why did I come, and there was no man? why did I call, and there was none to listen? [Note: the word for “man” is ἄνθρωπος (an-thro-pos) here. In this sentence it can mean any human being of either sex.] (LXE) and (Isaiah 50, LXX). 

But when did this happen? When did the Lord reach out to save Sion and they ignored him?

Understanding Prophetic Poetry

First, readers must recognize that Isaiah 50:1-3 is highly poetic. These three verses contain both structural and linguistic elements of poetry. In a brevity of conciseness which only poetry can achieve, two verses present the three major events of Israel’s salvation history (1). Two are past, and one is yet future to Isaiah’s own time.

The Structural Elements of Isaiah’s Prophetic Poetry

First, what structural elements of Hebrew poetry do these verses contain?

CHIASM-VERSE 1

A Of what kind is your mother’s bill of divorcement, by which I put her away?

B or to which debtor have I sold you?

B Behold, you are sold for your sins,

A and for your iniquities have I put your mother away

DOUBLETS AND TRIPLETS-VERSES 2 AND 3

A1 (vs 2) Why did I come, and there was no man?
A2 why did I call, and there was none to listen?

B1 Is not my hand strong to redeem?
B2  or can I not deliver?

C1 behold, by my rebuke I will dry up the sea,
C2 and make rivers a wilderness;

D1 and their fish shall be dried up because there is no water,
D2 and shall die for thirst.

C3 (vs 3) I will clothe the sky with darkness,
C3d and will make its covering as sackcloth.

In the above two verses readers will find five doublets and one triplet. The items labeled with a “C” form the triplet. Notice that the third element of the triplet (C3 and C3d) is itself a doublet. The following original paraphrase expresses the logical structure of God’s argument in Isaiah 50:1-3 LXE.

In verse 49:14 Sion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, and, The Lord has forgotten me” [notice the doublet]. God answers Sion’s false claim in three ways.

1) First, the Lord states that he has not and will never forget Sion (Isaiah 49:15-26).

2a) Second, the Lord reprimands Sion. If, he says, I have forsaken and forgotten you, then

a) show me the certificate of your mother’s divorce (Isaiah 50:1). [The Lord states this challenge as a rhetorical question. Clearly, there is no certificate.]
b) or, name the debtor to which I have sold you. [The Lord also states this as a rhetorical question.]

2b) The Lord then states positively that Sion was sold [passive tense] on account of their own sins. They caused their own sale, not God. Further, the Lord does state that he did send Sion’s mother away because of her sins and because of their lawlessness. In other words, the Lord did not himself abandon and forsake Sion. He stayed where he always was. Rather, he sent them away on account of their unfaithfulness and sins. They spurned God, rather than the reverse. Again, it was their own fault.

3) Third and finally, God declares that three times he did in fact intervene to deliver Sion. But they neither responded positively nor obeyed (ὑπακούων) (Isaiah 50:2).

God then describes his three salvific interventions (Isaiah 50:2-3).

METAPHOR-VERSES 1-3

Because the section concerning metaphor is long and important, it will be placed in its own heading.

Metaphor-Verses 1-3

The entire pericope Isaiah 50:1-3 is an extended metaphor.

1. First, Sion is not in fact a woman. It is both a location (Jerusalem the city and its temple) and a people. God speaks to his people as a group. Because the group of God’s people spanning several generations does not have a biological “mother”, the entire concept is a metaphorical figure of speech. Additionally, God, as Spirit, never literally married his people in a physical-concrete way. Rather, God’s language creates a spiritual metaphor to help us in our finite, fallen (spiritually dead) condition to understand his relation to his people.

2. Second, the concept of God’s sending away Sion’s mother is a double metaphor. First, the metaphor describes Israel’s exile to Babylon. Second, the metaphor describes the people of Israel’s spiritual estrangement from God.

3. Third, God did not literally “sell” Sion to anyone. Nor did Sion in any literal/physically-concrete way sell themselves. A physical exchange of concrete money, accompanied by a bill of sale never occurred. True, a literal debtor, Babylon, existed. The Babylonians as conquerors stole material goods from Israel (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36:10). Yet, God’s intention in this passage is much greater than a physical, local application to Babylon. In a metaphor that permeates the entire Bible, Israel, representative of all humankind, sold itself into slavery to sin, death, and Satan when they rebelled against God.

Three Metaphors of God’s Salvation

God defends his creative power and his might to deliver his people in Isaiah 50:2-3. The metaphor the Lord uses is called metonymy. Metonymy occurs when a part of something represents the whole. So, each of the three specific actions God names represents his entire might and ability to save. In the first metaphor, God states that by a verbal command he can 1) dry up the sea. In the second metaphor, he states that 2) he can turn rivers into deserts.

Then, in the third metaphor, God states that 3) he can  “clothe the sky with darkness, and will make its covering as sackcloth.” This figure of speech has a further metaphoric aspect than the two previous metonymies. This figure is a metaphor because God does not place literal-concrete clothing upon the sky. Nor does a literally-concrete, physically darkened sky mourn and grieve as though one had died. The figure is of women, even today, who often cover themselves in black clothing to indicate their mourning over a dead loved one, generally a husband.

But, even though God uses figures of speech to describe his power to save, these metaphors in reality actually occurred in literally physical, concrete ways.

The Three Salvation Metaphors Are Literal-Concrete

The three “metaphors” of Isaiah 50:2-3 actually occurred in Israel’s literal-concrete history. These events may read like metaphors of God’s power to deliver. Each one is a metonymy, a figure of speech in which the part stands for the whole. However, each of them describes an actual, historical event in Israel’s salvation history.

I. Metaphor One and Historical Salvation One

Isaiah 50:2 behold, by my rebuke I will dry up the sea, (Septuagint, LXE)

The Bible records in Exodus how God dried up (parted) the Great Sea for Moses and the Israelites to escape Pharaoh’s army and Egypt. This is Israel’s first great salvation in Scripture. (Exodus 14:15-31). Scripture also records how quickly Israel abandoned their “belief” in God (Exodus 32:1-5).

II. Metaphor Two and Historical Salvation Two

Isaiah 50:2 behold, by my rebuke I will… make rivers a wilderness; and their fish shall be dried up because there is no water, and shall die for thirst. (Septuagint, LXE)

God dried up (parted) the river Jordan when Joshua led God’s people to cross over into the promised land (Joshua 3:14-17).

What About the Fish?

The statement in verse 2 concerning fish drying up and dying for lack of water grammatically can apply to both the dried up sea and the dried up rivers. Historically, the crossing of both the Red Sea and the River Jordan may have taken the better part of a day, since the people of Israel numbered so many. They also carried their supplies. Additionally, the women with children would probably have moved slowly. Fish could very easily have suffocated and dried up during both these crossings.

III. Metaphor Three and Historical Salvation Three

The third “metaphor” reads more like a metaphor than the first two.

Isaiah 50:3 I will clothe the sky with darkness, and will make its covering as sackcloth. (Septuagint, LXE

In Isaiah’s time frame, this salvation event remained future to him. As the chapters move forward, however, this salvation becomes more and more Isaiah’s focus. If any readers have not yet recognized this salvation, the metonymy (part for the whole) of a darkened sky describes the death by crucifixion of Christ, God’s Servant, on the cross.

Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (ESV)

Immediately upon the ninth hour, Jesus died. Readers can find this event also described in Mark 15:33 and Luke 23:44-45. Isaiah predicts the darkness and describes it with the metaphor “sackcloth,” the clothing worn to indicate great mourning and grief. Even the heavens (sky) respond by wearing sackcloth at the death of their Creator.

But Where is Sion?

But God asks Sion, where were you when I came and called?

Isaiah 50:2 Why did I come, and there was no man? why did I call, and there was none to listen? (Septuagint, LXE)

The grammar of the sentence uses past tense. Future prophecy is often stated in past tense. For example, Isaiah 53:1-9 in both Septuagint and Masoretic texts are written in past tense throughout. Yet, the Christian world commonly accepts these verses in reference to Christ’s passion. The Passion remained future to Isaiah, however. Grammarians call a future event written in past tense the prophetic perfect tense.

In verse 2, therefore, it’s entirely possible that the event God describes is still future to Isaiah’s timeframe. What event would this be? In agreement with verse 3, which tells the third of the great salvation events the Lord (the speaker) describes, verse 2 most likely makes reference to the actual, historic “coming” of God’s Servant, his Christ, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Language Supports Reference to Christ’s Incarnation

Summarizing briefly, the Lord in the first three verses of chapter 50 continues to rebut Sion’s claim that he forgot and forsook them (Isaiah 49:14). Oh, but I did come, says the Lord in Isaiah 50:2. But there was no one to meet me. No one answered when I called. No one obeyed my command. The Lord states these claims as rhetorical questions. Then, in the latter portion of verse 2 and continuing in verse 3, the Lord names the three great salvation events in Israel’s history. Two are past and one remains future. These three great salvation events are 1) the parting of the Red Sea, led by Moses, 2) the parting of the Jordan River, led by Joshua, and 3) the parting of the barrier between death and life, sin and holiness, led by Jesus Christ through the cross.

The Lord uses the phrase, “Why, when I came…” or, depending on the translation, “Why did I come…” or some such variation. The word in Greek is ἦλθον (eel-thon), from the verb ἔρχομαι (air-cho-may), meaning to “come.” Jesus uses this exact form (ἦλθον) at least 12 unique times in the four gospels with reference to himself. In these verses, the “coming” he speaks of  refers to his Father having sent him on mission to earth in incarnate form.

Jesus Often Spoke of His Coming

Jesus often spoke of his “coming.” Here are just a few examples, all from the ESV.

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Mark 2:17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 12:49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

John 16:27 “for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

The Servant Speaks

In the context of the Lord’s coming, in the very next verse after verse 3, with its reference in metaphor to the crucifixion, the Servant begins his third direct speech. He says, “The Lord even God gives me the tongue of instruction, to know when it is fit to speak a word: he has appointed for me early, he has given me an ear to hear:” (Septuagint, LXE). The following post will present details of the Servant’s speech.

God, the Lord Yahweh, and His Servant Are One

Has any reader of the New Testament ever wondered how its writers arrived at the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth and God the Father are one? Where in the Old Testament, which is the only Scripture these writers knew, can this knowledge be found? For example, Paul writes the following.

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (ESV)

Jesus himself claimed:

John 10:30 I and the Father are one.” (ESV)

One of many exciting discoveries in the first three verses of Septuagint Isaiah 50 is the logical deduction that the Father and his Servant are one. In Isaiah 50:1, “Thus says the Lord…,” the word Lord is κύριος (kee-ree-oss) in Greek. It translates “Lord.” In the Masoretic the word for “Lord” or “LORD” is יְהוָ֗הpronounced Yahweh, or Jehovah. The Lord then asks in verse 2, “Why, when I came, was there no man?” So Yahweh, the Old Testament Lord of the Israelites, states that he “came.”

And, we have just seen how Jesus Christ characterized his incarnation as his “coming.” Jesus “came.” Then, in the context of the Lord’s coming, the Servant begins to speak in Isaiah 50:4, “The Lord even God gives me the tongue of instruction…” It was the Servant who came, and yet Jehovah God states that He came. The inevitable conclusion is that these two are one.

*A Personal Note to My Readers*

I often speak of my blog to just a few close friends as the blog that “no one reads.” Indeed, I have very few readers. Nevertheless, this is good for now.

I do hope and pray, however, that someone somewhere reads and finds encouragement in what I do here. I purposefully chose to study Septuagint Isaiah without help or confirmation from outside sources. In other words, what I find I find in the text itself. In contrast, when I wrote about finding Christ in the Septuagint Psalter, I scoured every source available to me for confirmation that I was not shooting in the dark. One practical consideration heavily influenced my decision regarding Isaiah. That is, there are just too many books out there for me at this late date in my life to consult. Concerning Septuagint Isaiah, however, I suspect that there is far less material available.

A secondary reason I chose not to consider outside sources has become a major purpose for me. That is, I wish to demonstrate that ordinary, everyday readers, such as I am, can access even a book as difficult as Isaiah with the help of the Holy Spirit. I’ve tried to leave a transparent trail as I go along. Nearly every language source I use is available online to anyone with a computer.

The basic procedure is to discover where your greatest hunger lies. My greatest desire was for God to reveal to me what Christ showed his disciples on the road to Emmaus concerning himself and the pages of Old Testament Scripture. A second step is to pray to God for his light. God’s light will feed your hunger. Finally, have patience. Read slowly, read again and again. Let it rest, pray, and wait for God. Listen. God promises that he will show up in the quiet spaces and reveal Christ to those who seek him.

One other note, for the few who may have noticed, I’ve chosen for the most part to let the text stand on its own feet without bringing in other Old Testament text for corroboration. I mean that I’m reading Septuagint Isaiah devotionally for Isaiah’s sake. I do refer to historical portions of Scripture. But my basic approach is, what if Isaiah were the only Old Testament book I have? What does it say? Obviously, I do bring in the New Testament quite a bit. This is because I see Septuagint Isaiah as The Gospel of Isaiah. Isaiah greatly influenced New Testament writers. My desire is to see this magnificent book about Christ the way they saw it. And, I decided to share with others as I move along. This keeps me accountable and helps motivate me to keep struggling towards the end goal.

Heartfelt blessings and prayers for my very few readers, Christina.

__________
1 The insights of this article are original to myself (I did not search the literature for corroboration). I used as my starting point Translation for Translators, Copyright © 2008-2017 Ellis W. Deibler, Jr., accessed January 3, 2022, at Bible – Windows (ebible.org).

2 One set of Bible study notes for this verse states, “Another possibility is to take the verbs as referring to past events: “Why did no one meet me when I came? Why did no one answer when I called?” In this case the Lord might be asking why Israel rejected his calls to repent and his offer to deliver them.” NET Bible note, accessed on January 5, 2022, at Isaiah 50 | Lumina (netbible.org).

Isaiah 49:14-26 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.31

Previously published by Christina M Wilson at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-49-14-26-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-31/.

Isaiah 49:14-26 LXX (Septuagint)–God Defeats Zion’s Enemies

RECAP

The Septuagint text of Isaiah 49:1-13 reveals God’s great mission plan for the Gentile peoples of the world. And verse 13 clearly includes Israel. Readers may reasonably conclude that the Apostle Paul studied these verses and the entire section that begins in Chapter 40. His theology concerning Gentiles and Israel sounds remarkably like Isaiah. Even more, the entire New Testament presentation of Gentiles having been united to God’s people Israel through and in Christ strongly resembles the prophecies of Isaiah (See Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; Acts 15:14; Romans 9:25; and 1 Peter 2:10; Ephesians 2:1-22; Romans 9-11; and Galatians 3:26-29).

ISAIAH 49:14 LXX

But Sion said, The Lord has forsaken me, and, The Lord has forgotten me. LXE

In the verse above, Sion most likely indicates a poetic name for Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where God designated Israel to worship him. In the Old Testament, Sion represents the place where God spiritually dwells. In the context of verses 1 through 14, Sion is distinct from Israel, its people. And of course, Sion is distinct from the land of the Gentiles. It is also distinct from God’s Servant Israel. The introduction of Sion here indicates that God himself is speaking on behalf of his own interests.

After the marvelous promises, praises, and joy that precede this verse in all of chapter 49 to this point, the question becomes, Why would the people of Sion feel forsaken and forgotten? Surely God includes Sion in the plan and purpose he presents for his Servant in the previous verses (Cf. Isaiah 49:5-6)? Certainly, by no means does the prophet give the slightest indication that God excludes his own dwelling place in this glorious vision. Why then, does Sion feel forsaken and forgotten?

WHY WOULD SION FEEL FORSAKEN AND FORGOTTEN?

One reason might be that at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy, return from exile had not yet occurred. That is, when Isaiah spoke these words, Cyrus had not yet given the decree for the Israelites to leave Persia and return to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-3; 5:12-13). At that point in time, the physical Jerusalem and its temple did indeed stand in mostly uninhabited ruins. God does reply in Isaiah 49:17-21 that he will resettle the place with a multitude of incomers. There will be so many inhabitants that Sion will be surprised and even confused, “And you shall say in your heart, Who has begotten me these? whereas I was childless, and a widow; but who has brought up these for me? and I was left alone; but whence came these to me?” (verse 21).

But does the entire context speak of more than a concrete-physical return to Jerusalem? Yes, it does. The salvation announced in the prior verses extends from God’s special Servant to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6, 8, 9-13). Additionally, God later repeats in Isaiah 49:22-23 that he will call and bring Sion’s new inhabitants from among the Gentiles. Thus, the verse concerning Jerusalem (verse 14) is surrounded by verses that speak of God’s call to the whole world.

Therefore, it appears that the entire chapter speaks of events far greater than a rather small number of refugees returning from exile in Babylon to a physical location in Israel. The entire chapter speaks of God’s mission to Gentiles of the whole world. “… and all flesh shall perceive that I am the Lord that delivers you, and that upholds the strength of Jacob” Isaiah 49:26 LXE. The designation “Jacob” refers here to God’s people, not to a physical location.

Is the Above a “Spiritual” Interpretation?

Is the statement that God will call Gentiles from around the world to inhabit Sion a “spiritual” interpretation of Isaiah? Yes. Absolutely. The entire New Testament is spiritual. Jesus told Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well that it would be so (John 3:1-4:42). Between the two testaments a seismic shift from the physical-concrete (physically literal) to the spiritual occurs. This is what the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’s day failed to grasp (1 Corinthians 2:1-16).

Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit

Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross, his physical resurrection from death, and his ascension into heaven to sit at the right hand of God ushered in an entirely new era–a New Testament era. In addition to forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life, the New Testament ushered in the presence of the Holy Spirit among believers worldwide. The very name of Jesus, Immanuel, means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he did not leave us orphans (John 14:18). He sent the Holy Spirit to take his place and be with us still. The Spirit of God replaced the physical incarnation of God.

The Holy Spirit abides where two or more gather in the Lord’s name (Matthew 18:20). The Holy Spirit also indwells every believer whom the Lord receives (John 1:12-13; 3:5-6; Romans 8:6-11). Jesus Christ reversed the spiritual death brought on by Adam’s sin (John 14:16-17, 26). The coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell human hearts is tremendously good news. This good news of “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:24-27) is far bigger and better news than any physical-concrete-literal return to a physical city called Sion could ever possibly be. The advent of the Holy Spirit means that humankind is reunited with their Creator. His very presence walks among us once again.

Granted, chapter 49 of Isaiah does not produce this level of revelation concerning God’s Spirit reuniting with human kind. It does, however, prophesy the joining of Gentiles with God’s elder chosen son, the people Israel.

But Sion… 

But Sion said, The Lord has forsaken me, and, The Lord has forgotten me. LXE

With all the good news about God’s call to Gentiles, both preceding and following Isaiah 49:14, why would Sion respond in such a dejected way? I cannot help but think of Jesus’s parable concerning the prodigal son in this regard (Luke 15:11-32). Although most elements of the parable do not match the details of Isaiah 49, the older brother’s reaction in each text is similar. Sion in Isaiah became dejected in the context of God’s blessing upon his singular Servant and the worldwide call to Gentiles. Likewise, the older son in the parable resented his father’s blessing upon his profligate younger brother. And in both accounts, neither Sion nor the elder brother suffered loss of their own due to God’s beneficence upon others not previously under his protection.

Paul tackles the issue of sibling rivalry in Romans 9.

3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (ESV)

And again, Paul approaches the question of blessing in Romans 3:1-2.

1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. (ESV)

Because God entrusted his people Israel with all these treasures, the kings (Isaiah 49:23), queens (ibid.), and ordinary Gentiles will flock to Sion from faraway places carrying adoptive children for Sion in their arms and on their shoulders (Isaiah 49:12, 22). Having been invited by God, they, too, want to partake in these treasures. What are these treasures God also wants Gentiles to have? They are the “adoption, the glory, the covenants, the… law, the worship, and the promises… the patriarchs… and from their race, according to the flesh… the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” Gentiles will regard these treasures as so valuable that they will poetically “bow down to you [Sion] on the face of the earth, and shall lick the dust of your feet” (Isaiah 49:23 LXE). Every last speck of the gifts (poetically, even the dust itself) God gave Israel shall be eagerly valued by the Gentile newcomers.

Isaiah 49:24-26 LXE 

As happens so frequently in Isaiah, God in these last verses defends himself and states his power to accomplish all his promises for his people. Because God is loyal to himself, he professes his loyalty to them. This is God’s assertive reply to Sion’s complaint in verse 14, “No, you are neither forsaken nor forgotten. I myself will reclaim what you in your weakness allowed the enemy to capture.”

24 Will any one take spoils from a giant? and if one should take a man captive unjustly, shall he be delivered? 25 For thus says the Lord, If one should take a giant captive, he shall take spoils, and he who takes them from a mighty man shall be delivered: for I will plead your cause, and I will deliver your children. 26 And they that afflicted you shall eat their own flesh; and they shall drink their own blood as new wine, and shall be drunken: and all flesh shall perceive that I am the Lord that delivers you, and that upholds the strength of Jacob. LXE

Israel’s physical captivity in Babylon resulted from their having abandoned and forgotten the ways of their God. The entire book bears witness to this. They merited God’s just discipline of them. Nevertheless, God remains faithful to their fathers. Their first father, Abraham, unlike his progeny, had remained faithful to God. In vivid, metaphorical language, God declares in verses 24-26 that he will turn the viciousness of Israel’s captors upon themselves. Rather than destroying others, these strong enemies will turn inward and destroy themselves.

Application

Human kind’s greatest enemy is sin. God’s greatest spiritual foe is Satan. Of course, Satan’s power as a created being is finite and limited. Christ conquered sin, death, and Satan by means of the cross. God’s stated purpose in restoring Israel to their own land, as well as his purpose in conquering sin and in defeating the strong man enemy Satan is to manifest his identity as Lord of all, “… and all flesh shall perceive that I am the Lord that delivers you, and that upholds the strength of Jacob” (Isaiah 49:26).

Psalm 65:1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. 2 O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. (ESV)

Psalm 145:21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever. (LXE)

Isaiah 66:23 And it shall come to pass from month to month, and from sabbath to sabbath, that all flesh shall come to worship before me in Jerusalem, saith the Lord. (LXE)

Luke 3:6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” (ESV)

Philippians 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)

Revelation 21:5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And 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 from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (ESV)

Amen!

Isaiah 49:9-13 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.30

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-49-9-12-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-30/.

Isaiah 49:9-13 Septuagint
Spiritual Benefits the Servant Brings

RECAP

Isaiah 49:9-13 Septuagint presents an amazing dialogue between God and his Servant. As the dialogue unfolds, the text clearly presents a Savior of both Israel and Gentiles.  The Servant/Savior can only be God himself. Verse 8 closes with God’s address to his Servant.

I give You as a covenant to the Gentiles, to establish the earth and to inherit the inheritance of the desert; SAAS (1)

We learned in the previous post (Isaiah Devotional Journal 2.29) that God gave his faithful Servant authority over the earth (Matthew 28:18). Now, in verses 9-12, the text explains what the formulaic phrase “inherit the inheritance of the desert” means.

SHOULD WE READ 9-12 CONCRETE/LITERALLY?

For verses 9-12, “concrete/literally”  would mean what exists in three dimensional space, that is, the physical reality of the world. Even a glance through these verses reveals that on a concrete/literal level this prophecy remains to be fulfilled (Isaiah 49:9-12 ESV). Yet, the previous prophecies have been fulfilled. The Servant did come. He did “despise his life” by submitting to the cross (verse 7). He has become a “covenant of a race and… the light of the Gentiles” (vs 6). He indeed has brought “salvation to the ends of the earth” (vs 6) (2).

But why then, would verses 9-12 remain unfulfilled for the past 2,000 years? They belong to the same set of prophecies as those in the passage surrounding them. These have all been fulfilled in God’s Servant Jesus Christ. I propose that just as Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman at the well, these words find their fulfillment in the Spirit of God who indwells all believers.

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (ESV)

PROMISE OF SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

8… I have… given you for a covenant of the nations… to cause to inherit the desert heritages: 9 saying to them that are in bonds, Go forth; and bidding them that are in darkness show themselves. They shall be fed in all the ways, and in all the paths shall be their pasture. 10 They shall not hunger, neither shall they thirst; neither shall the heat nor the sun strike them; but he that has mercy on them shall comfort them, and by fountains of waters shall he lead them. 11 And I will make every mountain a way, and every path a pasture to them. 12 Behold, these shall come from far: and these from the north and the west, and others from the land of the Persians. 13 Rejoice, you heavens; and let the earth be glad: let the mountains break forth with joy; for the Lord has had mercy on his people, and has comforted the lowly ones of his people. (Isaiah 49:9-12 LXE)

WHO ARE “THEY”?

God speaks concerning his promises to a group of people he identifies in third person plural: they, them, their. Does the reader know who these people are? Yes, because the passage flows smoothly from one verse to another without breaks or transitions. In Isaiah 49:1, God specifically addresses “Gentiles” (Septuagint) or “peoples from afar” (Masoretic, ESV). In Isaiah 49:6, God informs his Servant, “I give you as the light of the Gentiles, that You should be the salvation to the ends of the earth” (SAAS) (1). Verse 8 repeats mention of the Gentiles, “I give you as a covenant to the Gentiles” (SAAS, Isaiah 49:8). Brenton’s Septuagint translation says “nations,” rather than Gentiles (3).

Even more compelling, Revelation 7:16 quotes part of verse 10. And Revelation 7:17 alludes to “springs” or “fountains” of waters, as in Isaiah 49:10.

Revelation 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat… 17… and he will guide them to springs of living water (ESV)

Isaiah 49:10 They shall not hunger, neither shall they thirst; neither shall the heat nor the sun strike them; but he that has mercy on them shall comfort them, and by fountains of waters shall he lead them. (LXE, Brenton)

Revelation 7:9 identifies these people (“they” and “them”) as “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” In other words, they are the Gentile nations. Both Isaiah and Revelation describe the spiritual benefits of those who worship the Lamb, the Servant, of God. He is their shepherd. Whether or not these blessings will also one day be physical is beyond the scope of this post. Nor does it matter to many. Spiritually, these blessings belong to the nations now, and millions worldwide enjoy the spiritual benefits of believing in their Savior, God’s Servant.

Isaiah Bursts into Praise

Isaiah himself realizes the magnitude of the words the Lord has given him to write. In verse 13, Isaiah bursts into a praise song in response to the wonderful blessings God has revealed. These blessings belong to the worldwide mission God assigns his Servant.

Rejoice, you heavens; and let the earth be glad: let the mountains break forth with joy; for the Lord has had mercy on his people, and has comforted the lowly ones of his people. (Isaiah 49:13 LXE)

Verses 12 and 13 form an interesting unit. In the entire passage from verse 1, God and his Servant speak mostly concerning the nations, the Gentiles. Verse 12 also indicates that God speaks of Gentiles.

Behold, these shall come from far: and these from the north and the west, and others from the land of the Persians. (Isaiah 49:12 LXE)

Yet verse 13 speaks twice of “his people,” that is, the Lord’s people. Readers have known all along that Israel comprises the “Lord’s people.” And here in verse 13, the word people is no longer the plural of “ethnos,” as in verses 1, 6, 7, and 8. The word for people in verse 13 is “laos.” This word is fluid in the same way that “ethnos” is fluid. It can refer specifically to the people of Israel. And, on other occasions, it can refer to “a church of Christians gathered from among the Gentiles” (4). For verses which use the word this way, see Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; Acts 15:14; Romans 9:25; and 1 Peter 2:10.

Reading Isaiah’s text straight through from verse 1 through 13, the conclusion that makes most sense is that “people” refers both to God’s people of Israel and God’s people of the Gentile nations. Verse 13 seamlessly unites both groups without distinction. To claim that this verse refers exclusively to Israel does not make contextual sense. Indeed, the Apostle Paul’s message throughout the New Testament, and especially in Romans 9-11, is that Gentiles have been grafted in to God’s family.

CONCLUSION

So, I join my voice with that of Isaiah in praising God this wonderful Advent season.

Rejoice, you heavens; and let the earth be glad: let the mountains break forth with joy; for the Lord has had mercy on his people, and has comforted the lowly ones of his people. (Isaiah 49:13 LXE)

May God pour his richest blessings upon us all, through Jesus Christ, his singular Servant, and may the Lord make us truly one.

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

2 All quotations in this paragraph are from the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint (SAAS).

3 “The third clause of verse 8 states that God gave Messiah (“you”) “for a covenant of the nations.” The word “nations” in Greek is “ethnos.” In verse 8, ethnos is plural. Generally, the plural of ethnos in Scripture refers to Gentiles (Cf. Nehemiah 5:17Psalm 2:1102:15Isaiah 42:661:11Daniel 7:14).” The previous quote taken from JustOneSmallVoice, Isaiah 49:8 LXX: Isaiah Devotional 2.29 – justonesmallvoice.com. See also Mark 10:42; Acts 14:5; and Romans 9:24, among many examples.

4 Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997. BibleWorks, v.9. 

Isaiah 49:8 LXX: Isaiah Journal 2.29

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiah-49-8-lxx-isaiah-devotional-2-29/.

Isaiah 49:8 Septuagint–Thoughts

8 Thus says the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I succored you: and I have formed you (1), and given you for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages: (Isaiah 49:8 LXE, Brenton

Who Is “You”?

In Isaiah 49:8, the Lord continues to speak to a person the text identifies as “you.” There is no reason to suppose that the “you” of verse 8 would be anyone different than the “you” of verse 7. As demonstrated in the last post, it seems clear that the text of verse 7 speaks of the Lord’s unique Servant: Messiah, Christ. (See prior post Isaiah Devotional 2.28.)

The first two clauses of verse 8 relate directly to the events of the life of Messiah, Jesus Christ. First, God heard Messiah. Second, he helped him.

1. When did God hear Messiah?

Luke 22:41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.1 (ESV)

Hebrews 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (ESV)

2. When did God “succor,” or help, Messiah?

Certainly, not on the cross (“Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34 and Psalm 22:1). But afterwards, when God on the third day raised him from the dead, he most definitely came to his aid.

What Can We Learn About the “Covenant of the Nations”?

1. When did God give Messiah “for a covenant of the nations”?

The third clause of verse 8 states that God gave Messiah (“you”) “for a covenant of the nations.” The word “nations” in Greek is “ethnos.” In verse 8, ethnos is plural. Generally, the plural of ethnos in Scripture refers to Gentiles (Cf. Nehemiah 5:17; Psalm 2:1; 102:15; Isaiah 42:6; 61:11; Daniel 7:14).

So when did God give Israel’s Messiah “for a covenant of the nations”?

First, Jesus indicated that he himself would be the covenant.

Matthew 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)

Paul rephrases the words slightly.

1 Corinthians 11:25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (ESV)

Jesus, the Christ, Messiah, is eternal. He is very God of very God. In Christ, the covenant which all believers have with God the Father derives its strength, security, and eternal nature from Christ himself. He came to earth and died. His blood was shed to seal the agreement. The Christian’s hope is completely in Christ. His blood is the covenant (2).

Second, the specifically “acceptable time” at which God announced his Servant as a “covenant of the nations” occurred after Christ’s resurrection, at the moment just before his ascension into heaven. 

Christians know this moment in time as, “The Great Commission.”

Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

2. More Concerning “An Acceptable Time”

8 Thus says the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I succored you: and I have formed you, and given you for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages: (Isaiah 49:8 LXE)

What does Scripture teach about the “acceptable time”?

1. Jesus Messiah himself proclaimed at the outset of his ministry that he was embarking upon the “year of the Lord’s favor.” He read these words from Isaiah 61:2 (LXE) in the synagogue in Nazareth. The Greek phrase used resembles the phrase in Isaiah 49:8 LXX. However, rather than “acceptable time,” Jesus read “year of the Lord’s favor.” The Greek word for “acceptable” and “favor” are identical, except for grammatical form.

2. Paul teaches about the “acceptable time” in his letters. First, he quotes the first part of Isaiah 49:8 to the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (ESV)

Paul states the time frame clearly: “now.” Paul engaged himself, by God’s appointment, in ministering to the Gentiles. Corinth was a city among the “nations.” The missionary age to Israel and the Gentile nations is the “acceptable time.” We are still living in this time frame today. How should we respond? Listen to what the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes.

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (ESV)

SUMMARY: In Isaiah 49:8, God gives the earth to his Servant and announces the missionary age to Gentiles.

What Does the Covenant Include?

Grammatically, the two concluding clauses of Isaiah 49:8 LXE make best sense as modifiers of the first clause, “for a covenant of the nations.”

LXE  I have… given you for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages:

Masoretic (ESV) I will… give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,

In the Greek Septuagint what does the phrase “to establish the earth” mean?

IS IT “EARTH” OR “LAND”?

First, the Greek word translated as “earth” can also mean “land.” Two of the Septuagint translations I use translate the Greek word “γῆ” as “earth” (3). The Hebrew word can mean “land” or the sum totality of land–earth. I understand the word as “earth.” The covenant of the Gentiles would involve the earth–in other words, everywhere.

In support of this interpretation, first, Jesus Messiah says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (“γῆ”) (Matthew 5:5). Second, Paul states that Abraham “would be heir of the world (kosmos)” (Romans 4:13). These two biblical pronouncements derive their theology either from direct revelation or from Old Testament Scripture. As concerns Old Testament Scripture, Isaiah 49:8 could be a location that prophesies this change, since “earth” is a translation as possible as “land.”

A NECESSARY SIDE-TRIP INTO HERMENEUTIC (INTERPRETIVE) PRINCIPLES

Readers should understand that an original text is different than a translation. The words in the Greek or in the Hebrew exist in those languages. But what do the words mean? How should they be translated? When a given word can express more than one meaning, translation becomes a matter of interpretation. And, of course, interpretation is subordinate to one’s biblical presuppositions and theological worldview. For example, is Christ the center of Old Testament prophecy, or is Israel the center of Old Testament prophecy? How a reader answers this question is a facet of one’s theological worldview. Interpretive bias, or biblical presuppositions, are unavoidable. Everyone has them. Although commentators and scholars will attempt to argue their own point of view by quoting supportive Scripture, I believe that a presupposition is exactly that–it supposes. I believe it’s a matter of where one places one’s faith.

In Isaiah 49:8, nearly all major, literal translations approximate each other closely. This holds true no matter if the translator is working from Greek or Hebrew. However, there is in the actual text itself enough wiggle room that various interpretations of what the words mean become possible. For this verse, a reader’s presuppositions and interpretive framework will invariably influence the meaning (or translation, if working from an original language) the reader gives the text.

Whether a reader translates the original Greek word “γῆ”  or Hebrew word “אֶרֶץ” as either “land” or “earth” is largely a subjective matter based upon one’s own theological worldview. My theological worldview is Christ at the center of all. Therefore, I prefer, as do two out of three Septuagint translations and the King James Bible, the reading that translates the word as “earth.” God in Isaiah 49:8 LXX says to his Servant that he (God) has given him “for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages:”

Given that everything I’ve written about this chapter in the last several posts demonstrates that Isaiah addresses the Servant’s ministry to both Israel and the Gentile nations, I don’t see any reason to apply these particular phrases near the end of verse 8 in an exclusive manner to Israel alone. Isaiah’s message in chapter 8 is inclusive. The Lord says in verse 6 that he has given the Servant “for a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 LXE). Even the ESV and NET translate this word as “earth.” “Earth” in verse 6 is exactly the same word as in verse 8. Verse 8 nearly repeats verse 6.  In verse 8, the Lord says that he has “given you [the Servant] for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages:” The context of both the passage and the chapter indicate that readers should continue reading the text inclusively.

WHAT DOES “ESTABLISH THE EARTH” MEAN?

Next, what does it mean to “establish” the earth? Reading through the concordance, the Greek word “establish” shows up in the context of someone having authority over someone or something.

BDAG defines the Greek word for “establish.”

καθίστημι [kathisteme]… 2. appoint, put in charge–a. someone over (of) something or someone.

Examples occur in Genesis 41:41; Psalm 8:6; Daniel 2:48; Matthew 24:47; Hebrews 1:2 (minus the prefix).

In Isaiah 49, we have shown that the Servant is none other than God the Son. Since that is so, what authority does the New Testament report God giving to his Son?

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (ESV)

God the Father has given his crucified and risen Son authority over the earth (6). As Hebrews 1:2 states, God appointed Christ to be heir of all things. In Christ, Christians are co-heirs with him. Christ has authority to divide his inheritance with his brothers and sisters this way.

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs– heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV)

LXE  I have… given you for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages:

God gave Christ authority over the earth. He can do with it as he pleases.

LAST CLAUSE OF VERSE 8: κληρονομῆσαι κληρονομίαν ἐρήμου (Isa 49:8 LXX)

In the last clause of verse 8, “to inherit the inheritance” is a linguistic formula throughout Scripture. Originally, it meant to inherit an inheritance by the casting of lots. Later in Israel’s history, it came to mean inherit salvation, as in Psalm 25:13; Isaiah 60:21, 61:7; Matthew 5:5; and Hebrews 1:14 (7). Since God addresses his Servant in verse 6, and verse 8 is so similar to verse 6, God addresses his Servant in verse 8. Both of these verses speak of Gentiles (nations). God’s vision of his Servant’s mission includes the whole world.

Christ inherits the world. God set him in charge over it to order it and do with it as he pleases. God gave Christ this authority (Isaiah 49:8 LXE). Christ’s authority over the earth includes physical authority, as well as spiritual. To inherit the inheritance of the desert, or wilderness places, is as much spiritual as physical (John 4:21-26). This clause leads directly into the next four verses, 9-12, which describes the spiritual blessings the Servant will bring, more so than the physical. Ultimately, after the resurrection, the two shall be one. 

Conclusion

It is fitting to have reached these joyous verses in Isaiah during the season in which Christians around the world celebrate the incarnation, the birth of the Christ child. Hallelujah! Speaking as a Gentile, I am ever so glad that God extended his holy Servant’s mission of renewal to include me and countless others around the world like me. God is good. My prayers for blessings upon all who may read these words of mine. May God bless you as you go on his way.

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1 Although this translation contains the phrase, “I have formed you,” not all existing Septuagint texts contain it. The text that Brenton used includes the phrase.

2 To say, as one set of Bible notes does, that a person cannot be a covenant–therefore, Christ mediates a covenant, completely misses the truth. To mediate a covenant implies that there must be a covenant other than Christ. Where is that document? There is none. As Jeremiah states so clearly, God’s new covenant is written on our hearts and in our minds (Jeremiah 31:31-33). Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is he who lives in our hearts and mind. He is the covenant. Yes, it is most definitely true that Christ is our mediator. Christ mediates between people and God the Father (1 Timothy 2:5). He mediates through himself. There is nothing and no one beside him. He is our mediator, and he is our covenant.

3 These two translations of the Greek Septuagint are 1) Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008, and 2) Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970. These translate “γῆν” as “earth.” A third Septuagint translation I use is Silva, Moisés. A New English Translation of the Septuagint: Isaias. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, by the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Inc. Available online at A New English Translation of the Septuagint. 33. Esaias (upenn.edu). Accessed December 20, 2021. Silva translates “γῆν” as “land.”

4 The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition. Berlin, Adele and Brettler, Marc Zvi, Editors. Published by the Jewish Publication Society, Tanakh Translation, Oxford University Press USA: New York, 2014, page 865.

5 Arndt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Editors. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd Edition. Revised and Augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walter Bauer’s Fifth Edition, 1958. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.

6 Notice that Satan had also offered Christ this authority in Luke 4:5-8. Christ, of course, refused. He preferred to receive that authority from his Father.

7 Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997. BibleWorks, v.9. 

Septuagint a Powerful Translation: Isaiah Journal 2.28

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-a-powerful-translation-isaiah-devotional-2-28/.

Septuagint Isaiah 49:7 A Powerful Translation

It is good for readers to be reminded that Septuagint Isaiah is a powerful translation. The Septuagint text does not shrink back from exulting Christ in the Old Testament. This is the translation that the biblical authors of the New Testament read, studied, and very often quoted. Septuagint Isaiah 49:7 is a good example of this translation’s unique characteristic of favor towards the deity of Christ.

7 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel, Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes: kings shall behold him, and princes shall arise, and shall worship him, for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you. (LXE)

Notice the many differences between Septuagint Isaiah 49:7 (above) and the Masoretic version below.

7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (ESV)

What Are the Differences?

FIRST DIFFERENCE–REDEMPTION

First, up until this point in Isaiah 49, Isaiah the narrator has not spoken. All the text from verse 1 through verse 6 has been spoken by either God or his Servant. Verse 7 opens with an unnamed narrator, presumably Isaiah, speaking. The narrator says, “Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel.” The narrator identifies the Lord in two ways: 1) He “delivered you,” and 2) He is “the God of Israel.” We will get to the identity of the person called “you” in a moment.

The Masoretic differs. The Masoretic identifies the Lord as “the Redeemer of Israel” and as “his Holy One”. This is a very large difference. A question arises because of this difference. Does Isaiah 49:7 claim that the Lord redeems Israel or that the Lord has delivered his Servant? To answer this question, a reader must trace back through the previous six verses and the following verses. Having done so, the conclusion is that “you” in the Septuagint is the Servant who dialogues with God throughout the entire passage through verse nine.

God’s having delivered his Servant is a concept entirely absent in the Masoretic text. Historically, when did God, as kinsman-redeemer, rescue his Servant? God rescued his Servant when he resurrected him from death by crucifixion. (The Greek words do not contain the concept of kinsman-redeemer. The Hebrew in the equivalent verse does.)

SECOND DIFFERENCE–HE DESPISES HIS LIFE

Going back to the two texts above, readers observe that God begins speaking sooner in the Septuagint text than in the Masoretic. God states in the Septuagint, “Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations.” The Masoretic reads, “Thus says the LORD… to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation...” This also is a very large difference.

The Septuagint adds the specific information that the Servant is the one who “despises his life.” In what becomes repetition in the context of the following phrase, the Masoretic states that it is the nation which both despises and abhors the person being referred to. Historically, it is true that the nation of Israel despised and abhorred God’s Servant. But what the Septuagint adds is very precious. The Servant “despises” his own life.

What Does It Mean to “Despise His Life”?

Historically, the New Testament sheds light on the phrase, “him that despises his life”.

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (ESV)

Jesus the Christ did not hesitate to lay his life down for his sheep. Because he freely gave up his life, he “hated” it (cf. John 12:25 and Philippians 2:5-8). He depreciated his life. He willingly lost his life to benefit others. The Septuagint prophesies this in Isaiah 49:7.

THIRD DIFFERENCE–SANCTIFICATION

(For reader convenience, here again are the two verses under consideration.)

7 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel, Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes: kings shall behold him, and princes shall arise, and shall worship him, for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you. (LXE)

7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (ESV)

When the Lord first speaks in the Septuagint text, he says, “Sanctify him that despises his life.” The Masoretic does not include the phrase “sanctify him.” The concept of holiness in the Masoretic gets absorbed into the second title of God, “his Holy One.” The Masoretic opens with three phrases: 1) the LORD, 2) the Redeemer of Israel, and 3) his Holy One.

The Septuagint, on the other hand, opens with four phrases: 1) the Lord, 2) that delivered you, 3) the God of Israel, and 4) Sanctify him. In the expanded version of the Septuagint, the Lord directly addresses an unspecified plural number of people in the phrase, “Sanctify him.” The Lord’s speech in the Septuagint begins with the phrase, “Sanctify him.” In contrast to this, the Lord’s speech in the Masoretic begins much later with the phrase “Kings shall see.”

This is also a very large difference. In the Septuagint version, the Lord tells the people (possibly the people of Israel) to sanctify the Servant. Sanctify in this sense would mean, “to reverence or acknowledge to be venerable, to hallow” (1). The Lord’s command to the people amounts to his placing the Servant on a level equal to himself. This results from God’s being One in Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4). He alone is to be worshiped. The religious leaders of Israel accused Jesus Christ, God’s Servant, of blasphemy when he spoke of himself as being equal to God. (See Matthew 26:64-65; John 10:33, 36.) As I stated in the opening, the Septuagint is bold in its presentation of Christ.

FOURTH DIFFERENCE–ABHORRED BY THE NATIONS

The fourth difference does not appear to be as significant as the prior differences. The Septuagint reads, “Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes.” This text makes two statements about the one whom the Lord commands the unnamed plural people to sanctify: 1) he “despises his life,” and 2) he is “abhorred by the nations.” The descriptive phrase “that are the servants of princes” grammatically modifies the nations. The Servant is abhorred by nations who themselves are servants of princes.

The Masoretic, on the other hand, reads, “to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers.” This text makes three statements about the one whom the Lord addresses: 1) he is “deeply despised,” 2) he is “abhorred by the nation,” and 3) he is “the servant of rulers.”

What is the main difference? The main difference between these two texts is that the Masoretic claims that the Lord’s Servant (for he is the one whom the Lord addresses, as demonstrated by the context of the passage) also serves rulers. “Thus says the LORD… 1) to one deeply despised, 2) [to one] abhorred by the nation, 3) [to one who is] the servant of rulers.” This raises the question, is the Lord’s Servant also the “servant of rulers”? The gospels would all say, “No.” Christ, the Servant, served God and him alone, as should we all.

The Septuagint, on the other hand, makes no statement that the Servant of the Lord also serves rulers. Rather, as if to emphasize his humble position, the Septuagint states that the Lord’s Servant was abhorred by nations who themselves were servants. That places him fairly low on the social scale. Nevertheless, the Servant’s integrity is intact, as Jesus himself taught, “13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other... ” (Luke 16:13).

FIFTH DIFFERENCE–WHO IS THE “HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL”?

Once again, for the sake of convenience, below are the two versions under consideration.

7 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel, Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes: kings shall behold him, and princes shall arise, and shall worship him, for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you. (LXE)

7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (ESV)

Before we ask and answer, “Who is the “Holy One of Israel?” in this verse, we must address a prior fact. The fact is that both texts agree that the Lord addresses (speaks directly to) the one who is abhorred by the nation(s). The Lord states that Kings and princes shall look upon this one and adopt postures of reverence and worship, because of the Lord, or “for the Lord’s sake,” as in the Septuagint. Of the two, the Septuagint states the matter more strongly. The Septuagint reads, “princes shall arise, and shall worship him.” The act of prostrating oneself, as the Masoretic text reads, may indeed imply worship, but certainly not as strongly as actually stating so. The Septuagint clearly and directly states that princes shall worship the Servant.

But wait. How is this possible? We need to slow down to allow the enormous significance of this verse to sink in. God himself, in the Old Testament, both in the Masoretic and in the Septuagint, prophesies that princes will worship his Servant. This can only mean one thing. In today’s language, God is okay with this. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that the Servant is deity, just as God is (2). This implication of the Servant’s deity is even clearer than the prior statement in the same Septuagint verse. The Septuagint prepares the reader for this moment when it presents the God of Israel commanding people to “Sanctify him that despises his life.” Here in Isaiah 49:7, the reader encounters Old Testament evidence of two of the three persons of the Trinity. And they are speaking with one another!

Who, Then, Is the “Holy One of Israel”?

Who, then, is the “Holy One of Israel”? First, nearly all the English versions based upon the Masoretic text make clear that the Lord God, the speaker, is the Holy One of Israel. He is the faithful one. But the Masoretic is interesting. Look at it carefully.

Isaiah 49:7 ESV Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

The first portion of the verse clearly states that the Lord is about to speak “to one deeply despised.” However, the statement the Lord makes has third person subjects throughout. There is no first person. Even when the Lord speaks about himself, the grammar of the Masoretic translations indicates that the Lord uses third person. Even the last clause with the object word, “you,” is entirely third person in its subject, “who has chosen you.” Might that seem an odd way for one person to address another?

The Septuagint is different. Only once does the text have the Lord referring to himself in third person: “for the Lord’s sake.”

7 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel, Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes: kings shall behold him, and princes shall arise, and shall worship him, for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you. (LXE)

The question the Septuagint presents us is, Why shall the princes worship “him,” the Servant? The text answers, “for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you.” There are two choices. First, the Lord might be speaking about himself in third person. That is, he might be referring to himself as “the Holy One of Israel” who is faithful. Or, second, the grammar of the Greek sentence allows that “the Holy One of Israel is faithful” refers to the Servant.

The Evidence

There are several points of evidence that “the Holy One of Israel is faithful” refers to the Servant.

1. First, the context of the entire passage from verse 1 through verse 13 concerns the Servant, rather than God the Lord. In other words, this passage is much more about the Servant than about God. Remember, we are trying to understand why God is happy with his pronouncement that “Kings shall behold and princes shall arise and shall worship him,” the Servant. The word “for” introduces the phrase, “the Holy One of Israel.” This word means “because.” The princes shall worship the Servant because… (ὅτι). Which seems more likely (remember that the grammar works both ways), that the princes shall worship the Servant because God the Lord is faithful or because the Servant is faithful?

2. Second, a prior phrase in this same verse has already established that the people are to consider the Servant holy. “Sanctify him that despises his life.” The words “sanctify” and “holy” in “Holy One of Israel” have the same base. They are two different grammatical forms built upon the same root word. The word “sanctify” is a verb form that builds upon the adjective “holy.” (Using Strong’s, “sanctify” is number 37, which derives from number 40. Number 40 is “holy.”) To summarize, God has already told the people to consider the Servant holy, that is, to “sanctify” him, to treat him with reverence. Later in the verse, he accords the Servant his own special name. How can this be acceptable?

3. It is acceptable to God to refer to the Servant by his own name, “the Holy One of Israel,” because God has already prophesied that princes shall worship the Servant. And Christians and Israelites both know that “God is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

ONE LAST DIFFERENCE–“I” HAVE CHOSEN YOU

In the section above, we had been discussing why the princes will worship the Servant. The text offers two reasons. One, if readers accept it this way, is because the Servant is faithful. That is, “the Holy One of Israel is faithful.” The text now provides a second reason, “I have chosen you.” That is, God the Lord has chosen the Servant. Therefore, princes shall worship him.

This is the first time in Septuagint verse 7 that the speaker, the Lord (“Thus says the Lord”) uses first person. The Masoretic differs here, as well. The Masoretic in verse 7 never uses first person. The Masoretic continues to present God referring to himself in third person, “the LORD… who has chosen you”. Below again, is the Masoretic.

Isaiah 49:7 ESV Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Two persons dialoguing with each other would not generally use this format. Nevertheless, the Septuagint also displays a surprising inconsistency.

7 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the God of Israel, Sanctify him that despises his life, him that is abhorred by the nations that are the servants of princes: kings shall behold him, and princes shall arise, and shall worship him, for the Lord’s sake: for the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you. (LXE)

The inconsistency is that the Lord begins by addressing a group of unspecified people, “Sanctify (plural verb) him… ” But the same speech by the Lord ends when the Lord suddenly turns to the Servant and addresses him directly, “and I have chosen you.”

Summary

In short, Isaiah 49:7 Septuagint presents a strong statement that the Servant will be worshiped, as God is worshiped. The Masoretic, however, is not as clear. 

The New Testament book of Philippians summarizes the entire sense and meaning of Isaiah 49:7 Septuagint.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)

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1 Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada, 1997, ἁγιάζω.

2 This verse, especially in this clause, provides additional evidence that the Servant is far, far greater than Israel. God would never be satisfied with the notion of princes worshiping the nation Israel. Further, the Servant’s identity is far more than that of a person who functions as an “idealized Israel.” Yes, the Servant does indeed minister to the world as God had intended Israel to minister, but that is not the point. The point is that the Servant is God. God intended Israel to be patterned after the image of the true Servant, not vice versa. The question Christians must ask themselves is, Who is at the center of our worship? Are we placing Christ at the center, or are we placing the nation of Israel at the center? 

Septuagint Isaiah 49:1-6: Isaiah Journal 2.27

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-isaiah-491-6-isaiah-devotional-2-27/.

Second Servant Song: Outline of Jesus’s Ministry

Isaiah 49:1-6 is popularly called Isaiah’s Second Servant Song. As mentioned in the prior post Devotional 2.26, these verses capture Jesus’s future ministry as a human/divine being. In a teacher’s language, they present the Scope and Sequence of Jesus’s life.

  • called from [virgin] birth (v 1)
  • preaching and teaching (v 2)
  • God glorified through the Servant’s [miracles] (v 3)
  • apparent failure [in arrest, trial, and crucifixion] (v 4)
  • new hope [in resurrection] (v 5)
  • Great Commission (v 6)

Verse 1

Listen to me, you islands; and attend, you Gentiles; after a long time it shall come to pass, says the Lord: from my mother’s womb he has called my name: (LXE)

I. JESUS’S MINISTRY TO GENTILES

Jesus went first to the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24).

However, he also attended to Gentiles (Matthew 15:22-28; John 4:4-43). God’s intention always was that believers throughout the whole world would be saved. (See prior post for more on this topic: Devotional 2.26.)

 John 12:31 ESV “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Matthew 28:19 ESV Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Parables of God’s Displeasure with Israel

For the most part, Israel the nation consistently rejected their God. This resulted in exile for both the northern and southern kingdoms. Nor did Israel receive her King. Many parables that Jesus spoke indicated God’s response to this rejection.

  • concerning a remnant only–Matthew 13:13-17
  • tenants whose wickedness leads to their great loss–Matthew 21:33-43
  • invited wedding guests who refuse to attend and ultimately get rejected–Luke 14:16-24

Luke 14:15 ESV When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”… 24 “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.”

Cursing the Fig Tree

Mark 11:13 ESV And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. 

Hosea 9:10 ESV Like grapes in the wilderness, I found Israel. Like the first fruit on the fig tree in its first season, I saw your fathers. But they came to Baal-peor and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame, and became detestable like the thing they loved.

Nevertheless, a remnant will be saved. In this way, God fulfills all his promises to his chosen people.

II. CALLED FROM THE WOMB

That Jesus was born to the virgin Mary, as announced ahead of time by angels, is so well known that only passing mention will be given here.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel. (LXE)

Matthew 1:20 ESV But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Verse 2

and he has made my mouth as a sharp sword, and he has hid me under the shadow of his hand; he has made me as a choice shaft, and he has hid me in his quiver; (LXE)

I. MOUTH AS A SHARP SWORD

Jesus constantly impressed the people, the scribes, Pharisees, rabbis, and lawyers around him with the wisdom and often with the sharpness of his words. Truth pierces, and Jesus always spoke truth.

Luke 2:34 ESV And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:46 ESV After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 

Matthew 22:46 ESV And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Revelation 1:16 ESV In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

II. HIDDEN BY GOD

God always hid his Son at critical moments. He did this in order to spare his life until the prophesied moment upon the cross.

Matthew 2:13 ESV Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

John 8:59 ESV So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

John 10:31 CEB Again the Jewish opposition picked up stones in order to stone him… 39 Again, they wanted to arrest him, but he escaped from them.

John 12:36 ESV While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

Verse 3

and said to me, You are my servant, O Israel, and in you I will be glorified. (LXE

I. YOU ARE MY SERVANT O ISRAEL

In terms of the much maligned “replacement theology,” it is not the church, per se, that “replaces” Israel. It is Christ himself who does so. God appointed him to this.

When the nation of Israel failed in God’s mission to them, God appointed his Son to be Israel, “He… said to me, ‘You are my servant, O Israel, and in you I will be glorified.‘” God directly calls the person with whom he is speaking, “Israel.” Only Jesus Christ hundreds of years later fulfills all the stated parameters of God’s Servant Israel.

God’s first and most important requirement of national Israel had always been the obedience of faith. In God’s statement to Isaac, Abraham’s son, everyone can see how closely God’s blessing is linked to obedience.

Genesis 26:4 ESV I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

In faithful obedience Israel the nation failed, but Israel God’s Servant in Isaiah 49:3–Christ, God’s Son–did faithfully obey. The Son became recipient of all the promises of God to Abraham. In Christ, the faithful remnant of ethnic Israel and all believers the world over receive the promises of God to Abraham. God spoke definitively on the subject when he allowed the Romans to destroy the temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D. “Israel,” with Christ as its head, had entered into the New Testament Covenant with God.

II. GOD GLORIFIED IN HIS SERVANT

  • by his birth (Luke 2:13-14)
  • by his words (John 8:53-55)
  • by his many miracles (Matthew 15:31; Luke 5:25-25; 7:16)
  • by his obedience (John 17:1, 4, 10, 22)
  • by his identity (Matthew 17:5; John 17:5)
  • through his disciples (John 17:10, 22, 24)
  • through his body, the church (comprised of the remnant of Israel, Isaiah 49:13, and believing Gentiles, Isaiah 49:6) (Acts 11:18)

It is not the church that “replaced” Israel. Rather, it is the Son of God, who gave his life a sacrifice for his people, whom God appointed to be his Servant Israel. Praise God! “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” In God’s house are many mansions. May the elder son not be jealous because our bountiful God gives blessings to the whole world. Rather, let us give glory to God for his own special Son, for God’s singular Servant Israel.

Verse 4

Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have given my strength for vanity and for nothing: therefore is my judgment with the Lord, and my labor before my God. (LXE

God has just told his Servant in verse 3 that he (God) would be glorified through him (the Servant.) But here in verse 4, the Servant speaks again. He appears to be greatly discouraged by what he views as the emptiness, the futility, the lack of fruit of his ministry. Nevertheless, he appeals to the Lord for his vindication. He places the judgment upon his life with God. His faith is in God.

Readers should first and foremost view the Servant’s statement as prophecy. Scripture here prophesies that from the Servant’s point of view, his ministry would appear to have failed. From the future Servant’s point of view, what could appear more like failure than death by crucifixion? God sent him to bless the people Israel, and they crucify him (Mark 12:1-12). Even all but one of his beloved disciples forsake him at the cross (John remained).

The verse before us is very similar to prophetic passages elsewhere in Scripture. Some of these are Psalm 18:1-25; Psalm 22;  Psalm 116; Psalm 118:10-24; and Psalm 102.

Psalm 116:16 O Lord, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast burst by bonds asunder. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of praise, and will call upon the  name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows unto the Lord, in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, Jerusalem. (LXE)

Verse 5

And now, thus says the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his own servant, to gather Jacob to him and Israel. I shall be gathered and glorified before the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. (LXE)

Sometimes, the more difficult a verse, the greater number of differences among the various translations. Isaiah 49:5 is such a verse. One difference between the Septuagint and Masoretic traditions is that the Septuagint names the Servant as the one who will be gathered. The Masoretic texts name national Israel, as a partner to Jacob. On the other hand, the character, persona, of the Servant is the one who speaks in first person in the Septuagint, “I shall be gathered.” God’s Servant, the person, is the one who shall be gathered. Notice the differences in these two textual traditions below.

ESV And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him– for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength– (ESV)

NETS And now thus says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be his own slave, to gather Iakob and Israel to him; I will be gathered and glorified before the Lord, and my God shall become my strength. (NETS)

THE SEPTUAGINT ACCORDS BEST WITH VERSE 3

All major translations agree on verse 3. Within the context of the passage, God addresses a grammatically singular person, who in turn replies to God in a first person singular voice. (This means that two persons are having a conversation.) In verse 3, God says to this other person, “You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified” (SAAS) (1).” Then, in the Septuagint, in verse 5 the Servant speaks. He is about to report something else God has said to him. This quotation occurs in verse 6. But in verse 5, the Servant say, “And now thus says the Lord, who formed me from the womb (verse 1) to be his own slave (verse 3), to gather Iakob and Israel to him; I will be gathered and glorified before the Lord, and my God shall become my strength.” (1)

The Septuagint text displays a strong tendency to favor Christ. New Testament authors used the Septuagint. Greek was the common language of Israel and the Mediterranean region in those years (2). Isaiah 49:5 LXX accords with the New Testament teaching concerning the body of Christ. The church, consisting of Jewish and Gentile believers, lives in Christ. The gathered people form one body, and Christ is the head. Without Christ, there would be no gathering. Christ is glorified by this arrangement. God is glorified. And it is also in Christ that the church is glorified.

THE SEPTUAGINT ACCORDS BEST WITH NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING

In Isaiah 49:3, God names the Servant as the one who is Israel. “You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”  Verse 5 explains how this glory will occur. Israel, the Servant, who is Christ, will gather Jacob and the people Israel to himself. They will become part of him, “I will be gathered.” This gathering into God’s greater Servant will bring the servant glory. In verse 3, God is glorified in the Servant. In verse 5, the Servant is glorified before the Lord. Now see how well this fits in with New Testament teaching.

Gathered in Christ–Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (ESV)

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. (ESV)

Colossians 2:19… the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (ESV)

The Servant Glorified–John 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (ESV)

Verse 6

Verse 6 of the Servant’s Song is where God includes Gentiles in his blessing of his people Israel. Let it never, ever be said that God’s people Israel receive “the curses” and the church the blessings. Israel receives God’s blessing. What could be a greater blessing than to be identified as belonging to and part of the Son of God? What could be a greater blessing than to be included in the unique Servant Israel, God’s Son? The fact that God also includes Gentiles to manifest his own greatness does not in any way diminish the blessing to his people Israel.

And he said to me, It is a great thing for you to be called my servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob, and to recover the dispersion of Israel: behold, I have given you for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the end of the earth. (LXE)

God loves his Son. Gathering Jacob and Israel to him is indeed a great thing. And still, God wants to manifest his own greatness and the glory of his faithful Servant even more. So he includes Gentiles among his covenant people, that the Servant “should be for salvation to the end of the earth.

Paul states it best in Romans, when he responds to his own extensive comments on the subject of the inclusion of Gentiles into Israel’s olive tree.

Romans 11: 33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!… 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV)

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1 Two of three independent translations of the Septuagint indicate that the Servant, speaking in first person, is the one who shall be gathered. These are Brenton’s and Silva’s translations.

2  Confer “Why the Septuagint? Part 1 and Part 2” by Christina M Wilson. Also, see Natalio Fernandez Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible, translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson (Brill: Leiden, the Netherlands, 2000), 338-339 and Timothy Michael Law, When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible (Oxford University Press: New York, 2013), 118-119.

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