Second Servant Song: Isaiah Journal 2.26

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/second-servant-song-isaiah-devotional-2-26/.

Second Servant Song–Scope and Sequence

Septuagint Isaiah 49:1-6 (see link) is popularly known as the Second Servant Song. (See previous post Isaiah Devotional 2.25 for important background information concerning the divine dialogue in this section). The passage briefly reports the scope and sequence of the Servant/Messiah’s future ministry and life. These six verses coordinate extremely well with Jesus the Christ’s incarnate ministry.

  • 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)

Is this hindsight? Of course it is. And yet, honesty must admit that the elements do match up. Before ascending from earth, Jesus gave his disciples and us his followers the key to unlock Old Testament prophecy: himself  (Luke 24:25-27). If someone were to say, “Isaiah didn’t know this,” my reply would be, “But God did.” Further, which of us some 2500 years later can say with certainty what Isaiah, God’s chosen prophet, may or may not have known? Additionally, according to New Testament authors, Isaiah wrote for us as much as for his own people (1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 1:10-12).

Verse 1: “Listen…attend…says the Lord…He has called my name”

1. THE LORD TRUSTS HIS SERVANT

In Septuagint Isaiah 49:1, the Lord trusts his Servant implicitly.

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: 2 and he has made my mouth as a sharp sword, and he has hid me under the shadow of his hand; (LXE)

The Lord calls the islands and Gentiles to attention. He tells them a prophecy concerning what will happen “after a long time” is about to be spoken. And then the Servant speaks. The Lord says, “Listen to me,” but it is the Servant who then speaks. By this means, readers understand that the Lord gives his speaking authority to his Servant. Then, as the Servant announces future events as though already accomplished (prophetic past tense), he takes over the role of prophet which the Lord has held for the last several chapters. The Servant becomes the “received” (official, approved) prophet who speaks for the Lord concerning himself.

2. A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SEPTUAGINT AND MASORETIC TEXTS

In regard to the first point above, there exists a difference between the Septuagint (Greek) and Masoretic (Hebrew) texts. The Septuagint has already been quoted. Below is an English translation of the Masoretic.

Isaiah 49:1 Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. (ESV)

Readers will notice that the entire phrase found in the Septuagint, “after a long time it shall come to pass, says the Lord:” is not present in the Masoretic. This omission (or addition, as the case may be) changes the underlying meaning of the text significantly, as developed in point 1 above (1).

If a reader picks up her Masoretic Bible (most English translations) and begins reading Isaiah 49 as a stand-alone chapter, she might not notice an anomaly in the content. Recall that the original biblical texts contained neither paragraph markers, chapter numbers, nor verse numbers. The text flows in continuous lines. Throughout most of chapter 48, the Lord himself speaks. Isaiah 48:22 directly quotes the Lord: “says the Lord”. Then, in the Masoretic, without warning or announcement of any kind, a change of speaker occurs. It is almost as though an unannounced speaker usurps the text. Not only is this a change of speaker, it is an unusual change of speaker, as discovered in the content.

WHO IS THIS SPEAKER? At first glance, a reader might think the unannounced Masoretic speaker is Isaiah the prophet. Continuing to verse 3 however, that possibility would be eliminated, because Isaiah the prophet is nowhere called “Israel.” The Septuagint, on the other hand, also does not identify the speaker immediately in verse 1. However, by including the words, “says the Lord,” in verse 1, readers know that no one has usurped the text. The Lord is still present.

The Lord is the one who brings the crowd (the islands and Gentiles) to attentive order before handing the microphone (so to speak) to the second speaker. In other words, in the Septuagint, the second speaker speaks, as it were, with the permission and blessing of the Lord, who is still present. But in the Masoretic text, readers are caught off-guard, not yet understanding what just happened with a sudden, unannounced change of speaker.

Verses 1 and 6: The Great Commission

Isaiah 49:6 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

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)

THE CHURCH IS NOT A PARENTHESIS

Some biblical commentators whose eschatology (end-times worldview) is dispensational, refer to God’s calling of Gentile peoples to himself a “parenthesis.” This parenthesis, they say, became necessary when Israel rejected (crucified) their Messiah, their King. They call Pentecost and the missionary activity that began in Matthew 28 with Jesus’s Great Commission the beginning of the “church age.” This church age, they say, was not part of God’s original plan, but is a parenthesis in God’s dealing with Israel, his chosen, ethnic people (2).

The book of Isaiah from its early chapters brings the lie to the fiction that the church is a kind of Plan B, a parenthesis, in God’s will for humankind. God always joyfully planned that Messiah’s salvation would extend to Gentiles.

Isaiah 2:2 For in the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be glorious, and the house of  God shall be on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall come to it. 3 And many nations shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will tell us his way, and we will walk in it: for out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem. (LXE)

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious. (LXE)

Isaiah 42:4 He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged, until he have set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust… 6 I the Lord God have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will strengthen you: and I have given you for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles: (LXE)

There is a false view that says God blesses according to ethnicity. In this view, God is a kind of Santa Claus who chose a special, ethnic people so that he could bless them no matter what. Scripture, however, teaches that God elected Israel to be his servant. By serving God and obeying him, they would be a beacon, a light, a trumpet to the whole world. The purpose of Israel as a servant was to show the nations the blessings that would accrue to a people who obeyed the will of the Lord. That way, all humanity would choose to imitate Israel and receive God’s blessing.

Genesis 22:18 “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (ESV)

Likewise, the gift of the Law to Israel was intended for good (Psalm 19:7-11). Gentiles would observe a godly Israel and turn to their God who blessed them. God has always been a God of mission. According to God’s missionary will, Gentiles were part of God’s plan from the very beginning. As Paul points out, Abraham, before his call, was a Gentile (uncircumcised) (Romans 4:9-17).

When Israel as a people group, a nation, failed God’s mission for them, God sent his greater Servant, Messiah, to become Israel.

Isaiah 49:3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (ESV)

Just as Paul taught in the Romans 4 passage cited above, Jesus also taught the Samaritan woman at the well.

John 4:19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (ESV)

When Jesus taught this way, was he teaching Plan B? Was he inviting the Samaritan woman to partake in a parenthesis? No, but rather God planned righteousness by faith from the beginning. Salvation would always come through the obedience of faith in God. Later, this salvation would come through faithful loyalty to his righteous, singular Servant, Israel.

Messiah-Servant-Israel was God’s plan for all people from the beginning. Septuagint Isaiah 49:1, 6, and 8 establish this. Isaiah writes with joy in the 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.” And God’s plan, according to Isaiah, was always that his Servant “should be for salvation to the end of the earth.” Hallelujia!

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1 The oldest extant Septuagint texts predate the oldest Masoretic texts by roughly one thousand years. At that early time of history when translators created the Greek text, scholars think it likely that more than one Hebrew textual tradition existed. Or, it is possible that post-Christ, Hebrew rabbis edited their Hebrew text for reasons of their own. After Augustine, western church fathers came to prefer the Hebrew text and began using it more regularly than the Septuagint. The New Testament authors and earliest church fathers used the Septuagint.  See Psalm 28: Why the Septuagint? Part 1-Background – justonesmallvoice.com and Psalm 28: Why the Septuagint? Part 2-Specifics and an Exhortation – justonesmallvoice.com by Christina M Wilson.

2 The reader is free to Google the term “church age a parenthesis” to find these sources. She may also Google “church not a parenthesis” to read exegesis from the other side.

Messiah Reappears: Isaiah Journal 2.25

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at JustOneSmallVoice.com.

Septuagint Isaiah 49: Introduction

How to Study a Passage of Scripture

When seeking to understand a biblical text, the best resource is the text itself. Earnest readers should read and reread each section multiple times. This takes time, perhaps a sequence of days, or even longer. Reading from multiple versions can help untangle linguistic knots. As seekers and believers prayerfully and slowly read, the Holy Spirit will guide their observations. Readers will see connections, distill out main points, and formulate questions. The Holy Spirit will guide the questioning reader to other verses of Scripture and, on occasion, to outside sources who can help them.

The New Testament Book of Acts gives a marvelous example of a seeker prayerfully reading Isaiah (Acts 8:26-40). This reader had got to the point of wondering whom specifically the words referred to. Just then, the Holy Spirit sent Philip to run alongside his carriage and give him the key that would unlock the passage the eunuch was reading. Philip gave the Ethiopian eunuch the same key that Jesus had given his disciples. It is the same key that the Lord in my studies has given me: the Lord Jesus Christ (1).

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (ESV)

“Thus Saith the Lord”

Septuagint Isaiah 49 is one long conversation. The speech even spills over into chapter 50. Eight times in 26 verses, Septuagint Isaiah uses the formula, “saith the Lord.” These occurrences mark out for readers and listeners who is speaking. We can call them direct speech markers. In these instances, the Lord speaks.

But the Lord is not the only one who speaks in Septuagint Isaiah 49. Someone else speaks with first person (I, me, my) grammatical markers. Because the Lord directly addresses this other person by means of the grammatical marker “you (thou, thee),” readers know that there is a conversation occurring between two personas (characters). This dialogue progresses and moves back and forth between the two.

Who is this other person whom the Lord addresses? As with Septuagint Isaiah 48:16, the hyperbole (overstatement, idealization) regarding this other person indicates that someone far greater than the Persian Cyrus is on the scene. Septuagint Isaiah 49 provides one of the best views of the preincarnate Christ readers will find to this point. Confirmation from the New Testament will be supplied to support this view, as the article progresses.

Sections

Based upon content, Septuagint Isaiah 49 will be divided into the following sections. These sections are not noted within the text itself. Early biblical manuscripts contained neither chapter markers, nor verses, nor sections. Marking out sections is a somewhat arbitrary convenience that aids discussion, organization, and understanding. Other commentators might, of course, divide the chapter differently.

  1. Isaiah 49:1-6 LXE
  2. Isaiah 49:7 LXE
  3. Isaiah 49:8-12 LXE
  4. Isaiah 49:13 LXE
  5. Isaiah 49:14-26 LXE

Section 1–Septuagint Isaiah 49:1-6

Septuagint Isaiah 49:1 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: 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; 3 and said to me, You are my servant, O  Israel, and in you I will be glorified. 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. 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. 6 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. (Isaiah 49:1-6 LXE

How Many Speakers?

Standard English writing conventions teach that direct speech should be set off by quotations marks. A new paragraph indicates a change of speakers. Ancient peoples did not write according to these conventions. They wrote in long strings that contained neither periods nor capital letters. Readers of that day were trained to look for contextual clues to determine who was speaking.

In the biblical quotation above are several contextual clues that indicate a duality of speakers. First, the text indicates speech by the Lord with the marker, “says the Lord,” in verse 1. But second, verse 1 also states, “… he has called my name.” From this phrase, readers understand that a second persona, or character, also speaks. This speaker refers to something the Lord did and spoke in the past, “He has called my name.” Third, the grammatical markers, “he” and “me” continue through verse two. Clearly, this represents two people. In verse 3, the “he” from verse 2 speaks to “me.”

Who Are the Speakers?

SPEAKER ONE

Speaker one is the Lord. Readers know this because the text tells them so (“says the Lord” verse 1). The text further identifies that the Lord speaks in verses 3, and 6. Actually, the Lord had already been speaking in chapter 48. If the reader goes back and rereads, she will discover that for the most part the Lord himself has been speaking since chapter 40. Isaiah the prophet is fairly well hidden throughout.

There is a difference in labels between the Lord’s speech in verses 3 and 6 and verse 1, however. As previously stated, verse 1 reads, “says the Lord.” In verse 3, however, the marker reads, “…and said to me, Thou art…” In other words, a second speaker reports what the Lord had previously spoken to him. The same occurs in verse 6, “And he said to me…” Who is this second speaker?

SPEAKER TWO

At this point in the prophecy, Cyrus would be a reasonable choice for speaker two. But the text almost immediately eliminates Cyrus, who eventually did deliver Israel from the Babylonians. The text eliminates Cyrus in verse 3, when it states, “You are my servant, O Israel.” Cyrus the Persian is not Israel.

A reader might therefore conclude that Israel, the nation with its people, is the servant of the Lord. But as the text continues on, readers discover that the Lord called this servant Israel to gather, establish, and recover Jacob and Israel (verses 5 and 6). These statements clearly indicate that someone other than the nation and people of Israel is in view. This conclusion follows because the Lord in Scripture does not call Israel to deliver itself.

A reader’s next step in the process of discovering the identity of the second speaker would be to go back and review past portions of Isaiah. The first such portion that sheds light on the identity of speaker two in chapter 49 is Isaiah 48:16, which is not very far away.

16 Draw near to me, and hear you these words; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: when it took place, there was I, and now the Lord, even the Lord, and his Spirit, has sent me. (LXE)

ISAIAH 48:16

Some people think that Isaiah 48:16 is “probably Cyrus.” While this is possible, in light of Isaiah 49, it would be wise to go back and revisit that conclusion. As just demonstrated, the “servant, O Israel” in Isaiah 49:3 is not Cyrus. The context of Isaiah 49 has not changed dramatically from the context of Isaiah 48. The Lord is still talking about Israel, the nation and people, and his planned deliverance of them. Since Cyrus is not the servant God sends in Isaiah 49, it seems most likely that he is not the servant in Isaiah 48:16. (Interested readers should see the prior post for additional reasons for eliminating Cyrus as a candidate in Isaiah 48:16: Isaiah Devotional 2.24.)

Continuing to work backwards, readers will find a passage very similar to the one in Isaiah 49. It begins in Isaiah 42:1 and extends through verse 17 (Isaiah 42:1-17). Topics covered in those verses resemble those in Isaiah 49:1-13. Consider these verses side by side.

Isaiah 49:3 and said to me, You are my servant, O Israel, and in you I will be glorified… 6… 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. 

Isaiah 42:1 Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles… 6… I have given you for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles.

Christian readers from all ages understand these two Servants to be one and the same, Jesus Christ Messiah.

Luke 2:25 … Simeon…30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 

Acts 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

Acts 26:22 … saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

Summary

As an introduction to the passage that begins in Isaiah 49:1, I have taken time to trace out how readers can draw conclusions concerning the text simply by using the text at their disposal. Having a reference bible (one that shows related verses) and a concordance helps tremendously. My preferred text for Isaiah is the Septuagint. I prefer it because it points to Christ Messiah in places where our other English texts turn neutral.

Isaiah 49 is stunning. It stuns Christians because they hear two of the persons of the Trinity talking back and forth, in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before the incarnation. The first time I read this passage, I felt like one of the angels witnessing the baby Jesus in a manger. “He’s born! He’s born!” “There’s two of them! There’s two of them!” I even went running to my friends nearby and showed them the passage I was reading. “Look! There’s two! Here is the divine Son. Father and Son are speaking together.”

A passage such as Isaiah 49 shows how very much God loves his children. He is the great communicator. He wants us to know him, to know his motives, and to see for ourselves his love at work. It is no wonder that the narrator Isaiah breaks out in verse 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.

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1 I used to read these verses in Luke many times. They pierced me. I became so jealous of those disciples that I prayed and asked the Lord to show me himself in the words and passages of the Old Testament. At that time, I had no clue how to proceed. Many years later, this what you read in JustOneSmallVoice.com is the result of that prayer.

Septuagint Isaiah 48: Isaiah Journal 2.24

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-isaiah-48-isaiah-devotional-2-24/.

Good News for a Rebellious People

Septuagint Isaiah 48: God Speaks to Nonbelieving Israel

In chapter 45, God addresses Cyrus and Gentiles. He speaks to the “house of Jacob and (1) all the remnant of Israel” in chapter 46. Then God addresses Babylon in chapter 47. In chapter 48, God again addresses the nonbelieving portion of Israel.

Hear these words, you 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; 2 maintaining also the name of the holy city, and staying themselves on the God of Israel: the Lord of hosts is his name… (LXE)

Clearly, God reads the heart. The people referred to in verses 1 and 2, those who call themselves Israelites, speak words of belief but not sincerely.

Chapter 48 Themes

God through the prophet Isaiah emphasizes three themes in chapter 48. These he weaves together, as in a braid. These three themes are 1) rebuke for Israel, 2) God’s self-defense, and 3) God’s plans for the restoration and salvation of Israel. A fourth theme, 4) the coming deliverer, brings excitement and expectation to the whole.

1 God Rebukes Israel

As God continues to chastise the Israelites, he also defends himself to them. The obvious question is, Why would he have to? God is, after all, God, and these folk say they are his people. They, however, worship idols (verse 5). God defends himself by claiming his unique ability to prophesy events far in advance of their actual fulfillment. They, for their part, nonchalantly deny that this is “news” to them (verse 7). Or, they say that their idols accomplished the feats God brought to pass (verse 5). God’s words to them are straightforward and harsh.

4 I know that you are stubborn, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your forehead brazen… 8… I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and would be called a transgressor even from the womb. (LXE)

God states his people hear what he says, but have no knowledge, no understanding. (It goes in one ear and out the other.) Their claims of knowledge do not match the reality of God’s truth.

6 You have heard all this, but you have not known: yet I have made known to you the new things from henceforth, which are coming to pass, and you said not, 7 Now they come to pass, and not formerly: and you heard not of them in former days: say not you, Yes, I know them. 8 You have neither known, nor understood, 

God announces that he will show his people his anger and his glorious acts.

9 For my own sake will I show you my wrath, and will bring before you my glorious acts, that I may not utterly destroy you. (LXE)

God sold them (verse 10) but not for silver. That is, he sold them as something of not much value. This demonstrates his wrath. Then, he delivered them out of the “furnace of poverty” (also verse 10). The anger of God convicts of his righteousness and judgment. His glorious acts convict of his love. He will perform his act of deliverance for his people because without this, his name is profaned among the nations. He will not give his glory to another (verse 11).

2 God Defends Himself

After all these years, the Israelites should know who God is. Yet, he must tell them. He must defend himself to them. As in previous chapters, God’s argues that he alone is the eternal creator. Second, God alone states ahead of time what will come to pass, and it does come to pass.

DEFENSE ONE: HE IS THE ETERNAL CREATOR

12 Hear me, O Jacob, and Israel whom I call; I am the first, and I endure for ever.

{1} 13 My hand also has founded the earth, and my right hand has fixed the sky: I will call them, and they shall stand together. {literally: “I am the first, and I am unto eternity.”} (LXE)

DEFENSE TWO: GOD PROPHESIES TRUTHFULLY

3 and they that have proceeded out of my mouth, and it became well known; I wrought suddenly, and the events came to pass. (LXE)

3 God’s Plans for Restoration and Salvation

God plans to restore Israel to her homeland. Babylon was a world power. Israel was enslaved there. No one would have ever expected that they would return to their homeland. But God announces this fact in advance, so that when it happens, everyone will know that God did it.

14… Out of love to you I have fulfilled your desire on Babylon, to abolish the seed of the Chaldeans… 20 Go forth of Babylon, you that flee from the Chaldeans: utter aloud a voice of joy, and let this be made known, proclaim it to the end of the earth; say you, The Lord has delivered his servant Jacob. (LXE

God’s word announced (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1) that Cyrus the Persian would defeat Babylonia. History records this defeat. Cyrus then very rapidly sent the Israelites home.

4 The Deliverer

CONTEXT

God readies the stage for his announcement about the deliverer he will send to rescue his people from the Chaldeans, that is, the Babylonians. Verses 12-14 provide the immediate context. In the Septuagint and Masoretic, God names whom he calls (καλέω, ka-lay-o) to listen. He calls Jacob and Israel to listen.

12 Hear me, O Jacob, and Israel whom I call;… (LXE)

Then, as previously quoted, God names himself as first and unto forever, the eternal one (still in verse 12). Verse 13 continues with the description of how God created. The last statement of verse 13 states, “I shall call them, and they will stand together.” Verse 14 continues, “All shall be gathered and hear: Who declared these things to them?

These words all flow together in a stream. The question for textual interpretation is, Who are “them” in verses 13 and 14? Are they the same or different?

12 Hear me, O Jacob, and Israel whom I call; I am the first, and I endure for ever. 13 My hand also has founded the earth, and my right hand has fixed the sky: I will call them, and they shall stand together. 14 And all shall be gathered, and shall hear: who has told them these things? Out of love to you I have fulfilled your desire on Babylon, to abolish the seed of the Chaldeans. (LXE)

The statement in verses 15-16, concerning Israel’s deliverer, can actually stand on its own two feet without a prior introduction or context. It’s a clear statement. Commentators, however, present no consensus on who the several uses of “them” in verses 12-14 refer to. To my ear, the text makes most sense when paraphrased as I do below.

Hear me, O Jacob, and Israel whom I call. I am eternal. 13 My hand has also founded the earth, and my right hand has fixed the sky: These are my credentials of authority as the one who calls. I will call Jacob and Israel, and they shall stand before me to listen. 14 All Jacob and Israel, I repeat, shall be gathered, and shall hear: Who has told Jacob and Israel these things? …

It is not certain that the Masoretic text is any clearer. Fortunately, as already stated, proper understanding of verses 15-16 does not depend upon a correct assessment of the previous verses. What is clear from those verses is that God is about to make a big announcement. He wants to make sure that everyone is paying close attention.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT: VERSE 15

Here, then, is the announcement.

15 I have spoken, I have called, I have brought him, and made his way prosperous. 

Verse 15 above indeed does have a local application in Cyrus. God called Cyrus and prospered him, that is, blessed him. God sent Cyrus to overthrow the Babylonians and to send the Israelite captives back to their homes in Israel.

The Exciting Part: Messiah Speaks

16 Draw near to me, and hear you these words; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: when it took place, there was I, and now the Lord, even the Lord, and his Spirit, has sent me. (LXE

These are amazing words. A short way further on, chapter 49 of Isaiah records what many call the second Servant Song (2). In that second song, the Servant speaks and makes his identity clear. (At least to the writers of the New Testament it is clear). He is Messiah.

The words of verse 16 precede this speech, yet are similar to it. The words of verse 16 could not possibly be spoken by any human being without charges of blasphemy. A simpler translation from the Masoretic is the following.

16 Come to me and listen to this. From the beginning I have spoken openly. From the time it began, I was there… (ICB)

The Septuagint words “there was I” (“I was there” in the Masoretic) is a different tense (imperfect middle) of the divine formula, “I am.” At the beginning, when things began, I am (I was there.)

What occurs here in Isaiah 48:16 is almost the most exciting part of the book so far. Readers and listeners hear a second divine person speaking. The Messiah, Christ, speaks in the biblical presence of his Father in the Old Testament. He speaks even more in chapter 49. The Messiah himself states, “The Lord and His Spirit have sent Me” (SAAS).

More Chastisement

A section of chastisement immediately follows Messiah’s introduction of himself. For those whose eyes see the third person of the Trinity as Old Testament “Lord,” the preincarnate Yahweh (Christ), this section also, could be from him. Otherwise, the speaker switches back to God the Father.

17 Thus says the Lord that delivered you, the Holy One of Israel; I am your God, I have shown you how you should find the way wherein you should walk. 18 And if you had listened to my commandments, then would your peace have been like a river, and your righteousness as a wave of the sea. 19 Your seed also would have been as the sand, and the offspring of your belly as the dust of the ground: neither now shall you by any means be utterly destroyed, neither shall your name perish before me. (LXE

A Remnant

The three verses above explain the difference between corporate Israel and the remnant.

God made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as “the sand” in the sea (Genesis 22:17). Here in verses 18 and 19, conditions have been placed on that promise. “And if you had listened to my commandments, then…” and “Your seed also would have been… ” Paul in the New Testament explains that God kept his promise to those of like faith as Abraham (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7-8). Corporate Israel, because of their disobedience, failed to attain to the fulfillment of God’s promise. The Gentiles, to whom the Servant brings light in chapter 49–these Gentiles will soon become the faithful who fill out the numbers to the proportion of the “sands of the sea.”

However, as the verses in Isaiah quoted just above state, “neither now shall you by any means be utterly destroyed, neither shall your name perish before me.” As so often in Isaiah, God distinguishes that a remnant shall be saved.

Isaiah 10:22  And though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be saved. (LXE

This explains why, after such a hopeful passage as Isaiah 48:20-21, God can close the chapter by stating, “‘There is no rejoicing,” says the Lord, “for the ungodly.'” 

God’s Decree to Go Forth

God chastised his people in verses 17-19. In the next two verses, he sends them forth from Babylon. Accompanying his proclamation is a command for them to proclaim the voice of gladness “to the end of the earth (verse 20). This proclamation is local. It applies to the second exodus after the victory of Cyrus over the Babylonians.

The Decree Broadens to a Prophecy of Messiah

In one sense, verse 21 also applies to the Israelites’ journey through the desert to return to their homeland from the confines of Babylonia. The terms used in the verse, within the context of everything from chapters 40 through the present chapter and on into chapter 49, suggest that God also has a much grander salvation more largely in view.

20 Go forth of Babylon, you that flee from the Chaldeans: utter aloud a voice of joy, and let this be made known, proclaim it to the end of the earth; say you, The Lord has delivered his servant Jacob. 21 And if they shall thirst, he shall lead them through the desert; he shall bring forth water to them out of the rock: the rock shall be cloven, and the water shall flow forth, and my people shall drink. (LXE)

The telltale phrase is, “he shall bring forth water to them out of the rock: the rock shall be cloven, and the water shall flow forth, and my people shall drink.”

The cleaving of the rock to provide water is reminiscent of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. During that journey, such an event happened twice (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11). Paul explains the significance of the rock in 1 Corinthians 10:4, “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 

The immediate context that justifies application of Christ to these words in Isaiah 48:21 is found in verses 15-16. There, the Spirit is mentioned directly in connection with God’s sending of the Servant Deliverer. Chapter 49 continues this same context.

Summary

Chapter 48 is simple enough in content, yet the details are complex. Basically, there are four themes in this chapter, none of which are introduced here for the first time. These four themes are 1) rebuke for Israel, 2) God’s self-defense, 3) God’s plans for the restoration and salvation of Israel, and 4) the coming deliverer. The most exciting verses are verses 15 and 16. In verse 15, God introduces the deliverer. And in verse 16, the deliverer speaks. The exciting part is that the words the deliverer speaks place him beside God. Readers should find themselves in a state of anticipation for Isaiah to continue. In chapter 49, they will not be disappointed.

THE TRINITY IN THE SEPTUAGINT: VERSE 16

Some English translations of the Septuagint indicate a different word order in verse 16 than some English translations of the Hebrew Masoretic. (All translations by their very nature are interpretations.) The tenses of the Greek phrase “and his Spirit” indicate that the Spirit is subjective rather than objective (accusative). This means that God and the Spirit did the sending. To the contrary, certain translations indicate that God sent the Servant and with him he sent the Spirit. But in the Greek text, the Spirit participated in the sending. Examples of two English translations follow.

16 …I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: when it took place, there was I, and now the Lord, even the Lord, and his Spirit, hath sent me. (Septuagint, Brenton)

16 …Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit. (ESV)

Septuagint English translations that place “and his Spirit” in front of the verb are the LXE and SAAS. NETS places the phrase after. The actual Greek words occur after; it’s the tenses which indicate that “and his Spirit” are subjective.

Masoretic English translations that indicate God sends his Spirit along with the Servant are the NET and NIV.

“Come near me and listen to this: “From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there.” And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, endowed with his Spirit. (Isaiah 48:16 NIV)

Contrary to the NIV, the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and ESV leave the possibility of the Spirit’s participating in the sending open. (See the ESV translation above.) The Greek Septuagint text itself is clear that the Spirit participated in the sending.

__________

1 The Septuagint contains the word “and” between the phrase “house of Jacob” and “all the remnant of Israel.” The Masoretic does contain “and.” However, neither the ESV, NET, nor NIV translate it. Rather, they place a comma before “remnant,” turning the phrase into an appositive. That is, these translations equate the house of Jacob with the remnant, making them synonymous. On the other hand, the KJV, NKJV, and the NASB do include the word “and.” Why does it matter? With the “and” included, the possibility exists that God addresses two distinguishable groups: a remnant, and all the rest. Throughout Isaiah, most strongly in Isaiah 10:22, the prophecies distinguish a remnant. The prophesied outcome for the remnant differs from the outcome for the bulk of nonbelieving Israel.

2 The first Servant Song occurs in Isaiah 42:1-4.

Septuagint Isaiah 47: Isaiah Journal 2.23

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-isaiah-47-isaiah-devotional-2-23/.

Septuagint Isaiah 47: Metaphor and Symbol

God through the prophet continues to speak in Isaiah 47. He uses metaphor throughout to describe the downfall in judgment of the city of Babylon. The historical city of Babylon is the site of Israel’s captivity. It was the center of power of the Chaldean Empire during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. Nebuchadnezzar was the Babylonian ruler who conquered Israel and led them captive (2 Kings 24-25).

© 2013, Ralph F. Wilson, all rights reserved.

Effects of Metaphor

The use of metaphor in language creates meaning on several levels. Metaphor presents a subject as a picture, or image, of something quite unrelated. For example, a city is not a female person (Isaiah 47:1) Cities don’t wear a dress to wade across a river (Isaiah 47:2). Neither do cities speak (Isaiah 47:8). All the images God uses to describe Babylon are of people. Personification is the word for assigning people-like qualities to nonliving objects and abstract ideas.

People have personalities, character, and soul. People perform good and evil. They also have a will. People think and talk. A city, on the other hand, is not a human being with a will to achieve either good or evil. Cities don’t have mouths that speak. In a certain sense, the description of the wicked woman God presents symbolizes the historical city of Babylon. On a concrete-literal level, Cyrus the Persian fulfilled this prophecy when he conquered Babylon in 539 BCE.

Nevertheless, God chose metaphorical terms. If God had chosen to prophesy against the historical city in strictly concrete terms, as a journalist might, the effect would have been quite different. A strictly concrete-literal prophecy would have a limited, local only application. That is, the fulfillment of the prophecy would be confined to one particular city at a definite point in time. But as it is, the metaphorical prophecy against Babylon in Isaiah 47 yields meaning at multiple levels.

Multiple Levels of Meaning

What are the multiple levels of meaning in Isaiah 47?

First, of course, is the concrete-literal. As previously noted, the historical fulfillment of God’s prophecy against Babylon occurred in 539 BCE.

Second are the symbolic meanings.

  • First, Babylon can symbolize the wickedness of all large cities which become centers of power. Living in a large city often causes greatly cruel circumstances to befall people without resources. People suffer in big cities. Events and conditions trample people to death.
  • Second, Babylon can symbolize systems of economy, commerce, and government that show little mercy for powerless people.
  • Next, Babylon can symbolize a being. That being could be Satan.
  • Finally, Babylon could symbolize evil itself, as a quality.

Babylon Symbolic of Satan

What contextual support is there for thinking that Babylon in Septuagint Isaiah 47 might symbolize Satan?

NARROW CONTEXT

The narrowest context is Septuagint Isaiah 47 itself.

God most likely chose Babylon the city to represent the empire of Babylon, as the seat of its power. He also chose to represent this power as an individual person, to whom he gave a speaking role. The fact that the person of Babylon is a woman, does seem to work against its symbolizing Satan. Demons, however, are not sexual beings with gendered bodies.

Why Satan? As a wicked individual, Satan is the most prominent in Scripture. He is the one most frequently named.

1. Babylon’s “I am… “

As noted previously, cities don’t speak. This city, however, says “I am… ” three times in the Septuagint (verse 8, and twice in verse 10).

10 …  for you said, I am, and there is not another: know you, the understanding of these things and your harlotry shall be your shame; for you said in your heart, I am, and there is not another. (LXE

The “I am” phrase is God’s own special name for himself. God names himself this way throughout all Scripture. God first revealed himself to Moses as “I am… “

Exodus 3:13 And Moses said to God, Behold, I shall go forth to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of our fathers has sent me to you; and they will ask me, What is his name? What shall I say to them? 14 And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you. 15 And God said again to Moses, Thus shall you say to the sons of Israel, The Lord God of our fathers, the God of Abraam, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, has sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and my memorial to generations of generations. (LXE

The height of blasphemy is to refer to oneself by using God’s own personal, special name. By saying this, the character whom Babylon symbolizes (most likely Satan) claims to be God. This places him in competitive opposition to God, that is, as God’s enemy. And God’s primary enemy is indeed Satan.

Isaiah 14:12 How has Lucifer, that rose in the morning, fallen from heaven! He that sent orders to all the nations is crushed to the earth. 13 But you said in your heart, I will go up to heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven: I will sit on a lofty mount, on the lofty mountains toward the north: 14 I will go up above the clouds: I will be like the Most High. 15 But now you shall go down to hell, even to the foundations of the earth. (LXE

2. Babylon’s Character

The character of the woman who symbolizes both the city Babylon and the being Satan,  manifests herself through actions opposite to those of God. This being “profaned my inheritance” and “showed them no mercy” (verse 6). The metaphorical woman performed “enchantments” and “a multitude of … sorceries” (verse 12). The final end of this symbolic character will be “destruction” (verse 11) and “no salvation” (verses 11 and 15).

BROADER CONTEXT

Babylon as Counterpoint to the Righteous Man

One of the major purposes of Isaiah is to present Messiah. Messiah is characterized by righteousness (Isaiah 11:4, 5; 16:5; 24:16; 33:5; and 42:6). Isaiah portrays Cyrus as a type of Messiah, one who acts in righteousness (Isaiah 45:13 and 46:10-13). In Isaiah, Cyrus defeats Babylon. This represents Christ in the New Testament defeating Satan.

BROADEST CONTEXT

The Bible as a Whole

The broadest possible biblical context in which to consider the symbolism of Babylon in Isaiah 47 is the entire Bible. The basic storyline of the Bible from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 is to show how God defeats his arch enemy Satan. In this story, God expresses his nature of love by creating humanity to reflect himself. Satan, unable to attack and kill God directly, attempts to do so by destroying the object of God’s love, that is, God’s people. God sends his Son Messiah to save his people. Messiah and Satan fight against each other. Messiah destroys Satan and his works, just as Cyrus in Isaiah opposes and destroys Babylon and her works. In the grand biblical story, Israel is like the battlefield where the great battle of the ages occurs.

Looking Ahead

Chapter 48 continues the symbolism Isaiah introduces in chapter 47. In God’s camp are two kinds of people. There are those who stubbornly refuse God, and there are those who respond positively. God addresses both these groups. Septuagint Isaiah 48:20 sounds the rallying cry for this chapter.

Go out from Babylon, fleeing from the Chaldeans; proclaim a voice of joy, and let this be heard; report it to the end of the earth; say, “The Lord has delivered his slave Iakob!” (NETS

Septuagint Isaiah 46: Isaiah Journal 2.22

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-isaiah-46-isaiah-devotional-2-22/.

Septuagint Isaiah 46

Relative to Septuagint Isaiah 45, Septuagint Isaiah 46 is much shorter and easier to understand.

Themes

The themes of Septuagint Isaiah 46 are:

  1. The remnant receive comfort but the rebellious warning.
  2. A call to repentance from worshiping idols.
  3. God is superior to idols.
  4. God will bring “a bird of prey” from the east.
  5. God will bring salvation and glory to Sion (Zion).

Two Groups

As frequently occurs in Isaiah, God through the prophet speaks great comfort and promises of good to his people. At other times, and often in the very next breath, he speaks displeasure and condemnation. In doing this, does God express indecision, a waffling character, or possibly multiple personalities? Or, could he possibly be addressing different audiences? Septuagint Isaiah 46 answers the question by clearly presenting two different groups of people.

GROUP ONE: THE REMNANT

3 Hear me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of Israel, who are borne by me from the womb, and taught by me from infancy, even to old age: 4 I am he; and until you shall have grown old, I am he: I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you. (LXE)

God is faithful to the remnant of Israel, in spite of themselves (See Isaiah 4:2, 6:11, 10:22; Romans 9:27.)

GROUP TWO: THOSE WHO REBELLIOUSLY STRAY

In spite of all God’s patient love, forgiveness, and enduring promises, there are those who continuously and purposely go astray. Three times in this short chapter, God calls out these people. The first occurrence is in the very next verse after God’s promise to the remnant (see above).

5 To whom have you compared me? see, consider, you that go astray. 6 They that furnish gold out of a purse, and silver by weight, will weigh it in a scale, and they hire a goldsmith and make idols, and bow down, and worship them. (LXE)

Notice that verse 5 in the Septuagint differs from verse 5 in the Masoretic.

5 To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? 6 Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship! (ESV)

The Septuagint includes the phrase, “see, consider, you that go astray,” which the Masoretic does not. Without this explanation, God’s diatribe against those of Israel who make idols would be a jolting juxtaposition to the comfort and promise he just spoke to the house of Jacob. In the one breath he blesses, and in the very next breath he exposes and criticizes. This makes sense when the reader notices and considers that God addresses two different groups of people. God blesses the remnant. They eventually turn and cooperate with God. God does not bless those who “go astray”. How can he? They turn away from all his remonstrances.

Leave the Dead Idols and Turn to God!

THE ABSURDITY OF IDOLS

Chapters in Scripture are not like modern chapters in fiction and non-fiction. Authors today create chapters as an organizational tool. They are a means of inserting a break in thought or a shift in content. The original writings of Scripture did not have chapter breaks. Modern editors have inserted these as reference points. Therefore, readers can place Isaiah 46:1-2 side by side with Isaiah 45:25. The text flows without stopping.

God in Isaiah 45:25 speaks a prophetic blessing upon the seed of the children of Israel (see the final section of Isaiah Devotional 2.21). The text returns to this blessing in Isaiah 46:3-4. Between these two blessings upon those who receive God’s instruction is a description of the misery that will come upon those who do not. Those who embrace idols will become prisoners of despair.

After the blessing of verses 3-4, the text returns to a description of the absurdity of those who worship idols in Isaiah 45:5-7. Throughout Volume 2 from chapter 40 to the current chapter, the text alternates between God’s description of himself as sovereign Creator and Lord and his description of the false gods. Human hands fashion these dead gods from non-living material substances. In chapter 44 God ridiculed idols made of wood. Here in chapter 46:1-2, he ridicules idols made of stone. In 46:6-7, he ridicules idols made of precious metal. Humans carry the dead weight of these idols to their own destruction. God, in Isaiah 46:3-4, bears the weight of the house of Jacob and all the remnant of Israel upon himself.

What is God’s purpose in ridiculing the idols and pointing out the absurdity of mind of those who worship them? Verses 8-9 declare God’s purpose. He tells these people to “Repent”.

8 Remember you these things, and groan: repent, you that have gone astray, return in your heart; 9 and remember the former things that were of old: for I am God, and there is none other beside me, (LXE).

REPENTANCE

  1. Repentance involves waking up to one’s condition. The prodigal son repented after he awakened to the reality of his poverty and shame. He actually saw his own condition as he longed to eat the garbage the pigs were eating (Luke 15:16-17). God urges those who go astray to realize that idols are dead. They never move, they never speak, and they never deliver. Those who cling to them will remained mired in their troubles until they themselves die. Wake up! says God. “Remember these things and groan… Remember the former things of old” (Isaiah 46:8, SAAS).
  2. A second aspect of repentance is turning. It’s not enough to wake up to one’s own condition. Lost people must think of God and turn to him. For some, this will mean a re-turning, or turning back to him. “Repent, you who go astray; return in your heart” (verse 8 SAAS).
  3. Finally, repentance means remembering God and turning to him. Appealing to God is the point of repentance. God in Isaiah 46:8-13 stands ready to receive all who turn to him. He pleads with his stubborn children to turn and come back.

12 Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted who are far from righteousness… 13 My salvation shall not delay. (Isaiah 46:12-13 SAAS)

God Is Superior to Idols

God’s superiority over idols is a major theme of this portion of Volume 2 of Isaiah. The text returns to it again and again. Verses of God’s unique abilities occur in Isaiah 46:4-5, 9-12.

HOW IS GOD SUPERIOR TO IDOLS?

  • He speaks through his prophets
  • He is the great “I Am”
  • He interacts with people and has power to save (verse 4)
  • He declares ahead of time what will later come to pass
  • What he declares in advance does later come to pass
  • He is sovereignly omnipotent, “All My counsel shall stand and I will do whatever I will to do” (verse 10 SAAS)
  • He is righteous (verse 13)

God Brings A “Bird of Prey” 

One of the themes of this portion of Isaiah is the coming of the Persian Cyrus. He ultimately deposes the Babylonian rulers. Soon after, he sends the captive Israelites back home with provision and blessing.

Both the Septuagint and the Masoretic use a metaphor for Cyrus in Isaiah 46:11.

10 all my counsel shall stand, and I will do all things that I have planned: 11 calling a bird from the east, and from a land afar off, for the things which I have planned: I have spoken, and brought him; I have created and made him; I have brought him, and prospered his way. (Septuagint) (See also Isaiah 46:11 ESV.)

Although Cyrus the Persian is not named in verse 11, he has previously been named in Isaiah 44:28 and Isaiah 45:1. Those are the only two verses in the entire book where Cyrus is mentioned by name. The metaphor Isaiah uses here is, “a bird from the east, and from a land afar off.”

God Brings Salvation and Glory to Sion

But the same as in chapters 44 and 45, God intends his meaning to include more than a local fulfillment. That is, God’s words extend beyond Cyrus to the greater Savior, God’s anointed, Christ. Pundits can argue the text intellectually, but the eye of faith receives God’s intended meanings.

12 Hear me, you who have ruined your heart, you wo are far from righteousness: 13 I brought near my righteousness, and I will not delay the salvation that comes from me; I have provided salvation in Sion to Israel for glorying. (NETS) (cf. Joel 2:32)

While verse 13 is certainly applicable to Cyrus, the bird of prey from the east (verse 11), it indicates so much more. This prophecy finds its ultimate fulfillment in the saving work of God’s greatest anointed one, Jesus Christ. He brings salvation in Zion to Israel for glorying.

A Question: Postscript

Some may ask, Why would God write ambiguously? Why not just say what he means flat out? That is a very good question. My answer would be that God knows the human heart. As always, we can turn to the New Testament for light. These verses come to mind.

First, God prefers faith. That is the pathway God has chosen to bring people to himself.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

Faith is a sieve that tests the heart. Intellect alone may indeed arrive at correct conclusions concerning Scripture. But unless the heart–the will and soul of a human–is involved, there will be no salvation.

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (ESV)

Second, God knows the human heart with all its depravity. His word is holy. There is a matter of protection and respect.

John 2:24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (ESV)

When necessary to his purpose, God does indeed hide himself.

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

Again, for his own purpose, he also sometimes hides the meaning of his Scripture until the time of its fulfillment.

Daniel 12:4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (ESV)

Lastly, as parents, don’t we occasionally speak in “code” in order that the children in the room won’t discern our true meaning? An excellent example of coded language is provided in 1 Samuel 20.

Nevertheless, at the right time, under the right circumstances, God’s will is for people to understand. If your heart longs to understand, keep asking, dear friend. God will open the door.

 Luke 8:8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (ESV)

Septuagint Isaiah 45: Isaiah Journal 2.21

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-isaiah-45-isaiah-devotional-2-21/.

Septuagint Isaiah 45

Septuagint Isaiah 45 really begins with Isaiah 44:28, God’s first announcement of the name “Cyrus.” Cyrus is the Persian who defeated the Babylonians and wrote the edict sending the Jewish peoples back to their homeland to resettle there and rebuild their temple. Isaiah, of course, wrote before these events occurred. What an exciting time, to be Jewish and to live in those days!

God Is the Focal Point

The voice of God very much dominates Septuagint Isaiah 45. God makes himself the focal point of the chapter. The chapter contains much direct speech by God. God prophesies in advance to Cyrus through Isaiah in order to demonstrate to Cyrus, to his own people, and to Gentiles the world over that he is God.

5 For I am the Lord God, and there is no other God beside me; I strengthened thee, and thou hast not known me. 6 That they that come from the east and they that come from the west may know that there is no God but me. I am the Lord God, and there is none beside. (Isaiah 45:5-6 LXE)

What Does God Tell Cyrus?

Before considering the content, that God even speaks to Cyrus directly in such a favorable manner is amazing. Cyrus is, after all, a Gentile. Two times, God tells Cyrus, “You have not known me” (Isaiah 45:4, 5 LXE). The point to notice here is that God’s method of delivering his people from bondage is out-of-the-norm. Their soon-to-be deliverer, unlike Moses and David, is someone from outside their own camp.

GENTILES WILL BE INCLUDED

God directs his message throughout the entirety of Septuagint Isaiah 45 to Cyrus and to other Gentiles, both believing and unbelieving. (This includes verse 14–more on this verse below.) The Masoretic text does not represent as clearly as the Septuagint what appears to be a continuous stream of conversation concerning Cyrus and Gentiles. Even in the Masoretic, however, readers can sort the text to perceive that this is likely so. In both traditions, however, Isaiah at this point is building toward a direct, pointed, and clear invitation to the Gentiles to be included in God’s salvation to Israel. That invitation occurs as a promise to Messiah. Messiah himself in direct speech relates the promise made to him by God.

 Isaiah 49:5 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. 6 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. (Septuagint LXE)

Since God presents a full, clear, and complete prophecy concerning inclusion of Gentiles in chapter 49, then it is not unreasonable to see a text concerning inclusion of Gentiles in chapter 45.

The Flow of Conversation in Septuagint Isaiah 45

In Septuagint Isaiah 45, God does not appear to address Israel directly. How then, does God’s speech flow?

Certain aspects of the role Cyrus plays causes many students of Scripture, present and past, to view him as a type of Christ. Readers can hold this in mind as they read through the chapter.

  • God calls him “My anointed,” (vs 1).
  • He speaks to Cyrus in great hyperbole (overstatement) that applies better to God’s divine Son than to a pagan human. God says to Cyrus, “I will go before you and level mountains” (verse 2 LXE). He states, “I raised him up to be a king with righteousness, and all his ways are right” (verse 13 LXE).
  • Just as Cyrus “delivers” the Israelite people from Babylon, so Christ delivers his people from their bondage to sin.

VERSES 1-8

To Cyrus and About Cyrus

God’s address to Cyrus in Isaiah 45:1 is clear. He speaks directly to him.

Thus says the Lord God to my anointed Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, that nations might be obedient before him; and I will break through the strength of kings; I will open doors before him, and cities shall not be closed. (LXE)

Notice that God also speaks about Cyrus. The text uses the pronoun “him” two times with reference to Cyrus. This is an important fact to store up for later.

Use of the second person singular, direct address pronoun “you” begins in verse 2. God’s use of “you,” with reference to Cyrus, continues in each verse from 2 through 6, then jumps to verse 8. Although the Masoretic text uses “it” in verse 8, the Septuagint text uses “you.” It seems best to consider verses 1 through 8 as a unit in which God speaks to Cyrus. Indeed, some  Bibles begin a new paragraph after verse 8 (New English Translation Septuagint, Tanakh, Saint Athanasius Academy Septuaginta, and Rahlf’s Septuaginta).

VERSES 9-13

In agreement with Rahlf’s Septuaginta (LXX), the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint (SAAS) groups verses 9-13 together. In this set of verses, God appears likely to be talking to an unspecified group of nonbelievers. The two commands in verse 11, “ask me” and “command Me” are both 2nd person plural. God’s rhetorical point in this section is that he, as sovereign creator, can do whatever he likes. He created everything (verse 12). However, God’s purpose is righteousness (verse 13).

Verse 13 is critical. The meaning one assigns for verse 14 highly depends upon verse 13.

Septuagint: I have raised him up to be a king with righteousness, and all his ways are right: he shall build my city, and shall turn the captivity of my people, not for ransoms, nor for rewards, says the Lord of hosts. (Brenton, LXE)(NETS is very similar.)

Masoretic: I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,” says the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 45:13 ESV)

The “him” in this verse would be Cyrus from verses 1-8 and his antitype, Christ, God’s anointed.

VERSES 14 AND 15

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord of hosts, Egypt has laboured for you; and the merchandise of the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall pass over to you, and shall be your servants; and they shall follow after you bound in fetters, and shall pass over to you, and shall do obeisance to you, and make supplication to you: because God is in you; and there is no God beside you, O Lord. 15 For you are God, yet we knew it not, the God of Israel, the Saviour. (Brenton, LXE)(NETS is very similar.)

Masoretic: Thus says the LORD: “The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours; they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will plead with you, saying: ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.'” 15 Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. (Isaiah 45:14-15 ESV)

Bow Down to Israel or Bow Down to God?

THE QUESTION

The question is, who is the “you” whom the Lord addresses in verse 14? And, based upon the answer to that question, what does this verse teach?

TWO APPROACHES

There are two major replies to this question.

  1. One, the “you” in verse 14 refers to Cyrus and more essentially, to his antitype Christ.
  2. Two, the “you” refers to Israel.

Example statements for each interpretation, taken from the study notes supplied with Bibles,  are given below.

One, verse 14 refers to Cyrus and his antitype Christ.

14-17: Cyrus’s reward. God again addresses Cyrus (so Ibn Ezra), describing the vast territories he will receive for restoring Zion. Cf. 43-3. The Jewish Study Bible, Tanakh translation (1).

Two, verse 14 refers to Israel.

41) sn Restored Israel is depicted here in typical ancient Near Eastern fashion as an imperial power that receives riches and slaves as tribute.
42) sn Israel’s vassals are portrayed as so intimidated and awed that they treat Israel as an intermediary to God or sub-deity. NET2 Study Notes. (2)

45:14 Egypt…Cush…Sabeans. Three countries to the S (cf. 43:3) illustrate the worldwide submission to Israel that will prevail during the messianic kingdom age. MacArthur Study Bible Notes. (3)

ARGUMENT THAT FAVORS VERSE 14 AS SPEAK ING TO CYRUS

I. GRAMMAR IN CONTEXT VERSES 13-15

  1. Nearly everyone agrees that the “him” and “he” of verse 13 refers to God’s anointed, either Cyrus or Christ.
  2. It therefore seems highly likely and reasonable that God would address Cyrus in the very next breath in verse 14.
  3. The Sabeans express their supplication (verse 14) to their conqueror, Cyrus, and realize that the God of Israel is behind all this. They worship Israel’s God in verse 15.
  4. God previously addresses Cyrus directly in verses 1-6 and verse 8 of the Septuagint.
  5. No one addresses Israel anywhere else in chapter 45, and verse 14 is contested.

II. THE PERSIANS DID CONQUER EGYPT, INCLUDING WHERE ETHIOPIANS AND SABEANS LIVED

Maps of Persia’s extended kingdom include Egypt. (See persian-empire-1950x920x300.jpg (1950×920) (jesuswalk.com).) Persia is the kingdom that fulfilled this prophecy. Cyrus was Persia’s leader. There is, however, no historical record of Israel’s having subdued Egypt at any time after their captivity. Christ has also fulfilled this prophecy. In Christ’s kingdom, many from the region of Egypt did bow down to him as Lord. One example given in the New Testament is the occasion between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40).

III. THE THEMES OF CHAPTER 45 FAVOR THE INTERPRETATION THAT VERSE 14 REFERS TO CYRUS AND HIS ANTITYPE CHRIST

There are many reasons not to take verse 14 out of the context of the chapter as a whole. Septuagint Isaiah 45 is 1) a defense by God of his godhead, 2) a prophecy concerning Israel’s deliverer Cyrus and his antitype Christ, and 3) the beginning of an open invitation to the Gentiles to draw near and believe.  4) Israel is the recipient of God’s blessing through Cyrus. But Israel is not the focus of chapter 45. God’s announcement to Cyrus (not to Israel) that he will return Israel to their homeland is the means by which God gives evidence of his sovereign power. God is the point, not Israel.

1. The main theme of chapter 45 is God defending his godhead. God the Lord states, “I am…” nine times in the twenty-five verses of chapter 45 (Septuagint Isaiah 45:3, 5, 6, 8, 18, twice in 19, 21, and 22). That is an overwhelming density of occurrences. Add to this the many references by God to himself as creator. God further states in a later chapter the following about himself.

Isaiah 48:11 For mine own sake I will do this for thee, because my name is profaned; and I will not give my glory to another. (LXE)

Why then, in view of all this, would a biblical text include obeisance to Israel in a favorable light, even as a “sub-deity”? (see NET quotation above). God teaches the bowing down of people to absolutely no one but himself. In the Septuagint translation, the Sabeans bow and make supplication to “you”, i.e., to Cyrus, as intermediary to God. They do this because they realize that “God is with you.” God is with Cyrus. Then they speak to God directly, confessing him, in the latter portion of verse 14 and 15. Cyrus’s victory led to the Sabeans worshiping God. Cyrus achieves the witness to Gentiles that Israel in all her long history had failed to achieve. Likewise, Christ’s victory over death achieves the witness to Gentiles that Israel in all her long history failed to achieve.

14… and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall pass over to you [Cyrus], and shall be your servants [servants of Cyrus, which became an historical reality]; and they shall follow after you [Cyrus] bound in fetters, and shall pass over to you [Cyrus], and shall do obeisance to you [Cyrus], and make supplication to you [Cyrus]: because God is in you [Cyrus]; and there is no God beside you, O Lord. 15 For you are God, yet we knew it not, the God of Israel, the Saviour.  (LXE

Then immediately after this text, God begins his appeal to the world. That appeal continues to the end of the chapter. Based on the awesome deliverance God gave Israel through Cyrus (who represents Christ as antitype), God appeals to the “coastlands” (verse 16), “you who are saved from among the nations” (verse 20), “you who are from the ends of the earth” (verse 22), “every knee… and every tongue” (verse 23), and “all the seed of the children of Israel (verse 25, and see below). The entire text from the Septuagint is available at these two links: LXX2012 and NETS.

2. Isaiah’s purpose in this and previous chapters is to prophesy the victory of Cyrus over the Babylonians and his sending the people of Israel back to their homeland. This is a main theme. It is therefore likely that verse 14 refers to Cyrus.

3. God in chapter 45 invites Gentiles to himself. Verse 6 alludes to the turning of Gentiles to the Lord, “That they that come from the east and they that come from the west may know that there is no God but me.” Verse 22 is very direct, “Turn you to me, and you shall be saved, you that come from the end of the earth: I am God, and there is none other.” Verse 14 therefore prophesies in context that certain Gentiles from Egypt will recognize the saving works of God in his dealings with Cyrus and the Israelites.

4. Israel is not the focus of chapter 45. Isaiah 45 does mention Israel six times. In three of these occurrences, Israel is a way of identifying God  (Isaiah 45:3, 11, and 15). God is the topic in these verses, not Israel. Verse 4 does indeed favor Israel, “my servant Jacob, and Israel mine elect.” Verse 17 also speaks of God’s great favor to Israel, “Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation: they shall not be ashamed nor confounded for evermore.” It is God’s great care of Israel which he uses to make his appeal to the world.

The Crux of the Matter

But here is the crux of the matter. Does God favor the people of Israel because he wants the rest of the world to submit to them and even bow down to them as to a “sub-deity”? Or, does God favor the people of Israel because he wants to use them as evidence of his own power, glory, might, and overwhelmingly amazing love? God wants the world to worship himself as they consider his dealings with the people of Israel. God wants the people of the world, including the Israelite people, to be amazed at how he blesses the people of Israel, in spite of themselves. God shows that he is God, worthy of the world’s and Israel’s worship, because he blesses, against all odds and against all obstacles, a people whom no false god would ever be able to bless. (Only God…)

Did God send his own Son, the Son of his love, his beloved Son, to the cross, to earth and back, because he wants every nation of the world to submit to Israel, or because he wants to give every people group in the world the wonderful opportunity of submitting to himself? Clearly, for Christians, this should be clear. God wants people everywhere to worship his Son, one who is far, far greater than Cyrus his type and far, far greater than Israel, another type. Why then would he teach and prophesy in Scripture that the Sabeans would one day bow down to the people of Israel? God wouldn’t do that. That is not what God’s Bible teaches. God’s word teaches that Israel will bow down to his anointed, his Christ, and so will every people group in the whole wide world. Together, as one, all people groups will bow down to Christ.

Isaiah 45:23 By myself  I swear, righteousness shall surely proceed out of my mouth; my words shall not be frustrated; that to me every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall swear by God, 24 saying, Righteousness and glory shall come to him: and all that remove them from their borders shall be ashamed. (LXE)

Isaiah 45:23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ 24 “Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. (ESV)

Romans 14:11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (ESV)

Philippians 2:10 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)

Scripture nowhere teaches that anyone at any time will or should be bowing down to a “sub-deity” Israel.

God’s love for Israel never ceases. Yet God will not be placed into boxes of human design. Only God in his holy sovereignty can be faithful to his own righteousness and faithful to his rebellious creation at one and the same time. As the Apostle Paul states so clearly in Romans, God promises to save those who have faith in him (Romans 4:12-13; 9:6, 27, 31-32, 30-33; 10:8-13) . In the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4-5), faith in God came to mean faith in the Son of his love, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13).

The New Testament sheds the greatest light upon the Old. It was from the hindsight of his resurrection from death by the cross that Christ expounded for his disciples his own hermeneutical key to the Old Testament (Luke 24:25-27). Therefore, it is by the light of the New Testament that we also must interpret the Old. If conclusions we may draw from Old Testament prophecies considered in isolation are not compatible with the clear teaching of the New Testament, then we must hesitate and put those conclusions on hold until greater clarity arrives.

Isaiah 45:25

Verse 25 is another verse in which the Septuagint differs from the Masoretic.

Septuagint: By the Lord shall they be justified, and in God shall all the seed [σπέρμα] of the children of Israel be glorified. (Isaiah 45:25, LXX)

Masoretic: In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.” (ESV)

The Septuagint Scripture contains a phrase not present in the Masoretic text, “the seed of“. The word for “seed” is “sperma” or σπέρμα in Greek. The Orthodox Study Bible makes a note to point this out.

The Apostle Paul writes at length about the “seed of Israel”. This phrase forms the basis of one of Paul’s major points of  Christological theology. The Orthodox Study Bible notes that, “The children are the blood descendants of Israel, but the apostles and the Church are their seed. It is the seed who shall be made righteous and glorified” (4). I don’t necessarily care for that wording. I much prefer Paul’s presentation.

Galatians 3:16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring [σπέρματί dative singular, same lemma (root) as in Isaiah] It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. (ESV)

Galatians 3:7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” (NIV)

Paul’s teaching coincides with Septuagint Isaiah 45:25. The “seed” of the children of Israel shall be made righteous by the Lord, and glorified in God through Christ. This “seed” are those who by faith turn to God and to his Christ. These are Israel and Gentiles together. Israel’s purpose has been fulfilled in Christ. This is the lesson of Septuagint Isaiah 45.

__________

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 858.

2 The NET Bible, Version 2.0 – Copyright © 2019.

3 MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, page 1004.

4 Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008, page 1094.

Rejoice for Redemption! Isaiah Journal 2.20

By Christina M Wilson. Cross posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/rejoice-for-redemption-isaiah-devotional-2-20/.

Rejoice for Redemption! Isaiah 44:21-28

This post will cover Point 3 of the outline introduced in the Journal Entry 2.18.

Septuagint Isaiah 44 Quick Outline

I. God’s Provision for Old Testament Israel Isaiah 44:1-6

II. The Foolishness of Those Who Make and Worship Idols  Isaiah 44:6-20 

III. God’s Good News for Old Testament Israel Isaiah 44:21-28 

In a pattern not unfamiliar to Isaiah, God through the prophet switches back from condemnation of those who make idols to declaring that Jacob, which is Israel, is his servant. To whom does God direct this speech? Not to the singular Servant, Messiah-Israel, but to his people. The reader knows this from the content of verses 21 through 22. This content encourages them not to forget God (verse 21). God proclaims that he has blotted out their lawlessness and sins. And using future tense, he states that he will redeem them (verse 22). Messiah, of course, will have no sin. Therefore, these lines could not be addressed to him. But does Isaiah speak in these two verses to the remnant of Israel who will be saved (Isaiah 10:22), or to the entire people? Speaking from the advantage of hindsight, the entire context from verses 21-28 would indicate that God addresses the remnant who believe and will turn back to God.

Isaiah Uses Symbols

We have previously seen that Isaiah does speak metaphorically at times (See Journal 2.18). In Isaiah 44:3-4,  God through Isaiah says, “For I will give water to the thirsty that walk in a dry land: I will put my Spirit upon your seed, and my blessings upon your children” (verse 3). These two lines form a poetic couplet, similar in style to that found in many psalms (See, for example, Psalm 1:5 and 24:1). That is, the lines are synonymous, line 2 restating line 1 in different words. In Isaiah 44:3, the second line (Spirit, seed, blessings, children) explains the first (I will give water to the thirsty). The dry land where the thirsty people walk would be the nation, or religious culture, of Israel. Jesus-Messiah fulfilled this prophecy. In his ministry, he often referred to the giving of the Holy Spirit as supplying the thirsty with water. This prophecy of Isaiah became fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Then, Isaiah 44:4 also uses poetic metaphors. God compares the children of verse 3 to growing grass surrounded by water and willows growing near flowing water (1).

So, when we come to Isaiah 44:21-23, we find that the fulfillment of this prophecy will be among those children of Israel who believe. “Return to me, and I will redeem you” (Isaiah 44:22 NETS). The ones who return (believe) are the ones upon whom God will put his Spirit (verse 3).

Metaphorical Rejoicing

The result is that all creation will rejoice (Isaiah 44:23). This verse also uses poetic metaphors. That is, we all know that physical creation doesn’t express emotions. The physical heavens cannot be glad. The foundations of the earth do not blow trumpets. Physical mountains and hills don’t shout, nor do trees. These are poetic metaphors for joy over God’s believing remnant.

And yet, there will be a rejoicing of all God’s physical creation when Israel is redeemed and glorified. But first, notice the tenses in the Septuagint text.

Rejoice, O heavens, because God has had mercy on Israel; trumpet, O foundations of the earth; shout for joy, O mountains, the hills and all the trees that are in them, because God has redeemed Iakob, and Israel will be glorified! (Isaiah 44:23, NETS)

God’s first two actions are past tense. The prophecy is so sure that it is presented as though already fulfilled. God has already had mercy on Israel and he has already redeemed Jacob. This is cause for God’s nature to rejoice. But the third action concerning Israel is future tense. Israel will be glorified.

A New Testament Parallel

Isaiah presents the gospel of Jesus Christ in prophetic form. Jesus Christ has already fulfilled the first two clauses of the prophecy. God displayed his mercy and redemption through the incarnation, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. In shortened version, the cross of Christ achieved God’s mercy and redemption, both for believing Israel and for all Gentiles who believe. Spiritually speaking, there is already a certain amount of glory in God’s expanded olive tree. That olive tree is the root, Israel, and the branches that have been grafted in, believing Gentiles.

Paul in Romans writes a statement that is parallel to Isaiah 44.

 Romans 8:15 For you… received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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… 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies… 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

Just as in Isaiah, the redemption and justification Paul speaks of have already occurred through the cross of Christ. But all God’s children still await the glory to be revealed with the “redemption of our bodies” (verse 28). Paul speaks of an eternal glory. The “redemption of our bodies” will occur at the end of the ages with the resurrection.

Please notice that Paul does not separate out the children of physical Israel and the children of non-Israel (Gentiles). Nor does Isaiah. Although Isaiah 44 does not speak directly to the redemption of Gentiles, many other places in Isaiah do. See, for example, Isaiah 49:1-6 (2).

Verses 24-28

The theme of Isaiah 44:24-28 returns to God’s challenge to idols and idol makers. Verse 24 picks up from verses 21 through 23, God as Redeemer and Creator. His challenge takes the form of asking questions. Who else besides God has done any of the things God has done in his long relationship with His people? Who scatters the false prophets and their prophecies? (vs 25). Whose word prophesies Israel’s future and brings it to pass? (vs 26). Who else controls and commands the flow of mighty waterways? (vs 27).

Then, for the first time in Isaiah, the prophet mentions the name of the Persian ruler, Cyrus.

28 Who bids Cyrus be wise, and he shall perform all my will: who says to Jerusalem, You shall be built, and I will lay the foundation of my holy house. (LXE, Brenton in Modern English).

Is Cyrus a Type?

Verse 28 is a fantastic prophecy that serves double duty. First, as a local prophecy, its detail is astounding. Isaiah’s time of writing is still future to the Persian Empire. Yet, the prophet names the ruler who will be responsible for writing the edict that sends the Israelite people back to their home. (See Ezra 1:1-3; 3:10-13; and 6:14-16.)

Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of the Persians, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremias might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of the Persians, and he issued a proclamation through all his kingdom, and that in writing, saying, 2 Thus said Cyrus king of the Persians, The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has given me a charge to build him a house in Jerusalem that is in Judea. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? for his God shall be with him, and he shall go up to Jerusalem that is in Judea, and let him build the house of the God of Israel: he is the God that is in Jerusalem. (LXE)

Yet, there is more. As we will discover in the next post, Cyrus is a type of a much larger person and a much larger event. Consider this quotation by Archer and Chirichingno.

Cyrus is a type of Christ as liberator of the captivity of Israel. (3)

HOW CAN A READER KNOW THIS ON THEIR OWN?

What if I as a reader don’t have access to a library of commentaries to interpret the Scripture for me? God will provide, just as he did by sending Phillip to the Ethiopian eunuch. Additionally, the language of the Scripture provides clues to those who carefully with much prayer read, reread, and ponder the text. Just as Phillip applied the New Testament gospel to the eunuch reading Isaiah, so those familiar with the Holy Spirit and the New Testament will hear the Spirit apply New Testament light in their hearts. Remember, the Spirit gives his hungry children fish, not rocks (Luke 11:9-13).

  • First, then, even though Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28, LXE is a Gentile, God “bids Cyrus be wise.” Wisdom is the one thing most of God’s people usually lacked. Wisdom, however, Christ had in plenty. (See Luke 2:52; John 6:44-45; 7:15.)
  • In the next phrase in the Septuagint, God tells Cyrus to “do all my will.” Only Christ ever did “all” of God’s will (John 4:34, 6:38).
  • Finally, God speaks directly to Jerusalem in verse 28, saying, “You shall be built, and I will lay the foundation of my holy house.” The New Testament itself tends to “spiritualize” the Old Testament. In the gospel of John, Christ refers to his body as the temple of God (John 2:19). Paul, on the other hand, describes the Corinthian believers as the temple of God, “… you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17). Elsewhere in the same chapter (same context), Paul states that Christ is the “foundation” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). The book of Revelation again spiritualizes when Jesus names believers as pillars “in the temple of my God” (Revelation 3:12). Jesus calls Jerusalem the “city of my God” and says that it will itself be coming down from God out of heaven (ibid). And, spiritualizing even more, John declares–

Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. (ESV)

As we move on to chapter 45, Lord willing, we will find more prophecies in Isaiah concerning Cyrus and Christ.

__________

1 There is a willow growing by a stream of water near where I live. There’s no stopping it. This past season alone, it sprouted new growth amounting to many meters.

2 I am reminded of a verse from another context completely. Nevertheless, it speaks what is in my heart. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9)

3 Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983, page 51.

Against Idols: Isaiah Journal 2.19

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/against-idols-isaiah-devotional-2-19/.

Against Idols: Isaiah 44:6-20

This post will cover Point 2 of the outline introduced in the previous journal entry.

Septuagint Isaiah 44 Quick Outline

I. God’s Provision for Old Testament Israel Isaiah 44:1-6

II. The Foolishness of Those Who Make and Worship Idols  Isaiah 44:6-20 

III. God’s Good News for Old Testament Israel Isaiah 44:21-28 

Isaiah 44:6 is a transitional statement. Even though the last post (Isaiah Devotional 2.18) groups it with verses 1-5, it also functions to introduce the next section against idols.

The Challenge

God’s argument against idols begins with his own sovereignty and power. There is no room for any competing power in God’s statement of his own divinity.

6 Thus says God, the king of Israel, who delivered him, God Sabaoth: I am first, and I am after these things; besides me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6 NETS Silva)

Then God issues his challenge in verses 7-8. Who is like God? If there is anyone, let that one stand and declare his case. God made humans a very long time ago until forever (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα). God has a plan he intends to bring about and he has announced it. If there are any other gods out there, then they should be able to state what will happen in the future. God’s people are his witnesses. Did any other god stand beside the one true God from the beginning? If so, then let them prophesy the future.

Who Is At Fault?

The challenge having been issued, no “god” came forward. God then turns his attention upon those who make the false gods. The idols are vain and worthless (verses 9-10). He calls their makers forward as a group (verse 11), so that they can be disgraced and put to shame together. But to whom is God speaking? Who makes these idols?

The text does not specifically state that Israel is the culprit. However, they are definitely included. God’s concern in this chapter is with his own people. He is not railing against the nations. Long before the golden calf incident, Israel had mixed idol worship with worship of their one true God (see, for example, Genesis 31:19). Isaiah 44:21-22f also indicates that God had been addressing his own people.

The Argument

God’s approach in Isaiah 44:12-20 is to ridicule the absurdity of those who fashion idols and then bow down to worship them. The craftsmen use wood. The wood grows from trees, which God created. The rain waters it and makes the forest grow. The craftsmen find and cut the wood. But before they can complete their work, they become hungry. So they use the block of wood they have cut to build a fire on which they cook their bread. Then they continue with an unburnt portion of the same block of wood and fashion their idol. They say to the idol their own hands have made, “Deliver me; for you are my God” (Isaiah 44:17).

God’s indictment of these people is severe.

20 Know you that their heart is ashes, and they err, and no one is able to deliver his soul: see, you will not say, There is a lie in my right hand. (LXX2012)

What About Today?

Worshiping an actual physical idol is not so very far removed from reality. I confess that as a teenager without a personal, real connection with God and Christ, I once found a tiny, golden, plastic bird on the ground. I picked it up and began to worship it. I hoped against hope that this little plastic bird and my action of worship would be able to set my confused heart straight. Of course I knew better, but I tried it anyway.

I’ll give another example. As an adult Christian, I once had a friend who was as emotionally desperate and insecure as I had been. She called herself a Christian. We used to meet often to talk about the Bible. On one of these occasions, she stopped the flow of our conversation and turned to a portion of Scripture where we had not been. She read aloud, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3 ESV). She hastily explained to me that because she seeks God’s blessing, she reads aloud that verse every day. Then, she turned right back to the part of Scripture we had been discussing. She had no understanding that she was using Scripture in a literal-concrete way that bordered on superstition.

As God said in verse 20, people err when their heart is ashes. It is so difficult to perceive the deadness in one’s own soul. And no one can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Verse 21 opens a new section.

But God…

But God yet again displays his compassion and mercy. He once again forgives Israel and calls them to himself. This is where we will begin next time, Lord willing.

God and Israel: Isaiah Journal 2.18

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/god-and-israel-isaiah-devotional-2-18/.

Septuagint Isaiah 44 Quick Outline

I. GOD’S PROVISION FOR OLD TESTAMENT ISRAEL Isaiah 44:1-8

II. THE FOOLISHNESS OF THOSE WHO MAKE AND WORSHIP IDOLS Isaiah 44:9-20 

III. GOD’S GOOD NEWS FOR OLD TESTAMENT ISRAEL Isaiah 44:21-28 

I. God’s Provision for Israel

Chapter 44 distills what the prophet writes up to this point. The text emphasizes God, his relationship with Old Testament Israel, and the foolishness of idols. Despite all Israel’s actions against him, God sticks with Old Testament Israel. He does so for two reasons. 1) First, Israel are the people God has chosen to witness about him to the world (Isaiah 44:8, LXE). 2) Israel is the people through whom God will give birth to his Son (Isaiah 9:6, LXE).

To Whom Do Verses 1-6 Speak?

First, the last verse of the previous chapter speaks God’s displeasure with Israel (Isaiah 43:28). He gives them up to destruction and reproach.

27 Your fathers first, and your princes have transgressed against me. 28 And the princes have defiled my sanctuaries: so I gave Jacob to enemies to destroy, and Israel to reproach. (Isaiah 43:LXE)

The verb “to destroy” is very strong. Elsewhere in Scripture, it means total destruction, as in death (Genesis 19:13; Numbers 16:33: Luke 17:27, 29 and Jude 1:5). Yet, Isaiah again does one of those amazing “flip-flops” (See on this blog, Isaiah’s Flip-Flops). The very next verses in chapter 44 contain phrases such as, “Israel, whom I have chosen,” “beloved Israel” and “Israel, whom I have chosen.” One very possible explanation is that God addresses two different groups of people. One group, the one which will be destroyed, is apostate Israel (the disobedient, God-rejecting Israel). The other group is the faithful remnant. Messiah was birthed into the faithful remnant. Both of his parents were God-fearing people. The disciples of Messiah and his early followers were also loyal to God.

ONE OTHER POSSIBILITY

There is one other possibility, however. It could be that God in verses 1-6 prophetically addresses Messiah Israel, his singular Servant, his Son (see Devotional 2.9 and 2.10.) The love language, promise of the Spirit upon his seed, and blessings upon his children fit this possibility very well.

1 But now hear, O Jacob My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen. 2 Thus says the Lord God that made you, and He that formed you from the womb; You shall yet be helped; fear not, My servant Jacob; and beloved Israel, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will give water to the thirsty that walk in a dry land; I will put My Spirit upon your seed, and My blessings upon your children; 4 and they shall spring up as grass between brooks, and as willows on the banks of running water. 5 One shall say, I am God’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall write with his hand, I am God’s, and shall call himself by the name of Israel. 6 Thus says God the King of Israel, and the God of hosts that delivered him; I am the First and I am the Last; beside Me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:1-6, LXE)

Points of Interest in Septuagint 1-6

1. “Beloved Israel” Verse 2

First, the word “beloved” that appears in Septuagint Isaiah 44:2, LXX does not appear in the Masoretic text. The Masoretic text reads, “Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen” (ESV). “Jeshurun” is a poetic word for Israel, found in Deuteronomy 32:15. It means “upright one.”

“Beloved” however, occurs in Septuagint Deuteronomy 32:15 LXX. And most famously, “beloved” occurs in Matthew 3:17 mGNT, Mark 1:11 mGNT, Luke 20:13, mGNT, and many others, albeit in a different grammatical form. This verse supports the statement that God likely addresses Israel his singular Servant, Messiah, in this set of verses.

2. “Water to the thirsty” Verse 3

Jesus in Acts 1:4 ESV referred to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as “the promise of the Father.

Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (ESV)

The first occurrence of this baptism occurred on the day of Pentecost, while the disciples gathered together in one place (Acts 2:1-4 ESV). Jesus spoke often of giving water to the thirsty (See John 4:13; 7:38). Isaiah 44:3 is a beautiful description of the gifting of the Holy Spirit.

3. People as Metaphorical Vegetation

Verse 4 speaks poetically of people, comparing them metaphorically to kinds of vegetation that grow in a well-watered land.

3… my blessings upon your children: 4 and they shall spring up as grass between brooks, and as willows on the banks of running water. (Isaiah 44:4)

This point is of interest, simply because it demonstrates that an Old Testament prophetic book can make a prophecy in metaphorical terms.

Verse 6

Verse 6 is powerful and amazing

6 Thus says God, the king of Israel, who delivered him, God Sabaoth: I am first, and I am after these things; besides me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6 NETS Silva)

1. THE POWERFUL ELEMENTS

The Greek identifies God in four clauses, all in a row with no connecting “and.” (1) These four clauses pound, one after another. There can be no mistaking God’s emphatic proclamation of himself alone.

Isaiah 44:6 [thus says God] οὕτως λέγει ὁ θεὸς [the king of Israel] ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ Ισραηλ [the one who rescued him] ὁ ῥυσάμενος αὐτὸν [God of hosts] θεὸς σαβαωθ [I first] ἐγὼ πρῶτος [and I after these things] καὶ ἐγὼ μετὰ ταῦτα [beside me there is no god] πλὴν ἐμοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν θεός (Isa 44:6 LXT)

God identifies himself as 1) God, 2) the king of Israel, 3) the one who rescued Israel, and the God of hosts, commonly translated as “the God of heaven’s armies.” The Greek word “rescued” is an aorist (roughly a past tense) participle in the middle voice. The middle voice indicates a personal interest by the nominative masculine subject. That indicates, that God rescued Israel for himself. He had his own interests in mind.

RESCUED The Greek word “rescued” is not nearly as informative as the Hebrew word in its place. It simply means to deliver, to rescue. It’s used in the New Testament in Matthew 27:4 and 1 Thessalonians 12:10, as well as elsewhere. The Hebrew synonym is “redeemer,” as in “kinsman-redeemer,” (Strong’s 1350). Notice the English Standard Version of verse 6 below.

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. (Isaiah 44:6 ESV)

2. THE AMAZING ELEMENT

The amazing thing about verse 6 is how the New Testament identifies Christ and God Almighty as one. Some Old Testament interpreters say that it’s not fair (not admissible, not correct) to interpret the Old Testament by the light of the New. That is, we as New Testament readers must restrict our understanding of every Old Testament text’s meaning to what an Old Testament listener would most likely have understood. I’ve addressed this at length elsewhere (Isaiah Devotional 2.12). So, I will not do so now. However, if Christ and his Father God are one in the New Testament, then they are also one in the Old Testament. If Christ in the New Testament is “the first and the last,” then he clearly was also the first and last in the Old Testament. God, who inspired Isaiah to write these words, did not have a restricted understanding of his own identity. As first and last, God knew quite well what he was writing. Because some Old Testament folk failed to grasp his meaning is no reason I should. I choose to go along with the Apostle Paul. I choose to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.” (Galatians 5:1 NKJ)

JESUS’S STATEMENTS Here are a few statements that Jesus, Messiah, the Christ made about his own identity.

John 10:30 ESV I and the Father are one.” [Note: Instead of “I am,” Jesus changes the statement to “I…are.” He fills in, “I and the Father one are.” ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. –cmw]

John 14:9 ESV … Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…

Revelation 1:7 ESV Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:17 ESV When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Just as God stood ready to save in the Old Testament, Christ stands ready to save in the New. God is one.

CONCLUSION

Verse 6 summarizes Isaiah’s argument throughout the entire volume to this point, chapters 40-44.

  • First, God is: 1) God, 2) king, 3) redeemer, and 4) the Almighty Lord of Hosts.
  • Second, he and Messiah are one, according to the New Testament.
  • Finally, there is no other god who saves.

The point of all this is that God in his great love for his own people pleads with them to turn back to him and be saved. His plea still stands for all Israel’s children and for Gentiles, as well.

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1 Some Greek manuscripts do contain a connector “and” rather than the article before the verb particle “rescued.” So, literally, some manuscripts write “the King of Israel and [who] rescued him.” Other manuscripts write, “the King of Israel, the one [who] rescued him. I happen to prefer the latter. Silva apparently works from these same manuscripts–those not containing the word “and.”

Septuagint 43: Isaiah Journal 2.17

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-43-isaiah-devotional-2-17/.

This article will be semi-technical.

Thank God for Greek!

Whichever people may have translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek (the Septuagint), they did so with great sensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit. This manifests in the specific Greek words used. These translators did not shy away from using words that point to Messiah. Many of the Greek words and word stems of the Septuagint also occur in the Greek of the New Testament. Readers have many tools to access both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Greek in which the New Testament was written. Comparing the two testaments Greek to Greek yields rich rewards.

These are some of the readily available language tools:

  • interlinear or side by side editions of the Septuagint showing both the Greek and the English (or other language) translation
  • interlinear New Testaments with one’s native language displayed word by word under the Greek
  • biblical editions that show Strong’s numbers for each word in one’s native language, or for each Greek word
  • a multitude of highly detailed lexicons and concordances
  • on-line lessons, printed textbooks, and in-person classes to learn Greek
  • some links are included in the footnotes (1)

Christian Correspondences with Isaiah 43

Redeemer

1 And now thus saith the Lord God that made thee, O Jacob, and formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Brenton)

  1. God through Isaiah speaks to Israel in first person. The text states that God specifically created and formed Jacob, also known as Israel. Using an entirely different word, Christ says in Matthew16:18, “On this rock I will build my church.” Paul in Ephesians 2:20 speaks of the church as having been “built.”
  2. Although one study Bible uses the words “will protect” for “have redeemed,” most English translations stick to “redeemed.” This word occurs multiple times in both testaments. Christ in the New Testament is known as “redeemer.” (See also Isaiah 43:14. The “Lord God” does far more than “protect” Israel. He redeems her.)

Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people. (ESV)

Luke 24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. (ESV)

Calling By Name

In the Septuagint, God speaks to Israel, “I have called you by name.” In the New Testament, Jesus calls by name.

John 10:3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out… 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (ESV)

Paul also speaks of members of the church (Israelites and Gentiles) as those whom God calls.

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

Witnesses

God appoints Israel as his witness.

10 Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am he: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. 11 I am God; and beside me there is no Saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved; I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you: ye are my witnesses, and I am the Lord God, 13 even from the beginning; and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: I will work, and who shall turn it back? (Brenton)

MESSIAH AS WITNESS

First, notice the construction of the sentence in verse 10. The Greek itself is very similar in construction (Isaiah 43:10 LXX). The plain meaning, out of context, would be that there are three witnesses: Israel (“Be ye my witnesses“), the Lord God, and “my servant whom I have chosen.” When including the context, an argument could be made that this is a very awkward construction indicating two witnesses: the Lord God and Israel, who is also the Lord’s servant. Against this interpretation lies the fact that the first phrase  is second personal plural (be ye, witnesses). The third phrase, “my servant whom I have chosen,” is singular. If the reader extends the context back to chapter 41, to which this chapter is closely linked, the servant could well be the singular Servant of Isaiah 41:8 forward.

Within the four Gospels, Jesus claims that God himself is his witness.

John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

John 8:18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,

John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world– to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

And, Messiah (Jesus) witnesses to the Father.

John 8:26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”

John 8:40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

John 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.

John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (Joh 8:29 ESV)

ISRAEL AS WITNESSES

Isaiah 43:10 Be ye my witnesses… 12… ye are my witnesses

As the Lord God commanded Israel to be his witnesses, so Messiah commands his disciples to be his witnesses.

THE DISCIPLES AS WITNESSES

Luke 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Acts1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Protection

Notice the similarity in the following two statements, one from the Septuagint, spoken by the “Lord God,” and the other from the New Testament, spoken by Christ. The actual Greek words “deliver” (ἐξαιρέω) and “snatch out” (ἁρπάζω) are different. In the context of these sentences, however, they are synonymous.

12… I am the Lord God, 13… and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: (Brenton

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)

“I Am” Statements

The Gospel of John is famous for Jesus’s many “I am,” statements. There are a few, however, which follow the Old Testament formulation in Isaiah 43 exactly.

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι), you will die in your sins.” 

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 (ἐγώ εἰμι), and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

Isaiah 43:10 Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι): before me  there was no other God, and after me there shall be none.

Isaiah 43:25 <1> I, even I, am he that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember them. {1) Gr. I am, I am} (LXE, Brenton)

Isaiah 43:25 ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι… (I am, I am) (Isaiah 43:25, LXT)

And John is not the only gospel in which Jesus claims the divine Being. Mark also includes this testimony.

 Mark 14:61… Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am (ἐγώ εἰμι), and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 

A Chosen Race

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do new things, which shall presently spring forth, and ye shall know them: and I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land. 20 the beasts of the field shall bless me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen race, 21 my people whom I have preserved to tell forth my praises. (Brenton

The phrase “chosen race” in the Septuagint, or “chosen people” in the Hebrew, is all but unique in the Old Testament. A digital search engine shows “chosen people” and “chosen race” nowhere else in the Old Testament, other than Septuagint Esther 8:13.  Various Greek lexicons define the word γένος (gen-os) as: 1) race, offspring, descendants, family; 2) nation, people; and 3) class, kind (Thayer, and Gingrich).

The New Testament likewise uses the phrase “chosen race, γένος (gen-os)” just once. Peter’s statement closely resembles Isaiah’s use of the phrase “chosen race” in verse 20. Peter combines verses 20 and 21.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race (γένος), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The shortened form, “chosen” as in “my chosen” occurs more frequently in both testaments.

Water

Isaiah 43 speaks often of water. The occurrences of water fall into two categories. The first category is dangerous water. The second category is the water necessary for life. This section will consider the second category, the water of life. The Gospels also relate Jesus/Messiah’s ministry in connection with two categories of water: dangerous water and the water that gives life.

DANGEROUS WATER

Isaiah 43:2 And if thou pass through water, I am with thee; and the rivers shall not overflow thee… (Brenton

Isaiah 43:16 Thus saith the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty water; (Brenton

And from the New Testament–

Mark 4:37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 

John 6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

WATER OF LIFE

From Isaiah 43–

43:19… I will make… rivers in the dry land. 20 The beasts of the field shall bless me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen race, (Brenton) [Note: The ESV writes, “rivers in the desert.”]

And from the mouth of Messiah–

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Blindness

God through Isaiah seems to never grow weary of calling out Israel’s blindness.

Isaiah 43:8 and I have brought forth the blind people; for their eyes are alike blind, and they that have ears are deaf. 

Messiah in his ministry did the same with the religious leaders of his day.

Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 

John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus in his day healed many who were physically blind. Which is more difficult? To heal a physically blind person or to give spiritual life and sight to a spiritually blind person? Jesus did both.

Matthew 20:30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Summary: The Christian Message

Septuagint Isaiah 43 speaks the Christian message.

First, verses 1 through 7 cry out the Lord’s love for his people (Isaiah 43:1-7). For Christians, this includes all people everywhere. God seeks out his own and calls them by name from the far corners of the earth. No one is too far away to be saved. He cares for his people, provides for them, and protects them.

Second, just as Israel was a witness among the nations (Isaiah 43:8-21) to the existence, sovereignty, might, and eternity of the Lord God, Christians are witnesses of the same. Most importantly, Christians witness that Christ came in the flesh, died and was buried, arose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. The first Christians saw all these things. Christians further witness that Jesus Messiah sent his Holy Spirit to take his place in the hearts of believers everywhere. This is how Christians know that Jesus lives.

Third, the Christian message is inclusive. The Lord’s people are one. Isaiah 43:5-7 indicates this truth, which will be developed further as Isaiah progresses. There are no ethnic nor language barriers in the body of Christ. The body of Christ includes all people who believe, both those of Israeli descent and Gentiles. There is no separation. God and Messiah are one. Their people are one.

Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

Fourth, God judges his people as being blind, distant from him, and sinful (Isaiah 43:22-28). Yet, he is willing to forgive them. He will do this for himself (Isaiah 43:25). The Christian message is that all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Yet God in Christ will forgive them.

Fifth, confession and repentance are necessary.

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember them. 26 But do thou remember, and let us plead together: do thou first confess thy transgressions, that thou mayest be justified [made righteous (SAAS)].

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When one reads through Isaiah 43, God appears to be as though he were a lover spurned. I see a God who is bending over backward, pleading with his people to return to him. Yet, verses 27-28 indicates that they have turned against him, to their shame and destruction. Why did God’s people not love him

But the story has not ended. It continues. And, God’s message today is the same as yesterday.

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

Amen.

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1 Brenton’s English Septuagint; New English Translation of the Septuagint, translated by Moisés Silva NETSAbarim Interlinear New TestamentBlue Letter Bible Septuagint in Greek with links to Strong’s concordance for each word. All links accessed October 28, 2021.

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