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Messiah and His Kingdom 4: Isaiah Devotional Journal 32-Praise!

Isaiah 11:1-12:6   Link to LXE

Praise!

But you dwell among the saints, O praise of Israel. (Psalm 22:(4)3, SAAS) (1)

The New Testament teaches that the risen Christ, the glorified Son of God, will marry his church (2). Now that’s a mystery, says the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:32).

Isaiah’s first peal of praise occurs in chapter 12. There God himself prophesies through his spokesperson Isaiah what his people, the church, will say “in that day.” This scene exemplifies what it means for Christ to be wedded to his church.

Why Church?

Why do I say Chapter 12 concerns the church? Simply because Isaiah writes repeatedly that God will save the remnant of his people and Gentiles (3). Jewish believers and Gentiles become one entity when Messiah comes bearing good news. This is also the understanding of New Testament authors, especially Paul. Luke verifies this understanding among the church fathers, primarily Peter (Acts 11:1-18; 15:1-31).

Isaiah 12

1 And in that day, you will say, “I will bless You, O Lord. Although You were angry with me, You turned away Your anger and had mercy on me.

2 Behold, God is my Savior and Lord. I will trust in Him and be saved by Him. I will not be afraid, for the Lord is my glory and my praise. He has become my salvation.”

3 You will draw water with gladness from the wells of salvation. [JOSV note: John 4:10]

4 In that day, you will say, “Praise the Lord; call upon His name. Declare His glorious things among the Gentiles and make mention that His name is exalted.

5 Sing to the name of the Lord, for He has done great things. Declare this in all the earth.

6 Exult and be glad, O inhabitants of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is exalted in her midst.” (SAAS) (1)

Christians everywhere, rejoice in the Lord and his salvation!

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

2 See Revelation 19:7, 9; 21:2, 9; 22:17. See also Ephesians 5:32.

3 See Isaiah 11:10, 12, 14 and Isaiah 12:4. See also Journal 30 and Journal 31.

MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM 3: ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL JOURNAL 31

Isaiah 11:1-12:6   Link to LXE

continued from Journal 30

The Remnant

A believing remnant whom God will spare from his devastating judgment has been a theme from the beginning of Isaiah. Eleven times Isaiah speaks of a remnant of Israel in chapters 1 through 12. Six of these references occur in chapters 10 and 11. The time frame of chapters 10 and 11 take the reader to the advent of Christ and at least as far as the present. Nowhere in the first twelve chapters does Isaiah ever say that all Israel will be saved. While I do believe that other portions of Scripture indicate this, it is not here, not now.

Isaiah 10:22 And though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be saved. 23 He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because the Lord will make a short work in all the world. (LXE)

Paul uses the above passage and others to explain how it is that Gentiles receive the Gospel and salvation. Simultaneously, for the most part, the bulk of Israel rejects that same gospel.

Romans 9:27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” (ESV)

God Remembers His Remnant

God does not forget his remnant of Israel. Chapter 11 picks up the theme begun in chapter 10. Isaiah weaves together the salvation promised the remnant with the salvation promised the Gentiles. Notice how he does this in the following verses.

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. 11 And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again shew his hand, to be zealous for the remnant that is left of the people, which shall be left by the Assyrians, and that from Egypt, and from the country of Babylon, and from Ethiopia, and from the Elamites, and from the rising of the sun, and out of Arabia. 12 And he shall lift up a standard for the nations, and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel, and he shall gather the dispersed of Juda from the four corners of the earth. 13 … 16 And there shall be a passage for my people that is left [verb form of “remnant”] in Egypt: and it shall be to Israel as the day when he came forth out of the land of Egypt. (Isa 11:10 LXE)

The Remnant and the Gentiles

Jesus, Messiah, the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1 and 11:10), became the chief cornerstone of the Christian church. “In that day,”–the day of Messiah–the church included both the remnant of Israel and Gentiles. In addition to the verses already mentioned in Isaiah 11Isaiah 12:4 makes this abundantly clear.

Isaiah 11:16 closes with mention of “the remnant of My people” (SAAS) (1). The very next verse, Isaiah 12:1, opens with the word, “And…” Grammatically, this “and” is a strong conjunction, και (kay). This word “and” connects the two paragraphs, which speak of the same topic. Therefore, when God addresses the people as “you” in chapter 12, he speaks to the same remnant, who is now worshipping him. God states the following.

Isaiah 12:1 And in that day thou shalt say, I will bless thee, O Lord… (LXE)

The conversation continues unbroken, as God speaks further to the same group of people, his remnant.

Isaiah 12:4 And in that day thou shalt say, sing to the Lord, call aloud upon his name, proclaim his glorious deeds among the Gentiles; make mention that his name is exalted. (LXE)

For proper understanding of the book of Isaiah, it is important to note that Isaiah includes both a Jewish remnant and Gentiles who turn to God in the day of Messiah. The New Testament, especially the book of Acts and the writings of Paul, bear ample witness to the fulfillment of these prophecies spoken more than 600 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah.

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

 

MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM 2: ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL JOURNAL 30

Isaiah 11:1-12:6   Link to LXE

continued from Journal 29

The prophet Isaiah uncovers a portrait of a glorious Messiah in Isaiah 11:1-5 and paints a picture of a glorious, peaceful kingdom in Isaiah 11:6-9. The vision includes Gentiles and the remnant of Israel and Judah in Isaiah 11:10-16. The images point to a heaven on earth. Up to this moment in Isaiah, there has been no mention of a suffering Messiah, nor of the cross. These will come later in the book. The entirety of Isaiah 12 is a joyous peal of praise on behalf of Jewish and Gentile believers.

The Gentiles

There are four references to Gentiles coming to Messiah in chapters 11 and 12: Isaiah 11:101214 and Isaiah 12:4.

Isaiah 11:10

Paul in Romans 15:12 cites Isaiah 11:10. The Greek versions of each are identical in the portion contained in the quotation marks.

Romans 15:12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” (Rom 15:12 ESV)

This passage and those similar to it demonstrate that the inclusion of Gentiles among Messiah’s kingdom people is not a historical, “great parenthesis,” as some dispensationalists teach, but that it was God’s plan from the beginning. Nor is this plan “hidden” in the Old Testament. Rather, Isaiah openly and clearly states it.

Reading the Septuagint translation of its ancient Hebrew text(s) (not necessarily in the Masoretic tradition) (1), casts much light on New Testament authors’ perception of the Old. This is because the Septuagint translation does not shy away from the prophetic revelation of Christ within its pages.

In the example below, the verse on the left is from the Septuagint. The one in the middle is based upon the Masoretic tradition. The text on the right is a translation of the Greek in which the New Testament was written. One can readily see that Paul drew heavily from the Greek Septuagint in his quotation of Isaiah 11:10.

The cumulative effect of many such verses is that a casual reader of the Old Testament might miss the full Christological intent of many Old Testament prophecies. (To learn more about the Christological revelations inherent in the Septuagint, readers may consult the following links Why the Septuagint? Part 1 and Why the Septuagint? Part 2, both of these written by JustOneSmallVoice’s author, Christina Wilson.) Christ is the rejoicing of the Christian heart (see Isaiah 12–all). Why would we want to obscure his presence in the Old Testament to the extent that it takes biblical scholars much time and effort to methodically uncover it? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believing readers everywhere can point out Christ in a matter of seconds. This is why some scholars know where to look.

Further Reference to Gentiles

Isaiah 11:12.

Isaiah 11:12 And he shall lift up a standard for the nations, and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel, and he shall gather the dispersed of Juda from the four corners of the earth. (LXE)

The Greek reads, “καὶ ἀρεῖ σημεῖον εἰς τὰ ἔθνη…” (LXT) The SAAS (St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint) (2) translates this phrase as, “He shall set up a sign for the Gentiles…” 

Textual Notes for This Verse
  1. The word translated “standard” in the majority of texts is translated as “sign” in the SAAS (see above). “Sign” is the word that John uses repeatedly in his gospel to indicate the miracles of Christ that point to his divinity (see for example John 2:11John 3:2John 6:30; and John 12:37.)

2. “Sign” is also the word that John uses in the book of  Revelation (see for example Revelation 12:115:1; and 19:20.)

3. While the word “Gentiles” often refers to the pagan aspect of non-Jewish nations and people groups, Paul uses it several times to refer to Christians recruited from these formerly pagan people groups (Acts 9:15Acts 10:45Acts 13:47Romans 11:25Romans 15:8Ephesians 2:11-13Colossians 1:27; and 1 Timothy 2:7).

4. Finally, there is a passage in John which can seem something of a non sequitur in its context.

 John 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. [read, “Gentiles”] 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…. 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 …32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:20-33 ESV)

INTERPRETATION: Some “Greeks,” or Gentiles, wanted to see Jesus. Addressing them primarily as Gentiles, Jesus immediately began talking to them about his being “lifted up from the earth.” He meant that he would be crucified on the cross. Jesus states that when he is crucified, he “will draw all people to myself.” “All people” is a single, straightforward Greek word meaning “everyone.” That includes Gentiles. So, when Greek Gentiles seek to speak with him, Jesus explains the one means by which Gentiles–and those of the circumcision–can be drawn to him. That one way is the cross.

Now immediately after this passage in John 12:20-33, Jesus speaks of himself as the “light,” and warns against their walking in the “darkness” (confer Isaiah 9:1-3). John the writer then breaks in and talks about the “signs” Jesus had done among all the people, including the Jewish leaders (see Isaiah 11:12–same word, “sign”.) Right after that, John quotes Isaiah two times and mentions him a third time (John 12:37-41). Clearly, John–interpreter supreme of Jesus’s life–was steeped in the prophecies of Isaiah.

Isaiah 11:14

Isaiah 11:14 And they shall fly in the ships of the Philistines: they shall at the same time spoil the <1> sea, and them that come from the east, and Idumea: and they shall lay their hands on Moab first; but the children of Ammon shall first obey [them]. (Brenton, LXE, 1844)

Isaiah 11:14 But they shall fly away in ships of allophyles; together they shall plunder the sea and those from the rising of the sun and Idumea. And they shall first lay their hands on Moab, but the sons of Ammon shall obey first. (Moíses Silva, NETS Isaiah, 2009)

When a reader lays aside presuppositions concerning Philistines as military enemies of Israel, it is well within the scope of reasonable possibility to read this verse as a prophecy of the missionary journeys of Paul and other early church evangelists to regions around the Mediterranean Sea. This is especially true in light of the other references to believing Gentiles in these chapters. Paul definitely accomplished some of his missionary journeys by boat on the sea.

The phrase, “… the children of Ammon shall first obey them,” need not be interpreted according to a presupposition that a military battle is being referenced.

1 First, the entire context of Isaiah 11 speaks of the peace between sets of former enemies in Messiah’s glorious kingdom.

2 Second, the passage is primarily about Messiah, not about a restored Israeli kingdom. One of the hallmarks of his kingdom is peace. An abrupt switch to Israel’s military targets would seem out of place, especially in light of verse 10. Isaiah 11:10 clearly states that “the root of Jesse,” Messiah, “shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.”

3 Further, the context is missional. Verse 9 states, “… for the whole [world] is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as much water covers the seas.”

4 Finally, both Brenton’s translation and Silva’s indicate that the word “them” is not in the Greek text. The Greek simply says, “The sons of Ammon shall obey first.” Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:25-26 speak of the “obedience of faith.” The word “obedience” is a noun form of the Greek root that forms the verb “obey.” In context, “Ammon shall obey” is likely the positive response of faith to the preaching of the gospel. The context of the Romans 16 verses is in fact the revelation of Jesus Christ to the Romans, including Gentile believers.

Isaiah 12:4

In Isaiah 11:16, the prophet speaks of a remnant of his people in Egypt and a safe passage out, leading toward Israel, just as in the Exodus. In the following verse, Isaiah prophesies what God’s people will say to Him. In 12:4 is the prophecy that these redeemed of Israel shall exhort one another to “proclaim his glorious deeds among the Gentiles.”

Isaiah 11:16 And there shall be a passage for my people that is left in Egypt: and it shall be to Israel as the day when he came forth out of the land of Egypt. 12:1 And in that day thou shalt say, I will bless thee, O Lord; … 2 Behold, my God is my Saviour; I will trust in him, and not be afraid: for the Lord is my glory and my praise, and is become my salvation… 4 And in that day thou shalt say, sing to the Lord, call aloud upon his name, proclaim his glorious deeds among the Gentiles; make mention that his name is exalted. (LXE)

In other words, Israel will no longer exclude and reject Gentiles from their worship of God. Rather, in this prototype of the good news of God’s favor, they will gladly share His glory with the Gentiles.

The Remnant

to be continued

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1 Books that explore the textual tradition of the Septuagint are: 1) Dines, Jennifer M. The Septuagint. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2004; 2) Jobes, Karen H. and Moises Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000; 3) Law, Timothy Michael. When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013; and 4) Marcos, Natalio Fernandez Marcos. The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson. Netherlands: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000.

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

MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM 1: ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL JOURNAL 29

By Christina Wilson on 

Isaiah 11:1-12:6   Link to LXE

Messiah and His Kingdom–But No Cross

The prophet uncovers a portrait of a glorious Messiah in Isaiah 11:1-5 and paints a picture of a glorious, peaceful kingdom in Isaiah 11:6-9. The vision includes Gentiles and the remnant of Israel and Judah in Isaiah 11:10-16. The images point to a heaven on earth. Up to this moment in Isaiah, there has been no mention of a suffering Messiah, nor of the cross. These will come later in the book. The entirety of Isaiah 12 is a joyous peal of praise on behalf of Jewish and Gentile believers.

Messiah

The Messiah of Isaiah 11:1-5 strongly resembles the King of Psalm 45. But while the psalm represents the King’s beauty in concrete terms of physical characteristics, Isaiah goes straight for his character and its source–the Holy Spirit.

Shared characteristics of the Messiah/King in both texts include:

  • perfection
  • excellence
  • blessing and approval of God
  • meekness and concern for the meek
  • truth
  • righteousness
  • enmity towards iniquity
  • power

When one includes everything from Isaiah 11:1-12:6, the eternality of the Messiah/King, the kingdom of his people, inclusion of Gentiles, and the joy and gladness that accompany him also become shared characteristics of the two passages.

Revelation 19:11-16 is a New Testament passage featuring the same amazing Being as these in Isaiah and Psalms. While all three passages include an element of judgment for the wicked, this feature is strongest in the Revelation passage.

Points to Consider

  • All three passages indicate a reality beyond what we as a fallen race of people experience on a daily basis.
  • The Revelation passage indicates its timeframe as the close of this age–that is, the wrapping up of human history in its current form.
  • The seeming impossibility of the peaceful coexistence of all created kinds in the Isaiah passage reminds the reader of conditions in Eden before the fall. 
  • The passage from the Psalter is the most plausible in terms of an earthly kingdom. In fact, many commentators assume that an over eager scribe originally penned the words of hyperbole to honor a Davidic king on the day of his wedding.

Devotional Conclusion

I, as a believer in Christ, one who also has the advantage of the hindsight of the Spirit-inspired New Testament authors, find a present-day spiritual reality in the description Isaiah and the psalmist apply to the Messiah/King and his people/bride–that is, the church. Faith also informs me that, according to Revelation, what believers see and experience now by faith alone will one day be the concrete reality of a new creation, as well as a present spiritual reality. I also believe that God intended from the beginning the meanings the New Testament authors find in Isaiah and Psalms. These are not applications, or repurposing, of ancient Scripture in a new and different context. These are prophecies–foreseen and fulfilled.

The Gentiles

to be continued

TWO KINGDOMS OF ISRAEL AND ADVENT OF THE SON: ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL JOURNAL 28

By BylineChristina Wilson on 

Isaiah 9:1-10:34   Link to LXE

Flashback

The book of Isaiah opens with God’s displeasure upon the two kingdoms of Israel, the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. In Isaiah’s own lifetime, God will judge Israel and remove the people from his land, much as he judged the entire world by means of Noah’s flood. But just as God spared Noah, so he will spare a remnant who repent and trust in him (Isaiah 1:9).

But this cycle of disobedience, judgment, new beginning, followed by disobedience, judgment, and so on might continue forever. Fallen humankind is not able to consistently govern well. Israel’s history proves this. God has a plan, however. He announces the advent of a Child, an amazing Son.

6 … and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Who Is This Son?

So far, Isaiah has given glimpses.

Isaiah 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into sickles: and nation shall not take up sword against nation, neither shall they learn to war any more. (Excerpted from Isaiah 2:2-4 LXE)

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

But the view from chapter 9 is amazing. The Son is light and joy. God favors him so much that he decrees a government ruled by him that will last forever. He will be born from David’s line and in the land of the northern kingdom.

Messiah Is Isaiah’s Main Theme

Isaiah 9:1-7 brings Messiah to the forefront. He is everything God wants, and his theme is peace.

Isaiah 9:1 and he that is in anguish shall not be distressed only for a time. Drink this first. Act quickly, O land of Zabulon, land of Nephthalim, and the rest inhabiting the sea-coast, and the land beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
2 O people walking in darkness, behold a great light: ye that dwell in the region and shadow of death, a light shall shine upon you.
3 The multitude of the people which thou hast brought down in thy joy, they shall even rejoice before thee as they that rejoice in harvest, and as they that divide the spoil.
4 Because the yoke that was laid upon them has been taken away, and the rod that was on their neck: for he has broken the rod of the exactors, as in the day of Madiam.
5 For they shall compensate for every garment that has been acquired by deceit, and all raiment with restitution; and they shall be willing, even if they were burnt with fire.
6 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him.
7 His government shall be great, and of his peace there is no end: it shall be upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to support it with judgement and with righteousness, from henceforth and forever. The seal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.
(LXE)

How blessed the northern kingdom will be in that day!

Notes:

1. The Orthodox Study Bible writes for Isaiah 9:4, “The day of Midian refers to the defeat of the Midianites by Gideon and his men without the use weapons (see Jdg 7:9-25). These men prefigure the apostles, who spread the gospel throughout the world with only ‘the weapons of peace,’ the preaching of the Cross.” (1)

2. Isaiah 9:5 in the Septuagint (see above) reads very differently than the Masoretic text. Luke 19:8, about the salvation of Zacchaeus, fulfills the Septuagint.

3. The initial view of Messiah is through the eyes of his people and the effect he has upon them, Isaiah 9:1-5.

But First, the Judgment Against Israel

But before all this can take place, Israel (the northern kingdom) must be judged and the people removed (Isaiah 9:8-10:4). This section opens with the statement–

The Lord sent death against Jacob, and it came on Israel. (SAAS) (2)

The remainder of chapter 9 and the first four verses of chapter 10 describe the manner of this death.

Verses of Note

1. Extreme hardness of heart: Isaiah 9:(12)13 “But the people did not turn until they were struck, yet they did not seek the Lord” (SAAS). Revelation 9:20-21 is reminiscent of this, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent…”

2. Deception in the guise of blessing: Isaiah 9:(15)16 “For those who bless this people lead them astray, and they lead them astray so as to destroy them.” (SAAS)

3. Brother against brother: Isaiah 9:(19b-20a)20b-21a “Manasseh shall devour Ephraim and Ephraim Manasseh. Together they shall besiege Judah…” (SAAS)

4. Laws written by design against the poor and needy: Isaiah 10:1-2 “Woe to those who write evil things, for when they write such things, they turn aside judgment from the poor, and rob judgment from the needy of the people, that the widow may be their prey and the orphan a spoil.” (SAAS)

5. God’s anger continues: Isaiah 9:(11, 16, 20 and Isaiah 10:4)12, 17, 21 and 10:4 “For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is still uplifted.” (SAAS)

Judgment Against Assyria

God used the armies of Assyria to execute his condemnation upon Israel (chapter 9). Assyria, however, did not recognize that God gave them the power to conquer Israel and take her captive. Attributing their success to their own prowess (Isaiah 10:7-14) rather than to God’s permissive will, they determined to attack the southern kingdom of Jerusalem, as well (Isaiah 10:5-14). But God had other plans.

Isaiah 10:12 But it shall come to pass, when the Lord has completed all He will do on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, He will go against the arrogant heart of the king of the Assyrians and the glory of his haughty looks. (SAAS)

The prophet Habakkuk, less than one century after the close of Isaiah, prophesied similarly concerning the nation of Chaldea, or Babylon. In the three chapters of Habakkuk, the prophet and God dialogue with each other. (This is called prayer). God explains in Habakkuk 1-3, the same as in Isaiah 10, how he uses a powerful but wicked nation to punish and cleanse his own people. Afterward, God also punishes the “punisher” for their wicked excesses in carrying out His plan. In short, God rules history and all nations. Nations are but tools in his hand.

Isaiah 10:15 Shall the ax glorify itself without him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself without him who saws with it? It is likewise if one should lift a rod or a piece of wood. (SAAS)

How Does the Remainder of Isaiah 10 Unfold?

  • Isaiah 10:16-19 compares God to a light that burns like fire. The cleansing fire will consume the fleeing Assyrians, until there are none of them left but a small enough number a child could count. 2Kings 19 records in great detail the fall of Assyria in Judah. Note: The study note for Isaiah 10:17 in The Orthodox Study Bible (1) states, “The Light of Israel (v. 17) that will sanctify God’s people speaks poetically of the Holy Spirit.” That is, if the Assyrians poetically represent sin in the land, then the Light of Israel, the Holy Spirit, is what cleanses the believing church and individual from sin.
  • Isaiah speaks of the remnant of Israel in Isaiah 10:20-22. Those who have ever been “wronged” know what a blessing of comfort these words are. So many victims of abuse are dependent upon their abusers. But a day will come when they will only trust in God, their Savior.

20 It shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel and those of Jacob who were saved will never again obey those who wronged them; but they will trust in God, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 The remnant of Jacob shall trust in the Mighty God. 22 For though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be saved… (SAAS)

  • Verses Isaiah 10:22b-23 speak of how God’s righteous judgment will be accomplished quickly, and in all the world. This is exactly how the cross of Christ played out. In the timeline of all history, the judgment upon evil and the righteousness of salvation happened in a single day, overnight, as it were. Here, of course, the literal meaning applies to how the Assyrian army left Judah extremely quickly (2Kings 19:32-36).

22b … for He shall accomplish the word and cut it short in righteousness. 23 For God will accomplish the word and cut it short in all the world. (SAAS)

  • Isaiah 10:24-31 continues to describe the details of Assyria’s downfall and the cities through which they pass.
  • In the final verses of Isaiah 1032-24, God continues to instruct Isaiah concerning how he should comfort Judah at this point in their history. Their time has not yet come. First, “the Master, the Lord of hosts” will bring down the haughty and lofty Assyrians.
  • Chapter 11 returns again to Messiah.
to be continued…

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

2 For this and all other quotations marked SAAS: “Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

MESSIAH IN THE WINGS: ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL JOURNAL 27

Isaiah 8:9-23   Link to LXE

Introduction

Picture this: You’re watching a great movie you’ve already seen. It’s one of your favorites. You’re still kind of close to the beginning. When you come to a certain portion, your excitement rises, because you know what’s coming next. That next part is where the real action begins. Your excitement mounts.

This is where we are in the book of Isaiah. Chapter 8 wraps up the themes of the beginning portion: judgment upon Israel, judgment upon Judah, and judgment upon the “nations,” the Gentiles. God wraps everyone in darkness. He points Isaiah to a new way, which is really an old way. In Chapter 9, Isaiah announces the dawning of a great light.

All Defeated–Israel, Judah, and the Gentiles

Isaiah essentially finished with judgment upon Israel and Judah by Isaiah 8:8. In review, Assyria will carry Israel into captivity. The Assyrians will also inundate Judah, but will not prevail. That is for the Babylonians to do at a later date.

Here in Isaiah 8:9-10, Isaiah announces the defeat of the Gentiles, as well. “Face the facts,” says the Message paraphrase. “… when all is said and done, the last word is Immanuel—God-With-Us.” (See Isaiah 7:14 and 7:3.) 

Text Note: The latter portion of Chapter 8 has difficult text, both in the Septuagint and in the Masoretic versions. Reading several translations, including the notes, makes this apparent. The main lines of the chapter are clear, however.

In Isaiah 8:11-13, the Lord apparently directs Isaiah himself. He instructs him not to be like the Lord’s people. Because they fail to honor the Lord, they fear first one thing, then another. But Isaiah should fear the Lord.

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. (NIV)

Messianic Verses

Isaiah 8:14-18 are messianic.

Isaiah 8:14 And if thou shalt trust in him, he shall be to thee for a sanctuary; and ye shall not come against him as against a stumbling-stone, neither as against the falling of a rock: but the houses of Jacob are in a snare, and the dwellers in Jerusalem in a pit. (LXE)

New Testament authors Paul and Peter refer to Jesus as a “stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense,” (Romans 9:331Peter 2:8). See also Isaiah 28:16.

Notice: God in these scriptures equates the “Lord of hosts” (verse 13) with Messiah (verses 14-15).  Grammatically, these verses speak of the same person.

As previously mentioned, the wording of this chapter can be difficult to untangle. (That’s why reading from many translations helps.) In line with this, verse 16 would be better placed in the same paragraph with the prior verse. They appear to be talking about the same group of people. “Those who seal up the law so that they might not learn,” (Isaiah 8:16 NETS, New English Translation of the Septuagint) are the same as, “the house of Iakob is in a trap, and those who sit in Jerusalem [Judah] are in a pit,” (Isaiah 8:14, NETS).

In accordance with my hermeneutical viewpoint that Isaiah is an Old Testament gospel of Jesus Christ, Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 13:13-15 matches Isaiah 8:16. To “seal up the law” means to make it unavailable. For example, when God tells Daniel in Daniel 8:26 to “seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now,” he instructs Daniel to make the vision incomprehensible to those living at that time. Isaiah 8:16 speaks of the stubbornness of God’s people in willfully not understanding the law he gave them. This is a common theme of Jesus and Paul. God tells Isaiah not to be like them.

A Second Speaker

!!!

Isaiah introduces a new speaker in Isaiah 8:17-18. The Septuagint and the New Testament bring this understanding to light.

First, God begins speaking to Isaiah directly in Isaiah 8:11. Many versions bring this out. Isaiah 8:19 indicates that God is still speaking to him (“they” and “you”).

Second, notice that verses 17-18 indicate a first person speaker, “I”. The Septuagint uses an unspecified third person future to introduce this speaker, whom both Brenton (LXE) and Silva (NETS) identify as “one.” I would translate, “he.”

17 And one shall say, I will wait for God, who has turned away his face from the house of Jacob, and I will trust in him. 18 Behold I and the children which God has given me: and they shall be for signs and wonders in the house of Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in mount Sion. (LXE)

Third, who is this “one” who speaks? Context indicates it’s not God. Context further tells us it’s not the Israelites. The prior verses reveal that they are not waiting on God. They are rejecting God’s counsel. Therefore, common English understanding tells us it must be either Isaiah or someone else.

Fourth, Hebrews 2:13 claims the speaker of verses 17-18 to be Messiah, Jesus Christ. (It’s best to read those verses in their surrounding context.)

Hebrews 2:13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” [vs 17] And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”[vs 18] (Hebrews 2:13 ESV)

Fifth, as a side comment, Septuagint Isaiah is an exciting book, because the prophet indicates a second God-speaker in more than one place. As an Old Testament writer, he offers mountain top views from which a careful reader catches glimpses that God is a more-than-one-person being.

I like the Septuagint because it contains transition phrases that introduce these new speakers. Verse 17, as already mentioned, contains the words, “one shall say.” In Greek, this is καὶ ἐρεῖ (Isaiah 8:17 LXT). The Masoretic (Hebrew) text does not contain these words. The author of Hebrews, who verifies a second divine speaker, had before him a Septuagint text. By means of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration was to identify the “one” as Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Another example of the occurrence of a second divine speaker is Hebrews 1:11-12. In these verses, the writer quotes Psalm 102:25-27. Here again, without the benefit of the Septuagint version, readers are wondering. “How does the writer know that those verses were spoken by Christ? That understanding seems to take the psalm totally out of context.” But, what today’s readers largely don’t realize is that Psalm 102:23 identifies a second speaker, “He answered him… tell me.” Most scholars agree that the writer of Hebrews worked from the Greek text of the Old Testament, as was common in that era. (See Penitential Psalms: Psalm 102–God’s Son Speaks: Technical Background and The Septuagint Psalter: Table of Contents and Links, both by Christina Wilson.)

Addressing Isaiah

In Isaiah 8:19-20, God continues addressing Isaiah. The Message paraphrases these verses:

When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?” Tell them, “No, we’re going to study the Scriptures.” People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end! MSG

The details of the actual text, both in the Greek and in the Masoretic, are more difficult to understand completely. The above paraphrase, however, captures one of the two underlying meanings. What’s missing, the Septuagint of Isaiah 8:20 provides:

Isaiah 8:20 For he has given the law for a help, that they should not speak according to this word, concerning which there are no gifts to give for it. (LXE)

Here is a potential rearrangement and paraphrase of the clauses in the verse just given: For he [God] has given the law for a help, concerning which there are no gifts to give for it. If they were to follow the law, then they wouldn’t need to consult the vain and lying mediums. This reading has problems of its own, however.

Even though the various translations of the Greek and Hebrew texts are not in agreement, the underlying meaning is clear. God is not pleased with Israel’s use of spiritists. He wants his people to consult his law. Verse 21 continues with difficulties. All translations agree, however, that it does not bode well for ancient Israel. A horrible famine will besiege them. The people respond by speaking poorly of all authorities over them, whether false gods or the true God.

Isaiah closes with Isaiah 8:22. As it continues from verse 21, the meaning is that no matter where the people look, whether above to heaven in search of an answer from God, or beneath to the earth in search of an answer from dead spirits or anywhere else on earth for help, they will be given none. The Septuagint writes, “… behold severe distress, and darkness, affliction, and anguish, and darkness so that one cannot see;” (LXE).

Darkness

  • What is Isaiah’s message in this chapter?
  • The northern tribe of Israel has no hope (vss 1-7).
  • Judah will be in extreme distress (vs 8).
  • The Gentile nations will not prevail (vss 9-10).
  • God tells Isaiah to trust in him (vss 11-13).
  • To trust God is to trust Messiah (vs 14).
  • The people will be revealed as those who choose neither God nor the Law (vss 15-16).
  • Messiah does what the people will not do: he waits for God and trusts in him (vss 17-18).
  • A remnant of Israel will be given to Messiah to be his children (vs 18).
  • But Israel and Judah continuously refuse to trust in God and Messiah (vss 14-18).
  • Neither do they trust the Law (vs 20).
  • God’s people turn instead to mediums and false gods (vss 19-22).
  • But these will not help them. Israel and Judah’s destination is “severe distress, and darkness, affliction, and anguish, and darkness so [deep] that one cannot see,” (vs 22).
  • NOTE: The above outline follows the Septuagint text.

Thus Isaiah Sets the Stage for Chapter 9

In Isaiah 9, the great light dawns, and Gentiles are included.

Thoughts

Reading Isaiah this closely, I see that God’s Word is consistent in all its parts. Isaiah in Chapter 8 speaks the same truth he began speaking in Chapter 1. All his predictions find their prophetic fulfillment in the New Testament and in 70 A.D., the year that Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Jesus and Paul follow Isaiah’s teachings closely. (God is the source of Isaiah.)

What Can the American Christian Church Learn Today from Isaiah 8?

Applications of this chapter are not difficult to find in today’s American political scene. In Isaiah we see brother attacking brother, as the northern kingdom of Israel attacked Judah. In America we see a divided, attacking church. Christians who happen to be democrats harbor hostilities against Republican Christians. Other Christians who happen to be republicans harbor hostilities against Democrats. Neither Democrat nor Republican bears any standing whatsoever in God’s eyes.

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, (Revelation 7:9)

Further, we see many Christians placing their great hope on a single political figure, whom they are desperately trying to see inaugurated for a second term. We see other Christians, many but not quite as many, placing their great hope on desperately trying to see this same political person not inaugurated for a second term. Politics would correspond to the Gentile nations in Isaiah 8. Political fortunes come and go. One side may strengthen itself for a time, but it will become weak again.

The one, firm foundation in Isaiah is God, his Messiah, and his Word, the Law. All else is vanity and leads to darkness, anguish, and despair. Isaiah 8 challenges and bids Christians today to turn away from all that is dead, idolatrous, dark, and vanishing. Were Christians to truly embrace the Gospel of Messiah, they would also embrace his peace. If we all struggled as hard to find our peace in Christ as we struggle to maintain our divisions, I believe we would be closer to God’s will than we currently are.

Post Originally Appears at Messiah in the Wings: Isaiah Devotional Journal 27 – justonesmallvoice.com 

Idolatry and Deception: Isaiah Devotional Journal 26

See the identical post at Idolatry and Deception: Isaiah Journal 26 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 8:1-8   Link to LXE

Overview of the Action

In Isaiah 8:1-8, the prophet finishes foretelling what the Lord began in chapter 7–the humbling and captivity of Israel/Samaria. He speaks also of assault upon Judah (Isaiah 8:8). The remainder of the chapter establishes the sovereignty of God. There, Isaiah speaks of Israel, Judah, and Gentiles, almost in the same breath. The only escape from the Lord’s judgment on each of these is to turn from idolatry and deception to the living Lord. The prophet presents the salvation of the Lord as the best option, because “God is with us,” (Isaiah 7:14).

Historical Perspective

Israel had divided into northern and southern kingdoms right after King Solomon died. By this point in their history, both kingdoms had lost the grandeur of the united kingdom under David. The northern kingdom, known as Israel, included Samaria. Israel/Samaria united with their former enemies, the Syrians. Together, they attacked Judah, but did not prevail (2 Kings 16:5).

During the portion of Isaiah recorded in chapters 7-8, King Achaz (Ahaz) ruled Judah in the south. 2 Kings 16:6-9 records how Ahaz approached Assyria to form an alliance with it to protect Judah from the attacks of the Israel/Syria alliance. Assyria, a more powerful kingdom further to the east than Syria, overwhelmed Israel and Syria. They carried Israel into captivity, from which the tribes of the northern kingdom never returned. This occurred mid-point in Isaiah’s long life of prophecy, just as he had spoken it to King Ahaz.

King Ahaz relied upon the Assyrians because he did not trust the Lord (Isaiah 7:12-13). While King Ahaz was cozying up to Assyria, he and his nation of Judah embraced the Assyrian pagan gods and customs. He imported these into Judah, destroying portions of the temple compound in exchange (2 Kings 16:10-18).

The Lord in his disciplinary displeasure allows Assyria to later invade Judah, but only as far as its “neck” (Isaiah 8:8). The Lord fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of Assyrian attack during the time of King Hezekiah, who reigned just after Ahaz.

After Assyria failed to overwhelm Judah, Babylonia, a kingdom to the southeast of Assyria, destroys the latter. Eventually, Babylonia also deals the final blow to Judah and carries them off to their 70 year captivity. After that, the even larger kingdom of Persia, yet further to the east, defeats Babylonia. The Persian king is Cyrus, who sends Ezra and his remnant back to Israel.

SUMMARY: This portion of Scripture presents a picture of a food chain: Syria eats Israel; Assyria eats Syria; Babylonia eats Assyria; and Persia eats Babylonia. But whenever God’s tiny people trust in him, he spares and delivers them from all their enemies.

Details of the Action

  • ISAIAH 8:1-4Isaiah prophesies the rapid, near-at-hand spoiling of the unholy alliance of Israel/Samaria and Syria (Damascus) by the king of Assyria. Application: The people of the northern kingdom of Israel were once God’s people. By turning to willfully persistent, unrepented idolatry, they rejected their identity as his people. When God’s people align themselves with evil, there is an even greater evil power ready to conquer them. Safety lies with God alone. (Did America learn this in its last election?)
  • ISAIAH 8:5-8This new sub-section prophesies the devastation of Judah for similar idolatry and deception (Isaiah 2). One of the comprehension difficulties for our ears is Isaiah’s frequent use of pronouns, rather than more specific identifiers. In particular, when Isaiah writes, “this people” in verse 5: a) does he refer to Israel of the previous sub-section, or b) Judah, as clearly he does in verse 8? (All things considered, I prefer the former.) But either way, Judah will also be inundated by the Assyrian army.
    • Notes: Isaiah’s writing shows great sophistication (at least to one as simple as I am).
      • First, in 8:6, the “water of Siloam” (LXE, Septuagint in English) bears messianic symbolism. Its name means “sent.” In the New Testament, John narrates that Jesus healed a man’s blindness by anointing his eyes with dirt and his own spittle, then sending him to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes completely (John 9:6). Notice, in John 9:4, Jesus refers to himself as “sent” by God. That is, Jesus is God’s sent-one, the Messiah. Isaiah 9:4 supports the symbolism of the “water of Siloam” by its mention of the “waters of salvation.” The Messiah is Israel’s salvation. An eager reader can also explore the many other references to water in John’s gospel, as for example, his discussion with the woman at the well in John 4:4-15.
      • Second, the closing phrase of Isaiah 6:8 is “God with us” in the Septuagint and O Immanuel in the Masoretic. This is also Messianic. In Matthew 1:23, an angel of the Lord prophesied to Joseph in a dream that the son to be born of his virgin wife (Isaiah 7:14) would be called “Immanuel (which means, God with us).” NET notes point out that God was with Judah even in their judgment by him.

Application: The Lord Disciplines Evangelicals

The evangelical church in America is experiencing a disciplining from the Lord at this particular moment, I believe.

  • Many evangelicals opened themselves to the deception of the enemy when they embraced a man whose faulty character was clear to them from the beginning. The character of that man has not changed. Nevertheless, many in the church believed the false prophets who told them this man would be elected a second time. They consider him to be the chosen of the Lord. Many persist in this false belief, expecting a miraculous turn-around in this person’s political fortunes. Their blind adulation borders on idolatry.

This man’s electoral loss ultimately led to violence in the nation’s Capitol. I see the loss, subsequent violence, and current state of confusion as a form of discipline upon evangelicals, which the Lord has allowed. I pray that the deception will be lifted, and these will fully trust in the Lord, rather than placing their trust in a mere man, whose “breath is in his nostrils” (Isaiah 2:22, NKJ). Many are also guilty of hating their perceived enemies, that is, their fellow Americans of an opposite political persuasion, rather than loving them, as the Lord commanded. A significant portion of these perceived enemies are actually sincere, believing, and faithful Christians, just as they themselves are.

  • On the other side, there are those Christians of an opposite political persuasion. Many of these have become overly concerned and passionate that the man of poor character be politically defeated. Their hope of this merely earthly outcome also borders on idolatry, because they have placed their trust in temporary, carnal solutions, rather than in the eternal Lord.
  • Prayer of Confession and Repentance: Lord, I confess my sin to you. Reveal to me the depth and breadth of my sinful ways. I ask that you forgive me. I pray that you free my spirit of all deception and blindness. Deliver me from the unholy weight of worry and fear that deception brings with it. Help me to love you with a pure and whole heart. Restore my vision to a single eye, one that is focused on Christ. I love you Lord, if ever so imperfectly. Bless your people on both sides of this political equation. Help us to truly love one another, even those of a different political persuasion. In your name, O Jesus, Immanuel. Thank-you, Lord. Amen

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