By Christina M Wilson
Isaiah’s Tale of Two Peoples (1) continues to the last verse of chapter 66. Isaiah presents two very different outcomes for two distinctly different groups of people. The text “switches” back and forth between these two groups. Both groups of people are national Israelites.
A Word About Names
The word “Israel” in any of its linguistic forms (Israel, Israelite(s), etc.) occurs only once in Septuagint Isaiah after Septuagint Isaiah 63:16. Readers can find the phrase “children of Israel” in Septuagint Isaiah 66:20.
20 And they shall bring your brethren out of all nations for a gift to the Lord with horses, and chariots, in litters drawn by mules with awnings, to the holy city Jerusalem, said the Lord, as though the children of Israel should bring their sacrifices to me with psalms into the house of the Lord. (LXE)
The entire verse is an extended metaphor. In the prior verse, God speaks through Isaiah to prophesy that missionaries will go forth from Jerusalem to distant Gentile lands. They will bring back Gentile believers (converts) as though they were thank offerings equivalent to the sacrifices and praise of the “children of Israel.”
This is the only occurrence of the word Israel in all of Septuagint chapter 66. Compare the Masoretic of Isaiah 66:20.
So what is the point? The point is that when the Lord addresses an audience in Septuagint Isaiah 66, he does not address Israel as a whole. Since the first verse of Isaiah 65, God when he speaks addresses either of two distinct groups within biblical national Israel. He no longer addresses the nation as a whole.
Two Groups Within Biblical National Israel
God addresses only one of Israel’s two groups of people as Sion (or Zion in the Masoretic, Isaiah 66:8) and Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:10). The word Sion likely refers to the people, while Jerusalem may refer to their location, and at times to the people and location combined. God loves Sion and Jerusalem, because these are his faithful ones who humbly and meekly tremble at his word (Septuagint Isaiah 66:2), i.e., obey him.
The other group of Israelites practices disobedience to God, while outwardly claiming to be true worshipers. While they practice ceremonial activities toward God (Isaiah 66:3-4), they do so while transgressing against his heart and will (Isaiah 66:3-4, 17, 24).
Much of Volume 2 of Isaiah involves switchbacks within the text that alternate between these two groups. Both groups belong to national biblical Israel. But God abundantly blesses only one of the two groups. One group obeys God; the other group disobeys. Eventually, Isaiah’s use of the names Sion and Jerusalem lands firmly upon the obedient. For a few examples of God’s sifting these two groups, see the prior posts Devotional 2.57, Devotional 2.58, and Devotional 2.59.
Again, it is important to realize that both groups ethnically belong to national biblical Israel. This explains why God no longer addresses “Israel” as a whole. The text has reached a point of final sifting. God addresses his obedient children as Sion and Jerusalem. The disobedient he addresses as transgressors (Septuagint Isaiah 66:3 and Isaiah 66:24).
The Light of Hindsight a Valid Approach
When it comes to today’s readers interpreting for themselves the Old Testament, I am firmly fixed on the belief that the New Testament teaches us that we should definitely apply the light of the New upon the Old to gain understanding of God’s intent. Which is more valuable? To understand the Old Testament as an imaginary listener might possibly have understood it several thousand years ago? Or to understand the Old Testament as God wrote it and intended it to be understood in the light of his Son, Jesus Christ?
When we read Isaiah today, we have the knowledge of God’s Servant Christ in his fulfilled reality, the guidance and light of God’s Holy Spirit living within the hearts of believers, and the facts of history shortly after our Lord’s appearance. God does not call us to return to the darkness surrounding most Israelites in the days before the heavens, the earth, humanity, and history permanently changed. In view of the resources available to us, it would be foolish for us to do so.
A New Testament Hermeneutic
The following verses all speak of God’s manner of “hermeneuticking” (interpreting by application of hermeneutics) the Old Testament in light of the advent of God’s Servant, Jesus Christ. Jesus’s own hermeneutical key was himself.
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (ESV)
Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!… 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted [Greek, “hermeneuticked,” διερμήνευσεν, Strong’s 1329] to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ESV)
Peter presents the Old Testament prophets peering forward in time. They asked to whom or when their prophecies applied. Peter answers that the Holy Spirit revealed to them that they spoke of Christ. And, further, those prophets served not their own audiences of their own day, but a future audience. That audience, says Peter, is his audience. His audience consists of those who have received the “good news,” or the gospel message.
We are part of that same audience, because the “age” has not changed. We continue to live in the age of evangelization, the missionary spread of the Gospel, and the harvest into God’s “temple” of new believers from all over the world (including today’s Israel.) Now, if the Old Testament prophets looked forward to us, then Peter surely is encouraging us to take our light when we look back on them.
1 Peter 1:11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (ESV)
And in the following verse, the Apostle Paul bluntly states that the “things” that happened to God’s Old Testament people God intended for us.
1 Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. (NET)
Further, Paul specifically states that those alive in his day were those upon “whom the ends of the ages” had come. In my vocabulary, end means end. There will be no further historical ages. We are in the last age, the final age. A literal, plain speech approach to Paul’s words can only mean this one thing, “… our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come.”
Hermeneutics and Switchbacks
So, what does all this have to do with switchbacks? Hasn’t this post wildly departed from Isaiah 66? Not really. I have been describing the hermeneutical method I use as I interpret these last verses in Isaiah.
1 This is an imaginary title I have chosen for Volume 2 of Isaiah.
By Christina M Wilson
Final Switchbacks: Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-18a
Isaiah’s linguistic tool bag contains a technique he employs repeatedly throughout the entirety of his prophecy. I call this linguistic tool the switchback (Isaiah Devotional Journal 60). The wrap-up of Isaiah 66 contains several final switchbacks.
Switchback Set One: Verses 2-6
Readers encounter several switchbacks in the first six verses. First, verse 2b names those whom the Lord regards with favor. In contrast, verses 3 and 4 describe those whom the Lord despises. Then, verse 5 names both groups in one verse. On the blessed side are those who “tremble at his word.” The word “tremble” in this context means to revere, respect, and obey the Lord’s word. Confirmation follows when the prophet names those who “tremble at his word” as “our brethren.”
On the negative side are those who “hate you and abominate you.” There is no reason to suppose that the text speaks about pagans as the ones who hate and abominate those who tremble at the word of the Lord. Verse 3 clearly describes this group of people as those who perform the religious ceremonies the Old Testament Law prescribes. Yet the text names these as “transgressors.” In other words, these people worship according to Israelite customs, but they do so hypocritically. The Lord pronounces their end in verse 5, “They shall be ashamed.” Finally, verse 6 describes the voice of the Lord crying out from within the city [Jerusalem] and from out of the temple [the Israelite temple]. The Lord is “rendering recompense to his adversaries.” Who are these adversaries? The previous context claims these are the disobedient of God’s own people, people who are God’s in name only. (See the entire text.)
Switchback: Verses 7-14a
Septuagint Isaiah 66:7-14a, minus verse 9, provides a solid block of blessing. (See the extensive development of this section in the prior post.) Remember that Septuagint verse 9 differs significantly from its counterpart in the Masoretic. The first sentence of Septuagint verse 9 contains the exception to the solid block of blessing that occurs in both versions in verses 7-14a. That first sentence of accusation does not appear in translations of the Masoretic text.
9 But I have raised this expectation, yet you have not remembered me, says the Lord: (LXE) (see also NETS) (1).
Switchback: Verse 14b
First, the Lord speaks constant blessings to his faithful from Isaiah 66:7 through verse 14a, minus the aforementioned exception in verse 9 (see the Septuagint). Then, a clearly labeled switchback occurs in the last clause of verse 14, “and he shall threaten the disobedient.”
14 And you shall see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall thrive like grass: and the hand of the Lord shall be known to them that fear him, and he shall threaten the disobedient. (LXE)
The label is the phrase, “the disobedient.” The switchback is that the Lord “shall threaten” them. This action is the direct opposite of what the Lord has been doing for “she that… brought forth a male” (verses 7-8, 10-14a). Readers who proceed slowly and carefully through Isaiah’s often cumbersome text accustom themselves to Isaiah’s frequent use of switchback as a linguistic tool. (2)
Verse 15 spells out the “threat” to “the disobedient.” Readers should bear in mind that according to the context up to this point, the “disobedient” are those of the Lord’s people (Israelites) who steadfastly adhere to their unbelieving, and therefore rebellious, ways (see in particular verses 3-5). A quick browse ahead to the end of the book reveals no repentance and no millennial experience for the bulk of Israel. Their end, rather, is God’s wrath.
15 For, behold, the Lord will come as fire, and his chariots as a storm, to render his vengeance with wrath, and his rebuke with a flame of fire. (LXE)
History reveals God’s wrath against biblical Israel, the nation and its ceremonial religious customs, in 70 A.D. (or, 70 CE) (3) .
Expansion of Judgment
In chapter 66 of Isaiah, as already covered, God joins together two groups of people who will receive his blessing. God’s faithful people, those who “tremble at his word” in verse 5 (those who willingly obey), will be joined by believing Gentiles (Septuagint Isaiah 66:12). Up through verse 15, on the other hand, there has been but one people group named as “disobedient.” These are ethnic Israelites who worship God according to outward, ceremonial form only (verses 3-5). Despite their false ceremonial worship of Israel’s God, they “hate” and “abominate” Isaiah’s “brethren” who “tremble at his [God’s] word,” i.e., believers (verse 5).
Verse 16 expands the boundaries of the disobedient group. Verse 16 expands the group of Israelite “transgressor” (verse 3) to include the people of “all the earth” (verse 16).
16 For with the fire of the Lord all the earth shall be judged, and all flesh with his sword: many shall be slain by the Lord (LXE). (See also the Masoretic text at Isaiah 66:16.)
Then, in further confirmation, verses 17-18a return to those who falsely follow the ceremonial customs of Israel.
17 They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens, and eat swine’s flesh in the porches, and the abominations, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, says the Lord. 18a And I know their works and their imagination. (LXE)
Note: Although the judgment by fire of apostate Israel occurs in 70 A.D., the fiery judgment by wrath of all the earth (verse 16) is still future.
Seismic Shifts: Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-18a
God is amazing–praise his name. In very few quiet sentences, God through his prophet Isaiah lays the groundwork for three seismic shifts in Israelite theology. These accompany the Lord’s advent a few centuries later.
1. SHIFT ONE: INCLUSION OF GENTILES
The first seismic shift is the inclusion of Gentiles as brothers and sisters among God’s chosen people Israel. In chapter 66, God specifically names “Gentiles,” or “nations,” in verse 12. The context of Septuagint Isaiah 66:7-14a establishes the blessing for Sion and Jerusalem that God intends the influx of Gentiles to be.
To further seal the great change taking place, God again eliminates the distinction between Israelite and Gentile in verse 16 (see above). There, he combines disobedient ethnic Israelites with the disobedient of the entire world (See Septuagint 66:14b-18a for context). Therefore, readers of Isaiah who follow him closely step by step realize that in this book God erases ethnic boundaries. By the close of chapter 66, readers see that ethnicity no longer matters to God.
Nevertheless, in spite of there being no ethnic boundaries in faithful Israel’s near future, God fulfills his promises to Israel the Old Testament nation. Within the book of Isaiah itself, the new people God creates he continues to name “Sion” (verse 8) and “Jerusalem” (verse 10). Verse 12 indicates that the “glory of the Gentiles” flows into Jerusalem (verses 10-14a).
Yet, in the near future (beginning with the advent of God’s special Servant–Messiah), Isaiah prophesies that God will give these groups together a “new name.”
Isaiah 62:2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and kings thy glory: and one shall call thee by a new name, which the Lord shall name. (LXE) (See also Isaiah 62:2 in the Masoretic.)
Isaiah 65:15 For ye shall leave your name for a loathing to my chosen, and the Lord shall destroy you: but my servants shall be called by a new name, (LXE) (4).
2. SHIFT TWO: THE NONIMPORTANCE OF CEREMONIAL LAW
In addition to ethnicity being of no further importance to God (he fulfills his promises to believing Sion and Jerusalem), the sacrifice of animals and other observations of Old Testament ceremonial laws (verses 2-4) no longer matter, as well. This point is more subtle. In Isaiah 66:1 (Acts 7:48-49, 50), God indicates that he does not require a physical home built by human hands. He is much larger than heaven and earth combined. God is Spirit. Rather, as previously indicated in this post, God respects (has regard for, favors) “the humble and meek, and the man that trembles at my [his] words” (see Isaiah 66:2 ESV). Willing Gentiles can meet God’s criteria without participating in biblical Israel’s ceremonial law. Performance of these ceremonies carry no weight with God when obedience is absent (Septuagint Isaiah 66:3-4).
3. SHIFT THREE: SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE
When both ethnicity and religious ceremonial observance are eliminated as necessary factors in pleasing God, faith stands alone. Isaiah does not use the word “faith.” Rather, his vocabulary specifies the “humble and meek” (verse 2) and the one who “trembles at my word”(also verse 2). The concept of trembling at God’s word includes obedience to it. People obey whom they fear. Therefore, the essence of faith (belief and trust in God) is obedience to God and his word. Those who obey God give him their highest regard through obedience to him. Another way to say this is that faith (belief and trust in God) leads a person to choose to obey God and his word despite all contrary consequences.
The Apostle Paul
This portion of Isaiah also lays the groundwork for the Apostle Paul’s theological statements of salvation by faith alone in his New Testament letters. The book of Isaiah informs the writings of Paul, and the writings of Paul inform the book of Isaiah.
1. Ethnic Inclusion
As concerns Isaiah, this and previous posts have explored the question of ethnic inclusion[n]Readers can type the word “Gentiles” into the search function that is located near the menu of this post to find a listing of prior posts that speak of Gentile inclusion.[/n]. The words of Isaiah himself can leave no room to doubt God’s intention to join believing Gentiles with the believing remnant of his people (Septuagint Isaiah 66:10-12). A few centuries later the Apostle Paul labored to bring God’s prophecy to pass. Below are a few quotations from Paul.
Acts 26:21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, 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.” (ESV) (See also Romans 3:29-30; 9:30; Galatians 3:8; Ephesians 2:11-16; 3:6.)
2. The Nonimportance of Ceremonial Law
Neither Isaiah himself anywhere in chapter 66 nor the Apostle Paul write that Israel’s ceremonial laws are not to be followed. Rather, both state that in terms of acceptance and favor with God, the practice of them is not necessary. Further, reliance upon them can be deceptive (Isaiah 66:3-4, 17).
Galatians 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (ESV)
Galatians 3:24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (ESV) (See also Romans 2:23-29; 4:13-16.)
3. Salvation by Faith Alone
Whereas Isaiah in chapter 66 arrives at the concept of salvation by faith alone through a process of elimination (not ethnicity and not observance of ceremonial law), Paul states the precept positively.
Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, (Rom 1:5 ESV)
Galatians 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (ESV)
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV) (See also Romans 1:17; 3:21-30; 4:16-17.)
1 See also the Masoretic text of Isaiah 66:1 ESV.
2 A fitting title for the book of Isaiah might be “A Tale of Two Peoples“.
3 Confer the Wikipedia account of the temple and Jerusalem’s destruction by fire at this link, accessed 09/29/2022.
4 See the section titled “Comment Concerning Isaiah 65:15 and Names,” available in a prior post, Devotional 2.93.
…looking ahead…even though the post ends here, Isaiah’s switchbacks do not. Stay tuned for more.
By Christina M Wilson
Birth of a New People: Septuagint Isaiah 66:7-14a
A Quick Look Behind and Ahead
1. God establishes his sovereignty in Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-2. He does so frequently throughout the book (see for example Isaiah 45:5-7). By doing so, he declares that he answers to no one. God may do whatever he chooses, simply because he is God. He has no need to justify any of his actions.
1 Thus says the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool…2 For all these things are mine, says the Lord… (Isaiah 66:1-2 LXE)
2. God condemns those of his people who worship him falsely. They have no future (Septuagint Isaiah 66:3-4).
3. He commands his faithful to testify to the unfaithful(Septuagint Isaiah 66:5 (1).
4. He recompenses his adversaries (Isaiah 66:6).
5. God announces birth of a new people (Septuagint Isaiah 66:7-14a).
Who Are the New People? Isaiah 66:7-14a
Verses 7-8 introduce the question of who the new people recently birthed might be. The text answers the question in verses 10-14a.
WHO IS “SHE THAT TRAVAILED” NOT?
66:7 Before she that travailed brought forth, before the travail-pain came on, she escaped it and brought forth a male. (LXE)
Although in verse 7 the text does not reveal who “she” is, we learn that the image is metaphorical.
- the “earth” travails in (verse 8)
- a “nation” is born (verse 8)
- Sion “travailed and brought forth her children” (verse 8)
As Isaiah has established in many past texts, “Sion” represents the believing Israelites, i.e., the remnant (2). Notice how the “barren” woman of Isaiah 54:1 brings forth a great multitude of children without travail. Likewise the “she” of verse 66:7 brings forth “a male” without travail.
WHO IS “SION”?
The word “Sion” is extremely important in this text. Who is Sion? Past posts have labored in detail to establish that in this portion of Isaiah (chapter 54 onward), God reserves the name Sion for his believing remnant. God does not refer to the entire nation of Israel by this name. These–apart from the remnant–he condemns. Proof of this fact follows.
All Septuagint uses of the word “Sion” from chapter 54 onward occur in the context of blessing. The name “Sion” in the Septuagint from chapter 54 onward occurs only in Isaiah 59:20; 60:14; 61:3; 62:1, 11; 64:10; and Isaiah 66:8. Although Isaiah 64:10 may seem to be an exception, the context of the verse extends from Isaiah 63:7 through Isaiah 64:12. In this lengthy passage, both God and the prophet recount God’s previous mercies upon his people from the time of the exodus to the immediate future, when the Servant would appear (Isaiah 65:1). The prophet’s voice represents the prayer of the humble, those who repent. The bulk of Israel never repent. God insists repeatedly that they shall be destroyed (see Isaiah 57:3-13 (3); Isaiah 65:2-7, 11-15; 66:3-4, 6). Notice that God never uses the words Sion or Jerusalem in reference to those of Israel whom he condemns.
Conclusion: The believing remnant of Israel are they who give birth without travail.
“YOU HAVE NOT REMEMBERED ME”
9 But I have raised this expectation, yet you have not remembered me, says the Lord: behold, have not I made the bearing and barren woman? says your God. (LXE) (4).
The Septuagint text of Isaiah 66:9 above differs remarkably from the Masoretic text (below).
9 Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the LORD; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God. (ESV).
The sentence at the very beginning of Septuagint 66:9 is absent from the Masoretic, “But I have raised this expectation, yet you have not remembered me, says the Lord.” It is simply not present in the Hebrew version. But this blog reports on Septuagint Isaiah, not the Masoretic.
Returning to the main topic, readers need always be on the alert for sudden changes of audience (addressee) in Isaiah. For those who have followed closely, the indications are clear. In verse 9a, the Lord does not speak to the “she” of verse 7. Rather, he speaks to the “you” of verses 3 and 4. Readers know this because the tone displays disfavor. Again, notice the extreme suddenness of the subsequent switch-back in verse 10, “Rejoice, O Jerusalem…” God does not make these opposite statements to the same audience. Rather, in all of chapter 66, as in a multitude of places elsewhere in Isaiah, there are two audiences. One audience are the unfaithful of Israel. The other audience are the faithful.
WHEN DID “YOU” NOT REMEMBER?
Moving on, in verse 9 in the Septuagint, for the phrase, “But I have raised this expectation, yet you have not remembered me, says the Lord,” there are two possible time frames for when the “remembering” did not occur.
1. Up to the moment of this present speech by God in Isaiah 66:9, disobedient Israel has ignored both the prophecy and the Lord. God previously announces the influx of many children in Isaiah 49:15-22 and 54:2-3.
2. Several hundred years after Isaiah prophesied, the Servant came and ministered in person in Israel. He later was taken up into heaven. The nation of Israel as a whole failed to recognize their God, nor were they mindful of either him or his prophecy. Then, on the day of Pentecost, after God’s Spirit descended upon the believing remnant in the upper room, a new “nation” or “people” became born in a single day (Acts 2:5-47 and especially Acts 2:41).
REJOICE, O JERUSALEM!
Isaiah 66:10 Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and all you that love her hold in her a general assembly: rejoice greatly with her, all that now mourn over her: (LXE)
“Jerusalem” in verse 10 is a synonym for Sion, as it also is in Septuagint Isaiah 10:32; 24:23; 37:32; 41:27; 52:1, 2. God’s faithful remnant, Sion itself, are they who mourn over the holy city of Jerusalem in its desolate condition. It is they who pray the prayer of contrition recorded in Isaiah 63:15-64:12.
The others, the bulk of Israel to whom the Lord speaks in a tone of chastisement in verse 9, are the people whom God addresses in Isaiah 66:3-4.
The prophet exhorts the people of Jerusalem (which is Sion of verse 8) to rejoice over her. He directs this command to those who love her. Again, the ones who love Jerusalem are the ones who love and worship God with a faithful heart, who obey all his commands, not just the ceremonial ones. These are not the bulk of Israel, who worship in outward appearance only (Isaiah 66:3-4; Matthew 23:25-28). It is the faithful remnant of Israel who bears a “nation” in one day (Isaiah 66:7-8). This prophecy of Isaiah finds its fulfillment in Acts 2, the day of Pentecost, and in the years immediately following, as the book of Acts records.
THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION
Finally, the reader reaches the point in the text at which the Lord answers the question with which this post began, Who are the new people?
The Jerusalem of which the text speaks are one people derived from two subgroups.
1. Subgroup 1 are the Gentiles.
12 For thus says the Lord, Behold, I turn toward them as a river of peace, and as a torrent bringing upon them in a flood the glory of the Gentiles: their children shall be borne upon the shoulders, and comforted on the knees. (LXE)
There is no reason either grammatically or contextually to suppose that “their children” refers to anyone but the children of the Gentiles. God turns himself in verse 12 toward the people of Sion and Jerusalem, as though he himself were “a river of peace” and “a torrent.” God brings upon Sion and Jerusalem the “glory of the Gentiles.” It is their children who swell the ranks of the city. The city here is compared to a nursing mother (verses 8 and 11, LXE) who gives comfort to her children.
2. Subgroup 2 are the faithful remnant of Israel.
God combines two groups of people in verses 11-14a. We have just seen how verse 12 names the Gentiles. Verses 11 and 13-14a name the faithful remnant (LXE). See how seamlessly the entire passage reads when the admonishment concerning the unfaithful in verse 9 is removed.
66:7 Before she that travailed brought forth, before the travail-pain came on, she escaped it and brought forth a male. 8 Who has heard such a thing? and who has seen after this manner? Has the earth travailed in one day? or has even a nation been born at once, that Sion has travailed, and brought forth her children?… 10 Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and all you that love her hold in her a general assembly: rejoice greatly with her, all that now mourn over her: 11 that you may suck, and be satisfied with the breast of her consolation; that you may milk out, and delight yourselves with the influx of her glory. 12 For thus says the Lord, Behold, I turn toward them as a river of peace, and as a torrent bringing upon them in a flood the glory of the Gentiles: their children shall be borne upon the shoulders, and comforted on the knees. 13 As if his mother should comfort one, so will I also comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 And you shall see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall thrive like grass: and the hand of the Lord shall be known to them that fear him… (LXE)
The Septuagint of these verses agrees with what Isaiah has been saying all along, since the very beginning. That is, he has great plans for his believing remnant. These plans include an influx of believing Gentiles.
Isaiah Prophesies the Events of the New Testament
Isaiah prophesies several centuries in advance the happenings which the New Testament records. Yet, God’s “own” people were not interested.
66:9 But I have raised this expectation, yet you have not remembered me, says the Lord… (Isaiah LXE)
John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (ESV)
But, a remnant did hear and believe and receive God’s blessing.
66:10 Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and all you who love her… rejoice greatly with her… 11 that you may suck, and be satisfied with the breast of her consolation; that you may milk out, and delight yourselves with the influx of her glory… 13 As if his mother should comfort one, so will I also comfort you… 14 And you shall see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall thrive like grass: and the hand of the Lord shall be known to them that fear him… (Isaiah LXE)
John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (ESV)
The book of Acts records the rapid growth of the “church” throughout Israel, Samaria, and to the distant islands as far as Rome in Italy. The letter to the Ephesians verifies that God made the two peoples one: Gentiles and believing Israelites.
Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (ESV)
Isaiah prophesies the “peace” of the Ephesians passage.
66:12 For thus says the Lord, Behold, I turn toward them as a river of peace, and as a torrent bringing upon them in a flood the glory of the Gentiles: their children shall be borne upon the shoulders, and comforted on the knees. (Isaiah LXE)
Isaiah focuses throughout both volumes, chapters 1 through 66, upon God’s Servant. He describes his person, his work, and the blessed consequences of his work for the believing remnant of Israel. These all find fulfillment in the advent of God’s Servant–his life, his death as a sacrifice for many, his resurrection from the grave, his ascension, and the rapid growth of the new kingdom of Sion made possible through him, as recorded in the book of Acts.
As difficult as it may be for many to accept, there is nothing to this point in the text of Septuagint Isaiah 66 that would indicate that either God or the prophet intends to fly over the indescribably magnificent events of our Lord’s advent approximately two thousand years ago, in order to prophesy concerning a theoretical second one. No. Rather, Isaiah remains fixedly focused on the only advent of Christ his writing records.
1 Notice that the Septuagint reads differently here than the Masoretic. See Devotional 2.96, Section 6, The Great Missionary Call.
2 In brief, see Isaiah 49:14. For a summary of a longer presentation, see Devotional 2.64.
3 See Devotional 2.73.
4 Translation note: the word “your” in the phrase “your God” is not present in the Greek text. The Greek text states, “said God”. The New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) translates according to the Greek (Isaiah 66:9 LXX, 9 ἐγὼ δὲ ἔδωκα τὴν προσδοκίαν ταύτην καὶ οὐκ ἐμνήσθης μου εἶπεν κύριος οὐκ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ γεννῶσαν καὶ στεῗραν ἐποίησα εἶπεν ὁ θεός).
By Christina M Wilson
A New Heaven and a New Earth: Christ the Fulfillment
As in so many other ways, the advent and events of the life of God’s Special Servant, his Son, fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 65:17.
For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth: and they shall not at all remember the former, neither shall they at all come into their mind. (Septuagint 65:17)
After the actions of Adam and Even in the garden, they were expelled from the presence of God. Angelic beings and a flaming sword prevented their re-entry into that place (Genesis 3:24). Eden, their first home, is where they used to meet with God face to face in the afternoon (Genesis 3:8). After that horrible disobedience (Genesis 3:1-6f), God no longer communicated face to face with humankind. Instead, he chose mediators (Job 33:23; Isaiah 43:27) to represent him. These were prophets, angelic beings, and his written Law.
A New Heaven
Through his death on the cross, resurrection from the grave, and ascension into heaven, Jesus Christ, the Servant, opened a doorway into God’s presence that never existed before.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (ESV)
Scripture reveals Christ as a human person, a man. And yet, he permanently dwells with God (1 Timothy 2:5; Mark 16:19; Acts 7:56; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:12; 1Peter 3:22.) This is new. Never in all the Old Testament nor ever in humankind’s entire history was there a human being seated on a throne next to God Almighty. All human beings, every single one, may choose in and through Christ to appear before God’s throne to ask for grace.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
Christ’s sacrifice is permanent, once for all. No longer do we need the blood of bulls, goats, and sheep to have our one on one conversation with God (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10). In and through Christ, we are free and welcome to talk with God as often as our hearts desire.
Heaven is a spiritual place. It is the name we give the abode of God. A “new heaven” therefore must have a spiritual fulfillment. Christ accomplished this for us. We now have a new heaven we access through him.
John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (ESV)
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (ESV)
A New Earth
Likewise, the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, God’s Servant, opened the way for a “new earth.” In the old earth, the earth that existed during the days of Isaiah and throughout all the Old Testament, God did not dwell among his people. He lived in heaven. Now, however, God dwells with us.
Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (ESV)
During the thirty-three years of Christ’s life with us, people saw him, walked with him, spoke to him, and interacted with him daily. God with us–this is indeed new. Earth had not felt the footsteps of God since the fall of humankind in the Garden.
John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (ESV)
THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES
After Christ’s ascension, he sent his (and his Father’s) Holy Spirit to live on earth in and among his followers. The Holy Spirit is God. He is the third divine Person of the Trinity. “God with us” (“Immanuel, God with us”–Matthew 1:23) continues to this day.
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (ESV)
The divine Son maintains a physical body here on earth–his people.
Romans 12:5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (ESV)
Just as in a human body the thoughts of the mind are not physical, so in the body of Christ on earth, the thoughts of the head–who is Christ–are not physical but spiritual. Yet, the body which carries out his will, does so physically. These physical acts of Christ include caring for the sick and elderly, visiting those in prison, preaching with physical mouths the word of God, feeding the hungry, and so forth. The body of God on earth, indwelled by God’s Spirit, is new–this did not exist in the Old Testament in Isaiah’s day. Christ’s body on earth–the presence of the Holy Spirit among humankind–has changed the face of the earth. It is a new earth.
One More Great Change
I personally believe that Christ will come again (Acts 1:11; John 14:3; Revelation 22:20). When Christ comes, death will cease. The end of the ages will have arrived. The eternal state will be ushered in.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– (ESV)
By Christina M Wilson
Jesus and Isaiah
The teachings of both Jesus and Isaiah have much in common. Septuagint (LXX) Isaiah 66:1-6 finds its fulfillment in Jesus, God’s Servant. New Testament authors confirm Isaiah.
I. No Physical Temple
1 Thus says the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what kind of a house will you build me? and of what kind is to be the place of my rest? 2 For all these things are mine, says the Lord:
God in Isaiah 66:1 states that he does not need nor want a physical dwelling. Stephen repeats Isaiah’s words in Acts 7:49-50, just before the highest legislative body of Israel, the Sanhedrin, chased him out of the city and stoned him for blasphemy (Acts 7:51-60).
Jesus the Servant prophesied that the Second Temple would be destroyed.
Luke 21:5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (ESV)
The Romans did come and destroy both the city of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 CE (AD)
2. A New Kind of Temple
In Isaiah 66:2, God describes where he chooses to dwell (“to whom will I have respect?”).
2… and to whom will I have respect, but to the humble and meek, and the man that trembles at my words? (LXE)
Jesus the Servant indicated a new, spiritual location for those who worship God. He spoke of the Spirit and the great revelation of himself as Messiah to a biblically meek and humble person, a “foreigner,” a “woman,” a “sinner,” popularly known as “the woman at the well.”
John 4:20 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)
The authors of the New Testament letters confirmed a new kind of temple made of people.
Hebrews 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19.)
2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (verse 6 a quotation from Isaiah 28:16)
The high priest of temple worship alone had closest access to God. Paul writes that in Christ, both Gentile and believing Israelite have access to God in his spiritual temple. The author of the letter to the Hebrews states the same.
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
3. Jesus Sought Out the Humble and the Meek
Gospel Scripture presents God’s divine Servant himself as humble and meek.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Son of Man’s favorite people–those he “hung out with”–are likewise the humble and the meek of Isaiah 66:2.
Matthew 9:10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
Jesus and Isaiah agree concerning whom the Lord will bless.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (See Isaiah 66:2, 5)
4. Jesus and the Religious Leaders
John the Baptist heralded the Servant’s arrival among his people. His words echo those of Isaiah 66:3-6.
Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
And, just as God in Isaiah 66:3-5 condemned the insincere, unholy worship offered by many in his day, so Jesus, God’s Servant, condemned the insincere, unholy worship offered by the religious leaders of his own day. Again, the teachings of Jesus and Isaiah have much in common. Hear what Jesus God’s Servant says about the religious elite of his day.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 11:37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness… 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” … 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
Luke 9:22 … “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luk 9:22 ESV)
5. Jesus Displays God’s Wrath in the Temple
Jesus and Isaiah both express the wrath of God from within the temple. As mentioned above, however, God poured out his wrath in a final action, when he permitted the Romans to destroy the temple in 70 CE.
Isaiah 66:6 A voice of a cry from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord rendering recompence to his adversaries. (LXE)
John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Cf. Mark 11:15-17)
6. The Great Missionary Call
God continually forgave and extended himself to his people Israel throughout the Old Testament. He sent judges and prophets to them to represent himself and his point of view. For the most part, Israel rejected God and his ways. A small remnant obeyed. Finally, God sent his Son, the Servant of Isaiah 53. This Servant, Jesus, God’s people killed. This is neither easy to see nor to say.
Isaiah prophesies that those who mocked and abused God (Isaiah 66:3-5) will also mock and abuse his followers. Isaiah calls these adversaries “those who hate you and abominate you” (Septuagint Isaiah 66:5). Yet, Isaiah tells them to imitate God in the love he expresses by continually reaching out to them. He tells them to “speak… to them that hate you and abominate you.”
5 Hear the words of the Lord, you that tremble at his word; speak you, our brethren, to them that hate you and abominate you, that the name of the Lord may be glorified… (Septuagint Isaiah 66:5)
Jesus God’s Servant knew that just as his own people rejected and even killed him, so they would do to his followers, those who “tremble at his word.” Nevertheless, he sent them out as sheep among the wolves. He sent them so that by saving some, as many as were willing, the name of his Father would be glorified.
Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake… 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me… 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Saul of Tarsus hated followers of “the Way.” He hunted them down and killed them. And, just as Jesus prophesied, he did think that he was offering service to God (Acts 7:58; 8:1; Galatians 1:13-14). Nevertheless, a man named Ananias trembled at (revered and obeyed) the word of the Lord (Isaiah 66:5). Following the Lord’s commandment, he went out and did speak to Saul. And great glory to God’s name resulted (Acts 9:11-22).
Galatians 1:23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-6 are not easy verses to read. But then, many of Jesus’s teachings are also difficult to receive. Nevertheless, God’s eternal message of love is the same today as it was in Isaiah’s day. Mercifully, God reveals the final judgment he has in store for those who choose to disregard his claim upon their lives. Such was the case with Old Testament Israel. They fought and fought and fought against God, yet all the while they pretended to obey. Nevertheless, God’s word eventually came to pass. The old dispensation ended. God sealed the pages of the Old Testament and began the New. Isaiah’s commission was to announce the “changing of the guard” (Devotional 2.94).
By Christina M Wilson
1 Thus says the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what kind of a house will you build me? and of what kind is to be the place of my rest? 2 For all these things are mine, says the Lord: and to whom will I have respect, but to the humble and meek, and the man that trembles at my words? (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-2)
God Describes Two Kinds of Worshipers
Isaiah 66 opens with God speaking about the kind of worship he desires. In verse 1, he states that he is too large to fit into any size of “concrete-physical” building. As Creator, he is more important and more powerful than any kind of physical, human construction might indicate. He is builder and owner of everything in the entire universe. No humanly built, physical structure can possibly give him the honor he deserves.
Yet, in one of the greatest ironies of all existence, God himself is humble. In verse 2, he states that he finds his rest among the humble, meek, and obedient of this world. These are the “tiny” people, the people whom the world with all its glitz, pomp, wealth, power, and pride mock and scorn. These are the people whom God favors. Their obedience to him equates with worship. God’s “house” is to abide among them.
THE OUTWARD, CEREMONIAL, INSINCERE WORSHIPER
In today’s speech, God is “authentic.” Verses 3-4 describe the outward, cultic, ceremonial form of worship the insincere of heart give to God. He rejects this. What he wants from those who worship is a heart attitude that agrees with and seeks to follow the character and merciful actions of the Lord himself.
3 But the transgressor that sacrifices a calf to me, is as he that kills a dog; and he that offers fine flour, as one that offers swine’s blood; he that gives frankincense for a memorial, is as a blasphemer. Yet they have chosen their own ways, and their soul has delighted in their abominations. 4 I also will choose their mockeries, and will recompense their sins upon them; because I called them, and they did not listen to me; I spoke, and they heard not: and they did evil before me, and chose the things wherein I delighted not. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:3-4)
THE WORSHIPER WHO REVERES GOD AND HIS COMMANDS
In Isaiah 66:5, God speaks directly to the worshipers whom he himself chooses. He says, “Hear the words of the Lord, you that tremble at his word;” (confer verse 2).
5 Hear the words of the Lord, you that tremble at his word; speak you, our brethren, to them that hate you and abominate you, that the name of the Lord may be glorified, and may appear their joy; but they shall be ashamed. (LXE, Brenton)
5 Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word; speak, our brothers, to those who hate and abominate us so that the name of the Lord may be glorified and seen in their joy, but those ones shall be put to shame. (NETS, New English Translation of the Septuagint)
The middle portion of this verse appears differently in every English version I have read. See three examples below.
5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name’s sake have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy’; but it is they who shall be put to shame. (Isaiah 66:5 ESV)
5 Hear the words of Yahweh, you who tremble at what he says: “Shame on your own people, who reject you and hate you, claiming they do it for my sake. For they mock you, saying, ‘May Yahweh be glorified; let us see you rejoice.'” (The Passion Translation)
5 You people who obey the words of the Lord, listen to what he says: “Your brothers hated you. They turned against you because you followed me. Your brothers said, ‘When the Lord is honored, we will come back and rejoice with you.’ But they will be punished.'” (International Children’s Bible)
Yet the ending clause is the same in every translation. The Lord will heap shame upon those who hate the Lord’s faithful people. All translations agree upon the following two points. God commands his faithful to speak to those who hate and abominate them. In the end, those people who hate God’s faithful, and by extension, God himself, will be put to shame.
Verse 6 presents the action God will take in fulfillment of the prophecy in verse 5.
6 A voice of a cry from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord rendering recompence to his adversaries. (Isaiah 66:6 Septuagint)
When will the recompence (payback, retribution) occur? Isaiah doesn’t say.
To whom does the Lord render retribution? Isaiah tells us that the Lord will recompence his “adversaries,” that is, his enemies. According to lexicons, the Greek word means “to be set over against, lie opposite to.” Its Greek pronunciation begins with the prefix “anti.”
In the current context of Isaiah, who are the enemies of the Lord? Clearly, they are those of Israel whom the Lord describes in Septuagint Isaiah 66:3-5. These are they to whom the Lord ascribes the metaphors signifying those who “kill dogs” and offer “swine’s blood” (verse 3), perform blasphemies (verse 3), whose soul “has delighted in their abominations” (verse 3), who mock, sin, do not hear the Lord, who do evil in his presence, and choose the things in which the Lord does not delight (verse 4). These are the ones who “hate” and “abominate” those who tremble, or revere and follow, the word of the Lord (verse 5). An attentively honest reader may well ask, Could these abominations be any worse than the “abomination that causes desolation”?
Notice that the “voice of a cry” and “a voice from the temple” is a “voice of the Lord.” The voice comes from the city and from the temple. This Greek word “from” means “out of” (ἐκ). The Lord is in his temple wreaking recompense upon his enemies. Therefore, the enemies must be in the temple. Who is in the temple in this passage of Isaiah? They are those who offer him ceremonial sacrifices there. It is because of the abominations of those who call themselves the Lord’s people and yet offer ceremonial sacrifices to him, that the Lord lifts his voice and cries out from the temple, rendering recompence to these his adversaries (Septuagint Isaiah 66:6.) Could anything be more final than this? Could they themselves be the “abomination that causes desolation”? (See Revelation 2:9 and 3:9.)
The text also most strongly states that the remnant who hears the Lord, who follows him, and whom he chooses to bless are ethnically identical to those whom he abhors. So readers see and know that ethnicity is NOT the issue. God’s standard is how one responds to him. Does one respond with reverence or with opposition? Both–the same ethnicity.
New Testament Fulfillment
The next post, Lord willing, will explore New Testament fulfillment of these first six verses of the final chapter of Isaiah. But first, a word about hermeneutics.
A Word Concerning Hermeneutics
The word “hermeneutics” means the theory and practice of interpretation. Jesus uses this word when he interprets the Old Testament to his followers. One could say, he hermeneuticked to them.
Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (ESV)
The basis of the hermeneutic Jesus always uses is himself. National Israel is never a primary focal point of his hermeneutic.
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (ESV)
The center of Paul’s hermeneutic is Jesus Christ. One can say the same concerning the focal point Peter uses in his hermeneutic, as well as that of all the writers of the New Testament.
Clearly granted, Isaiah speaks much about Israel in his writing. Nevertheless, without any doubt whatsoever, God himself is the focal point of Isaiah. God speaks directly throughout the vast majority of Volume 2. And, the salvation God provides for Israel is exclusively through his Servant. God’s divine Servant appears throughout the book. He is the center point of Israel’s future.
New Testament Light
Those who concern themselves with theology and the study of Scripture will certainly encounter, or themselves author, statements that exhort readers to use what they consider to be the preferred method of Old Testament interpretation. One of the primary rules “scholars” often propound is that readers should attempt to perceive what the text most likely would mean to the original audience. (This quietly assumes that they themselves are in the best position to know what ancient audiences would understand.) One can sometimes hear these scholars admonishing their audience not to read the Bible “backward” (my word, not theirs). What they say is that today’s readers often read the Old Testament in the light of the New. That is, readers use the New Testament to cast light upon, or interpret, the meaning of the Old. They often discourage this practice.
This blog is not like that. I have always stated up front (see My Biblical Presuppositions and Introduction) that the purpose of this series of posts is to discover the Lord Jesus Christ in what I like to call the Gospel of Isaiah. There is a proper time for today’s readers to encounter the Old Testament in the light of the New. That time is most of the time. God is genius. He wrote thousands of years ago for readers of today. Paul writes that those living in his day were living in the “end of the ages.” The end times had already landed upon them. And, he says, the Old Testament was written for their instruction. What is true of them is also true of us.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (ESV)
Jesus wanted his followers to understand that God wrote the Old Testament (2 Peter 1:20-21) about himself (Christ) (Luke 24:27) and for his disciples, which we are. A primary reason not to be bound to the understanding of the “original audience” is that the original audience failed to recognize their Christ when he came.
In school, students often find that they must take a prerequisite to a course before they can take the course itself. Isaiah is like a prerequisite to both the gospel itself and the letters. Isaiah turns on the light to much of the New Testament. And I prefer using Septuagint Isaiah for the very reason that this translation pushes the Servant, Christ, to the forefront of the text. I do not want to be one of the “foolish ones” the Lord describes (Luke 24:25), “slow of heart to believe”, by not seeking and finding him in the pages of Isaiah.
By Christina M Wilson
New Heaven/New Earth: Isaiah 65:17-25
The passage concerning the new heaven and new earth described in Septuagint Isaiah 65:17-25 fits squarely into cycle three of the second volume of Isaiah. Readers may recall that the elements defining a “cycle” are: 1) Israel’s need, 2) the Servant’s coming and sacrifice, 3) results for God’s believing people and believing Gentiles, and 4) statements of God’s judgment upon those who willfully and persistently disobey (see Devotional 2.86). Each of the cycles is complete in itself. Because chapter 66 opens with God speaking in a tone of displeasure toward false worshipers (verses 1-4), readers can deduce that this begins a new cycle (1).
A New People
In summary, Septuagint Isaiah 65:17-25 represents an idealized vision of the spiritual qualities of the “new” people of God, i.e., the church. Verses 65:1-16 makes this point clear. The composition of Israel changes with God’s rejection of those who have “left” him (verses 2-7 and 11-15). First, God manifests himself to the Gentiles (Isaiah 65:1). Then, he rejects those who have consistently rejected him (Isaiah 2-7, 11-15). Finally, he spares the faithful remnant of Israel, that is, those who believe and follow (Isaiah 65:8-10, 13-16). Just as the judgment upon the disinterestedly unfaithful is final (Isaiah 65:15), the blessing upon God’s servants is final (Isaiah 65:16). God gives this group–believing Israelites and believing Gentiles–a “new name” (Isaiah 65:15). (See also the Septuagint for these verses. They really “pop.”)
Not the “Millennium”
Descriptions of the “millennium” invariably make much of a revived nation of Israel. But, Septuagint Isaiah 65:17-25 does not describe that illusive “millennium.” This is for the simple reason that Gentiles are not national Israel. Rather, they are “a nation, who called not on my name” (Septuagint Isaiah 65:1; Isaiah 65:1). And, as equally important, the remnant–“a grape-stone… found in the cluster” (verse 8)—is too small to represent the entirety of the political nation of Israel. The combination of Gentiles who respond to the Lord’s call and the believing remnant of Israel constitutes the “new” Israel, which shall be given a “new name.” Clearly, for those who are willing to receive the teaching of Isaiah, the old order of concrete (physical) worship with its national boundaries is passing away. A new order of spiritual relationship with God is beginning.
The teachings of Jesus Christ, God’s very singular Servant, and the teachings of the apostle Paul and the writer to the Hebrews align perfectly with the consistent and persistent teachings of Isaiah (see John 4:21-24 in its entire context, Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 9-11, Galatians 3:2-3, 14 in context of the entire letter, Hebrews 8:13 in the context of Hebrews 9, and Acts 2:1-21, 38-39; Acts 10:44-45, and Acts 19:1-6). Isaiah’s prophecy in a nutshell concerns the changing of the guard. In former times (Old Testament times), God made Israel the guardian of his word. In these times (New Testament times, beginning with the advent of Christ), God makes his own Holy Spirit the guardian of his word. Septuagint Isaiah 65:17-25 describes life in the new order. In Old Testament times of the old order, God dealt with the nation of Israel. In New Testament times–the age we are in right now, God deals with his chosen from the whole world, that is, everyone who believes in God’s Servant, who is the Christ, God’s Son, the King.
A New Heaven and a New Earth
Because of the astounding nature of the changes Isaiah envisions, he stretches his vocabulary to describe “a new heaven and a new earth” (Septuagint Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 65:17) (2). Because Isaiah uses no time markers to indicate specifics, it is appropriate to receive the sense and purpose of the passage without undue speculation that imports into the passage conclusions garnered from elsewhere, including a patchwork of Scripture taken out of context from other places. Suffice it to say that Isaiah describes an ideal community of people in relationship with God, the Servant, and the Spirit. The passage describes how the new heaven (singular in the Septuagint) and new earth change everything.
Isaiah indicates that the changes will be permanent, just as God’s rejection of those who reject him is permanent. Isaiah presents no possibility of a national repentance that involves political boundaries. Isaiah left those chapters behind. After centuries and centuries of rebuffed opportunities to embrace God’s mercy and warnings, the last times have arrived. The spiritual replaces the concrete. Believers will be garnered from the whole world, even though God preserves the root and the seed that will grow and become his new olive tree (Romans 11:16-17). In a few short centuries, the Servant will be born, sins will be blotted out by the Servant’s sacrifice on the cross, and the Holy Spirit will be given. Isaiah’s words speak finality.
17 For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth: and they shall not at all remember the former, neither shall they at all come into their mind. (Septuagint Isaiah 65:17)
The new heaven and new earth include all ethnicities of people, just as in parallel, all manner of animals live in peace together (Isaiah 65:24-25). Likewise, all God’s many and varied children will live in his peace together. And, praise God, as Paul seems to suggest in Romans 11, if the bulk of ethnic Israelites repent and turn back to him, they, too, will be grafted once more into their own olive tree (Romans 11:23). But notice, the olive tree which Paul describes now includes great numbers of Gentiles. While the old age was exclusive, the new age is inclusive. “I became manifest to them that asked not for me; I was found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold, I am here, to a nation, who called not on my name… For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth: and they shall not at all remember the former, neither shall they at all come into their mind” (Septuagint Isaiah 65:1, 17).
…moving on… next time, Lord willing, we will move on to the final cycle and the final chapter, chapter 66
1 Earlier in Post 2.86, I had written that volume 2 contains three cycles. Having completed the intervening chapters in detail, I now see that there are four.
2 See Paul’s description of the use of “regular” words to describe spiritual realities (1 Corinthians 2:13).