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).
By Christina M Wilson
In Septuagint Isaiah 65:13-16, God alternates between two outcomes for two groups of people. God uses character and action to distinguish between the two groups.
TWO OUTCOMES: THE WHO
God names the group that receives benefits as “my servants” and “my chosen” (ἐκλεκτοῖς). The text never reveals a name for the group that receives condemnation. Isaiah 66:5 ESV, however, labels them as, “Your brothers who hate you.” NET calls them, “Your countrymen,” in that same verse. There is nothing in the text to suggest that the Lord may be speaking about pagan nations. Within Israel itself, says Isaiah, there are those who rebel against the Lord and will be punished and those who serve the Lord and will be blessed.
TWO OUTCOMES: THE WHAT
The following table summarizes Septuagint Isaiah 65:13-16.
The last column on the right reveals the finality of God’s judgment against his disobedient, rebellious people. God’s judgment fell in 70 A.D. (or C.E), when the Romans destroyed the Israelite temple. But the seed of Jacob and Judah (Isaiah 65:9), also known as “my chosen” and “my servants,” went on in joy under a new name to continue worshiping the ancient God of the fathers (Acts 24:14). They did so in newness of spirit (Romans 7:6) under a new covenant (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6, 8; 55:3; 59:21; Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets. (Acts 24:14 ESV)
Addendum: New Testament Fulfillment of Isaiah
Two Outcomes: Jesus–Grief for Israel
13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” (excerpt from Luke 20:9-19 ESV)
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” (Luke 13:6-9 ESV)
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. (Luke 23:26-32 ESV)
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:17-21 ESV)
34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Luke 13:34- 35 ESV)
Two Outcomes: Jesus–Joy for the Servant’s Friends
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:10-11 ESV)
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13 ESV)
The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (Revelation 3:12 ESV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19 ESV)
And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; (Mark 16:17 ESV)
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13 ESV)
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:11 ESV)
Comment Concerning Isaiah 65:15 and Names
God named his people in the Old Testament after the youngest of Isaac’s sons–Jacob. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28; John 1:47). God’s people in the New Testament receive their name from Israel’s King–who is the Christ. Christians of all ethnicities, including those of Israel, are “followers of Christ”, that is, Christians. Jesus greatly encouraged his followers to use “my name” when praying or serving him (Matthew 18:5, 20; Mark 9:39; 16:17; John 14:13, 14, 26; 15:21; 16:23-26).
The Book of Hebrews
On the Destruction of the Temple Religion (70 A.D.)
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13, excerpted from Hebrews 8:1-10:14 ESV)
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1Corinthians 3:16 ESV)
24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” (excerpt from Galatians 4:22-31 ESV)
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit [Isaiah 59:21], 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV)
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. (Ephesians 2:17-22 ESV)
The gospel of Isaiah has been fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ and his people.
…Note: I expect an interruption in my schedule. However, please stayed tuned for the next post to come in a few weeks, Lord willing, concerning the new heavens and the new earth of Isaiah 65:17f.
By Christina M Wilson
Overview: Isaiah 65
- God presents himself to Gentiles (Isaiah 65:1).
- God condemns rebellious Israel (Isaiah 65:2-7, 11-12).
- God rewards the repentant remnant (Isaiah 65:8-10).
- Verses 13-16 rapidly alternate between the two groups (Isaiah 65:13-16).
- Verses 17-25 describe a “new heaven and a new earth” (Septuagint Isaiah 65:17-25).
God Rewards His Remnant
In Isaiah 65:8, the Lord speaks a metaphor that visually expresses the relationship between mercy and judgment, justice and love. Like a lone, juicy grape in a cluster of desiccated skins, verses 8-11 shine brightly in the middle of text that shouts out the finality of God’s wrath under the Old Covenant. The wrath of God is the end product of the Mosaic covenant of works. The mercy the Lord extends to the lone “grape-stone” represents the eternal promise of God to Abraham. God brings this promise to reality in the New Covenant of grace. He ratifies the Covenant of grace with the blood of his Servant Christ (Isaiah 59:21; Luke 22:20).
Septuagint Isaiah 65:8 Thus says the Lord, As a grape-stone shall be found in the cluster, and they shall say, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for the sake of him that serves me, for his sake I will not destroy them all.
Recipients of the Reward
Following verse 8, verse 9 speaks of the “seed” of Jacob and Juda, the same “seed” of the promise God gave to Abraham. In both the Genesis and Isaiah texts, the Septuagint uses the same Greek form of the word for seed, or offspring.
9 And I will lead forth the seed [σπέρμα, sperma, neuter, singular] that came of Jacob and of Juda, and they shall inherit my holy mountain: and my elect and my servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there. (Septuagint Isaiah 65:9)
See also Isaiah 65:9 ESV; Galatians 3:16 ESV; Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 24:7.
Verse 9 tells the reader that the promised seed of Jacob and Juda will inherit God’s holy mountain. As the verse continues, the text includes God’s “elect” and his servants among those who will inherit. Also, readers should remember that in the background of all of chapter 65, stands the introductory first verse.
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. (Septuagint Isaiah 65:1)
Paul agrees with Isaiah when he includes Gentiles in the promises God makes to Abraham’s seed. This seed are they who have the like-minded faith of Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9, 14; Romans 10:8-13). In God’s blessings to both the remnant of Israel and to Gentiles who choose him, readers discover that God himself underlies all his promises. He bestows his new covenant of grace upon those who desire him through faith. His rewards are not based upon human behavior.
God’s Motive for the Reward
8 Thus says the Lord, As a grape-stone shall be found in the cluster, and they shall say, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for the sake of him that serves me, for his sake I will not destroy them all. (Septuagint Isaiah 65:8 Brenton)
Septuagint Isaiah 65:8 above states the reason why God does not destroy the whole nation. Here is one location in which the Septuagint provides a nugget of silver, with regard to God’s Servant. God states his motive for sparing the remnant in singular tense. When a reader takes this sentence completely out of context and isolates it, it appears like this: “So I will do for the sake of him that serves me, for his sake I will not destroy them all.” Out of context, the sentence reads as though God holds a particular individual in his mind, “… for the sake of the one who serves me, for him I will not destroy… ” Returning God’s statement to the context of Isaiah, there is one person who serves the Lord completely. He is God’s Servant, Messiah. For His sake, God will spare a remnant. Why? These will be the Servant’s people. They will be the ones who believe and receive him (John 1:9-13).
The Masoretic (Hebrew) text, on the other hand, also uses the singular word “servant.” However, translators interpret the singular tense noun as a common noun representing a group of people. Therefore, the meaning becomes that God will spare the servants (plural) for the sake of the servants (Isaiah 65:8 ESV). Readers, of course, are free to choose the translation they prefer (1).
Nature of the Reward
9 And I will lead forth the seed that came of Jacob and of Juda, and they shall inherit my holy mountain: and my elect and my servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there. (LXE, NETS, Isaiah 65:9 LXX)
Verse 9 tells the reader that the seed of Jacob and Juda will inherit God’s holy mountain (2). For those who associate this verse with New Testament fulfillment, the gospel writers took great care to demonstrate that the Christ, who was Jesus of Nazareth, descended in the flesh from Jacob and Judah. This places him among God’s rightful heirs, the “firstborn of many brothers [and sisters, NET]” (Romans 8:29).
Septuagint Isaiah 65:9-10 relates that the seed shall inherit God’s holy mountain, the place where God himself chooses to dwell (See Joel 3:17 and Zechariah 8:3. See also Isaiah 11:9; 27:13; 56:7; 57:13). This will be a place of bounty–a forest filled with flocks, and the valley of Achor (in the east, a former site of trouble) will be a resting place for herds. And, once again, verse 10 states that these blessings shall be for “my people, who have sought me.”
1 The New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) provides an alternate English translation of the Greek text. For the sentences in question, the NETS text reads, “… so I will do for the sake of the one who is subject to me. For the sake of this one I will not destroy them all.” Notice how the English translation changes the active singular participle “the one serving me (τοῦ δουλεύοντός μοι)” of the Greek text into a passive adjective (“the one who is subject to me”). This changes the particular noun of the Greek text into a representative descriptive noun. It’s also not the way the Greek text is written. This is an example of how presuppositional biases affect the words translators choose to use. For the original text in Greek, see Isaiah 65:8 LXX.
2 Here again, the reader of the Greek Septuagint text must decide for herself if the “seed” (neuter singular) means the Seed (Galatians 3:16) or “seeds” plural. If plural, then the next phrase uses synonyms to clarify “my seed.” “my seed… [who are] my elect and my servants shall inherit.” If the singular “seed” means the singular Seed, then there would be added information in this sentence. “my Seed… [and] my elect and my servants shall inherit.” Notice that the “and” in each of the three instances is a hard “and” (καὶ).
Isaiah 65:9 καὶ ἐξάξω τὸ ἐξ Ιακωβ σπέρμα [singular] καὶ τὸ ἐξ Ιουδα καὶ κληρονομήσει [third person singular] τὸ ὄρος τὸ ἅγιόν μου καὶ κληρονομήσουσιν [third person plural] οἱ ἐκλεκτοί μου [plural] καὶ οἱ δοῦλοί [plural] μου καὶ κατοικήσουσιν [plural] ἐκεῖ (Isaiah 65:9 LXX).
For those who may be interested, the NETS Bible translates “shall inherit (singular)” as “it will inherit (singular)”. By choosing a neuter tense that matches the neuter tense of the word “seed,” they evade the necessity of committing to either singular or plural. So, once again, the reader can see how one’s theological preferences and biblical presuppositions influence one’s interpretation of text which can be read with more than correct grammatical meaning.
… next time, LW, punishments and rewards contrasted
By Christina M Wilson
God’s Negative Rewards
Nowadays, most people think of rewards as positive benefits–something good given as a result of an achievement or good behavior. So, what are negative rewards? By definition rewards include any consequence of any behavior, whether good or bad. Rewards are “payback,” or retribution. Luke 14:12 provides an example of a good reward, and Romans 11:9 of a bad reward.
In Isaiah 65, God spells out the kind of behaviors which he will not reward positively. Rather, certain behaviors Isaiah 65 names merit God’s negative rewards. Faith in God (placing one’s hope, trust, and loyalty with him) results in God’s positive rewards (benefits he bestows). Those who have no faith in God disobey him. They demonstrate apathy towards God, open rebellion, or willful disobedience. Such is the case with the majority of Old Testament Israel. In Septuagint Isaiah 65, God calls out these people and describes their negative rewards.
On the Negative Side
Septuagint Isaiah 65:2 sums up the entire situation in Israel from the beginning of their history to Isaiah’s current moment.
Septuagint Isaiah 65:2 I have stretched forth my hands all day to a disobedient and gainsaying people, to them that walked in a way that was not good, but after their sins.
Readers can sense the Lord’s wearied frustration with such behavior. His own people rejected him (John 1:11).
After the summary just quoted, the Lord gives detailed examples of their continual provocation in his presence (LXE 65:3).
- they offer sacrifices in gardens (verse 3)
- burn incense on bricks to nonexistent devils
- lie down to sleep in tombs and caves for the sake of dreams (verse 4)
- they eat pig’s flesh (pork) and drink the broth of unclean sacrifices
- all their vessels are ceremonially defiled
- they hypocritically say to the people around them, “Don’t come near me. You’ll defile me, for I am pure.” (verse 5)
In consequence of such flagrant disregard of God’s ways, God says this:
5… This is the smoke of my wrath, a fire burns with it continually. 6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not be silent until I have recompensed into their bosom, 7 their sins and the sins of their fathers, says the Lord, who have burnt incense on the mountains, and reproached me on the hills: I will recompense their works into their bosom. (LXE)
And from a Masoretic translation:
5… These people are like smoke in my nostrils, like a fire that keeps burning all day long. 6 Look, I have decreed: I will not keep silent, but will pay them back; I will pay them back exactly what they deserve, 7 for your sins and your ancestors’ sins,” says the LORD. “Because they burned incense on the mountains and offended me on the hills, I will punish them in full measure.” (Isaiah 65:5b, 6, 7 NET)
GOD’S NEGATIVE REWARDS
In Isaiah 65:11-12, God spells out unfaithful Israel’s rebellious behaviors and their negative rewards.
65:11 But you are they that have left me, and forget my holy mountain, and prepare a table for the devil, and fill up the drink-offering [Greek–mixture] to Fortune. 12 I will deliver you up to the sword, you shall all fall by slaughter: for I called you, and you listened not; I spoke, and you refused to hear; and you did evil in my sight, and chose the things wherein I delighted not. (LXE)
After verse 12, the text alternates rapidly between consequences to the faithful and consequences to the unfaithful. Throughout the verses concerning the unfaithful, God displays his abiding anger against those in Israel whose behavior displays a lack of allegiance to him (1).
In the alternate verses concerning God’s faithful remnant, the Lord names the blessings he will give his faithful people.
1 Inevitably, consideration of the topic of consequences to Israel’s unfaithful majority evokes thoughts about grace and faith versus works righteousness. As readers discover by closely following Isaiah, the text reveals the following. All Israel sinned (Isaiah 53:5-6; 64:5-7). But only a remnant consistently repents and then tries to obey (Isaiah 10:22; 65:8-9). Repentance and sincere efforts to obey God’s will constitute large portions of what we call faith. Faith involves our attitude toward sin. Do we sin and only regret that we can’t have more of it? Or, do we sin and regret that we have disappointed God and our Lord? Faith means that we trust God and his ways and strive with all our hearts to follow God’s path. God gives mercy to those who want him. Unfortunately, the bulk of Israel never wanted God nor his righteous ways. The grievances the Lord names in chapter 65 demonstrate Israel’s lack of faith. For a much fuller explanation of how behavior demonstrates the state of one’s faith, see Bates, Matthew W., Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2017.
next post, LW… God’s Faithful Remnant
By Christina M Wilson
God Replies to Isaiah’s Prayer
God is not secretive. As far as human history is concerned, he has no classified documents, and he springs no surprises. People can be confident that God is God, because he announces his actions well in advance. Isaiah in chapters 63 through 64 prayed an ardent plea for God’s favorable return and blessing upon Israel, his collective people. Immediately, in chapter 65, God replies to Isaiah’s prayer of intercession. For anyone with ears to hear, his answer is not encouraging for the majority of the nation. He did not hide his heart. So, what did God say?
Summary of God’s Reply
God replies to Isaiah’s prayer with four statements.
1. He will reveal himself openly to Gentiles (Septuagint Isaiah 65:1).
2. He will reward those who disdain him with fruit befitting their evil ways (Septuagint Isaiah 65:2-7, 11-12).
3. He will spare the faithful remnant (Septuagint Isaiah 65:8-10).
4. He will call his servants by a new name (Septuagint Isaiah 65:15).
God Will Reveal Himself to Gentiles
LXE Isaiah 65:1 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.
ESV Isaiah 65:1 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.
Paul the Apostle is the best interpreter of Isaiah I know. His quotation of Septuagint Isaiah 65:1 appears embedded in a long discussion concerning the failure of Israel as a whole to receive (welcome) the earthly appearance of God’s Servant/King/Messiah in the flesh, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Romans 10:20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” (ESV)
Paul writes concerning the entire chapter of Isaiah 65 in Romans 9 through 11. In these chapters, Paul makes clear that salvation comes through God’s Servant Christ alone. And, he speaks clearly that God’s people are those who demonstrate faith in Christ. Ethnicity no longer matters. God’s mercy will extend to everyone of any ethnicity (Israelites included), who come to him through faith in his Servant, Jesus Christ. If any unbeliever of any ethnicity repents, they will be received by God and included in his mercy (Romans 11:30-32).
John the Apostle also clarifies that God receives those who believe on the Son. God no longer favors ethnicity.
John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Isaiah 65 Not Predominately About Gentiles
When God replies to Isaiah’s prayer, he announces one of the largest shifts in all human history in a single verse. Nevertheless, God’s presenting himself to Gentiles is not the focus of chapter 65. Isaiah as a whole gives much space to inclusion of Gentiles among God’s favored people. Chapter 65, however, is not where he does so (1). In chapter 65, God responds to Isaiah’s heartfelt intercessory prayer by opening up his own heart concerning his ancient people Israel.
1 Readers can find verses concerning Gentiles in Septuagint Isaiah 2:2; 11:10,12; 25:6-7; 42:1, 4, 6; 49:1, 6, 8, 22; 51:4-5; 52:15; 54:1-3; 55:4-5; 56:3-8; 59:19; 60:1-11, and 16.
…next time, Lord willing, God’s negative rewards
By Christina M Wilson
Isaiah prays one of the longest intercessory prayers recorded in Scripture. It stretches from Isaiah 63:7-64:12. In this prayer of intercession, Isaiah acknowledges the relationship between God and Israel–as it was, as it is, and as he pleads it will be.
As It Was
As Isaiah prays, he recalls to God his relationship with Israel as it once was. Isaiah 63:7 opens when Isaiah remembers the praise and adoration due the Lord.
7 I remembered the mercy of the Lord, the praises of the Lord in all things wherein he recompenses us. The Lord is a good judge to the house of Israel; he deals with us according to his mercy, and according to the abundance of his righteousness. (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 63:7)
Isaiah remembers the “ancient days.” He remembers Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and the glory the nation of Israel and foreigners gave to God’s name (verses 11-14). But Isaiah also confesses for the people, as he remembers their rebellion and disobedience (vs 10).
As It Is
Verse 15 opens the portion that describes the current status of Israel’s relationship with God. Isaiah prays these words.
15 Turn from heaven, and look from your holy habitation and from your glory: where is your zeal and your strength? where is the abundance of your mercy and of your compassions, that you have withholden yourself from us? (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 63:15)
The prophet perceives that the heavenly God of glory has turned away from his people. Not only does he not work compassionately and mercifully on their behalf, God has withheld himself. There is no fellowship of communion currently with the Lord. As the prayer continues, Isaiah’s words cut through to the core issue: God is sovereign. God’s will underlies everything that happens to the people (verse 17). “Religion” is of no avail. Without God himself among them, Israel may as well be a pagan nation.
16 For you are our Father; for though Abraham knew us not, and Israel did not acknowledge us, yet do you, O Lord, our Father, deliver us: your name has been upon us from the beginning. 17 Why have you caused us to err, O Lord, from your way? and has hardened our hearts, that we should not fear you? Return for your servants’ sake, for the sake of the tribes of your inheritance, 18 that we may inherit a small part of your holy mountain. 19 We are become as at the beginning, when you did not rule over us, and your name was not called upon us. (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 63:16-19)
As He Pleads It Will Be
As chapter 64 opens, Isaiah prays how he hopes it will be.
1 If you would open the heaven, trembling will take hold upon the mountains from you, and they shall melt, 2 as wax melts before the fire; and fire shall burn up the enemies, and your name shall be manifest among the adversaries: at your presence the nations shall be troubled, 3 whenever you shall work gloriously; trembling from you shall take hold upon the mountains. 4 From of old we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside you, and your works which you will perform to them that wait for mercy. (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 64:1-4)
Isaiah shows that he understands the conditions under which God would bless the people. God blesses those who practice righteousness and reverence toward him.
5a For these blessings shall happen to them that work righteousness, and they shall remember your ways…
Unfortunately, God’s people practice neither righteousness nor reverence. In the next few verses, Isaiah confesses Israel’s sin, as though he were part of it.
5b… behold, you were angry and we have sinned; therefore we have erred, 6 and we are all become as unclean, and all our righteousness as a filthy rag: and we have fallen as leaves because of our iniquities; thus the wind shall carry us away. 7 And there is none that calls upon your name, or that remembers to take hold on you: for you have turned your face away from us, and have delivered us up because of our sins. (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 64:5-7)
After confessing Israel’s sin, Isaiah pleads for mercy from the Lord.
8 And now, O Lord, you are our Father, and we are clay, all of us the work of your hands. 9 Be not very angry with us, and remember not our sins for ever; but now look on us, for we are all your people. 10 The city of your holiness has become desolate, Sion has become as a wilderness, Jerusalem a curse. 11 The house, our sanctuary, and the glory which our fathers blessed, has been burnt with fire: and all our glorious things have gone to ruin. 12 And for all these things you, O Lord, has withholden, yourself, and been silent, and have brought us very low. (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 64:8-12)
As Isaiah prays this final section, he returns to the main points with which he began. He reviews again Israel’s position relative to God, and vice versa. The people are as clay, created beings in the hands of an almighty, sovereign God. “We are all your people,” he says in verse 9.
As the prophet reviews the current situation as it is, he places God at the center. Sion, with its sanctuary, once reflected the glory of God. Men praised God because of it. It is God’s glory in Sion that lies burnt and ruined. Isaiah repeats the sentiment he expressed in verse 15: God has withheld himself. That is the core of the current problem, as well as the key to its solution. Basically, Isaiah prays for the people, “We’re sorry, Lord. We sinned. Please come back.”
Isaiah Makes No Promises
Interestingly, Isaiah makes no promises. The repentance he expresses does not include vows of future good behavior on the part of Israel. Isaiah’s plea rests entirely upon the mercy of God. It is for God’s glory that he prays. If God wants to soften their hearts unto obedience, he will do so. Without God, the people have no strength for good works at all. God’s presence among them is what he longs for.
1 If you would open the heaven, trembling will take hold upon the mountains from you, and they shall melt, 2 as wax melts before the fire; and fire shall burn up the enemies, and your name shall be manifest among the adversaries: at your presence the nations shall be troubled, 3 whenever you shall work gloriously; trembling from you shall take hold upon the mountains. (LXE, Septuagint Isaiah 64:1-3)
The answer lies with God, and God alone.
A Peek Ahead
God answers Isaiah’s prayer in chapter 65. Perhaps, it is not what Isaiah would have liked. Nevertheless, God’s reply to Isaiah’s plea contradicts nothing he has already said.
…next post–God´s reply