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Septuagint Isaiah 45: Isaiah Journal 2.21
By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-isaiah-45-isaiah-devotional-2-21/.
Septuagint Isaiah 45
Septuagint Isaiah 45 really begins with Isaiah 44:28, God’s first announcement of the name “Cyrus.” Cyrus is the Persian who defeated the Babylonians and wrote the edict sending the Jewish peoples back to their homeland to resettle there and rebuild their temple. Isaiah, of course, wrote before these events occurred. What an exciting time, to be Jewish and to live in those days!
God Is the Focal Point
The voice of God very much dominates Septuagint Isaiah 45. God makes himself the focal point of the chapter. The chapter contains much direct speech by God. God prophesies in advance to Cyrus through Isaiah in order to demonstrate to Cyrus, to his own people, and to Gentiles the world over that he is God.
5 For I am the Lord God, and there is no other God beside me; I…
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Fulfillment of Isaiah: Journal 2.100
Christina M Wilson
Our detailed study of Septuagint Isaiah has take us up to Septuagint Isaiah 66:18a (see Devotional 2.98). There in the first sentence of verse 18, Isaiah writes, “And I know their works and their imagination.” The third person “they” and “their” refers back to verse 17 and previous. In those verses, God describes those in Israel who “have chosen their own ways, and their soul has delighted in abominations” (Isaiah 66:3b). He also includes “all the earth” in his “flame of fire” and “his sword” (Isaiah 66:16). These are the ones of whom God knows “their works and their imagination” (verse 18a).
In order to identify where the switchback occurs, let’s look first at the text of 17 through 19.
Isaiah 66:16 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. 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. 18 And I know their works and their imagination. I am going to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. 19 And I will leave a sign upon them, and I will send forth them that have escaped of them to the nations, to Tharsis, and Phud, and Lud, and Mosoch, and to Thobel, and to Greece, and to the isles afar off, to those who have not heard my name, nor seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. (LXE, Septuagint)
The verses just above specify two groups. The first group are the willfully disobedient, whom the Lord will judge and slay with fire and sword. The text indicates that the Lord will judge them for the cause of both “their works and their imagination.” We today would say, “for thought and deed.”
But then the text states that “all nations and tongues” shall come and see the Lord’s “glory.” Seeing the Lord’s glory in this context is a blessing. The words “my glory” occur two more times with a positive connotation in verse 19. Now, the Lord is not about to bless with a vision of his glory those whom he has just condemned. No, but rather, the Lord abruptly turns to his second audience, those who willfully obey him.
Upon this group, the Lord will “leave a sign” and “send [them] forth.” Where do these missionaries come from? They come from all nations and tongues. They are the ones who have “escaped.” Escaped what? Presumably, the judgment of verses 16-18a. After they have seen his glory, the Lord sends them out as missionaries to all parts of the earth. The Lord sends them to all those who, he says, “have not heard my name, nor seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”
After this (verse 20), the missionaries will take the new converts from among the Gentile nations all over the world to the “holy city Jerusalem” as brothers (1) This is the Gospel era, the age in which we are living today.
Influx of Gentiles
Verses 19 through 21 of this last chapter of Septuagint Isaiah describe the results of the Lord’s missionary activity, as described just above. Verses 20 and 21 below indicate full inclusion of believing Gentiles among the faithful of God’s people of old.
19 And I will leave a sign upon them, and I will send forth them that have escaped of them to the nations, to Tharsis, and Phud, and Lud, and Mosoch, and to Thobel, and to Greece, and to the isles afar off, to those who have not heard my name, nor seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. 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. 21 And I will take of them priests and Levites, says the Lord. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:19-21)
A SECOND COMING/MILLENNIUM?
When is the timeframe of all this prophesied missionary activity? It occurs during the only timeframe Isaiah knows–his own present and near future (the advent of God’s Servant/Son). For Isaiah, the first coming of God’s Servant is so marvelous that he consumes chapters and chapters exploring this once and forever occurrence. There is never any indication of any time marker or named event in the book of Isaiah to reference a “second coming/millennium” that involves the glorification of national Israel. On the contrary, in this chapter alone, the Lord through Isaiah firmly condemns those national Israelites who reject him (Matthew 3:10).
But the Lord receives those of his people who yield, believe, and obey his word. These he honors as “Sion” (Isaiah 66:8) and “Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:10). These are the faithful branches of the rooted olive tree which persist into the New Testament. To this faithful tree he attaches an amazing influx of believers from among the Gentile nations (Romans 11:17).
WHAT IS “THE SIGN”?
Many commentators have suggested various answers to the question, What is the “sign” the Lord leaves upon those he sends out to the Gentile world to declare his glory? My thought is that the “sign” the Lord gives is the seal of his Holy Spirit (2).
Historically, God judged the earthly Jerusalem and Israel’s religious system in 70 CE. He allowed the Romans to obliterate both the temple and the city of Jerusalem. It is difficult, however, to see how this destruction would include his judgment “with fire” of “all the earth” in Isaiah 66:16. That prophecy does seem still to be future. However, as indicated in a prior post (Devotional 2.98), the mention of “all the earth” serves the function of combining into a single group the unfaithful of both Israel and the entire world (3).
Also historically, a tremendous explosion of missionary activity began among the Israelite followers of Christ, almost immediately after the Servant’s ascension. God joined Gentile believers to Israelite believers to form an expanded congregation. Believers from all nations and tongues have subsequently gone out into the most remote regions on earth continuously to this day. They tell of the “glory” of the Lord.
New names have been given. “Israelite” became “Jewish.” Believers from among the original Jewish followers of Christ and from all kinds of Gentile peoples became known as Christians. They form a group whose core comprises those of Old Testament Israel who “escaped” their God’s wrath. But the larger portion of believers in God’s Servant came from Gentile nations, just as Isaiah the prophet foretold.
New Testament Fulfillment
As equally amazing as historical fulfillment of Isaiah’s word, the New Testament stands as a second witness.
1. SIGN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he [the Lord] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; (ESV)
Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (ESV)
Ephesians 1:13 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… 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (ESV)
The presence of the Holy Spirit among the Lord’s people is the source of the love that establishes the unity among them. This love is also a “sign” to the world that God has sent the Savior (John 17:21).
2. GENTILE CONVERTS AND MISSIONARY ACTIVITY ALL OVER THE WORLD
Isaiah’s Servant himself commanded the missionary activity his followers have been fulfilling constantly down to this very day.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
On the day of Pentecost, the day that the Lord sent his Holy Spirit as an amazing sign for all to witness, people from all over the world were visiting Jerusalem for the festival. Three thousand believed that day (Acts 2:41). A new “nation” of believers was born all at once, in one day (Isaiah 66:7-8). As a further witness, compare the list of countries the book of Acts gives with that of Isaiah in Isaiah 66:19.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven… 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians– we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Act 2:4-11 ESV)
The Apostle Paul fulfilled the Lord’s geographical commission to a greater extent than any other of the first disciples of Isaiah’s Servant, Christ.
Acts 28:16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. (ESV)
Romans 15:24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. (ESV)
Notice the similarities between Paul’s statement in Romans 15 and Isaiah’s in 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. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:20)
Romans 15:15… because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
3. THE NAMES SION AND JERUSALEM PERSIST
Old Testament believers in the God of Israel flow directly and uninterruptedly into the New Testament. Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:5), their son John the Baptist (John 1:15; Matthew 11:11), Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:18), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), Anna (Luke 2:36-38), Nicodemus (John 3:1-10; 19:38-39), the woman at the well (John 4:4-29), and of course, the original disciples (minus Judas) all believed the God and the Scriptures of Israel’s past.
Nevertheless, the names Israel and Israelites did not persist as a description of Jewish and Gentile believers together after the day of Pentecost.
Two names, however, did persist as part of the inheritance of New Testament believers in the God of Israel and his Servant. These names are Sion and Jerusalem.
Galatians 4:25 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. (ESV)
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, (ESV)
Revelation 3:12 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. (ESV) (See also Revelation 3:12; 21:2; and 21:10.)
Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” (ESV)
1 Peter 2:6 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.” (1Pe 2:6 ESV)
PRIESTS AND LEVITES
Isaiah writes that some of the Gentile “brethren out of all nations” (Septuagint Isaiah 66:20) shall become priests and Levites. This in itself is an enormous change from Old Testament law, since priests and Levites came from the tribe of Levi alone.
Isaiah 66:21 And I will take of them priests and Levites, saith the Lord. (LXE)
The Apostle Peter and the book of Revelation speak of the “priesthood” of believers.
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… 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:4-9 ESV)
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from … 5… Jesus Christ… who… 6… made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:4-6 ESV)
Jesus Christ, God’s Servant (Isaiah 52:13), burst into history with great glory. The immediate aftermath fulfills Isaiah’s prophecies in Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-20 (verse 16 appears to be as yet unfulfilled).
Next post, Lord willing, we will consider the last three verses of the book of Isaiah.
1 Some may maintain that the “brothers” are Israelites. But these “brothers” have just been evangelized by missionaries. I highly doubt that Israelites would be scattered all over the world who had never “heard my [the Lord’s] name nor seen my glory.” No, but rather the word “brothers” refers to the converted Gentiles.
2 Scripture to support this statement will be included in a subsequent section.
3 See the second paragraph of the section in Devotional 2.98 titled “Shift One: Inclusion of Gentiles.”
Switchbacks and Seismic Shifts: Journal 2.98
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.
Cycles of Repetition in Isaiah Volume 2: Journal 2.86
By Christina M Wilson
Structure: Cycles of Repetition in Isaiah Volume 2
The prophet structures his text with cycles of repetition in Isaiah Volume 2. The text does not proceed in chronological fashion. (Similarly, cycles of repetition also occur in the book of Revelation.) Each cycle of repetition relates an account of 1) Israel’s need, 2) the Servant’s coming and sacrifice, 3) results for God’s believing people and believing Gentiles, 4) statements of God’s judgment upon those who willfully and persistently disobey. Isaiah presents each of the repeated accounts of the Servant’s Advent from a different point of view, that is, with a different emphasis.
Cycle 1 of repetition is the longest. It stretches from Septuagint Isaiah 40:1 to 56:8.
1 Israel’s Need
Cycle 1 is the only cycle that begins with the theme of comfort. The comfort of cycle 1 in Volume 2 answers Israel’s need for a Savior, which Volume 1 so thoroughly develops. Nevertheless, cycle 1 of repetition also presents Israel’s need (see, for example, Isaiah 42:18-25).
II The Servant’s Coming and Sacrifice
The centerpiece of cycle 1 is Septuagint Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Here the focus falls most heavily upon the Servant himself. The verses describe the Servant’s work of sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 53:4-6, 11-12), his rejection by Israel (Isaiah 52:14-53:3), his acceptance by Gentiles (Isaiah 52:15), and his own ultimate reward (Isaiah 52:13; 53:10-12) (1).
III Outcome for Believing Israel and Believing Gentiles
Still within cycle 1, the text after chapter 53 (concerning the Servant’s work) immediately begins a description of the outcome of the Servant’s work for believing Israel (the barren woman of Septuagint Isaiah 54:1) (2). The rejoicing that begins there continues all the way through Septuagint Isaiah 56:8. God includes Gentiles in Isaiah 42:1, 4, 6; 49:1, 6, 8, 22; 51:4-5; 54:2-3; 55:4-5; and 56:2-8. The Septuagint is very clear in these verses.
IV Judgment Upon the Rebellious
As the book of Isaiah progresses through its pages, the message of “two Israels” becomes increasingly clear. First, there is the believing remnant. Second, there is everyone else. As concerns the first group, through the prophet Isaiah, God promises to rescue and bless his believing remnant. But, scattered throughout the chapters are descriptive statements of the actions of the ungodly and God’s ultimate condemnation of them.
The distinction between these two groups is not as clear in Cycle 1 as later in the book (3). Nevertheless, readers find God’s condemnation of Israel’s nonbelieving group in Septuagint Isaiah 48:22. This verse stuns the reader, because it follows immediately upon God’s pronouncement of tenderest blessings upon those whom he addresses as, “my people” in 48:21. The Septuagint contrasts these verses most effectively.
Cycle 2 of repetition in Isaiah Volume 2 begins with Septuagint Isaiah 56:9 and ends with Septuagint Isaiah 62:12.
I Israel’s Need
The text shifts abruptly from God’s blessings and expectations in the new order following the Servant’s cleansing work (cycle 1) to a harsh and seemingly final judgment of condemnation for those who refuse to follow God’s holy and just ways (cycle 2). The text presents no transition between the two verses (Isaiah 56:8, 9). Further, the condemnation continues Isaiah 57:13a. The reader feels as though she has returned to Volume 1, before the Advent of the Servant. And, I believe, the text does return both to conditions prior to the exile and prior to the salvation that is to be accomplished by the Servant.
II The Servant
Cycle 2 extends from Septuagint Isaiah 59:16 through Septuagint Isaiah 62. Isaiah 59, at the beginning of cycle 2, describes the saving work of God’s Servant, again. Verses 16 through the chapter’s close in verse 21 describe the Servant’s work and the new covenant he inaugurates (verse 59:21) (4). But, this portion of repetition, as contrasted with cycle 1, emphasizes God’s accomplished salvation through the sacrifice of his Servant as it affects the people of God.
III Blessings for God’s Believing People and Gentiles
Chapters 60-62 describe the outcome of the Servant’s work as blessings for his people, including Gentiles. The text names God’s people Zion and Jerusalem as those who will benefit (Septuagint Isaiah 60:1, 14). Gentiles from all over the world, who come and join themselves to God’s believing people, share in God’s blessings upon Zion (Septuagint Isaiah 60:10-11, 16). The people of Zion adopt as their own the children of the Gentiles (Septuagint Isaiah 60:3-4, 8-9; 62:10-11).
III Judgment of Condemnation for the Rebellious
The text in cycle 2 draws sharper distinctions within Israel’s people between those who reject outright God’s ways and those who are willing to repent and believe in his salvation. Largely through God’s condemning speeches, the text presents the theme that “not all Israel are God’s people.” Not everyone will be saved. The faithful obedience of turning toward God to confess and repent is what God rewards. God will not save, or favor, those of his people who remain hard-hearted and self-willed (Septuagint Isaiah 56:11-57:13a, 20).
But those who cleave to the Lord shall possess the land and inherit God’s holy mountain (Septuagint Isaiah 57:13b). God will pour his Spirit upon the “faint-hearted” and “broken-hearted” (Septuagint Isaiah 57:15-16). These he will heal, and to these God will give his “true comfort” and “peace upon peace” (Septuagint Isaiah 57:18-19).
The text devotes all of chapter 58 of cycle 2 to God’s chastising his people and calling them to repentance. He makes glorious promises to them should they repent. In chapter 59:1-10, God condemns those who appear to have no interest at all in repentance. The voice of repentance occurs in Septuagint Isaiah 59:12-15. The next major piece of repentance occurs in Cycle Three, Septuagint Isaiah 64:5-9.
Septuagint Isaiah 63 begins the third and final cycle of repetition in Isaiah Volume 2. Readers will recall that each of these cycles contains four elements: 1) Israel’s need, 2) the coming of the Servant and his work, 3) the blessings of the Servant’s work upon all God’s believing people, which includes Gentiles, and finally, 4) God’s condemnation upon the rebellious.
I Israel’s Need
Chapter 63 begins by summarizing the deeds of Yahweh (Old Testament Israel’s Lord) with a focus on God’s historical judgment of Israel. These verses alternate with recollection of God’s historical mercy (verses 1-14).
II The Servant and His Saving Work
The Servant in cycle 3 appears in both his judgmental role and his salvific role. (See, for example, Septuagint Isaiah 63:1-8.)
III Blessings for God’s Believing People and Gentiles
Cycle 3 contains one of the longest prayers of confession and intercession in the entire book (see Isaiah 63:15-64:12). In direct response to this prayer, God speaks the famous words that indicate his calling of Gentiles to his salvation.
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, Romans 10:20-21)
IV Condemnation upon the Rebellious
Chapter 65 reveals to readers much about God’s overall plan. As mentioned above, after the believing remnant’s prayer of confession, God responds by announcing his inclusion of Gentiles among his beloved. Then God speaks again of that portion of Israel who consistently rebel (Isaiah 65:2-7). Their reward is God’s wrathful retribution (verse 5). But, God turns again in Isaiah 65:8-10 to speak of the good “grape-stone” (the remnant) in the desiccated cluster. They, his elect (verse 9), shall “inherit my holy mountain.” In verses 11-15a, God repeats his decision to exclude the disobedient of Israel from his blessing. (It is indeed difficult to contemplate this judgment upon those who reject God and his ways.)
This post describes the structure of Septuagint Isaiah Volume Two. The text of Isaiah Volume 2 reveals cycles of repetition. In other words, the text does not proceed in a chronological flow. Far from it. Each of three cycles contains elements that develop four major themes. Cycle one gives the most detail concerning the suffering Servant himself. Cycle two emphasizes God’s believing people, both among those of Israel and among the Gentiles. Cycle three contrasts the results for apostate Israel and repentant, believing Israel. God himself places ethnic Israelites and Gentiles together in this single, believing unit. The strokes of cycle three seem the broadest in the entire book. They reveal God’s heart throughout the ages from the past into the eternal future. Cycle three deals with God’s game-plan and reveals his end-goal. The text also reveals the Lord (God’s Servant) to be the Yahweh who accompanied Israel all the years of their long history with him. He appears as both Judge and Savior. All three cycles deal with Israel’s past history, the first coming of God’s Servant, and the eternal results of the salvation he brings.
…As these posts progress, we will uncover, Lord willing, some of the details of the four chapters that conclude Isaiah with cycle three.
1 See Isaiah Devotional 2.42 and forward through Isaiah Devotional 2.53.
2 For the concluding post concerning the identity of “the barren,” see Isaiah Devotional 2.68. The series concerning the context of “the barren” in 54:1 begins with Isaiah Devotional 2.54.
3 For a verse even earlier in Volume 1 that distinguishes the two “groups,” see Septuagint Isaiah 33:2, “[Group One:] Lord, have mercy upon us; for we have trusted in thee: [Group Two:] the seed of the rebellious is gone to destruction, [Group One:] but our deliverance was in a time of affliction.”
4 For the New Covenant, see Isaiah Devotional 2.77.
Septuagint Isaiah 62:6-12: Journal 2.85
By Christina M Wilson
Clarification: Septuagint Isaiah 62 NOT a Return from Babylon
The main point of Septuagint Isaiah is not the physical exile to Babylon–both its occurrence and the people’s return. Nor is the main point the salvation of Zion. No, rather, Septuagint Isaiah’s main point is the salvation of Zion and the Gentile world by means of God’s Servant. The Servant and his work are the fulcrum from which all else flows. On the downward side is judgment. On the upward side is glory for Zion and the annexed Gentile believers. When the main point is realized, understanding the story line of the text becomes much easier.
The New Testament quotes Isaiah approximately 52 times, according to Archer and Chirichingno (1). Other than the Psalter (Psalms), Isaiah is the book most frequently quoted by New Testament authors. Most people familiar with the Gospels and New Testament epistles recognize that the bulk of the gospel message concerns the Christ’s incarnation, divine powers, and work of salvation. In other words, the Gospel writers did not concern themselves with Old Testament Israel’s return from Babylon. The quotations from Isaiah in the New Testament concern the Servant’s/Messiah’s/Christ’s divine identity and saving work for Israel and the world at large.
Therefore, to read Isaiah 62 with the Israelites’ return from Babylon primarily in view is to miss the main point of Isaiah’s prophecy. For example, some commentators place the thrust of the message of chapter 62 chronologically before the exile. They may write that verses 10-12 make reference to passing through Babylon’s gates in return to their homeland. Please understand, I am not denying that for Israelites in the year 700 BC, Babylon may have been first and foremost in their line of vision. But as Jesus himself explains in Luke 24:25-27, the important message of the Prophets concerned himself.
The current section of Isaiah begins in Septuagint Isaiah 56:9. This fresh repetition does take the reader back to a time before the exile (see Devotional 2.73). However, a recounting of God’s salvation through his Servant begins with a confession of sin spoken by a representative of the remnant in Septuagint Isaiah 59:12-15. The narrative of the Servant begins in verse 16 of that same chapter. It continues through the end of the chapter. The climax in Septuagint Isaiah 59:21 is God’s New Covenant, the pouring out of his Spirit in response to the Savior’s cleansing work. Immediately, chapters 60-62 celebrate this amazing work. Chapter 62 does not leap back in time to a period before the exile, but remains firmly fixed in the outcome of the Servant’s work, as recounted in Septuagint Isaiah 59:16-21.
Verses 6-9: Protection for God’s People
1. Watchmen on Her Walls: 6-7
In Septuagint verse 6, God himself speaks (not Isaiah the prophet). God appoints “watchmen all day and all night.” The watchmen of verse 6 “never cease making mention of the Lord.” These watchmen appear to be witnesses to the Lord. The Septuagint text differs from the Masoretic in this verse. It is the Lord these watchmen talk about. Verse 7 gives the reason. There will be none like Jerusalem when the Lord establishes her and makes her a praise on the earth. In other words, this figure could be applied to a bride who is always talking about her betrothed (see verse 5). The reason is that he has treated her extremely well, she being very special to him. Therefore, she spends all her time recounting his praises and what he has done for her (2).
62:6 And upon your walls, O Ierousalem, I have posted sentinels all day and all night, who shall never be silent, making mention of the Lord. 7 For you [plural] have none like him [singular], if he should restore Ierousalem and make it a boast on the earth. (Silva, M. NETS) (3)
2. Protection and Praise: 8-9
8 For the Lord has sworn by his glory, and by the might of his arm, I will no more give your corn and your provisions to your enemies; nor shall strangers any more drink your wine, for which you have laboured. 9 But they that have gathered them shall eat them, and they shall praise the Lord; and they that have gathered the grapes shall drink thereof in my holy courts. (Septuagint Isaiah, Brenton LXE)
In verses 8 and 9, the bridegroom of verse 5 promises to protect his bride from all her enemies. She will labor, harvest, and enjoy the fruits of her labor (Matthew 6:19-20). In return, the bride “shall praise the Lord.” Isaiah presents metaphorical figures. “They” are the people of Jerusalem. Verse 5 explains in metaphor that the Lord will rejoice over his people in the same way that a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
Verses 10-11: A Missionary Directive
62:10 Go through my gates, and make a way for my people; and cast the stones out of the way; lift up a standard for the Gentiles. 11 For behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, say you to the daughter of Sion, Behold, your Saviour has come to you, having his reward and his work before his face. (LXE) (Reference Bibles point the reader to Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5; and John 12:15)
The extended context of Septuagint Isaiah 62:10-11 is everything that’s gone before in chapters 60-61. In these chapters, Sion and Jerusalem have already been redeemed. The chapters present Jerusalem (the people of God) rejoicing and celebrating over the goodness and provision of the Lord. Because the text mentions the phrase “my gates,” this does not of necessity refer to Babylon. The last direct reference to Babylon occurs in chapter 48. Chapter 53 brings the time frame up to the advent of the Lord. Chapter 59 repeats the advent, while chapters 60-62 expound the beneficial outcome of the advent for God’s people. Specifically, 62:1-9 describe the glories of Jerusalem, God’s people, in the period following God’s new covenant of Spirit with them in Isaiah 59:21. As readers may recall, God enacted his covenant of Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-39) and elsewhere in book of Acts.
There is further support of the premise that the word “gates” do not refer to Babylon. While the Masoretic translations write “the gates” in 62:10, the Septuagint states, “my gates.” It seems most likely that God’s gates would be those at the entrance/exit of Jerusalem, rather than the gates of Cyrus the Persian. But consider. These verses describe God’s people as already living in Jerusalem. Verse 10 pictures a different scenario than the exit from Babylon. Rather, the flow is from Jerusalem outward.
“Go!” in 62:10 is a verbal imperative directed toward God’s people who live in Sion. God directs them to go out from Sion and prepare a road for the Gentiles, who will be advancing toward Sion. See Matthew 28:19 for the same Greek word, “Go!”. (In Isaiah the word is πορεύεσθε (por-EV-es-thay) and in Matthew the text reads πορευθέντες (por-ev-THEN-tes). The first is active and the second is passive. The Greek word for “standard” in Septuagint verse 10 is σύσσημον (SIS-see-mon). This is a composite word made of a prefix and the base word “sign.” Early Christians, it is said, used the sign of a fish. This represented an anagram for the words, “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior.” Later Christians up to the present have used the sign of the cross.
The point of verses 10-11 is to proclaim God’s purpose of broadcasting Jerusalem’s salvation to the end of the earth. The command is to prepare the way for Gentiles the world over to travel to Jerusalem to partake of God’s blessings, remembering that Jerusalem is a metaphor (as defined and used repeatedly by Isaiah himself) for God’s believing people (see all of Isaiah 54) (4).
Verse 12: A Holy People
12 And one shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: and you shall be called a city sought out, and not forsaken. (LXE)
The New Testament refers to believers as “saints” some 46 times, outside of the gospels and Revelation. The NIV and CEB use the phrase “holy people” in nearly half of these occurrences. Philippians 1:1 represents a typical example of this usage.
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: (ESV)
Paul in Galatians explains the redemption that Christ (the Servant) brings.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)
Paul also writes:
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (ESV)
And see Titus 2:14.
God accomplishes both the pouring out of the Spirit and the adoption as sons solely based upon of the cleansing work of the Servant, as Isaiah describes it in Isaiah 53 (see Isaiah 53:5-6, 9-12).
Verse 12: A City Sought Out and Not Forsaken
12 And one shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: and you shall be called a city sought out, and not forsaken. (LXE)
Jerusalem in Isaiah 62 is a geographical location with land (verse 4), a bride (verse 5), a holy people (verse 12), and a city (verses 6 and 12). Jerusalem in verse 12 shall be called a “city sought out” and “not forsaken.” The sense of the Greek word for “forsaken” is “left-over,” that is, what remains after the bulk has been used or taken away. Its stem is the same as that for the word “remnant.”
The believing people of Israel were so small in number that Isaiah calls them a “remnant,” (Isaiah 10:22). After the influx of the Gentiles, they will be a remnant no longer (Septuagint Isaiah 54:1-3).
1 Rejoice, you barren that bear not; break forth and cry, you that do not travail: for more are the children of the desolate than of her that has a husband: for the Lord has said, 2 Enlarge the place of your tent, and of your curtains: fix the pins, spare not, lengthen your cords, and strengthen your pins; 3 spread forth your tent yet to the right and the left: for your seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and you shall make the desolate cities to be inhabited. (LXE)
Rather than being called a “remnant,” “forsaken,” they “shall be called a city sought out, and not forsaken” (Septuagint Isaiah 62:12).
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews sums up Septuagint Isaiah 62 quite well. Notice how many of the ideas and images these verses present are present in Isaiah, as well.
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (ESV)
And, of course, the book of Hebrews applies the above verses to the church, the assembly of God’s people now, both “Jew” and Gentile, those believers who receive the work of God’s Servant (as presented in Isaiah) and offer their allegiance to him.
1 Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983. See also Christianity.com which writes, “What’s more, fully 90% of the New Testament’s 260 chapters quote from Isaiah’s writings. It’s that important.” More information can be found at SimplyBible.com and JesusWalk.com.
2 Does this sound a bit like a Christian worship service? As mentioned above, the Masoretic text renders a completely different interpretation (see Masoretic Isaiah 62:6-7 ESV).
3 Silva, Moíses. A New English Translation of the Septuagint: Esaias. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Available online at A New English Translation of the Septuagint. 33. Esaias (upenn.edu). Accessed July 22, 2022.
4 At least one commentator who brings in the “millennium” as the time frame for the blessings of verse 7 also brings in ancient, concrete-literal Babylon as the location and time frame of the “gates” in verse 10. Isaiah does not jump around in such an erratic fashion. Nothing in the context of Isaiah in these verses and chapters makes reference to a “millennium.” If this were the case, then God’s people are still waiting for fulfillment of God’s word. And why, if such were the case, would Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and Peter be citing Isaiah in reference to the incarnation of Christ? Rather, the Lord’s people–both descendants of Israelites and Gentiles–enjoy God’s communal protection and blessings now. His presence among them comforts them now. They praise the Lord as a bride her groom, now.
One God, One Marriage: Journal 2.84
By Christina M Wilson
God Weds Himself to Zion–Septuagint Isaiah 62:3-5
[… a peek ahead: God has joined believing Israelites with believing Gentiles. There is one God and Lord, one marriage of God to his people, and one bride in the holiest of all matrimonies.]
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless… 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery– but I am talking about Christ and the church. (NIV)
Is There Room in God’s Heart for Bigamy?
Does God have two brides? One–Zion, and the second, the church?
Septuagint Isaiah 62:3-5 And you shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 And you shall no more be called Forsaken; and your land shall no more be called Desert: for you shall be called My Pleasure, and your land Inhabited: for the Lord has taken pleasure in you, and your land shall be inhabited. 5 And as a young man lives with a virgin, so shall your sons dwell in you: and it shall come to pass that as a bridegroom will rejoice over a bride, so will the Lord rejoice over you. (LXE)
A more pointed translation than the above verses is Isaiah 54:5 in the Masoretic texts.
Isaiah 54:5 For your husband is the one who made you– the LORD who commands armies is his name. He is your protector, the Holy One of Israel. He is called “God of the entire earth.” (NET)
Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. (ESV)
God is one. This is the foundation of Old Testament Israel. There is one God, and from this it follows that God has one bride–his saved people, those of every tribe, nation, and tongue, who love him in return and pledge their allegiance to him.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (ESV)
The Lord Jesus himself corroborates this in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes… asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (ESV)
Jesus speaks even more bluntly in John 10:30.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.” (ESV)
So once again, is God a bigamist? Clearly, to think such would border on heresy. Therefore, one of the strongest evidences of the unity of God’s beloved Zion with Gentile believers through the Servant is the marriage imagery in Septuagint Isaiah 62:3-5, 54:5, and elsewhere in Scripture, especially in the New Testament with regard to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:9).
A Wedding Celebration: Verse 3
3 And you shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (LXE)
54:11 Afflicted and outcast you have not been comforted: behold, I will prepare carbuncle for your stones, and sapphire for your foundations; 12 and I will make your buttresses jasper, and your gates crystal, and your border precious stones. (LXE)
A reader becomes so accustomed to metaphor in this portion of Isaiah that often its use escapes conscious notice. But verse three in its entirety makes use of metaphor. This statement cannot possibly be concrete-literal. (A people cannot be a physical crown; the Lord, who is Spirit, does not have hands; and so forth.) But the statement is very much spiritual-literal. That is, spiritually, God is doing an amazingly beautiful thing in his transformation of Zion.
Various English translations of Masoretic Zechariah 9:16 parallel Isaiah 62:3.
Zechariah 9:16 On that day the LORD their God will deliver them as the flock of his people, for they are the precious stones of a crown sparkling over his land. (NET)
And in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter thinks similarly.
1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external– the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, (ESV)
The sanctified Zion, made holy by the Servant’s sacrifice of himself, will gladly submit herself to God. Argument and complaint, disobedience, and outright rebellion characterized Old Testament Israel’s relationship with their God. Occasionally, when hard-pressed by their enemies, Old Testament Israel turned to their God. But because of the work of God’s Servant and the outpouring of his Spirit, the newly created Zion will be completely different. Like a crown of beauty and a royal diadem in God’s hand, they will gladly submit themselves to him, as a satisfied woman to her own husband.
Septuagint Isaiah 62:4 And you shall no more be called Forsaken; and your land shall no more be called Desert: for you shall be called My Pleasure, and your land Inhabited: for the Lord has taken pleasure in you, and your land shall be inhabited.
Verse 4 continues to define the context as that of marriage. For some, it may seem a stretch to regard God’s inhabiting Zion’s land as a metaphor for a marital relationship. Readers should remember, however, that God is Spirit. To inhabit the land of his people means that God shall be with Zion in the most intimate of relationships. Hear how the Hebrew versions state this beautiful truth.
Isaiah 62:4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. (ESV)
Isaiah 62:4 You will no longer be called, “Abandoned,” and your land will no longer be called “Desolate.” Indeed, you will be called “My Delight is in Her,” and your land “Married.” For the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married to him. (NET)
God has joined believing Israelites with believing Gentiles. There is one God and Lord, one marriage of God to his people, and one bride in the holiest of all matrimonies.
5 And as a young man lives with a virgin, so shall your sons dwell in you: and it shall come to pass that as a bridegroom will rejoice over a bride, so will the Lord rejoice over you. (LXE)
Septuagint Isaiah 62:1-2: Journal 2.83
By Christina M Wilson
Septuagint Isaiah 62:1-2
Septuagint Isaiah 62 flows smoothly from the previous chapters, continuing the promises to Sion and joy in the Lord that began in Septuagint Isaiah 59:16a.
Verse 1: Righteousness, Light, and Salvation
1 For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as light, and my salvation burn as a torch. (LXE) (Septuagint in English, Brenton) (1)
The Septuagint translation clearly presents God as the speaker in verse 1. This is because of the phrase, “my salvation.” Septuagint Isaiah 59:15-16 indicates that only God saves. The text states that God’s salvation through his Servant (see prior chapters in Isaiah, especially 53) accomplishes righteousness for the people of Jerusalem. Her righteousness shall go forth as light.
The Servant himself came as light. Chapter 61:1 states, “Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Paul in Ephesians 5:14 identifies the light that shines as the Servant/Christ. John the apostle also identifies Christ as light in John 1:4-9. The Servant speaks of the light that shines from his followers in Luke 8:16-17; 11:33-36. The light of which the Servant speaks in Isaiah is the same light that emanated from the first followers of Christ. The time frame, of course, was immediately after the Servant’s incarnation.
Acts 13:47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (ESV)
In the above passage, the phrase “the Lord has commanded us” refers back to Isaiah 49:6. There, the Servant relates how God had spoken to him and given him the assignment of bringing in Gentiles the world over into the fold of Israel and Jacob. Clearly, God’s will is that his beloved people of Zion should share one salvation with Gentile believers.
Salvation, Spirit, Light, and Fire
Verse 62:1 quotes God (and the Servant) as stating, “my salvation [will] burn as a torch.” Revelation 4:5 represents the “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” as the “seven Spirits of God” (NASB). Isaiah prophesies the pouring forth of God’s Spirit in connection with the Servant’s salvation ministry (see Isaiah 57:16; 59:21; and 61:1-3). Paul teaches that believers who are saved receive the seal of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). And, the disciples first shone brightly in their testimony to the Servant/Christ in the streets of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. This followed the descent upon them of God’s Spirit, as tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4).
Verses 2-4: The Church and Zion
As a youngster in Christ (a baby in the Lord), I grew up in him singing worship songs with a congregation of Christians. We often sang these words from the prophet Jeremiah.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Jeremiah 31:12 (2)
Now, in context, Jeremiah spoke of ethnic Israelites who would return to their homeland Zion. But even more than that, Jeremiah spoke of the birth of the Servant/Christ in verse 15, just three verses forward. The point is, Christians recognize many of the Old Testament passages and promises as applying to both Jewish believers and Gentile believers in Christ.
Verse 2: Gentiles and a New Name
2 And the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and kings your glory: and one shall call you by a new name, which the Lord shall name.
Righteousness: Much of the New Testament focuses on mandating Christians to practice love and righteousness (Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; Colossians 3:14; Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:22-24; Ephesians 4:17-32). Jesus said that the testimony of his followers to the world would be their love (John 13:35).
Glory: The New Testament bears witness to and fulfills the prophesies of Isaiah again and again. The love for humanity (both Israelites and Gentiles) that God prophesies and expresses through Isaiah shines so brightly that it creates glory (see again Acts 13:47-48, Isaiah 49:6, and John 13:35). The Servant’s fruitful sacrifice upon the cross for Israel and for all humanity shines brightly. The Servant’s accomplished work of salvation by means of the cross is the most glorious act of God ever witnessed. This sacrifice still shines brightly today.
New Name: The righteousness and glory that God accomplishes for humanity through his Servant far exceeds the geographical boundaries of Israel. God’s glory is spirit. His glory in his Servant cannot fully be expressed by any concrete, materialistic means, such as jewels, precious metals, and magnificent architecture. God’s glory is in his living Spirit, which enlightens and unifies the spirits of every willing human being who lives by faith in his Servant/Son.
Therefore, Isaiah teaches in Isaiah 62:2 that God’s people need a new name. Their tent has stretched far beyond the boundaries of its former pegs (Isaiah 54:2-3). The new name indicates the radical change God infuses into the very heart of Zion by the pouring out of his Spirit. The cleansing and sanctifying work of his Servant on the cross makes the union of Spirit with humanity possible. The new name honors the Servant/Anointed One of God. The Servant’s followers are named after the Servant. Their new name is “Christian.”
Acts 11:26 … For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
Acts 26:28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
The gathered people of Zion were formerly known as a “synagogue,” a “bringing together.” The new name of the gathered people of Zion, which now includes believing Gentiles, is “church,” or “called out.” God “calls out” people to gather together with him. God meets with his people through his Spirit.
The Greek word for “church” occurs in the Old Testament. A “church” is an assembly of people. Translations of the Old Testament use the word “assembly,” rather than “church.” See Judges 21:8; 1 Chronicles 29:1; Deuteronomy 31:30; and Joshua 8:35.
God Calls Gentiles to Join His People: For the calling that God performs, see Isaiah 41:8-9; 41:25; 42:6 and 49:1 (God calls his Servant); Isaiah 43:7; 51:2 (God calls Abraham); and Isaiah 54:5 (God calls Zion, the barren one of Isaiah 54:1).
The following verses also relate God’s prevailing intention to summon and join believing Gentiles with his people of believing Israel. See Isaiah 2:2-3; 5:26; 11:10, 12; 12:4; 25:6; 42:1, 4, 6; 49:6, 8 (Septuagint), Isaiah 49:22-23; Isaiah 51:4-5; 52:10; 54:3; 55:4, 5; 56:7; 60:3, 5, 9, 11, 12, 16.
In this portion of Isaiah, the prophet writes mostly about God’s relation with his people. He has great plans for them. Part of this plan includes an influx of Gentiles. On this point, the text is clear. Zion will be different from the time of the Servant’s Advent forward. A new day is dawning. And with that new day, in honor of the Lord’s Servant, his christened one, God provides a new name for those in Zion whom God saves.
60:1 Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and there shall be gross darkness on the nations: but the Lord shall appear upon you, and his glory shall be seen upon you. 3 And kings shall walk in your light, and nations in your brightness. 4 Lift up your eyes round about, and behold your children gathered: all your sons have come from far, and your daughters shall be borne on men’s shoulders. 5 Then shall you see, and fear, and be amazed in your heart; for the wealth of the sea shall come round to you, and of nations and peoples; and herds of camels shall come to you… 62:1 For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as light, and my salvation burn as a torch. 2 And the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and kings your glory: and one shall call you by a new name, which the Lord shall name. (Septuagint Isaiah 60:1-5; 62:1-2)
1 The online version is a translation of the Greek Septuagint by Sir Lancelot Brenton, updated into Americanized English in 2012. Public domain copyright information can be found here: LXX2012: Septuagint in American English 2012 (ebible.org).
2 Words taken from Jeremiah 31:12 (Bible Gateway) and sung to the tune available here: Hymnal.net.
A Spiritual Hermeneutic: Journal 2.82
By Christina M Wilson
Septuagint Isaiah 61 describes the results of the Servant’s advent for the people of the Lord. Who are these people? Prior passages in Isaiah establish that God will bless Israel’s faithful remnant. Prior texts also establish that God will not bless the rebellious of the nation of Israel, even though they may be ethnic Israelites by descent (Isaiah Devotional 2.81). Further, the text of Isaiah continually makes reference to the inclusion of Gentiles as recipients of God’s blessings through his Servant (ibid; see also Isaiah Devotional 2.80).
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6)
In a sense, when God brought Gentiles into the blessings he bestowed on the remnant of Israel, he made the two one. What does Paul talk about in Ephesians 1:9-10 and 2:11-21, if not this? Consider also Romans 9-11. One can also read many of the parables of Jesus with the thought of “Jew” and Gentile in mind. Consider, for example, the parable of the great dinner (Luke 14:15-24) and the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).
Concrete or Spiritual?
Many Christians cling to the idea of two separate peoples of God. The first group comprises Israel of the Old Testament extended forward until the dawning of eternity. The second group comprises Christians. They place these groups on two separate tracks. To the first group, they reserve certain concrete blessings, such as land. To the second group, they assign spiritual blessings. But is this what Scripture teaches?
The current chapters in Isaiah are difficult to decipher. Does Isaiah intend the blessings he describes (land, gold, wealth of the Gentiles, position, honor–Septuagint Isaiah 60:9-21; 61:4-7) to be considered as concrete (physical, material) or spiritual? I propose that how one answers this question will determine one’s hermeneutic, rather than vice versa. How one reads Scripture is largely a matter of faith and preference, rather than a set of hermeneutic rules.
Contrasts Between the Spiritual and Concrete
My faith, heart-preferences, and subsequent hermeneutic have always caused me to read God’s word with spirit as a guiding principle, rather than adhering strictly to the concrete. I believe that when Isaiah speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit in Septuagint Isaiah 57:16; 59:21; and 61:1-3, he meant these words to be taken literally. The pouring out of God’s Spirit is much more than a sea change. It is impossible to overstate the significance of the permanent entrance of the Spirit into the human hearts of believers. The pouring out of God’s Spirit changes how we hear and read Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).
Jesus taught the same. The apostle John wonderfully presents two contrasting viewpoints in John 3:1-10 and John 4:5-15. Both the elevated rabbi, Nicodemus, the “teacher of Israel,” and the lowly, anonymous “woman at the well” represent the Old Testament viewpoint in which concrete realities dominate.
1. When Jesus teaches Nicodemus that he must be “born again” (John 3:3, 6-7), Nicodemus can perceive these remarks in concrete terms only. His is an Old Testament way of thinking. Likewise, when Jesus describes to the woman at the well the “living water” that he can provide, she perceives his remarks in concrete terms (John 4:10-15).
2. Jesus’s own viewpoint, however, was spiritual (John 3:3-8 and John 4:23-24). Nevertheless, Jesus continued teaching by means of parables. Parables express spiritual realities by means of concrete images and actions. Jesus knew that his audience could not yet receive pure spiritual truth, because the Spirit had not yet been given (Matthew 13:10-14; John 14:26). Paul speaks of this very topic in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.
Hallmarks of Each
In a very general sense, some premillennialists tend toward concrete interpretations. Those, on the other hand, who see a single advent and a single and final second coming tend towards interpretation of certain concrete images as references to spiritual realities. In the same general sense, some premillennial interpretations tend to exclude Gentiles from many of God’s Old Testament promises. Whereas non-dispensational interpretations include believing Gentiles as recipients of God’s Old Testament promises, even though certain texts present these promises in concrete terms. I am far from alone in my interpretation that God intends the promises and descriptions of believing Zion in Isaiah 60 and 61 to include the multitudes of Gentiles who listen and obey God’s invitation to them to “Come.” God locates himself among his people, whom he calls Zion (Isaiah 51:16). And God includes among his people Gentiles whom he joins with the remnant of believing Zion (Septuagint Isaiah 60:3-4).
Isaiah straddles two eras. He lived in the era of concrete Israelite history. (This does not imply that Isaiah could not see spiritual realities the Lord showed him.) And, he prophesied to both concrete historical events (for example, the exile and return) and spiritual events–i.e., life in the Spirit in the Kingdom of Christ, as inaugurated on the day of Pentecost (Isaiah 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; Acts 2:1-4).
But Isaiah spoke to a people who knew only the concrete things of God. Humankind died to God after the fall in the Garden. People were cut off, separated from God. God’s living presence within humankind occurs on the day of Pentecost, when God sends his Spirit to dwell in and among believers in Christ. Pentecost follows the atonement–the putting away of sin and restoration of right standing with God (i.e., a return to holiness in Christ). Before Pentecost, Christ the Servant is already crucified, resurrected, and ascended. After this work, then Christ sends the promised Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Galatians 3:14).
Hear what the Apostle Paul says concerning life and the Spirit.
Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him… 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (ESV)
Because of the theological significance of Gentiles also receiving the Spirit of God, the Jerusalem council knew that Gentiles did not need to follow the circumcision precept of Moses in order to partake of fellowship with ethnic Jews who believed in Christ (Acts 15:7-9; Isaiah 43:5-7). The Spirit excels the flesh. Gentiles receive the greater blessing of the Spirit. What sense would it make to withhold from them the lesser blessings of concrete flesh (i.e., land, etc.)?
Septuagint Isaiah 61 follows God’s announcement of the New Covenant of the Spirit in Isaiah 59:21. It opens with the Servant’s proclamation of the promised Spirit upon him. These are the words that the Servant/Christ read aloud as he began his public ministry (Luke 4:16-21). The Servant is Christ. The word Christ means “anointed.” Anointed with what? God anointed his Servant with the Spirit (John 1:32-34).
Without doubt, Isaiah 61, especially in the Masoretic, lends itself to the interpretation of Gentiles becoming subservient to ethnic Israelites. (But even if this were true, Isaiah never introduces a “millennium.”) However, this interpretation does not agree with the vast bulk of Scripture, including other portions of Isaiah (some which lie ahead of us still). In my opinion, viewing Gentile believers in God’s Servant as co-workers with believing ethnic Israelites accords best with the bulk of Isaiah recorded outside of chapter 61.
There is but one God and one salvation of God through his Servant/Christ. And, God built this salvation upon the foundation of the prophets (Old Testament) and apostles (New Testament). Gentile converts come to God’s original olive tree, which is believing Israel. They acknowledge the God of Israel as the one true God. They acknowledge the believing remnant of Israel as the firstfruits of God’s salvation (Romans 11:16). In this sense Gentiles will serve Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:11-14), much as Christians today serve the Church. The remainder of Isaiah 60-61 bears witness that Gentiles are welcome co-participants and parents of the children of God’s people Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:1, 3-4).
Does God Favor Israel?
Does God favor Israel? Absolutely. God chose the ethnic family of Abraham, narrowed to the children of Jacob, to be his “special” people. He chose them to be the showcase of his love, grace, and justice. Through their ethnic seed, the Servant/Messiah was born (Romans 3:1-2; 9:4-5).
Nevertheless, God’s ultimate plan for his people Zion centers on his Son, the singular seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Ethnic Israelites, as well as every other ethnicity on the entire planet, will find their only permanent blessing in and through God’s anointed Servant/Christ. God’s spiritual blessing of eternal life in the very presence of God is primary. All concrete blessings, whatever they may be, are secondary.
I am a Gentile believer in Christ. Speaking as a Gentile, a former outcast of God’s kingdom (Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-12), my heart screams, “No!” to any biblical interpretation that would separate the Lord’s people into a hierarchy based upon ethnicity. We are all one in Christ (John 17:21-23; Ephesians 2:11-22, 14-16).
Septuagint Isaiah 61:10 … Let my soul rejoice in the Lord; for he has clothed me with the robe of salvation, and the garment of joy: he has put a mitre on me as on a bridegroom, and adorned me with ornaments as a bride. 11 And as the earth putting forth her flowers, and as a garden its seed; so shall the Lord, even the Lord, cause righteousness to spring forth, and exultation before all nations.
… next time, Lord willing, Septuagint Isaiah 62
Themes in Septuagint Isaiah: Journal 2.81
By Christina M Wilson
Main Themes in Septuagint Isaiah
Here is a brief summary of the main themes in Septuagint Isaiah.
I. God Himself Saves
The overriding theme in Septuagint Isaiah is God is Savior of Israel. He himself has done it (Septuagint Isaiah 59:16-18). There is no Savior of Israel but God. The main theme in Septuagint Isaiah is to prophesy God’s saving of Israel by means of the sending of his divine Servant to them as a sacrifice for their sins (Isaiah 53). Everything else Isaiah says flows out from this main theme.
II. None Other Can Save
Isaiah spends a great portion of text proving that both the nations outside of Israel and Israel itself are rebelliously sinful and unable to obtain God’s righteousness on their own. No person of the nations nor of Israel can come forward to save. They are all deserving of God’s wrath (Septuagint Isaiah 59:16). God alone can save, and he does so by sending his Servant (Septuagint Isaiah 53).
III. A Remnant of Israel Will Be Saved
Isaiah establishes that only a remnant of Israel will be saved. He repeats this principle again and again throughout the entire book (Septuagint Isaiah 4:2-3; 10:22; 37:32; 57:19-21).
IV. God Includes Gentiles in His Plans for Israel’s Future
He further establishes by repetition that God will bring Gentile believers to build up the numbers and strength of redeemed Israel, the remnant who will be saved (Septuagint Isaiah 2:2-3; 42:6-7; 55:4-5; 60:2-5). God’s salvation of Israel extends as blessing to the entire world (Septuagint Isaiah 2:2; 52:10; 56:7; 61:11).
Where Is the “Millennium”?
Isaiah’s text continually returns to the “first” Advent of the Servant. We know that Septuagint Isaiah 61:1-2 speaks of the Servant’s initial coming, because Jesus Christ quotes these verses at the outset of his ministry (Luke 4:18-19). There is no reason to suppose that the text of the remainder of chapter 61 jumps to an unnamed, unspecified “second” Advent. Any such idea would be imported and inserted into the text from elsewhere. Isaiah himself (up to this point) knows but one Advent.
So, where is the “millennium” in Septuagint Isaiah 61? Not present. All of chapter 61, in its own context of everything that has preceded, speaks of the Servant’s one advent (complete life) and ministry.
The fact that the Servant would accomplish His ministry in two advents, separated by thousands of years, was unknown to the Old Testament prophets. –Dr. Thomas Constable (1)
The context of the above quotation from Dr. Constable indicates his own belief in “two advents.” Nevertheless, by his own admission, as clearly and plainly stated in the sentence quoted just above, Isaiah himself knew nothing of the idea of “two advents.” The purpose of this blog is to follow Septuagint Isaiah as closely as possible. Within the context of Isaiah from 56:9 forward, Isaiah speaks of one advent. The results of this singularity in human history for God’s people Israel and for all humankind are overwhelmingly significant. The remainder of chapter 61 details some of these results.
1 Constable, Thomas. DD. “Commentary on Isaiah 61”. “Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes”, available at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/isaiah-61.html. 2012, accessed July 6, 2022.
Strangers and Eunuchs: Journal 2.72
By Christina M Wilson
…continued from Devotional 2.71
Strangers and Eunuchs
3 Let not the stranger who attaches himself to the Lord, say, Surely the Lord will separate me from his people: and let not the eunuch say, I am a dry tree. (LXE)
In Septuagint Isaiah 56:3-8, the Lord welcomes strangers and eunuchs into his place of worship.
Points of Interest
I. “Stranger” is a different word than “Gentile”
God through Isaiah has already spoken a great deal about Gentiles being the ones who would increase his people (LXX Isaiah 42:1, 4, 6; 49:1, 6, 8, 22; 51:4-5; 54:1-3; and 55:4-5.) The Greek word used in all these texts is “ETH-nos, ἔθνος,” meaning “a people” “nation” or “race.” It is sometimes translated as “nations” and more often in the Septuagint, as Gentiles. The Greek word Septuagint 56:3 uses is “allo-gen-NEES, ἀλλογενὴς.” It means “other-born,” that is, a foreigner, a stranger.
Eunuchs are males who cannot procreate. Often, their bodies have been altered so that physical procreation becomes impossible (Matthew 19:12).
III. Old Testament Law Concerning Eunuchs and Strangers
Old Testament law states that eunuchs “shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1 LXE). Thus, they were excluded from Israel’s worship of Jehovah. The law also required that strangers (foreigners) receive circumcision before they could enter into fellowship with those of God’s people who were native born (Exodus 12:48). The issue of whether or not Gentile converts to Christianity needed to receive circumcision loomed large in the New Testament (Acts 11:1-3; 1-18; Acts 15:1-31; Galatians 2:2-14f; 5:1-12; 6:12-15).
God’s Will for Eunuchs and Strangers
Isaiah clearly states God’s intention for eunuchs and strangers. He welcomes them!
To the eunuchs, God says:
56:4 Thus says the Lord to the eunuchs, as many as shall keep my sabbaths, and choose the things which I take pleasure in, and take hold of my covenant; 5 I will give to them in my house and within my walls an honorable place, better than sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, and it shall not fail. (LXE)
And, for the foreigners, God declares:
56:6-7 And I will give it to the strangers that attach themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be to him servants and handmaids; and as for all that keep my sabbaths from profaning them, and that take hold of my covenant; 7 I will bring them to my holy mountain, and gladden them in my house of prayer: their whole burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations,
Eunuchs and strangers will be fully included on God’s holy mountain, in his temple, and at his altar. He will give them an everlasting name.
God’s Requirements for Eunuchs and Strangers
God’s specifies the same requirements for eunuchs and strangers as for his own children in verses 1 and 2. They must keep his Sabbath and do what pleases him (verses 1-2, 4). He will reward the stranger who clings (attaches) to the Lord, serves him, and loves him. And, God specifically includes women–“daughters,” “servants and handmaids” (Septuagint 56:5, 6).
God sees no difference between his own “ethnic” children who believe in him and the children who are strangers and eunuchs. Each shall have an equal place of equality with the other.
Both this section and the longer context concerning everything about the Lord’s Servant end with verse 8. Verse 8 sums up the Lord’s intention in the new order his Servant’s death and sacrifice usher in.
56:7 … 8 says the Lord that gathers the dispersed of Israel; for I will gather to him a congregation. (LXE)
A NET Bible translator’s note concludes that “the meaning of the statement is unclear” (1).
The ESV finds clarity.
The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:8 ESV)
And most fortunately, the Lord Jesus understood perfectly the Servant’s mission.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16 and context ESV)
WHO IS “HIM” IN SEPTUAGINT 56:8?
Within the context of the last several chapters, once again “him” refers to the Lord’s Servant. The Servant is the subject and focal point of God’s plan of redemption for the remnant of his people and for the whole world. The Septuagint explains in verse 8 that the Lord will gather a congregation to his Servant (see Septuagint Isaiah 53:12-53:3). The New Testament church completely fulfills the prophecy of Septuagint Isaiah 56:8 (LXE).
Are These Changes Easy?
The changes which the Lord announces throughout this portion of Isaiah (and specifically in 56:2-8) are not easy changes. One might say that they are “mind-boggling” groundswells on the order of all the ice in the Arctic completely melting or the entire Rock of Gibraltar dissolving into the Mediterranean Sea. Jesus, the Lord’s Servant, understood the upsetting nature of his ministry and God’s plan and purpose from his incarnation forward.
Matthew 9:16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17 ESV)
In the parable just above, the old wineskin is the Old Testament Kingdom of God–i.e., the congregation of Israel with its entire religious system. The new wine is God’s Kingdom in his Servant. The changes God enacts in moving his people from the old to the new are enormous. They are so foundational that God gives the Kingdom of his Servant a “new name” (2).
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)
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)
All the Way Back to Noah
God’s plan and purpose in gathering “to him a congregation” (LXX Isaiah 56:8) goes all the way back to Noah. God’s plan of redemption in his Servant for all humankind predates his calling of Abraham.
54:9 From the time of the water of Noe this is my purpose: as I sware to him at that time, saying of the earth, I will no more be angry with you, neither when you are threatened, 10 shall the mountains depart, nor shall your hills be removed: so neither shall my mercy fail you, nor shall the covenant of your peace be at all removed: for the Lord who is gracious to you has spoken it. (Septuagint Isaiah 54:9-10)
As God once destroyed air-breathing life by water, so he destroyed his Servant by crucifixion. Each of these events is enormous with enormous consequences.
God’s People Remain–He Sees to That
But God keeps his people. In the ark, there was one believer with seven of his relatives. After Abraham and Moses, God kept a believing remnant among the ethnic tribes of Israel. After the death, resurrection, and ascension of his Servant, God expands the number of his believing people greatly. He fills their ranks by drawing from all nations, tribes, and tongues. Yet, these are always one and the same people–those from all ages who believe and invest themselves entirely in the Lord.
Isaiah captures the Lord’s vision here in Septuagint Isaiah 56:1-8.
1 New English Translation, NET2 online version, available at Isaiah 56 | Lumina (netbible.org).
2 Readers, please forgive me for jumping ahead to material we have not yet reached.