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Blessing Israel: Isaiah Journal 59

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at Blessing Israel: Isaiah Devotional Journal 59 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 27:12-13    Septuagint Modernized

Preface

Isaiah brings his four-chapter apocalyptic vision to a close with verses 12-13 of chapter 27, the blessing on Israel. The “apocalypse,” or end time vision, began in Chapter 24. Briefly, here is an outline of these chapters in the Septuagint tradition.

  • Chapter 24: Worldwide judgment, destruction; worldwide rejoicing in the Lord by a spared, “left behind” remnant (24:14).
  • Chapter 25: Worldwide salvation by God in Zion and worldwide judgment on evil.
  • Chapter 26: A back and forth movement between praise for worldwide salvation and statements of worldwide judgment and removal of the ungodly.
  • Chapter 27: Israel–God’s judgment and blessing.

Dividing Septuagint Chapter 27

Except for verse 1, Chapter 27 speaks of Israel only. I divide this Septuagint chapter as follows.

  1. Isaiah 27:1 describes the final destruction of Satan. This verse best fits with Chapter 26. It provides a suitable ending for the three prior apocalyptic chapters that deal with the entire world.
  2. Septuagint chapter 27 gives three statements of blessing for Israel: verse 6, verse 9, and verses 12-13. Verses 2-5 in the Septuagint differ significantly from the Masoretic text. They are in fact at opposite poles (See Journal 56). While the Masoretic sees blessing for the vineyard, the Septuagint prophesies that God “has set her aside” (v. 4).
  3. Because the totality of chapter 27:2-11 appears to prophesy concerning Israel throughout, verses 12 to 13 best apply to Israel alone, rather than to the whole world. Christians everywhere know that they have been sought out, chosen, and accepted by God. They have been grafted into Israel’s olive tree (Romans 11:17 and elsewhere). Here though, I believe Isaiah is not describing the ingathering of Gentiles. He has already done so in chapters 25-26, and he will do so again elsewhere. But here in verses 12 and 13, I believe the text specifically speaks again of the “children of Jacob” (vs 6).
  4. On the other hand, there is no reason, other than chapter context, to exclude Gentiles from the meaning of verse 13. The vocabulary itself does not appear to do so.

Details of Septuagint Verses 12 and 13

12 And it shall come to pass in that day that God shall fence men off from the channel of the river as far as the Brook of Egypt; but gather one by one the children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day that they shall blow the great trumpet, and the lost ones in the land of the  Assyrians shall come, and the lost ones in Egypt, and shall worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE) (1)

These two verse of Isaiah raise more questions than they answer. Two things are clear, however. First, these verses are not clear in their details. Second, God intends to bless the children of Israel.

The Boundaries

1. Both verses open with the phrase, “in that day”. In this end times context, “in that day” refers to the end times. This could include any time from the advent of Christ and the spread of his kingdom through the gospel message (Isaiah 26:1-6) to Satan’s destruction near the very end of this age (Isaiah 27:1).

2. The geographical boundaries indicated in verse 12 approximate the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham by God (Genesis 13:14). These ideal boundaries reflect times of blessing and prosperity in Israel’s long history.

3. In verse 13, the “great trumpet” will call “the lost ones in the land of the Assyrians” and “the lost ones in Egypt” to worship. These boundaries reflect times of hardship and abandonment by the Lord. Assyria and Egypt are the nations to which many Israelites fled or were led before the last invasion by Babylonia. These are Gentile nations, although the reader should not forget Isaiah 19:24-25, in which God specifically blesses these peoples.

4. Placed together and in totality, the two verses seem to indicate that the in-harvesting of Israel shall be complete, encompassing all the known places where they lived, up to and including Isaiah’s day. (Greece had not yet conquered Israel, nor had Rome.) Note: The fact that Assyria and Egypt worshiped pagan deities in Isaiah’s day does not indicate that the “lost ones” include Gentiles.

The “Lost Ones”

1. What about the Septuagint phrase, “lost ones, οἱ ἀπολόμενοι,“–the “lost ones” in the land of the Assyrians and the “lost ones” in Egypt? The verb base of this noun represents a strong form of destruction. It first appears in Genesis for the destruction, or sweeping away, of Sodom. It shows up in Exodus 10:7 for the destruction of Egypt. Leviticus 7 uses the word for a cutting off in the sense of complete separation. (See Leviticus 7:20.) In Numbers 14:12 the word means “disinherit.”

2. Isaiah uses the verb form of “lost ones” frequently. Examples are Isaiah 24:12; 25:11; and 26:14. In each of these verses, the verb means to destroy, even permanently.

3. In the context of verse 13, Egypt and Assyria were enemy nations. Those “lost” there were cut off, even to the point of destruction. Therefore, when Isaiah 27:13 speaks of bringing back the “lost ones” in Egypt and Assyria, it is as though he were saying that the great trumpet will bring them back from the dead “to worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”

4. Other biblical passages refer to Israel having been dead and resurrected. The most famous of these is Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Paul speaks of Israel’s having been cut off and grafted back in again (Romans 11:15, 17, 23-24). These verses display the mercy and goodness of God. 

NEW TESTAMENT PARALLELS

Matthew 10:6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

Matthew 15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The words “lost” in the verses above use the identical Greek word base as in Septuagint Isaiah. 

Jesus is saying that the people of Israel were “lost.” Further, he came to rescue them. 

The Great Trumpet

“They shall blow the great trumpet” (vs 13). What trumpet is this?

1. The word “trumpet” is first used in Exodus 19:13 to call the people to God’s presence on Mt Sinai. The trumpet sounded in Israel to call the people to war, to announce victory (1 Samuel 13:3), to stop the people from fighting (2 Samuel 2:28), and to announce a new king (2 Samuel 15:10, 1 Kings 1:41, 43). The trumpet therefore signifies an important announcement or command. Yet none of these are a “great trumpet.” This particular phrase seems to be unique to Isaiah, chapter 27.

2. The purpose of the “great trumpet” is to call the “lost ones” out from Egypt and Assyria in order to “worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” 

3. The Septuagint reads that “they” shall blow the great trumpet. Who could “they” be? Could “they” be the apostles and disciples of Christ who blew the gospel trumpet?

One by One

Verse 12 in the Septuagint states, “do ye gather one by one the children of Israel.” The text does not indicate who “they” are. (The Masoretic text displays a second person plural, “You will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel.”)

1. The Septuagint uses the word “gather, συναγάγετε.” This word is a verb form of the noun “synagogue.” The Hebrew texts, depending upon translation, use the metaphorical language of threshing grain or beating off fruit from a tree. 

2. The gathering in the Septuagint and in Masoretic texts is to be done “one by one.”

3. Ordinarily, grain on the threshing floor is not gathered up “grain by grain” or “one by one” after the chaff has been removed. Rather, the totality of the threshed grain is gathered together in heaps. Neither is fruit that is beaten, or knocked, from a tree gathered “one by one” out in the orchard. Rather, everything that falls is collected and separated out later. Isaiah uses his language carefully to indicate that the harvest is not bulk, but individual, one by one.

Summary 

These two verses in Isaiah 27, verses 12 and 13, stun with their brevity and enormity of meaning. 

1. They represent a reversal in the fortunes of Israel. Septuagint Isaiah 27 in its entirety describes a nation whom God rejects. The vineyard image in verses 2-5 portray judgment. Verses 7-8 and 10-11 expand the theme of exile.

2. Verses 6 and 9 stand out like large boulders in a rapidly flowing stream. The torrential waters flow around these verses of blessing, but not over them. Similarly, God’s wrath flows around his people, but does not drown them completely. God’s mercy is like a boulder that will not be moved (Matthew 7:24-25).

3. Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe the manner of God’s blessing upon his “lost” people.

Synthesis

God’s promise of blessing upon Israel stands today. What are the details of this blessing? 

First, God does not and will not bless stubborn resistance to his ways. People who persist in rebellion will be removed and cut off from his people and worse, his own presence (vv 2-5, 7-8, 9-11). 

Second, some will turn to the Lord, crying, “Let us make peace with him, let us make peace” (vs 5). These are the “children of Jacob” from whom “Israel shall bud and blossom.” “The world shall be filled with his fruit.” (The latter quotes are from Septuagint verse 6.)

Verse 9 speaks of atonement and sanctification. It speaks of atonement, because God himself will take away their sin. It speaks of sanctification, because the people shall themselves destroy and remove all their idolatry and signs of it.

Finally, verses 12 and 13 describe how Israel’s “fruit” (vs 6) shall be harvested. 

THE HARVEST–VERSES 12-13

The harvest will be of a remnant of the people. Not everyone born to Israel will be saved. The prior sections establish this. God makes no promises to the persistently rebellious. Even more specifically, verse 12 spells out that “the children of Israel” will be gathered “one by one.” 

“One by one” indicates several things. One, the phrase pronounces God’s sovereignty of choice. Selection is not by an automatic standard. Second, “one by one” indicates care and precision. God cares about each individual child. Third, and most importantly, “one by one” indicates the individuality of the selection process. The nation as a whole, as a group, shall not be harvested. Each grain or piece of fruit individually will be examined and either collected or rejected on its own merit. 

 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, (ESV)

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)

Matthew 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (ESV)

Conclusion

The advent of Jesus Christ, God’s chosen one, Messiah, changed everything for Israel. God did indeed set the nation aside, as a national theocracy. When its fruit ripened, the seed emerged. The flesh of the fruit then rotted and died. God wanted the eternal Seed, not the fleshly, outer husk. Further, the advent of Israel’s Messiah introduced a new standard of acceptance based on God’s grace through faith in Christ. Nevertheless, God gloriously fulfilled Old Testament Israel’s purpose. Messiah came. The physical seed of Abraham and David had been preserved. The eternal king was born of their genetic line. And, God spared a remnant of the people. Even though it’s a remnant, there is no limit to its size. The eternal kingdom of Christ can be infinitely large. God is willing. He is for descendants of Jacob, just as he is for all people–descendants of Cain, Ishmael, Esau, and every single ethnicity on the globe. Septuagint Isaiah 27, which concerns Israel, meshes well with the New Testament gospel message: God is for us.

God is for us, through his Son. Are you, dear reader, for him?

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1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible. Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito.

Already/Not Yet in Isaiah 27:6–Journal 57

By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at Already/Not Yet in Isaiah 27:6-Devotional Journal 57 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 27:6    Septuagint Modernized

Isaiah’s Prophesy Fulfilled

Already

Christians believe Isaiah to be a genuine prophet of the Lord God. They consider his words to be an important part of their Scripture. They also believe that Isaiah 27:6 has been at least partially fulfilled. This is the “already” aspect of “already/not yet.”

Many Christians believe in the already/not yet (1) fulfillment of the prophecies concerning “that day.” “That day” is the day of Jesus Christ. Fulfillment began with the Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, and Jesus’s own birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It continued with the amazingly rapid spread of the Gospel message throughout most of the known world in the days of the apostles, including Paul. The Gospel and kingdom of Christ continue to spread to many peoples, nations, and languages throughout the world. This is the “already” of Isaiah’s fulfilled prophecy. Many of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled in Christ.

Not Yet

Obvious to everyone, our world continues in its chaotic, often evil ways. It is plain that all aspects of Old Testament prophecy have “not yet” been fulfilled. Perfect peace, harmony, health, and well-being have not yet arrived.

Is Isaiah 27:6 “Already” or “Not Yet?”

27:they that are coming are the children of Jacob. Israel shall bud and blossom, and the world shall be filled with his fruit. (CAB, Septuagint)

27:6 In days to come (1) Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit. (ESV) [ESV Note 1) Hebrew: In those to come]

1. If the reader apprehends this verse as limited to ethnicity and nation, then a strong argument could be made that this verse has “not yet” been fulfilled. Indeed, some might say that in the limited sense of ethnicity and nation, the verse does not even bear an “already” aspect. For example, the religious center of Israel, its temple, was destroyed in 70 CE. It has “not yet” been rebuilt. Whether or not an ethnic Israel has blossomed and filled the whole world with its fruit is plausibly arguable.

2. If the reader apprehends this verse in a broader context, then definitely, the “already” has been abundantly fulfilled in Christ and his kingdom. The “not yet” remains to be seen, since the end of the age has not yet come.

Isaiah’s Own Intention

Did Isaiah intend the statement in 27:6 to have the limited, ethnic and national meaning? Or, did Isaiah foresee the coming of a kingdom of God that would embrace the whole world? Our greatest recourse is to consider this verse in the context of the book of Isaiah in its entirety and in the context of all of Scripture. This is the Christian viewpoint.

Christians believe in Christ, who quoted Isaiah. The gospels amply quote Isaiah in the context of Jesus Christ. Further, the letters of the New Testament greatly expound the meanings of Old Testament prophets, including Isaiah.

No matter how great the biblical historian, no one but God knows what Isaiah held in his heart (1 Corinthians 2:7-14). Nor does anyone know what the hearts of Isaiah’s listeners may or may not have comprehended. Isaiah greatly complained that his listeners were hard of hearing, hard of heart, and disobedient to God. Christians should not interpret biblical truths according to their standard.

Scripture, however, is God-breathed. God knows both his own intention and what the heart of Isaiah contained. The totality of Scripture, therefore, is our final authority, not “grammar,” nor history.

What New Testament Authors Speak About “Spiritual” Interpretations

It is a fact that on the day of Pentecost, God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is already here. Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things (John 14:26 ESV). 

The Apostle Peter made good use of the fact of the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

Paul also appealed to the Holy Spirit to explain his understanding of the things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. (Co 2:7 NET)

How Can Today’s Readers Discern Isaiah’s Meaning?

The Apostles Paul and John taught that all Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9 and context; 1 John 3:24). Therefore, God has made Scripture accessible to the understanding of all Christians (1 John 2:27). Since it is by the Spirit that Christians discern Scripture, then if the Spirit himself gives a “spiritual” interpretation to the words of the prophet, so be it. How does a reader know what Isaiah means? She know by prayerfully reading all of Isaiah and all of what the New Testament speaks about Isaiah and the same topics of which Isaiah speaks.

Conclusion

Many Christian commentators agree that Isaiah 27:6 refers to an “already” fulfillment in the current kingdom of Christ in the hearts of believers throughout the world. Others reserve this prophecy for an ethnic and national Israel at an unknown future moment. As a Gentile believer in Christ, my preference coincides with the New Testament viewpoint that Christ is himself the fulfillment of all prophecy. Based upon the entirety of Isaiah’s message (which, Lord willing, we will get to) and the entirety of the New Testament, I believe that Isaiah foresaw this kingdom of Messiah and rejoiced in it.

Reader, what about you?

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1 “Already not yet” is a term used widely by many commentators and pastors. It did not originate in this blog. By Googling “already/not yet,” the reader can begin to find a multitude of references that use this descriptively apt phrase.

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