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Isaiah’s Flip-Flops: Isaiah Journal 2.14

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/isaiahs-flip-flops-isaiah-devotional-2-14/.

God’s Problem

God created humankind for his glory.

 Genesis 1:31 And God saw all the things that he had made, and, behold, they were very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Then, as everyone knows, God’s enemy Satan attempted to ruin God’s creation. He enticed the people God had created away from their loyalty to God. God punished the world by sending an enormous flood (Genesis 6-9). After this flood, the Old Testament records how God seemingly gave up on the bulk of the world’s people (Genesis 7-11). Rather, he chose to focus upon a small group. They were the progeny of God’s faithful servant and friend, Abraham. They became known as “Israel.” God chose this small group to be his showcase, his special witnesses. They were to demonstrate God’s character of goodness and righteousness to the world.

But that didn’t happen. God had given them a glorious Law. But these people of his kept ignoring, losing, and disobeying it. They left God again and again to worship the gods of the nations. Repeatedly, the Old Testament records how God punished his people by allowing their enemies to trod them underfoot. When they repented, God would bless them. But their loyalty never endured. Continuously, they recommitted the sin of their first parents. Over and over again, they left the God who loved them and followed the idols of the false gods of the nations surrounding them.

God’s problem in a nutshell is that he is faithful, but those he seeks to bless are not.

God’s Problem Expressed in Isaiah

The book of Isaiah is like the weather in Southern California. The climate there never settles down. Heat follows cold and flood follows drought, all in rapid succession. Throughout the entire year, the weather proves itself erratic. The book of Isaiah is like this. Isaiah bounces back and forth between assurances of blessing for Israel and pronouncements of judgment. Isaiah 42:16-44:8 provides a good example of this principle.

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and I will cause them to tread paths which they have not known: I will turn darkness into light for them, and crooked things into straight. These things will I do, and will not forsake them. 17 But they are turned back: be ye utterly ashamed that trust in graven images, who say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. 18 Hear, ye deaf, and look up, ye blind, to see. 19 And who is blind, but my servants? and deaf, but they that rule over them? yea, the servants of God have been made blind. (Septuagint, Brenton)

First, notice God’s blessing and promise in verse 16 above. Then, see the statement of the problem in verses 17 through 19. Description of the problem and God’s response of judgment against Israel continues through the end of the chapter in verse 25.

Isaiah 42:25 So he brought upon them the fury of his wrath; and the war, and those that burnt round about them, prevailed against them; yet no one of them knew it, neither did they lay it to heart. (Septuagint, Brenton) (See also Isaiah 42:25, ESV or Isaiah 42:25, NET.)

Then, Isaiah 43:1 switches back immediately to God’s assurance of blessing. God’s blessing continues throughout chapter 43 and into chapter 44.

And now thus saith the Lord God that made thee, O Jacob, and formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Septuagint, Brenton

God’s Solution 

Part One: Messiah

How can a reader deal with these flip-flops? Is either God himself, or Isaiah, or both schizophrenic? What is God’s intention: blessing or judgment? He seems to insist on both. No, God is not schizophrenic, and everything he says he will do, he will do. The resolution to the seeming contradiction goes all the way back to the very beginning. God has always had a plan. And God’s plan has always been to send people their Savior.

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall be on guard for His heel. (SAAS) (1)

A Savior will be born into the people of Israel. He will be God’s singular Servant, God’s Son. The Savior/Servant will obey God fully and always. He alone will accomplish God’s purposes of righteousness and loyalty on behalf of all Israel.

EVIDENCE OF THE SAVIOR IN ISAIAH

God’s glory against the backdrop of Israel’s failure (Israel, plural) first appears in Isaiah 4:2-6. Note especially verses 4 and 5.

 Isaiah 4:2 And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel. 3 And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy. 4 For the Lord shall wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and shall purge out the blood from the midst of them, with the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning. 5 And he shall come, and it shall be with regard to every place of mount Sion, yea, all the region round about it shall a cloud overshadow by day, and there shall be as it were the smoke and light of fire burning by night: and upon all the glory shall be a defence. 6 And it shall be for a shadow from the heat, and as a shelter and a hiding-place from inclemency of weather and from rain. (Septuagint, Brenton

Without the New Testament, these verses would remain unfulfilled. But Christ has completely fulfilled this promise. Thank God for the light the New Testament sheds.

First, the Lord washed away the filth of not only the sons and daughters of Sion but of the whole world on the cross. Second, Christ continues that work by means of his Holy Spirit. Third, the Holy Spirit is also the Comforter (or, Helper), who defends and shelters God’s new Israel, the church, from adversity and from enemies.

Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (ESV)

Notice the similarities between the images Matthew uses and those of Isaiah 4:4, quoted above. The Apostle John speaks more of the Holy Spirit, see below, much as Isaiah does in Isaiah 42:5-6, quoted earlier.

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (ESV)

Isaiah’s verses find fulfillment in the activities of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 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)

Readers can find further references to the Savior in Isaiah, up to this point, in Isaiah 9:1-6; 11:1-16; 12:1-6; 22:20-24; 32:1-4, 15-20; 40:1-11; and 42:1-16. This list may not be exhaustive.

Part Two: A Remnant

All Scripture is clear that only a remnant will be saved. Noah’s boat provides the first example. It carried only eight people to safety (Genesis 7:13). Israel itself is but a remnant of the entire human race. Further, Isaiah makes clear that only a remnant of Israel will be saved.

Isaiah 10:20 And its hall come to pas sin that day that the remnant of Israel shall no more join themselves with, and the saved of Jacob shall no more trust in, them that injured them; but they shall trust in the Holy God of Israel, in truth. 21 And the remnant of Jacob shall trust on the mighty God. 22And though the people of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be saved. (Septuagint, Brenton)

Isaiah 4:3 And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy. 4 For the Lord shall wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and shall purge out the blood from the midst of them, with the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning. (Septuagint, Brenton) [See also Isaiah 28:5; 37:31-32; and 46:3-4. There may be other references.]

The Apostle Paul, an Israelite among Israelites (Romans 11:1 and Philippians 3:4-5), picked up and expounded Isaiah’s theme of a remnant from Israel. To this remnant are added as many Gentiles as choose to come.

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

Romans 11:4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. (ESV) [See the complete context in Romans 11.]

Jesus himself spoke of a small proportion that would be saved.

Matthew 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV)

Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (ESV)

Luke 13:22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. (ESV)

THE MAIN POINT OF A REMNANT

I don’t believe God’s purpose in specifying a remnant is to limit the number of people who finally enter the gates of his kingdom. (Neither should we.) Other places in Scripture claim that number will be as many as the sand in the sea and the stars in the sky (Revelation 7:9 is one such place). Rather, God seeks to emphasize that only those who believe, repent, and faithfully (continuously until the end) trust in and follow God as Lord, Savior, and King will be saved. Because God makes a promise to save Israel does not mean that he will save the arrogant, the hard of heart, or those unrepentantly disobedient to his will. That has never been God’s purpose. By means of the cross of his holy Servant, Jesus Christ, God gives everyone–Israelite and Gentile alike–opportunity to repent, be saved, and find their rest in him.

__________

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

God Speaks: Isaiah Journal 2.11

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at

God Speaks: Isaiah 42:5-7

A Simple Reading Lesson

God has been speaking all along in Isaiah. I encourage readers to go back through the paragraphs and chapters to locate the verses in which Isaiah writes, “… says the Lord God,” or, “… thus says the Lord God…” God often speaks in Isaiah. In fact, he speaks so often that a reader may come to take his speech for granted and barely notice. Therefore, readers need to read attentively for the portions in which God speaks directly.

Many Bibles use quotation marks to set boundaries around the portions God directly speaks. A few others use no quotation marks. Readers must judge by context who is speaking and the boundaries of the speech. Sometimes various translations disagree one from another and place the quotation marks differently. Generally speaking, the context, the content, and the exact words of the text in its original language provide the best indicators of speech and its boundaries.

For literary and spiritual purposes, direct speech is dramatic and effective. An example of the former is nearly any literary work of fiction, whether a play, a novel, a song, or poetry. Authors use speech, or dialogue to bring the piece home (make it real) to the reader or listener’s ear. Spiritually, God’s Holy Spirit uses speech in Scripture to interact with readers from all ages and places. Imagine the effect on a child of God (or soon-to-be child of God) when the Holy Spirit applies in a most personally direct way the words from Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” straight into that reader’s heart. The effect can be profound and life changing.

When seeking to understand a biblical text, careful readers pay attention to dialogue. Who is speaking to whom?

Verse 5: Dialogue Set in a Broader Context

Isaiah 42:5 defines the context for God’s speech to his Servant in the verses that follow.

Thus saith the Lord God, who made the heaven, and established it; who settled the earth, and the things in it, and gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that tread on it: (LXE, Brenton)

Isaiah the narrator presents God the speaker as Creator of the heaven, the earth, and all things in it, especially people. God is the source of life (spirit, breath) to all people. (Confer John 1:4 and Acts 17:25.) God as Creator, and therefore as sovereign ruler, all knowing and powerful, is the theme of chapter 40 through at least 48. In these chapters, God continually sets himself apart from the idols his people continually worship. God argues that he alone is God; idols are merely human creations. As Creator and sustainer, God has power both to foretell the future and to bring it to pass. Which of the idols can do that? By these prophecies God proves his identity and his power.

God throughout Volume 2 is calling his people back to himself. That is God’s purpose in displaying himself to his people as God Almighty, a Prophet with power to foretell and bring about the future. He earnestly desires his people to forsake their idols and return to him. He prophesies in advance the advent of his Servant in order to help his people believe. He gives them the solid evidence of prophecy as proof of his identity as God.

God Addresses the Servant

6 I the Lord God have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will strengthen thee: and I have given thee for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 to open the eyes of the blind, to bring the bound and them that sit in darkness out of bonds and the prison-house.  (Isaiah 42:6-7 LXE, Brenton

God addresses the Servant. This is in itself amazing. There are two identities present in this verse: the speaker and his addressee. Peeking ahead to chapter 49–we find that the Servant also speaks. There are two eternal Beings, right here in these texts of Isaiah.

But where in the Old Testament or in Israel’s post-exilic history is this prophecy fulfilled? If someone answers, “In Cyrus,” then what a tremendous disappointment for readers today. Cyrus has been dead and buried for millennia. What hope would his dead, desiccated corpse provide today’s bruised and nearly extinguished people the world over? But thank God the prophecy refers to one greater than Cyrus. Thank God for the fulfillment of his words of prophecy to the Servant, as recorded in the New Testament.

The Old Testament does not record the fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah (unless one counts the strictly local life and death of Cyrus the Persian). And God would not be God if this prophecy of Isaiah were not fulfilled. Thank God for the New Testament! Thank God for these “new things” (Isaiah 42:9) whose fulfillment the New Testament records. God always intended the Old and New Testaments to be a unified whole, the former prophesying in detail and the latter recording fulfillment of the former.

1  Peter 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (ESV )

Israel’s Messiah

Messiah has always existed within the pages of the Old Testament. In early Genesis, he is there (Genesis 1:1 {אֱלֹהִים noun common masculine plural absolute}; Genesis 1:26). In Moses, he is there (Deuteronomy 18:15; John 8:55-59). In the Psalter, Messiah is there (Psalm 2; Psalm 110:1). And here in Isaiah, Messiah is right here.

6 I the Lord God have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will strengthen thee: and I have given thee for the covenant of a race, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 to open the eyes of the blind, to bring the bound and them that sit in darkness out of bonds and the prison-house.  (Isaiah 42:6-7 LXE, Brenton

Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (ESV)

Praise God on behalf of his people Israel and Gentiles alike for the New Testament fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. God the Creator is God indeed.

Messiah the Servant: Isaiah Devotional Journal 43

By Christina Wilson on 

Isaiah 22:15-25     Link to LXE Modernized

I. A Messianic Announcement

Isaiah 22:15-25 is a key passage in Isaiah. At first glance, it may appear to be an ancient detail about the inner workings of King Hezekiah’s court, one without much relevance today. A deeper dive, however, reveals another of Isaiah’s many messianic prophecies. The technical term for Isaiah’s making a double prophecy in two entirely different time frames is “synchronicity.” This section is a “synchronous” prophesy. Isaiah really does mean the human person Eliakim. And, he also really does mean Messiah.

A Brief Side Note Concerning the Historical Time Frame

First, however, how is it that Isaiah sets the prophecy in King Hezekiah’s Day, before the Assyrian invasion? The prior section, Isaiah 22:1-14, made reference to the Babylonian invasion and resultant captivity (see in particular verses 3-4, 8-11, 13; see also Isaiah-Journal 42). That invasion occurred over a century after the Assyrian. Yes, Isaiah has mixed his time periods. He hasn’t written in chronological order. He does that frequently.

The primary indication that the prophecy in the second division of chapter 22 occurs before the Assyrian invasion is the fact of the names. Isaiah specifically mentions Shebna (Somnas in the Septuagint) in verse 15 and Eliakim in verse 20. These two names occur together in 2 Kings 18:37 and 19:2. During the account of the Assyrian invasion, Eliakim was “over the household” of Hezekiah, and Shebna was the secretary.

The story that Isaiah relates in 22:15-25 teaches many lessons concerning the pitfalls of pride and the virtues of humble service. A more exciting message Isaiah packed into the passage, however, is the messianic prophecy he makes.

How Do We Know This Passage Is Messianic?

1. The foremost evidence is verse 22:

Isaiah 22:22 And I will give him the glory of David; and he shall rule, and there shall be none to speak against him; and I will give him the key of the house of David upon his shoulder. And he shall open, and there shall be none to shut; and he shall shut, and there shall be none to open. (CAB, LXE) 

NOTE: The first portion of verse 22, “And I will give him the glory of David; and he shall rule, and there shall be none to speak against him;” is from the Septuagint. The Masoretic textual tradition does not contain these sentences.

Revelation 3:7 and its context indicate that Jesus Christ is the one “who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (ESV). And, the New Testament is the best Christian commentary we have concerning the Old Testament.

2. The overall tone of Isaiah 22:15-24 is highly positive. God himself speaks (verses 15 and 25). He uses first person (“I”) when he bestows his favor upon his servant. Other than Isaiah himself (Isaiah 20:3), only Messiah has received favor in this biblical book so far.

3. Isaiah 9:1-7 is a prior messianic passage accepted by all. The word choices in that passage and this one show significant similarities. For example, consider the following.

4. Isaiah uses the word “servant” (verse 20) in other messianic passages. This is the first use with reference to Christ. Just a few of the other passages are: Isaiah 42:1-749:5-6, and 52:13-15. In chapter 9 Messiah is called “son” and here “servant.” Jesus Christ was both.

5. The fate of Shebna, the evil, prideful servant, is similar to the fate of Satan.

Isaiah 22:17 Behold now, the Lord of hosts casts forth and will utterly destroy such a man, and will take away your robe and your glorious crown, 18 and will cast you into a great and unmeasured land, and there you shall die; and He will bring your fair chariot to shame, and the house of your prince to be trodden down. (CAB, LXE)

When Jesus, God’s true servant, ministered on earth, he said he saw Satan fall from his position in heaven as the chief and most glorious of God’s created angels. (See also Isaiah 14:2).

Luke 10:18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

The Glories of Messiah

Eliakim, the human servant, performed well, according to the biblical record in 2 Kings. The glories of the servant Messiah, however, far outweigh the glories of  the human. What does this passage reveal about him?

  • God is the one who calls his Messiah (Isaiah 22:20). Messiah did not appoint himself. God names him “my servant.” As servant, he represents God fully. He serves God, not himself. The servant is clothed in God’s authority.
  • He ministers first to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah, as a father–one who cares. All the characteristics and behaviors packed into the role of an ideal human father are packed into Messiah, as well.
  • Messiah is David’s heir (verse 22). God gives him David’s glory and authority. No one is higher than he. The power to “open” and “shut” is awesome in scope and majesty.
  • God appointed his servant with certainty (verse 23). His position was secure, not to be changed. God backed him fully, gave him his full support. God intended his servant to bear the glory of his own throne. God is his father. Everyone in the Father’s house, from the least to greatest, will trust in God’s servant-Messiah and be responsible to him (verse 24).

What About Verse 25?

Yes, Isaiah 22:25 appears to dash cold water on everything the prior verses proclaim. But who is verse 25 about? Is it about Messiah? Eliakim the man? Or, could it possibly refer to Shebna, the deposed steward? By way of forewarning, the discussion concerning verse 25 may be considered technical.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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

By BylineChristina Wilson on 

Isaiah 9:1-10:34   Link to LXE

Flashback

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

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

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

Who Is This Son?

So far, Isaiah has given glimpses.

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

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

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

Messiah Is Isaiah’s Main Theme

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

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

How blessed the northern kingdom will be in that day!

Notes:

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

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

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

But First, the Judgment Against Israel

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

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

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

Verses of Note

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

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

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

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

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

Judgment Against Assyria

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

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

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

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

How Does the Remainder of Isaiah 10 Unfold?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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