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Septuagint 43: Isaiah Journal 2.17

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/septuagint-43-isaiah-devotional-2-17/.

This article will be semi-technical.

Thank God for Greek!

Whichever people may have translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek (the Septuagint), they did so with great sensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit. This manifests in the specific Greek words used. These translators did not shy away from using words that point to Messiah. Many of the Greek words and word stems of the Septuagint also occur in the Greek of the New Testament. Readers have many tools to access both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Greek in which the New Testament was written. Comparing the two testaments Greek to Greek yields rich rewards.

These are some of the readily available language tools:

  • interlinear or side by side editions of the Septuagint showing both the Greek and the English (or other language) translation
  • interlinear New Testaments with one’s native language displayed word by word under the Greek
  • biblical editions that show Strong’s numbers for each word in one’s native language, or for each Greek word
  • a multitude of highly detailed lexicons and concordances
  • on-line lessons, printed textbooks, and in-person classes to learn Greek
  • some links are included in the footnotes (1)

Christian Correspondences with Isaiah 43

Redeemer

1 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. (Brenton)

  1. God through Isaiah speaks to Israel in first person. The text states that God specifically created and formed Jacob, also known as Israel. Using an entirely different word, Christ says in Matthew16:18, “On this rock I will build my church.” Paul in Ephesians 2:20 speaks of the church as having been “built.”
  2. Although one study Bible uses the words “will protect” for “have redeemed,” most English translations stick to “redeemed.” This word occurs multiple times in both testaments. Christ in the New Testament is known as “redeemer.” (See also Isaiah 43:14. The “Lord God” does far more than “protect” Israel. He redeems her.)

Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people. (ESV)

Luke 24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. (ESV)

Calling By Name

In the Septuagint, God speaks to Israel, “I have called you by name.” In the New Testament, Jesus calls by name.

John 10:3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out… 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (ESV)

Paul also speaks of members of the church (Israelites and Gentiles) as those whom God calls.

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV)

Witnesses

God appoints Israel as his witness.

10 Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am he: before me there was no other God, and after me there shall be none. 11 I am God; and beside me there is no Saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved; I have reproached, and there was no strange god among you: ye are my witnesses, and I am the Lord God, 13 even from the beginning; and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: I will work, and who shall turn it back? (Brenton)

MESSIAH AS WITNESS

First, notice the construction of the sentence in verse 10. The Greek itself is very similar in construction (Isaiah 43:10 LXX). The plain meaning, out of context, would be that there are three witnesses: Israel (“Be ye my witnesses“), the Lord God, and “my servant whom I have chosen.” When including the context, an argument could be made that this is a very awkward construction indicating two witnesses: the Lord God and Israel, who is also the Lord’s servant. Against this interpretation lies the fact that the first phrase  is second personal plural (be ye, witnesses). The third phrase, “my servant whom I have chosen,” is singular. If the reader extends the context back to chapter 41, to which this chapter is closely linked, the servant could well be the singular Servant of Isaiah 41:8 forward.

Within the four Gospels, Jesus claims that God himself is his witness.

John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

John 8:18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,

John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world– to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

And, Messiah (Jesus) witnesses to the Father.

John 8:26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”

John 8:40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

John 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.

John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (Joh 8:29 ESV)

ISRAEL AS WITNESSES

Isaiah 43:10 Be ye my witnesses… 12… ye are my witnesses

As the Lord God commanded Israel to be his witnesses, so Messiah commands his disciples to be his witnesses.

THE DISCIPLES AS WITNESSES

Luke 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Acts1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Protection

Notice the similarity in the following two statements, one from the Septuagint, spoken by the “Lord God,” and the other from the New Testament, spoken by Christ. The actual Greek words “deliver” (ἐξαιρέω) and “snatch out” (ἁρπάζω) are different. In the context of these sentences, however, they are synonymous.

12… I am the Lord God, 13… and there is none that can deliver out of my hands: (Brenton

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)

“I Am” Statements

The Gospel of John is famous for Jesus’s many “I am,” statements. There are a few, however, which follow the Old Testament formulation in Isaiah 43 exactly.

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι), you will die in your sins.” 

John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι), and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

Isaiah 43:10 Be ye my witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι): before me  there was no other God, and after me there shall be none.

Isaiah 43:25 <1> I, even I, am he that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember them. {1) Gr. I am, I am} (LXE, Brenton)

Isaiah 43:25 ἐγώ εἰμι ἐγώ εἰμι… (I am, I am) (Isaiah 43:25, LXT)

And John is not the only gospel in which Jesus claims the divine Being. Mark also includes this testimony.

 Mark 14:61… Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am (ἐγώ εἰμι), and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 

A Chosen Race

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do new things, which shall presently spring forth, and ye shall know them: and I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land. 20 the beasts of the field shall bless me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen race, 21 my people whom I have preserved to tell forth my praises. (Brenton

The phrase “chosen race” in the Septuagint, or “chosen people” in the Hebrew, is all but unique in the Old Testament. A digital search engine shows “chosen people” and “chosen race” nowhere else in the Old Testament, other than Septuagint Esther 8:13.  Various Greek lexicons define the word γένος (gen-os) as: 1) race, offspring, descendants, family; 2) nation, people; and 3) class, kind (Thayer, and Gingrich).

The New Testament likewise uses the phrase “chosen race, γένος (gen-os)” just once. Peter’s statement closely resembles Isaiah’s use of the phrase “chosen race” in verse 20. Peter combines verses 20 and 21.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race (γένος), 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.

The shortened form, “chosen” as in “my chosen” occurs more frequently in both testaments.

Water

Isaiah 43 speaks often of water. The occurrences of water fall into two categories. The first category is dangerous water. The second category is the water necessary for life. This section will consider the second category, the water of life. The Gospels also relate Jesus/Messiah’s ministry in connection with two categories of water: dangerous water and the water that gives life.

DANGEROUS WATER

Isaiah 43:2 And if thou pass through water, I am with thee; and the rivers shall not overflow thee… (Brenton

Isaiah 43:16 Thus saith the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty water; (Brenton

And from the New Testament–

Mark 4:37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 

John 6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

WATER OF LIFE

From Isaiah 43–

43:19… I will make… rivers in the dry land. 20 The beasts of the field shall bless me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen race, (Brenton) [Note: The ESV writes, “rivers in the desert.”]

And from the mouth of Messiah–

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Blindness

God through Isaiah seems to never grow weary of calling out Israel’s blindness.

Isaiah 43:8 and I have brought forth the blind people; for their eyes are alike blind, and they that have ears are deaf. 

Messiah in his ministry did the same with the religious leaders of his day.

Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 

John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus in his day healed many who were physically blind. Which is more difficult? To heal a physically blind person or to give spiritual life and sight to a spiritually blind person? Jesus did both.

Matthew 20:30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Summary: The Christian Message

Septuagint Isaiah 43 speaks the Christian message.

First, verses 1 through 7 cry out the Lord’s love for his people (Isaiah 43:1-7). For Christians, this includes all people everywhere. God seeks out his own and calls them by name from the far corners of the earth. No one is too far away to be saved. He cares for his people, provides for them, and protects them.

Second, just as Israel was a witness among the nations (Isaiah 43:8-21) to the existence, sovereignty, might, and eternity of the Lord God, Christians are witnesses of the same. Most importantly, Christians witness that Christ came in the flesh, died and was buried, arose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. The first Christians saw all these things. Christians further witness that Jesus Messiah sent his Holy Spirit to take his place in the hearts of believers everywhere. This is how Christians know that Jesus lives.

Third, the Christian message is inclusive. The Lord’s people are one. Isaiah 43:5-7 indicates this truth, which will be developed further as Isaiah progresses. There are no ethnic nor language barriers in the body of Christ. The body of Christ includes all people who believe, both those of Israeli descent and Gentiles. There is no separation. God and Messiah are one. Their people are one.

Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

Fourth, God judges his people as being blind, distant from him, and sinful (Isaiah 43:22-28). Yet, he is willing to forgive them. He will do this for himself (Isaiah 43:25). The Christian message is that all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Yet God in Christ will forgive them.

Fifth, confession and repentance are necessary.

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and thy sins; and I will not remember them. 26 But do thou remember, and let us plead together: do thou first confess thy transgressions, that thou mayest be justified [made righteous (SAAS)].

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When one reads through Isaiah 43, God appears to be as though he were a lover spurned. I see a God who is bending over backward, pleading with his people to return to him. Yet, verses 27-28 indicates that they have turned against him, to their shame and destruction. Why did God’s people not love him

But the story has not ended. It continues. And, God’s message today is the same as yesterday.

 Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 

Amen.

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1 Brenton’s English Septuagint; New English Translation of the Septuagint, translated by Moisés Silva NETSAbarim Interlinear New TestamentBlue Letter Bible Septuagint in Greek with links to Strong’s concordance for each word. All links accessed October 28, 2021.

Gleaning #2: Isaiah Devotional 2.6

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/gleaning-2-isaiah-journal-2-6/.

Gleanings from Isaiah 41

RECAP

Picking up the “story line” from the last post (Isaiah Journal 2.5), in Chapter 41of Isaiah, God summons the nations to renew their strength, gather themselves in consultation together, then “debate” (Isaiah 42:1, NET) with him. The debate will determine who is more powerful, God or his united enemies.

Differences Between Septuagint and Masoretic Texts

God speaks first in Isaiah 41:2-4 (1). The narrative of the Septuagint differs from the Masoretic in verses 2-3.

II. Isaiah 41:2-3 (2)

A. The Masoretic

The Masoretic text (Hebrew) portrays the victorious conqueror from the east accomplishing his militaristic feats through violence.

41:2 Who stirred up one from the east whom victory meets at every step? He gives up nations before him, so that he tramples kings underfoot; he makes them like dust with his sword, like driven stubble with his bow.
3 He pursues them and passes on safely, by paths his feet have not trod. (ESV)

Verse 3 appears obscure. What does it mean that he pursues nations “by paths his feet have not trod,”? Readers can compare translations at this website: Blue Letter Bible.

B. The Septuagint

The Septuagint text (Greek), on the other hand, portrays the victorious conqueror accomplishing his feats peacefully.

41:2 Who raised up righteousness from the east, and called it to his feet, so that it should go? shall appoint it an adversary of Gentiles, and shall dismay kings, and bury their swords in the earth, and cast forth their bows and arrows as sticks? 3 And he shall pursue them; the way of his feet shall proceed in peace. (LXE, Brenton)

C. Application

  1. I do not pretend to be an historian. Readers may consult online encyclopedias to discover that some accounts state that Cyrus achieved takeover of Babylonia peacefully by diverting waterways that protected the city. His soldiers marched through thigh high water by night. The Babylonians caved without resistance. Not all accounts agree with this. They vary by source material used.
  2. Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1 mention Cyrus by name. We have not arrived at these verses yet in our study. However, Isaiah does use metaphor. Cyrus could well be a metaphor for God’s shepherd, Christ. The Orthodox Study Bible (3) contains study notes that so indicate.
  3. If a reader chooses to interpret the phrases “righteousness from the east” and “his feet shall proceed in peace” as prophecies extending to God’s Messiah, then indeed, they are true. Christ, through his followers, spiritually conquered Gentile nations by means of peaceful preaching of the gospel.
  4. In any event, these questions concerning the meaning of verses two and three would most likely not be asked if the reader only consulted the Masoretic text.

III. Isaiah 41:4

Isaiah 41:4, LXX pops in the Septuagint text. The last two words state, “I Am.”

4 Who has wrought and done these things? he has called it who called it from the generations of old; I God, the first and to all futurity, I AM. (LXE, Brenton

A study note for this verse appears in the Orthodox Study Bible (3).

41:4 I Am, repeated twenty-seven times in chs. 41-49, means “I am the existing One.” This phrase is traditionally written in Greek in Christ’s halo on Orthodox icons (OΩN). This is how the Son and Word of God revealed Himself to Moses (Ex 3:14).

Additionally, the high priest tore his garments when Jesus spoke these words in Mark 14:62-63. On another occasion in John 8:58-59, the religious leaders picked up stones to hurl at Jesus when he spoke these words. These are actions Jewish people performed whenever they heard blasphemy. Because Isaiah consistently uses the “I am” phrase with reference to Yahweh, the Lord God Almighty, they understood that when Jesus spoke “I am” with reference to himself, he equated himself with Yahweh, the Old Testament Lord and God. This resulted in charges of blasphemy, by their interpretation.

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (ESV)

In all fairness, yes, the English versions of the Masoretic text do bring out the force of Isaiah 41:4, ESV, some more than others (see Isaiah 41:4, NET). But to anyone with an Old Testament Septuagint interlinear, the text in Greek immediately calls to mind New Testament parallels. (See also Revelation 1:8, 17 and 22:13).

IV. Isaiah 41:25

With much less dramatic impact, verse 25 contains a small difference worth notice.

The Masoretic (Hebrew) reads:

41:25 I stirred up one from the north, and he has come, from the rising of the sun, and he shall call upon my name; (ESV)

Another version translates the Hebrew differently:

41:25 I have stirred up one out of the north and he advances, one from the eastern horizon who prays in my name. (NET)

The Greek text reads:

41:25 But I have raised up him that comes from the north, and him that comes from the rising of the sun: they shall be called by my name: (LXE, Brenton)

The introduction of “they” here, in association with “him” calls to mind a New Testament text that points to Christ and his followers. “They shall be called by my name” finds fulfillment in Acts.

Acts 11:26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. (ESV)

CONCLUSION

Not too many years ago, many church “scholars” and pundits considered the Septuagint translation as “less than.” I, for one, encountered discouragement toward its use. In the past several years, however, a fresh appreciation of the Septuagint has grown. Some English translations of the Masoretic use it to inform their text, when the Hebrew meaning seems less clear or certain.

New Testament authors quoted extensively from the Septuagint. I find the linguistic connections between it and the New Testament to be many and rich. Septuagint Isaiah is a book in which the gospel connections between the Old Testament and Christ in the New are brought to light, rather than obscured. Lord willing, may he permit and encourage me to continue exploring its treasures.

__________

1 In fact, the nations never speak in all of this chapter. God speaks throughout. Rather, the text shows us their actions of constructing their idols together.

2 The prior post contains point one: Isaiah Journal 2.5

3Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.

Gleaning #1: Isaiah Devotional 2.5

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/gleaning-1-isaiah-journal-2-5/.

Gleanings from Isaiah 41

Differences Between Septuagint and Masoretic Texts

I. Isaiah 41:1

A. The Details

40:31 but they that wait on God shall renew their strength; they shall put forth new
feathers like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not hunger.


41:1 Hold a feast to me, ye islands: for the princes shall renew their strength: let them draw nigh and speak together: then let them declare judgment. (Septuagint {LXX}, Brenton translation {1})

Compare the above verses from the Septuagint with those from the Masoretic below.

40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.


41:1 Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength; let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near for judgment. (ESV)

A main difference in these verses is placement (location) of the word “together” in verse 41:1. In both the Septuagint English translation (LXE, Brenton) and the Greek text itself, “together” (ἅμα) refers to the action of the “princes.” The verb “shall renew” is future active indicative. This describes what will happen. In view of this, God states, “Let them” draw near and speak together.” In other words, with their newly found strength, God invites, or commands, the “princes,” or rulers, to draw near to one another and speak together with each other. “Then,” says the text, let them declare their judgment. (Conclusions will be drawn below.)

Another difference in verse 41:1 is the word translated “princes” in Brenton’s English Septuagint. The Septuagint, as translated by Moisés Silva (2), reads “rulers.” The princes are rulers.

The Masoretic text (ESV) for this word reads “peoples.” Also, the Masoretic assigns the word “together” with reference to God and the peoples, rather than to the peoples together among themselves. Further, unlike the Septuagint, God invites the peoples to renew their strength (“let the peoples renew”). Finally, they and God will “together draw near for judgment.” This order and grouping becomes very apparent in the NET translation.

“Listen to me in silence, you coastlands! Let the nations find renewed strength! Let them approach and then speak; let us come together for debate! (Isaiah 41:1, NET)

B. Gleanings from the Details 

By now, most likely, many casual readers have long since disappeared from the scene. “So what? Big deal. Who cares? This is really picking through straws,” some of them might say. But the Septuagint Greek text contains many treasures of richness in God’s holy Word, for those who have patience to read, reread, compare texts, listen, and notice. One reader’s chaff is another’s golden thread.

A STORY LINE REVEALED

Verses 40:31-41:1 reveal a story in the Greek text. We include Isaiah 40:31 because of the verbal tie established by repetition of the word “renew.” Isaiah 40:31 is one of the more popular verses from Isaiah. This verse has been set to music, and decorative wall plaques containing this verse adorn people’s homes.

Considering 40:31 and 41:1 together, side by side as they are, the reader perceives two distinct groups which renew their strength. One group are the blessed, “they that wait on God.” Waiting on God in Scripture is a marvelous thing to do. God favors those who wait on him. The other group are composed of the rulers, the nations, the far off islands. These words refer not so much to geography in this context, but to spiritual condition. Those far from God abide so because they oppose him; they have no interest in him. But God says they shall renew their strength. And being strengthened, God bids them to gather together with one another, to converse together in a huddle, to plan their strategy in opposition to God.

Now ordinarily, the peoples of islands, or far off nations, would not speak the same language. God confused the languages at the tower of Babel and scattered the people groups. Here they come together in a united front of opposition against God. A comparison with other Scriptures helps us to see that this is the case.

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers gathered themselves together, against the Lord, and against his Christ; (LXE) 

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (ESV)

God’s people, on the other hand, are not united by a “cause.” They are united by nature, for they share the nature and character of Christ.

John 17:11… Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me… 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one… (ESV)

As the story line progresses through the chapter, the reader discovers that the united enemies of God, the “rulers,” lose the argument. They and their idols neither foresee the future nor bring it about. God, however, created the world, foretells its future history, and in his might and power brings it to pass (see prior post).

Psalm 2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (ESV)

CONCLUSION: GLEANING #1 God is in control. He designs the outcome and brings it to pass.

__________

1 English Septuagint Translation, Brenton, available at eng-Brenton_ISA.pdf (ebible.org), October 7, 2021.

The Coming Messiah: Isaiah Devotional 2.2

By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/the-coming-messiah-lxx-isaiah-2-2/.

Isaiah 40:1-11: Structure of the Opening Verses

The first unit of Volume 2 of Isaiah (verses 40:1-11) boldly and joyfully announces the coming Messiah. Yes, the return of the captives from Babylonia hides in the background. “Hides” is a good word. This portion of Isaiah is nowhere as specific and blunt as the first thirty-nine chapters, which comprise Volume 1. Readers must look closely to find actual mention of Babylonia in these first four chapters of Volume 2 (See Isaiah 43:1447:148:1420). Commentators who insert the history of Babylon and the captivity of Judah into this prelude do so by reading into the text a secular history well known from other portions of biblical history, such as found in Ezra. Isaiah himself never names Babylon directly in these early chapters of Volume 2. Consequently, the coming Messiah is not a secondary application here, but the primary application.

The first eleven verses contain three subsections: Isaiah 40:1-23-5, and 6-11.

  • The first subsection introduces the theme of Volume 2: comfort and forgiveness for God’s people, Jerusalem. (See Introduction.)
  • The second proclaims the forerunner of the coming Messiah (see “The Church” in Concrete and Spiritual).
  • The third introduces the Shepherd and his love more fully. He is the eternal Word (John 1:1-5, 14), as differentiated from mortal human beings (vv 7-8). This post focuses on the third subsection.

Isaiah 40:6-8

6 A voice of one saying, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass; all the glory of man is like the flower of grass. 7 The grass has withered, and the flower has fallen, 8 but the word of our God remains forever. (NETS) (1)

NOTE: Verse 6 says “a voice,” even though the noun in Greek has no article. Translators are nearly unanimous that “a” is correct. Otherwise, context would indicate that the voice is the same as in verse 3, the voice in the wilderness, i.e., John the Baptist. This is unlikely to be the intended meaning. This voice is an unidentified voice, perhaps that of the Lord or an angel, speaking to the prophet. The voice tells the prophet what to “cry out,” or proclaim loudly.

Verse 6 speaks of the short lifespan of humans. Because a single lifespan is so short, the person’s work is often futile. Verse 7 continues the thought. The glory of everything humans create fades rapidly and disappears. In context of ancient Israel, this would include the temple that human hands built and will build again after the exile. Everything that humans build eventually falls into decay. This includes earthly kingdoms and institutions. Within the fallen created order everything decays and dies.

Contrasted with the work of humans is the “word of our God” (verse 7). The prophet confesses God to be his own. The Apostle Peter identifies the “word” in this verse to be the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:24, 25). Unlike any human temple ever built, the spiritual temple that Christ builds is eternal (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Christ’s kingdom “remains forever” (verse 7). By contrast, the so-called concrete-literal, millennial kingdom will only last 1,000 years. As Isaiah 40:6 states, what is the point? “The grass has withered, the flower has fallen.”  Christians should seek to understand that a concrete, physical temple is nowhere nearly as glorious as the spiritual temple Christ himself is building.

These first verses at the beginning of Chapter 40 are the best news the prophet could possibly bring. The good news, “the word of our God” is about the glory of Christ, the coming Messiah. It is not about the destined-to-fade glory of Israel. Let us prayerfully seek to know and commune with the Holy Spirit, who resides in the heart of every believer in Christ. “Christ in you” is “the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27). The greatest gift we can ever give is to tell others the “good news,” about Jesus Christ and his kingdom. This is the word that will live forever.

Isaiah 40:9-11

9 O you that brings glad tidings to Zion, go up on the high mountain; lift up your voice with strength, you that brings glad tidings to Jerusalem; lift it up, fear not; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10 Behold the Lord! The Lord is coming with strength, and His arm is with power; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. 11 He shall tend His flock as a shepherd, and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and He shall soothe them that are with young. (CAB, LXE)

This section is very interesting. The “glad tidings” of verse 9, translated literally, mean “to evangelize.” This is the same “good news” as in verse 8, “the word of our God.” The Apostle Peter identifies this “word” as the gospel of Jesus Christ and his kingdom (1 Peter 1:24, 25). Christ’s kingdom is Mount Zion on which Jerusalem sits (Hebrews 12:22-29).

The voice (verse 6) tells the prophet here to preach the good news of the King and his coming kingdom. To whom should the prophet Isaiah preach? He should preach to “Zion…Jerusalem” and “the cities of Judah.” Yet the context continues to strongly indicate that this is a New Testament message. Further, the context and corroborating verses in 1 Peter demonstrate that the time of the “coming” is the first coming of Christ. This is not a “millennial” message. This is a “shepherd” passage. The gospel is clear: “Behold your God…the Lord,” your coming Messiah! Later chapters of Isaiah explain that the blessing of the coming Messiah includes far more than Israel. The kingdom of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).

Does the prophet Isaiah separate and distinguish his Messianic message between Israel and the Gentiles? One blessing for Israel and a separate, different blessing for Gentiles? No, he doesn’t. Isaiah 40:10-11 speaks to Zion, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah. They clearly indicate the Jesus who walks through the pages of the four gospels. There is one coming Messiah King who will bless and gather one people for himself (Ephesians 2:11, 11-22; Galatians 3:28-29).

This good news should be an amazing cause of great joy. Indeed, as the book of Isaiah progresses, the prophet continues to express the great joy of the “word of our God,” the “shepherd” who “gathers the lambs,” and of Him who “shall soothe them that are with young.”

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1 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 September 17, 2021.

Concrete and Spiritual: LXX Isaiah Devotional Vol 2.1

By Christina M Wilson. Republished from https://justonesmallvoice.com/concrete-and-spiritual-lxx-isaiah-journal-vol-2-1/.

God Calls His People a City

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith God. 2 Speak, ye priests, to the heart of Jerusalem; comfort her, for her humiliation is accomplished, her sin is put away: for she has received of the Lord’s hand double the amount of her sins. (Isaiah 40:1-2 LXE)

In Isaiah 40:1-2, God commands the priests to speak the comfort of reconciliation to his people, Jerusalem. In verse one, he refers to his people as, “my people.” In verse two, he refers to this same group as “Jerusalem.” God commands the priests to speak to “the heart of Jerusalem.” He says to them that Jerusalem’s humiliation is over. “Her sin is put away, for she has received of the Lord’s hand double the amount of her sins.” Would any honest person argue that by “Jerusalem” God means the pile of rubble that the Babylonians left behind? (Do rocks and stones and wooden pillars “sin”?) In these verses, God equates in a figure of speech the city “Jerusalem” with “my people.” In verse 2, God refers to Jerusalem as a female, singular. God calls his people by a singular, female appellation. The point is that if “Jerusalem” means the people of Jerusalem here, then it may also mean so later in the book of Isaiah.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

How readers interpret Scripture is called “hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics is the study of the underlying assumptions and interpretive principles different readers bring to a text. Isaiah is an example of poetic prophecy. Characteristic of Isaiah and other books of prophecy (see Zechariah, for example), the writer uses imagery whose referents are not always clear. In other words, when readers, especially readers today, read certain prophetic passages, they often come away not knowing who or what or when specifically the passage is about. It is common for readers and biblical commentators to fill the gaps with their own presuppositions, their own hermeneutical preferences.

Scripture informs us that not knowing the specific referent was sometimes the case even for the Old Testament prophets themselves. Peter writes:

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. (1Peter 1:10-12 ESV)

God himself was the original source, the origin, of the words the prophets spoke.

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. (2Peter 1:20-21 ESV)

The entire passage, 2 Peter 1:16-21, is good and relevant to Isaiah 40:1-5. Peter’s point is that Jesus Christ is the main point of the prophetic witness. He tells how the booming voice from heaven revealed to himself and others on the Mount of Transfiguration that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The “Holy Spirit sent from heaven,” further verifies to all believers Christ’s identity as Messiah, Son of God. This knowledge from the future is highly relevant to this portion of Isaiah.

What Do Readers Know About God’s People?

Both Testaments speak of God’s having chosen a “people.” In the Old Testament, God’s people are the community whose native or adopted land is Israel. God chose to “reside” in the temple constructed in Jerusalem, the religious and governmental capital of the land of Israel. But even in the Old Testament, after the dispersion to Babylon and elsewhere, people who identified with Israel and its religion considered themselves the people of God.

In the New Testament, God’s people are those who believe in and display loyalty to Christ, their King. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was Jewish. His first followers were Israelites, the people of Israel. But New Testament authors, especially Paul, expanded the Old Testament concept of “God’s people” to include all peoples everywhere who follow Christ. God’s people includes Jewish folk and Gentile folk alike. Paul teaches that Abraham’s children are those who believe in Christ (Galatians 3:22-29). He teaches that non-Jewish believers in Christ have been “grafted in” to the native “olive tree” of Israel (Romans 11:17-24). Now, by faith in Christ, God’s people are Israelites (Jewish people) and Gentiles (non-Jewish people) together as one (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Concrete or Spiritual?

The New Testament identity of Jerusalem is a touchy subject. For example, will Old Testament prophecies concerning Jerusalem be fulfilled literally, that is, with physical concreteness concerning bricks and mortar? Or, will these prophecies find fulfillment in a spiritual way that includes all believers, rather than ethnic Israel exclusively?

The framing of the question is important. Those who frame the question as though inclusion of Gentile believers in Christ excludes “ethnic” and “national” Israel are misinterpreting Scripture and their rhetorical opponents. Both Testaments are very clear that God discriminates against no one, no one, according to ethnicity or national citizenship. The following is a quotation from a study Bible.

“Interpretive challenges…on whether Isaiah’s prophecies will receive literal fulfillment or not, and on whether the Lord, in His program, has abandoned national Israel and permanently replaced the nation with the church…”

“… He [God] would not reject the people whom He has created and chosen…”

“…To contend that those yet unfulfilled [prophecies of Isaiah] will see non-literal fulfillment is biblically groundless… disqualifies the case for proposing that the church receives some of the promises made originally to Israel. The kingdom promised to David belongs to Israel, not the church.”

The quotations above are taken from “The MacArthur Study Bible,” by John MacArthur, Author and General Editor, published at Nashville, et al., by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Copyright 2006, page 935.

I think it’s important to let God interpret his own Scripture. As a Christian, I do allow the New Testament to expand, clarify, and enlighten the Old. God is so much larger than all of us combined. Our understanding of his ways is meager, and paltry, and minimal at best. I do not believe it is necessary to set up an either/or hermeneutic as the above writer and many others have done. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD,” (Isaiah 55:8 ESV).

I believe that God is infinite. Our logic and best efforts to restate God in our own words falls infinitely short of his power and grace. I believe that God will honor his promises to the fathers of Old Testament Israel and he will honor his promises to New Testament saints at one and the same time. These are not mutually exclusive. God can be faithful to the Old Testament fathers and faithful to his Gentile believers now. The two are no longer distinguishable.

One thing I do know, a particular Study Bible does not have the final word on either God or his outcomes. Saying, This is what God means and what he must be bound to, does not make it so. That is human interpretation. I will not be robbed of portions of God’s biblical promises to David because a certain interpreter says, that as a Gentile believer, I have no stake in these promises. Nor would I rob anyone else. This is for God to settle, not we his people.

However, as far as this blog is concerned, I pray that I will always take the high road of placing Christ, not physical Jerusalem, at the center. I pray that I will place Christ, not ethnic Israel, at the center of my interpretation of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Application to Isaiah?

What do the biblical books of Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians have to do with the book of Isaiah? Simply this. When I, as a 21st century non-Jewish Christian, read God’s words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” can I apply these words to myself? I believe that the New Testament teaches that yes, I can. God is also speaking to me. And, the Holy Spirit within me says, yes, I am God’s child, every bit as much as his Old Testament people. For I, as a believer in Christ, am one of “God’s people.” This is basic Christianity.

To say that the New Testament church is co-partaker with God’s Old Testament people, Israel, by no means implies an either/or situation. All the promises in Christ are yes (2 Corinthians 1:19-22). Because God through Christ grafted Gentiles into Israel’s native olive tree does not by any means imply that Israel will no longer receive God’s promises. However, I believe that those who wish to make an application of any of God’s promises to Israel only, excluding the church, are misreading Scripture and making assumptions that God never intended.

What does it mean when Scripture says, he who is our peace “made us both one” (Ephesians 2:11-22)? The context of these words is ethnic Jewish believers and ethnic Gentile believers. Doesn’t the plain sense of the words indicate that literally, concretely, both of these groups in their entirety are one in Christ? Paul makes no disclaimers. He does not say, “I am speaking spiritually here. I do not mean that “literally” they are one. Of course literally they are still separated. Only in the Spirit are they one.” Paul did not write that.

That is not what the biblical text states. Christ does not say yes yes and no no (2 Corinthians 1:17-19). Scripture does not say to the church, yes to the “spiritual” and no to the “concrete”. Using plain words, Isaiah did not distinguish–this is “literal,” and this is “spiritual.” Those who see such distinctions are reading their own desires into Scripture. For we are all one in Christ. In plain English, one means one.

Paul follows Isaiah. He clearly states, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise,” (Galatians 3:29 ESV). Paul does not qualify his statement by explaining that he means, “heirs of the spiritual blessing that accompanied the Abrahamic Covenant.” (1) Paul states, “heirs according to promise,” not, Heirs of spiritual [only] blessing. I repeat, God is big enough to fulfill all the biblical promises he has ever made at every level, spiritual and concrete, without excluding anyone. It is a shortage of insight and love that causes some to set these prophecies up as an either/or situation.

The Very Next Verses Introduce the Church

Volume 2 of Isaiah opens with Isaiah 40:1-2 announcing comfort to God’s people and the perfect, complete putting away of Jerusalem’s sin [i.e., the people of Jerusalem’s sin].  Why does the Lord introduce the church in the very next verse? Someone might say, “But where is the church?” Verses 3-5 announce the Incarnation of the Lord God, and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God,” (verse 5).

This would be a very odd juxtaposition if verses 1 and 2 apply only to the ethnic people of God and a physically destroyed Jerusalem, both in the prophet’s own day. The introduction of Messiah at this point signals a much grander plan, a fuller pardon, and a far wider scope than a purely local fulfillment to be accomplished by the return of the exiles to their native land.

Nor does Isaiah specify when or by what means God’s pardon occurs. He does not state the specifics of when or how Jerusalem’s having received “double” for her sins has transpired. I believe God placed the next three verses to indicate that Messiah is for all ages and all people. “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Christ’s atonement works for all peoples of all times. His atonement worked backward to the prior centuries of Israel’s guilt and forward to our time. Why else would Scripture place this prophetically clear announcement of Christ’s birth just here? (See Matthew 3:3, 11:10; Mark 1:2,3; Luke 1:76, 3:4, 7:27; John 1:23; and Malachi 3:1.)

Conclusion

This post is long, I realize. Nevertheless, the first five verses of Isaiah chapter 40 are a unit. They should be read together. They deal with the same topic: God’s pardon and plan of salvation for his own people and for all humanity, at one and the same time. What is amazing is that Scripture can pack so much into so few words. Truly, God is to be praised.

Because I have dealt so fully with my biblical preferences and biases (presuppositions) here, perhaps I will not need to do so as we progress through Isaiah, Lord willing.

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1 MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, page 1763.

The Enemy Cast Out: Isaiah Journal 74

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at The Enemy Cast Out: Isaiah Devotional Journal 74 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 33:14-24    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Where Is the Enemy?

The latter portion of Isaiah 33 contrasts the Zion that had been occupied by a foreign power with a Zion under the King’s rule.

The Enemy Has Been Cast Out

These Septuagint verses tell that the enemy no longer occupies Zion. (CAB, LXE)

  • 14 The sinners in Zion have departed; trembling shall seize the ungodly.
  • 18 Your soul shall meditate terror. Where are the scribes? Where are the counselors? Where is he that numbers them that are growing up, 19 both the small and great people? With whom he took not counsel, neither did he understand a people of deep speech, so that a despised people should not hear, and there is no understanding to him that hears.
  • 23 Your cords are broken, for they had no strength; your food has given way, it shall not spread the sails, it shall not bear a signal, until it is given up for plunder; therefore shall many lame men take spoil.

Yes, the English text appears difficult to decipher. The NETS translation includes a footnote to that effect in verse 19. However, when comparing the various English translations of both the Septuagint and the Masoretic, the overall sense of the chapter unfolds.

Description of the New Kingdom

Isaiah describes the new kingdom after the enemy has departed (verse 14).

Characteristics of Its Inhabitants

  • the righteous person (vs 15): walks in righteousness, speaks uprightly, hates lawlessness and wrongdoing, refuses bribes, is against capital punishment, shields his eyes from the enjoyment of evil
  • he will live “in a high cave of a strong rock,” where he will be fed with bread and water (vs16), i.e., the basic food of life
  • they will meditate on the past and the things and people who used to cause them fear, but are no longer present (vs 18)
  • they revere the name of the Lord (v 21)
  • not weary (v 24)
  • their sins forgiven (v 24)

15 He that walks in righteousness, speaking rightly, hating transgression and iniquity, and shaking his hands from gifts, stopping his ears that he should not hear the judgment of blood, shutting his eyes that he should not see injustice. (CAB, LXE)

Characteristics of the Place

  • foreign authorities will no longer be present (vs 19)
  • a place of safety (vv 14, 16, 18-19, 20, 21, 22)
  • a place of provision (vv 16, 20, 21)
  • spacious, providing room for all (v 21)
  • a place for the poor and injured (vv 23, 24)
  • a place of permanence (v 20)

20 Behold the city of Zion, our refuge; your eyes shall behold Jerusalem, a rich city, tabernacles which shall not be shaken, neither shall the pins of her tabernacle be moved forever, neither shall her cords be at all broken; (CAB, LXE)

Characteristics of Its King

  • glorious (v 17)
  • he is Lord, God, judge, ruler, King (v 22)

22 For my God is great; the Lord our judge shall not pass me by; the Lord is our prince, the Lord is our king; the Lord, He shall save us. (CAB, LXE)

Concrete-Literal or Spiritual-Literal?

Why do I use hyphens in concrete-literal and spiritual-literal? Why use the words concrete in concrete-literal and literal in spiritual-literal? Why not just say literal and spiritual?

A Definition of Terms

In common, everyday language, “literal” tends to mean real, actual, concrete, and historical. And, in much theological jargon, spiritual tends to mean abstract, not historical, and not really happening in the “real” world, the concrete world. Theology tends to be divided between those who think every prophecy of the Old Testament needs to have a “literal” fulfillment and those who see spiritual fulfillment in many of the same prophecies. Some theologians might even be thinking “imaginary” when they use the term “spiritual.” When they accuse another theologian of “spiritualizing” a text, it’s as if they were accusing them of erasing the truth of that text and replacing it with abstract imagination.

Those using the term “literal” as a direct synonym of true and real usually mean that Old Testament prophecy needs to have a historical, three dimensional, physical fulfillment in the world we see, hear, and touch. In order for a biblical prophecy to be true, it must have a physical, three-dimensional fulfillment.

But, if “literal” means “true” and “real,” then spiritual realities are also real and true. They literally exist. God is Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus Christ occupies believers’ hearts. The rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and forces of evil in the heavenly places that Paul describes in Ephesians 6 are real and true. They also happen to be spiritual beings, made of spirit rather than flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).

To cast the conversation about fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy with the terms literal vs spiritual is to introduce bias from the beginning. Therefore, I use the word “concrete” to mean that which can be physically seen with physical eyes, heard with physical ears, and touched with physical hands. The cities we live in, for example, are concrete. So, the term “concrete-literal” means a true reality within the physical world. And likewise, the term “spiritual-literal” means a true reality within the realm of spirit.

Repeating the Question

So, the question becomes, must every prophecy of the Old Testament have a physically concrete fulfillment? Or, did God intend that some of what appears to be physical description in Old Testament prophecy would have a spiritual-literal fulfillment rather than a concrete-literal fulfillment? Is Chapter 33 of Isaiah one of these times?

A Partial Concrete-Literal Fulfillment

I postulate that some portions of Isaiah 33 have already had a concrete-literal fulfillment. And further, when Isaiah spoke these words, God intended that these portions would be physically fulfilled relatively quickly in Isaiah’s lifetime. The context within chapter 33 and the context of its surrounding chapters speak of a concrete-literal fulfillment of the prophecies against Judah’s enemy Assyria.

For example, throughout Isaiah’s writing, a physical Israel had many physical enemies. In Isaiah’s lifetime, the greatest of these was Assyria. Isaiah repeatedly prophesies Assyria’s downfall (for example, see Isaiah 30:31). In terms of fulfillment, chapters 36 and 37 describe in detail how God miraculously defeated the Assyrians on behalf of Jerusalem and Judah. Chapter 33 contains strong indications that Isaiah refers to this time and event. It seems fair and likely that God through Isaiah intended the portions of Isaiah 33 dealing with the defeat of Assyria to have a concrete-literal fulfillment. Biblical history, as related in 2 Kings 18:17-19:37 and Isaiah 37, records such a fulfillment.

Obstacles to a Complete Concrete-Literal Fulfillment

But what about the portions of Isaiah 33:14-24 that speak of the new kingdom and the King who will rule there? Have these prophecies already found a concrete-literal fulfillment? Not really. Judah before and after its exile had some good kings (Hezekiah and Zerubbabel) who experienced some years of peaceful prosperity. But Israel’s independence ended. Not too long after the return from exile, the Old Testament ceased. God added no books to Scripture after Malachi. Throughout the entire Second Temple period various foreigners again ruled in Jerusalem, alongside the Jewish kings.

Then at the turn of the millennium, in New Testament times, Rome occupied Israel. Israel had no independent king seated on its throne. Further, within a few decades after Jesus’s ascension, Rome leveled Jerusalem (70 CE). Over the next century Rome oppressed the remainder of the Judean territory through bloody wars. Israel ceased to exist as an independent nation.

Currently, the physical Israel in today’s news does not match the description given by Isaiah in Chapter 33. It has no king, it is not entirely safe, and it is no more righteous than any other country on earth. It is not a Christian nation, nor do its citizens all necessarily believe in the God of their Scripture. It appears to be a secular country, rather than a country of faith.

Approximately 2,800 years have passed since Isaiah prophesied of a righteous Zion ruled by a glorious King. Have his prophecies not found fulfillment?

A Spiritual-Literal Fulfillment

I believe that Isaiah’s prophecies of a righteous Zion and a glorious, righteous King have received a spiritual-literal fulfillment in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36. By this he meant that his kingdom was not concrete-literal but spiritual-literal. Christians around the world have been living in and enjoying the benefits of Christ the King’s heavenly Zion for over 2,000 years.

Why does Isaiah use concrete words to describe a spiritual reality? The best answer I can give is to point the reader to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:1-16. Could Isaiah possibly have known these spiritual-literal realities? The heart of faith must surely answer, “Yes.” The Apostle John writes, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him,” (John 12:41). As we progress further in Isaiah’s book, we will find him more and more describing the spiritual-literal realities of Christ’s kingdom.

Septuagint Variation: Isaiah Journal 72

By Christina M Wilson. Simultaneously published at Septuagint Variation: Isaiah Devotional Journal 72 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 32:9-20    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Before leaving Chapter 32, there is one more Septuagint variation that sheds light on the chapter as a whole.

Recap

The prior Journal entry, Isaiah Devotional Journal 71, shows how Chapter 32 alternates between desolation for the then-existing nation of Israel and blessing for those in the future kingdom of the righteous King. These sections alternate in large chunks, rather than single verses:

  1. The blessings of Messiah: verses 1-4
  2. Contrast between the foolish wicked and the godly wise: verses 5-8
  3. Warning of the desolation to come: verses 9-14
  4. Messianic blessings: verses 15-20

Verse 19 in the Masoretic

Verse 19, in the ESV, protrudes like a thorn in the middle of a wedding bed. Then verse 20 returns to blessing.

ESV Isaiah 32:15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, … 16 Then justice … righteousness … fruitful field. 17 … righteousness … peace … righteousness, quietness and trust forever. 18 … peaceful habitation, … secure dwellings, … quiet resting places. 19 And it will hail when the forest falls down, and the city will be utterly laid low. 20 Happy are you who sow beside all waters, who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free.

A Difficult Text

Deciphering what the biblical text reads for this verse must be difficult, since other translations in the Masoretic tradition vary widely.

  • For example, the Bible of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) reads, “Isaiah 32:19 And it shall hail, in the downfall of the forest; but the city shall descend into the valley.
  • NRS “The forest will disappear completely, and the city will be utterly laid low.
  • KJV “When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
  • Amplified Bible “But it [the wrath of the Lord] shall hail, coming down overpoweringly on the forest [the army of the Assyrians], and the capital [2] city shall be utterly humbled and laid prostrate.”
  • NASB “And it will hail when the forest comes down, And the city will be utterly laid low.

NIV and NET

The NIV, NET, and a few other dynamic translations (paraphrased) come closer to the text in the Septuagint. These translations combine verses 19 and 20. The outcome is a combination of blessing and trial.

  • NIV “19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, 20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.
  • NET “19 Even if the forest is destroyed and the city is annihilated, 20 you will be blessed, you who plant seed by all the banks of the streams, you who let your ox and donkey graze.

The blessing in the texts above is qualified. It appears to be due to a difference in geographic location. The forest and city suffer extreme damage. However, those living by the banks of the streams will be blessed, as they continue to farm and graze their animals.

The Septuagint Text Is Plain and Simple

15 until the Spirit shall come upon you from on high, and Carmel shall be desert, and Carmel shall be counted for a forest. 16 Then judgment shall abide in the wilderness, and righteousness shall dwell in Carmel. 17 And the works of righteousness shall be peace; and righteousness shall ensure rest, and the righteous shall be confident forever. 18 And His people shall inhabit a city of peace, and dwell in it in confidence, and they shall rest with wealth. 19 And if the hail should come down, it shall not come upon you; and they that dwell in the forests shall be in confidence, as those in the plain country. 20 Blessed are they that sow by every water, where the ox and the donkey tread.

Contrasts Between the Septuagint and the Masoretic

1. Verse 19 in the Septuagint brings no contextual contradictions that must be explained. The verse smoothly follows the theme of blessing found throughout the passage.

2. All geographic areas are blessed. There is no distinction among them. The city will be blessed, the forest blessed, the plains blessed, and the waterways blessed.

3. Unlike the Masoretic, verse 18 of the Septuagint specifically states that “His people shall inhabit a city of peace.” Then, verse 19 brings no calamity upon that city. In contrast, verse 18 of the Masoretic makes no mention of a city. However, in verse 19 various calamities fall upon “the city,” depending upon the version.

    • JPS: the city shall descend into the valley
    • NRS: the city will be utterly laid low.
    • KJV: the city shall be low in a low place
    • Amplified: the capital [2] city shall be utterly humbled and laid prostrate.
    • NASB: the city will be utterly laid low.
    • NET: Even if … the city is annihilated,
    • NIV: Though … the city is leveled completely,

4. In both textual traditions, the occurrence of hail appears either certain or likely. But only in the Septuagint does the hail harm no one.

Concrete-Literal or Spiritual-Literal

The Septuagint text of Isaiah 32:19 states, “And if the hail should come down, it shall not come upon you.” When does falling hail not harm objects or people it may hit? The Masoretic translations present a catastrophic hailstorm that flattens forests and cities. But the hail that falls in the Septuagint does not harm the people who inhabit every corner of the righteous King’s kingdom.

In the prior post, Isaiah Devotional Journal 71, I presented the argument that in Chapter 32 Isaiah writes using concrete terms for spiritual realities (1). Verse 19 adds evidence to this hermeneutic. Although it speaks to us by means of concrete (physical) language, the realities this verse describes are spiritual. See, for example, John Calvin’s description of this passage.

While Isaiah thus prophesies concerning the reign of Hezekiah, all this is declared by him to relate to the kingdom of Christ as its end and accomplishment; and therefore, when we come to Christ, we must explain all this spiritually, so as to understand that we are renewed as soon as the Lord has sent down the Spirit from heaven, that we who were “wildernesses” may become cultivated and fertile fields. Ere the Spirit of God has breathed into us, we are justly compared to wildernesses or a dry soil; for we produce nothing but “thorns and briers,” and are by nature unfit for yielding fruits. Accordingly, they who were barren and unfruitful, when they have been renewed by the Spirit of God, begin to yield plentiful fruits; and they whose natural dispositions had some appearance of goodness, being renewed by the same Spirit, will afterwards be so fruitful, that they will appear as if they had formerly been a “wilderness;” for all that men possess is but a wild forest, till they have been renewed by Christ. Whenever, therefore, the Church is afflicted, and when her condition appears to be desperate, let us raise our eyes to heaven, and depend fully on these promises. (2)

In the life of the Spirit in a believer’s heart, the “hail” of real-life difficulties and circumstances shall not harm the believer’s faith or persistent peace, security, and well-being in Christ. Is this Isaiah’s intended meaning? Rather one should ask, Is this God’s intended meaning for this text? Within the context of the Septuagint Gospel of Isaiah, yes, I believe that God intends us to find the Spirit of Christ in this passage.

Right or Wrong?

When trying to answer the question, “Which text is right and which text wrong?” there is no exact answer. The truth is that two completely different textual traditions have been handed down to us. A “textual tradition” encompasses many hundreds, or even thousands, of years. The Septuagint began as a translation of Hebrew approximately three centuries before the birth of Christ. Readers should not hold this fact of birth against it (3). Later scholars and religious persons have edited both the Greek and Hebrew texts within their own tradition. The Masoretic Bible we hold today did not reach its final form until centuries after Christ.

One thing is clear, however. Jesus of Nazareth and his followers accessed the Septuagint. Greek was the “lingua franca” of Christ’s day. And, the New Testament writers often quoted from the Septuagint. I am fully satisfied to use the Septuagint translation as my devotional Bible for the book of Isaiah. I like it because there is so much of Christ in it.

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1 “Because the time markers fail to represent accurately the concrete-literal history of Israel, it is good biblical hermeneutics to interpret the language of this chapter spiritually. Using concrete-literal language, Isaiah prophesies the spiritual demise of one kingdom and the arrival of a new King. The new kingdom will be eternal.” Isaiah Devotional Journal 71

2 Calvin, John. “Commentary on Isaiah 32:15”. “Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-32.html. 1840-57. These files are public domain.

3 For readers who would like to learn more about the Septuagint translation of the Bible, the following post might be a good place to start: Psalm 28: Why the Septuagint? Part 1-Background – justonesmallvoice.com

Messianic Kingdom Part Two: Isaiah Devotional Journal 70

By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/a-messianic-kingdom-part-wto-isaiah-journal-70/.

Isaiah 32    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Variations in Septuagint Isaiah 32:1-8 Part Two

Septuagint Isaiah 32:1-8 describes the messianic King and his messianic kingdom followers. The Hebrew scripture loses the poignancy of this messianic passage when compared to the Greek. In the Septuagint, the King and his kingdom remain in sharp focus throughout.

A Short Review

Let’s do a short review of verses 1 and 2 before beginning with verse 3. Verses 1 and 2 introduce the reign of a righteous king in Zion. He shall appear as a glorious, rushing river in a thirsty land. This King is Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus of Nazareth match the prophetic words Isaiah spoke many hundreds of years earlier. (See the following links to Part One and a Devotional concerning Christ.)

Isaiah 32:1 For, behold, a righteous king shall reign, and princes shall govern with judgement.
2 And a man shall hide his words, and be hidden, as from rushing water, and shall appear in Sion as a rushing river, glorious in a thirsty land. (CAB, LXE)

The Issue of Trust in Isaiah

Now, moving forward, verse 3 in the Masoretic (Hebrew) text presents a quite positive statement. It sounds good! Who wouldn’t want this?

Isaiah 32:3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. (ESV)

Yet, the Septuagint (Greek) presents a picture with a somewhat different emphasis, which later Scripture fulfills. 

Isaiah 32:3 And they shall no longer trust in men, but they shall incline their ears to hear. (CAB, LXE)

Isaiah emphasizes the issue of trust throughout his writing. God’s people are to trust God, not men. Oddly, however, the following verse, which spells out this principle appears in the Masoretic but not in the Septuagint.

Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in human beings, whose life’s breath is in their nostrils. For why should they be given special consideration? (NET)

Trust Messiah

When Septuagint Isaiah states in verse three, “And they shall no longer trust in men, but they shall incline their ears to hear,” he implies that when they bend their ears forward to hear, they will be hearing God.

Jesus Christ in the New Testament fulfills the very behavior that Isaiah enjoins in 32:3.

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (ESV)

Septuagint Isaiah 2:22 sounds like John the Apostle’s, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie– just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1John 2:27 ESV) This matches the rushing river/water analogy of the Holy Spirit in the prior verse. The presence of Christ within believers is like the rushing river of the Holy Spirit (John 4:14).

The ESV (Hebrew Masoretic) of verse 3 in Isaiah is also good, because there’s a reversal of  the blind eyes and deaf ears of Isaiah 6:9-10. However, Jesus never said that the leaders’ eyes and ears had opened. In fact, he said the opposite. 

John 12:39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (ESV).

Therefore, Isaiah 32:3 applies to the common people who followed Christ, rather than to the religious leaders of his day. Gospel history shows that while the Jewish religious leaders as a whole failed to trust God and his emissary, Messiah, the common people did choose to trust him, rather than men. Along with Isaiah, they “saw his glory” and believed. 

The Heart of the Weak Ones

Verse 4 of the Septuagint continues from verse 3. It openly states that those who hear are the “weak ones.” Another common way of translating the Greek word for “weak” is “sick.”

Isaiah 32:4 And the heart of the weak ones shall attend to hear, and the stammering tongues shall soon learn to speak peace. (CAB, LXE)

And in similar fashion, Jesus stated that he came to heal the sick, not the healthy.

Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (ESV) (See also Matthew 9:12 and Mark 2:17.)

The Masoretic, in contrast, seems to lack the immediate tie to the King of verse 1. “The mind that acts rashly will possess discernment and the tongue that stutters will speak with ease and clarity.” (Isaiah 32:4 NET). Although not specifically mentioned in these later verses, the King of Septuagint Isaiah 32:1 appears to be he to whom the hearts of the weak ones attend to hear in verse 32:4.

Fools Who Rule

While the Masoretic of verse 5 sounds like a good proverb,

The fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable. (ESV)

the Septuagint goes one step further. It identifies the “fool” as the ruler.

And they shall no longer tell a fool to rule, and your servants shall no longer say, Be silent. (CAB, LXE)

Verses 6 and 7 further describe the fool who rules.

6 For the fool shall speak foolish words, and his heart shall meditate vanities, and to perform lawless deeds and to speak error against the Lord, to scatter hungry souls, and He will cause the thirsty souls to be empty. 7 For the counsel of the wicked will devise iniquity, to destroy the poor with unjust words, and ruin the cause of the poor in judgment.

Who cannot hear echoes of this Isaiah description as Jesus repeatedly proclaims “woe” upon the religious rulers of his day?

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (ESV) (See also Matthew 23:15, 17, 23, 25, 29; and John 10:10.)

Matthew 23:17 You blind fools!… (ESV) 

“Fools” in Matthew 23:17 is the same Septuagint Greek word that Isaiah uses. In more ways than one, Jesus came to cleanse his temple of the “blind fools” who ruled there. And as previously discussed, the eyes of the rulers remained blind. Nor did they incline their ears to hear. God reserves for the meek and humble the blessing of seeing and hearing him.

Contrast with Messiah’s Kingdom

Continuing in the same vein, verse 8 closes this Isaian messianic passage of Messiah’s kingdom with a contrasting description of the leaders of the early biblical New Testament church.

8 But the godly have devised wise measures, and this counsel shall stand. (CAB, LXE)

The writers of the letters of the New Testament amply demonstrate fulfillment of this prophesy. Each of the apostles and elders of the early church repeatedly enjoin Christ’s followers to behave decently and in love for one another. I give but one of a multitude of examples. This is the “counsel” of the “godly” that replaces the “counsel of the wicked,” the “blind fools” who ruled in Jesus’s day.

 Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

Summary

Isaiah 32:1-8 describes the messianic King and his followers. The flow of the Septuagint in Isaiah 32 is smooth. The verses connect well one with another, as they keep the focus upon the King of verse 1. The king, though no longer directly mentioned, interacts with the sick and the weak of later verses. The Masoretic, on the other hand, takes a step into stiff formality. The “king who reigns in righteousness” is almost forgotten in the later verses. Unlike the Septuagint, the Masoretic passage appears to be more about a certain prophesied period of time, rather than a person. The poignant prophesy of the Septuagint dissolves into a mechanical abstraction in the Masoretic.

But the Septuagint was the “Scripture” of Jesus’s day. Fortunately, in the Septuagint, the presence of the “righteous King” permeates the characters portrayed in the ensuing verses. As we continue in Septuagint Isaiah, we see that both Jesus and the writers who chronicled his life were steeped in this Old Testament gospel account.

Songs for “In That Day”: Isaiah Devotional Journal 48

See also Songs for “In That Day”: Isaiah Devotional Journal 48 – justonesmallvoice.com

By Christina Wilson on 

Isaiah 25    Septuagint Modernized

Celebratory Songs for “In That Day” (Part One)

Isaiah 26:1 In that day they shall sing this song in the land of Judea; Behold a strong city; and he shall make salvation its wall and bulwark. (Septuagint)

The celebratory songs for “in that day” begin with Isaiah 25:1, even though the prophet doesn’t use that exact phrase until chapter 26. Imagine the scene in the movie, Harry Potter, when the dark lord is finally, totally, and forever banished. Isaiah’s celebration is much greater than that. Or, think of any city when the favored troops have completely vanquished the oppressive enemy. Isaiah’s songs for “in that day” are that kind of celebration.

When?

I think it’s fair to say that Isaiah had never heard of a period of time called the “millennium.” In Isaiah, there are three basic time zones: 1) his day, including everything up to the incarnation, 2) the day of Christ, including his incarnation and up to and including everything before his second coming, and 3) the final day when Christ comes again and the enemy is forever, finally, totally, destroyed.

Unfortunately for us, as readers, Isaiah doesn’t clearly label his time frames. Nor are they always exactly discernible. Consider for example Isaiah 22:20-25.

Isaiah 22:20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. (ESV) 

We know from Revelation 3:7 that this passage is about Christ.

Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” (ESV)

But what is the time frame in the Revelation passage? Wasn’t it true of Christ during his incarnation? And after his ascension? And into his glorious eternity? Similarly, none of these time frames are ruled out in Isaiah 22:20-25.

Already, Not Yet

There is a phrase to describe prophecy’s fulfillment that is making its rounds in Christian circles. This phrase is “already, not yet.” The idea is that much Old Testament prophecy, including Isaiah, has already been fulfilled in Christ. He is already crucified, buried, risen, and ascended into heaven. There he sits at the right hand of God (Acts 5:31). But the very end of the ages, when the eternal kingdom is ushered in, is “not yet.”

Scripture is not clear on the exact timing of the transition from “already”, that is–right now– to “not yet.”

 Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (ESV)

And, in the days of Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets, that timing was even less clear. Peter bluntly states how much was revealed to them.

 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)

The Timing Not Clear

An honest evaluation of Peter’s words reveals that the timing revealed to the Old Testament prophets was general, not specific. For them, it was plenty exciting just to know that the Christ would come!

While I am not endorsing a particular faith tradition, I often like The Orthodox Study Bible (1). This is because its translation is based on the Septuagint (Old Greek translation). And, I like the Septuagint, because it is often easier to find Christ in its pages than in translations based on the Masoretic textual tradition (2). Here is what The Orthodox Study Bible writes for Revelation 20:2.

20:2 Though most did not, a few early Fathers and writers believed in a literal thousand year binding of Satan and reign of Christ and the saints on earth (vv. 2-7). The Church, however, authoritatively rejected this teaching (called chiliasm) at the Second Ecumenical Council. In apocalyptic literature, numbers have symbolic significance. “Thousand” is often used in the Scriptures to denote a long period time, a great quantity, completion, perfection, thoroughness (Job 9:32Pt 3:8). Here, a thousand years (vv. 2-7) is interpreted as the Church age, when Jesus reigns on earth in those who believe. It is that era between the first and second comings of Christ, also called the “last times,” when Satan’s effectiveness at deceit is restricted through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, and the saints share in Christ’s earthly reign through the Church. For these persecuted Christians threatened by martyrdom, this is a consoling hope.

Therefore, anyone who points to Isaiah chapters 25-27 and states that this is the “millennium,” is reading into Scripture. This is because the “millennium” is a word that Scripture never uses. And, if such a distinct period is not clear in Revelation, then it certainly wouldn’t be clear in Isaiah. But, good news! Chapters 25-27 in Isaiah are definitely about the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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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 A brief introductory post concerning my use of the Septuagint is available here: Which Bible Should I Use? – justonesmallvoice.com   

Songs for “In That Day” To Be Continued 

Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–11

And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are <1> appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy. (Isaiah 4:3 LXE)

{1) Gr. written for life}

Does this verse ring any Christian bells?

Even though Malachi was written some 300 years after Isaiah, Isaiah 4:3 and Malachi 3:16-18 appear to have much in common.

Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name.
17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.
18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (ESV)

The phrase “those who feared the LORD,” means those who respected, took seriously, honored, and were cautious not to disobey the precepts of the Lord. Proverbs 3:7 uses this phrase as one of the sources for the meaning I gave, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil,” (ESV). The portion, “turn away from evil,” also captures the latter portion of Isaiah 4:3, “they shall be called holy.” A better known verse using the word “fear” is Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight,” (ESV). But listen to the Septuagint for the same verse, Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the <1> beginning {summit} of wisdom, and the counsel of saints is understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind,” (LXE). I love when Scripture interlocks with Scripture: “the counsel of saints” in Proverbs dovetails so nicely with Isaiah 4:2, “And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel,” (LXE). One is reminded that the same author (God) wrote all four of these verses.

Although it might seem like a small point (but our God is a God of detail), the Septuagint translation notes for Proverbs 9:10, detail that the phrase, “beginning of wisdom,” is written literally as the “summit” of wisdom. This corresponds with Septuagint Isaiah 4:2, “And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel.” Looking up the Greek lexicon (dictionary) definition of “exalt,” we read, “to lift up, raise high,” (Gingrich), i.e., to the summit.

Combining and paraphrasing these five verses, Isaiah 4:2 and 4:3, Malachi 3:16, Proverbs 3:7 and 9:10, we arrive at the following understanding:

In that day, God shall shine gloriously among the remnant who fears the Lord and obeys his commands. They will excel in the good counsel of God and turn away from evil. God will take notice, and having written their names in his book, they shall be called holy.

What is this book in which God writes? What is this book with names of people who have been appointed for life? And, why will these people be called “holy?”

First, what book?

Perhaps the fullest description of “written to life,” in the Bible is Revelation 20:12-15–

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:12 ESV)

But this is a stretch, isn’t it, to go from Isaiah 4:3 to Revelation 20? The Septuagint phrase, “appointed to life” is literally, “written for life,” as the footnote states, “οἱ γραφέντες εἰς ζωὴν ἐν Ιερουσαλημ (Isa 4:3 LXT).” 

But then, how do we go from “in Jerusalem” to the lake of fire at the final Great White Throne judgment? By faith is the only way. Consider these verses–

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)

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… [The omitted verses describe the physical appearance of the new Jerusalem]… 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev 21:2-27 ESV)

Clearly, if one accepts the presupposition (by faith) that Isaiah is a messianic prophet of enormous proportions, then the texts bind together very well. Notice that verse 27 in Revelation 21 speaks of the holiness of the residents of the new Jerusalem, “nothing unclean… nor anyone who does what is detestable or false.” Compare this with the Septuagint text of Isaiah 4:3, “…the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are <1> appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, (LXE).

But is Isaiah a messianic prophet of enormous proportions? According to several websites, Isaiah is the second most frequently cited book by New Testament authors. Psalms is the most often cited. All the Isaianic quotations found in the New Testament are referenced in the book Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament by Archer and Chirichigno. (1) Since the New Testament is predominantly about Christ, it seems fair to suggest that Isaiah is quoted so frequently due to his messianic relevance.

Nevertheless, there are also Old Testament references to God’s Book. Perhaps the earliest reference is Exodus 32:31-32–

Exodus 32:31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin– but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written,” (ESV).

Other verses include: Psalm 69:28 “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and let them not be written with the righteous,” (LXE); Daniel 12:1, and Malachi 3:16 (see above).

What can be said about the holiness of those who are “appointed to life in Jerusalem?” The answer to this question lies in the subsequent verses of this blessed passage. We will consider these in a later post, Lord willing.

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1 Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983, 92-134. One site with an easy graphic is: http://www.biblecharts.org/thebible/thetenoldtestamentbooksmostcitedinthenewtestament.pdf. A site that lists the number of direct quotations is: https://conservapedia.com/Most_quoted_books_in_the_Bible.

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