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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.

Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–9

Is This a Christian Passage?

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 <1> 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 judgement, 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. (LXE)

{1) Gr. written for life}

In this translation the opening phrase is, “And in that day…” What day is this? I wish everyone could read Greek–it would make you so happy. The Greek phrase is, “τῇ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ (Isaiah 4:2 LXX). Where else in Scripture do we find this phrase? We here first found it in Isaiah 2:11, “Isaiah 2:11 For the eyes of the Lord are high, but man is low; and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,” (LXE). It also opens the passage from Isaiah 2:20-21, where we find humankind casting away their idols to go hide in the caverns and crevices of the rocks, away from the terrifying judgment of the Lord. This is the verse that also shows up in Revelation 6:15-17, which is the day of the wrath of God and the Lamb. These samples lead us to conclude that “that day” is a day of judgment.

Matthew 7:22-23 supports the conclusion of a day of judgment by the words of Jesus, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness,'” (ESV). Luke 6:22-23 verifies a day of judgment, but, it adds an element of reward for the righteous, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets,” (ESV). Jesus uses this temporal marker again in Luke 10:12, in the section where he curses the cities of Galilee for rejecting both his disciples and himself. Luke 17 contains a long passage where Jesus describes “his” day (verse 24), the day of his coming. Two verses develop the meaning of this phrase, “So will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop,…” (Luke 17:30-31 ESV).

These verses indicate that the phrase, “in that day” is a time of judgment after the incarnation and ascension of Christ. But there is another verse more in keeping with the joy of Isaiah 4:2. It is found in John 16:22-23, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you,” ESV). From what we know from Acts, this verse and its context began to find its fulfillment after the resurrection and ascension, perhaps upon and after the day of Pentecost, when Jesus sent his Holy Spirit. (1) Read the entire context in John 16 and see if it doesn’t match up with the resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit recorded in Acts.

My answer to the opening question, “Is this a Christian passage?” is yes, this prophecy of Isaiah is a Christian passage. The passage refers to a time when the Christian gospel has been enacted in its fullness, at least as far as the period of the New Testament and just beyond, that is, through 70 A.D. Although it may seem harsh to say this, much of the Bible, through the prophecies of the Old Testament into the epistles of the New, predict a “changing of the guard” (my metaphor) from the pre-runner Judaic Covenant to the New Covenant enacted by Jesus and his Holy Spirit. Do read the book of Hebrews in this context. But also remember, as Paul develops so clearly in Romans 11 (it’s clear after a person has read it at least 20 times over the course of as many years in the context of the entire Bible), God’s heart is always open to his people for the sake of the fathers of Israel’s antiquity.

He who opens the chapter, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people?” (Romans 11:1 ESV), answers in the spirit of the message of Isaiah 4:2-3, Romans 11:5 “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace… 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, (Romans 11:5-7 ESV) The omitted verse, verse 6 specifies that grace of God, “6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” There is a song I used to sing when worshiping with my church, “It’s your kindness (grace) that leads us to repentance, O Lord,” (Written by Leslie Phillips).

Please notice how God’s grace does not negate the need for repentance. The two together walk hand in hand. Read Paul in Romans 11:23, “And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again,” (ESV). My heart sings in response to that statement, Hallelujia!! The history of Old Testament Israel is tragic. I fervently pray, hope for, and believe with Paul in Romans 11 that God will at some point in the future, by grace, remove the “spirit of stupor” (verse 8) which Paul says God himself gave them, for his own purposes. He did this partly as punishment for their hardness of heart (John 12:39-41 and Isaiah 2:6-4:1), and as Paul explains in Romans 11, so that the Gentiles could be grafted in.

In the prior Journal entry, number 8, I built a strong case that God’s judgment upon the bulk of Israel meant their removal, their stripping down, and their taking away. And indeed, that has happened repeatedly throughout Israel’s history, as demonstrated in that journal entry. To this day, the bulk of Israel has never repented. But Paul in Romans 11 states that God’s grace is sufficient to bring even that hardened nation to repentance, just as every person in the remnant has been brought to the repentance of life only by God’s grace. Please join me in this prayer, that God’s grace for Israel will prevail, to the end that even the bulk will come to see clearly and to worship Christ as Savior and Lord.

Isaiah 4:3 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. {1) Gr. written for life} (LXE)

Looking forward: There’s so much more to say about even this verse and the rest of the passage, Isaiah 4:2-6, but this is enough for today. Lord willing, with his help and by his grace, we will continue walking through Isaiah together. I should note here, however, that we’ve considered verse 2 from the Septuagint tradition. The Hebrew Masoretic tradition (ESV, KJV, NET,… ) reads this verse quite differently. In terms of discussing whether this passage is Messianic, the translations based upon the Masoretic tradition have much to say.

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1 There is another phrase which occurs frequently in John, “the last day.” Except for one verse concerning the last day of the Festival of Booths, the references all refer to the day of final judgment and the resurrection from the dead. “In that day” seems to have a much broader meaning than “the last day,” which is found only in the gospel of John.

 

 

 

Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–7

Recap: The Book of Isaiah alternates between segments announcing good news for the remnant and bad news for the bulk. God’s judgment begins in his own house, as he repeatedly makes reference to “my people” in the judgment sections. Portions concerning the remnant occur in Isaiah 1:9, 25-27; 2:2-4, ,5; 4:2-6. Everything else so far concerns judgment on Judea and Jerusalem.

Though part of the preceding judgment section, a new motif begins in 3:16 against the “daughters of Sion,” LXX, “daughters of Zion,” ESV, and “women of Zion,” NET. The imagery here calls us back to 3:1, where Isaiah pronounces that the Lord will take away from Judea and Jerusalem, “the might man and mighty woman.” Everything from that point to this point has concerned “the mighty man.” From here (3:16) until the end of the section in 4:1, the pronouncement of judgment is cast in images of the female, “the mighty woman.”

As one reads through this portion, eventually the question arises, is the Lord irritated with the real women of Sion, or are these representative of something else? Could it be both? Isaiah begins in verse 1:1 by speaking of Judea and in verse 3 of Israel. In verse 4, the Lord is called, “the Holy One of Israel.” Verse 6 uses the motif of a human body for the nation Israel, while verse 7 clearly makes reference to the land, cities, and foreign nations. Verse 8 suddenly uses the phrase, “the daughter of Sion,” comparing her to “a vineyard,” “a storehouse of fruits in a garden of cucumbers,” and a “besieged city.” Isaiah is a poet, and he brings in these graphic metaphors to make his message understood. Underneath the images is the understanding that his concern is with the city of Jerusalem, the land inhabited by the nation, the nation of Israel itself, and the people whom God calls his own. But his judgments are against people, and the remnant he saves is a remnant of people.

Still in consideration of the question introduced in the paragraph above, are the women of 3:16-4:1 real women or representative of something else? Further evidence to consider is 2 Kings 19:21, “This is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him [Sennacherib]: “She despises you, she scorns you– the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you– the daughter of Jerusalem,” (ESV). In this quotation, “the virgin daughter of Zion” is equated with, “the daughter of Jerusalem,” where the former is a metaphor for the latter. The latter is also part metaphor, since, of course, cities don’t have daughters. Another verse to consider is Isaiah 10:32, “This very day he will halt at Nob; he will shake his fist at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem,” (ESV). Here, it’s plain to see that the “mount of the daughter of Zion” is equated with “the hill of Jerusalem.”

Another verse to consider is, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (Zephaniah 3:14, ESV). In this verse, the three phrases “daughter of Zion,” “Israel,” and “daughter of Jerusalem,” have all been anthropomorphized and are more or less equivalent. Finally, the verse, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey,” (Zechariah 9:9, ESV) illustrates how the “daughter of Zion” is equivalent to “daughter of Jerusalem.”

Therefore, based on these verses, it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that in Isaiah 3:16-3:26, the daughters of Sion may refer to the residents of Jerusalem and perhaps even to the entire nation, as a religious entity. Comparing Israel to an unfaithful woman is not uncommon in Scripture. On the other hand, the scriptural examples given in the prior two paragraphs show the word “daughter” in its singular form, while in Isaiah 3:16, it is plural. The plural form is rare in Scripture, being found only in this verse, the next verse, then Isaiah 4:4, and last, Song of Solomon 3:11. The NET Bible apparently interprets “daughters of Zion” as concrete women, given that it translates the phrase as “women of Zion.” It’s notable how the change of one word gives the verse a different meaning, a more restricted meaning, than both the ESV and the LXE. While “daughters of Zion” may be interpreted as literal women, that is not the only possibility. But “women of Zion” loses the possibility of a metaphorical interpretation. Comment: As a reader, I much prefer the translations that stay close to the original text. These are the ESV, the KJV, NAB, and NRSV. When the NET Bible selects the meaning for me, then I’m not even aware that there is a question involved. I would not choose to study these other verses, not registering a need. Much of the richness of interacting with the text is thereby lost. It is true that NET places the literal translation in the margin, but its significance is minimized when relegated to the sidelines. And who reads all those marginal notes, anyway? Why not just place their own interpretation in the margin, and let the literal translation stand for itself in the actual text? If the reader has a question or would like more information, then they can consult the margin.

What then, as a One Small Voice reader, is my conclusion about these verses? I conclude that God is speaking metaphorically in this section of Isaiah. He’s allowing the phrase “daughters of Sion” to represent all the people, especially in their practice of religion and worship of himself. Clearly, he has no kind words for the actual women of Jerusalem, and their vanity and self-love describe well the character of the nation’s worship of Yahweh, God, at this time. The metaphor is tied very closely to the manners, dress, and movements of real women, of whom he is decidedly critical. I don’t believe, however, that he’s singling out the women in particular, but the nation as a whole. This corresponds with the prior segment, in which God’s judgment fell not upon concretely-literal high walls, cedars, oaks and physical ships. These are metaphors for proud people.

As the reader reads through the description of the daughters of Sion, try to see, hear, smell, and touch the various features richly described. Remember that the motif of this lengthy passage involves the theme of humbling by means of “taking away.” What does the Lord take away? What does he replace these items with?

The final verse of this section, 4:1, sums up the shame of these formerly proud women: seven women shall volunteer to become an unpaid harem for one man. No shame was greater for an adult woman of Israel in this historical era than to be without a husband. Representing the nation of Israel, these daughters of Sion will be like abandoned women, stripped down, nearly naked. This verse looks forward to Isaiah 54:5, which will bring a time of healing, redemption, and restoration to the remnant, “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called,” (ESV).

Next time, Lord willing, I (and you who may be reading along with me) will move forward to a bright section, Isaiah 4:2-6.

Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–4

Devotional: Isaiah 2:6 LXX (LXE, Brenton) (1) For he has forsaken his people the house of Israel, because their land is filled as at the beginning with divinations, as the land of the Philistines, and many strange children were born to them. (2, 3)

What is startling about this verse is the phrase, “as at the beginning.” The land of Israel, formerly known as Canaan, was in God’s eyes, according to Scripture, formerly a land of unholiness, just as the Israelites themselves were unholy while they were in Egypt. God’s command to Joshua had been to engage the Canaanites in war and to utterly defeat them. He was giving the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham. It was to be a land of holiness for a holy people, whom God had chosen for this purpose (see Deuteronomy 12f., and Joshua 24). He wanted them to live their lives in reflection of his own holy nature, so that the world around them could see and know the difference.

Isaiah tells the people in 2:6 that God has forsaken them, because just as “at the beginning,” the land was filled with false religion and children of careless intermarriage with those who did not worship God (Philistines). What is strikingly sad is that after nearly 500 years, God found no difference between the character of the nation inhabiting the land then, which was Israel, and the way it was before their arrival.

Such a statement has tremendous application today. How would I feel if the summation of the legacy of my life was that I made no difference? Everything at the end of my life was just as it was at the beginning, before I was born? What about our churches? Some churches have been in particular neighborhoods for fifty years or more. Have they made a difference? Or, are things just as they were “at the beginning,” before the church ever arrived?

God will have his way. Christ introduced a holiness among men that cannot be polluted, diluted, or destroyed. Only as I adhere to Christ, as a branch to its vine, will I ever make a difference. I pray we all do.

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1 For those who may be interested, my personal preference for an English translation of the Septuagint in most cases is Lancelot Brenton. Other translations are available. One is the translation by Moisés Silva in the NETS Bible (New English Translation of the Septuagint), available at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/. He writes in the introduction, “To the Reader,” about Brenton’s translation, which he thinks highly of, and his own. Having compared verse 6 with the original Greek text of Rahlf’s, the NETS translation, the English translation in The Orthodox Study Bible (Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), and Brenton’s translation (Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970, available in an online version at https://ebible.org/eng-Brenton/ISA02.htm), I find that I prefer Brenton’s translation: 1) it is accurate to Rahlf’s text, which Silva states is adequate for the vast majority of verses, and 2) it is the most pleasing of the three to my English ear. 

2 English translations based upon the Masoretic (Hebrew) text differ for this verse. For example, the ESV has, “For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.” The difference is that where the ESV has the phrase, “full of things from the east,” the Septuagint has, “filled as at the beginning.” The BDB Hebrew lexicon available to me (Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew-Aramaic and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Abridged BDB-Gesenius Lexicon) (Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997), BibleWorks, v.9) gives three meanings for the Hebrew of this word: 1) front, 2) east, and 3) aforetime, or formerly. My speculation is that the translators of the Hebrew text into the Greek Septuagint, some three centuries BC, or BCE, chose meaning three.

3 I really prefer to do my devotions, where possible, from the English Septuagint. It’s often provides much more “spiritual meat” than the Masoretic, which in comparison tends toward “dry neutrality.” The phrases in quotations are both my own.

 

 

 

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