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Blessing Returns: Isaiah Journal 63

By Christina M Wilson. Posted simultaneously at Blessing Returns: Isaiah Devotional Journal 63 – justonesmallvoice.com.

Isaiah 29    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

(Chapter 29 Part 2. LINK to Part 1)

Divisions of Chapter 29

  1. Verses 1-4 are against Ariel, which is Jerusalem
  2. Verses 5-8 are against Ariel’s enemies
  3. Verses 9-16 judge the people of Jerusalem, especially its leaders
  4. Verses 17-24 concern a new season for Abraham and Jacob’s family

Blessing upon Abraham and Jacob’s Progeny

Verse 17 introduces one of Isaiah’s many reversals, or switchbacks. In the preceding verses, God through the prophet condemned the people of Jerusalem and their rulers. He promised to remove them, as a potter would his clay. But in verse 17 through the end of the chapter, he blesses his people. But are these the same people he condemns immediately before this section begins?

When and What?

First, the phrase “a little while” in verse 17 would indicate a future that is not the end, end times, as in the very end of time which ushers in a new heaven and a new earth. The age of Messiah’s incarnation therefore might be the “little while” Isaiah holds in view.

Next, the metaphor of verse 17 is widely accepted to indicate a reversal of fortune. According to NET Bible’s study notes, “The meaning of this verse is debated, but it seems to depict a reversal in fortunes. The mighty forest of Lebanon (symbolic of the proud and powerful, see 2:13; 10:34) will be changed into a common orchard, while the common orchard (symbolic of the oppressed and lowly) will grow into a great forest.” This interpretation matches the Septuagint of verse 14, which speaks of God’s “removal” of the leaders and people of Israel who opposed him (See Journal 62).

More Reversals

Verse 17 introduces the first of a series of reversals. What are these?

  • the deaf shall hear (v 18)
  • the blind shall see (v 18)
  • the poor (meek) shall rejoice (v 19)
  • the hopeless (poor) shall be filled with gladness (v 19)
  • the lawless man has come to an end (v 20)
  • the arrogant man has perished (v 20)
  • the malicious are utterly destroyed (v 20)
  • those who give false witness will be gone (v 21)
  • these are they who “entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate” (NET) [devious lawyers] (v 21)
  • these are they who “deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges” (NET) (v 21)

Verses 18 and 19 bear a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ’s statement in Matthew 11:5.

the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:5 ESV)

Also, it’s as though Jesus took portions of his Sermon on the Mount straight from the book of Isaiah.

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:3-6 ESV)

The Reversals Reveal Two Groups

Isaiah in the verses from 18-21 divides his subjects into two groups. The first group begins low and rises high. The second group begins high and sinks low. Who are those receiving the blessings in verses 18-19? They are the deaf, the blind, the meek, the poor in spirit, and those wronged by the law and the court system. Who are those to be condemned and destroyed in verses 20-21? They are the lawless, the arrogant, the malicious, and the liars who harm their neighbors. These people sound remarkably like the teachers and leaders of Jerusalem whom Isaiah described in Isaiah 29:1-4 and 13-16.

Zooming In on the Who?

Where do the poor people come from, those whom Isaiah prophesies God will bless in “a little while”? There seem to be two plausible choices.

ONE, they could be the progeny of the people and religious leaders whom Isaiah prophesied against in verses 1-4 and 13-16. Perhaps they will repent and have a great change of heart. They may recognize their blindness and deafness and poverty of spirit and turn to the Lord. The Apostle Paul says this is possible.

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)

TWO, they could be the progeny of those few who always hoped in the God of Israel. Or, perhaps they are a small group who repent and turn back to the Lord. In either case, they are those whom Isaiah calls the remnant (Isaiah 28:5; 10:20-22). They are the blind, the deaf, the poor, the hopeless, and the victims of legal injustice. This remnant resembles the crowds who believed in Jesus, and after his resurrection continued to believe in God and his Son. Paul speaks of this remnant in Romans 9-11.

Significance of Abraham

Isaiah 29:22 in the Septuagint (NETS, SAAS) names three names: Abraham, house of Jacob, Jacob himself, and Israel. The Masoretic (Hebrew) uses the names Abraham, house of Jacob, and Jacob. The naming of “Abraham” is new in Isaiah. This is his first appearance. The name Jacob, on the other hand, occurs frequently. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32:28. “Jacob” and “Israel” are most likely synonymous in this verse.

Why does Isaiah use the name Abraham in reference to the group of people whose lowly state will be so radically changed to blessing? There are only three other uses of Abraham in all of Isaiah: Isaiah 41:8; 51:2; and 63:16. Is Isaiah’s use of this name in chapter 29 significant?

Here is what we know about Abraham.

  1. God justified Abraham because of  his faith (Romans 4:3, 9, 12, 13, 16; Galatians 3:6).
  2. Those who are of faith are the sons [children] of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 9).
  3. Abraham predates the establishment of national Israel by many generations.

One reasonably wonders if Isaiah purposefully chose the name Abraham in order to emphasize these distinguishing characteristics.

HOW WILL ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN RESPOND?

Isaiah continues.

Isaiah 29:23 But when their children shall have seen my works, they shall sanctify my name for my sake, and they sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. (LXE)

The religious leaders of Jesus’s day saw all his works. They witnessed paralytics walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, lepers cleansed, and even the dead raised (John 11). Did they sanctify God’s name? No, they crucified Messiah, God’s Son. But many did see and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob. They were the poor, the sinners, and the outcasts whom Jesus blessed, just as Isaiah prophesied.

VERSE 24

Isaiah 29:24 indicates that some will be given a new heart. The chapter closes with this final blessing of reversal. “And they that erred in spirit shall know understanding, and the murmurers shall learn obedience, and the stammering tongues shall learn to speak peace.” These people with changed hearts would be the same ones of whom Isaiah speaks in verses 22 and 23.

Conclusion: Interpretation of Isaiah

Isaiah and the gospel narratives are interrelated. Isaiah points forward to the Gospel, and the gospels themselves look back upon Isaiah. In the four gospels the enmity between Christ and the religious leaders of his day is apparent (witness the crucifixion). Yet Jesus preached for the most part to his own people, the Jewish nation (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:25). Those who believed, beginning with the eleven disciples, were Jewish. These preached to other Jewish people, who also believed. Eventually, the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to Gentiles. These believed in far greater numbers than the people of Israel. Paul addresses this situation in Romans 9-11. National Israel to this day has not believed in Messiah Jesus Christ. However, many individuals of ethnic Israel have believed throughout the ages: a group within a group.

Paul in Romans specifically speaks to Gentiles and Jewish believers who may be thinking that the word of God–that is, his Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–had failed (Romans 9:1-6a). Verse 6a reads, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.” Immediately, he states, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9:6b). He develops this theme in chapters 9, 10, and 11. Who are the ones whom Paul claims “belong to Israel”? They are those who believe in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

Paul and Isaiah both teach that Messiah is from God. God is for Israel. God sent Messiah, his Son, to redeem Israel. The children of those who were faithful to God in the Old Testament (very few, says Isaiah), will continue to be faithful to him when he sends Messiah. Or, if not consistently faithful, then repentant. Messiah is Christ. The Gospel of Christ flows in a smooth stream from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Isaiah speaks of Christ. Christ is the “foundation,” the “precious cornerstone” upon which the church is built (Isaiah 28:16).

Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesied of Messiah and those who receive him. Then, in the New Testament, Messiah comes. This is all very Jewish. Messiah, Christ Jesus, is Jewish. The problem arose with the actual identity of the God-man. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’s day rejected Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. They did not reject the Scriptures, such as Isaiah, which prophesied that Messiah would come (John 5:39-40, 45-47).

The “remnant” includes the faithful Israelites of the Old Testament (those like Isaiah) and the faithful Israelites of the New Testament (those like the eleven disciples, Elizabeth, Mary, Paul, and all the rest.) This is the best way to understand the jerky flip-flops that Isaiah makes. He alternates between the faithful and the unfaithful, the obedient and the disobedient, the repentant and those who refuse to repent. These are two groups. 

Is this “replacement theology”? Does Paul use Isaiah’s “remnant” to replace Israel in the New Testament? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that faithful Israel replaces national Israel. Faith is an issue of heart, not of national boundaries. And no, Paul does not “replace” Israel. Paul claims that the people of Israel are natural branches in God’s olive tree (Romans 11:16-21). The unfaithful branches were broken off. The Gentiles are the ones who have been grafted in. When ethnic Israel lines up once more with God’s purpose in Messiah, says Paul, they can be grafted in again (Romans 11:20, 23). But God’s olive tree consists of faithful people, not political nations. “My kingdom is not of this world,” says Christ (John 18:36).

Who is Jesus of Nazareth, if not a Jew? (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38; John 1:11). The church does not “replace” Israel. Rather, the church is what faithful Israel becomes. The church equals faithful Israel and those Gentiles whom God grafts in. This is what Isaiah consistently teaches all along. I personally think of the church as the butterfly that emerges from Old Testament Israel’s cocoon, no irreverence intended.

Once the reader understands Isaiah’s method of switching back and forth between Israel’s two essential groups–those faithful to God the King, and those unfaithful to him–she can see that God is consistent to himself. He is not a God who changes his mind (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:21).

I join with Paul in his prayers for his kinsmen, those of Paul’s race, ethnic Israelites. I pray that they awaken from their deep sleep, that the blind will see, that the deaf will hear and understand, that “those who erred in spirit shall know understanding, and those who complained will learn to obey” (Isaiah 29:24 SAAS).

And many blessings, dear readers, upon us all. May God’s purpose in Christ be fulfilled.

Switchback–Blessing Disappears: Isaiah Journal 60

By Christina M Wilson. Posted simultaneously at Switchback-Blessing Disappears: Isaiah Devotional Journal 60 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 28-29    Septuagint Modernized   NETS

Blessing Suddenly Disappears

As the reader continues in Isaiah, a pattern appears. Isaiah fills his writing with “switchbacks.” A switchback is when a pathway turns back upon itself and leads in an opposite direction. In Chapter 28, Isaiah abandons the blessing upon Israel of Chapter 27 and heads back in the direction of judgment and doom. That is, until…he switches back again. (See Switchbacks in Isaiah.)

Secondly, Chapter 27 contained strong suggestions of an end times synopsis. Isaiah 27:12-13 seemed to be writing of an ingathering that included all Israel. But here, Isaiah treats the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom separately. This is noteworthy, because Isaiah has not specifically mentioned Northern Israel (Ephraim in Isaiah 28:1) since Isaiah 17:3. Both kingdoms, as distinct from each other, have not been mentioned since Isaiah 11:13. But here, the prophet singles out Ephraim in Chapter 28 and Ariel (Jerusalem, the City of David) in Chapters 28 and 29.

Unravelling the Mystery

The fact is that Isaiah presents God as judging and condemning Israel one moment and blessing her the next. What is a reader to make of these constant flip flops?

Possibilities

  1. God is schizophrenic.
  2. God is a “parent” who cannot make up his mind. His hand of discipline is not to be believed. When he disciplines, he will surely change his mind and turn the judgment into blessing. Therefore, his discipline need not be taken seriously.
  3. God can rightfully discipline his child, Israel, and he does. However, the disciplinary judgment will not be the last word, because long ago, God promised Abraham that he would bless his seed. God cannot go back on his word of promise. Therefore, the final state must be blessing. Again, Isaiah’s pronouncements of severe judgment need not be taken too seriously.
  4. Isaiah addresses several different groups of people. These groups do not overlap. In this scenario, judgment is judgment and will not be rescinded. The blessing is blessing that fulfills God’s promises, but not everyone will be blessed. It is wise to pay attention and believe the words of judgment Isaiah speaks.
  5. My point of view is the latter, number four above.

What Groups Does Isaiah Address?

  1. Ephraim (northern Israel), mostly disobedient to God.
  2. Judah (southern Israel), mostly disobedient to God.
  3. A remnant from all Israel (northern and southern), repentant and mostly obedient to God.

This grouping solves the question of why the constant switching back and forth. No, God is not schizophrenic. Yes, God knows his own mind and is thoroughly consistent. Yes, God’s word is God’s word. When he speaks judgment, he means judgment and will carry it out. When he speaks blessing, he means blessing and will carry it out. God will fulfill his promise to Abraham, but most of Israel will not receive it. A repentant, contrite, obedient, faithful remnant will receive the full blessing of God.

Note that in Isaiah’s day, there were not three concrete, political groups. That is, only a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom were visible. There did not exist a political boundary for a geographical area called “Remnant.” The Old Testament remnant, a remnant people, remained hidden and scattered throughout both kingdoms. That is, there were always a few people interspersed among the nation who remained faithful to God, his word, and his law. It is fascinating to watch as God protects this remnant throughout Israel’s history.

The Manner of Blessing

Finally, the prophet makes clear that the manner of God’s blessing the remnant of his people will be through a Man of his own choosing (Isaiah 28:16).

Isaiah 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord, See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame. (NETS) (See 1 Peter 2:6)

Therefore, the focus is not on the remnant, nor so much upon God’s promise, but upon the Stone, the precious stone, the costly foundation. The focus is also upon belief in him. With this Stone for a foundation, God himself accomplishes what he intended to do. Isaiah grants no blessing to rebellious Israel.

Next Time: Examples of Isaiah’s groups in Chapters 28 and 29.

Switchbacks in Isaiah 26: Journal 55

By Christina M Wilson. Published under a different title at: Evangelistic Switchbacks: Isaiah 26-Journal 55 – justonesmallvoice.com

Isaiah 26    Septuagint Modernized

Evangelistic Switchbacks and Spiritual Warfare-Isaiah 26

Evangelistic switchbacks alternate between the benefits of belief and the condemnation of resistance. First and foremost, God through his Holy Spirit wrote a strong evangelistic appeal in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). That is why in both the Psalter and Isaiah the reader does not get too far into blessings for the faithful without encountering condemnation for God’s enemies. The divine author, God, embeds in these frequent contrasts his evangelistic appeal: Leave the one and join the other. Your very life is at stake. Isaiah 26 provides a great example of the evangelistic nature of the Bible.

The Opening Salvo

In the first six verses, Isaiah 26:1-6, the prophet provides a succinct overview of the outcome of all things. On the one hand, those who hope in the Lord forever will live securely and peacefully in the Lord’s strong city. He constructed the city, and he protects it with walls of salvation. On the other hand, God will bring down those who live in their “lofty” pride. He will place them beneath the feet of the gentle and humble. Those who once trampled others will themselves be trampled upon.

God’s heart, however, is open. He wants to bless everyone who chooses his blessing.

Open the gates… Isaiah 26:2

The Lord excludes no one a priori (Genesis 4:6-7). And so, in Isaiah 26, the author continues to contrast the outcome for the faithful with the outcome of the obstinate.

A Second Round

THE BLESSING

Isaiah then alternates back from describing the outcome for those who deny God (vs 6) to the outcome for his hopeful ones (vs 7). Here then is the second round of blessing.

Isaiah 26:The way of the godly is made straight; the way of the godly is also prepared. For the way of the Lord is judgment; we have hoped in Your name, and on the remembrance of  You, which our soul longs for; my spirit seeks You very early in the morning, O God, for Your commandments are a light on the earth; learn righteousness, you that dwell upon the earth. (CAB, LXE)

MESSIANIC DETAILS TO NOTICE

1. The author uses the phrase, “the way,” three times in two verses. The first two are, “the way of the godly.” The third is, “the way of the Lord.” The verses read, “The way of the godly is made straight.” “The way of the godly is also prepared.” “For the way of the Lord is judgment.”

Isaiah means here that it is good to follow “the way” of the Lord–his judgments, commandments, and precepts. The whole paragraph is a comfort, whose setting is the intimacy of prayer with a loving God who brings light to humankind’s understanding through his words and teaching.

2. Notice the change from plural “we” in verse 8 to singular “my” in verse 9. “My spirit seeks you very early in the morning, O God.” It is possible that the Lord himself is praying this prayer from the prophetic vantage of his incarnation. This verse rings with similarity to Mark 1:35, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

3. “The way of the godly (plural) is made straight; the way of the godly (plural) is also prepared,” in Isaiah 26:7 finds a singular repetition in Isaiah 40:3 and Matthew 3:3.

4. Jesus refers to himself as “the way” in John 14:6. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The book of Acts in several places refers to early Christians as followers of “the way.” Use of “Way” as an early name of Christianity is common in Acts. For example, Acts 19:23 states, “About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.”

5. The often repeated communion formula, “This, do in remembrance of me,” (Luke 22:191 Corinthians 11:2425) carries an echo of Isaiah’s sentence which reads, “We have hoped in Your name, and on the remembrance of  You, which our soul longs for…” (Isaiah 26:8-9).

6. That Jesus is the “light” of God is a major theme of John the Apostle, both in his gospel and his first letter.

THE SWITCHBACK 

Verses 7-9 comfort the godly by the blessed communion with God through meditation and remembrance of his way, his judgments (precepts and discipline), his light, and indeed his presence. Verse 10 switches back to the contrasting end of the “ungodly.”

Isaiah 26:10 For the ungodly one is put down; no one who will not learn righteousness on the earth, shall be able to do the truth; let the ungodly be taken away, that he may not see the glory of the Lord. (CAB, LXE)

The following verse presents an enigma. Who are “they”? (Isaiah 26:11). The connotation is negative, for when the Lord “exalted” his arm, “they knew it not.” Who are the people most blind, who failed to know the Lord when he came? Paul writes, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). If “they” are God’s Old Testament people, then the “untaught” are the Gentiles who became zealous for the blessings. Paul writes, “… whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33). 

Isaiah may hint and whisper at the gospel and its adverse reception by God’s people here in chapter 26. In later chapters, however, he spells out his meaning boldly and clearly. See, for example, Isaiah 65:1 and Romans 10:20. What is loud and clear in chapter 26, however, is that the prophet describes two camps of people with two very different outcomes. Isaiah 26:11 closes with, “… and now fire shall devour the adversaries.”

The Rounds Continue

THE FAITHFUL

Verses 12 and 13 present another direct prayer.

12 O Lord our God, give us peace, for You have rendered to us all things. 13 O Lord our God, take possession of us; O Lord, we know not any other beside You; we name Your name.

This prayer of confession (in the sense of personal testimony) suits the remnant, rather than the nation of Israel as a whole. The nation remains apostate throughout Isaiah, while the remnant clings to God. The prayer evidences the passionate pleading of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).

THE REBELLIOUS

The switchback to the evil “they” occurs in Isaiah 26:14-15. The Septuagint text (LXX) reads differently than the Masoretic in verses 13-15. (Find both texts HERE in parallel versions.) While verse 13 in the LXX confesses the abiding trust of the Lord’s faithful, the Masoretic indicates the various foreign powers or gods who have dominated them in their history. However, Judah to this point in their history has remained independent of foreign “lords.” Further, their heart has not remained faithful to their one, true God. That is Isaiah’s precise point, as he attempts again and again to call them back.

The Masoretic verses from 13-15 require a virtuous (repentant) Israel as a nation, which does not exist in Isaiah, nor in the Gospels nor Acts. The Septuagint, however, in these same three verses, represents a faithful remnant. The Masoretic requires a “but” (other lords than you dominated us, but…). The Septuagint flows smoothly without abrupt contrasts. Both versions, however, indicate that the evil will be punished. The “glorious of the earth” in the Septuagint are the lofty, prideful of heart. They live in the “strong cities” of verse 5 and are the “ungodly” of verse 10.

PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL

Another switchback from the ungodly of verses 14-15 to the faithful godly occurs in verse 16. The section beginning there continues as a prayer of direct address to the Lord in verses 16-19 of the Septuagint.

Isaiah 26:16 Lord, in affliction I remembered You; Your chastening was to us with small affliction. 17 And as a woman in labor draws near to be delivered, and cries out in her pain; so have we been to Your beloved. 18 We have conceived, O Lord, because of Your fear, and have been in pain, and have brought forth the breath of Your salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth; we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall. 19 The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from You is healing to them; but the land of the ungodly shall perish.19 The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from You is healing to them; but the land of the ungodly shall perish.

The gospel accounts of the faithful few who welcomed Jesus’s birth can help the reader understand the faithful remnant represented here in the Septuagint. The prayers and exclamations of Elizabeth, Mary, and Zechariah resemble this four verse prayer in Isaiah. The devotion and hunger for the Lord’s salvation are the same in each. Simeon and Anna, both present in the temple when Jesus’s parents brought him to be dedicated (Luke 2:22-38) are further examples of the kind of people who pray the prayer in Isaiah 26:16-19, Septuagint.

The difference between the Septuagint and the Masoretic begins in verse 16. The Septuagint begins the prayer in first person. The speaker acknowledges the chastening of the Lord upon them. The prayer is intimate, personal. This is not so in the Masoretic account. The Septuagint, however, draws the beautiful point that the supplicant is mother of the Lord’s “beloved.” The “beloved” is the Christ (Matthew 3:17Revelation 12:1-25). This prayer of God’s faithful remnant reveals a most beautiful love between them and the Messiah to whom they gave birth.

Both the Septuagint and the Masoretic represent the pain of childbirth in verse 17 similarly. But verse 18, is very different.

Masoretic: We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. (Isaiah 26:18 ESV)

Septuagint: We have conceived, O Lord, because of Your fear, and have been in pain, and have brought forth the breath of Your salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth; we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall. (CAB, LXE)

An Exciting Verse in the Septuagint !!

In Masoretic Isaiah 26:18, all is “wind.” Wind in that version represents futility, vanity, emptiness, a frustration to the purpose of childbearing. It is also very difficult to visualize concretely. Further, in the Masoretic, Israel has not wrought deliverance, nor have the wicked been deposed (“Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen”). Or, as other translations state, they have not come to life.  But in the Septuagint version, the word “wind” is translated to mean “spirit” or “breath.” “We have brought forth the breath [spirit] of Your salvation.”

In other words, the remnant, in spite of all the affliction that came their way, succeeded in fulfilling the mission God had given them. They did give birth to Messiah. The faithful remnant achieved what God intended from the beginning. The purpose of all those genealogies had been fulfilled. The woman of Revelation 12:1-6 gave birth!

The Victory Cry

Verse 19 in the Masoretic presents a shocking jolt from the sense of verse 18 in those texts. The jump is so huge that explanation of it falters. The Septuagint flows smoothly, however. Verse 19 raises a cry of victory based upon the successful birth of verse 18.

19 The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from You is healing to them… (CAB, LXE)

Simply put, the Septuagint prophesies Messiah’s birth in 26:18 and shouts out the gloriously wonderful outcome in verse 19. The Masoretic shares the joy of verse 19, but misses the prequel, the preparatory buildup of verse 18.

THE SWITCHBACK

 Following these magnificent blessings, Isaiah switches back to a pronouncement of doom upon the ungodly. It is very short, occupying only the latter clause of verse 19.

19 …but the land of the ungodly shall perish. (CAB, LXE)

Unfortunately, the Masoretic texts miss this contrast.

SWITCHBACK: THE LORD REPLIES WITH ENCOURAGEMENT

Following the brief but poignant outcome for the “land of the ungodly” in the last clause of verse 19, verses 20-21 close the chapter with the Lord’s reply to his faithful remnant’s prayer in the prior verses.

Isaiah 26:20 provides the outcome for the faithful people. The Lord bids them to shelter with patient endurance for a little while longer.

19… but the land of the ungodly shall perish. 20 Go, my people, enter into your closets, shut your door, hide yourself for a little season, until the anger of the Lord has passed away.

Revelation 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (ESV)

SWITCHBACK: FINAL OUTCOME FOR THE UNGODLY

21 For behold, the Lord is bringing wrath from His holy place on those that dwell upon the earth; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall not cover her slain. (CAB, LXE)

A DETAIL, YET IMPORTANT: Notice how the outcome of verse 21 in the Septuagint corresponds in parallel with the outcome of verse 18. In verse 18, Isaiah writes, “we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall.” Here in verses 20-21, the outcomes are the same. God’s godly ones will hide under his protection (verses 18 and 20), and the stubbornly ungodly will fall (verses 19 and 21). Because of the different text of Masoretic Isaiah 26:18-19, that textual tradition loses the internal correspondence contained in the Septuagint.

A Summary Chart of Isaiah 26 Septuagint

A Reader’s Personal Response

As a reader, I find that there is no such thing as reading quickly through Isaiah. (This is also true of most non-narrative Scripture.) It seems that the slower one reads, the more treasure she uncovers. On the other hand, even a fast reading of Isaiah reveals the main themes of blessing for the repentant faithful in Christ, Messiah, and condemnation for the unfaithful, those who rebel against God’s word. Chapter 26 excels in its illustration of these contrasting themes.

A Look Ahead

Chapter 27 opens with a new section beginning once again with the phrase, “In that day.” Chapter 27 sums up the outcome for Satan himself.

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