87. The Future Coming Together of All the Tribes of Israel

Then at last Ephraim’s envy and jealousy will vanish and depart. It will be taken away. And Judah’s adversaries and enemies, those that trouble and harass them, will be cut off, eliminated and destroyed; Ephraim will not be envious or jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile to, vex  or harassing Ephraim. Their rivalry will be no more. (Isaiah 11:13. My own Translation)

 

jew cairo tailor

Egyptian Jew in Cairo

This is a strange one. Cursory Bible readers generally tend to assume that all the twelve tribes were happily co-habiting the land of Israel with deep familial bonds of love and spiritual and emotional ties to each other; the happy brotherhood of the Children of Israel, if you will. Wrong!

 

The kingdom infamously split after Solomon’s death. Humanly speaking it was Solomon’s fault that there was so much unrest, because he taxed the people so heavily. Judah were happy with a descendant of David on the throne. The rest of Israel wanted a peaceful and prosperous existence. But from the time Joshua took Israel into the Promised Land until that division of the kingdom under Solomon’s son Rehoboam, Judah were always separated from, and in a manner of talking, “superior” to all the other tribes. The biblical text commonly separates Judah from all the other tribes when listing army sizes or population numbers. These kinds of factual observations suggest that the tribe of Judah was the big brother that oversaw all the others. At various times when the issue is under the spotlight in the biblical narrative, it becomes obvious that this “superiority” of Judah did not sit comfortably with any of the other tribes. It was such a heated aspect of life amongst the Israeli’s that it led to jealousy that became more and more vicious as time progressed. Judah seemed to get the best breaks and the best draw of the cards of life than any other tribe.

 

To make the ultimate point, today the entire globe knows that the descendants of Israel are “Jews.” The word Jew is an abbreviation from “Judah.” I, personally have always considered it strange that after the split of the kingdom of Solomon, it was the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam the son of Nebat who took the national title of “Israel.” Judah had the Davidic dynasty and the Temple which was the political, social and spiritual hub of the entire nation. Yet they became known as “Judah” simply because the gripe of the ten northernmost tribes was heavily against Judah, not Benjamin, not Simeon, and not even the Levites that lived in the southern areas. They might, and occasionally were referred to as “Judah and Benjamin.” They could even have been called, “The Southern Kingdom of Israel,” as opposed to the “Northern Kingdom of Israel.” But no! It was Israel with the ten tribes up north, and down south was the state of “Judah.” I cannot but wonder how the Benjamites thought of it, as well as the Simeonites (if there were any Simeonites still in existence that is).

 

Judah the man, and later, Judah the tribe, always seemed to be the leader in one upmanship within the confines of the promised land of Canaan. It was Judah who came up with the plan to sell their brother Joseph rather than kill him (Genesis 25:23). Judah definitely seems to have been more independent than any of the others of the twelve brothers going off on his own and “ploughing his own furrow” as it were (Genesis 38:1-2, 6-7). It was Judah that argued before the entire family about Jacob allowing Benjamin to go to Egypt to meet Joseph (Genesis 43:8).  It was Judah that emotionally pled and offered himself instead of Benjamin when the chalice was found in Benjamin’s saddle bag and Joseph threatened to imprison him (Genesis 44:16-18).

 

 

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SARA HUSSEIN US

Black Jews

Judah was not the oldest, but assumed the role of the firstborn as well as the blessings of the firstborn because of the sins and crimes of his three elder brothers. Reuben, the first born, had slept with Bilhah, one of his own father’s concubines which disenfranchised him from the firstborn’s blessing (Genesis 35:22). Simeon and Levi lost their firstborn blessings because of the ethnic cleansing of the Shechemites. Their vicious act of genocide done in revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah lost them the succession into the blessings of the firstborn. It was Judah who was the next in line, the fourth son. From Genesis 35:22 onwards, Judah is seen as the family leader of brothers, the first amongst equals as it were.

 

We have to add, of course, that Jacob’s prophetic blessing laid upon Judah on as he knelt by his father’s deathbed, announcing that the sceptre was his until Shiloh comes left an anointing on Judah and all his descendants that self-evidently would thrust some kind of priority and/or pre-eminence on Judah’s descendants.  It is commonly accepted by biblical commentators that “Shiloh” in that context was a euphemism for Christ (Genesis 49:8-10).

 

When the man Judah had developed into the tribe of Judah they were always the most numerous. In the Book of Numbers Judah is represented as sharing equally with the other tribes, without distinctive fortunes, the experiences of the Exodus and of the sojourn in the wilderness. The clans which then composed the tribe of Judah were the Shelanites, Perizzites, Zerahites, Hezronites, and Hamulites (Numbers 26:19-22). However their supremacy is clearly noted. In Numbers 1:27 they had more men qualified to be soldiers than any of the other tribes (Numbers 1:27). Judah was the tribe that led the procession in the wilderness, and the three tribes that were in the camp layout around the Tabernacle with the three tribes constituting the eastern camp (Judah, Zebulun and Issachar) were 186,400. Everything about Judah seemed to be the first, the biggest, the pre-eminent and the best. They still had the most potential soldiers (76,500) after the plague (Numbers 26:22).

 

This emerging pre-eminence continued throughout Israel’s history. Judah is stated to have received their inheritance which stretched right across the land from Jericho westward to the Mediterranean and from Jerusalem southward to the desert. The territory is said to have extended south as far as Kadesh Barnea (Joshua 15:3), which lay about fifty miles south of Beersheba, and west as far as Gaza, Ashdod, and Ekron (Joshua 15:42-47).  They clearly had the largest plot of land (Joshua 15:1) as any map of Israel after the conquest will reveal. The tribe of Simeon’s allotted piece of land was encircled by the largest tribe, Judah (Joshua 19:9). Simeon had a hole in the map of Judah a little like Lesotho has today in the map of South Africa. As time progressed, it would seem that Simeon was simply assimilated into Judah – they disappear. On top of that, because of one or two violent episodes within the tribes, Benjamin was nearly wiped out at one time, and although they did not lose their identity, because of their size they came to be identified as an extension to, if not part of the pre-eminence of Judah.

 

jews Mosul

Iraqi Jews

After the settlement in Canaan, Judah seems to have stood apart from the other tribes. It is unique that Judah is not mentioned in the song of Deborah (Judges 5:14-18.); and in the accounts of the kingdom of Saul it is regularly reckoned separately from the other tribes (See I Samuel 11:8, 17:52, 18:16). From then on, when any statement of things that occurred, sizes of armies, and remarks about the politics or opinions of the people of Israel, Judah is always differentiated as separate from Israel. Check out 1 Samuel 11:8, 1 Samuel 15:4, 2 Samuel 2:1-4, 2 Samuel 2:10-11, 2 Samuel 5:5, 2 Samuel 12:8, and 2 Samuel 19:40-42.  And note that it isn’t merely a cultural cosmetic difference. It was Judah that hastened to crown David as king. It was seven and a half years later before the other tribes did the same. After the death of Saul, David seemingly elevated the tribe of Judah into a separate kingdom (2 Samuel 2:1-4).  Those initial 90 months where David was king of Judah alone set the entire syndrome in hard concrete. In 2 Samuel 20:2 it is noted that Judah stayed loyal to David, the rest of Israel did not. The Psalmist noted differences too. “God is known in Judah. His name is great in Israel,” says Psalm 76:1. Psalm 114:2 informs us that “Judah became His sanctuary. Israel His dominion.” As in the North South divide in the UK, as with the North South divide that precipitated the American civil war, there was a similar North South divide in Israel that was culturally, socially and religiously very keenly felt by the northerners. It created much ill feeling and animosity.

 

In this historical development and process the tribe of Judah settled in the region south of Jerusalem and were “the leaders” amongst Israel’s population. They became the most powerful and assertively the most important tribe. Not only did Judah produce the Davidic line,  it was also prophesied, that Messiah would come from among its descendants. Judah ruled. OK!

 

 

Modern Jews, of course, trace their lineage to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (absorbed by Judah) or to the tribe, or group, of clans of the priesthood known as Levites. The modern family name of Cohen is undoubtedly Levitical.  Apart from those three tribes, until a few years ago, there were no Jews at all who could authoritatively state that they were from any of the other ten tribes. As I write in 2014, there are now Jewish groups from as far as India returning to live in Israel with racial titles that sound similar to some of the “lost ten tribes.”  Hitherto, however, the vast majority of Jews that the world knows of today are still from Judah, Benjamin or Levi. This situation of “lost tribes” was brought about by the Assyrian conquest of the northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, which led to the dispersion of the 10 northern tribes and their gradual assimilation by other races in other nation states.

 

The inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom were absorbed by the people among whom they were scattered, because their religion lacked the uniqueness and power of pure worship of Yahweh. It was this uniqueness, furthermore, which caused the name of the tribe of Judah to be perpetuated.

The southern Kingdom of Judah thrived until 587 BC, when it was overrun by the Babylonians, who carried off many of the inhabitants into exile. When the Persians conquered Babylonia in 538 BC, Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to their homeland, where they soon set to work to replace the magnificent Temple of Jerusalem that the Babylonians had destroyed. The history of the Jews from that time forward is predominantly the history of the tribe of Judah.

 

All this is to make the point that the rivalry, jealousy and violent division between Judah and the rest of the people of Israel was deep and prolonged. The impact of that division has led to the status quo with the people who are known around the world as “Jews” i.e. of the tribe of Judah.

 

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Jews in Jerusalem. Photo taken in 1895.

Isaiah declares that this jealousy, and tribal infighting will dissipate in the light of Christ’s presence as highlighted in Isaiah 11:13. Unity and oneness would be the new norm when Christ returns. The deep seated animosity will not be buried in the Jewish psyche and left to fester. True reconciliation amongst the entire Jewish nation will exude from Christ down to the collars of His robe throughout the nation state from which He will reign on earth. The world will clearly witness the unity, and the spirit that will be experienced by Israel will trickle down and permeate the entire planet.

 

Isaiah makes this prediction in a day where the entire ten tribes were scattered into places unknown. Judah may have been in a slower state of agonising death throes, but it was obviously dying. In the midst of the incipient decline unto death of Isaiah’s state, he, by the Spirit of God, could clearly see the coming together again of all the tribes of Israel, and that the hearts of each tribe would be in unity. The tribal differences within Israel will still be there throught Christ’s millennial reign.

86. Messianic Policies when the King of all Kings Rules on David’s Throne

The King and His Court in the GospelsOne of the sub plots of my writing on Isaiah is to rid my readers of the mystique and presupposed complexity of the Old Testament prophets, prophecy, eschatology, and the vast continent of material of all that the writing prophets have left for us. I believe the scriptures – that is both Old and New Testament are given to us from God. I believe they are to open our minds, not confuse them. I believe they are to reveal things, not hide them. Having said that, however, nothing in this world comes automatically. If I meet a NASA Astronaut, I take it for granted that he has spent years learning, rehearsing and preparing himself for what he does. If I meet a brain surgeon, I relate to him on the presupposition that he did not just leave school with a GCSE in Health and Safety and start opening people’s heads. He has spent years of study, practice, relating and application. Why should we think it is anything different when we try to know God and His inspired written word? There are 66 books in the Old and New Testaments and they vary in subject, and context as well as writing style and emphasis. It is, however, a miracle of a seamless message across the whole. To trip up on the perceived seams is a common error.

 

We are plowing through a section that is so plainly about Christ one needs help to miss it. Both His first advent is plainly referred to as well as those things that have not yet been seen on planet earth and must therefore refer to His future activities on the planet. The prophet talks interchangeably at times about what, to us, has already taken place and what clearly has not. It is fascinating the way some sentences refer to what happened in Christ’s ministry before the crucifiction, and what will happen after His return to the earth. Continueing on in what to us is Isaiah chapter 11, having described Christ’s modus operandi, and the impact His second coming will have on both animal life, the world’s topography, and the very nature of man, all present and correct in Isaiah 11:1-19,  Isaiah now continues on a roll of revelation.

 

The prophet is seeing Messiah howbeit away off in the future to his existence, and making statements about Christ’s character, His work, His mentality and His promptings of action that will emanate from the Spirit of God that will be sat on His life. He continues to describe the rule and actions of Him of whom he previously wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Isaiah 11:1-10). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of light! In the Spirit filled and Spirit anointed Messiah, all the doors of light and the multifarious windows of heaven are open. His correspondences from the Father in heaven towards mankind on earth are perfect and unbroken, pronounced in the hearing of the masses with the very tones and timbre of Almighty Yahweh. He is of deep and “quick understanding.” The eternal omniscient Spirit of God has full flow and self-manifestation as He rests on Messiah and works through Him. He expresses Himself naturally and completely through Jesus of Nazareth, that is He who will have the Spirit without measure. When He arrives He will be keen-scented to discern the essence of all things moral, spiritual, and anything else that comprises the bundle of life of mankind. He will be alert to perceive the reality behind the appearance and semblance of all things, to “see them as they really are.” The eyes of His understanding will – and do – see all things. All the great primary senses of both man and the eternal Spirit are awake in Him, and He has perfect knowledge of every “secret place” in the entire cosmos. Whether it be secret thoughts, secret motives, secret relationships, secret sins, or secret locations, Messiah sees and knows and locates. Nothing is hid from Him with whom we all have to do.  It is in His Light that we see light at all. It is His face that the Apostle Paul was referring to when he declared that, “God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” This is the ultimate in being real, true and solid. And instead of depressing mankind He fills the heart of man with faith, hope and love. He is Messiah, Christ Almighty.

 

King over allIsaiah has revealed and is revealing a comprehensive masterpiece of a word sketch of Christ. He shall be of David’s line. He is the last and final descendant of the kingly dynasty of David. But this son of David is of such majesty, power and glory that David himself called Him Lord (Psalm 110:1). When He is seen and known He will be fully God and fully human concurrently. The Spirit of the Lord will so rest on Him that the attributes of the Spirit and His work, and the attributes of Messiah and His works will be referred to interchangeably. When He comes, Messiah and the Spirit of God will be moving in such harmony and oneness that Isaiah explains it as if Messiah will have seven Spirits upon Him. Such wonderful definition is there in the activities of Messiah in all He will do that the remarkable and jaw dropping manifestation of the one Holy Spirit in so many varied ways will seem even larger and more expansive than anybody could ever conceive of in God, that the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of might, the spirit of knowledge and the spirit of the fear of the Lord, would seem to even go beyond the normal concept of how the Holy Spirit of God operates. How creation itself, as well as the Jewish people of faith must have been longing, aching, even agonizing for this Person to walk down the roads of Jerusalem and Judea!

 

 

Once installed as king on David’s throne in this time-space world, Messiah will judge the poor – seemingly, from Isaiah 11, – this will be the first thing on His agenda. Messiah’s entire outlook is focused on moving by the Holy Spirit amongst the people. How glorious. And we also know too well that Messiah’s “fear of the Lord” was of such a magnitude that He was heard to say, “I only speak what I hear the Father saying,” and “I only do what I see the Father doing.” The oneness and seamless unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a thing glorious to behold that brings utter astonishment to the understanding. Not only will Messiah judge the human cosmos, but all of creation itself, from mountains, to trees, to animal and plant life. All will be transformed when He comes to reign. His very presence will impact the status quo of the human experience. Then Isaiah goes further about Messiah’s activities in His millennial reign:

 

ISAIAH 11:10

In that day the Root of Jesse, the heir to David’s throne will be lifted up and stand as a banner, an ensign and a signal flag for the peoples of the gentile world to gather round; The nations will rally and resort to him, and of Him shall the nations inquire, looking for guidance. His resting place, His Kingdom of peace, the Land where He will live will be gloriously majestic. The rest that He gives will be an honour.  (Isaiah 11:10. My own Translation)

 

“In that day,” clearly means that the continued prose of the prophet is referring still to those days when He that lives in the power of an indestructible life will reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem. The prophet now proceeds to state the result of that reign in respect of international “politics” and the Jewish diaspora that will be current prior to His Second Advent and into the inception of His reign.

 

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What are His initial steps in this brave new world according to Isaiah 11:10, 11 and 12?

 

 

The first step is, as per Isaiah 11:10 informs us, that the “Gentiles” would be wilfully and consensually submitted to Christ’s reign. This is not glib and a superficial submission to Christ. This is genuine heart submission with heartfelt faith and love from all the gentile nations of the planet.

 

There shall be a sprout, shoot, or a seeming twig of the ancient and de-royalified family of Jesse of Judah. Isaiah 11:1 refers to a branch growing from the rod out of the stem of Jesse. In 11:10 it is all about the root of Jesse. Verse one sees Messiah as the ultimate and final growth out of Jesse’s line. Verse 10 however sees Him as the very beginning of the reason for the existence of the family and dynasty of David that came out of Jesse. The Chaldean version expresses verse 10 as; ‘There shall be a Son of the sons of Jesse.’ Isaiah 53 refers to Him as a root out of dry ground. In Revelation 5:5, the Messiah is called ‘the” root” of David.’ Revelation 22:16 calls Him, ‘the root and the offspring of David,’ referring to Jesus as simultaneously the root that created the family of Jesse as well as the final flower that ended the line.

 

The whole history of Israel after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC is full of the changing of the Jewish culture and the burying within the general population of the Jews the living heirs of the throne of David. This decay of the high profile family of Jesse was such that when Christ was born, the heir to the throne at that time was indeed a carpenter. How strange.

 

“ … the heir to David’s throne will be lifted up and stand as a banner, an ensign and a signal flag for the peoples of the gentile world to gather round; The nations will rally and resort to him, and of Him shall the nations inquire, looking for guidance.

 

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The statement of Isaiah is, that the root of Jesse, that is, the Messiah, should be seen and known by the entire gentile world and that in their time of need would resort to Him. To us in the twenty first century when the true church of Jesus Christ is vastly more gentile than Jewish, the remark seems innocuous enough even if miraculous circa 740 BC in its predictive nature. However in Isaiah’s day this was a statement that could precipitate a violent mob demonstration. Jesus tells is that the Old Testament prophets were killed for this kind of remark referring to gentiles in a kindly and God blessed manner.

 

Throughout the Bible, especially within the pages of the Old Testament, the entire world is spoken of as divided into two sections: Jews and Gentiles. There is no third criteria of humankind. All who are not Jewish come under the appellation of gentile. This phrase in Isaiah 11:10 is a clear and distinct predictive prophetic word, that people other than the Jews should be benefited by the work of the Messiah, and constitute part of his kingdom. The world-wide response to this in our present generation would be to solely discuss the predictive nature of Christ’s advent and reign on earth. That side of the prophecy is amazing enough. The concept of gentiles adventuring into relationship with Christ, and faith in Him would hardly raise an eyebrow in the world today. The vast majority of all Christians today are gentile believers. The Jewish narrowly held traditional perspective, however, would feel revulsion at the thought that Isaiah gives us here. Messiah was Jewish, of David’s line, promised through God’s dialogue with Abraham. David the ultimate son of Israel, oversaw the halcyon days of Israel. The scriptures are Jewish. The feasts of Moses that predict Messiah are Jewish. What on earth do the gentiles have to do with anything? God was God of the Jews only wasn’t He?

 

The prophets said otherwise.

 

 

As much as this dialogue may very well have been one of the reasons for the final execution of Isaiah and the other prophets, it must have taken many years of ministry before it really pushed the traditionalist religious mobs of the Jews to assault him. For decades Isaiah was telling the people to whom he was sent that God not only had a purpose for all the gentile nations, but that the future of all the gentile nations in the reign of Christ on earth would be profoundly wrapped up in the future of Israel. That fact just cannot be dodged or evaded in the understanding of Isaiah, or indeed, all the other writing prophets. The truth is that God is God of the whole cosmos, not only Israel. The point is, however that Israel are the sole means of God bringing his message to all of mankind. The day will come when every person on the planet will be so deeply thankful for the purpose of Israel’s creation, and their place in the social and spiritual economy of mankind. I say all this and bullet point a small sample of Isaiah’s remarks to validate what I am saying as true (The bold font, italics and underlining below are, of course, mine.):

 

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    “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whommy soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)

 

  • “I am theLord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42:6)

 

  • Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in theirbosom, And your daughters will be carried on their (Isaiah 49:22)

 

  • “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities. (Isaiah 54:3)

 

  • Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:3)

 

  • “Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you. (Isaiah 60:5)

 

  • “Yourgates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, So that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. (Isaiah 60:11)

 

  • You will alsosuck the milk of nations and suck the breast of kings; then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. (Isaiah 60:16)

 

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    But you will be called the priests of the Lord; you will be spoken of asministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)

 

  • Then their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed. (Isaiah 61:9)

 

  • The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate.(Isaiah 62:2)

 

  • For thus says the LORD, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. (Isaiah 66:12)

 

  • “I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Rosh, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations. (Isaiah 66:19)

 

These references scattered throughout the many years of Isaiah’s writings create a huge and powerful body of truth aiding both Peter and especially Paul when preaching both to Jew and gentile, to declare a Jewish, biblically accepted explanation of God moving to save the gentiles.

 

The nations will rally and resort to him, and of Him shall the nations inquire, looking for guidance.” In the most physical and literal sense, just like when reading the Gospel accounts of people coming to Jesus for help and salvation, Christ shall have people inquiring of Him and worshipping Him, including the gentiles. Iin fact this verse is particularly discussing gentile inquiry. They will seek Him out for help, direction and guidance. The Saviour will be a literal, physical presence that will save them. They shall plead for His assistance as a nation looks to its king and deliverer to protect it. Didn’t Isaiah himself even address his people in his own day and question them rhetorically saying, “When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19).

 

“His resting place, His Kingdom of peace, the Land where He will live will be gloriously majestic. The rest that He gives will be an honour.” This evidently includes the rest, tranquillity and peace, both inwardly and outwardly, subjectively and objectively that the world and all living beings alive on the planet shall experience and see when He reigns on David’s throne.  Hebrew experts seem to unanimously agree that the Hebrew could mean both a geographical location of peace as well as a spiritual standing of peace.  I have chosen to translate it as meaning both. I am greedy for all of God’s peace.

 

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ISAIAH 11:11

Then it will happen on and in that day that the Sovereign Lord will reach out his hand in power a second time to recover, reclaim and bring back the surviving remnant of his people – those who remain in Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, Pathros, from Cush (Ethiopia), from Elam, from Shinar (Babylonis), from Hamath and from the islands, the distant western coastlands of the Mediterranean. (Isaiah 11:11. My own Translation)

 

Secondly Isaiah tells us that Christ’s policy of rule will be to regather the children of Israel that are spread throughout the local non-Jewish states in the Levant and the Middle East in general.

 

Messiah gathers all the Jews of Israel from the Arab nations. The prophet having, in 11:10 stated the effect of the reign of the Messiah on the Gentile world, proceeds to state the result on the scattered Jews within the Middle East. God Himself shall reach out His hand and reclaim all the Jewish people that were dwelling there. This obviously had been done before at various moments of history. Isaiah cannot be referencing the deliverance from Egypt under Moses, for at that time there was no recovery from scattered and distant nations. It could not be referring to the Babylonian captivity either because there are a cluster of Arab nations that are mentioned besides Babylon (Shinar). On the return from that captivity, there was definitely not a return from all the nations here specified. When the Jews were led back to Judea under Nehemiah, there is no record of their having been collected from ‘Egypt,’ or from ‘Cush,’ or from ‘the islands of the sea.’

 

Isaiah talks of the “surviving remnant.” In all the predictions respecting the calamities that should ever come upon the Jews, the idea is “always” held out that the race would never be wholly extinguished, but that, however awful and seemingly total the national judgments would be, a remnant would still survive. This was particularly true in regard to the fearful judgments which Moses denounced on the nation if they should be disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28) and which have been so strikingly fulfilled.

 

ISAIAH 11:12

99  1He will raise and lift up a banner, a flag, a standard among and for the gentile nations to gather around and collect, gather and assemble the fugitive outcasts, the banished and driven away exiles of Israel. He will assemble the scattered dispersed people of Judah from the four quarters and corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:12. My own Translation)

The nations will gather around Christ as loving members of His kingdom. The suggestion of the verse is that the gentile nations shall out of love and respect to Messiah the king assist all Jews to return to Israel. The lost ten tribes of Israel will no longer be lost.

 

The remarkable thing of verse 12 is the interchangeable usage of “Judah” and “Israel.” We shall see in a future observation how the differences, the enmity and the jealousies between the tribe of Judah and the rest of the tribes of Israel will be buried and forgotten once and for all.

 

When Messiah reigns, the anointing that rests upon Him will impact on everybody and everything.

 

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85. How Should I Interpret Biblical Prophecy?

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Oh dear! I have written the title of this page, and I suddenly feel like I have exposed myself, painfully aware that I have made myself vulnerable and conscious that I have volunteered to fly to Mars, and climb Everest single handed and unaided.  Do I really want to try and answer my own question? To press the delete button at this stage would be elementary and, “Simples!” However it would also be cowardice in the face of one of the hugest areas of biblical studies. And as I am engaging with Isaiah more and more, I am aware that I am writing with presuppositions about Christ’s Second Advent and His millennial reign and I need to explain why. If I “delete” now, nobody will ever know of my hesitancy.

 

I stop and pause for a minute or two!

 

I want to say first of all that my attitude and understanding of eschatology is something that has never been a headache to me through the years, more like a deep satisfying delight. I don’t know whether what I am about to say sounds humble or proud, meek or authoritarian, superior or inferior, but my readers must judge me for themselves when I say these things. There are books on the market that inform us that they are addressing the doubts and fears that “all Christians” have. I say to myself, “I have to read this one! I need help!” Then I get my hands on the book and it lists people’s problems about death, suffering, sickness, where we go when we die, hearing from God, knowing His will and other stuff of a so called “Common Christian Syndrome” nature. But I read the list of contents and either give the book away as a birthday present to somebody, or take it back to the library. I have never been able to identify with the foibles and fears that some Christian writers think we “all” fall prey to. I do not mean I do not have issues that I need to plough through. God forbid the thought. In fact it may be true that I have more issues than most. I am not claiming superiority above “the many!” God forbid! Rather than suggest superiority I fully acknowledge that it may mean that there are issues I am not asking God about or not focussed enough to acknowledge them. I have always fought for my faith to have clear vision, even when my life seemed outwardly to be in a fog – and I have had my moments of darkness I promise you. But I never considered my faith to be in any sort of fog at all. The theology of scripture, as received in the heart and maintained as the rails for my train of life to run on , is sure and steadfast and has always been the greatest gift of God in my life. The practical application of said Theology and academic understanding is another issue altogether.

 

I let my preaching and teaching speak for itself as to my understanding and all-round grasp of God’s word, but as far as my application of it all, I have always leaned on others and tried to make myself vulnerable to guidance and counsel.

 

It is the same with eschatology. I have always enjoyed my thoughts and meditations on Christ’s return and His millennial reign and the details of what happens immediately prior to His return. I have attended churches where, when members have asked for some teaching on eschatology, I have actually heard the church leaders say publicly that they didn’t want to get into eschatology because it creates so many differences of opinion. What? My answer to that is: “Name me any biblical teaching that has not somewhere along the line caused differences of opinion?”

 

In one church in particular, when I asked on a private one to one basis where the pastor stood on the issue of Eschatology” seeing that it was going to cause so much dissension if it was aired, I was told straight that his “Stream” or “Movement” did not hold to any official eschatology, and therefore he did not feel free to teach on it. I was astounded! Outside of Pentecostal circles my experience tells me that this is a common perspective. Pentecostal movements around the world were birthed on a healthy diet of New Testament truth, marinated in a health imparting seasoning of Second Advent teaching. I seriously hope my experiences outside of Pentecostal churches are not the norm.

 

esch 2Nobody, but nobody can start explaining what they believe biblical prophecy is saying, without first and foremost laying down in their own minds some strong principles, basic biblical rules of hermeneutics, if you will, of how they interpret what we are all reading in both the Old and New Testament. There are about half a dozen different viewpoints that are common and widespread in the world of Christian Eschatological studies, and literally hundreds of perspectives held by cults, deviations and otherwise sound evangelical Christians that hold to views that are scarcely understood or received by many people at all. How do we ourselves know who is on the right road?

 

In these so called days of “Post-Modernism” where words mean whatever the reader subjectively wants them to mean, interpreting prophetic scripture with integrity flies in the face of the world-wide trend.  The influence of post modernism in the church may indeed be the reason why so many Christian truths are being questioned by hitherto high profile church leaders around the world today. Hell and its reality is questioned and denied by some. The argument is only put together by stating that the way scholars have always interpreted the Hebrew and Greek is questionable, if not incorrect. So the meaning of the very language we are using changes in its substantial meaning simply because the interpreter has a problem with the statement previously held as a tenet of the faith as far back as history informs us. Euthenasia, Same sex marriages, and the uniqueness of Christianity all fall into similar word changing diluted versions of biblical truth.  Old and well-worn orthodoxy that was achieved by great and spiritual men thrashing out the Hebrew and the Greek and the true meaning of the scriptures  for over two thousand years ( I include the interpreters of the Old Testament also) has left us with immovable pillars and tenets of the faith. These pillars and long held tenets are being denounced, moved and shifted by quite a few. But the text of scripture has never changed. This shaking of the foundations is not from the likes of Atheism or Humanism, but from church leaders, some of whom carry the weight of churches with memberships of many thousands.

 

The goal, of course, of hermeneutics in biblical exposition is to find out what God Himself exactly had in mind when each of the prophetic voices put quill to parchment. One could be led to believe that this whole issue is “up for grabs,” for anyone with a brain to think and a desire to write. That cannot be true if the real meaning of scripture is to be translated from the Hebrew and Greek.

 

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Hermeneutics is all about the principles of interpretation, especially biblical texts, other wisdom and religious writings as well as ancient philosophical writings. Hermeneutics” and “Exegesis” can sometimes be used interchangeably. They overlap when textual meanings are being worked on. Exegesis is all about texts.  Hermeneutics goes much wider, but includes texts. When one talks of “a Hermeneutic,” a single particular method or strand of interpretation is being expedited. Hermeneutics at first, applied to the interpretation, or exegesis, of the Bible. Hermeneutic consistency refers to the analysis of texts to achieve a coherent explanation of them.

 

The principles of what we are talking about is clearly stated in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be diligent to show and present yourself as a workman approved of God, who does not need to be ashamed but is rightly dividing the word of truth.”  To rightly divide the meanings of scripture is what the issue is all about.

 

The most vital and imperative law of biblical hermeneutics I believe is that the Bible needs to be interpreted literally. Literal Bible interpretation means that we translate and interpret the Bible in its plain meaning. The Bible needs to be taken “neat” as opposed to “diluted.” The people who wrote scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit spoke plainly.

 

Many make the mistake of trying to read between the lines and come up with meanings for Scriptures that are not truly in the text. The root meaning of some Hebrew and Greek words when seen in their historical usage can lead us astray. For instance look at our modern language. In this so called Post Modern age, when somebody says, “I’m bad,” may mean the exact opposite, as it is meant in Michael Jackson’s popular song.  “Wicked,” is another word used in a post-modern context. People commonly use the word “cool” to express appreciation of something. “You’re sad!” could be an accusation of a very happy person who is perceived to have a diminished outlook on life.  Why do I refer to such street language? Simply because somebody two thousand years from now who speaks a foreign language wanting to interpret and translate early twenty first century language would be totally wrong to translate the words as they meant a century previous to how the words are used today.

 

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I say this because most preachers, teachers and scholars go into the etymology of the biblical texts. Etymology is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. And so the biblical text that congregations have on their laps as a person teaches is momentarily taken from the text that cannot be changed into a history that is often guessed at, or at best hypothesized because of second hand anecdotes. Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing and symbolizing Bible verses and passages that should be understood literally.

It is this writer’s absolute conviction that as the overriding principle of all biblical hermeneutics is that the entire book must be interpreted historically, grammatically, and contextually. “Historically” means to get to grasp the cultural backdrop, background, and situation which prompted the text.  The historical usage and culture are not always the plumb-line guide but are helpful. For instance, I read once that the only occasion in Greek secular history that the word “evangelium” or “gospel” was used was referring to something that was, “too good to be true.” As a preacher one could properly state that the gospel is “too good to be true,” but it was initially a negative term referring to an untruth. Historical research does not really helps us with that etymology. Grammatical interpretation is recognizing the rules of grammar and the differing cases and shades of the Hebrew and Greek languages and then relating those principles to the understanding of a word or passage. Contextual interpretation involves always taking the surrounding context of a verse into consideration when trying to determine its true significance.

Some are in error thinking that hermeneutics limits our ability to learn new truths from God’s Word or that it stifles the Holy Spirit’s ability to reveal to us the meaning of the Book. This simply cannot be true. The goal of biblical hermeneutics is to point us to the correct interpretation which the Holy Spirit has already inspired in the written text as we have it. Biblical hermeneutics points us to the true meaning and application of Scripture.

 

Nowhere is all this theoretical jibber-jabber more important than when we come to interpreting biblical prophecy, especially unfulfilled prophecy that we need to understand properly.

 

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The basic differences between the various schools of prophetic interpretation are purely hermeneutical and nothing else stemming from the acceptance of irreconcilable methods of interpretation. That is the whole story in one sentence.

 

This writer takes the view that literal interpretation, that is the historical, grammatical and contextual method of interpreting scripture where possible is always the safest and the truest way forward. All the prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent were fulfilled literally. It is, I believe, impossible to find any of the facts of Christ’s first advent and His passion from spiritualising or allegorising the prophets in any way. They stated things, and when they came to pass it is continually proved that they spoke about His birth, life, death and resurrection quite literally. Why should prophecies by the same prophets who spoke of His first Advent, change tack for His second advent, especially when, according to Peter they probably did not even know there would be two advents?

 

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This does not mean, and I would never accuse, that either the literalists or allegorisers and spiritualisers have any less faith or integrity in their understanding of scripture. All that I am aware of is that those that write and preach concerning the second coming and end times are desperately wanting to find the truth. People simply approach the issue from differing initial perspectives and pre-understandings. Nearly every one of the people who are acknowledged as the authorities on eschatology throughout the Christian world have sections, paragraphs and some, even whole chapters on this issue. It is such a self-evident truth that many of the acknowledged “experts” of “A-millenialism,” or even those that do not believe Christ will return physically at all say that if they believed in the literal, historical-grammatical interpretation principles that are used by others, they definitely would believe that Christ will come, slay the faithless nations as He rescues Israel, and then reigns on earth for a thousand years in Jerusalem. What they say is that if those scriptures are literally true they would believe the same as the pre-millennialists. But they assert with all conviction that that the statements are definitely not to be literally understood, but that they are metaphors, symbols and allegories not to be “slavishly adhered to as literal.”

 

Books by Craig Koester, Jay Adams, Gene Cook, Floyd Hamilton are some of the Amillennialist Allegorisers that I am familiar with (there are others).

 

It is this writers conviction that the apostolic and early church fathers were literalists and pre-millennial. The history of the changes are for another day.

 

I do not want anybody to think that by making these brief remarks, many of which need qualifying and exemplifying, that I am under the delusion that I have resolved all the biblical eschatalogical differences in the world.  No way! But I have put some extremely basic statements into the presuppositions and pre-understandings that undergird everything I write and think concerning the end times.

 

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84. The Removal of the Curse Right Here on Planet Earth A Paradise that is Compatible for Restful Playful Animals (Isaiah 11:6- 9 )

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How on earth did Isaiah find the courage to stand up and deliver the contents of Isaiah 11 in a verbal presentation and retain his reputation as a man of God and a mighty prophet?  Where did the courage come from to write such outrageously radical statements as we find here?  If his followers and the public that was contemporary with him had heard him deliver addresses concerning his heavenly vision as graphically described in Isaiah chapter 6, he would have been accepted by many (and rejected by others) as Yahweh’s man for their generation. If they had heard from him or been told of his confrontation with King Ahaz when both Israel and Syria were riding south to depose the true descendant to David’s throne,  and how his words to Ahaz had been literally fulfilled (Isaiah 7:1-7), Isaiah could not be perceived as anything else but one awesomely powerful man of God. He was obviously known as a man who knows Yahweh, hears Yahweh, and a man to whom Yahweh tells His secrets. Isaiah did not just claim to have a message from heaven for them as normally understood, but he actually was even given the divine prediction of their response to his message.  When people denied the veracity of his message, or blasphemed against Yahweh’s word (as they did) Isaiah could honestly and truthfully look them in the eye and say, “Ah yes! He told me you would respond like that!”  (See Isaiah 6:9-10). His perceived stature and godliness was as solid as a rock in his lifetime.

 

But then he declares the statements of Isaiah 11!!!

 

He talks of Messiah coming. A king of David’s dynasty. A king of the same line as Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz, as well as the son of Ahaz whose name was Hezekiah.  Even though to us, when we read the Bible in the twenty first century and know plainly that the prophet was talking of Christ, the Messiah, who was to be born some 720 years or so after the fall of Samaria, the public must have wondered if Isaiah was talking about the next heir to the throne. He couldn’t be talking about Ahaz in Isaiah 11, for the public already knew how feared he had been at the dual threat of Israel and Syria, and he would have been infamous in his generation for the amount of gold that he had sent to Tiglath Pileser III in order to buy Assyrian support against his northern aggressors.

 

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There must have been discussions of Isaiah’s root of Jesse and stump of Yahweh. Was it all about the one next in line to the throne, namely Hezekiah?  Working backwards, the bible says that Hezekiah died and passed the throne to that evil warlock Mannaseh when he was 54. If all the scholars are correct that Hezekiah died in 687 BC, we can make the intelligent guesstimate that good king Hezekiah was born around 741 BC. This means that it is possible that, if he hadn’t been a prisoner to Leprosy, Uzziah could have held the new born baby Hezekiah in his arms one year before he died. Hezekiah would have been 9 when King Jotham died, and 25 when Ahaz died, leaving him to reign. Hezekiah was a godly man. Perhaps there was hope and a vague anticipation that Hezekiah was to be the man that Isaiah was talking about.

 

But the contents of Isaiah’s message that we refer to as Isaiah 11 must have sent them reeling. I think it is possible that the burning question of, “Which son of David could be the Messiah?” would have lost its trendiness and newsworthiness, and the new flavour of public inquiry and gossip would have been twofold. Firstly, for the unbelieving cessationists of Isaiah’s day, the burning question would have been, “Is Isaiah losing his mind? How can Lion’s lie down with baby lambs? How can little tiny tots play with poisonous snakes?” Jewish traditionalists would have had cardiac arrest at Isaiah’s thought that Messiah, whenever He comes, would be an ensign to draw the gentiles from all over.” Without vision or some heavenly insight, they must have pictured Assyrians, Philistines and Moabites coming to Jerusalem to worship with the Jews. To say that this idea could have inflamed mob rule to stone Isaiah is something of an understatement.

 

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The earth in birth pains?

The burning debates of the true believers, and those who held to their convictions concerning an interventionist Yahweh the talk would have been on a completely different level all together.

“How on earth is the very normalcy of nature to be changed?”

“How can the Spirit of God rest permanently on any human being?”

“Nobody hurting anybody else on God’s holy mountain? But here in Jerusalem in the temple is the very place where some of the worst atrocities are taking place!”

“What heresy is this that Isaiah is spouting; gentiles coming to Jerusalem? In the house of the Lord?”

“How is it possible for Judah and Ephraim (a euphemism for the now non-existent Northern Kingdom) to be friends again when we have no idea where the people from Ephraim have gone?”

 

 

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Isaiah’s gravitas is what held his scrolls in place as part of the national heritage. Isaiah had heard from God. Isaiah had seen the glory of Christ and knew that somewhere on the horizon of the future, the feet that he saw before the throne in heaven would walk on Israel’s land. Messiah was greater than anything the most creative thinkers could conceive. Messiah was more of answer to the issues of the whole world than he was to the fundamental issues of the Jewish people. Messiah was to be born of the Jews, yes! For the Jews, of course! King of the Jews, undoubtedly! But Messiah was to be anointed for the entire human race! Messiah was to remove sickness and sin where ever he walked. Messiah’s words would change the life course of whoever heard Him. Israel and the whole Jewish race was a huge issue. But the sins of the whole world were to be confronted by the purity, life and power of Messiah. Death would lose its teeth when it met Messiah. Messiah would shake hell loose of the righteous faithful it had imprisoned since Adam. Messiah was to taste both death and hell and be wrapped and buried because of those two monsters, but his body was not to see corruption and the grave would be burst open. Messiah was bigger in influence than Moses, greater than the law of Sinai and more important than any spiritual hero that the Jews could think of – and they had a few. Abraham was their father for no other reason than that he saw Messiah’s day and was glad. Messiah was to be such a king that He would make David only a blessed forefather. This King was to be such that Solomon’s wisdom would pale in comparison. The riches of Solomon would wreak of poverty in the light of the riches of Messiah.

 

Isaiah was filled with the vision of the coming Messiah, King, the Desire of all Nations.

 

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Isaiah saw that, like no other king has ever done or will do, or ever had the ability to do, when Messiah reigns the curse that has been present in the earth since the fall of man shall actually be reversed. What has been utterly natural and fully accepted as “the way things have always been,” will be reversed by the power and the word of Jesus Christ. Creation was indeed made subject to vanity and futility once sin had entered the world. Messiah shall remove that curse. Such is the power and authority that is based and homed within Him.  It was all future tense to Isaiah. It is all present and future tense for us today. All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Messiah, Christ Jesus since His resurrection. And that power and authority is partially seen hitherto in the earth.

 

A wolf shall lodge with a lamb when He returns and reigns. The inference is that they will both be at peace and conducting a relationship of animal togetherness with each other. A leopard shall lie down together with a goat’s kid and be content not to rip it apart for food. The most extreme coupling is the sight in Isaiah’s vision of a cow and a bear grazing together and chewing the cud.  A bear grazing and chewing the cud? In the same meadow as a cow? The offspring of them both playing and romping together? Surely the curse on nature and the animal world is utterly erased in Isaiah’s vision! If this vision isn’t literal in its significance, what on earth is it symbolic of? How cryptic does one have to try to be. The scene is a literal one. Isaiah’s words are plainly to be understood as literal.

 

Note that Isaiah is not alone in the prophetic field with such declarations that see the very nature of the cosmos transformed. Hosea declared also that nature itself would be responding to the blessing of God and bringing fruitfulness to a degree not seen since Eden. Hosea 2:20-22 says:

 

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“I will even betroth you to Me in stability, and faithfulness. You shall know Yahweh. You shall give heed to Him and cherish Him deeply.   And in that day I will respond to the situation, says the Lord. I will respond to the heavens which plead for rain to pour down on the earth. The heavens shall respond to the earth which implores for the rain it needs. Like a chain, the earth shall respond to the grain, wine and oil which implore it to bring them forth, and these products shall respond to Jezreel (a euphemism for restored and renewed Israel) who prays for a supply of those products” (Hosea 2:20-22. Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase)

 

Hosea himself is explaining how with the unified and settled state of Israel, all the elements of nature will in a prophetic poetic sentient personification agree with each other and provide prosperity. It’s all in the same vein as Isaiah 11:6-9. This writer sees this section of Hosea as referring to Messiah’s reign as does Isaiah 11.

 

renewal 9Ezekiel joins in the refrain of a reversed curse on the natural activities of nature itself. Listen to his call after Judah has fallen and been dispersed to Babylon. In the midst of a world with no such nation as Israel or Judah, and no descendant of David on any throne anywhere, especially David’s own throne in Jerusalem – a city that was nought but rubble when Ezekiel uttered these words. In the midst of the Jewish settlements by the river Chebar, and fully knowing that the temple, the nation and the prophetic party in Israel were all now non-existent, Ezekiel declares:

 

“And I will install one shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and be their shepherd. And I, Yahweh, will be their God, and my servant David prince among them; I, Yahweh, have spoken it.

 

I will make a covenant of peace with them, and I will cause evil beasts to cease out of the land; and they shall live in the wilderness securely and safely, sleeping in the woods. I will make them a blessing to others as well as the places round about my hill. I will cause the showers to come down in their season. There shall be showers of blessing, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land; and they shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have broken the bars of their yoke, and have delivered them out of the hand of those that made slaves of them.

 

 

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They shall no more be a prey to the nations, neither shall the beasts of the earth devour them; but they shall live with security and safety, and none shall make them afraid. I will raise up unto them a plantation for renown, and they shall be no more consumed with famine in the land, neither bear the shame of the nations any more. They shall know that I, Yahweh, their God am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord Yahweh.  And you my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, says the Lord Jehovah. (Ezekiel 34:23-31. Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase).

 

These words are remarkable in their scope. We know it is talking of Christ’s earthly reign because it was written in the early years of the Babylonian exile when there was nothing on God’s hill – the temple had been razed to the ground. There was no king to succeed another on the throne of David at that time – Zedekiah, the last king had been blinded and imprisoned in Babylon.  When Ezekiel talks of “David” here, he refers to Messiah who is King David’s greater descended son. And finally, if there were any wild animals left in Israel, one definitely would not have been able to sleep safely in the woods. This writer’s understanding is that there has been no king of Israel on David’s throne since the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC, and there will be no such enthroned king until Jesus Christ the Messiah returns to reign on earth. And nobody but God the Father knows when that will be.

 

So even Ezekiel living 175 years or so after Isaiah’s time has a similar vision of a kinder and tamer mother nature that is curbed and tamed for human benefit when Messiah is reigning on earth.

 

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But we must not think that Isaiah was off on an Old Testament fancy that is not echoed in the New Testament. Paul seems to talk of the same restoration of creation and all creatures great and small when in Romans 8 he says some strong stuff.

 

“Why! I consider and give counsel, knowing with certainty that our sufferings at this present time are insignificant and not even worth comparing with the coming glory that will soon be revealed to us and about to be manifested in us later.” (Romans 8:18. Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase)

 

The apostle is discussing the spiritual life and its high and lofty mind processes and purity of heart, and interjects the pathway of thought to explain how he handles situations, hardships and offences that only serve to try and destroy all the Romans 8 stuff of walking in the Spirit. He starts by standing in a position that sees the entire scenario in a proper perspective.

 

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He concludes that the suffering he was going through at the time of writing, and remember that Paul went through suffering that was more torturous and life destroying than most of us ever have faced or will ever face, and then seems to dismiss the whole negativity of his suffering by focusing on his future. Having drawn the comparison between his present suffering and the future glory that he will both see and experience, the apostle states that “it is not even worthy to be compared.”

 

The huge teaching issue that I always raise when I share this kind of stuff from a public platform is the definition of Paul’s meaning of “the coming glory that will soon be revealed to us and about to be manifested in us later.”  Because it is my own translation, I have inserted both options of glory to be revealed “to us” as well as “in us.” My issue which usually starts debate and much discussion is that Paul could be talking about the glory he will enter into after death. I have no problem with that. I think nearly all Christians would say “Amen!” to that. But I suspect that he is also referring to things that could happen in the right here and now in this life time.

 

Putting that thought in the reader’s intellectual wallet to be examined some other time, the apostle is very definitely referring to something glorious and wonderful that he is fully expecting at some future point of time. This glory, I understand will be revealed within him, and also around him in the whole of creation and its varied creatures thereon. We read on:

 

renewal 13“For all of creation and its creatures wait in eager and anxious expectation, gazing and looking out as if with outstretched neck for that future day, (could it be in this life time) to see when the children of God are to be manifested and revealed for who they really are.” (Romans 8:19 Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase)

 

The apostle is making a statement that claims that all creation, and all sentient creatures, especially the redeemed Children of God, are in an eager and urgent expectation for the children of God to be manifested. Is he talking of resurrection, or something that pertains to revelation live before the actual resurrection takes place. Why would creation yearn for such a setting free and being manifested as what they really are in Christ if there was not also some desire that included creation itself as well as the animal life of the planet.  This section of New Testament writing definitely seems to suggest that “lifeless” creation has an expectation. But then again the prophets talk of the trees of the field clapping their hands (Isaiah 55:12).

 

Without doubt, the thrust of Paul’s statement is that some release of glory is on its way and the whole of creation shall have a share in that release. As the only specific area that is mentioned here by Paul is the manifestation of the children of God, it basically suggests it is post resurrection. It has to be added however, that Romans 8 leaves it for the readers interpretative skills to decide whether this universal glory and freedom is thought of as pre- or post-resurrection.
“For the creation and its creatures was subjected to frustration, vanity and futility and God’s curse. It became subject to failure and unreality, though not by its own choice, but against its will, by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope, with eager hope and certainty.” (Romans 8:20. Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase)

 

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This glory and freedom is now expected and yearned  for by creation in its entirety simply because once upon a time things were not anything like the way they are no. People would have lived forever if Adam and Eve had not fallen. Creation would have been free of any curse before the fall. We would never know what thorns or nettles were, nor poisonous mushrooms etc. Animals would never have turned wild. There was a previous status and state of being that, no matter how it is denied or ignored by mankind generally, the status quo was not the natural way it is now. Things were perfect and all things were beneficent before sin entered the human arena. The bible teaches that people die because sin is at work in the world. The scripture tells us that animals were not always wild. The fall of man has impacted the animal world. The same is biblically true of plant-life and trees and shrubs. Animals can be wild. Some can be killers.

 

The new status after the fall of man is referred to as “the curse.” It is the ultimate curse that has been awash on all of creation near and far since God expelled Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. Paul says that this curse reduced creation to “futility,” “vanity” – as per pointlessness, and “frustration.” This futility was manifested in being subject to failure and unreality. These are words that are difficult to easily comprehend. How can sentient, but instinctive animals be frustrated because of futility? How can non-sentient creation feel the impact of what “failure,” “futility” and “frustration” bring?

 

Another question arise to do with non-sentient creation, and that is: “Why is it necessary to say that it was not the choice of creation and its creatures to have been put in this imprisonment to futility? Obviously anything or anybody in creation that was sentient enough to make choices would not cripple themselves by willfully making themselves subject to futility. What is Paul’s thinking behind such a cryptic piece of data?

 

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Finally in verse 20, we discover that the one who put creation under such subjection to futility placed it there in an eager hope and certain expectation. God Himself created all things to feel the impact of “the way things are” until a certain moment when the manifestation of God’s freedom and glory will break out in the children of God and ripple through all creation.
“that the same creation and its creatures look forward to when they themselves will be liberated from the bondage, servitude and slavery to corruption and the thralldom of decay in order to be brought into the glorious freedom that will attend the children of God.”  (Romans 8:21. Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase)

 

Here his thought comes to full expression. Creation will be liberated from the bondage of slavery and decay and be liberated to be just as God created all things at the first, before Adam and Eve had sinned. That was when “thorns” and “briers” were make believe ideas. A wild animal was a complete misnomer. There was no such thing. Remember when Adam named the animals, it was not that he named the species, but gave them personal intimate one off names per animal. “Rex,” “Leo,” “Rover,” “Daisy” and “Trigger” may have been on his register of names for all we know. Friendly relationships and harmony was the status quo right across all of creation. Just as the fall of man meant the fall and decline of many aspects that stretch right across creation, in the same way the resurrection and full manifestation of the power, grace and glory that God has put into His children and will reach its zenith at the resurrection of the saints will reverse the curse that is so evidently pervading the planet.

 

“We know and have known that the whole of creation and all created things have been groaning together as suffering in the pains of childbirth, and are in labour right up to the present hour.” (Romans 8:22 Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase)

 

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….

The “we know” that opens the sentence must refer to what the scripture teaches rather than what human beings now by instinct. To say that every aspect of creation is groaning as a woman in childbirth, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God reveals a few suggestions. 1. The present life of the Christian is, in the context of Paul’s logic here, like a child in the womb waiting to burst forth into freedom, life and a new way of living. 2. It is also cryptically inferred that all animal species are also waiting for some lifting of the curse and being released into a new experience and sense of life. A new nature and attitude put into what was previously “wild-life,” will leave planet earth with no such thing as a “wild animal.”  3. The very planets and stars will somehow be altered by the very liberating presence of Jesus Christ on the earth. That freedom is longed for and sought after by creation itself, probably symptomatic of the earthquakes and the spinning of the universe. The labour pains of creation were going on in Paul’s day as they still are to this day.
“Not only so, but we believers ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit within us as a deposit, pledge and foretaste of future glory, groan inwardly within ourselves as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship longing for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering, to wit the redemption of our bodies as He has promised us, that is entering into the full and complete rights as his adopted children.” (Romans 8:23 Lannon’s own translation cum paraphrase).

 

My translation cum paraphrase elongates Romans 8:23 to make the full sense as I see it. Not only is all creation longing to be emancipated, but “we believers” are first in line when it comes to the depth of yearning. The apostle John says it as “we do not yet see ourselves as what we are and what we should be” (1 John 3:2). Peter refers to it as “The salvation that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit who dwells within the Christian believer groans for the full release and resurrection, the Christians themselves long for it as does all of creation whether it is deep sea, inner space or outer space.

 

I am inserting this section of Romans 8 only because this writer is totally convinced that what is being expressed by Paul here is the same renewal of creation that Isaiah is telling us about in Isaiah 11:6-9.

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83. Close Up Portrait of Messiah   (Isaiah 11:1-16   )

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Thinking only of Isaiah’s progressively expanding portrait Of Messiah and all things to do with him, I approach Isaiah chapter 11 a little different for today. For clarity, I shall bullet point my thoughts.

 

  1. The context here is clearly referring to Messiah. (11:1-16)
  2. Messiah is therefore Jewish and of the line of Jesse of the tribe of Judah. (11:1)
  3. He shall be distinguished as separate from all others by the fact that the Spirit of Yahweh, the Holy Spirit, shall rest upon Him (11:2)
  4. The use of the word “sprout” suggests that there will be nothing about Him per se that will make Him visibly stand out from the crowd (11:1). This is exemplified when John the Baptist cried, “There stands amongst you one that you do not know” (John 1:26). How amazing that the hope of all the ages and all the peoples could be stood in a crowd and not noticed!
  5. Many of the prophets and Judges were said to have the Spirit upon them or within them to some degree. Theologians debate to what degree that they had or didn’t have the Spirit of God. But the Holy Spirit will be “resting” upon Messiah when He comes (11:2). Again, John the Baptist said, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:32-33).
  6. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit on Messiah will be a complete a thorough demonstration of God’s will and fullness. All the characteristics that manifested Messiah’s kingly and divine attributes in Isaiah 9:6-7 are listed here and stated to be actions and operations of Messiah facilitated by the Holy Spirit that will rest and settle and abide with Him.(Isaiah 11:2)
  7. 000002Yet even with His full nature of deity, and even with the Spirit of God resting upon Him without measure, His delight and passion will be to do what Yahweh His Father wanted, and not what He wanted. (11:3a).
  8. Although fully human and humanly sentient, Messiah was to be governed by what the Spirit showed Him and told Him as opposed to what His five physical senses told Him. Jesus said He only said what He heard His Father saying and only did what He saw His Father doing. Father and Spirit were in perfect harmony with the Messiah. This made even His decisions and His desires to be sub-servient to the will of Yahweh in heaven. (11:3)
  9. The highlight of Messiah’s dealings with humanity will be with the lowly, the meek and the poor – as well as the wicked (11:4). The statement suggests that the judgement of any human being that God would call wicked is in the hands of Messiah. For all the love, compassion and healing Messiah will bring, Isaiah does not see it as anything strange that Messiah will slay the wicked with a simple word from His mouth.
  10. His word, once spoken will have power (11:4).
  11. Isaiah 11:6-8, when seen in the context of the whole chapter, is telling us clearly that the curse of wildness that is obvious in nature in present, shall be utterly removed. From the fact that this is not true at the moment, we cannot but conclude that this will be one of the manifestations on the planet when Christ returns to rule. This writer sees this statement as a one to be definitely literally translated.
  12. There is also an inner peace, not a commanded peace or a lawful peace, but a peace that is intrinsic to humanity in the duration of Christ’s earthly reign (11:6-9).
  13. Isaiah 11:10-12 is where we link up with the prophet’s statements in Isaiah 2:2-4 and 4:2-6. Messiah will stand as an attraction and an ensign to all peoples and nations. “The nations shall seek Him out.” What a glorious statement!
  14. Having sought Him out and found Him, He will impart a rest to the people that will be an honor and a true tangible blessing (11:10). This is the obvious source of the inner peace and tranquility that previous verse refer to. It is an impartation of Messiah that even the animal life will know the impact of.
  15. It seems that from the explicit reading of 11:11 that the Jewish people will still be scattered around the globe at the return of Christ to the earth. The statement here does not state that the folks are gathered from the whole planet, but from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Elam, Shinar and Hamath.  Jewish people will be gathered to Messiah and they will be saved.
  16. 000004The outcasts of the Jewish people and strangely, “the scattered women of Judah” shall all be gathered from all over the world to Messiah’s place of rest for them. (11:12)
  17. 11:13 tells of a rift within the Jewish people that will even be evident in the early days of the reign of Christ on earth. The true healing of this rift will be brought about undoubtedly because of the presence of Messiah. The memories of the split between what were the southern tribal nation known as Judah and the northern ten tribes that were known as Israel will be healed and resolved completely. Israel will be one nation without seam.
  18. This writer is not sure whether verse 14 is still referring to circumstances in the midst of Messiah’s earthly reign, or whether the prophet has momentarily brought his gaze to events less futuristic. The concept of struggle and international conflict somehow seems alien to all that we have hitherto been told of Messiah’s reign of peace and removal of the curse. The thought of the unified Israel “swopping” down in Gaza and what was the land of the Philistines, and then a Jewish plundering of Edom, Ammon and Moab, with each of those nations becoming servile to Israel seems somewhat incongruous and incompatible with everything else we have read, yet the text states it very clearly.
  19. 19. Finally in verses 15-16 we have a change of Geography accomplished by God’s hand. The tongue of the sea of Egypt shall be removed, enabling men to cross as did the children of Israel in the Exodus. Whether this is a permanent removal, or totally temporary for a purpose is not stated. This will create a highway from Ethiopia to Jerusalem. 11:16 tells us that there will also be a highway from Assyria to Jerusalem for the remnant of Jews that are left there

 

The overall picture that Isaiah has hitherto painted of Messiah, His first advent as well as his second, and the vision of his reign on earth that is preceded by the second return is fascinating and breaks from all “traditional” concepts of the “heaven on earth” that will be under the physical, literal rule of Messiah on earth.

 

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Just as we were writing on a previous page that Peter tells us how the prophets “enquired and searched diligently,” to know as much as they could grasp about the grace that was to come to us, it seems that Isaiah sought more and more with an insatiable thirst to see more of the Messiah who was to come.

 

So hitherto, in only the first eleven chapters of Isaiah we know certain facts and attributes of Messiah that will let us know when we see Him and discover Him.

 

  1. Messiah shall be born of a virgin. A statement that suggests impregnation of a supernatural form.
  2. The Messiah will mysteriously and wonderfully be both God and man. This was future to Isaiah. It is, of course, now a major plank of the Christian faith. Messiah will have the attributes of eternal Deity in the fullest meaning of the word.
  3. The word “sprout” in 11:1 suggests that appearance wise there will be nothing to differentiate Him from any other man.
  4. The cosmic government of the entire universe will be upon His shoulder. “The government will rest upon His shoulder.”
  5. He will also be Jewish. “Unto us a Son is given.” He shall be of the stump of Jesse, that is of the Davidic line, proving His rightful claim to the throne of David. (11:1)
  6. He shall be filled with and manifest the unlimited fullness of the Holy Spirit (11:2). This resting and fullness of the Holy Spirit will show breath taking wisdom, judgement and compassion.
  7. His entire life’s action will be a passionate desire to do nothing of His own will, and He will delight in doing Yahweh’s will.
  8. He will work in Israel and will bring freedom and joy, especially in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, later only known as Galilee. Compare Isaiah 9:1 with Matthew 4:15.
  9. This male human will one day rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem. This has not yet occurred, so we conclude is to be fulfilled at a future date. (See Isaiah 9:7 and Luke 1:32)
  10. In His reign there will be supernatural manifestations of fire and cloud over Jerusalem, as well as a canopy to protect those that live in David’s City. Clearly a future event.
  11. Representatives from nations from all over the world will come to sit at His feet to learn. Future. Isaiah 11 says that He shall be sought out by the nations. As this did not happen in the days of His flesh, we can only conclude that it will be seen during His reign on David’s throne.
  12. The curse will be removed from the earth and from all animal life during His reign.
  13. In His everlasting reign, war shall totally cease, and the world will be filled with peace.  Undoubtedly in the future.

 

000007We are writing comfortably two millennia since Christ’s first advent. The world of theologians and Hebrew and Greek scholars have had these two thousand years to research and check all that took place in the first advent. For us it is a comparatively job to read Isaiah and deduce what was first advent and history, and what, therefore, must be future waiting to be fulfilled at Christ’s second advent.  Isaiah, of course, and all that lived in Old Testament times had no such obvious line by which to divide first advent from Second Advent. To be even plainer, I am not sure they knew that there was to be two advents. I Peter 1:10-12 informs us that they were aware that Christ would suffer before He would enter into His glory, but whether they knew about the death and resurrection or not is, to my present knowledge an open question. I promise my readers that the first time I see how it was known by Old Testament prophets, I shall write a blog to explain.

 

 

Jesus Himself, of course, knew about His death and resurrection before it had happened, and explained it all on the road to Emmaus as being completely demonstrated in the entire books of the Law and the Prophets.

 

 

The rest of the book of Isaiah reveals an astounding amount concerning the character and mission of Christ, some academics even think that we know more of Messiah from Isaiah than we do from the four gospels.

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82. The Development of Messiah’s Portrait in Isaiah’s Opening Chapters     (Isaiah 1-10)

a8Eschatology is not everybody’s cup of tea. Frankly I have never understood why. The second coming of Christ is relegated by some preachers as a theological non-entity that causes controversy and difference of opinion in the body of Christ and should therefore be left alone.  I have heard it said so many times. What weak and insipid cowardice of mind!

 

The prophets, and much more than the prophets, as a major part of the body of Old Testament scripture predicts both advents of Messiah, something that was utterly futuristic to their day, and half of which is still futuristic to us two and a half thousand years later. The Jews spent much time researching and debating, and praying over the issue of the coming Messiah. Daniel read and prayed and even fasted to get to the bottom of an understanding of the coming Messiah, and Peter tells us that all the Old Testament prophets spent their days digging in the realm of the invisible in order to know more of He who was to be called Immanuel –“God with us.”

 

All issues that cause discussion and difference of opinion are to be welcomed. The reason why some of the so called “controversies” are avoided is not to do with the content of the debate, but the ungracious content of the character of those who cannot cope with their theological boat being rocked. I have no issue with John MacArthur claiming his “Cessationist” theories and modified “Reform Theology” as the final word from God, but he oversteps the grace and character of Christ when he labels the ten billion Pentecostal’s and Charismatics downright heretics. What is a settled theology grounded in scripture and experience is no controversy to the most evangelistically effective arm of Christianity in the world today. By denying the validity of any kind of outward experience or manifestation of God in the twenty first century he seems to claim that his intellectualization and academic sharpness and ability is the bench mark of truth for the church world-wide. The fact that he disenfranchises 99% of all Christians from taking basic Christian living to such a high intellectual level seems to pass him by. It’s debate and “one upmanship” by sharp debating skills that seems to be the kingdom of God for him. God bless him. I disagree with him to a stance that is as far from his as the east is from the west, but I cannot label him as a heretic, merely, in my opinion, he is just plain wrong.

 

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But it isn’t just Cessationism and Eschatology that people back off from discussing. Divine Healing, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, women in ministry, water baptism, and the inspiration of scripture, even the emphasis of the church of Rome on Mariolatry, Purgatory and the person and “authority” of the pope. All these issues are generally swept under the carpet and very little space is given in church life to educate people concerning the biblical statements about such issues.

 

However, with the conviction that the coming of Messiah was a major burden of the prophets, and that His own second advent was an obvious issue with Christ Himself in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 I contend that seeking out the truths of the second coming of Christ and the end times is a must for all round spiritual maturity.

 

The major reason, of course, for presupposing that anything that disagrees with a person’s set view must be controversial and not discussed is exactly that – i.e. it is a privately owned and strongly possessed “set view.” I remember many years ago when a good Christian friend I know was talking to a pastor, his church leader said in the context of a very serious discussion; “The fact of the matter is …” to which the friend interrupted and said, “Don’t confuse me with the facts!”

 

 

second-coming 02I am very saddened to report that I have encountered exactly the same mentality maybe a thousand times over in my life. Spiritual convictions, religious belief systems can turn people into ungracious and angry debaters whenever those beliefs and or presuppositions are questioned. May God have mercy on us all. May He grant us the grace and wisdom to respond and reason in the same manner of the Lord Jesus Himself.

 

With all this said, it is my intention to attempt to allow the text of Isaiah dictate an interpretation of Christ’s first and second Advent as we read. I will sincerely attempt to not allow any presupposition or formerly held opinion cause me to manipulate what He is saying, but as we plough through the vast almost fathomless ocean that is the book of Isaiah, we shall attempt to formulate a belief system that is dictated by what the prophet saw.

 

By taking 1 Peter 1:10-12 quite literally I am expecting an ever broadening picture of Messiah, His life, ministry and modus operandi throughout the pages of the 66 chapters. As we come to the wonderful eleventh chapter I thought I should highlight what we have discovered so far and collate the ever more details and insights that Isaiah feeds us with as we progress.

 

second-coming 04The first 18-20 percent of Isaiah that we have already negotiated paints a verbal sketch of the glorious Christ that was to come. We have several sections that give us the outline and fill in the picture in wonderful technicolour. There are moments when reading Isaiah where, I swear, it ceases to be colour photographs and sketches and actually becomes a movie to my spirit. These sections I see thus far are as follows:

 

Isaiah 2:2-4.

Isaiah 4:1-6.

Isaiah 7:14.

Isaiah 9:1-7

Isaiah 11:1-16

 

I list them as they come in the opening twelve chapter salvo of the book of Isaiah as we read it from beginning to end. I do not say that these sections are in any other criteria of order, apart from the order in which they are presented in the book as we have it.  I list them and place them in some sort of chronological order of sense as I see it at the end of the chapter.

 

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Isaiah 2:2-4

The plain meaning of these verses is that Moriah, that is the mountain on which the Temple of the Lord stood at the time of Isaiah’s delivery – the same situation where the Dome of the Rock stands today, will be as a sort of head of all those surrounding mountains and hills. I believe it means that it will not only be the most important peak, but that by earthquake or seismic movement it may even be the highest point in the geographical vicinity. Isaiah actually states that this particular section of Jerusalem’s topography will be exalted above the hills. Many read into this the symbolism of it being only the centre of Messiah’s future earthly kingdom and suggest that the reason of it being exalted above all the other hills is because the King will be in residence there. I am sure their sentiments and their comments are true. Indeed, any place where Christ remains would be exalted above any other place. However, I am convinced that this interpretation is less than whole. I willfully choose to read these sections of scripture as literal. The reason I do this will be made evident in the context of other pages in our trawl through Isaiah.

 

Earthquake or subsidence before or at Christ’s return will elevate the spot referred to  as the “ mountain of the Temple of the Lord” where once upon a time, over many centuries, were constructed Solomon’s Temple, the Post-Exilic Temple, and finally the one known as Herod’s Temple, the very same that Christ Himself walked through.

 

I may have to take my readers into the heart of my own opinions concerning the return of Christ and His thousand year reign, but I have to explain that I see the scene painted here by Isaiah as a picture of Jerusalem in the days immediately after Christ’s return to earth – a picture that will indeed be unchanged over the following thousand years.. There are additions to add to the picture being created by Isaiah, additions that we will list as we go through the sections referred to below.

 

Many ethnic groups shall come to this hill and say “Come let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.” Isaiah clearly sees racial groups from around the world pilgrimaging to Jerusalem. The language supplied suggests conversion amongst gentile races and a hearty joy in the thought of visiting “The house of the God of Jacob.” Obviously there will be a temple, a meeting place – a house of God which will; be referred to with the ultimate definitive “THE” House of God. These ethnic groups are travelling to Jerusalem to be taught by God in order for them to walk better and more maturely in His paths and in His ways. The suggestion is that God Himself is in the locale of the hill of the Lord. If that was not so, why not stay in their own gentile locations and consult the scriptures together amongst themselves. Although, the presence of Messiah the King is not explicitly stated in Isaiah 2:2-4, it is clearly implicit, and qualified by other scriptures as the fact. The King will be in residence there in Jerusalem. The King cannot be interpreted in any other manner than King David’s greater son, Jesus Christ Himself.

 

When verse 3 closes with “Out of Zion shall flow instruction and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” whether Isaiah understood it or not, the phrase could perfectly soundly be referring to Christ as “the Word” in the midst of Jerusalem. It can hardly mean anything else when we see in verse 4 that “He shall judge between the nations and arbitrate for many people.” This section as a whole teaches us that in the earthly reign of Christ there will still be racial differences and various ethnic groups, and that they will all still require arbitration and political guidance.

 

The result of Messiah’s presence judgement and arbitration is that weapons are broken down and used as farm implements for the benefit and development of all, and that the final result is that nation will not fight with nation ever again “War shall not be learned anymore” needs no explanation, just a moment to savour the thought.

 

No such scene or occurrences could possibly be imaged or take place without the majestic and glorious divine presence of Jesus Christ back again amongst men on earth, just as He promised in John 14:3.  This writer is convinced of the millennial reign of Christ as the context of these two verses. This presupposition is clearly validated as we progress.

 

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Isaiah 4:2-6.

Isaiah returns to the phrase; “In that day” to the previous scene explained in 2:2-4. It is my strongly held opinion that the prophet is here explaining how the state of the world literally arrived at the situation pictured for us in the previous couple of verses explained above.

 

“In that day,” that is, the day of His return, the “sprout of Yahweh shall be beautiful and glorious.”  What is the “stump of Jesse” in Isaiah 11 is the “sprout of Yahweh” here in chapter 4. “Beautiful and glorious” points towards the splendour of Messiah’s second advent, as opposed to his first.  “The fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of those who have escaped” speaks to me of those who escaped death and or torture in the final anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, antichristian battle of Armageddon prior to Christ’s placing His nail scarred feet on Olivet. The survivors of the holocaust, which may leave world war II looking less severe than what happens in those last days prior to the Master’s reign on earth, shall be called and put into their noble place of Life in Jerusalem. In this writers eschatological vision those last days, or even the actual last day prior to His return the affirmative answer will be given to Isaiah’s later question, “Can a nation be born in a day?” (See Isaiah 66:8)

 

Israel and the Jewish race as a whole shall be cleansed by Christ’s Spirit of judgement and fire and as Christ assumes the throne of David. That forgiveness can only be administered through the nation repenting and turning to Christ in a single day. The nation will be born, as well as reborn, in that single day. Yahweh Himself shall create over Zion and the gatherings of the people there, a cloud by day and the smoke and glow of a flaming fire by night. The picture is plainly a biblical familiarity. We are talking of a similar guidance to Israel’s millennial status as there was in the journey from Egypt to Canaan. Overhanging Jerusalem and Zion shall be a canopy of glory.  The imagination is stretched to conceive of such a thing. As much as it sounds like a scenario created from any recent sci-fi film, this is Isaiah’s plain vision of Jerusalem as Christ commences His Messianic rule on David’s throne.

 

There shall also be a sheltering pavilion, a tabernacle, or a shelter as a canopy over the city.  It means that neither blistering heat nor withering rain and storm will impact the capital city of Him who has all authority in Heaven and Earth.

 

So we have both Isaiah 2:2-4, and 4:2-6 both referring to a scene where Jerusalem seems to be the central pilgrimage spot for all nations who make pilgrimages to the city to sit at the feet of the king who will reside and reign from there. The people of Israel are clearly highlighted as the hosts of the world in order facilitate te gentile visits to sit with Messiah.

 

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Isaiah 7:14

In the midst of Isaiah’s hard words to the unbelief of King Ahaz in Isaiah 7, the prophet drops a sizzling “one liner” of a classic prophetic word. The whys and wherefores of what Isaiah could not have meant and why he used the word that may or may not mean “virgin” is lengthily explained on the earlier relevant page on the issue of the virgin birth. For the notation of this present page we are merely assuming the New Testament reference to this verse which gives us the sure and certain insight that Isaiah 7:14 refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus conceiving by the Holy Spirit whilst still in a state of virginity.

 

What Isaiah and Ahaz understood by his words may have been something much closer to their generation and time (as explained in a previous page), but the long distance Messianic perspective must surely have aroused Isaiah’s messianic curiosity and gifting for research. The statement stands without qualification in the Bible apart from the fulfillment at the birth of Christ in the New Testament. The virgin giving birth to Him who would be named “God with us” (Immanuel) is famously a prediction of Yahweh incarnate; fully God, yet fully man. The meaning could not be plainer when seen in the light of Matthew 1:23.

 

The verse stands alone and we are left with the single thought of the birth of the Messiah.

 

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Isaiah 9:1-7 

What we read here is seriously heavy prophecy. What I see in my mind’s eye is the Saviour at work as he preached, healed, delivered and spoke to the people in Galilee and the surrounding areas. Zebulun and Naphtali may be described as two of the “non achievers” when compared to the characters and heroes from all the others of the twelve tribes. However, it is they who would be seeing the great light of Christ in their living space.  “Beyond the Jordan,” that is more northerly than the River Jordan and into the surrounds of Lake Genesserat, aka the Sea of Galilee. Only those never exposed to the Bible would fail to see what Isaiah saw. Christ in His compassion and grace, in His healing and saving power walked around Galilee possibly more than he did any other part of Israel – or Judea as it was known in Christ’s day. Burdens, sicknesses, depressions and demons all fled at the word and the touch of Christ the Saviour.

 

The opening 5 verses of Isaiah 9 could have led Isaiah’s contemporary audience astray with Isaiah predicting a great light and glory filling the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. This conceptualization together with the lifting of burdensome yokes may have caused some to think of some kind of angelic visitation, or perhaps an avenging army fighting for the people of Israel. But the prophet explains the scene fully and clearly, for he does not end there in his descriptive vision.

 

He sees the light and the manifestation of something so good that it brings deep and lasting joy to the masses. What, or who is the cause of such an outbreak of light and amazement? Answer: “For to us a child will be born, to us a son will be given…” So, the source of this visitation of light, joy and freedom is to be human, male and Jewish. How glorious must this person be! And yes! I am correct to put the manifestation of heaven on earth in the future tense. We are looking to events that we know occurred some 770 or so years after Isaiah captured this vision from heaven.

 

“Prophet,” we ask, “Feed us on the description and parameters of this person! To whom shall we look? How will we know Him when we see Him? What are His credentials?”

 

Isaiah answers our cry! “The government will be upon His shoulder.” So the light is not only a human, Jewish male. The definite article when referring to “government,” I am told, would leave no Hebrew speaking Israelite ignorant of what government Isaiah referred to. “The” government! The government of God Almighty. If The government rests upon His shoulder, and His shoulder alone, who else could this Son of Israel, Light of the world, Governor of the cosmos be? Upon whom is the cosmic governance sourced?

 

Isaiah continues that He would be “Wonderful-Counselor, Mighty-God, Father-Forever, and the Prince of Peace.”

 

second-coming 09From our standpoint, the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ of Nazareth could not be plainer stated. Yet, in Isaiah’s day would it have been so easy to interpret? All the attributes of a human being, birthed among Jewish humanity in Israel, a Son of the land that God spoke of as His, and yet epithets also that in their combination could only be labelled to God Himself. How torturous to serious thinking Yahweh worshippers in Old Testament times. Expectations of the coming Messiah was a mindset in the Jewish belief system, and still is. But would He be man? Or would He be God? And how was the Jewish mind to handle their monotheistic convictions when Messiah was described as both throughout the prophets?

 

The picture painted by Isaiah’s words, spoken in his lifetime must have caused utter astonishment if he had stopped there. Yet, he goes even further.

 

“Of the increase of His government, peace and rule there will be no end.” His anointing, and power, and grace will never reach a limit. How can this be? His increase will never cease. Never! Who else could this possibly be referring to but Yahweh Himself? He will “sit on David’s throne.” David’s throne was in Jerusalem. David’s throne was in this time space world on planet earth in a palace next to where David’s Tabernacle was raised in Zion, not in heaven. The extrapolation is that this Son of Israel shall reign on earth and in Jerusalem. The kingdom He rules will be upheld not by armies and force and political manipulation, but with justice and righteousness forever.

 

The picture and portrait of Messiah and His kingdom developes. However, hitherto we have no indication of the sufferings of Messiah in these early chapters of the great prophet’s volume. I would give a lot to even begin to understand how Isaiah and his prophetic contemporaries saw the picture painted by Isaiah’s words. From our elevated position of two millennia after the first advent of Messiah, deducting plainly what has already happened and what plainly has not, we can make some simple deductions.

 

  1. This awesome personage shall be born of a virgin. A statement that implies a non-human impregnation. The Messiah will mysteriously and wonderfully be both God and man. This was future to Isaiah. It is now history. (as per Isaiah 7:14 and 9:1-7)
  2. This person will have the attributes of eternal Deity in the fullest meaning of the word. The cosmic government will be upon His shoulder. He will also be Jewish.
  3. He will work in Israel and will bring freedom and joy, especially in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, later only known as Galilee. (This also is history see Isaiah 9:1 and Matthew 4:15)
  4. This male human will one day rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem. This has not yet occurred, so we conclude is to be fulfilled at a future date. (See Isaiah 9:7 and Luke 1:32)
  5. In His reign there will be supernatural manifestations of fire and cloud over Jerusalem, as well as a canopy to protect those that live in David’s City. Clearly a  future event.
  6. Nations from all over the world will come to sit at His feet to learn. Future.
  7. In His everlasting reign, war shall totally cease, and the world will be filled with peace.  Undoubtedly in the future.

 

In our next page we shall see the incredible addition to Isaiah’s portrait of Messiah and integrate our findings with what we have above.

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81. How Much did Isaiah See and Know?

a1The vision of Isaiah was and has always been a fact. He saw historical events before they had taken place. His vision was the true reality. It was the physical visible reality that was the antagonistic fraud. Isaiah saw something. By vision, by dream, by impression, or by conviction, he saw things happening. Some of it was present, yet out of his sight. The exciting stuff was things he saw that were to be in what for Him was the future. He saw the world scene, the national scene, the religious scene and all things to do with humanity and the end times. He saw the summation of all things – and what an incredible revelation it was. In fact, he saw Somebody. He saw Christ.

 

Somehow, some way, by the grace of God he saw Jesus of Nazareth at work just as we see Him when we read the four gospels. The intrigue and the mystique for the searching New Testament reader is “What exactly did Isaiah see?” Was it vague impressions made upon him by the Spirit of God? Or did he see a video type movie in his dreams of Jesus healing the sick and preaching? Or was he like Caiaphas the High Priest who, in the days of the gospels, prophesied that it was expedient that one man should die for the people, yet did not have a clue as to what he meant or where his words came from? Caiaphas prophesied a divine truth, in fact he prophesied the heart and mind of God, yet did not have a clue as to the divine source of his statement. How sad to touch God in such a dynamic way and yet to be utterly ignorant of it.

 

The academic professors and lecturers, generally speaking, labour the fact that in the Old Testament, a clear view of the person of the Holy Spirit was absolutely “not possible.” I never understand how the “experts” can be so definite on such a subject that is so personal to each biblical writer and prophet. The problem is, with any book that one might read on Old Testament Theology, to know and understand exactly what people believed and understood at various landing points in Old Testament chronology. For instance, did Enoch know more than Abraham? Did Samuel carry more revelation than Moses? Did Malachi have a more comprehensive theology than Isaiah?

 

Because most Christian academics and theologians subscribe to a gradual unfolding of God’s purpose and character throughout the Bible – something we refer to as “Progressive Revelation” – it seems logical to suggest that each succeeding generation had a greater revelation than those preceding. However is that the truth, or merely a relative logical statement. One could make a rational statement that the apostles of 2 thousand years ago now more than we do today in the realm of revelation and the workings of faith. Thousands, if not millions of church leaders throughout the generations have preached and taught how we need to get back to New Testament Christianity. That whole field of thought suggests that the church across the entire globe is now walking in less light than it did in apostolic days. What do we do now with our doctrine of “progressive revelation?”

 

Enoch was not, for God took him. What sort of revelation “high” was Enoch walking in to have received such a revelation. Elijah also left this mortal coil without having seen death. Elisha, his right hand man who “post-Elijah” did twice as many miracles as his master, got sick and died. Was Elisha walking in more light than Elijah. Whatever happened to Elijah must have catapulted him further in the realm of revelation, for 800 years later he appears in comparable glory to Christ discussing Christ’s exodus from this life with both Elijah and Moses before it had happened.

 

a3As much as we believe in progressive revelation in the life of individuals and in the world, where do we file the “Dark Ages” that enshrouded the west?  (Did you know that Orthodox Christianity in the East never went through a “Dark ages?”) Surely those were days of regressive revelation, not progressive?

 

All the volumes that I have read on the subject of “Old Testament Theology” differ from each other on the most important subject of who believed what, and when did whoever they refer to start to believe certain things. All they have to go on is the biblical text. And so the theories start. None of them seem to agree with any other.

 

I give their books, books which I always thoroughly enjoy and mentally devour, my own reply.

 

Firstly, to know accurately what each biblical character understood of Yahweh and the Holy Spirit, or the Messiah and Israel’s future, is the most complex issue that we cannot even make final statements about to this day. If we were living in the twenty-third century and commissioned to write about what Christians believed in the twenty-first century, would we be able to conclude with an accurate statement? I think not. The views vary from denomination to denomination. Even those considered as spiritual giants of our day differ in perspective and emphasis. I am of the opinion that most of such research in Old Testament understanding, as it would be in an assessment of the Christian world today, is complete guesswork and theorising. The cynical academics that don’t believe in the miraculous lean on the, “the prophets did not know what they were talking about” line of procedure, while the charismatic and Pentecostal scholars vere more towards the ground that sees no reason why Old Testament prophets could not have seen the full picture of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the love of God. After all, isn’t one aspect of prophecy in the Bible the actual seeing of the future? Why couldn’t Isaiah’s word pictures show as much, if not more about Christ than some of the New Testament writers.

 

Secondly, the view that claims that the prophets were speaking in vagueries have to explain how all those “vagueries” led the apostolic church to believe all that they believed when the only legitimate external and tangible means they had to define their beliefs was what the Old Testament prophets said about Messiah. Peter, Paul and John had only the Old Testament scriptures to verify their teaching once the original apostles had gone home to their reward. Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet.

 

The modus operandi of the Old Testament prophets is at times so crisp and visual in their delivery and descriptions that somehow I feel I am being illogical to even suggest that they could not see into the future clearly, nor be aware of who the Holy Spirit was.

 

a2Things like Isaiah’s vision in chapter 6. John 12:40-41 tells us clearly that Isaiah saw Christ’s glory. Am I to believe that in the year that king Uzziah died he saw Christ clearly, but in Isaiah 11 he is talking of stuff he doesn’t really know anything about? Am I to believe that in the volume that is entitled in the Hebrew, “The vision of Isaiah,” when the reader arrives at chapter 53 has to conclude that it wasn’t really a vision but just a moment of vague inspired mumblings that he did not know about? Before the Dead sea scrolls were discovered many nineteenth century biblical scholars poured contempt on Isaiah 53 declaring that it was far to accurate and detailed an image of the crucifiction as portrayed in the four gospels to have been written beforehand by a space of 740 years. Now that the situation is reversed and we have scrolls of Isaiah that are clearly B.C. in their formulation, can we not refer to those eighteenth century cynical theology professors and agree that they were absolutely correct, Isaiah 53 sees with crystal clarity a picture as well-crafted with light and shade as what John saw being stood only yards away and staring at the physical reality.

 

Perhaps, in a lucid vision, Isaiah saw exactly what John saw. Just a theory! But a theory with as much logic behind it as the subjective feelings of higher critical scholars who believe that certain words and phrases could only have been written in certain centuries or at certain points of history.

 

I know we have the abiding residing of the Holy Spirit within us, something that I have always been told the Old Testament saints never had, but could Paul preach so graphically and pedantically when quoting the Old Testament Jewish Bible if they didn’t have a much clearer understanding of things of the Spirit than we generally credit them with having.

 

a4The only restraints we have concerning any conclusion as to what the prophets had revealed or not revealed are the ones given us by the New Testament writers. Peter takes us a little further than the other writers when he states:

 

10 Even the prophets sought out and closely searched into, inquiring intently and with the greatest diligence and care, investigating and researching, wanting to know more about what they prophesied and predicted concerning this gracious salvation, this saving health and Life and the grace that was going to be given to you, 11Wondering, probing and eager to know and trying to find out the person, the era or manner of time and situational circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ who was in them announced and kept talking about, pointing to and indicating when He predicted and told them in advance of the messianic sufferings and afflictions appointed for and belonging to the Christ and the subsequent great glories that would follow afterward.

 

12 It was revealed to all those prophets that were searching that they were not inquiring for their own benefit but yours, their message was not for them but of things belonging to you, when they spoke futuristically of the things that have now been reported and announced to you historically by those who have preached the gospel to you in and by the Spirit of holiness, the Holy Spirit who is sent down from heaven. Even angels bend and stoop and eagerly long to look into and catch a glimpse of and gaze at these things.”

 

(1 Peter 1:10 – 12. My own translation and paraphrase)

 

 

In Peter’s letters and in his sermons that we have record of it is noticeable that Peter loves to use the word that we translate as “salvation.” On top of that he often quotes the Old Testament to verify the truths he is declaring or writing about. What he literally states in verse 10 is that, “prophets inquired and searched.” The verbs are in the aorist tense. There is no article. It is the issue of salvation that they searched and inquired into. He preached it, the prophets researched and inquired about it, and angels quite literally stoop to learn about it. From what he writes and the manner in which he preaches we cannot but conclude that Peter was a diligent reader and student of the prophetic books. He persistently quotes them with quill and in Luke’s quotes of his sermons.

 

These three verses are fantastic in as much as they give us access into the thought processes and the state of mind that the Old Testament prophets experienced in the duration of their ministry, and as a result of the burdens and visions they received. How strange! Most preachers I know of do their searching and inquiries and preach and share what they have found. The Old Testament prophets preached, and then researched and inquired  about what they had delivered. Strange, yes! But marvelous at the same time! Father take me there. The New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ was undoubtedly revealed fully to the Old Testament prophets. No matter how the academics explain how the poor prophets were spiritually way behind us, this writer is half convinced that we need to follow in the train of their revelation.

 

 

a5The visions, the dreams, the one liners and the open heaven that was granted them gave them the means of understanding what is our “present truth.”  They saw it, yet had no tangible history or written account apart from  what they all received in futuristic prophetic revelation, however each of them received such stuff.

 

 

 

The thoughts we are engaging with here are full of awe and wonder. How infinite Yahweh engages with finite Hebrew men and showed them things to come is truly astonishing. It is a wonderful mystery.  All we have is the concrete tangible evidence of the scrolls of the prophets matched up with the New Testament gospels and letters. Truly we can affirm that “God who at various times and in diverse manners spoke in times past to the fathers, has in these last days spoken to us in His Son.”  The glorious gospel message, and the majestic magnificence of the person of Jesus Christ filled the prophets with such eager anticipation that their lives were overwhelmed with a desire to understand and fathom the depths of He who was to come. Peter fully informs us that all the prophets saw Him on the horizon of their future and did all they could to get to know the details. Prophets inquired and researched, sought out and probed diligently.  The word diligently suggests it was a full time long haul with them all. The revelation they all received was uniform and real, but incomplete.

 

Isaiah entered into a consuming whirlwind of a paradox in as much as what he saw was clear and distinct and gloriously elevating and faith building, but what he saw taught him that he did not see it all. Isaiah saw much, but for him (as well as for the other prophets) it was nothing like enough.  He wanted more revelation, more detail, more intimacy with the Spirit of Christ that was within him. He wanted more intimacy with the Almighty, fully realizing that intimacy with Him bore the fruit of naturally seeing the supernatural revelation of the nature of God and the revelation of who Messiah really was. Surely, that Spirit that according to Peter was “in them” manifested such an authority, and such a drawing to holiness that the prophets realized what and intrinsically who the Holy Spirit was.

 

As much as Isaiah and the other prophets were shown was enough to feed their faith and sustain them through persecution, torture and death.  They all died looking for and knowing of Messiah.  Prophets searched thoroughly and meticulously in prayer and scripture study as miners seeking treasure. They prayed. They meditated and muttered, exercising all their intellectual and spiritual faculties in their efforts to comprehend the revelation which had been deposited with them. They had treasure beyond value, and were killed because of it. Daniel 7:16 and 9:2-3 exhibit to us what an example of diligent searching Daniel was.  Revelation came to the prophets directly from the throne of God. Having received the word, the prophets delivered it. Yet none of them could fully comprehend the totality of what they had the hands on. Perhaps it was the difficulty in the intellectual acceptance that one single man could in truth be the answer to the fundamental issues of life that plague the whole planet.

 

a6What they searched for was keys to recognize the person, the time and the world circumstances of Messiah’s advent. And if it was not to be in their days, they still wanted to know what the era and world circumstances would be like in order to let us know, for Peter tells us that they were all aware that it was not for themselves that they were the recipients of such revelation, but for the future generations who would live in, and primarily after Messiah’s advent. Oh the selflessness of the character description Peter gives us.

 

 

We need to note also that the Old Testament prophets, according to Peter, were well aware that the sufferings of Messiah would be extreme and precede the glory that would be heaped upon him thereafter. I hold back from even hinting that there would be a gap of at least two millennia between both extreme situations, but they new that glory succeeded the agony.

 

 

By Daniel’s inter-action with the angelic personages that seemed to hang around him waiting to see the gospel truth of Christ being revealed, Peter cryptically adds an obiter dictum that angels literally stoop down to hear New Testament preachers to learn of the gospel truth.

 

 

I simply do not believe that Old Testament people of faith, especially the prophets, were less literate of eternal truths as I often read and hear about. I see how the person of Christ was a jaw-dropping concept that would send the most spiritually sensitive person a little dizzy at the thought, but I am convinced the saw deeply and understood broadly much more than we generally perceive.

 

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