Selected Prophecies from the Book of Isaiah, Part 7
by Karl Kemp
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We continue with the study of Isaiah chapter 29 here in Part 7, starting with verse 18.
(18) On that day the deaf will hear words of a book [Contrast Isa. 29:11, 12.], And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. [[Compare Psalm 119:18; Isa. 32:3; 35:5; and 42:7, 16, 18-20. Those that are literally deaf and blind will be healed, but the emphasis here is on being healed of spiritual deafness and blindness. These words will apply to the end-time remnant of Israel, but also (as the next verse helps demonstrate) to the end-time remnant of the nations. Also, as it often happens in these prophecies of Isaiah, there is a very important partial fulfillment of these prophetic words in the first coming and present ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.]] (19) The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD [Yahweh], And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. [[Compare Isa. 11:4; 14:30, 32. This verse (29:19), along with many other verses mentioned in this paper, shows that God's salvation plans include a remnant of the nations along with the remnant of Israel. Those afflicted had been afflicted by the ruthless of the world (cf. Isa. 29:5, 20, 21), but it is also true that God humbles His people (including the elect of the nations [cf. Isa. 19:22]) by chastening them through others.]] (20) For the ruthless will come to an end [cf. Isa. 29:5] and the scorner ["mockers" NIV] will be finished, Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off [[in God's end-time judgment of the world ((I had a footnote: God's end-time judgment of the world will take place, for the most part, after Christ returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Some important preliminary aspects of His end-time judgment will take place in the one-month period (that starts with the abomination of desolation) that precedes Christ's mid-week return. In most ways God's end-time judgments will be completed before the millennial kingdom begins, but some important aspects of His end-time judgments won't take place until the thousand years of the millennial kingdom have been completed: The destruction of the Gog and Magog rebellion with the final judgment of Satan (Rev. 20:7-10) and the great-white-throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).))]]; (21) Who cause a person to be indicted by a word, And ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate ["who ensnare the defender in court" NIV], And defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments. [All sinners who don't eventually humble themselves before God and repent will be cut off by His end-time judgments.] (22) Therefore thus says the LORD [Yahweh], who redeemed Abraham [[Compare Isa. 41:8; 51:2; and 63:16. God's redemption of Abraham, who is the father of the nation Israel and the father of all believers (cf. Rom. 4:16-18), began a process that will culminate in the salvation pictured here in Isa. 29:17-24. This salvation includes (the elect of) the nations, the nations being distinct from true Israel (cf., e.g., Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Rev. 15:3, 4; 20:3; 21:3, 4; and 21:24-22:3).]], concerning the house of Jacob: 'Jacob [["Jacob" here apparently refers to the "house of Jacob [Israel]" that was just mentioned (not to the patriarch Jacob). The translation of the words at the end of this verse by the NIV fits the idea that the "house of Jacob" is being spoken of here, "no longer will THEIR [my emphasis] faces grow pale." ((I had a footnote: The Hebrew verb translated "grow pale" by the NIV in Isa. 29:22 is plural in the Hebrew, but this, by itself, doesn't prove that more than one person is being spoken of here. The Hebrew noun translated "face" by the NASB and "faces" by the NIV is unusual in that it always occurs in the plural form in the Old Testament; this plural Hebrew noun can be translated "face" or "faces." The verb could be plural here to agree with the plural noun even if the translation "face" (singular) was intended. The more significant fact is that this sentence continues with three plural verbs ("they will sanctify," [twice], and "they will stand in awe"), which helps confirm that "he [Jacob]" means more than Jacob the patriarch (who was also called Israel).))]] shall not now be ashamed [or, "be put to shame"; cf., e.g., Isa. 45:17; 49:23; 50:7; and 54:4], nor shall his face [their faces] now turn pale [[Now that the remnant of the house of Jacob/Israel has been saved and glorified after God's end-time judgment of the world; now that the ruthless and those committed to evil have been cut off (cf. 29:20, 21); now that (the remnant of) the nations have begun to worship God (e.g., 29:19); and now that the creation has been glorified (at least to the extent it will be glorified during the millennial kingdom [cf. 29:17, 18]), the house of Jacob/Israel (true Israel) will never again be ashamed/put to shame. In Isaiah's day, as with most generations, Israel was ashamed/put to shame by their sin and the penalties that came with their sin - but now (after God has accomplished His end-time work of saving, judging, and glorifying) things are totally different because the sin problem has been totally solved through total salvation in Christ Jesus.]]; (23) But [or, "For"] when he [the house of Jacob] sees his [their] children [[The NIV has, "When they see among them their children." ((I had a footnote: The Hebrew word translated "when he sees" by the NASB and "when they see" by the NIV is an infinitive. It means "when Jacob sees," but the NIV (rightly I believe) understands the subject of this infinitive to be plural in that it is the house of Jacob that is doing the seeing.)) WHO ARE "[THEIR] CHILDREN"? They certainly include the saved, sanctified, and now glorified end-time remnant of Jacob/Israel. ((The fact that "[their] children" are "in [their] midst" fits the idea that "the house of Jacob" and "[their] children" are now together. As I have mentioned, I believe we can say that all the members of God's true Israel will be glorified and reigning together by the time the millennial kingdom begins. [See under Rev. 20:4 in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22 on my internet site.])) Understood in a fuller sense, "[their] children" include all the elect Israelites, and all the Gentiles that become true Christians who are grafted into true Israel, who are saved from the days of Isaiah on to the last days through God's saving work. Understood in a yet fuller sense, "[their] children include the end-time elect remnant of the nations (cf. 29:19). ((I had a footnote: Isaiah 44:1-5 and 45:14-25, which are discussed as separate chapters in this paper, are strong witnesses for the idea that the elect of the nations (the nations being distinct from true Israel) can be considered the offspring of true Israel. See under Isa. 59:21 in the chapter on Isaiah chapter 27 in my paper on Isaiah on my internet site (on pages 76, 77).)) Understood in the ultimate sense that is pictured in Revelation chapters 21, 22, we can see the full glory of God's new heaven and new earth with all the glorified members of true Israel and all the glorified members of (the elect of) the nations.]], the work of My hands [cf. Isa. 29:16; 45:11; 53:11; and Eph. 2:10], in his [their] midst, They [the house of Jacob] will sanctify My name; Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob [cf. Isa. 8:13] and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. [This verse helps demonstrate that the names "Jacob" and "Israel" are being used interchangeably here, as they typically are.] (24) Those who err in mind [literally, in spirit] will know the truth, and those who criticize [literally, murmur] will accept instruction.' " [[God's former critics among His people (like in the days of Isaiah) will acknowledge that His plan of salvation was good (very good indeed) when they see the glorious results (e.g., Isa. 29:17-23; Revelation chapters 21, 22). They (along with all the elect of God) "will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel."]]
ISAIAH CHAPTER 42.
[Isaiah 42:1-4 are quoted in Matt. 12:18-21.] "Behold, My Servant [[The word "Servant/servant" (Hebrew "ebed") is sometimes used in Isaiah for the Lord Jesus Christ (Isa. 49:3-7; 50:10; 52:13; and 53:11), and sometimes it is used for the nation of Israel (Isa. 41:8, 9; 42:19; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21; 45:4; and 48:20). Here it is used of the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father is speaking.]], whom I uphold; My chosen one [cf., e.g., 1 Pet. 2:4] in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him [See under Isa. 11:2 in this paper.]; He will bring forth justice to the nations. [[Compare, for example, Isa. 2:2-4; 9:1-7; 11:1-10; and 16:5. "The nations" (Hebrew "goyim") could include Israel (See note 13 on pages 31, 32 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."); Isaiah chapter 42 (along with much other Scripture) shows that Israel needs to be saved by Christ too, and 42:4 speaks of establishing justice "in the earth." However, "the nations" typically exclude Israel in the Bible, and Israel probably is not included here. The Hebrew noun "goyim" is often translated "Gentiles," and that is the way this noun was translated here by the KJV and NKJV. The salvation of (true) Israel is given special treatment throughout the prophecies of Isaiah (cf., e.g., Isa. 42:6; 49:6).]] (2) He will not cry out or raise His voice Nor make His voice heard in the street. (3) A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; [[These verses (2, 3) prophesy regarding the mostly unimposing, gentle demeanor of the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming and in the intervening period until His second coming. At His first coming He comes mostly to heal those that are sick (with the emphasis on spiritual sickness), not to judge and destroy all rebels. See Matt. 12:9-21. When He comes to judge the world at the end of this age, it will be different; He will impose Himself as the Savior of His people (true Israel) and as the Judge enforcing the will of God on the inhabitants of the world. He will make things right; He will establish God's worldwide kingdom of righteousness.]] He will faithfully bring forth justice [cf. 42:1, 4]. (4) He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands [[cf. Isa. 42:10, 12; 49:1; 51:5; 60:9; and 66:19 (The same plural Hebrew noun is used in each of these verses, including Isa. 42:4. The NASB translated it "coastlands" in some of these verses, "islands" in others.)]] will wait expectantly for His law [["in his law...will put their hope" NIV].' [Isaiah 42:1 spoke of bringing forth justice to the nations. Here we learn that the nations - that is, the remnant of the nations left after His end-time judgment of the world - will submit to God and His law (cf. Isa. 2:2-4). ((I had a footnote: There is, of course, a very important partial fulfillment of the prophetic words of verse 4 when Gentiles submit to God and His law throughout this present age; they become Christians, members of true Israel. From our perspective we can see that the partial fulfillment that takes place throughout this (what has turned out to be) long period may be as important as, or more important than, the fulfillment at the end of the age, but I believe the primary fulfillment of the prophetic words of this chapter will take place after Christ returns to judge the world. Essentially every passage we are studying in this paper looks to God's end-time judgment of the world and its results, including this chapter (see Isa. 42:13-17).))]] (5) Thus says God the LORD [Yahweh], Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people [Hebrew "am"] on it And spirit [Hebrew "ruach" (The BDB Hebrew lexicon understands "ruach" here in the sense of "spirit of the living, breathing being...." The NIV translated "life.")] to those who walk in it, (6) 'I am the LORD [Yahweh], I have called you [You] in righteousness, I will also hold you [You] by the hand and watch over you [You], And I will appoint [give] you [You] as a covenant to the people [Hebrew "am"], As a light to the nations [[Hebrew "goyim"], [[If it were not for the important cross-reference of Isa. 49:8 ("And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of [to/for] the people"), which is exactly the same as 42:6 in the Hebrew, I might be somewhat more inclined to agree with those who understand "the people" here to refer to the elect people of all nations. (For one thing, the same Hebrew noun ["am"] was used in verse 5 of mankind worldwide.) Anyway, I agree with the majority that "the people" here are (true) Israel and "the nations" are the nations of the earth, excluding Israel. This is the typical use of these words in the Bible; "the people" of Israel are typically distinguished from "the peoples/nations," and they are always distinguished from "the Gentiles." The NIV has, "a light for the Gentiles"; the KJV and NKJV have "the Gentiles."
Those who are "blind" and/or dwell in "darkness" need the "light" that salvation in Christ brings, and that includes the Israelites (see Isa. 42:7, 16, 18-22). Acts 26:16-20 speak of Christ's sending the apostle Paul to the Jews and Gentiles "to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive [the release from their sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin] and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:13-20 are discussed on pages 153-155 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.") We are enabled to do much more than to see the light through salvation in Christ - we are enabled to dwell in the light and to experience the light.
Although it is true that all the elect (the elect of true Israel and the elect of the nations) are saved through the Messiah and His atoning death (cf., e.g., Isa. 52:13-53:12; Rev. 1:5; 7:14; 21:27), there are substantial differences between the status of true Israel and the status of the elect of the nations. For one thing, true Israel will reign forever (including reigning over the nations). (It is at least clear that we will reign over the nations in the millennium [Rev. 2:26, 27; 5:10; 20:6] and that we will reign forever and ever [Rev. 22:5].) It isn't at all surprising that the salvation of (true) Israel would be given special treatment with the words "a covenant to the people."
As with so many of the prophecies of Isaiah that we are studying in this paper, the salvation spoken of here (at least the primary salvation that is spoken of here) is the salvation of the worldwide remnant (the remnant of Israel [they become part of true Israel when they submit to the Lord Jesus Christ after the rapture] and the remnant of the nations) left after God's end-time judgment of the world (see Isa. 42:13-15). There is, of course, a very important partial fulfillment of these prophetic words as Jews and Gentiles submit to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith throughout this present age. They are part of God's true Israel. See, for example, Rom. 2:28, 29; 11:17-24; and Revelation chapter 12. The woman of Revelation chapter 12 represents true Israel in her fullness.]] (7) To open blind eyes [[See Isa. 42:6 ("a light to the nations"), 16, 18-20 (these verses show that Israel is blind too). The primary fulfillment of these prophetic words will take place when the end-time remnant of the world (including the nation Israel), who are spiritually blind, will be enabled to see the light (and dwell in the light), which symbolizes the truth and righteousness of God. (It is true, of course, that the Lord Jesus Christ also opens the eyes of many that are literally blind.) There is a very important partial fulfillment of these words (as with the words of Isa. 29:18; 35:5) in the present age as Jews and Gentiles become Christians, but all three of these verses (in their contexts) look to the end of the age]], To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. [[The primary fulfillment of these prophetic words will take place when the end-time remnant of the world (after God's end-time judgment of the world), who are in bondage to sin, spiritual death, and Satan, are set free through salvation in Christ Jesus. It is also true that some people will be released from literal dungeons/prisons (cf. Isa. 42:22). Again, there is a very important partial fulfillment of these words in the present age, as with Isa. 49:9; 61:1 (cf. Luke 4:16-21; John 8:31-36), but all three of these verses cited from Isaiah (in their contexts) look to the end of the age.]] (8) I am the LORD [Hebrew "Yahweh"], that is My name; I will not give My glory to another [cf., e.g., Isa. 48:11], Nor My praise to graven images. [[The Hebrew name "Yahweh" includes within its meaning the bold (but True) claim that "HE [the God of Creation, the God of true Israel, the God of the Bible] IS [GOD, AND THERE IS NO OTHER GOD]."
((I had a footnote: The name "Yahweh" was derived from the Hebrew verb "to be." It is the imperfect "tense," THIRD person, masculine, singular form of the verb. See Ex. 3:13-15. Note "LORD" ("Yahweh") in Ex. 3:15. The Hebrew translated "I AM" in 3:14 ("eheyeh"; the "e" after the "h" is a vocal shewa, a quick vowel-like sound; it is pronounced like the first "e" in "because.") is very closely related to "Yahweh." "I AM" is the imperfect "tense," FIRST person, masculine, singular form of the same verb. The words "I AM WHO I AM" of Ex. 3:14 would probably be better translated "I AM FOR I AM." Moses was to tell the people that God's name is "I AM FOR I [AND ONLY I] AM [GOD, AND I ALWAYS WAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE GOD]." Whereas the name "Yahweh" is very common for God in the Old Testament, being used over six thousand times, I don't believe the name "I AM" is used anywhere else in the Old Testament. The primary purpose of Ex. 3:14 was undoubtedly to help explain the name Yahweh used in Ex. 3:15 (and very often).))
The name "Yahweh" also includes the meaning that He (the triune God of the Bible) always was and always will be. There is no other God, or Savior, or ultimate Judge. He is the only uncreated Being. There are other gods being worshipped by men now (the devil, his evil angels, demons, and the gods that men have made up), but they will all be removed in God's end-time judgment of the world. He will not share His glory and praise with gods or idols/graven images. How could He give/share His glory with gods (who are in rebellion against Him) or idols that are not God? See my paper, "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" on my internet site. On the Trinity also see my papers, "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?" and "More on the Trinity." God, the Trinity, is a very important topic!]] (9) Behold, the former things have come to pass [cf., e.g., Isa. 48:3], Now I declare new things [cf., e.g., Isa. 43:19; 48:6]; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.' [[As I mentioned in the introduction to Isa. 9:1-7 in this paper (see that discussion), God makes the point several times in the book of Isaiah that He, and He alone, is able to make such prophetic proclamations and then bring these things to pass, which proves that He, and He alone, is God. By the days of Isaiah many of God's prophetic words had already come to pass. For example, His words to Abram/Abraham that Israel would be oppressed for four hundred years by another nation (Egypt) and that God would then judge that nation and bring His people out with many possessions and bring them to the promised land (Gen. 15:13-16).]] (10) Sing to the LORD [Yahweh] a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth [cf. Isa. 49:6]! [[The "new song" celebrates the "new" work that God has done (cf. Psalms 40:3; 98:1) through His Servant, which is spoken of throughout this chapter (and many other chapters) of Isaiah.]] You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it. You islands [or, coastlands (see under verse 4, including the footnote)], and those who dwell on them. (11) Let the wilderness [cf. Isa. 35:1, 6] and its cities lift up their voices The settlements where Kedar inhabits [On "Kedar," see the last paragraph of the chapter dealing with Isa. 21:6-12 in this paper]. Let the inhabitants of Sela [cf. Isa. 16:1] sing aloud, Let them shout for joy from the tops of the mountains. (12) Let them give glory to the LORD [Yahweh] And declare His praise in the coastlands. [[As 42:10 showed (cf. 42:4), God is to be praised from the end of the earth (worldwide). The scene here in 42:10-13 is very similar to the scene pictured in Isa. 24:13-16a, where the worldwide remnant (Jews and Gentiles) glorify God after His end-time judgment of the world. Isaiah chapter 2 is another important cross-reference that shows the remnant (Jews and Gentiles) left after God's end-time judgment of the world, but that chapter doesn't mention the remnant's singing and glorifying God as chapters 24 and 42 do.
What about all the people (Jews and Gentiles) who become part of true Israel during this present age, before God's end-time judgment of the world? They leave their "blindness" and the "darkness" behind when they become Christians; they don't have to wait for God's end-time judgment (and the other things He does in the end times) to wake them up. They will be glorified when Christ returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.]] (13) [[Verses 13-15 prophesy about God's end-time judgment of the world, a judgment that will leave a humbled, repentant remnant worldwide (a remnant of Israel and a remnant of the nations); this theme is included in almost every passage we are studying in this paper. The same theme is also included in many other passages of Isaiah (and in many other books of the Bible) that are not dealt with in this paper.]] The LORD [Yahweh] will go forth like a warrior [cf. Ex. 15:3; Isa. 34:1-17; 59:17-19; and 63:1-6], He will arouse His zeal [cf. Isa. 9:7; 26:11; and 59:17] like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies [cf., e.g., Isa. 66:14-16]. (14) 'I have kept silent for a long time, I have kept still and restrained myself. [Cf., e.g., Psalm 50:21; Isa. 45:15; and 57:11.] Now like a woman in labor I will groan, I will both gasp and pant. (15) I will lay waste the mountains and hills [cf. Isa. 2:12-16] And wither all their vegetation; I will make the rivers into coastlands And dry up the ponds. [Cf. Isa. 44:27; 50:2; and Nah. 1:4-6.] (16) I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone. [[Compare Isa. 29:18; 32:3. As discussed already under verses 6, 7, the blindness/darkness spoken of here and in verses 7, 18-20 is a spiritual blindness/darkness. This spiritual blindness/darkness includes the ideas of not knowing or walking in the truth of God and His righteousness and holiness. The primary fulfillment of these prophetic words will come to pass for the worldwide remnant left after God's end-time judgment of the world. The end-time remnant of the nation Israel is included (as they were in Isaiah chapters 2, 24): They are singled out for special mention in verses 18-20, where their blindness (before God's end-time work of judging and saving) is spoken of.
There is a very important partial fulfillment of these words in the present age (cf., e.g., Luke 1:78, 79; Eph. 5:8).]] (17) They will be turned back and be utterly put to shame, Who trust in idols, Who say to molten images, 'You are our gods.' [[Compare Isa. 44:9-17; 45:16. Verses like Isa. 27:9 show that Israel was also guilty of the sin of idolatry. There won't be any idolaters left after God's end-time judgment of the world. They will have either repented or been removed by judgment.]] (18) Hear, you deaf! [Cf. Isa. 29:18; 35:5.] And look, you blind, that you may see. [[When "deafness" and "blindness" are being used in a figurative sense, as they are here, there isn't much difference between being deaf and being blind: In their hearts the deaf were not hearing the truth of God and the blind were not seeing the truth of God. It's quite possible, even probable, that all mankind is being spoken to here in verse 18 (not just Israel). ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: For one thing, the nouns and verbs used in verse 18 are plural, whereas verses 19, 20 switch to the singular. It is not of crucial significance whether the nations are addressed along with Israel in verse 18, but if they are, it makes verses 18-25 have all the more application for the nations. It's clear that these chapters of Isaiah have much direct application for the nations (cf. e.g., Isa. 41:1, 5; 42:1, 4, 6, and 10-12).
There are a few uncertainties regarding the original Hebrew text of verse 20. The NRSV translates, "He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear." Anyway, if we translate verse 20 the way the NASB did, the verbs "you have seen" and "you [do not] observe" are singular in the Hebrew.)) The blindness spoken of in 42:7, 16 includes the blindness of the nations, and 42:6 informed us that Messiah will bring light to the nations. This chapter, starting with verse 1, deals much with the nations (not just with Israel). The following verses to the end of the chapter speak about the nation Israel.]] (19) Who is blind but [[I had a footnote: This verse does not say that Israel was the only one blind. The point is that, in some ways, Israel was the most blind; with all the light and blessings God had given that nation, Israel was far more responsible than the nations for her blindness. I'll quote what the BDB Hebrew Lexicon said (on page 475) regarding the meaning of "but" here under "ki im" (the Hebrew words translated "but"): "who is blind in comparison with him [my servant]." The rest of verse 19 (after the first line) makes it clear that it was not only Israel that was blind, even if, in some ways, she was the most blind.]] My servant, Or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me Or so blind as the servant of the LORD [Yahweh]? [[As I mentioned under Isa. 42:1, Israel is sometimes called God's "servant" in Isaiah. I assume the words "My messenger" relate to the fact that God had sent/given Israel to be a light to the nations (e.g., Ex. 19:6). And I assume the words "he that is at peace with Me" are being used in a loose (perhaps even sarcastic) sense of the relationship that was supposed to exist between God and Israel.]] (20) You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but none hears. [In other words, all too often the sons of Israel were seeing like blind people see and hearing like deaf people hear (cf. 42:19).]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Isaiah chapter 42 in Part 8, starting with verse 21.
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