Selected Prophecies from the Book of Isaiah, Part 8
by Karl Kemp
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We continue with the verse-by-verse study of Isaiah chapter 42 here in Part 8, starting with verse 21.
(21) The LORD [Yahweh] was pleased for His righteousness' sake To make the law great and glorious. [[The problem was that Israel, speaking of the majority of the people ((I had a footnote: The believers under the old covenant, those who were part of God's true Israel, did live, for the most part, in accordance with God's law (through faith in accordance with the limited grace available to them at that time), but those believers will be quick to testify that they needed the salvation that comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death, resurrection, and ascension.)) was not keeping the law ((I had a footnote: The "law" here need not be limited to the Mosaic Law. God's law (including the Mosaic Law, which provided the foundation for the old covenant) is a lot more than commandments. We learn where we came from (we were created by God), we learn what went wrong, what God requires of us and what our priorities must be, what the consequences will be if we submit to God or if we continue in rebellion against Him, etc.)), and as God had promised, they were experiencing the curses of the law for disobedience. This fact explains the next four verses. A BIG PART OF WHAT SALVATION IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST IS ALL ABOUT IS THAT BORN-AGAIN BELIEVERS (CHRISTIANS) ARE ENABLED TO FULFILL THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW BY THE GRACE/SPIRIT OF GOD (e.g., Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:26, 27; Rom. 2:26-29; 8:1-4; and Heb. 8:10; 10:16). (The verses just cited from the New Testament are all discussed in some detail in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." Christians are not required to fulfill the ceremonial law of the old covenant. See my paper titled "The Christian, The Law, and Legalism."]] (22) But this is a people plundered and despoiled; All of them are trapped in caves, Or are hidden away in prisons; They have become a prey with none to deliver them And a spoil, with none to say, 'Give them back!' (23) Who among you will give ear to this? Who will give heed and listen hereafter? (24) Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers? Was it not the LORD [Yahweh], against whom we have sinned, And in whose ways they were not willing to walk, And whose law they did not obey? (25) So He poured out on him the heat of His anger And the fierceness of battle; And it set him aflame all around, Yet he did not recognize it; And it burned him, but he paid no attention." [[Cf., e.g., Isa. 1:1-31; 5:24, 25; and 29:13, 14. All Israel (the end-time remnant of Israel) WILL PAY ATTENTION and be saved at the end of this age (cf. Rom. 11:25-27).]]
" 'But now listen, O Jacob, My servant [On the word "servant," see under Isa. 42:1.], And Israel, whom I have chosen: (2) Thus says the LORD [Yahweh] who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, "Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun [[Compare Deut. 32:15; 33:5, 26. "Jeshurun" is another name for Israel/Judah. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon says that this Hebrew noun means "Upright One" and that this is a "poetic name of Israel; designating it under its ideal character."]] whom I have chosen. (3) For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants [[Compare Isa. 32:15. I assume that the time setting here, as with so many of the prophecies we are studying in this paper, looks first and foremost to the time when the repentant remnant of Israel and then the repentant remnant of the nations will be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ, after His end-time judgment of the world. Verse 5 shows that the elect of the nations (Gentiles) will be included; that verse could even be limited to speaking of the elect of the nations. ((I had a footnote: I'll quote a sentence from what F. Delitzsch said under 44:5 ("Commentary on the Old Testament" by Keil and Delitzsch, Vol. 7 [Eerdmans, 1976 reprint], page 204), "The threefold "zeh" [This Hebrew word, which is used three times in Isa. 44:5, was translated "This one," "that one," and "another" by the NASB.] refers to the heathen, as in Ps. 87:4, 5." Psalm 87 is an important cross-reference. It speaks of (the elect of) the nations being BORN at Jerusalem, which, when understood in the fullest sense, speaks of the BIRTH into the eternal life of God's new earth; the nations are pictured on the new earth in Revelation chapters 21, 22. Psalm 87:4 ends with the words, "This one ["zeh"] was born there," and the next verse continues with the words, "[And] of Zion it shall be said, 'This one [not using "zeh"] and that one [not using "zeh"] were born in her.' " Psalm 87 is discussed in section 2 of my paper, "More Regarding God's Salvation Plans for the Nations" on my internet site.)) The fact that the elect of the nations can be considered part of the "offspring/descendants" of Israel comes up several times in this paper. (See under Isa. 26:16-19; 29:23; 59:21 [discussed toward the end of the chapter on Isaiah chapter 27 in the paper on Isaiah on my internet site]; and 45:14-24.) Also, there is an important preliminary, partial fulfillment of these words in this present age for the Christian church (which is part of God's true Israel) when Jews and Gentiles become Christians. The "water" symbolizes the life, grace, and Spirit of God.]]; (4) And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water." (5) This one will say, I am the LORD'S'; And that one will call on the name of Jacob [[In the margin the NASB has, "Another reading is 'will be called by the name of Jacob.' " I assume, in agreement with most, that this other reading (the reading in the margin of the NASB) is the correct reading. (This other reading uses the same letters in the Hebrew text; it involves only a change in vowel letters, vowel letters that were added to the text long after the days of Isaiah, even long after the days that Jesus lived on the earth.) The NIV has, "another will call himself by the name of Jacob."]]; And another will write on his hand, "Belonging to the LORD [Yahweh]," And will name Israel's name with honor [The NIV has, "and will take the name Israel." The NKJV has, "And name himself by the name of Israel."].' " [[This last verse seems to go out of its way to demonstrate that the remnant of the nations (Gentiles) left after God's end-time judgment of the world will be saved too. Isaiah 45:14-25 (discussed next in this paper) are the most important cross-reference to help demonstrate that the saved remnant of the nations left after God's end-time judgment of the world can be considered the "offspring" of Israel/Jacob. If we take the words of Isa. 44:3-5 regarding the salvation of the elect of the nations through the water/grace/Spirit of God in the fullest sense, it is comparable with seeing the elect of the nations in God's new earth with its river of the water of life (as pictured in Rev. 21:24-22:3).]]
"Thus says the LORD [Yahweh], 'The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush [or, Ethiopia; cf. Isa. 18:1-7] And the Sabeans [[I had a footnote: I'll quote a sentence from M. R. Heicksen's article on the "Sabeans" ("Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible," Vol. 5 [Zondervan, 1975], pages 190, 191), "They were a people of Semitic origin, descended from Sheba (Gen. 25:3), and residing in SW Arabia in the area presently known as Yemen and Hadhramaut." He mentioned that the queen of Sheba "who journeyed to Jersualem to visit Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chron. 9:1-12)" was from there.]], men of stature, Will come over to you and will be yours [cf., e.g., Isa. 14:1, 2; 49:23]; They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains [cf. Psalm 149:8] And will bow down to you [cf. Isa. 49:23; 60:14]; They will make supplication to you: "Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God [cf., e.g., Isa. 45:5, 21; Jer. 16:19; and Zech. 8:20-23]." ' [[This verse speaks of (part of) the humbled, repentant remnant of the nations coming to Israel (and, more importantly, coming to God, the God of Israel) after God's end-time judgment of the world (cf., e.g., Isa. 2:2-4). Some verses speak of the status of the nations with respect to Israel in a more positive way (I had a footnote: For example, the status of the remnants of Egypt and Assyria is spoken of in a very positive way in Isa. 19:23-25. If we were limited to those few verses in Isaiah chapter 19, we wouldn't know of the subordinate status of the nations to true Israel.), but the Old Testament prophecies make it clear that the remnant of the nations will be subordinate to true Israel. And, significantly, the book of Revelation confirms that true Israel will reign over the nations (Rev. 20:3-6; 21:24-22:5). The following verses of this chapter (especially Isa. 45:22-25), along with many other verses of Isaiah, show, however, that the remnant of the nations will be saved by God. The last two chapters of the book of Revelation show that the status of the nations in the eternal state will be glorious indeed because of their salvation through Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God. I'm quite sure that nobody will be complaining or manifesting pride in God's new earth. They had better not! I believe God has had enough of those things!]] (15) Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior! [[Compare Psalm 44:24; Isa. 8:17; and 57:17. So often it looked like the nations were more blessed than Israel, and it looked like salvation never would, or could (because of their sinfulness), come to Israel, or to the nations; but God is good, and His Word is good, and He will do all that He has said He will do. This verse contains a very important truth that has very much application for God's people of all generations. We must walk by faith - a faith based on what the Word of God says - not by sight (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7). God set it up this way. For one thing, by hiding Himself to a significant extent, He is able to test people; furthermore, when God's people walk by faith, they glorify Him and they grow in the things of God. All those who trust God will be rewarded with eternal glory.]] (16) They will be put to shame and even humiliated, all of them; The manufacturers of idols will go away together in humiliation. [[Compare Isa. 42:17; 44:9-20. Those who manufacture idols and those who worship idols will be removed by God's end-time judgments, except for those who repent and turn to Him (cf. Isa. 45:20-25). The idols were a demonic alternative to worshipping God. In our day we don't have much literal worship of manufactured idols, but there's much worship of things like power, money, self, fame, sex, etc., which really are forms of idolatry [cf., e.g., Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5].)]] (17) Israel has been saved ["will be saved" NIV] by the LORD [Yahweh] With an everlasting salvation; You [true Israel] will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity. [[Compare Isa. 49:23; 54:4. In contrast to those just mentioned in Isa. 45:16, true Israel will be saved with an everlasting salvation (so will the elect of the nations).]] (18) For thus says the LORD [Yahweh], who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it [cf., e.g., Gen. 1:1; Isa. 42:5], He established it and did not create it [to be] a waste place [["A waste place" is one way to translate the Hebrew noun "tohu." The same Hebrew noun is also used in the next verse. In the margin the NASB has, "or, in vain" here and in the next verse. The NIV has "to be empty" here and "in vain" in the next verse. This Hebrew noun isn't easy to translate in these verses; it could be understood several different ways. ((I had a footnote: The BDB Hebrew Lexicon gives "formlessness, confusion, unreality, and emptiness" as the basic meanings of this noun. For one thing, this noun is used in the book of Isaiah to point out the emptiness, confusion, unreality, and vanity of idolatry (Isa. 41:29 ["emptiness" NASB]; 44:9 ["futile" NASB]). This noun is also used to describe what the world will be like after God's end-time judgment of the world, before His work of restoration (Isa. 24:10 ["chaos" NASB]; 34:11 ["desolation" NASB]; and Jer. 4:23 ["formless" NASB]).)) I'll comment further regarding the meaning of this word as we continue, but I'm satisfied with the translation of the NASB here and in the next verse.]], But formed it to be inhabited [[Compare Gen. 1:26-28; Isa. 45:12. God didn't create the earth to be a waste place (a place of chaos, an empty place). ((I had a footnote: Genesis 1:2 starts out, "The earth was formless ["tohu"]." I believe (without being dogmatic) that the earth was "tohu" because God had judged the earth because of Satan's rebellion before His recreation of the earth pictured in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. See my paper on Genesis chapters 1-3 on my internet site.)) He created the earth to be inhabited (especially inhabited by man), and He hasn't changed His mind. ((I had a footnote: The sin of man (man joined the devil in his rebellion against God) didn't frustrate God's plans. As 1 Pet. 1:18-20 shows, God had already planned to send His Son, the perfect Lamb, to solve the sin problem "before the foundation of the world.")) After His end-time judgment of the world, He will have the worldwide millennial kingdom for His people (true Israel and the elect of the nations). Then, after the millennial kingdom, in the eternal state, His people will live on His fully glorified new earth with its new Jerusalem. His fully glorified new earth will have left behind (forever) all that "tohu" means.
God's plans won't be frustrated by the evil work of Satan or men; in fact He incorporates that evil work into His plans to bring about a new glorified humanity (true Israel and the elect of the nations) and a new, glorified earth.
The entire earth, not just the land of Israel, is in view here. This is important because (as the following verses confirm) Isa. 45:14-25 have much more to say about the salvation of the end-time remnant of the nations than they do about the salvation of the end-time remnant of Israel. Also, there's an important partial fulfillment of the words of Isa. 45:20-25 as Gentiles become Christians throughout this present age. God is the Creator and God of all mankind. It isn't surprising that His salvation plans extend to cover the Gentiles too. Many Gentiles will be saved as part of the nations at the end of this age (the nations being distinct from true Israel), and many Gentiles (like most of us) are being saved by becoming Christians and part of God's true Israel.]]), 'I am the LORD [Yahweh], and there is none else. [[Compare Isa. 45:5, 14, 21. Yahweh is the God of all people; there is no other God. All people owe Him worship and obedience, and He is concerned for the salvation of all people, Jews and Gentiles - Christ died for all, and all are called to repent and to submit to God and His Word in faith. God won't forfeit His creation to sin, Satan, idolatry, false religions (including secular humanism), or any form of tohu.]] (19) I have not spoken in secret [[Compare Isa. 48:16. In Isa. 45:21 God mentions that He has openly announced/declared from of old what He would do (not that He had revealed every detail; for one thing, His revelation is progressive).]], In some dark land [[There's a great contrast between God's bold prophetic proclamations before the whole world (including those through Isaiah [cf., e.g., Isa. 41:1-49:26]) and the typical messages given by the pagan prophets of the gods (cf. Isa. 8:19). God frequently makes the point in Isaiah that He, and He alone, is able to prophesy (before the world) what He is going to do and then do it, and that it will be manifested that He is God when the things He has prophesied come to pass. Many of them were fulfilled in the near future; many others have been fulfilled since then; and the rest will be fulfilled at the proper time. God challenged to gods of the nations to do the same. (See the introductory comments to Isaiah 9:1-7 in this paper; also see under Isa. 42:9.)
I'll quote part of what Harry Bultema said here ("Commentary on Isaiah" [Kregel, 1981], page 449), "In verse nineteen God contrasts His prophetic revelations with heathen oracles which as a rule were pronounced in dark, hidden caves. The Lord always spoke openly, straightforwardly, unequivocally. In John 18:20 Christ said much the same thing to the high priest."]]; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, "Seek me in a waste place"; I, the LORD [Yahweh], speak righteousness [cf. Isa. 45:23; 63:1; the NIV has, "speak the truth"], Declaring things that are upright. [[The verb (apparently an imperative) translated "Seek Me" is apparently used here, as it sometimes is, in the sense of seeking the face of God on a regular basis to worship Him, etc., with no idea of seeking for Him as if it were necessary to find Him first (cf. 1 Chron. 16:10, 11; 2 Chron. 11:16; 20:3, 4; Psalms 24:6; 27:8; 40:16; 70:4; 105:3, 4; Isa. 51:1; Zeph. 1:6; 2:3; and Zech. 8:21, 22). The "offspring of Jacob/Israel" won't be seeking the face of God in a waste place (a place of emptiness, confusion, unreality, chaos, etc.). They will seek Him (come before Him) as the saved, righteous, blessed people of the One who is God (the triune God) in a land that is greatly blessed. By the time of the eternal state, all of God's people will have been glorified (true Israel and the elect of the nations) along with the new heaven and new earth. (I had a footnote: I don't mean to suggest that the glory of the nations will be comparable with the glory of true Israel (it won't be), but Revelation chapters 21, 22 show that the nations will be glorified in the eternal state. Also, I believe all the people of true Israel will be glorified by the time the millennial kingdom begins but that the nations will not be glorified until after the millennium.)
Discerning the identity of the "offspring of Jacob" is very important here, as it typically is in the prophecies of Isaiah. Isaiah 45:25 mentions the "offspring of Israel," which refer to the same people. ((I had a footnote: On the identity of the "offspring of Jacob/Israel," as this expression is used here, see (in this paper) under Isa. 26:16-19; 29:23; 44:3-5; 59:21; and see that which follows in this present chapter. (Isaiah chapter 26 is discussed in the paper on Isaiah on my internet site.) )) It seems clear that these words, as they are used in Isa. 45:19, 25, include the end-time remnant of the nations that are saved through coming to Jerusalem/Israel, as in Isa. 2:2-4, for example. The salvation of the remnant of the nations after God's end-time judgment of the world is the primary topic dealt with in Isa. 45:14-25, but the topic is handled in a way that exalts the status of true Israel. The end-time remnant of the nations can be included in the "offspring of Jacob/Israel" because they partake of the life of God by coming to Jerusalem/Israel; in some ways they are born of Israel. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: For one thing, they (along with true Israel) are the "offspring" of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is called "Israel" in Isa. 49:3. All who are saved through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ are His "offspring" (Isa. 53:10), and Rev. 21:27 confirms that the elect of the nations (the nations being distinct from true Israel) are saved through the atoning death of the Lamb of God. Taken in the fullest sense, which is appropriate here, the "offspring of Jacob/Israel" include all the elect of God (true Israel and the elect of the nations) who will have a place in His eternal kingdom on His new, glorified earth that is pictured in Revelation chapters 21, 22.
The prophecies of Isaiah include the birth into the glory of eternal life for true Israel and for the elect of the nations (see the references mentioned in the preceding footnote; and see on Isa. 66:7, 8 in chapter 16 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"). Isaiah 66:7, 8 just deal with the birth into eternal glory for true Israel, not for the elect of the nations. Several other key verses deal with this birth for true Israel. (See on Rev. 12:5, 6 on pages 314-317 of "The Mid-Week Rapture"; see on Mic. 5:3 on pages 249, 251-253; and see on Psalm 2:7 on pages 258-262 of the same book.)) The elect of the nations will partake of the eternal life of God's new earth by coming to new Jerusalem (see Revelation chapters 21, 22).
Isaiah 44:3-5 seem to be an important cross-reference for understanding the identity of the "offspring of Jacob/Israel" here in Isa. 45:19, 25. (Isaiah 44:1-5 are discussed in the preceding chapter in this paper.) It seems clear (because of Isa. 44:5) that the "offspring/descendants of Jacob/Israel" pictured in 44:3-5 include the elect of the nations left after God's end-time judgment of the world.
Even as the elect of God (true Israel and the elect of the nations) will be born into the glory of God's eternal kingdom, the Bible also speaks of the birth of the creation, including the earth, into the glory of God's eternal life (cf., e.g., Matt. 19:28; Rom. 8:19-22). Some of the verses that speak of the glorification of the creation don't speak of this transformation in terms of a birth (cf., e.g., Isa. 29:17; 32:15, 16; Acts 3:21; and Revelation chapters 21, 22). Also, most of the verses that speak of the glorification of God's people don't speak of this glorification in terms of a birth (into the fullness of eternal life). (Cf., e.g., Isa. 25:6-8; Rom. 8:11, 17, 18; 1 Cor. 15:49-53; Gal. 6:8; Phil. 3:20, 21; Col. 3:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 2 Tim. 2:10-12; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:1, 4, 10; Rev. 7:9-17; 20:4-6; and Revelation chapters 21, 22.)
Since Yahweh speaks righteousness and declares things that are upright (which includes speaking things that are true), unlike the gods, what He prophesies will come to pass. Also, everything associated with His finished product will be righteous and holy in every way, including all the people who will have a place in His eternal kingdom (true Israel and the elect of the nations [cf., e.g., Rev. 21:27]) and the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem.]] (20) Gather yourselves and come; Draw near together, you fugitives ["survivors" NRSV] of the nations; They have no knowledge, Who carry about their wooden idol And pray to a god who cannot save. [[The "fugitives/survivors of the nations" are the remnant of the nations (not including true Israel) left after God's end-time judgment of the world. Bultema says that the "escaped of the nations" (he's using the KJV translation of this verse) refer "to the remnant of the nations that will survive the judgment and enter the millennium" ("Commentary on Isaiah," page 449). Merrill F. Unger's heading for Isa. 45:22-25 is "The Conversion of the Nations in the Kingdom Age" ("Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 2 [Moody Press, 1981], page 1269).
The end-time remnant of the nations are invited to turn from their former "god(s) who cannot save" to the true God who can and who does save (see 45:22). Having been humbled by God's end-time judgments (including the destruction of Antichrist and his followers), and having seen how He has saved His people (true Israel), not to mention that He has done what He had said He would do (cf. 45:21), the remnant of the nations will be ready to repent and turn to God for salvation through Christ Jesus. In Isa. 45:14-25 it is assumed that the humbled end-time remnant of the nation Israel has already been saved before God invites the remnant of the nations to repent and turn to Him for salvation through Christ Jesus.]] (21) Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD [Yahweh]? And there is no other God besides me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except me [cf. Isa. 45:5, 14]. [[Compare, for example, Isa. 41:21-29; 42:8, 9; 43:9-21; 44:6-28; 46:5-11; and 48:3-16. The fugitives/survivors of the nations will see, for one thing, that God's prophetic words have come to pass, and that the gods/idols they have been worshipping have absolutely nothing to compare with this. The gods/idols aren't God; they can't begin to compete with Him and, more importantly, they can't save those who look to them. There's only one God. He is a righteous God and a Savior, and He (in His mercy) has included the end-time remnant of the nations in His salvation plans (as the next verse shows). God is always more than ready to save all those who will truly repent and turn to Him.]] (22) Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth [cf., e.g., Isa. 49:6]; For I am God, and there is no other. [[There is an important partial fulfillment of the glorious prophetic words of this verse (and of 45:24, 25) when Gentiles submit to the Lord Jesus Christ throughout this present age, but the primary fulfillment will take place after God's end-time judgment of the world (see Isa. 45:14-20).]] (23) I have sworn by myself [cf. Gen. 22:16; Isa. 62:8; and Heb. 6:13], The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back [God's righteous prophetic words will come to pass (cf. Isa. 45:19; 55:11).], That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance [cf. Isa. 19:18]. [[In Phil. 2:10, 11 the apostle Paul says that "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The apostle doesn't say that all beings in the universe will begin to love and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Many (like the devil) will only bow and confess that He is Lord when they are forced to do so (involuntarily) after they have been totally subdued by Him - there's no suggestion that they will repent. In Rom. 14:11 Paul "quotes" Isa. 45:23 in a context dealing with the fact that all mankind (the righteous and the unrighteous) will stand before the judgment seat of God.
I believe these words (of Isa. 45:23) speak of the humbled end-time remnant of the nations that will bow in genuine repentance (not that every single individual will necessarily bow in genuine repentance; the potential for sin will still be there at that time for the nations) - they will join true Israel in bowing before God and swearing allegiance to Him. This is part of God's generous plan of salvation, in accordance with His prophetic word - it will come to pass. They (like us) will not - thanks be to God - escape God's saving mercy. Any individuals who don't repent and submit to the Lord Jesus Christ (and God the Father) at that time will certainly be quickly dealt with. God doesn't force people to submit to Him in faith or to love Him. I'll quote a sentence from what F. Delitzsch said here, "This bending of the knee, this confession as an oath of homage, will be no forced one" ("Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 7 [Eerdmans, 1976 reprint], page 231).]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Isaiah 45:14-25 in Part 9, starting with Isa. 45:24.
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