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Snapshots of the Kingdom: Isaiah, part 1

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Issue #380March 2020

Snapshots of the Kingdom: Isaiah, part 1

The prophet Isaiah was a type of Christ. His Hebrew name is Yeshayah, a combination of Yasha and Yah. The word yasha is the root word (verb) that means “to save.” Yeshua is the noun, “savior.” Yeshayah means “Yah saves.”

Hence, Yeshua (Jesus) and Yeshayah (Isaiah) mean the same thing.

Isaiah’s commission is given in Isaiah 6:8,

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me.”

He was sent to the sinful nation described in the earlier chapters of Isaiah’s prophecy, typifying Yeshua’s call, first to Judah in His first appearance, and secondly to Israel in His second appearance. His prophecies are blended together so that we must know the law and the other prophets to be able to sort them out.

Isaiah’s Mission

Isaiah 6:9, 10 gives Isaiah’s mission, or mandate,

9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return [or repent] and be healed.”

In other words, He was called to be an unsuccessful evangelist in the midst of people whose eyes were blind, whose ears were deaf, and whose hearts could not possibly understand his message of truth.

This condition had been ongoing at least since the time of Moses (Deut. 29:4), although its roots extended all the way back to the time of Adam. However, as we will see shortly, there were exceptions to this root problem. God would always have a few overcomers, known to Isaiah as “the remnant,” who would have eyes to see and ears to hear. Isaiah’s mission was to show the blind that which they could not see, give them truth they could not hear, and bring understanding to those who did not have hearts that could understand.

Yet the remnant were exceptional in all of this, for they were the ones whose eyes, ears, and hearts God had opened.

Jesus’ Mission

What Isaiah did in his own time, Jesus did on a greater scale during His own ministry. Being aware of these conditions, Jesus spoke in parables to the general public, while explaining the truth to His disciples, who represented the remnant. So Matthew 13:13-15 says,

13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 15 For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”

Yet to His disciples, Jesus said in Matt. 13:16, 17,

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they year. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

It is clear, then, that Jesus’ disciples represented the remnant at that time. The remnant are distinguished, not by their race or genealogy but by their ability to hear and see. So the Apostle Paul says also about the elect remnant of grace in Romans 11:7-10,

7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen [or elect] obtained it, and the rest were hardened [or blinded]; 8 just as it is written [Isaiah 29:10], “God gave them a spirit of stupor; eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.” And David says [in Psalm 69:23]… 10 let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever.”

It is clear that this condition is not based upon the works or the will of men but upon the sovereign plan of God. It is clear that He never intended to save everyone in this present age, for He blinded all but a remnant of grace. The idea of grace is thus set forth in Romans 11:5, 6,

5 In the same way, then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

The idea that men use their own “free will” to obtain grace is an oxymoron, for then “grace is no longer grace.” If men have ears to hear and eyes to see, it is not because they did something right, but because God opened their ears and eyes, giving them the ability to respond to His word.

Many object to this because they think it means only a few will be saved. It makes God an unjust tyrant. Yet when we understand the love of God in Romans 5 and see that He intends to use the few to save the rest of mankind, the problem is eliminated.

If “free will” were the truth and the basis of salvation, then God would surely lose most of His children. If Calvinist teaching is true, where a sovereign God chooses a few and tortures the rest eternally, then God is clearly a tyrant and not a God of Love at all.

The only solution is to see that God intends to save all (Rom. 5:18), but that He has chosen to do so incrementally. Just as God chose Abraham to bless all nations, so also He has chosen to use a remnant in saving all of humanity.

He trains the remnant of grace in this age, and then He uses them to train those who are later judged at the Great White Throne. Their training is the practical outworking of “the lake of fire” in Rev. 20:14, 15. The “fire” is a metaphor for the “fiery law” itself (Deut. 33:2 KJV), and it is clear that the law of God prescribes slavery to pay off debt to sin, not torture to inflict never-ending pain.

We must learn to judge by the perfect law of God, not by men’s unjust laws.

How Long?

Isaiah naturally wanted to know how long he would have to minister to the blind and deaf. When would this condition end? When would God give the people eyes to see and ears to hear?

Isaiah 6:11, 12 says,

11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, 12 the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.”

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1). Hezekiah was the king in Judah at the time that the Assyrians conquered Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria (2 Kings 18:9-11). So Isaiah lived to see the land of Israel “devastated and without inhabitant.”

Eight years later, the Assyrians returned to lay siege to Jerusalem. But first, they conquered and deported most of the people of Judah (2 Kings 18:13). The official records of Assyria tell us that they conquered 46 walled cities and deported their inhabitants to Assyria. The only city they were unable to conquer was Jerusalem itself, due to God’s intervention (2 Kings 19:35, 36).

Hence, much of Judah too became “without inhabitant.” A century later, after the Judahites refused to repent, God raised up the Babylonians to conquer them and deport the people to Babylon for a 70-year captivity.

It is clear that the judgment of God upon Israel and Judah extended well beyond Isaiah’s own lifetime. In fact, Jesus said that even in His day Judah’s blindness still prevailed, and it is equally obvious that blindness continued to afflict the Israelites, who still lived on the other side of the River Euphrates (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XI, v, 2).

Isaiah’s revelation is vague. The length of the time of blindness was not specified in years but only described the general condition of the people other than the remnant. The divine revelation to Isaiah focused upon the remnant and its preserving influence, both in Israel and in Judah.

Isaiah 6:13 continues,

13 Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.

The “tenth portion” God claims as His tithe. These are also called “the holy seed.” This obviously does not apply to all the Israelites but only to a few of them. The Apostle Paul makes it clear as well that not all Israelites are “elect” or “chosen.” In other words, being one of “God’s chosen people” applies to the remnant of grace on account of their faith—not to those who can trace their genealogy to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-Israel.

Because of this, all who exhibit the faith of Abraham are Abraham’s children and are thus God’s “chosen” (Gal. 3:7, 29). Unbelievers, whether Jewish or not, are not “chosen.”

Isaiah’s Children

Isaiah’s children were named prophetically as part of the overall revelation of Isaiah’s ministry. So Isaiah 8:18 says,

18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

This is quoted in Heb. 2:13 to show that it is a prophecy of Christ Himself, whose children are those who believe in Him. These are said to be Jesus’ “brethren.”

Isaiah himself had two sons. Isaiah 8:3, 4 says,

3 So I approached the prophetess [Isaiah’s wife], and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz.” 4 for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.”

The meaning of his son’s name is given in verse 1: “Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.” It is a reference to impending judgment against Israel, so this son represents Israel as a whole.

Isaiah’s other son, mentioned in Isaiah 7:3, was Shear-jashub, “A Remnant will return.” This son represents the remnant, those who have eyes and ears and who thus “return” (repent) and turn back to God. As with Abraham, who was called out of an idolatrous house, so also with the remnant, which is called out from among the unbelievers.

The remnant does not start out as a people of faith, but God calls them and trains them to be faithful. So also, Jesus’ disciples had to grow in faith.

The more immediate fulfillment of the prophecy of Shear-jashub is found in Isaiah 10:20-23,

20 Now in that day the remnant of Israel and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return; a destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord God of hosts will execute in the midst of the land.

The prophet also calls them “the remnant of Israel and those of the house of Jacob,” which again distinguishes between his two sons. Recall that the house of Jacob returned from Haran after he had worked for Laban for 20 years. The two places where he camped represent autumn feast days: Trumpets and Tabernacles. In between these, he wrestled with the angel, which prophesied of the Day of Atonement—repentance and receiving a new nature/name.

In other words, Jacob’s return to the old land was a physical type of a much greater return to God through the prophecy of the feast days and their relation to Jacob’s encampments along the way.

I explained the prophetic significance of these feasts in my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.

The Remnant Prophecy to Hezekiah

When the Assyrian army came to conquer Judah, they deported many of the people. The official record on the Prism of Sennacherib, reads,

“200,150 people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, cattle and sheep, without number, I brought away from them and counted as spoil. Himself, like a caged bird I shut up in Jerusalem his royal city.”

Note that King Sennacherib could not claim that he had conquered Jerusalem, because the angel of the Lord had destroyed his army. Nonetheless, before he had been turned back, he deported more than 200,000 people of Judah to Assyria, where they no doubt were joined with the exiles from the northern kingdom of Israel.

This story is told in 2 Kings 19 and repeated in Isaiah 37. Scripture tells us that Isaiah had taken refuge in the city of Jerusalem during the Assyrian invasion of Judah. When the city was surrounded, King Hezekiah desperately sent word to Isaiah, hoping to hear a hopeful message from God.

Isaiah then gave him a lengthy prophecy, assuring him that God would turn back the Assyrian king. Isaiah 37:33-35 says,

33 Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, “He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he will not come to this city,” declares the Lord. 35 “For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”

The city was spared not only for the sake of David, but also for Isaiah’s sake. As we saw earlier, Isaiah’s name means salvation or deliverance. Not only was he a type of Christ but also of the remnant, much the same as Lot, whose presence in Sodom had prevented its destruction. The only difference is that Lot was removed, while Isaiah remained. Hence also, Sodom was destroyed but Jerusalem spared.

Isaiah also gave Hezekiah a prophetic sign proving that the city would be spared. The sign, however, spoke of long-term matters as well. Isaiah 37:30-32 says,

30 Then this shall be the sign for you; you will eat this year what grows of itself, in the second year what springs from the same, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 31 The surviving remnant [sha’ar] of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant [sha’areth] and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

This is a Jubilee sign dealing with the remnant. The 49th year Sabbath is followed by a Jubilee Sabbath in the 50th year, mandating two Sabbath consecutive years. So Lev. 25:10-12 says,

10 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you… 11 You shall have the fiftieth year as a Jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. 12 For it is a Jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.

The people were allowed to “eat its crops out of the field” during a Sabbath and Jubilee year, but they were not to sow or reap during those years. In essence, that which grew of itself was a remnant of a normal harvest. So the remnant in those years emerged as prominent, and this became the occasion of Isaiah’s prophetic interpretation of the law.

Levels of Fulfillment

The immediate fulfillment, of course, was that the king’s army was destroyed, and the king returned to his country in the way in which he came. He was then killed by his own sons (Isaiah 37:38). In other words, Jerusalem was set free from the oppressor by the power of the Jubilee.

Secondly, another part of this sign was fulfilled in Isaiah 38 with the birth of Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh. As the story goes, the king was childless when he became deathly ill. Isaiah was sent to tell him to get his house in order, because he was going to die. The king appealed to God, and God gave him a 15-year extension of life.

Three years afterward, his son Manasseh was born. (Manasseh was 12 when Hezekiah died, 2 Kings 21:1.) Manasseh thus represents the remnant of Judah which was to “bear fruit upward.”

Manasseh was named after the oldest son of Joseph, even though Hezekiah was of the tribe of Judah and the house of David. Manasseh represents prophetically the rejoining of the two sticks of Judah and Joseph (Ezekiel 37:19).

Therein we see a longer-term fulfillment of Isaiah’s remnant prophecy, for it is through the work of the remnant that the breach between Judah and Joseph is repaired. The great “repairer of the breach” (Isaiah 58:12) is Jesus Christ Himself, of course, who came the first time of Judah and will come the second time as Joseph.

It is of interest, then, that Manasseh started out as one of the most wicked kings in Judah’s history (2 Chron. 33:9). God judged him by delivering him into the hands of the Babylonian king (2 Chron. 33:11). Yet he repented and humbled himself, so God restored his kingdom. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chron. 33:13).

Isaiah’s Message of Hope

In this case, Manasseh represented Israel as a whole, a wicked nation that was to repent in the end and be restored. This repentance is the “return” to God, not a physical return to the old land through Zionism. In fact, if there were to be any physical return (as with Manasseh himself), it would have to be done AFTER the repentance, not before.

So we see that Isaiah gives us a snapshot of the Kingdom. Not only was he was a type of Christ, but he prophesied of the “sinful nation” (Isaiah 1:4) that needed deliverance from its wicked ways. Though he lived to see the destruction of Israel and the near-destruction of Judah, his message was one of hope and the role of the remnant in that deliverance.

The story of Hezekiah in Isaiah 36-39 is the culmination of the threat on account of their national sin. The second half of Isaiah then brings hope and “comfort” (Isaiah 40:1).