Our detailed study of Septuagint Isaiah has take us up to Septuagint Isaiah 66:18a (see Devotional 2.98). There in the first sentence of verse 18, Isaiah writes, “And I know their works and their imagination.” The third person “they” and “their” refers back to verse 17 and previous. In those verses, God describes those in Israel who “have chosen their own ways, and their soul has delighted in abominations” (Isaiah 66:3b). He also includes “all the earth” in his “flame of fire” and “his sword” (Isaiah 66:16). These are the ones of whom God knows “their works and their imagination” (verse 18a).
In order to identify where the switchback occurs, let’s look first at the text of 17 through 19.
Isaiah 66:16 For with the fire of the Lord all the earth shall be judged, and all flesh with his sword: many shall be slain by the Lord. 17 They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens, and eat swine’s flesh in the porches, and the abominations, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, says the Lord. 18 And I know their works and their imagination. I am going to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. 19 And I will leave a sign upon them, and I will send forth them that have escaped of them to the nations, to Tharsis, and Phud, and Lud, and Mosoch, and to Thobel, and to Greece, and to the isles afar off, to those who have not heard my name, nor seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. (LXE, Septuagint)
The verses just above specify two groups. The first group are the willfully disobedient, whom the Lord will judge and slay with fire and sword. The text indicates that the Lord will judge them for the cause of both “their works and their imagination.” We today would say, “for thought and deed.”
But then the text states that “all nations and tongues” shall come and see the Lord’s “glory.” Seeing the Lord’s glory in this context is a blessing. The words “my glory” occur two more times with a positive connotation in verse 19. Now, the Lord is not about to bless with a vision of his glory those whom he has just condemned. No, but rather, the Lord abruptly turns to his second audience, those who willfully obey him.
Upon this group, the Lord will “leave a sign” and “send [them] forth.” Where do these missionaries come from? They come from all nations and tongues. They are the ones who have “escaped.” Escaped what? Presumably, the judgment of verses 16-18a. After they have seen his glory, the Lord sends them out as missionaries to all parts of the earth. The Lord sends them to all those who, he says, “have not heard my name, nor seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”
After this (verse 20), the missionaries will take the new converts from among the Gentile nations all over the world to the “holy city Jerusalem” as brothers.Some may maintain that the “brothers” are Israelites. But these “brothers” have just been evangelized by missionaries. I highly doubt that Israelites would be scattered all … Continue reading This is the Gospel era, the age in which we are living today.
Influx of Gentiles
Verses 19 through 21 of this last chapter of Septuagint Isaiah describe the results of the Lord’s missionary activity, as described just above. Verses 20 and 21 below indicate full inclusion of believing Gentiles among the faithful of God’s people of old.
19 And I will leave a sign upon them, and I will send forth them that have escaped of them to the nations, to Tharsis, and Phud, and Lud, and Mosoch, and to Thobel, and to Greece, and to the isles afar off, to those who have not heard my name, nor seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. 20 And they shall bring your brethren out of all nations for a gift to the Lord with horses, and chariots, in litters drawn by mules with awnings, to the holy city Jerusalem, said the Lord, as though the children of Israel should bring their sacrifices to me with psalms into the house of the Lord. 21 And I will take of them priests and Levites, says the Lord. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:19-21)
A SECOND COMING/MILLENNIUM?
When is the timeframe of all this prophesied missionary activity? It occurs during the only timeframe Isaiah knows–his own present and near future (the advent of God’s Servant/Son). For Isaiah, the first coming of God’s Servant is so marvelous that he consumes chapters and chapters exploring this once and forever occurrence. There is never any indication of any time marker or named event in the book of Isaiah to reference a “second coming/millennium” that involves the glorification of national Israel. On the contrary, in this chapter alone, the Lord through Isaiah firmly condemns those national Israelites who reject him (Matthew 3:10).
But the Lord receives those of his people who yield, believe, and obey his word. These he honors as “Sion” (Isaiah 66:8) and “Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:10). These are the faithful branches of the rooted olive tree which persist into the New Testament. To this faithful tree he attaches an amazing influx of believers from among the Gentile nations (Romans 11:17).
WHAT IS “THE SIGN”?
Many commentators have suggested various answers to the question, What is the “sign” the Lord leaves upon those he sends out to the Gentile world to declare his glory? My thought is that the “sign” the Lord gives is the seal of his Holy SpiritScripture to support this statement will be included in a subsequent section..
Historically, God judged the earthly Jerusalem and Israel’s religious system in 70 CE. He allowed the Romans to obliterate both the temple and the city of Jerusalem. It is difficult, however, to see how this destruction would include his judgment “with fire” of “all the earth” in Isaiah 66:16. That prophecy does seem still to be future. However, as indicated in a prior post (Devotional 2.98), the mention of “all the earth” serves the function of combining into a single group the unfaithful of both Israel and the entire world.See the second paragraph of the section in Devotional 2.98 titled “Shift One: Inclusion of Gentiles.”
Also historically, a tremendous explosion of missionary activity began among the Israelite followers of Christ almost immediately after the Servant’s ascension. God joined Gentile believers to Israelite believers to form an expanded congregation. Believers from all nations and tongues have subsequently gone out into the most remote regions on earth continuously to this day. They tell of the “glory” of the Lord.
New names have been given. “Israelite” became “Jewish.” Believers from among the original Jewish followers of Christ and from all kinds of Gentile peoples became known as Christians. They form a group whose core comprises those of Old Testament Israel who “escaped” their God’s wrath. But the larger portion of believers in God’s Servant came from Gentile nations, just as Isaiah the prophet foretold.
New Testament Fulfillment
As equally amazing as historical fulfillment of Isaiah’s word, the New Testament stands as a second witness.
1. SIGN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he [the Lord] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; (ESV)
Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (ESV)
Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit… 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (ESV)
The presence of the Holy Spirit among the Lord’s people is the source of the love that establishes the unity among them. This love is also a “sign” to the world that God has sent the Savior (John 17:21).
2. GENTILE CONVERTS AND MISSIONARY ACTIVITY ALL OVER THE WORLD
Isaiah’s Servant himself commanded the missionary activity his followers have been fulfilling constantly down to this very day.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
On the day of Pentecost, the day that the Lord sent his Holy Spirit as an amazing sign for all to witness, people from all over the world were visiting Jerusalem for the festival. Three thousand believed that day (Acts 2:41). A new “nation” of believers was born all at once, in one day (Isaiah 66:7-8). As a further witness, compare the list of countries the book of Acts gives with that of Isaiah in Isaiah 66:19.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven… 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians– we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Act 2:4-11 ESV)
The Apostle Paul fulfilled the Lord’s geographical commission to a greater extent than any other of the first disciples of Isaiah’s Servant, Christ.
Acts 28:16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. (ESV)
Romans 15:24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. (ESV)
Notice the similarities between Paul’s statement in Romans 15:15 and Isaiah’s in 66:20.
20 And they shall bring your brethren out of all nations for a gift to the Lord with horses, and chariots, in litters drawn by mules with awnings, to the holy city Jerusalem, said the Lord, as though the children of Israel should bring their sacrifices to me with psalms into the house of the Lord. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:20)
Romans 15:15… because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
3. THE NAMES SION AND JERUSALEM PERSIST
Old Testament believers in the God of Israel flow directly and uninterruptedly into the New Testament. Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:5), their son John the Baptist (John 1:15; Matthew 11:11), Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:18), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), Anna (Luke 2:36-38), Nicodemus (John 3:1-10; 19:38-39), the woman at the well (John 4:4-29), and of course, the original disciples (minus Judas) all believed the God and the Scriptures of Israel’s past.
Nevertheless, the names Israel and Israelite did not persist as a description of Jewish and Gentile believers together after the day of Pentecost.
Two names, however, did persist as part of the inheritance of New Testament believers in the God of Israel and his Servant. These names are Sion and Jerusalem.
Galatians 4:25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (ESV)
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, (ESV)
Revelation 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (ESV) (See also Revelation 3:12; 21:2; and 21:10.)
Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” (ESV)
1 Peter 2:6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1Pe 2:6 ESV)
PRIESTS AND LEVITES
Isaiah writes that some of the Gentile “brethren out of all nations” (Septuagint Isaiah 66:20) shall become priests and Levites. This in itself is an enormous change from Old Testament law, since priests and Levites came from the tribe of Levi alone.
Isaiah 66:21 And I will take of them priests and Levites, saith the Lord. (LXE)
The Apostle Peter and the book of Revelation speak of the “priesthood” of believers.
1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:4-9 ESV)
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from … 5… Jesus Christ… who… 6… made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:4-6 ESV)
Jesus Christ, God’s Servant (Isaiah 52:13), burst into history with great glory. The immediate aftermath fulfills Isaiah’s prophecies in Septuagint Isaiah 66:1-20 (verse 16 appears to be as yet unfulfilled).
Next post, Lord willing, we will consider the last three verses of the book of Isaiah.
|↑1||Some may maintain that the “brothers” are Israelites. But these “brothers” have just been evangelized by missionaries. I highly doubt that Israelites would be scattered all over the world who had never “heard my [the Lord’s] name nor seen my glory.” No, but rather the word “brothers” refers to the converted Gentiles.|
|↑2||Scripture to support this statement will be included in a subsequent section.|
|↑3||See the second paragraph of the section in Devotional 2.98 titled “Shift One: Inclusion of Gentiles.”|