Isaiah: A Personal Devotional Journal–12

We left off the prior journal entry with a question, What does Isaiah say about the holiness of those who are “appointed to life in Jerusalem?” This is from Isaiah 4:3. The answer lies in the remaining verses of this glorious passage, verses 4-6. The presence of the Holy Spirit permeates this passage with a poignantly delightful perfume.

Isaiah 4:4 For the Lord shall wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and shall purge out the blood from the midst of them, with the spirit of judgement, and the spirit of burning. 5 And he shall come, and it shall be with regard to every place of mount Sion, yea, all the region round about it shall a cloud overshadow by day, and there shall be as it were the smoke and light of fire burning by night: and upon all the glory shall be a defence. 6 And it shall be for a shadow from the heat, and as a shelter and a hiding place from inclemency of weather and from rain. (LXE)

Who Are Isaiah’s Referents?

The first question is, Who is this promise for? Who does it include? Does it include all Israel, especially those whom the Lord just condemned in most of chapters 2 and 3? Unfortunately, the answer to the last question is, No, it does not. How do we know this? We know this simply by reading the text–it’s clearly and openly stated. Verses 2-3 mention the audience, those whom Isaiah is writing about, three times.

First, we read in 4:2 LXE, “… to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel.” The ESV reads, “survivors of Israel,” and the NET, “those who remain.” Second, 4:3 LXE writes,”… the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem.” The ESV states, “… he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem.” And, the NET has, “Those remaining in Zion, those left in Jerusalem.” Third, also in 4:3, the Septuagint proclaims, “… all that are <1> appointed to life {1) written to life} in Jerusalem, shall be called holy.” The ESV writes, “Everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem.” Finally, the NET puts this as, “… all in Jerusalem who are destined to live.”

A reader should ask, does this remnant include everyone, even those just mentioned in chapters 2 and 3? Those chapters document the answer. Those people with whom God was angry can’t be included among those who remain in Jerusalem. The reason is simple. They have been removed. Only the remnant remains. (1)

Who Is the Remnant?

Who is this remnant Isaiah writes about in 4:2-6? According to everything Isaiah has written so far, they are those who believe in God, repent of their sins, and seek to obey him. After the advent of Christ, in the Christian faith context, according to Paul the Apostle, those Jewish people who believe God, repent, and seek to obey him are now Christians. This would include those who will become Christians. A Jewish-Christian, according to Paul, believes that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified, buried, risen, and ascended, is the long awaited Messiah. Paul declares these to be the remnant (Romans 9-11).

Christ himself was Jewish; Paul was Jewish; likewise, many of the early disciples and apostles were also Jewish. After Pentecost, large numbers of Gentiles believed in the crucified and risen “King of the Jews,” (Matthew 2:2, 27:11, and 27:37).  Paul in Romans 9-11 explores in great detail the relationship of the Christian church and Judaism. I highly encourage readers of this blog to study intently those three chapters. Use many translations, pray about God’s meaning, and read and reread these chapters many times over the course of weeks, months, and years. And keep your heart open as you read. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart through the text itself, rather than through the beliefs of commentators and denominations.

Enter the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 4:3-6

When studying Scripture, there’s always more. This journal promises a devotional walk through Isaiah, not a gallop. The verses still remaining in this joyous section demand their own amount of space…so, this will be a good stopping point for now.

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1 Paul in Romans 11:26 writes, “And in this way all Israel will be saved…” He quotes from Isaiah 59:20. Commentators have written reams about Paul’s statement in Romans 11:26, which Lord willing, we will get to in due time. But here, in these verses, the plain sense of the text is that Isaiah is speaking of a remnant, the leftover portion after God’s judgment sweeps the bulk away.

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