Isaiah Journal 24: God Spares a Remnant

Isaiah 6:1-13   Link to LXE

Isaiah’s Vision and New Testament Parallels: Part 3b

The Lord Sends Isaiah with a Message

Following the outline presented in Part 1 (see link), this segment will describe Key Concept 3: The Lord Sent Isaiah with a Message. The message breaks easily into two parts:

    • judgment
    • God spares a remnant

The Lord’s Message of Judgment for Israel

The message of judgment is the longer of the two portions (Isaiah 6:8-12). It also breaks into two segments. In Part 1, Isaiah heard the “voice of the Lord” (vs 7) telling him the message he was to give to “this people,” (vs 9) i.e., the nation of Israel. Isaiah asks, “How long?” In Part 2 (vss 11-12), the Lord gives Isaiah a prophetic look into Israel’s future. This post will cover Part 2: How Long? and God Spares a Remnant.

Content: Part 2
The Question

Isaiah responded to the Lord’s pronouncement of judicial blindness, deafness, and hardness of heart upon Israel (see Isaiah 6:9-10 and previous post) with a question (vs 11), “How long, O Lord?”

God’s Reply and Some History

God replies in the latter half of verse 11 and verses 12-13. These two verses appear to announce the exile. This exile is the first one, still future to Isaiah’s location on the timeline of Israel’s history. This first exile was to Babylon. The Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar removed nearly everyone from the land (2 Kings 24-25), just as Isaiah prophesied. They left the poorest of the people as caretakers upon the land (2 Kings 24:14 and 25:12), also according to the prophesy of verses 12-13. In this way, God spares a remnant.

One of those removed by the Babylonians was Daniel the prophet, when he was a young man (Daniel 1:1-6). Daniel lived to old age and spoke his famous prophecies from exile.

The exile ended 70 years later when Nehemiah approached the new sovereign, Cyrus the Persian, requesting permission for his people to return to their own land (Nehemiah 1:1-2:8). Cyrus decreed the return, and the 70 years of exile ended. When this happened, the settlers who returned also became the remnant whom God spared. From this remnant, a new Israel grew.

The remnant who returned from exile rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15).  Zerubbabel became Israel’s king and Joshua her high priest (Haggai 1:1). Under their leadership, Israel rebuilt what became known as the “second temple” (Ezra 3:10-6:18).  The temple was remodeled and greatly upgraded by Herod the Great, just before the Advent of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus the Christ. This temple was permanently destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. (formerly A.D.).

The Remnant: Verses 12 and 13

Who Is This Remnant?

Isaiah 6:11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” So He answered, “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without people, and the land shall be left desolate. 12 After this God will remove the people far away, and those left in the land shall multiply. 13 Yet a tenth shall be left in it, and again it shall be for plundering, like a terebinth tree or like an acorn when it falls from its case.” (The Orthodox Study Bible, Septuagint)

God will send the people who used to live in the cities, houses, and land to a place “far away.” But not everyone gets moved. Some will be “left behind.”

The root of this Greek verb, (pronounced kata-leep-oh in modern Greek and spelled καταλείπω), occurs 46 times in Isaiah. Readers last saw it translated as “remnant” in Isaiah 4:2, a verse with clear messianic overtones (see prior post).

Isaiah 4:2 And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel. 3 And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are <1> appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy. {1) Gr. written for life} (LXE)

A Difference in Textual Tradition

Brenton’s Septuagint translation of verse 13 differs from English translations based upon the Masoretic, or Hebrew, text. The latter causes the reader to think that Isaiah is prophesying a second exile. Brenton’s translation of the Greek text, and to a lesser extent that of the Orthodox Study Bible, differ from the Masoretic. These lead the reader to surmise that the remnant will multiply to the point where a harvest is again possible. No further destruction is implied.

Isaiah 6:12b… “and they that are left upon the land shall be multiplied. 13 And yet there shall be a tenth upon it, and again it shall be for a spoil, as a turpentine tree [terebinth], and as an acorn when it falls out of its husk. (LXE, Brenton)

Isaiah 6:12b… “and those left in the land shall multiply. 13 Yet a tenth shall be left in it, and again it shall be for plundering, like a terebinth tree or like an acorn when it falls from its case.” (LXE, Orthodox Study Bible)

Isaiah 6:12b… “and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump. (ESV)

Whatever textual tradition one follows, the remnant prospers in the land. They are a remnant of Israel whom God spared from judgment. They are a seed from whom holiness once again grows (John 4:39-42). As Isaiah progresses, we will see that God’s sparing a remnant is a popular theme.

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