Septuagint Isaiah 59:21–Devotional 2.76

Septuagint Isaiah 59
The Spirit and the Covenant

And this shall be my covenant with them, said the Lord; My Spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have put in your mouth, shall never fail from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your seed, for the Lord has spoken it, henceforth and for ever. (Septuagint Isaiah 59:21)

The New Testament does not speak much of God’s land promises to Abraham and Jacob. However, the Servant/Deliverer/Messiah extends the land promise to include the entire “earth” (Matthew 5:3 and 5). The Apostle Paul associates the “blessing of Abraham” with “Gentiles” who will receive “the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14). Septuagint Isaiah 59:19 and 21 provide warrant for both of these.

17 And he put on righteousness as a breast-plate, and placed the helmet of salvation on his head; and he clothed himself with the garment of vengeance, and with his cloak, 18 as one about to render a recompence, even reproach to his adversaries. 19 So shall they of the west fear the name of the Lord, and they that come from the rising of the sun his glorious name: for the wrath of the Lord shall come as a mighty river, it shall come with fury. 20 And the deliverer shall come for Sion’s sake, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 21 And this shall be my covenant with them, said the Lord; My Spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have put in your mouth, shall never fail from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your seed, for the Lord has spoken it, henceforth and for ever. (LXE)

ELEMENTS WITHIN ISAIAH’S STATEMENT

Readers will find seven elements in the verses quoted above.

1) First, there is the Lord (verse 21).
2) Next, there is the deliverer/Servant (verse 17-18, 20, and 21–“you”).
3) There are Gentile believers (verse 19).
4) The word “Sion” indicates ethnic believers of Israeli descent.
5) Fifth, there is the Lord’s Spirit (verses 19 and 21).
6) Sixth, the Lord announces his covenant (verse 21).
7) Finally, the Lord places his “words” in the mouth of the Deliverer and the mouth of his seed, for ever (verse 21).

Readers will without too much difficulty find the Deliverer in the above set of verses. “He” is the Servant (verses 17 and 18), according to Isaiah’s entire context, both near and far (1). Following these verses, verse 20 explicitly names “the deliverer.” Further, in verse 21, the grammar and overall sense and context of Isaiah allow the “you” (singular) and “your” to refer to the Deliverer. Verse 20 names “Sion” and “Jacob.” With verses 19 and 20 combined, the words “them” and “your seed” in verse 21 would include both Sion and Gentiles.

Context of Mercy

The Septuagint emphasizes that the context of chapter 59 is God’s “mercy.” Verses 2 and 16 in the Septuagint both contain the word “mercy.”

Septuagint Isaiah 59:2 Nay, your iniquities separate between you and God, and because of your sins has he turned away his face from you, so as not to have mercy upon you.

Septuagint Isaiah 59:16 And he looked, and there was no man, and he observed, and there was none to help: so he defended them with his arm, and established them with his mercy.

God’s ultimate actions in chapter 59 proceed from his “mercy”. Summarizing the chapter, because of Israel’s sin God had turned his face away. The prophet Isaiah on behalf of the people repents in verses 12-15. Following this, God apparently turns his face toward them again. The text reads that he “saw” (verse 15) and he “looked” and “observed” (verse 16). Then, contrary to verse 2 (where God has no mercy), in verse 16, God uses his mercy to establish his people.

In the Septuagint, God’s motive for making a covenant with his people (verse 21) is his mercy. The Masoretic, on the other hand, appears neither to contain nor emphasize this point.

Isaiah 59:2 ESV but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Isaiah 59:16 ESV He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.

God’s Mercy Drives the Action

Within the context of Isaiah 59, Gentiles are not the reason that the people of Israel suffer. Verse 2 states that it is their own iniquity that separates them from God. Who is the father of iniquity? Is it not the Lord’s great enemy Satan? Wouldn’t Satan then be an “adversary” of the Lord? For the most part, Volume 2 of Isaiah from chapter 40 to this point concerns itself with God’s relationship with his people, rather than his dealings with Israel’s enemies. Volume 1 deals with Israel’s enemies. Volume 2 deals with Israel’s own sins and poor relationship with their God.

After Isaiah’s confession in verses 12-15, God concludes that his people cannot save themselves. It is just not in them. “There was no man” and “no one to intercede” (verse 16). God saves Israel himself by sending the Deliverer (verses 16 and 20). Readers need always to remind themselves that when the Deliverer comes, he dies as a sacrificial Lamb for Israel’s sin (Isaiah 53). Likewise, God’s Servant/Messiah, as revealed in the four Gospel accounts, does not avenge himself on Israel’s political adversaries. Far from it, he includes the Roman centurion in his ministry of healing (Matthew 8:5-13). Nor does God avenge himself historically against Israel’s political foes. Rather, he allows Rome to sack Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E.

But does this mean that Isaiah’s prophecy “stands still” and remains unfulfilled? Far from it. There are adversaries whom the Servant conquers by means of his sacrificial death. And, the events prophesied in verse 21 began with the Servant’s incarnation and continue to this day.

17 And he put on righteousness as a breast-plate, and placed the helmet of salvation on his head; and he clothed himself with the garment of vengeance, and with his cloak, 18 as one about to render a recompence, even reproach to his adversaries… 21 And this shall be my covenant with them, said the Lord; My Spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have put in your mouth, shall never fail from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your seed, for the Lord has spoken it, henceforth and for ever. (LXE)

A Millennial Kingdom?

But perhaps these verses refer to a millennial kingdom? No. The content of verse 21 speaks emphatically of the Servant’s incarnation. The Deliverer establishes a covenant.

And this shall be my covenant with them, said the Lord; My Spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have put in your mouth, shall never fail from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your seed, for the Lord has spoken it, henceforth and for ever. (Septuagint Isaiah 59:21)

“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20 ESV)

And the Deliverer sends God’s Spirit.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 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. (Acts 2:1-4 ESV)

Therefore, even though verses 16-19 speak of wrath, adversaries, vengeance, recompence, and reproach, I propose that these words refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit, rather than to actions against Gentiles.

Fear

The Septuagint uses the word “fear” in verse 19. But, Gentiles shall “fear” the “name of the Lord” and “his glorious name.”

19 So shall they of the west fear the name of the Lord, and they that come from the rising of the sun his glorious name: for the wrath of the Lord shall come as a mighty river, it shall come with fury. 20 And the deliverer shall come for Sion’s sake, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (LXE

In many portions of Old Testament Scripture, “fear” is a positive emotion of reverence, awe, respect, and worshipful obedience to the Lord. (As one example only, see Psalm 111:10). Other examples follow.

Sanctify you the Lord himself; and he shall be your fear. (Septuagint Isaiah 8:13)

And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a blossom shall come up from his root: and the Spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness shall fill him; the spirit of the fear of God. He shall not judge according to appearance, nor reprove according to report: but he shall judge the cause of the lowly, and shall reprove the lowly of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the word of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he destroy the ungodly one. And he shall have his loins girded with righteousness, and his sides clothed with truth. (Septuagint Isaiah 11:1-5)

The verses above demonstrate that when Septuagint Isaiah 59:19 speaks of those from the west and east fearing the glorious name of the Lord, the meaning can quite easily indicate the reverence and humility of salvation.

And, there are places in Scripture that speak of God’s Holy Spirit in connection with wrath and water. We will look at some of these below.

The Spirit

Clearly, verse 21 names the Lord’s Spirit with the phrase, “My Spirit.” Additionally, I propose that within the context of the Deliverer, when verse 19 speaks of “the wrath of the Lord” coming as “a mighty river” with “fury,” the Greek words indicate the Holy Spirit. Before examining the Greek of the Septuagint, consider the Masoretic of verse 19.

So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. (Isaiah 59:19 ESV)

… For he comes like a rushing stream driven on by wind sent from the LORD. (Isaiah 59:19 NET)

Readers may recall that the Spirit fell upon those disciples gathered together on the day of Pentecost. Scripture reports that, “There came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2).

And what was the first result of the Spirit’s coming on the day of Pentecost? In brief, the disciples who received the Spirit in the form of tongues of fire spoke openly in other languages. Many people had gathered in Jerusalem in celebration. These heard the disciples praising God in their own languages.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together… each one was hearing them speak in his own language… 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 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.” (Acts 2:5-11 ESV)

Then Peter began preaching.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, (Acts 2:17 ESV)

Many Gentiles from many nations received salvation.

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41 ESV)

In other words, the coming of the Holy Spirit ushered in the missionary age. And the New Testament is clear throughout its pages that Gentiles also receive God’s Spirit. It seems unlikely that Isaiah would prophesy against Gentiles as adversaries in verses 17-19, and then suddenly include them in covenant blessings in verse 21.

What About the Wrath?

Septuagint Isaiah 59:19 So shall they of the west fear the name of the Lord, and they that come from the rising of the sun his glorious name: for the wrath of the Lord shall come as a mighty river, it shall come with fury.

Malachi foretold the cleansing nature of the Servant’s ministry (Malachi 3:1-5). The Lord’s Servant Jesus fulfilled all of Malachi’s descriptions as he tore into the sins of the Pharisees, lawyers, scribes, and religious leaders of the land. He cleansed his Father’s house of prayer by overturning the tables of the deceitful money changers.

John the Baptist foretold that Jesus (God’s Servant) would baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). In describing the work of the Holy Spirit, the Servant himself speaks of its judgmental nature.

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (ESV)

The “ruler of this world” (John 16:11) indicates Satan (see also John 12:31 and John 14:30). The coming of the Deliverer destroys the power of Satan.

Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (ESV)

GOD’S WRATH POURED UPON HIS SERVANT

But with the coming of the Lord, God pours out his greatest wrath upon the Servant himself.

“… his souls was given over to death, and he was reckoned among the lawless, and he bore the sins of many, and because of their sins he was given over.” (Isaiah 53:12 NETS)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– (Galatians 3:13 ESV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah (Psalm 88:7 ESV)

As a result of God’s wrath poured upon his Servant, God invites everyone from the west to the east to “fear” (honor, respect, and reverentially obey) “the name of the Lord… his glorious name” (Septuagint Isaiah 59:19).

The Spirit, Water, and Wind

Scripture often associates the Holy Spirit with water. Earlier in Isaiah, the prophet uses poetic symbolism to describe the rebirth and renewal of the Spirit.

17 And the poor and the needy shall exult; for when they shall seek water, and there shall be none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord God, I the God of Israel will hear, and will not forsake them: 18 but I will open rivers on the mountains, and fountains in the midst of plains: I will make the desert pools of water, and a thirsty land watercourses. 19 I will plant in the dry land the cedar and box, the myrtle and cypress, and white poplar: 20 that they may see, and know, and perceive, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has wrought these works, and the Holy One of Israel has displayed them. (Septuagint Isaiah 41:17-20)

Perhaps Isaiah 41 seems a bit too early in the book to forsake an entirely literal interpretation? Well, in chapter 59 the text openly uses explicit simile to describe the coming of the Lord. Notice the similarity between the images of Isaiah 41:17-20 above and 59:19 below. I’ve quoted this verse  from both the Masoretic and the Septuagint.

Isaiah 59:19 So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. (ESV)

So shall they of the west fear the name of the Lord, and they that come from the rising of the sun his glorious name: for the wrath of the Lord shall come as a mighty river, it shall come with fury. (LXE

New Testament Scripture often associates the Holy Spirit and water. Examples can be found in John 3:5; 4:5-14; Titus 3:4-7.

Wind is another motif the New Testament associates with God’s Spirit. See John 3:8 and Acts 2:2-4.

The Lord’s Covenant

…to be continued

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1 See, for example, Isaiah’s four “Servant Song” passages in Septuagint Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:1-6, 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12.

Love to Hear from You