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WHAT IS THE MATTER,
THE LORD GIVES IN PERSPICUOUS
MAN RESPONDS WITH CONFUSED CLATTER!
See also Vol. 10, Ch. 14 same series
The Appearance of Textual Apartheid
But it was also happening in Jesus' own day on this earth. It is not a physiological hearing issue, but a spiritual one; not a marked preference not to add to or alter the word of God, but a seeming passion for ultra-textual adventurism, walk-changing alterations in spiritual footwear, traditional reverence as if to God but seemingly to some other, an alien item, one of mischief (Mark 7:7ff., Isaiah 29:9-10,13-14), insertion, intrusion.
What is the matter with this theological swarming! Why does it seem so hard to take what is given? Is it not obviousness itself that Israel was selected for a stipulated divine purpose, with office works in a land specified and called Israel (Genesis 17:7-8, Isaiah 43:21 are just examples out of a multitude), with a divine oath (as in Genesis 15), fortified twice further as in Jeremiah 31 and 33, to the effect that a defined body, which would - by prophetic word - fail and deserve a coming judgment at the national level, would not only come back from the exile in immediate judgment threatened, when Babylon invaded and destroyed the temple, humbling the land and its people to the dirt for their obstreperous and unconscionable, their idolatrous and inequitable ways, their false prophets and their false and even treacherous actions as a misplaced example and a diverted testimony to the God of the whole earth (Jeremiah 30:16-24, 33:5-35, Ezekiel 36-37). This was a mere beginning of the drama to unfold, in the "latter days"!
When the return to the land is fortified by the coming advent in empowered rule of the Messiah as in Jeremiah 33, Zechariah 14, Ezekiel 36:37:25), then no more will they stray (Ezekiel 36:21-23). That is the culmination (Ezekiel 37:27-28): they the people, who at first were IN the counsel and company of the Lord, and then put OUT, only in the end to be brought BACK in the "latter days", and to resume their place in the same tree from which they came (Romans 11), along with the believers among Gentiles, had a lively history, with heights and depths as they followed or fouled their relationship with the Lord. It was only when they killed their King, the Messiah, according to the divine plan of salvation (Psalm 22), that their separation from the Lord became a major and enduring feature in history, UNTIL the Lord should act to restore, not only to their severed site, but to their crucified and resurrected Lord (cf. Micah 5:1-3).
As with Israel as a nation, so with many as individuals, there is a time of unbelief, a time of restoration in repentance (cf. Zechariah 12:10ff.), and a time of grace.
Many were those in the severed meantime for Israel (because of regicide on the Messiah as in Micah, and all that led to it), who would in a massif of divine mercy, repent, and when this came en bloc to Israel, it would be as if it were a matter of "life from the dead," Romans 11:15). Indeed, Paul quotes from the end of Isaiah 59, in which the Lord cites Israel for a symphony of sins which makes any cacophony seem joy by comparison, before indicating that HE Himself will take action, and intervening most directly, will come to Jerusalem and manifest an overwhelming and transforming might, to rectify, to rule and to redeem (as in Zechariah 12ff.).
It is not a matter of having NO EVANGELICAL REPLACEMENT, during the long period (as in Hosea) between His alienation at their immovable folly, and their return as life from the dead, between regicide and their divinely granted conversion, that day of the famed 'wandering Jew'. Of course the Christian Church, which by contrast with Israel at that epoch (the Gentile era, the times of the Gentiles as in Luke 21:24), will move specifically though not exhaustively to the Gentiles. 'Someone has to do it, and the Church of any race and all races, as the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12), proceeded with the task in this interim. The Gospel organisation, the Church, has had to carry on while Israel sallies into darkness, in the bin for cuttings from the tree.
NOR is it a matter of entire replacement, as if a time out from the tree equals no return to it, thus contradicting Paul as well as Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Micah (for example 5-7); for God magnifies His word above all His name, and not merely keeps His promises, not despotically and unreliably transforming them till we are in another situation, scenario and word: He intensifies His honour. What He fulfils, it is the word of God and to the jot and tittle it will be fulfilled (Matthew 5:127-20), and meanwhile, it becomes the body of Christ, the Christian Church of believers, to adhere to the word of its sovereign and Lord (cf. Luke 6:46).
Not only will the cut off 'branch' of the tree of faith in the Redeemer, be restored, but this will occur in a vast, sudden, utterly distinct divine movement (Romans 11:25, Ezekiel 36-37, Micah 7, Zechariah 12) with both Gospel and militant, confrontational force to the nations, so that rule of Jesus Christ upon the earth (Revelation 5:10, Psalm 72, Isaiah 65, I Thessalonians 3:13) may duly occur, in its vindicating glory (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11). Then war no more is part of the core (Micah 4:1-8, 5:7-15).
What then ? In this matter, it is not NEITHER NOR, but BOTH AND. It is not end of story for the Jews in prophecy, in the day of Christ, who predicted the opposite (Luke 21:24), nor is it irrelevance of the Church to the development. It is a matter BOTH of continuing relevance of Israel, with immense emphasis on Jerusalem, as in Luke 21 and Revelation 11, Zechariah 12:6, and definition of terms repeatedly in the prophets showing in frequent conformity, the one to the other, passages that there define Israel as the unique enduement-rebellion-dispersion-restoration nation, and also show that both territorially, exactly as predicted and premised at the first, and in terms of the faith as in Romans 11 and Micah 4, Isaiah 2, and the coming culmination of these affairs, each in its place, there is to be nothing missing, no, not a jot. As it was to be in the clearest language for a vastly defined entity, so has been, and even yet in some things, will be.
It needs to be realised that mocking God by acting as if there were some measure of the Liberal unbelief in His word, is not a wise pastime, nor a profitable one.
It bears no spiritual dividends, and even if ludicrous, contra-textual allegoricism be deployed, as if a cushion for a wavering unbelief, making the text depart from what it precisely and distinctively specifies, it cannot interpret what it emphatically contradicts. There is some limit to adventurism. God knows what He is doing when defining things, and it is wise to watch, and must be done in all fidelity. Errors may be made, but ought not to be set up as standards in any church. Before long, you may then find sections of what calls itself the Church adding to the persecutors of Israel, as indeed is happening now, so that as with Israel itself of old, those who are "perfect", are most perilously placed, come within the area of defined, divine rebuke as in Isaiah 51:21-23, Jeremiah 33:23ff., Micah 7:14ff.). If anyone must toy with things, never do it with the truth.
Mapping the Continent that is There,
and not the Territory of Dreams
Indeed Zion of such a history, viewed throughout the prophets in such an amplitude of phases, will culminate in a persecuted and restored people, whose enduring uniqueness of call, through treachery against their King, is temporarily replaced. And why is this so ? It is through above all through rejection as a people through devious misuse of His saving coming in incarnation, as predicted (Isaiah 49:7, Zechariah 11). But despite all this, in the profundity of divine mercy, the time will come when it will become transformed, a paragon as in Isaiah 2, Micah 4.
Justly and rigorously defined, it is newly confined to a far better part in a far better thing than betrayal of the advent, following a long resistance before He came (Jeremiah 33:12-). No more is Israel to sup with the rebels, weakened by wilfulness and face it, a spiritual witlessness on the part of its leaders, who failed summarily when He came, many then following their lead (Matthew 27:25).
Evident as a mere folly of misunderstanding amid the nations now is the concept that there has been a divine failure, followed by an array of futile or irrational religions in the world; for now is the truth made so clear that child might grasp it (Ezekiel 39:22-23,27-28). Israel was used, punished, expelled as forecast (Leviticus 26, Jeremiah 31:25-28, 33:12-16), is to be restored to service (Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Ezekiel 36-37, Deuteronomy 32), delivered from mighty, vain, arrogant and to-be-punished and humiliated enemies (Micah 7), in a categorical manner. And first it is to return to its land as detailed and stressed, by a divine mission that cannot be suppressed, altered or cast into metamorphosis; for as He said at the first, so He will do to the last, expressing the data and details with the utmost particularity, as one looks over the face of an old friend, after years apart. You cannot alter God by dreaming.
Israel is at last
victorious living with the same Gospel
and now with the company of the elect Gentiles, joining the elect Jews,
as they mission with great and much blessed in the new understanding
following the divine might deployed to overcome
after much patience,
the just may live not
only by faith, but in peace,
in a subdued and imbued world.
Here is the vindication of the Lord as the earth is filled with His glory as the waters cover the sea, until the end comes (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9-10, Revelation 20).
The just ? the justified by faith in the Redeemer and His redemption, for there is no other way of qualifying for divine acceptance (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-12, Romans 10:1-10), will be glad in that day.
What then ? Zion is indicated, vindicated as a genuine agency, not a mirage, a national exemplar, not a fitful moment in world history, and the One calling is God, who shows it by doing it, whatever He says concerning it (cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9). It was used as a singular testimony to the universe, to men and angels, to the earth and the heavens (as in the Exodus and many international confrontations, regal events and at times, judgments, Exodus 14ff., Micah 7:15ff., Isaiah 36-38, II Kings 1, 3, Jeremiah 37:8-10, Lamentations).
Even though once in rebellion against its own Messiah as foretold (Isaiah 49:7, Psalm 22), it is enabled to return not only to its testimonial site, but to its truth-telling God. The very paragon of divine power in fulfilling to the jot and tittle what was foretold of it, is now illustrated through it, first in its return after millenia to its land, even before its coming conversion at last, and this to that self-same Messiah as in Zechariah 12, Ezekiel 36-37. In its situation, amidst roaring and interfering people.
It is these who seek to dispose it and even dispose of it, in its prevailing wars against fantastic seeming odds, when one defeat could spell annihilation for it, but instead, its defeated enemies seek INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT in their genocidal attempts against it: call this by whatever other name you will. This precisely mirrors not only the detail (as also fulfilled already from Zechariah 14:1-3), but the very spirit of the events as made so clear in Zechariah. An intense desire to destroy is met, after Israel's return as in Luke 21:24 with Matthew 24:1ff., but it is with an intense destruction of the would-be destroyers, as in Ezekiel 38ff., Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 51 that this ends. The matter is right up to the minute.
Israel is still menaced as was foretold and shown so often, not only by Iran, but by those who want it to give up more and more land, land from what it has gained despite and in the midst of its anti-genocide actions of defence. Were more and more given to its enemies through world roaring and ludicrous exhortations, this would seen enabling it to become almost indefensible, and hence once more subject to the dubious mercies of the nations of this earth!
But why give up what God gave and specified, to follow earlier gifts of land which men used to seek to destroy it, the more when they have already not only given up Gaza but more to the South, uprooting Israeli industries and settlements in the process. Is there then to be more of the give-away land-for-peace action, a process already used to make new bases for rockets on the young and old, on babes and on cities as far as the enemy could contrive! What is it that is in view ? is it more hypocrisy for the holocaust, such as Iran so vociferously seems to seek!
But what of the place of the tomb, cemetery central, for the Messiah, the evacuated site of the breach of death by the greatest power of love ever shown, when for man's redemption Christ bore sin vicariously, for as many as received Him (Isaiah 53 - it is the 'we' who are healed by His stripes that have their iniquities borne as in Isaiah 53:1-6), and offered the result to all (I John 2:1-2) ? It is conspicuous as it was at the time, for the lack of the body, so important in a cemetery or tomb! What man cannot do, Christ, having already raised Lazarus from the dead, did, and defying any means of transport from man, crushed death with His eternal life, which nothing could or will conquer, the very source of human life. With justice vicariously met for man, as many as received Him, His task in this finished (Hebrews 9), the eternal redemption accomplished, He left the scene, intact, resurrected, impossible to subdue.
IT is not, then, a matter of an unknown murder rest for an unfortunate scape-goat, but the pre-arranged site for the setting of that resurrection of the body triumph which makes all surgery look small by comparison, a rebuilding way beyond the original, which yet is kept as the basis! (Luke 24). Israel similarly is not a failed divine experiment (at best), but a foreseen, fore-traced centre in a scenario of great depth and assurance, pre-announced. It is time to cease making disbelief in the power of God a basis for interpretation, as if what is specifically in the domain of the power of the One whose eternity made possible and actual man's temporality, is what must be avoided. It is like making sure that the world's greatest athlete could ever really have made those records. Why not ? That is precisely what makes him a distinctive! Failure to realise this is failure to know what you are talking about, literally, in this field; and that, it is always a disadvantage!
In human terms, it is as if the Normanby invasion of Europe on 1945 were foretold as to site, result and suffering, with complete mastery. So was this resurrection to be (Psalm 22, 16, Isaiah 26:19), and so it was. So for that matter was the Gentile world NOT to develop into an impressive noble establishment, but a site for scurrying and worrying, and woes innumerable, where built-up self-assurance meets continually the frustration due all pride, and the rebuke due all lies and fraud, even with the demonstrable truth (cf. SMR, TMR). So it was to be, and so it has become (cf. Matthew 24, Luke 21). It is as though an experiment were to show a law, and when it happens, witnesses were to scratch their heads and say, I simply cannot believe it.
But God has nothing to hide and everything to show.
He by no means is going to evacuate the murder site, the location of pre-announcement (Luke 13:33)*1, of fulfilment of the core works of God in the universe, once He had made it. He will not forget Jerusalem, nor permit man to do so. It will not haunt Him as a reminder, nor become a mere grave-yard but instead a triumph site, distinctive as has been the word of God from the first; its emblems kept as He sees fit, a rebuke to all the fudges of the relativistic 20th - 21st centuries as of the first (Psalm 2), a test site, a flash point, a site to endue when He returns (Micah 4, Isaiah 2).
Termination and Eternal Results
Here would the past and present, the Jew (converted) and the Gentile (saved), both in and with one Gospel co-operate (Isaiah 66), one new people, two divisions of entry (Ephesians 1-3) come to show in one place one grace from one God, the alone testimony of God to man, evidenced by history, endorsed by events, marshalled in meekness, surrounded at His own return (as specified in Acts 1), by His grace and kindness, the alone pastor worthy of such praise and centrality, the Maker Himself, murdered, thrusting through death, delivering pardon, fountain of peace.
The scriptures of the prophets often deal with the nearer horrors to come to Israel during the multi-phase period of its rebellions, only to follow, like light shining through and between cloud banks, with the profundity of peace assuredly to come, with the Messiah frequently prominent in their final return, or start with these, and then plunge into the depths of contrast in the then contemporary situation in Israel. It is an overview of contrast, and it involves conquest over Israel specifically for its sins, when announced, return as after 70 years as given in Jeremiah 25, and then again, the return as from the lips of Christ and as in Ezekiel 36-38, for example, where the return is resting in the characterising force of a resident, president Jesus Christ, source of the peace, power of the concord, matching of the need a in Psalm 72.
You see such developments and contrasts in Isaiah 2:1-4, followed by 2:5-9, Micah 4:1-8, followed by 4:10, moving to the lustful desire of Israel's enemies to cut it off from being a nation (a current Middle Eastern pre-occupation with many) and the Lord's soon following response (4:11-13), the extended focus on the earth-coming Messiah (Micah 5), and in Micah 7, the utter humiliation after long patience (), of the idolatrous, raging nations who seek to disrupt the divine plan, pattern and depth, even He who at last does redeem the bulk of Israel (Zechariah 12). That is almost a mosaic! but it has the elements. You find this contrast also in Jeremiah 30:8-11 followed by 30:12-15, in Jeremiah 31:23-25 followed by 31:27, but even this capped with persistent rebuilding, as formerly destruction, in 31:28.
Cause and effect, calling and confrontation, repentance and restoration all figure - the latter prominent in Jeremiah 31;17-22, the latter the incarnation, just as it moves on to the spiritual depth and regeneration to come with its application and through faith, as in 31:31ff.. It is rather like a train passing through sunlit beauty, only suddenly to be plunged into long areas of darkness: thus after not a few passages of dealing, for example, with Messianic peace, there come reversions to the current state of rebellion: the opposite in Isaiah 59! but the same drastic alternation, variation, not mutation but transformation, seen front-wise, or in reversal, all equally illuminating. So the prophet speak for those to come (II Timothy 3:16, II Peter 1:19ff.) and for those unheeding at the time, with microscope and telescope, one vision, one Lord, challenge to all, glory for some, voluntary blindness no beauty (Isaiah 29:13).
As to the depths of depravity, surveyed at the false prophet level in Jeremiah 23, we find that in the last times, it will reach a peak, as it has done, the ISIS a grand testimony to this, as also the sheer number, profusion and confusion of the poor imitators of Christ, the sects of today (Jeremiah 23:20).
Again, in some ways, it is like the Gulf Stream coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, assuaging climate from Prince Edward Island to Scottish Hebrides, in constant contrast with the immediately surrounding waters of bitter cold.
Often the stream is
found, and its source traced, and the surrounds of water considered, the sources
traced. To interpret, in history THIS man's source is indeed warm and
travelling, but then its benefits are fitfully disregarded, as in Psalm 107's
scenario; but the travel of grace is not stifled, for it continues to this day,
even as we travel far North; and the light of the Lord, like the warmth of His
heart is as available now as it has been and will be till judgment sets in with
its throes (Revelation 9 ending with just the inexorable requests for it
A VARIANT WARRANT
WITH THE SAME ESSENTIAL MESSAGE
But what a pulse of variant wonder does one find in Isaiah! The message is precise and dramatic, but the mode is thrilling.
Consider Isaiah 42. Here you start with a vast flourish of divine favour focussed on the Messiah and it is in this absolute, characterising context that we find Israel depicted. How ? First, at the end of Isaiah 41, we find that there is no ordinary person available for the role to come. Comparable counsellor is not to be found, and by contrast, they are worthless.
Then by contrast we find the unique. His qualities are those of deity, and as to the immediate recipients of His grace ?
Indeed in 42:1-4, the terms are not only "Israel" but "Jacob" to depict the body to which the Messiah is relating (42:24), with the further designation that the Lord "gave Jacob for plunder", a castigated body too well known, not a triumphant one, or the body of Christ in strange apparel! Not only is the intimate and historically pregnant term added, but in the parallel passage likewise Messiah centred, initiated and dominant, it is also called "Zion" (49:14), and as in Isaiah 42, it is a site of waste and desolate place, and constitutes for this self-same Zion, the land of its destruction. Contrary to the slipped servant, THIS is the quintessential Israel, the One who gets the job done, who makes the blessed difference, as in 49:3 as Professor E. J. Young pointed out in translation, "an Israel in whom I will be glorified."
Even His mouth is like a sharp sword, and it is this formidable entity who is to bring Israel, Jacob back to the Lord (49:5). Though in His suffering He would seem to have spent His strength in vain, this eminently personal Being has it as too small a task for him, simply to secure Israel from a deserved obliteration, its remnant from loss. Rather He will BE the salvation of any to the end of the earth! Not to announce a covenant like Moses, rather He is to BE a covenant to the people, constituting the Lord Himself. Not only is ZION shown as in 49:14, as the focus of His concern, because of its sense of desolate and stricken abandonment (and sin DOES cause this if uncovered, as in Isaiah 59:1-2), but it is to be delivered from "those who laid you waste" (49:19) and brought back, rescued from mere memory of "the land of your destruction." Indeed, its inhabitants have been "a captive, wandering to and fro" but now this same land will be too small for its astonishingly, suddenly and super-abundantly replenished people.
Indeed, it is shown as a subject of a territorial restoration and restitution, with a flourish and wonder of international gifts and solicitude, as from Germany after World War II, and from Britain at first after World War I, with its Balfour Declaration or 1917, confirmed by the League of Nations, as likewise from the USA now for many years in annual appropriations in the billions, and vast armaments and aid given in 1973 in particular (Isaiah 49:23). Peace, prosperity and eventually spiritual light will all accumulate (Isaiah 49:23-28), so that there is no question of the Lord's forsaking them, for they will see with their eyes.
Returning to Isaiah 42, we find that in 42:7 as in 61:1-3, the tender-hearted Messiah not only knows how to heal the broken hearted, minister to the broken reed, but (61:4ff.) they will become a converted, rescued, realised people in the very midst of the active movements of the living God (as in Zechariah 12-13). However, this is not so as their return first is found graphically described in 42:16ff.! It is just as it is in Ezekiel 37, where it is only AFTER the scattered "bones" of Israel, distributed among the nations, are restored to their own land, that the breath of the Lord brings LIFE to them! This testimony is consistent, insistent, indefectible.
So in Micah 4, you find the immense focus on the land chosen for Israel and by the Lord for His crucifixion (Luke 13:33), in its participation in didactic style in the instruction of the nations (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). Again, in Micah 5, the Messiah in His divine nature and human format has focus, just as in 5:9ff. we receive an advice concerning the nature of the blessed peace to ensue, and the brilliant deliverance from its yawning cavities, nevertheless ready for it in the bodies of its adversaries. They will not stand, cannot withstand the unleashed power of the coming Lord (Micah 7). The remnant meanwhile, for this outcome, will return to the children of Israel, even those whom the Lord had "given up", whom now He shall stand and feed (5:3-4). Such is there description, such their nature, such their uniqueness, such His faithfulness.
As to the time and condition of those to return, as the situation is so radically to be transformed (a veritable double entry, to the land and to the pardon of the Lord) to inherit in the Lord's time their promise, they at first remain as in Isaiah 6:10 in the negative condition for which Christ so upbraided them when on earth (Matthew 13), before His formalised assassination.
How does the word of the Lord describe them, then, as they stream back to the land, in the situation pregnant with a returning Messiah, in His power (as in Isaiah 11) ? As He prepares for an overwhelming personal entry into the long grievous situation of Israel's rebellion (Isaiah 42:14-15), for which it had the preliminary inheritance of exile and mordant suffering (Isaiah 42:14ff., cf. Isaiah 66, Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32), what then is their position ? How are they described, that we might know what KIND of a people it is, and what MANNER of description is provided by the Lord, from whom nothing is hidden, and what terms does He assign to them ? Let us look in Isaiah 42:18ff., and see.
So far being the children of light, as in any allegorising passion which would part the waves and dry-shod pass over the text, they have another quality.
1) blind (42:18).
2) astoundingly blind.
3) almost constituting
a definition of blindness
4) belittlingly blind -
inheriting scathing rebuke, "who is blind as he who is
This they are declared to be by the Almighty. As He brings them back to their land, it is with this designation upon them, in characterisation. Yet soon as in Ezekiel 37, they will meet - as in the second miraculous work of God for their restitution, not only the return to their land, but their nature will be transformed. It is not as a collection and collation of the bones dispersed throughout the world, the scattered and the seemingly lost, but now they gain suddenly, like itself, they live, they breathe! (Ezekiel 37:4-10). Likewise in Zechariah 12, we are shown the Spirit of God moving to their sudden, dramatic and specific conversion to the Christ whom, as in Zechariah 12:10, they crucified.
As in Matthew 13, then, for long they are deaf; but now they hear, in this word for the returnees en bloc, and they live as once before, that tenderly regarded nation. Though of course this does not mean exhaustively, any more than Britain was exhaustively blind to Germany, by any means, though many would postpone response, in the 1930s. Yet they are characterisably as a returned nation, once lost in grievous rebuke, brought into the light, unto the Lord, through His grace, in terms of the very Gospel once rejected with its Head. Here is a lightning to strike the earth, as the one war yields to the other as in Zechariah 12ff., and their double lostness becomes a double gain.
Indeed, in this passage which first has a people soon to find the Messiah as in Jeremiah 33:12-18, who is operating on this earth in His incarnate and ruling form, "in that day and at that time," an epic epoch (as in Hosea's wait of "many days"), it is perceived that the Lord almost explodes (as in Isaiah 66) in His passion to line up, dress down, rescue, overthrow impostors and deliver those who wait for Him, with special reference to the special case of Israel (Isaiah 49:14), who though devastated, is NOT forgotten, but given a celestial victory over its voracious foes, as in Micah 7:14ff., where it is made in power and scope comparable to the divine work in the Exodus from Egypt.
"I have long held My peace," the Lord says, "I have been still and restrained Myself", Isaiah 42:14; and NOW He will act. Thus, just as in their first flush of fulness, Israel having returned, soon found the formerly desolate land too small for its new inhabitants, so "Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations", Isaiah 49:22; and how contemptible will be their erstwhile persecuting power and arrogant authority, before Him from whom they will rush to hide like snakes in holes (Micah 7). In fact, as they served Israel, so will they BE served through the power of the Lord! (Isaiah 51:21-23).
Faithfully He acts (cf. Ezekiel 36:22, Isaiah 42:16, 49:14-22), for His name broaches no dishonour, so that to them in their initial restoration will come multitudes of the remnant, of immigrants. The realism is stressed, as we noted, for the land is too small, they exclaim, for so many ( which is never true of the kingdom of heaven cf. Matthew 22).
Even the previous prodigious losses of their people which had occurred (Isaiah 49:21), for this so distinctive and once rebellious nation (Isaiah 49:20-28), will seem as if a vacant vacancy in the teeming multitudes to fill their land. It will overflow as a river in flood.
Such is the sketch of the historic nation, unique, a wonder, a horror and a marvel!
So are the blind brought, the debased (BY the Lord for reasons too clear as in Micah 5:1-3) blessed, the desolate delivered, the scattered aggregated and so is the stricken secured. Indeed, in Isaiah 49:23-26, we find that having been moved from dispersion, to the "land of your destruction," where were those "who laid you waste", and "swallowed you up," not only do they "clothe yourselves with them," Isaiah 49:18, so making their restoration to the wasteland a cardinal abundance, in a grand land of exuberant vitality (49:21), centre of a multitude, but as "captives of the mighty" they will figure as exceptional. Taken away from those voracious jaws, and those slatternly slanders, they are delivered handsomely, while God feeds those in the role comparable to the cormorants and the hyenas smug with their fill of Israel, now with their own flesh, thus suffering reversal of roles.
More, here in Isaiah 49:25-26, we find that all flesh will have the place of voyeur. It "will know that I, the Lord, am your Saviour, and your Redeemer, the Might One of Jacob." And what a salvation that is, not only as described already with the Messiah and His work and ways at the head and theme of the Chapter, but also as about to be described, one both for the new mass of believing Jews as we have seen, and the remnant of the Gentiles, Its wonders and ways pound like giant waves into the scene at once in Isaiah 50, only to be sustained and explained in Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, and applied in Isaiah 54-55, while again the particularities for the nation of Israel, the role reversal with its devouring enemies, experts in swallowing, is repeated (Isaiah 51:21-23 as in 49:26ff.).
Let us look in comparison at some of the texts, the charters.
Isaiah 49 is parallel to Isaiah 42 in its majesty in the grand focus on the Messiah at the outset, underlined as we proceed. It reveals His divine power, unique to His person, and the fact that His domain is far from omitting the special features for Israel (Isaiah 49:14ff.), a people which though devastated, their land desolate, are far from being forgotten by the Lord. While He is willing to forget, as if buried in the depths of the sea, our sin when it is covered by His sacrificial substitution as in Isaiah 53, Micah 7, yet to what He commits Himself by His word, in His honour, in His dealings with man, there is no tearing of Him away. He will remember, not in simple nostalgia, but if and as necessary, in earth-shattering deliverance; for the evil is for a time, and His word is for eternity. He never fails or forgets (cf. Isaiah 49:12ff., 51:12ff.). There is even more, for this same Messiah will be a light for the Gentiles, for whom His rest will be glorious (Isaiah 11, in specialised attention to the reign).
He has not forgotten them either, though in so many ways for so long they have done so much in atrocities innumerable, idolatries unthinkable (Matthew 24, Luke 21, Jeremiah 16:19-21).
As to Israel, "your waste and desolate places and the land of your destruction" will be too small for the swathes of new inhabitants. No more is it to be "a captive, and wandering to and fro," Isaiah 49:19-21.
Thus with defining description of this differentiated people, we find that they first draw near to the soon to come King of Israel, and then find His Messianic presence to greet their growth and deliver them from their aggressive enemies, both arrantly and arrogantly acting as if to replace the Lord. These will find their come-uppance in their prodigy of downfalls.
So does the master impact manifest itself in the world as in Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, both to subdue the debased heights of hatreds and to imbue the world with grace, equity, justice, kindness, compassion, as it is righted from the sad remnant of an unrestored Israel, amid a foretold refusnik Gentile culture of increasing depth, into the very ruling presence of the Messiah (Acts 1:11, Matthew 25, I Thessalonians 3:13, Jeremiah 33:15ff., 23:1-8, Isaiah 11, Psalm 73). Indeed, as so much dwelt on in Daniel, where in Daniel 7:19-23 you see the raw power of evil, suddenly, swiftly and without pause met by and replaced in the Messiah in His coming, parallel to Revelation 19:11ff. in a scene of vigorous judgment of the blazing fires of hatred and relentless assault on the Lord and on His ways. The putrid passions of man now find the judgmental powers of God, at which to burn, and through which to be burnt.
It is in such terms that you come to the abiding darkness clinging to the genocidal and generic lust to eliminate Israel, which on the Gentile side, resembles with the same direction, that against the Lord by the Jewish authorities in Christ's days: the latter to eliminate the King, this to eliminate the kingdom. And with it ? all that pertains to it, is in view for it, all that exhibits and savours of it. In Australia, this disjunction, and some of the hostility to Israel is being seen and noted*3, this very day one political party speaking of the movement in the world against Israel, and some in it noting that it is time to join it!
So does the review of what is to come, found in the word of God, the wonderful and the horrid, the contentment and the furore, the peace and the evil forces of passion, the aspiration to smash God once and for all as in Revelation 19:19, and the final result of this murderous devilry, come to its time. Then the earth being filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (as in Habakkuk 2:14, and in some parallel, Isaiah 11, where you see more of its plashing ...).
In Isaiah, the sheer wonder of the precise method and ground for such blessing, national deliverance and free pardon for any in any nation, light for the remnant of the Gentiles as for the restoration of the remnant of Israel a start, both are megaphoned to man. Isaiah 50 shows an emphasis on the cost to God in the sufferings of the Messiah, for involved are not only the showing of the light where it meets intimately the darkness, but the lifting of the load. This leads to the marshalling summary of the glorious work of God, this "strange work" in its common availability to any and to all, its basis for all redemption, and its operation in the hearts of the redeemed (cf. Isaiah 53:1-5, where the "all" whose sin is laid on Christ is defined as those who are "healed by His stripes."). Payment is sufficient for all as in I John 2, adequate for all, offered to all (Isaiah 55, John 3), but rendered to those who receive it.
So by many methods does the Lord use contrasts,
the gruesome with the glory,
the depiction of the ways of evil in Israel as a major focus, and
the relief provided by God to them on the other,
the wonder of the Messiah facing the need for Him,
the outrage to Him and the outage from Him, showing
the onset of His movements over time, in each phase,
with spiritual prisoners on the one hand, and on the other,
dispersed from the desolate land, through whose inhabitants in earlier times,
How lovely is the kindness which comes to Israel, so sharply characterised as has been shown, so beautiful its long last restoration and contentment (cf. Jeremiah 31:23ff.,33:11-15, 23:1-20, Micah 5-7, Ezekiel 37:1-24, with Isaiah 42, 49 as above).
How intensively clear is His word, with its declarative and defining powers, as it exhibits His glory, the wonder of His word, our gifts from above, the prophecies from of old continuing to be, as Peter declares, a light in a dark place for the whole Christian family. By this means, God is bringing home to all His people, whether Jew or Gentile, through CURRENT acts of God for us a vast and spritely reinforcement, just as there was a share at the earlier contemporary level, for those in the days of the prophets, whether of good or of rebuke! (II Peter 1:19ff.).
Here is a light in a dark place never absent, a part of the heritage of the Christian Church, to this hour and to those times which follow. It is all fulfilled in kind, being fulfilled in detail... like a laboratory experiment being watched, as it performs precisely as the text indicated. How grievous to disbelieve as the very force of history declares, Here I am! and the foretelling becomes the observation, and what was said is done! When even the eyes are not allowed to register their account, nor will they be believed, and the tongue will not speak of it, how deep is the apparent alienation from the word of God in this wonder of it, and how sad the loss!
When the word of God however is traced and tracked, watched and applied, how great is the gain, not only in theology, in knowledge, but in life! as we sing with the exuberance of hthe Psalmist in 119.
As the symbolism of ONE PLACE for sacrifice was fulfilled (as expounded in Hebrews 7-10), so the place that it was is included, the site chosen being as important as a specification, as in an architectural drawing, as the work done. Here was the nation, the site, the symbolism, the suffering, the rejection, the sacrifice, precisely where in symbolic form death had been the testimony for so many centuries. It cannot be, as Christ directly stated, that a prophet (and an epochal one, with high PERSONAL contribution to the message!) should perish outside of that city. Jerusalem is His personal site, that of His prodigious rupture of the rupturing death, removal of its sting, grant commissioning for eternal life by payment for entrance!
Here was a due rebuke (as in Matthew 23). It was precisely those so sanctified, high priests, religious authorities, who would work centrally in His betrayal, the ultimate in disregarding the boss, the ultimate in autonomous employes, who drew their salaries in order to murder!
Any allegorising to make this blind rump into a figure for the Christian Church is not only not textually indicated; it is contra-indicated. It is not only this, it is pointedly contra-indicated. It is not only that, for it is dramatically contra-indicated in the fervent developments, vast deployments and intensive language of the text.
Indeed, any such allegorical concept not only clashes heavily with the self-defining context, for with a sort of textual mutilation it clashes with what in the word of God is a rollicking robustness, a joyful contempt for anything and everything which sets its hat in the heavens to make an end of Israel, the desolated nation of rebellion (Jeremiah 33:24, Isaiah 51:21-23, Psalm 83:4, 2:1-8). Having defined Israel, the Lord shows that by all means (Jeremiah 31 and 33), such a desire destructive of that nation might be indulged, and those who have it or portend it might be enabled, if only they fulfil one condition. Rid yourselves of Israel as a nation, the defined and distempered, the desolate ? You want its cessation ? To do that, has a condition.
It is simple, not hard to understand. It is this: that they must first have the power both to alter the nature of the heavens and the conditions of the astronomical universe, and secondly be able to countermand what He, the Lord, has done.
In their majestic eminence, they must rise above their Creator, and become the authority over Him. Any takers ?
In other words, to do this, BE GOD! Otherwise you have no hope, only a post of contempt, collusion with confusion, vaunting error, all but inconceivable pride. It is well to be void of such a load! It is well to avoid not only the applications, but the closing implications!
So is this vast wonder of large scale as well as sometimes small size significance deployed before our eyes in text and matching triumph in history, each item fulfilled or coming: whether in the Messiah coming to suffer, or in the nearing time of His coming to rule, at each turn is the very detail described in advance, found in train, which is the manner of truth. It never lets up. It seems about to be broken, and then is magnificently fulfilled. It makes fools of many, and breaks the heart of some, whose passions and perceptions refuse the recognition of what is written, whether for this tradition or for that preference, or some intellectual alchemy that bypasses the rigour and the vigour, the precision and the pronouncements of the text of the word of God.
Blessed be God whose word is not
prolix! (Proverbs 8:8).
we find excerpts from a citation of views worthy of presentation. It concerns a political party conference in Australia, 2015.
THE Australian Labor Party (ALP) has been condemned by communal leaders for passing a one-sided resolution that singles out Israeli settlement building as a “roadblock to peace” and states that if the next round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians fail it will discuss recognition of a Palestinian state.
Israel’s ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel said the motion incentivises further Palestinian obstructionism rather than encouraging the sort of bilateral talks that the party purports to support.
“The ALP’s adopted resolution, while endorsing the two-state solution undermines this mechanism by suggesting that should the next round of bilateral negotiations be unsuccessful Palestinians could achieve Australian recognition regardless,” Ben-Shmuel, who attended the conference, said.
He welcomed the ALP’s rejection of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign but questioned the lack of balance in the resolution in respect of Hamas.
“Debate remained largely silent on Hamas’s profound disruption of peace efforts as well as their fanatical dedication to destroying Israel,” he said.
The resolution states that all “settlements are illegal”, that East Jerusalem is “occupied territory”, and singled out comments by Benjamin Netanyahu for condemnation while remaining silent on incitement to violence and terrorism from Palestinian leaders.
Ben-Shmuel was joined in his criticism of the ALP by Zionist Federation of Australia president Danny Lamm, who said “obsessives” and “cranks” have hijacked Labor’s Middle East policy.
Describing the resolution as “reckless, poorly thought-out and frankly foolish,” he said, “Among the most pernicious facets of this misbegotten Labor resolution is the moral equivalence that pollutes it to the core. Both explicitly and implicitly this declaration places the jihadi theo-fascists of Hamas on the same plane as progressive democrats of Israel.
“But it gets worse. The resolution contains a blatantly one-sided laundry list of complaints against Israel whilst simultaneously endorsing the ‘special circumstances of the Palestinian people, their desire for respect’.”
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council noted “on the positive side are the calls for direct negotiations between the parties towards a two-state outcome, for the end of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel from Gaza, rejection of the BDS strategy, and calls for demilitarisation of any Palestinian entity.”
But the organisation slammed Labor for stating that it would discuss recognising a Palestinian state if there is no progress during direct negotiations.
“There are few international diplomatic moves more likely to discourage a Palestinian return to serious and sustained negotiations than a promise that if negotiations fail, they will be given unilateral recognition anyway,” AIJAC said.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) agreed that the resolution is more balanced than the motion moved by Bob Carr at the NSW State ALP Conference last year, welcoming its support for two states for two peoples, a negotiated settlement and the fact it does not blame Israel for the deaths of innocent civilians in Gaza.
ECAJ added, “The re-statement of positions which the ALP adopted while in government on the question of borders, land swaps, the illegality of settlements, refugees and Jerusalem is nothing new.”
The organisation also noted: “The criticism of statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the run-up to the Israeli elections earlier this year is new, but does not come as a surprise.”