Finally, another chapter I can fit into a single post! We’ve been looking at Christ’s fulfillment of the second prophech in the book of Isaiah (chapters 2-5 constitute a single prophecy). I’m looking forward to posting about the next chapter, which finalizes the prophecy with some very interesting statements, and includes a parable that Jesus uses near the end of His ministry to plainly declare that He is giving the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles (that is: of the nations of the world, whosoever believes in Him).
This chapter is a precursor to that thought; the begining of this prophecy speaks of the nations flocking to Christ (Isaiah 2:1-9 The Gospel of Isaiah, pt. 2), continues on to show that in the last days judgment would be upon earthly Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:10-22 The Gospel of Isaiah, pt. 3 ); speaks of the final judgment (thus signifying that the established New Covenant era, under which the Gentiles would come to God will remain in place until the ressurrection & the final judgment – i.e. Christ’s return); speaks of the judgment that would be upon earthly Jerusalem due to their rejection of Messiah (Isaiah 3:1-11; Isaiah 3:12-26); and here in chapter 4, clarifies the establishment of the New Covenant reign of Christ with its spiritual inheritance, and blessing. This is the shortest chapter in the prophecy, but is also rich with Gospel promises for those who believe on Christ.
As I pointed out in the previous post, Christ’s coming was twofold: it was for judgment, and mercy; He came to judge the prieshood (as declared in Malachi 3:1-4), as well as to establish the new priesthood of the New Covenant (see Hebrews 7, specifically verse 12). The old carnal system was to be abolished, and a new and better covenant based upon better promises was to be established (Heb 7:22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34; 11:16). Thus along with the judgment of the old system described in Isaiah 3, the establishment of Christ’s kingdom arises with hope. The first verse almlst belongs in the previous chapter, but for the sake of remembering continuance of the prophecy as a whole it is well placed.
The text, itself, will be in italics; my commentary un-italicized, and in [brackets] wherever inserted into the text. Any emphasis (bold, or underlined) by me.
1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
Still bearing in mind that Isaiah 2-5 are a single prophecy, this verse almost seems like it should have remained in chapter 3, which speaks of the fulfilment of the judgment which Christ would pronounce on Jerusalem. This verse transitions us fairly well into the content of chapter 4, which switches directions and begins to speak of the blessedness of the kingdom of Christ. As I discussed in the last post, there was a two-fold purpose in Christ’s coming: He came both for judgment, and to establish the church. These purposes, while contrasting eachother are really one and the same thing. Christ came to make all things new, which also means that the old is done away (Heb 8:13). Chapter 3 deals largely with the judgment of the old, chapter 4 presents the rich blessing of the new. With that in mind the chapter dileneation makes sense (not that it was divinely inspired – the chapter breaks were added later as a reference tool) for the flow of the prophecy.
Referencing chapter 3, God promised to remove the whole stay of bread (His Word), and the whole stay of water (His Spirit) (v.1); and the chapter goes on to describe the initiation of this judgment until ‘Seven women shall take hold of one man…’
The number seven represents completion, or fulfillment; the women are those who survive the judgment – remember Is. 3:25: ‘Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.’ – surviving the judgment, yet their judgment is not over. In desperation they seek a covering. Some have interpretted this verse as though it speaks of the remnant that are saved out of the judgment, and the man that they cling to is Christ. While this is a possible interpretation, I think it is missing the grave message put forth in chapter 3, and some of the clear symbolism of the verse. Those who unite with Christ will receive their provision of Him; He will not leave His bride in a desperate situation; further, they would be unable to provide their own bread, or covering those are among the very things that Christ is the source of.
Rather, this very statement is the furtherance of the judgment for those who still cling to rejection of Christ, and yet survived the initial judgment: they are left without help – destitute, and seeking for a new identity. In their continued resistence to the kingdom of Christ, they willingly cling to anything – take up any cause or purpose – in which they could be covered. One of the things that stands out in Josephus’ narrative of the destruction of Jerusalem is the utter madness of the Sicarai; these were rebels who had fortified in the city. They became aware that there was no escape from the Romans, and that God would not deliver them. You would think that a people who knew of their immminent destruction would take any opportunity to escape with their lives that they could find… but these continued to resist with self-destructive fervor. While they were starving to death in the city, and the Romans repeatedly offered terms which would spare the city from entire destruction, these rebels tortured and killed any whom they suspected would surrender to the Romans. If the historic narrative is to be trusted, the resistence was truly demonic, for with their resistence they forced the hand of Rome to utterly raze Jerusalem to the ground – a thing that both the Emporer Vespasian (who had started the war), and his son Titus wanted to prevent, but the fervor of the rebels would not allow Rome victory without the complete destruction of Jerusalem, (and near complete genocide of the Jews).
2 In that day [i.e. even while the judgment is taking place upon earthly Jerusalem] shall the branch of the Lord [the ‘branch of the Lord’ is NEW Jerusalem, the church, or those who continue in Christ, (compare John 15:1-8)] be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
Ah, but here is the contrast of the judgment for those who reject Christ; all those who follow on in His kingdom shall be blessed. Prior to this judgment, Christ came! Not only did He come, but He completed the work He was sent to do: He preached the Gospel, healed the sick, was crucified, raised to life again, ascended to heaven, and finally: POURED OUT HIS SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH! Christ established the new order of salvation – no longer in physical types and representations of spiritual things, BUT IN THE SPIRIT ENTIRELY! No longer for a small nation of people BUT FOR EVERY NATION TRIBE AND LANGUAGE: ALL PEOPLES OF THE EARTH!
Even in the days of the judgment of earthly Israel, the only way into True Spiritual Israel was established: ‘By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, His flesh.’ (Heb 10:20)
An interesting testimony given by Josephus is that there were (according to his account, which is in no wise scriptural) a number of supernatural signs of the judgment on Jerusalem well before the war with Rome. He claimed a number of things occurred, including the appearance of angelic chariots above the cities and the voice of a multitude saying: “Let us remove hence.” (Wars of the Jews, Book VI, chapter V, paragraph 3) He also claimed that a star and commet shaped like a sword stood over the city for the length of a year, that an unpregnant heifer birthed a lamb in the temple, and that the eastern gate of the temple (which took many men to open) opened by itself. These are all interesting prophetic signs (which might be worthy of an article on their own) most of which I believe clearly affirm that Messiah had come, but according to Josephus, the Sanhedrin took them for omens of Jerusalem’s impending judgment. One thing I was surprised he did not mention was the rending of he vail in the temple mentioned in the Gospels. In any event, the tearing of the vail in the temple shows clearly that the new and living way has been made for us, and temporal approach: the old testament types and shadows are torn apart.
…and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
Though judment came upon earthly Israel, and though the Old Covenant practices have been rent asunder, those who follow on with Christ are the ‘escaped of Israel,’ bypassing the judgment to receive the eternal reward. Even Christians who perished in the siege of Jerusalem (for surely we must expect that there were some) escaped the eternal condemnation of the nation that rejected Messiah. These were partakers (as we shall see) of the Eternal City: New Jerusalem – of which earthly Jerusalem was only a prophecy.
3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy [notice the contrast of the stated condition of the actual survivors of the judgment in verse 1], even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
The first verse has already spoken of the desperate situation of those who survived the initial judgment, this is not speaking of earthly Zion, and earthly Jerusalem, but New Jerusalem which christ in His coming has established. ‘Them that remain’ are them that carry on to follow Messiah in spirit – the fulfillment of what the types meantwhat the types had meant: not land, or an earthly city (For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Heb 13:14)), but God’s kingdom given to man!
Jesus declared this, that under His reign, earthly Jerusalem was not the spiritual fulfillment of the eternal place of worship (John 4:21). ‘God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship [not in Jerusalem, but] in spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:25[& 21]) Here, Isaiah has made a clear transition between the earthly types, and the New Testament fulfilment: the judgment of the old system has come, those than continue in True Jerusalem (that is, the city in heaven (Gal 4:25 & 26) and True Zion are he inheritors of salvation. (Zion was the mountain of worship, where Levites would worship 24 hours a day – its signifigance is not a place on earth, but the ‘secret place’ (Ps 91) that place of perpetual worship.)
The important clarifier affirming that Isaiah is speaking of those written to inherit salvation, rather than those inhabbiting earthly Jerusalem comes in the next phrase of the verse: ‘…even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:’
‘written among the living…’ what does that mean? It is a very clear reference to the eternal judgment (which was discussed in Is. 2:10-22); and the eternal accounts made by God and referenced in appocalyptic accounts (Dan 7:10; Rev 20:12), but specifically this is a direct reference to the book called in the New Testament, the ‘Lamb’s book of life.’ And interrestingly in Revelation 21:27, the reference thereto specifically applies to those who are allowed into NEW Jerusalem:
And there shall in no wise enter into it [that is: New Jerusalem, see context] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Those who are ‘left in Zion,’ and ‘remain in Jerusalem’ are they which continue in worship of Messiah once the greater revelation of His Person has come. Truth be told, this is no ‘replacement’ of Jews with Gentiles, rather the elect of the Old Covenant were saved through faith in the coming Messiah by worshipping Him in faith of His coming. As it is written, He is the Lamb slain ‘from the foundation of the world’ (Rev 13:8; 17:8), and even the blood of animals never had power to save even under the old covenant (Heb 10:4), but even the blood sacrifices were made in faith of Christ’s death and atonement (Heb 10:10). Those who ‘remain’ then, are those who continue to believe in, and worship Messiah once the full revelation of His Person was revealed. The basis has been, and always will be faith in Christ; those who refuse Christ and His kingdom cut themselves off, as it is written: ‘They could not enter in because of unbelief.’ (Heb 3:19)
4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
Christ’s blood washes away the sin of all who are ‘left in Zion,’ AND the True ‘daughters of Zion’ i.e. those who are converted to worship of Messiah after His coming. Even the bloodguilt of Christ is purged through His sacrifice through reciept of His Spirit. Even as John the Baptist declared it: ‘…He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughgly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ (Matt 3:11b & 12)
In fact, understanding John’s message is essential to understanding Isaiah’s prophecy here. Christ was come in judgment to cut off all the children of Abraham (Matt 3:9 & 10) who would not repent and believe in Christ. The entirety of Judaism had been developed as a prophecy of the coming Christ; those who cling to the prophecies, but deny their fulfillment are cut off and cast into the fire (hell).
5 And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
Here we can see further how John’s message applies: Christ would pour out His Spirit upon ‘every dwelling place of mount Zion’ that is: all those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. The dwelling place spoken of is not some little burb community on the earthly mountain of Zion, but upon the bodies of those who inhabit the spiritual place of continual praise. What? ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’! (1 Cor 3:16)
The anointing of God is upon all Christians, even as Christ in the form of a pillar of cloud and a pillar of flame abode on the tabernacle of Moses. That was a type, and a shadow which meant that Christ would one day be upon every habitation of His presence (all Christians) as Isaiah, here declares. Yet not only this alone, but also the ‘assemblies,’ as it says ‘upon her assemblies.’ Everywhere that people gather together in the name of Christ, He will be in the midst of them!
6 And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
Here is a promise furthering the thought of God’s glory covering each individual, and assembly – that God, Himself, will be our refuge. The individual, and the assembly can trust the Lord for personal help, provision and as a place of refuge in time of trial. Immanuel – God with us is a very present help in time of need (Ps 46).