Heavenly Zion in Isaiah 40-66

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. asterisktom

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    I have often been intrigued with the theme of the heavenly Jerusalem/ spiritual Zion found in Isaiah, and also with the connection with Daniel 9. The more I followed this through the wider the study went, to the point where (I think around Isaiah 60) I couldn't manage it. The topic had gotten too wide, spilled over into several other books! But that is really a good thing. It taught me that this is truly an important truth for Christians - Jews and gentiles.

    Jerusalem, Earthly & Heavenly:

    Studies in Daniel 9 and Isaiah 40 – 66

    One of the best ways to approach Daniel 9 (all of Daniel, for that matter) is to show how it points to Christ as fulfillment. Once that is done it should be easier to show earthly Judaism and earthly Jerusalem as being type and promise for something infinitely better. Or someOne infinitely better. By showing that the promises in Daniel 9 also are “Yes, and in Him Amen” (2nd Cor. 2:20) we make clearer the Christology of this wonderful book. As well, we can then better make the case that Judaism - as a nation and religion - no longer has it's God-given purpose without seeming to be an anti-Semite. A careful study of these things has shown me, rather, that I was being antichristian by denying some prophetic assages in the Old Testament their Messianic fulfillment.

    Daniel and ... fill in the blank
    "Daniel and Revelation", right? I believe that we have been so constantly taught through the years to associate the book of Daniel with Revelation that we have a hard time seeing other connections. Yet they are there. I hope (in a later post) to show the connection that Daniel has to Leviticus and Deuteronomy, helping us to understand the divine mathematics of God’s dealing with Israel. It was clearly a case of “I told you so”, but Israel went the way of all flesh anyway. Also, speaking of math, I hope to make the case as to where the original (previous) 490 years began (with the help of James Ussher and others). Unless I am mistaken - always a possibility : ) – it had to do with a certain “asked for” king who couldn’t wait for Samuel’s (or God’s) timing and made the offering that was the cause of his own desolation, though not the nation. Samuel said after this event that the Lord would not establish his kingdom, 1st Samuel 13:13- 14. Later he calls Saul’s rebellion against God to account and adds “The Lord has torn the kingdom from you today…”, 1st Samuel 15:28. From this time on Saul was a desolate man; all that was left for him was the actual dying.

    The King and the Countdown
    But because he acted as legal head of Israel – and they had asked for just that! – his misstep brought disaster on them as well. I believe that it was at this point (or either of these two points in time, chapter 13 or 15) that the first 70 weeks started (490 years). Adding that many years brings us to (1078 – 490) 588 BC, the very year of the fall of Jerusalem and the beginning of the deportation of the Jews!

    The main thing I want to reemphasize now is that we Christians need to get out of the rut of all the usual associations. We need to be on the lookout, in our daily study, of different and fresh associations, tying down familiar verses with unfamiliar. As God points out sections and passages that truly go together (as opposed to those which merely seem to) our Bible gets a better and better binding – how’s that for a metaphor? – New Testament with Old, and ancient promise with Christ-fulfillment.
  2. asterisktom

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    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66
    Part 2

    It’s often helpful to study a larger section of Scripture by examining the use of a certain word or concept. I did this with the word “Jerusalem” in this second part of Isaiah. I was tempted almost to say “second Isaiah” because the theme from chapter 40 onward is somewhat different than the previous, just the same as the theme of book 40 in the Bible (Matthew) is different from the first 39 books (the Old Testament). In this sense Isaiah’s 66 chapters seem to actually be prophetical of the completed Bible’s 66 books. But I don’t refer to the second half of Isaiah as “second Isaiah” because there are actually people who believe that there were two – or three! – Isaiah’s. I don’t. They believe this because otherwise they would have to believe in inspired prophecy – which they don’t. Much of modern scholarship is merely a new face put on ages-old unbelief.

    So what did I find out about ”Jerusalem”? The meaning of the word is slightly controversial, but probably means either “in it is peace” or “possession of peace”. Interestingly, this last half of Isaiah has twenty occurrences of the word:

    * Ten in chapters 40 through 52.
    * None in the Messianic section and following chapters, 53 – 61.
    * Ten in chapters 62 through 66.

    I don’t necessarily put spiritual significance to the interesting pattern (10 – 0 –10) but it is helpful to keep in mind.

    Jerusalem: Physical and Spiritual
    The first thing I noticed, tying this in with Daniel 9, is that the passage is certainly about Jerusalem. It is, in fact, addressed to Jerusalem:

    “'Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God.

    Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
    That her warfare is ended,
    That her iniquity is pardoned;
    For she has received from the Lord’s hand
    Double for all her sins.”

    See verse 9:

    O Zion, you who bring good tidings,
    Get up into the high mountain;
    O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings

    Note, there are both usages of the word “Jerusalem” in these chapters, physical and spiritual. Some are clearly physical, but others are obviously spiritual. Those who claim that we “spiritualizers of Scripture” are not taking the Word literally, do the very same thing – only with different verses. They certainly understand the above verses to refer to more than just physical Jerusalem. To not do this is to imagine a ridiculous interpretation, a city climbing a mountain!

    Temple 1 one morphs into Temple 2!
    But what about the Daniel passage? Do we spiritualize those too? Yes and no. We actually do both. First comes the physical fulfillment. Through many trials and temptations the physical Israelites finally build their physical city, temple and walls. But as they do so, they are already being assured by the new breed of prophets (post-exilic) that there is more going on here than meets the eye. The older temple builders were especially saddened by what they saw, because they remembered the previous grand temple of Solomon’s. But Haggai encouraged them:

    “’The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former’, says the Lord of hosts. “And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:9

    But how can this be? It was a smaller temple. Surely God didn’t mean the self-aggrandizing additions that Herod made? No, the “glory” referred to here – and the “peace” – is Christ Himself, “the Messenger who suddenly comes to His temple”, Mal. 3:1. Paul speaks of this “Peace”, teaching us that “He himself is our peace, who has made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,” Eph. 2:14. He goes in to say that we, believing Jews and Gentiles, are being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone [that is, main foundation], in Whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph. 2:20 – 22.

    How does this temple in Haggai have a greater glory?l
    1. The spiritual is more glorious than the physical. (Though it is necessarily after, 1 Cor. 15:46).
    2. The outreach to the world is greater than that of physical Israel, so the works are greater, John 10: 16; 14:12.
    3. Christ has come to the temple, fulfilled all requirements, signs and prophecies that pointed to Him, and has become our once-for-all temple Sacrifice. He is also our High Priest, entering into the Holy of Holies on our behalf.

    God is, of course, not just a temple builder. His deeper aim is to build a people up, to gather them together and grow them as His own unique people. That is why the temple passages in the Bible eventually give way to the Zion or Jerusalem passages, until finally we see in the last book the heavenly Jerusalem, a city without a temple. It has no need for one, because we have Christ and are in Christ.

    Temple & City
    But these verses are all about the temple. What about the city? The same Paul who writes about the temple uses the city metaphor elsewhere. He says that the true children of Abraham are citizens of “the Jerusalem above”. Gal. 5:26. In Hebrews we are told that have not come to Sinai (a point that is lost on some of us Reformed folks) but we have “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”, Heb. 12: 18, 22- 23. This is the very same heavenly Jerusalem that is pictured descending from heaven in Rev. 21:2!

    But wait, you might say, that’s all future! But how do you know that that particular verse is future? As we continue looking into Isaiah – no, I haven’t forgotten the title of this rambling piece : ) – we will see a lot of apocalyptic (assumingly future) elements put to historical use (from our standpoint).

    This topic is not just hazy history or fuzzy futurism. This is where we live now, Christian brothers and sisters! We are citizens of the greatest nation in the world - greatest in extent, greatest in Foundation, most glorious in outlook! What a thrilling prospect we have in Christ Jesus our Saviour, Prophet, Priest, and King!
    #2 asterisktom, Jan 21, 2010
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  3. asterisktom

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    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66 Part 3

    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66
    Part 3

    In a way, a study of the occurrences of the words “Jerusalem” and “Zion” is somewhat artificial, since the idea of God’s holy city is inherent in some other verses, though those actual words are not. But it is a useful starting point for a really wonderful faith-confirming investigation. BTW, I suggest reading all of Isaiah 40 to 66 in one sitting, twice or more if you can. In a very real sense, taking one verse from the context - or even a passage - is like taking a petal and thinking you have the whole essential flower.

    Here are the next Jerusalem verses in the second half of Isaiah:

    40:2, 9 – This was covered last time. "Speak comfort to Jerusalem; go up into the high mountain and lift your voice."

    41:27 – “The first time I said to Zion, ‘Look, there they are!’ And I will give to Jerusalem one who brings good tidings.”

    This is one of many verses in the whole Bible, 54 according to my Online Bible, that couple Zion with Jerusalem.

    44:26, 28 – I am the Lord, who makes all things (verse 24)

    26 – 28 continues….

    Who confirms the word of His servant,
    And performs the counsel of His messengers;
    Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’
    To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’
    And I will raise up her waste places;

    Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry!
    And I will dry up your rivers’;

    Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
    And he shall perform all My pleasure,
    Saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’
    And to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’

    Parenthetical comment: I have noticed that many who make Cyrus's edict the start point of the 70 weeks - which cannot be the case- also put the focus on the temple, putting the city way in the background. But here the city is mentioned first.

    Now consider this next Zion passage, 51:1 - 4:

    ‘Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness,
    You who seek the Lord:
    Look to the rock from whence you were hewn,
    And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.

    Look to Abraham your father,
    And to Sarah who bore you;
    For I called him alone,
    And blessed him and increased him.

    For the Lord will comfort Zion,
    He will comfort all her waste places;
    He will make her waste places like Eden,
    And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
    Joy and gladness will be found in it,
    Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

    Listen to Me, My people;
    And give ear to Me, O My nation:
    For law will proceed from Me,
    And I will make My justice rest
    As a light for the peoples.’

    Do you see how the idea of “holy city” takes on a richer meaning? Jerusalem = Zion = My nation (and this is our “holy nation” of all the redeemed, 1 Pet. 2:9). Read on in Isaiah 51:5 – 8 and you will see that the holy nation takes her message, the Gospel, to all the ends of the earth. We who “know righteousness” (Christ is our righteousness) need not fear opposition, since God is with us.

    Notice also the apocalyptic imagery that is now seen in a different light: The earth grows old and those who live in it will die in the same way (v. 6). They will be destroyed by – what? An angel? An act from the book of Revelation? – no, by the moth and the worm (v. 8). As the Gospel goes outward the contrast between the Word of God and the world gets more and more apparent, 1 Pet. 1:22 – 25; 1 John 2:15 – 17; James 5:1 - 3.

    Note: My NKJV doesn’t capitalize “rock” in verse 2, but it probably should, since Paul apparently (IMO) uses this very passage in a Christological sense in pleading with his fellow Jews. Read Rom. 9:30 through 10: 5. (BTW, I don’t see the “rock” and “pit” lines to be parallelism.)

    On a side note: Isaiah does not tell them to “look to Moses”, but “look to Abraham”. The emphasis here is like that of the New Testament, where the example of Abraham is seen as, well, exemplary (=our pattern, the “footsteps of Abraham”, “whose faith follow”), Rom. 4, Gal. 3. Moses’, by contrast, is seen as parenthetical, Gal. 3:16- 19.

    We follow the pattern. We don’t dwell in the parenthesis. Abraham’s life, more than Moses’, points us to Mt. Zion and Calvary. I believe that many Christians – Reformed even – have too much of a Sinai-centric faith. I believe God’s words to Elijah when he fled to that very mountain should apply also to them - those who are awed by Sinai's shadow - as well: “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:13).

    Isaiah 51:17:

    ‘Awake, awake!
    Stand up, O Jerusalem,
    You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord
    The cup of His fury;
    You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling,
    And drained it out.'

    God goes on to tell Jerusalem that this punishment has come from Him, “desolation and destruction, famine and sword”. But He also comforts them with the assurance that this cup has been taken from them and given to their enemies. This brings us to the next passage, 52:1, 2, 9. But this will have to wait.
    #3 asterisktom, Jan 23, 2010
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  4. asterisktom

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    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66 (4)

    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66 (4)

    I hope you are not weary of this subject; it is certainly fascinating to me. A study like this makes the Old Testament come alive, showing us that most of the promises there intimately concern us, the church of God. We are not just “reading Jewish mail” as several modern writers would have us believe. Their promises are our promises. Our promises are their promises, seeing that faith in the Messiah is the key to possessing those promises. Those who know their God will be strong and overcome, Dan 11:32. And those who know their God, Jew and Gentile, through the comfort and instruction of the Spirit of Christ, are the true and joyful Zionists.

    “Awake, awake!
    Put on your strength, O Zion;
    Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city!
    For the uncircumcised and the unclean
    Shall no longer come to you.

    Shake yourself from the dust, arise;
    Sit down, O Jerusalem!
    Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck,
    O captive daughter of Zion!”, Isaiah 52:1- 2

    This “beauty” is not just something that looks good. It is imperial splendor, regal magnificence. The same word is used in Isaiah 28:5. We have this because we reign with Christ. He has made us “kings and priests to His God and Father”, Rev. 1:5.

    Because “the joy of the Lord is our strength”, as Nehemiah says, we are taught even more to rest in Christ. Those who rest in their own righteousness cannot really ever rest, seeing that they never have enough righteousness to please God. They try to please God by good works, baptism, circumcision, churchy deeds… “faith” even, yet God sees only sin. It is only as we hide in Christ – and God seeing Christ – that we are seen as righteous. Our “beautiful garments” are the righteousness of Christ.

    Yet this needs to also be stated; as we rest in Him we also become more and more righteous in actual thought and deed. Those who love Him want to be like Him, 1 John 3:1- 3. We were captive to sin and Satan, why would we want to continue in all that!? Eph. 4:8; Heb. 2:14- 15; Luke 11:21- 22; Jer. 31:11- 12; Rom. 6:15- 18.

    “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news,
    Who proclaims peace,
    Who brings glad tidings of good things,
    Who proclaims salvation,
    Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

    Your watchmen shall lift up their voices,
    With their voices they shall sing together;
    For they shall see eye to eye
    When the Lord brings forth Zion.” Isaiah 52:7- 8

    I capitalized “Him” in verse 7, seeing it (as do Matthew Henry and others) as first of all a reference to Christ. Paul is inspired to make a different application, Rom. 10:15, following the LXX version, widening the scope of the prophecy to include the many believers who will go worldwide with the Gospel.

    Now here is something strange: Notice the two occurrences of “Zion”. First, Zion is told “Your God reigns”. People have to go “upon the mountains”, as we say “over hill and dale”, with the message of “Our God reigns”. This is the announcing of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the world, starting at Jerusalem, then worldwide. Wherever we go - and find a convert – we will have gone to Zion. That person is part of Zion. Then the passage continues; “the Lord brings forth Zion”. The point is, once again, that Zion is not just a spot on the Middle East map. It is wherever God’s people are.

    A good study to do is to look up all the “Zion” verses in the Bible. I had printed up about 8 pages of them for my Hebrews Bible study. I noticed that that many of these verses fell into one of two categories:

    1. The nations are coming to Zion, Isa. 2:1- 4; 51:11; Micah 4:2.
    2. Zion is going out to the nations, or is already among them, waiting to hear. Isa. 40:9; 62:11; Micah 4:13.

    Zion is coming and going. Both are true! Dispensationalists latch onto the first and say, “Aha! Here is the Millennium! It says that all the nations will come to Israel!” But then they downplay other verses that state the opposite.

    The two agree when we realize that a spiritual city/kingdom is described. If you are a Christian, then you are elect. And if you are elect, then you were born in Zion, Psalm 87:5. That is your heavenly citizenship that Paul speaks of, Phil. 3:20. Much more needs to be said on this, but this is already getting too long.

    “Break forth into joy, sing together,
    You waste places of Jerusalem!
    For the Lord has comforted His people,
    He has redeemed Jerusalem.

    The Lord has made bare His holy arm
    In the eyes of all the nations;
    And all the ends of the earth shall see
    The salvation of God.” Isaiah 52:7- 10

    Since we return to the word “comfort” it would be helpful to add a caution. God’s “comfort” is different than the world’s comfort.

    His comfort makes us stronger.
    The world’s comfort often makes us weaker.

    The word is itself the clue; the “fort” relates to “fortifying” and “fortress”. That is the original meaning of the word. Nowadays comfort means “Make the pain just go away”, “Make me feel better”, or, a la “Southern Comfort”, “Make me feel nothing”. But God’s Spirit teaches us that “through many hardships we must enter the Kingdom of God”. So, while the comfort in the text assures God’s people of release from their previous captivity, it also strengthens them for what lies ahead. Our ministry of comfort must be the same if we truly love those we minister to. We are God's building. God's building needs compacted bricks, not comforted marshmallows.

    It is hard to know where to stop quoting. The very next verse 11 has “Depart! Depart! Go out from there, Touch no unclean thing”, the very passage that Paul quoted to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 6:17) in his plea for their sanctification. The Old Testament’s use for this is a prophetic warning for those still in physical Babylon to flee when the time comes, to return physically and spiritually to Zion. For Paul - and us – the emphasis is on fleeing from spiritual Babylon to spiritual Zion, Heb. 12:22- 24. Moreover, to stay in Babylon is to remain a prisoner, Gal. 4:24 – 28.

    God is building up His temple, the heavenly Jerusalem. He does it through us, each one of us edifying each other (building up) with the gifts and grace that God has given us. The Zion of God is growing stronger everyday (though invisible to those who have made it no business of theirs), living stones being laid upon living stones; and all of us upon the Precious Stone, the Rock, which is Jesus Christ!
  5. Grasshopper

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  6. asterisktom

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  7. asterisktom

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    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66 (5)

    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah 40 – 66 (5)​

    Now we come to the section of Isaiah that has no mention of Jerusalem or Zion at all (the next mentions of “Zion” being 59:20 and 60:14, the next “Jerusalem occurs at 62:1).

    What are we to make of this? God sweeps aside the motifs of city and temple and reveals to us the real cause of our salvation, the astonishing mission, life and death of our Messiah. All of the types, prophecies, parables, and many of the historical incidents, even, of the Old Testament point to our Christ Jesus. He is the foundation of the city, as well as it’s light and life.

    But it is as our sin-substitute that He has given us life. Who could have guessed – certainly prophets and angels, even, weren’t able to understand this – that the Messiah was first to die, and in such a horrible, shameful, cursed way!

    Now here is a strange irony: God pronounced the act of killing the firstborn for the setting up of the city of Jericho one of those abominations that brought judgment. Yet God does this to His own Son. The death of Christ is the foundation of the Heavenly Jerusalem. We are saved through His death.

    The Greatest City in the World - has only one Door.
    Christ is not only the foundation. He is also the door, the only door to the sheepfold. He said

    “I am the door of the sheep”, John 10:7.

    He is the Door who, throughout this age of exercising grace, people are straining to get into this great city - all through this one Door! Yes, regeneration is the work of a single believing instant, but the evidence of that regeneration is seen in the obedience of faith, “press[ing] toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”, Phil. 3:14. Peter speaks of Christ as both Door and Foundation in Acts 4:11- 12:

    “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone [that is, “foundation stone”].

    “Nor is there salvation in any other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    When God provided them their own Messiah that they professed to be waiting for, the unbelieving builders looked around for other building materials, like their ancient fathers in Egypt, seeking to add strawy chaff to their useless bricks.

    It is with this same attitude that, sadly, the majority of the Jews treated this Messianic portion of Isaiah: They ignored it. My version of the Torah has almost every other chapter of Isaiah – except this Messianic centerpiece and foundation of all the blessedness of the rest of the book! How strange, and how sad! Some Jewish works actually draw a black line around this passage, as well as Daniel 9, and proscribe the public reading of these two portions.

    “Behold My Servant shall deal prudently;
    He shall be exalted [ or, “be lifted up”] and be very high.

    Just as many were astonished at you,
    So His appearance was marred more than any man,
    And His form more than the sons of men;

    “So shall He sprinkle many nations.
    Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
    For what had not been told them they shall see,
    And what they had not heard they shall consider.”
    Isaiah 52:13- 15.

    This is the only part of the Messianic portion that I will quote, in order to keep on my main topic of the spiritual Jerusalem. Aside from the well known teaching of Christ’s suffering, atoning death and resurrection, this whole section also teaches the growth of the church, that enlarging of the tent (54:2) that proved to be such a stumbling-stone to the Jews.

    His “sprinkling of many nations” teaches that God’s care extends beyond the borders of Israel. Various writers see the sprinkling itself to refer primarily to Christ’s blood (1 Peter. 1:2). The kings shutting their mouths can be taken in a positive and a negative sense. First, there are bound to be some kings who will be won over to the Gospel, Isaiah 49:7. These will have no counter-arguments to the Message. Like Job’s hearers they will put their hands to their mouths, Job. 29:9, the word being preached to them becoming like the dew that gives spiritual growth, Job. 29:22; Deut. 32:2. These nations were not told and had not heard the Message – and yet God adds them now. These prove to be true sons of Abraham, and they take their place with all those Jews who are not just physical but also spiritual heirs of God’s promise to Abraham.

    Matthew Henry, commenting on this 54th chapter says “the death of Christ is the life of the church.” This is well said.

    “Sing. O barren,
    You who have not borne!
    Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
    You who have not labored with child!
    For more are the children of the desolate
    Than the children of the married woman,’ says the Lord.

    “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
    Do not spare;
    Lengthen your cords,
    And strengthen your stakes.

    For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
    And your descendants will inherit the nations,
    And make the desolate cities inhabited." Isaiah 54:1- 3

    God tore the most important curtain of the physical temple Himself (Matt. 27:51). He tore it from top to bottom, making it clear that it was an act of God. But He tore up those to establish these. The real temple grows in size and glory, just as Haggai said it would, Hag. 2:6- 9.

    And who is the “barren one”? Fortunately, Paul quoted this very passage in Gal. 4:27 and applies it to the children of promise, all those who are born of the Spirit, Jews and Gentiles.

    These are the very ones who belong to Jerusalem above which is free, the mother of us all, Gal. 4:26.

    This brings us to a good quitting place for now. It brings us back to the theme of spiritual Jerusalem in Isaiah, and hopefully reminds us that Daniel 9’s prophetical Jerusalem of promise is – at least partially – a present possession of every true believer.
  8. asterisktom

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    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah (6)

    Have you noticed, in reading Isaiah, that he jumps from metaphor to metaphor, though still on the same topic? That 54th chapter that I quoted last time, “Sing, O barren…”, presents the church as the bride of God (vss. 1- 8), but later returns to describing His redeemed as a building. See verses 11- 15:

    “O you afflicted one,
    Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
    Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
    And lay your foundations with sapphires.

    I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
    Your gates of crystal,
    And all your walls of precious stones.

    All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
    And great shall be the peace of your children.

    In righteousness you shall be established;
    You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
    And from terror, for it shall not come near you.

    Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
    Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.”

    The “O barren one” section (54:1- 8) is similar to the “O afflicted one” passage (11- 15), and invites closer consideration. Both begin with an address (“O…”), God’s people are described in two different ways, and with two different metaphors (wife and building). Both refer to the children of the faithful, and God’s mercies to them. There are other things that could be said, but let’s look at this second section in particular.

    The “affliction” described here, is from the Hebrew “ANI”, a word most often translated “poor”. Isaiah 66:2b- 3 gives both assurance and warning:

    “But on this one I will look:
    On him who is poor (ANI) and contrite in spirit,
    And who trembles at My Word.

    He who kills a bull as if he slays a man;
    He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck;
    He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood;”

    The very sacrifices of obedience - hadn’t God commanded all these? – now become sacrileges. They become this because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. The true worshippers of God worship Him in Spirit and in truth, John 4:24, not in a physical place. Christ refers to this poorness of spirit in the Beatitudes, (Matt. 5:3) as a necessary step to Kingdom-entering blessedness.

    He also assures the church, returning back to Isaiah 54:11- 15, that the gates of Hell (the powers of Hell) shall not overcome it.

    The “colorful gems”, “foundations", “crystal”, “walls of precious stones” might remind us of two New Testament passages. We find a very similar description of the church, the heavenly Jerusalem, in Rev.21:10- 27. And we also see a cross-reference in 1 Pet. 2:4- 10. As we come to Christ and grow in Him, we are built upon Him, living stones upon the Rock, the chief cornerstone that was laid in Zion. By the way, this is the same Stone in Daniel 2 which, decisively striking the metal image of the earthly kingdoms, grows and fills the entire earth. The blessings of the New Jerusalem, to a degree enjoyed right now, are knowledge, stability, peace and righteousness. You can see all of these in the Isaiah passage.

    We shall all be “taught by the Lord”. This is because all of those in the New Jerusalem are taught by the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Jesus quotes this verse, John 6:45, showing that those taught by God will come to Christ and rest in Him.

    It is very important to recognize how richly Christ, and His gift of grace, is interwoven in the Old Testament, and how many passages of the Old Testament can only be understood by turning to the New. As Augustine points out (in “On the Spirit and the Letter”, chapter 27)

    “This grace hid itself under a veil in the Old Testament, but it has been revealed in the New Testament…”

    But it needs to also be pointed out that many Christians today are deficient in their New Testament knowledge, not because they don’t read the New Testament – but because they don’t read the Old. They miss the connection. They are like those who, just walking in on a rich and deep discussion, interrupt glibly on the last word heard.

    In this same way, many prophecy students are deficient in their understanding of prophecy – because they read the prophecy books of the Bible too much. By neglecting the rest they likewise miss those connections that would’ve saved them from imbalance and - in some cases - outright spiritual drought.

    The best commentary on the Bible is – the Bible.
  9. asterisktom

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    May 29, 2007
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    Sidetrack in Joel (still on the Heavenly Zion thread)

    Sidetrack in Joel on the "Jerusalem" Topic
    Which "multitudes"? What "decision"?

    I forgot to upload this side-topic, in my going through Isaiah. I guess we will call it "part 3 and a half"?

    As I have been studying these Jerusalem passages in Isaiah I now see them in my other reading in the Bible. Going through the Minor Prophets I found this in Joel 2:30 – 3:2a:

    “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
    Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.

    The sun shall be turned into darkness,
    And the moon into blood,
    Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

    And it shall come to pass that
    That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
    Shall be saved (or, “delivered”).
    For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, (or, “salvation”),
    As the Lord has said,
    Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

    For behold, in those days and at the time,
    When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,

    I will also gather all nations,
    And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
    And I will enter into judgment with them there”

    Read the rest of this third chapter of Joel and you will find some familiar passages “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision”, as well as a closing description of eternal Jerusalem/Zion.

    There are some interesting points to consider. This passage blends (what we were taught was) apocalyptic with what is clearly historical.

    Blood and fire, pillars of smoke (Apocalyptic)
    Whoever calls on the name… (historical and present)
    In Mount Zion and Jerusalem shall be deliverance (historical)
    Bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem (historical)
    I will gather all nations … Valley of Jehoshaphat (Apocalyptic ala Hal Lindsay, Hagee, etc.)

    But have you noticed that all of this is described in Joel as being the same general time? These are all tied down to “those days and at the time”. True, it is a generally large period, but it is not one with breaks. Its beginning, according to this passage, started with the return of the captives.

    Here is the small sprout of the invisible Jerusalem.
    Much of what is described here, happened in the time of the incarnate Messiah, “blood and fire, pillars of smoke”, calling on the Name, deliverance in the very place where God chose His name to dwell. If you doubt this see Peter’s and Paul’s application of this text, Acts 2:12- 24; Rom. 10:13.

    Notice especially how the “whoever calls on the name of the Lord” is nested right in the middle of the supposedly future verse on both sides. All of these details in Joel were part of Peter’s answer to the Pentecost crowd when they asked (paraphrased) “What in the world is going on!”. He answered “This is….” And then he quotes Joel, expounding the apocalyptic detail also in terms of recent historical events in the life and death of Christ, including those “miracles, wonders, and signs” = “blood and fire, pillars of smoke“(Acts 2:19-20, 22).
    #9 asterisktom, Jan 24, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2010
  10. asterisktom

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    May 29, 2007
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    Christ is our Covenant. Our Covenant is Christ.

    Jerusalem: Daniel and Isaiah (7)
    The more I study through these passages the more I see fascinating and encouraging references and cross-references to this invigorating theme of God's building up of Zion. How can a Christian not be helped by thinking on these things?! The following may look like a digression, but it is not. We are still tracing through Isaiah's teaching on the Jerusalem of God's promise. But because many today have been bombarded with so much wrong teaching in this area of the Bible, it is always good to clear out the deadwood of stifling over-literalism. We need to see our blessed Redeemer's name and work here as well, and not just in those other better-known New Testament passages.

    Christ is our Covenant. Our Covenant is Christ.

    Take a look at Isaiah 55: 1- 6.

    “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
    Come to the waters;
    And you who have no money,
    Come, buy and eat.
    Yes, come, buy wine and milk
    Without money and without price.

    “Incline your ear, and come to Me.
    Hear, and your soul shall live;
    And I will make an everlasting covenant with you-
    The sure mercies of David.

    Indeed I have given Him as a witness to the people.
    And nations who do not know You shall run to You,
    Because of the Lord your God,
    And the Holy One of Israel;
    For He has glorified You.”
    Seek the Lord while He may be found,
    Call upon Him while He is near."

    This passage does not specify by name “Zion” or “Jerusalem”, but cross-references show us that this refers to the building up of God’s church. The "Ho! Everyone who thirsts" is not just a quaint or poetical way of speaking. It is the Spirit of Christ speaking into our ears, as in "He who has an ear let him hear". All those who have ears to hear also have eyes to see, hearts to thirst.

    This is Christ telling us "Wake up!" We need to be alert to spiritual truth shown here. All the more as our tendency is to return to sluggishness when it comes to our spiritual calling.

    Christ alludes to the above passage when He warns the Jews to believe in the light while they have the light, so that they may become sons of light, John 12:35- 36.

    But now here is an enigmatical passage:
    “I will make an everlasting covenant with you- The sure mercies of David”

    What might these "sure mercies" mean? If we only had this verse to go on we might be scratching our heads, but fortunately we have other inspired words to go by. When we follow the evidence we might be very surprised at where it ends up!

    Paul , preaching to both Jews and Gentiles in Pamphylia, opens up for them (see Acts 13:34) this very verse in Isaiah 55:

    “And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus:

    ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David’”

    Lest anyone did not follow where - or to Whom - those promises pointed, Paul speaks more plainly in verse 38, “that through this Man is preached the forgiveness of sins.”

    So what exactly is being given here? The sure mercies of David. The everlasting Covenant. Christ! Christ has been given to us. That is Paul’s point. What is this Covenant being spoken of? Take a look at Isaiah 42:6- 7:

    I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
    And will hold Your hand;
    I will keep You and give You as covenant to the people.
    As a light to the Gentiles.”

    “To open blind eyes,
    To bring out prisoners from the prison.
    Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

    The covenant is Christ. Christ is the covenant. So now we can add “covenant” to all the Messianic titles He has. Think about all the separate themes in the Old Testament, and see how they point to, and are summed up in, Christ. Here are just a few:

    He is our King.
    He is our High Priest.
    He is our Prophet.
    He is our Sacrifice.
    He is our Tabernacle and Temple.
    He is our Word.
    He is our Life.
    He is our Covenant.

    Did you notice those “setting the prisoner free passages” (42:7; 49:9)? These go hand in hand with those other prisoner passages – the captivity in Babylon. Both are real bondages, one physical, the other spiritual. But here, again, as in the descriptions of Jerusalem/Zion, the physical gives way to the spiritual.

    Ultimately Isaiah is about freedom from spiritual bondage, and liberty to be a part of spiritual Zion.

    The reason for this seeming digression is to remind us, as we study Isaiah, of the underlying Messianic theme. And, of course, Messianic means Christ. Christ means New Testament. New Testament means New Covenant.

    So when anyone teaches these passages as some sort of Hebraic promissory note, or Millennial sneak-peek, we need to reassert, “No, this is what (Who) we have right now. These are the very present and real blessings of the New Jerusalem”.

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