Reply to PS from mjm.
Scripture will always uplift the believing heart, and will transcend the seeking soul to soar in spirit to the highest heavens where God the Father seated with His glorious Son accompanied around His holy throne with myriads of innumerable holy ones in worship and praise and gratitude for sharing His presence and its glory with creatures created for His pleasure and purpose. Soon we too will find our place among His vast throng of lovers.
I delayed to reply due to preoccupation with the Presidential Election, long hours in training a young cobbler, and family matters of one thing or the other. While waiting for the proper time to reply with my reflections before the Lord throughout the days and weeks have cause me to review the works of McFadyen and Milligan, but more ardently the Bible (by audio from Genesis to Revelation, and again Isaiah to Malachi and the Apocalypse).
Theologians help us a great deal in those things they have labored and have been richly rewarded with divine knowledge and understanding of the Divine Word. They also have found themselves lost and confused in the very things they explore, and more hinder some in the weak way they often express their views. There are perhaps some thousand titles of the books of Isaiah and Revelation each in English, and who knows how many thousands more in other languages. Since I have lived a life quite foreign to the academic traditions of the schoolmen and scholars, though loving God’s Word and learning with ardent and fervent zeal, I now rarely pursue some of these Bible scholars in their various fancies. I think in my golden years I rest more in the work that God’s Spirit does apart from our immediate knowledge or participation, as He quietly effects His will, and affect all that is needed to conform all to His way which leads to the eternal days. The Doctors and Divines have as much to differ as the rest of us who are not of the schools. It appears you have become fond of the Scottish Church Theologians, and with good reason, for they have produced many great works. As I have pointed before, I now repeat, they only need to be guarded against the modern Biblical Criticism, high and low, which have molded them in the schools. McFadyen perpetuated Smith’s doctrines. The Milligans, William and George, father and son, are of similar school, but less offensive. These men in their spiritual understanding of Scripture must be weighed in the balance as best as we can with what the Lord may have given to each of us after the fashion of the scripture that says to take heed to what we hear and how we hear it. So I turn to some reflections on Isaiah the prophet, then John’s Apocalypse.
Isaiah is in Hebrew Y’shaYahu Salvation (Yesha) Jehovah (YHWH), which is to say, Salvation-Jehovah; it is the same as Jesus or Joshua (Yeshua contraction of Yehoshua, Y’howah-shua, meaning Jehovah-Salvation); thus Isaiah is another way to write and say Jesus, and reveals Salvation and the Savior. This is the first step to understand the Prophet and the Prophecies of the Book. As Adam is a type of Christ as the First Man, the Arch-Type, so too is Noah, Abraham, Israel, Moses, David, Solomon, and all the others which are found in the volume of the Scroll. In Luke 24 it is written of Jesus the Christ: “And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” The Testimony and Witness of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. So in Isaiah we trace the lines of those things concerning Messiah, just as we do in all of the Old Testament, seeking to see and find Christ in all that God has given us in the Word. The Divine Themes and Subjects of the Bible are three: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; creation, judgment, and salvation; the land, the man or people, and the book; and many other examples. We must find in Genesis the seed and beginning of what we encounter in later scriptures; things like what a prophet is in the Sacred Scroll, as in its first occurrence, the primary hermeneutical principal, by which the later usage is determined or limited. God said of Abraham to Abimelech: “Now therefore restore the man’s wife. For he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live.” Abraham as the Lord’s Prophet had God’s words and purposes in him, and thus as he journeyed he took God with him, and as such he spoke for God to others who knew not God’s words, witnessing that God-is-with-us. A prophet was one who speaks, and a seer is one who sees; the oracle and the messenger is God’s instrument of revelation. As we follow God in His interventions, visitations, and interactions in the Old Testament with His people and His land, the content of the Book was being written or produced, and also transmitted. The Mosaic system and institution of the legal dispensation remained in force from Moses to David, the Monarchy did not abrogate or annul the prior covenants; rather the Davidic Monarchy was added onto the covenants that continued. The failure of the Monarchy, first in Solomon and Rehoboam of Jerusalem, then in Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom of Samaria, offered God another opportunity in man apostasy to show His abundance grace and wisdom. Isaiah comes in and the Lord uses him to introduce His global and universal Kingdom of which He as the Monarch of all the earth, King of kings, and Lord of lords, will fulfill the Father’s heart. The earlier prophets before Isaiah are not to be regarded in this light, but served His purpose until the appointed time and seasons. An instance of this is in Elijah and Elishah; but in Balaam, the bad prophet of the Lord, and Job a parabolic good prophet of God, as Gentiles who were not of the House of Israel, nor under the Law. But they show that prophecy may come in parables, poems, poetry, prose, songs, sayings, in reason or ecstasy, in clarity or confusion, in dreams or wake, and much more.
Isaiah’s visions and oracles, his burdens and prophecies, cover some three generations over some 60 years, during the reigns of 4 Kings of Judah, with some of the minor prophets preparing the divine ground upon which Isaiah could unfold the fuller purposes concerning Messiah and His people and His work. The Monarchy of Judah would see and survive the Captivity and Destruction of Israel during Isaiah’s ministry, and would in turn not repent and learn from unfaithful Israel and Samaria, but Judah and Jerusalem became treacherous against the Lord till He swore by His great name to utterly destroy them by captivity and exile for 70 years. All this was raw materials to reveal the Savior and His salvation. We read of the relationship of Jehovah to Israel as a Father to a son, of a Husband to a wife, of a King to His kingdom, and of God to His creation. We see and hear His view of His people as Sodom and Gomorrah, recalling Abraham and Lot in Genesis. But with judgment He remembers mercy, and after their ruin He promises to revive and restore them to righteousness and faith in true and full repentance. This Vision allows the prophet to prophesy of the distance future, indefinite and relative to how Israel and the world will respond to Him and each other, (properly the Gentiles or Sons of Noah,) in which the Lord might affect His greater designs and repairs. These promises and types, would in part begin to take place with the return exiles, but continue to increase till Messiah, and since Christ’s ascension and the residence of the Holy Spirit in His place they have increased, enlarged, and intensified. The Lord in and by the Prophet exposes His people unhealthy and sinful condition, with every law and commandment violated at every level and relationships between themselves, from high to low, rich and poor, native and stranger, and from sacred to common. In this awful condition of Israel, now just like the nations about them, just like before they were delivered from Egypt, just like those in the days of Noah before the Flood; the Lord will cultivate His Branch, but will first destroy His useless unproductive Vineyard, till they are revisited and blessed, while the lambs and homeless enjoy the land; this and more to the very end and limit of His wrath and frustration. Thus the prophet is allowed to see the thrice holy majestic King, the Lord of Hosts, enthroned above in awesome flames and power surrounded by His Holy Ones. Isaiah is commissioned, as others before and after, to minister to a rebellious and unrepentant people, so that the word sent to them might judge and condemn them to utter exile in a distance place, leaving the land barren and waste, leaving only the holy seed as a stock. But man will always seek to avert divine justice by confederacy (like the Confederate States wishing to keep Slavery alive be ore the Civil War); and Israel with Samaria allied themselves with Syria against Judah. So the Lord comes in and identified with His people according to His promises and oath, willing to show to Judah and Jerusalem His salvation; and thus the Sign of the Young Virgin to conceive and give birth to a Son named Immanuel (God-with-us), who in his first few years will witness to the destruction of the confederacy, as in Maher-shalal-hash-baz, as in Hosea, by the invasion of Assyria and its conflict with Egypt, the Bee and the Fly, till Assyria as a Barber shaves the captives for exile, and leaving the land unoccupied and deserted; even the Land of Immanuel. The conspiracy of the rebellious will be treated with the Assyrian judgment; but the reward of the ones who look to the Lord will find Him as a Sanctuary; but He will be to the wicked a Stumbling Stone, a Rock of Offence, and a Snare. He will gather His disciples to the Law and Testimony, passing with them in the judgment, preserving them from utter destruction; appearing to them in their darkness of death as a Great Light, bringing them thru unto a good end and a better place. The Lord will become to them who look for Him as Incarnate Child, a Regal Son, and His Name is Wonderful-Counsellor-Mighty God-Everlasting Father-Prince of Peace; He will initiate and consummate the Davidic Throne and Kingdom forever. And so it continues in the prophetic word of Isaiah the prophet with the Lord taken advantage in the divine chess game, responding to His creatures according to their response to Him. And those He uses to punish His people will thereby give Him cause and reason to deal with them, so none shall escape judgment. In the midst of the Times of the Gentiles, the Lord will appear as a Shoot of the Stock of Jesse, a Branch out of his Roots to bear fruit, with the 7 Fold and Thrice Ordered Lampstand to fulfill the Father’s will to save His people from their sins, and bring in a new Millennial Kingdom of Eternal Blessings. Not only salvation for His covenanted people, but for all the nations of the earth, and for all His exiles among the Gentiles. The Lord will in that day be God the Savior, and they shall say God is my Salvation–ISAIAH-JESUS. The Prophet then takes up his specific Burdens for Babylon, Philistia (Palestine), Moab (Jordan), Syria-Damascus, Egypt, and Assyria with things associated with that empire (as Deserts, Elam and Media, Babylon0); then other Burdens, of Arabia, and of the Valley of Vision. In the Lord’s Servant Eliakim established on the throne with the key of the House of David to be a Nail in a sure place and a Throne of glory for the kingdom was to a brief relief till the kingdom was judged. The last of these Burdens was of Tyre and Sidon with Tarshish (Spain) sharing in Israel 70 years Captivity.
We arrive at Isaiah chapters 24-27, of which you noticed. The Land of Israel is spoken, and as such type of the Earth proper, and the Lord engages with both Israel and the World to accomplish His purpose and intent. We must not interpret these things apart from their dual connections, nor when the natural typifies the spiritual. Some import into the Text what they learn elsewhere and apply to the world or the Gentiles which is anchored in Israel.
As an example from McFadyen:
Chaps. 24-27. “These four remarkable chapters are unique in the
Old Testament. Roughly speaking they are a prophetic, or rather
apocalyptic, description — interrupted by a few songs of praise —
of the great impending day of Jehovah, when the world will be
convulsed, but the Jews will be saved and gathered to Zion. The
songs (25 : 1-5 ; 25:0-11; 26:1-19; 27:2-6; 27 : 7-1 1) chiefly
celebrate the overthrow of some important city (cf. 25:2; 26 : 5)
or describe the care with which Jehovah watches over Israel
(27: 2). When these lyrics are removed, there is a more or less
continuous prophecy, which runs briefly thus : The world is about
to be convulsed by reason of the heavy load of sin that lies upon
it : in that day Jehovah will punish the rebellious powers in earth
and heaven and assume sovereignty himself on Zion (Chap. 24),
where for the sorrowing nations a royal banquet will be spread
(25: 6-8). In the judgment, Jehovah’s own people will be preserved
(26 : 20-27 : 1) and at the sound of the trumpet they shall
come from the ends of the earth and worship their God on Zion
(27 : 12 f.).”
“The whole tone of the prophecy and the reference to a resurrection
in 26 : 19 point to a date long after the age of Isaiah.
Doubtless the picture of the world reeling and convulsed in judgment was
suggested by some definite historical situation, when gloom and
confusion reigned. The allusions are too veiled to enable us to
date the prophecy, but it has been placed with much probability
about the time of the dissolution of the Persian empire, and the
conquests of Alexander the Great (circa 334 B.C.), to whose
victories the songs of rejoicing in 24:14-16 have been supposed to
And again at (vss. 14-18a)
14. “Something has just happened — whether Alexander’s
crossing of the Hellespont or something else — which seems to
these, i.e. the Jews dwelling in the west (Asia Minor? lit. the
sea), to illustrate the majesty of Jehovah and to call for devout
gratitude, though the poet takes a very different view (16b).”
I need not criticize the above remarks of the Scottish Theologian, we need only to read Isaiah’s Prayer and Song in chapter 25 to see the city is Jerusalem and the land is Judah, and of course the same of Samaria and Israel. In a larger sense God deals with the World and Nations as they connect with His people. He will enlarge His sovereignty to and over all the Gentiles, which He has continued to due for some 2500 years. The Prophet too must identify with both the people and the Lord, and in this manner Christ enters for both God and man for eternal life. The enemy as a Speedy Serpent and the Crooked Serpent and the Sea Monster will be slain; the Wine Vineyard will be cultivated satisfy the world with fruit; Jacob will be redeemed from Assyria and Egypt and restored to Jerusalem. And as I have said several times, I say again, Christ took in Himself all these things and countless more, to accomplish and perfect our salvation. I leave the rest of Isaiah to you and others, not imposing a longer reply and the fuller purposes that unfolds from this chapter onwards.
The Apocalypse or Revelation of the Apostle John is God’s Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to Him by Angelic visitation for us, His servants and people. It is a Testimony and Witness, Apostolic and Angelic. concerning the final things and consummation of all dispensations, finalizing and completing all things from Adam to Christ, from Moses to the Apostles, and from Genesis to the Revelation. It is a Divine Parable of the Messiah, and treats the the Church and the World as related to the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit). The Sevens are One; the Seven Spirits are one Holy Spirit, the Seven Churches are one Church, and the Seven Angels are one Angel; the individual is treated in the corporate, as in the Old Testament the individual in the National; as members of the household are treated in the house, or members of a group or company in the Group or Company. The details of the Book are given in Visions, seen and heard, but do not unfold a time-table of order or events as historical events. But as a Parable teaches us by signs and symbols, so God chose to signify to us by Angelic means Coming Things. As all can easily see in the reading of chapter one that the Vision of the Glorious Christ matches the elements and details of His constitution with the Seven Churches and Angels. The Parable is like a Story or Movie, which in reading or hearing we are introduced the spiritual and divine world where God works to transform the natural world. There are things of Heaven and things of Earth; there are things seen in the Vision, and then the things of the Angelic Churches which followed , which are the things that are; lastly there are things, spiritual things, which follow after right to the end. The Vision of the Throne and God enthroned with the Lamb, attended by a great spiritual world of beings. The Book or Scroll is seen with its Seven Seals, unfolding Divine Judgment, with other Sevens as it intensifies, then there appear Seven Wonders and Signs to interpret and explain the natural world with spiritual world. We are lead to wisdom and understanding faith and obedience to Him Who owns our allegiance. To search for historical analogies of history or future events are simply distraction from the Movie. Everything that has happened these 2,000 years are within the Revelation, and all that remains is revealed in the Apocalypse, which is a Witness and Testimony of the Spirit concerning Christ. We need to ignore speculations of mysteries which we must unravel by modern events, which led many astray for many centuries. I would gladly consider specific details that have been claimed since Victorinus of the 3rd century to the present. Especially with the significant influence of Augustine of Hippo who changed his views towards the end of his life, which doctrines are recorded in his City of God by which most of the church were indoctrinated ever since, but especially till the Reformation.
Grace to you brother; enjoy your retirement by being busy in the Lord. Soon will see Him face to face.