Israel: The Nation of Destiny
In the present chart appears the entire text of Isaiah 62:1 – 63:6 with an additional verse from Hosea. This passage from Isaiah constitutes one sermon, presenting four major theses.
The prophet in this chapter, as shown in the title of the study, presents the nation of Israel as the people of destiny. This truth was shown in the study, “Israel the Hub of the Nations.” As we have already seen, Israel was created by a supernatural, biological miracle for a definite purpose — to become the channel of world-blessing. The Lord God declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done (Isaiah 46:10). He never therefore has to change His plans. In Genesis 12:1-3 and those passages related thereto, the Almighty has declared His purpose of blessing all mankind through Abraham and his literal descendants, the Jews. In this study we wish to see what He has to say about God’s plan for Israel.
God’s Plan for Jerusalem and Israel
In verse 1 of this chapter God declares that He will not hold His peace nor take any rest until Jerusalem’s righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burneth. What is meant by Zion and Jerusalem? Zion is one of the poetical names for Jerusalem. It is located in Judea and is sometimes called the city of David. It is called the city of God in certain psalms. Many have been the changes that have come to that city, but great things are foretold for it. It will yet be the capital of the whole earth, and nations will flow to it constantly, making pilgrimages thereto in order to be taught of the God of Jacob, who will be there in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. That the prophet is speaking of the literal city of Jerusalem cannot be doubted when one reads the first five verses of this chapter — especially, when one studies them in the light of many predictions that Jerusalem has a wonderful future before her. For example, see Psalm 48:1f; Jeremiah 3:14-18; Zephaniah 3:14-17.
It is also evident from verses 1 and 2 of our chapter that Isaiah included in his message the Jewish people, who are in various places of the Scripture called “the daughter of Zion.” That he had the people in mind also is evident from the fact that he speaks of the going forth of Zion’s righteousness and salvation as a lamp that burneth. Righteousness and salvation can be spoken only of people and not of a literal city; but, as stated above, the city of Jerusalem is undoubtedly included in this passage. In view of these facts we are confident that both the literal city and the people of Israel are seen in this prophecy.
Why is God so very much interested in Jerusalem and the Jewish people? How deep does His interest in this city and this people lie? In answer, let me call attention to His statement that He will not hold His peace, neither will He take any rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burns. Speaking in popular language, we see that He will not cease to talk about Jerusalem, and that He will not take any rest or find satisfaction until this city and its people are blessed as contemplated in this passage. When a person has definite, specific plans in which his entire heart and soul are wrapped, he cannot have any rest or satisfaction until his purposes materialize but will constantly work toward his objective. In this verse God is speaking of Himself in terms of man’s experiences. Thus He says that He will not cease talking about Jerusalem and the Jewish people, until they are clothed with His righteousness and enjoy His complete salvation.
God’s righteousness is imputed to those who believe in and put their trust in the all-sufficient sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was made nineteen hundred years ago at Calvary. No one can enjoy the righteousness of God until he in genuine repentance and in trust accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Israel will have to do this before she can be clothed in His righteousness. She as a nation can never accept Jesus of Nazareth as her long-rejected Messiah and Saviour until she is given the truth concerning Him, His divine nature, and His mission. That she will be clothed in His righteousness, as stated in this prediction, is proof that the truth of the gospel will be given to her and that she upon receiving it will accept Christ, who will clothe her in His righteousness. We who have the facts of the gospel must, therefore, give her this message so that she may see her terrible mistake, turn from it, and accept Him, in whom she can have life and righteousness.
Why is God so very much interested in Israel and her salvation? The answer is that she is the nation of destiny. All spiritual blessings which have come to the world have flowed through her as the channel. The blessings of the world in the future will likewise come to it through her. Her important position might be illustrated by the game of tenpins. All who are familiar with this game know that the pins are placed in a “V” shape. The one at the vertex of the triangle is known as the kingpin. It is so placed and related to the rest that, if it is hit squarely, in falling it will strike those on either side and back of it. They in turn will strike others, and thus, with one stroke, all ten of the pins may be knocked down. That is the object of each player. Israel was placed in that position in relation to the nations. That is a truth which was brought out in the study, “Israel the Hub of the Nations.” The Almighty, in His wisdom, saw fit thus to place her. His ways and His doings are marvelous in our eyes and are right and just. All who are wishing to please the Lord will be satisfied with whatever arrangement He chooses to make. Since He has placed Israel in this position, let us rejoice in that fact and act accordingly. If the Lord had seen fit to make America the kingpin, we would not complain but would rejoice in that fact. But He did not choose to place us in such a position. What I say of the American nation is true of any other.
When Israel is given the gospel, she in turn will pass it on to all other nations and will lead all peoples to an acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ. See, for instance, Zechariah 8:22,23. Because the Lord will yet use Israel as a channel of world blessing, I speak of her in this connection as the kingpin of the nations.
It is absolutely certain that Israel as a people will be converted, for in verse 2 we see them clothed in His righteousness. The nations and their kings shall also see and recognize this fact. At that time Jerusalem is to be given another name. From Jeremiah 33:16 we learn that she will be called “Jehovah our righteousness.” Whether this is the name to which Isaiah in this passage refers, one cannot say.
At that time Israel will be the source of joy and delight to the Lord. According to verse 3 converted Israel will be a crown of beauty and a royal diadem in the Almighty’s hand. Of course, these are figurative expressions referring to the royal position which she, as the head of the nations, will occupy (compare Zechariah 9:16).
Great will be the contrast between the condition of the land of Israel and its people now and what they will be then. They are termed definitely as forsaken at present. At that time they will be called “Hephzi-bah” and “Beulah.” There will be a great transformation that will come over the country. The curse will be lifted. The land will be restored to Edenic conditions. Jerusalem will be an elevated place — the joy of the whole earth. The Hebrew people will be converted, and they will have an intense love for their mother city. This national, patriotic feeling is compared to the love that a groom has for his bride. Thus Palestine, which is the center of the earth (Ezekiel 38:12), Jerusalem, which is to be the joy of the whole earth, and Israel, who is to become “the head of the nations” (Deuteronomy 28:13), will become the channel of blessing to the entire world and its teeming millions in their lives, worship, and service during the great Golden Age when the glory of God Shall encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea. “Glorious things are spoken of thee, 0 City of God” (Psalm 87:3).
Prayer for Israel Urged
Prayer figures very largely in the great economy of God. We may not be able to understand the philosophy of intercession and thanksgiving, (but from the Scriptures we learn that “the supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working (James 5:16). For reasons known to God alone He has bound up the unfolding of His plan with the prayer-life of His people. Though we do not understand this now, we shall fully appreciate the ministry of intercession when we shall know as we are fully known.
In speaking to Jerusalem, the prophet as God’s representative declared, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, 0 Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day nor night.” Who are these watchmen? We understand that a watchman is a sentry who gives the alarm at the approach of an enemy. In these times of war every one understands what a sentry is and what are his duties. The Lord declares that He has watchmen upon the walls of Zion and that they never hold their peace. The word here rendered watchmen may signify either man or angel. The latter is called a watcher in the Book of Daniel. Since these watchmen mentioned by the prophet continually cry out to God and since there are no watchmen, human beings, on the walls of Zion crying out to Him, one is inclined strongly to the position that these watchmen are angels whom God has stationed there, and who are vitally interested in the Almighty’s plans concerning Jerusalem and her people. By inference we are to understand that these angelic hosts are constantly bringing before the Almighty His plans with reference to this city and His people. This seems to be the implication which is to be drawn from the connection which exists between the words quoted above and the following: “Ye that are Jehovah’s remembrancers, take ye no rest, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” The flow of thought demands this course of reasoning. These angelic watchmen are constantly reminding God of His plan concerning His nation and His city. They will never stop their ministry of intercession until He, the Almighty, makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Since they are so very vitally interested in this glorious consummation, the prophet urges those whom he termed “Jehovah’s remembrancers” to engage in the ministry of intercession, day and night, until the Lord is justified in establishing Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
What is meant by “Jehovah’s remembrancers”? Another rendering of the original which is just as accurate and possibly a little more vivid is “You who remind Jehovah.” In the light of the entire context, we must conclude that these who remind God are the praying people who know His plans and purposes for Israel in her relation to the world, and who in faith day after day remind Him of His announced plan of making her the channel of world-blessing.
Those who engage in the prayer ministry are urged to take no rest and to give God no rest until He makes Jerusalem and her people a joy to all nations. Everyone who knows God, who believes in prayer, and who delights in the ministry of intercession should constantly keep before the Lord His announced plan. As stated in the beginning of this study, we may not understand the philosophy of intercession; but the Lord has invited us to cooperate with Him in the unfolding of His plan by reminding Him of His purpose. Of course, He has not forgotten, but He wants us to remind Him of it and never stop calling His attention to it until He brings His purposes into full realization.
Whenever people see the plan of God as laid down in this and many other passages referring to Jerusalem and her sons, they will pray for them and will do all in their power to get the truth to them so that they can turn to God and allow Him to bring these promises to fullest fruition.
When God does make Jerusalem the joy of the whole earth, the era of peace will dawn. Then Israel’s suffering will be over. In fact, the suffering and the sorrows of all earth’s inhabitants will be a thing of the past. 0 Lord, hasten that day! In the meantime help us to cooperate with Thee in the ministry of intercession and in any other service which helps forward Thy plans among men.
Evangelization of Israel Commanded
In verses 10-12 the command is given to evangelize Israel. The prophet began his exhortation in a stately manner — the way in which one of authority at an oriental court issued commands to subordinates, instructing them to prepare a highway in order that a royal visitor might come in regal splendor to visit his sovereign. We know from ancient history that, when one king made the announcement to another concerning a proposed visit, the host king had a highway prepared for his guest in anticipation of this special occasion. Our prophet in chapter 40:3-5 chooses the same type of language, indicating the coming of a royal personage to Israel — her Messiah.
Isaiah, thinking of the coming of Israel’s King, spoke of a certain preparation that must be made in anticipation of His arrival. He therefore used language that was familiar to the people and that would imply the regal splendor and royal power of her coming Monarch. He, therefore, said: “Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up an ensign for the peoples.” Everyone who is familiar with Palestine and the Near East knows that in ancient times there were only donkey and camel paths, with the exception of certain international highways. For a special visitor therefore stones had to be thrown from the trails, the rough places had to be made smooth, and a highway had to be thrown up in order that the royal visitor in his chariot might come in regal splendor. What preparation must be made in anticipation of the coming of Israel’s royal visitor? From the quotation just given, we cannot say; but by reading the next verse, we see what was spoken in a figure is given in plain language. “Behold, Jehovah hath proclaimed unto the end of the earth, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”
From this verse we learn that God has sent forth a proclamation to the very ends of the earth. In this He speaks to certain ones, commanding them to take a message to the people of Israel — the daughter of Zion — and to announce to them that their salvation is coming. To whom does this proclamation go? It is quite evident that, since it is sent forth to the ends of the earth, those to whom it is given are to be found in all quarters of the world. In this proclamation we read, “Say ye to the daughter of Zion.” What is the antecedent of “ye”? It can be nothing other than “Jehovah’s remembrancers” of verse 6. It has been seen that these words refer to the praying people of the world. Thus those who are urged to pray that God may establish Jerusalem a praise in the earth are in verse 11 commanded to preach to Israel and to give her a certain definite message.
What is this message? It is this: “Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” The word, salvation, in the original and in the longer form is translated “Joshua,” which means “Jehovah’s deliverance or salvation.” Salvation may be worked out providentially, in one form or another. But how is it to be accomplished in this case? After making the statement that Israel’s salvation is coming, the prophet declares that “his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” From this we see that her salvation comes in the form of a person who brings deliverance to the Chosen People and also rewards and recompenses. The word rendered salvation has been translated into the Greek and transliterated from it into the English by the name Jesus.
One can be true to the original text and render the message which the praying people are to deliver to Israel in these words: “Behold, thy Jesus cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” This appearance is evidently the second coming, for His reward is with Him and His recompense is before Him. If one wishes to get the attention of the Jew, he must expound those prophecies which foretell the glorious and victorious appearance of King Messiah. Wisdom dictates that one speak of His coming in glory and power to deliver the people of Israel and to establish a reign of righteousness upon the earth. Such a message will immediately catch the intelligent Jew’s attention. In discussing those predictions which foretell this advent, one will naturally make it clear that this is His second appearance. When this is done, the way is opened for a discussion of the first coming and its meaning. The Lord knows psychology and the best approach to the Jewish people. He has told us how to gain their attention so that we can give them the full message of the gospel.
In speaking of this glorious event we are to assure the Hebrew people that, at the time of Messiah’s return, after Israel has acknowledged her national sin and has accepted Him personally, she will become “The holy people, The redeemed of Jehovah: and thou shalt be called Sought out, A city not forsaken.” There is a wonderful and glorious future for her when she, evangelized and convicted of her national sin, turns in genuine faith to the Lord Jesus and pleads for His return.
But Israel must be given the truth regarding her Lord and Messiah in order that she might repudiate her national sin and confess her offense. I wish to call attention to the passage found in Hosea 5:15. An examination of all the facts of the context from which this verse is taken makes it evident that this is a messianic prediction. Hosea, speaking as if he were the Messiah, declared: “I will go and return to my place, till they [Ephraim and Judah] acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly.” This prediction shows that the twelve tribes of Israel committed an offense against Jehovah when He appeared in their midst. He then went back to heaven and will remain there until they acknowledge their offense against Him and seek His face. Note the language once more: “I will go and return to my place (heaven), till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face.” This prediction means exactly what it says. The Messiah comes to Israel. The people commit an offense against Him; then He returns to heaven from which place He came. He declares that He will never leave His place and come back to the Jewish race until they have acknowledged their offense and have sought His face. Not being aware of the fact that their ancestors committed this sin nineteen hundred years ago, the Hebrew people cannot make this confession and plead for Messiah’s return.
In the last clause of this prediction we are told that Israel will in her time of affliction seek Messiah earnestly. We know that the time of her affliction is the Tribulation. Thus, when the power of the holy people is broken — when Israel is brought to her extremity, she will cry out to God and plead for Messiah to come, acknowledging her national sin; then He will return and bring the deliverance (Daniel 12:7).
Messiah’s Return at Israel’s Request
In chapter 63:1-6 we see a dramatic presentation of Messiah’s return after Israel has been evangelized, has learned of her national sin, has repented of it, and has called upon Him to return. He will then do so; He will come, taking her part, and will bring the long-desired deliverance. He will say at that time, “The day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” That will be the day of vengeance — a time for Messiah to take vengeance on all anti-Semites and persecutors of Israel. That will be the year for His redeemed. Messiah alone can stop all wars and establish a reign of righteousness, justice, and peace throughout the earth.
Since Messiah will never leave heaven and come back to Israel until she makes this confession, and since she does not know about the enormity of her sin, it becomes of paramount importance that we who have the truth relative to Him and His mission in the world give this message to the entire nation of Israel in order that she might make that acknowledgment and plead for His return.
Let no one think that our Lord’s coming to the air to catch up the living saints and raise the dead in Christ is contingent upon our giving the truth to Israel or doing any amount of work. The rapture of the church may, so far as we know, occur at any time. Let us, while the Lord allows us to remain upon the earth, be diligent about our Father’s business, preaching the gospel, giving it first to the Jew and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
Article courtesy of ariel.org, Biblical Research Society: Dr. David L. Cooper