Without question, Isaiah 2-4 is a key OT prophecy of the Last Days, of the work of Messiah, a time of war, the Day of the Lord, and the establishment of the kingdom of Messiah. It is truly a fantastic prophetic revelation!
Virtually all eschatological paradigms appeal to this prophecy in support of their views. What is so interesting is that if there was ever a case of “proof texting” the use, and may we say, abuse, of Isaiah 2-4 is a prime example of how exegetes mishandle the divine text.
In my youth, I heard preacher after preacher appeal to Isaiah 2 (seldom, if ever chapters 3-4!) for proof that the church was established on Pentecost. The presentation went something like this:
In the last days, the kingdom would be established (Isaiah 2:2f).
Peter, on Pentecost, quoted Joel, who also predicted the establishment of the kingdom in the last days, and said “this is that.”
This proves that the last days began on Pentecost, and that the kingdom likewise was established on Pentecost.
That argument sure sounded good to me back then, and contains some kernel of truth, but not the whole truth. As I did my own research, I soon discovered how misguided this application and interpretation truly is, and how it ignores what these chapters truly say.
Other commentators (Amillennialists and some Dominionists for example) use Isaiah to predict the entire span of the Christian age. Dispensationalists tend to use these chapters to speak of the final generation of the Christian age.
I want to share with our visitors a series of articles examining the significant elements of Isaiah 2-4. This series of articles will demonstrate that any futurist application of Isaiah 2-4 is misguided. The series will prove beyond doubt that Isaiah 2-4 extends no further than the Day of the Lord that occurred in AD 70. It is my purpose to make each presentation brief, for ease of “consumption.” I will also be doing a YouTube / FaceBook series on these chapters in the near future, so be sure to watch for that.
Isaiah 2-4☛Constituent Element #1– The Time Frame “In the Last Days”
Isaiah is projected to see the events of the last days. This highly charged eschatological term is, in many ways, the key to understanding eschatology. Be sure to read my book: The Last Days Identified, for an extensive discussion of this critical term. There are several suggestions offered as the definition of the last days:
1.) The entirety of the Christian age. This is the view of most Amillennialists and many Postmillennialists.
2.) The last closing period, or the last generation, of the Christian age.
3.) The last days as referent to Israel’s last days, and more specifically the Seventieth Week of Daniel 9, which was supposedly delayed and postponed due to Jewish rejection of Jesus and the kingdom. This is, of course, the Dispensational view..
Things to be noted:] Fact #1 – Isaiah 2-4 is not a prediction of the founding of the last days, but of events to occur “in the last days” of Israel.
Fact #2 – The last days foretold by the OT prophets were present in the first century– Acts 2:15f. Peter was emphatic and unambiguous in his citation of Joel 2:28– “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Words could not be clearer.
Jesus affirmed that what the prophets foretold was being fulfilled in his day and in his ministry (Matthew 13:17f.
Peter said that the OT prophets, in speaking of the coming of Messiah and “restoration of all things” “spoke of these days” (Acts 3:23-24). Those were Peter’s days, not our days, 2000 years later.
Likewise, Paul said the end of the ages, or more specifically the goal of the previous ages, had arrived in the first century (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Hebrews 1:1 – The last days were present when Hebrews was written.
In chapter 9:26 we are told that Christ appeared “at the end of the age.” This is an undeniable referent to the last days, and means that the days for the fulfillment of Isaiah were present.
In 1 Peter 1:9-12 Peter said the OT prophets foretold the Day of salvation to come at the parousia of Christ. He said they did not themselves know the time or the manner of fulfillment, but, that they spoke of Peter’s generation.
So, Isaiah foretold the pivotal “last days” the time for the fulfilment of God’s scheme of redemption, and the New Testament writers all say they were living in the days foretold by the OT prophets.
But, did the day of Pentecost initiate the last days, or, were the last days already in progress when Pentecost came around. I suggest that several facts mitigate against the idea that the last days began on Pentecost.
Jesus appeared in the last days, per Hebrews.
But, Jesus appeared well before that day of Pentecost.
Therefore, the last days did not initiate the last days, but, as noted above, in perfect harmony with Isaiah and Joel’s prophecy, the events of Pentecost occurred “during” or “in” the last days.
Notice also that Jesus appeared in the last days.
But, Jesus appeared in the fullness of time, which was the Old Covenant age (Galatians 4:4).
Thus, the last days is referent to the last days of the Old Covenant Age.
Similarly, John was Elijah to herald the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 17:10-12). The days before the Great Day are labeled as the “last days” Joel 2:28f. Now, since John was Elijah to proclaim the Great Day, and since the days prior to the Great Day are the last days, it therefore follows that John ministered in the last days.
So, the first constituent element of Isaiah 2-4 is critical and easily established. The “last days” do not refer to the entirety of the Christian age, but, to the last days of Israel, the last days of Moses and the Law.
More to come.