Isaiah 2-4– The Mountain of the Lord’s House– Guest Article– Rod MacArthur- #5

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Isaiah Four: The Branch

Our article on Israel’s Last Days Motifs depicted Yahweh’s judgment against her in the Last Days. But the rationale for this judgment (and, why it was necessary for Him to establish the mountain of His house in the Last Days) includes a look at the women of society. Consider Isa. 316–17.

Moreover, Yahweh said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,
Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And Yahweh will make their foreheads bare.”

He said: “Because the daughters of Zion are proud and walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps…” It’s rather nauseating, isn’t it? The point is this: women become a gauge of society’s debasement. Generally, women are the ones who have more empathy, compassion and sympathy; they’re programmed to help more than men are, generally. So when the women of society are so self-absorbed and so without compassion, society is definitely sick.

The discussion of the women actually continues through 41. Notice vs. 18: “In that day…” an entire series of reversal of fortune befalls them. This is undoubtedly a consequence of their arrogance in departing from Him. Also notice 41: “In that day…” This is the same day! Isa. 42 also says: “in that day…” It is the time when the Branch appears! Connecting the dots shows us that the condemnation foretold for the women included more than the indignities they endured at the hands of the Babylonians. Isaiah’s introduction of The Branch extended his application into the first century AD.

So let us consider The Branch. Throughout his book Isaiah developed the concept of The Branch as the shoot of Jesse, the Son/Child born/given; even the One whom Zion would bear. Jeremiah picked up the theme and enhanced it; but Zechariah developed it to the point where The Branch became a proper name of the One who would become both king and priest on David’s throne.

Check out some details from Isa. 42:

In that day the Branch of Yahweh will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel

We’ve already noticed that we’re still “in that day,” the Last Days of Isa. 22. Two things are said with regard to the time of The Branch: 1) He would be beautiful and glorious; and 2) the fruit of the earth would become the adornment of Israel’s survivors. (“Earth” should read “land”; it refers, not to territory but to the true Last Days people. We’ll develop this later.) He is not concerned with the globe; but with His people. He focused especially on what His “land” would produce. In chapter 5 we learn that God wanted fruit from His people. He planted them on this special land and was looking for fruit.

We’ll cover that in the next article. But notice from this text that the fruit, whatever it might be, would become the “pride and adornment” of Israel’s survivors (remnant). This causes us to think of Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit” in Gal. 5; or, of his comments in Rom. 7 about dying to the Law (in the Last Days) in order to be joined to Jesus and bear fruit for God (Rom. 74).

Also take note that Isaiah mentioned a remnant, which he discussed further in vs. 3.

It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem.

Consider two riveting details about this remnant: 1) they were left and remained in Jerusalem; and 2) they were recorded for life in Jerusalem. In Acts 323, Peter cited Moses: “It will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” Accepting Jesus as the coming Messiah kept any Israelite from being “cut off” (utterly destroyed). They became the remnant of life for Israel. Thus, those who followed Jesus were “left” and “remained.” The church was not a start-over; it was the continuation of Israel. It remained while unbelieving Israel was cut off.

Also, “recorded for life” is a fascinating phrase. Daniel hinted at it about 100 years later to talk about those who would survive the great tribulation. Read Dan. 121:

At that time Michael, the great prince who stands over the sons of your people, will arise, and there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.

Let me point out that Daniel talked about a book having names written in it. Only the people whose names were in the book would be rescued from this distress. From Dan. 127, we understand that those things were to take place before or at the time that the power of the holy people was completely shattered. According to Daniel 9–11, “the holy people” referred to none other than Israel. They were completely and irrevocably shattered by Rome in AD70. Thus, the rescue of those “written in the book” occurred at that time, as well.

On this point, Malachi introduced the coming of two messengers of the covenant: John the Baptist, and Jesus. He dealt with that time when Israel’s purging and purification would take place. Look at Mal. 316.

Then those who feared Yahweh spoke to one another, (they started talking about what Malachi was teaching) and Yahweh gave attention and heard and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear Yahweh and who esteem his name and they will be mine, says Yahweh of hosts, on the day that I prepare my own possession and spares them as a man spares his own son who serves him. For a short but important discussion of Malachi as it relates to eschatology, see my discussion in the Hicks -V- Preston Debate.

That is a great thought! Yahweh asserts, “I have the names of whom I’m going to rescue at the time I destroy the rest written in the book.” Jesus highlighted this idea in Luke 1018, when the 70 returned, excited that the demons were subject to them in his name, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” Then He said in Luke 1020:

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.

Yahweh has a book of remembrance. Names were recorded in that book. Paul talked about Euodia and Syntyche, whose names were in the book of life, along with the rest of his fellow-workers (Phil. 43). Many places in the Revelation also speak of this book. Consider Rev. 35, “He who overcomes…I will not erase his name from the book of life”. At the great white throne scene in Rev. 2012 we read: “the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged by the things which were written in those books.”

The Book of remembrance/life is a consistent theme from Isaiah to Revelation. Even before Isaiah, David and Moses referred to His book. Yahweh had a book. Everyone whose name was written was rescued. They became the remnant left in Zion when He built His house. That is, when He raised up the mountain of His house in the Last Days (Isa. 22).

Since we have just now reconnected with Isa. 22–4, note this interesting stylistic feature. We’ve already noted the Isa. 2–4 is a unified discourse on Last Days events. Opening and closing the discussion are these two powerful Messianic prophecies: Isa. 22–4 and Isa. 42–6. We’ve followed the “in that day” sequence from 22 throughout to 42. It’s the same “day.” In 22–4 the mountain of house of Yahweh was to be raised up. And in 42–6 the Branch was to be beautiful and rescue His people. Between the two He told of the judgment that would remove the enemies and protect His faithful. The section began with the Last Days prophesy and ended with a Last Days prophesy: the material in between described what Israel expected as Yahweh established the Mountain and the Branch.

Now let’s focus on 44.

When Yahweh has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then He will create…

The filth and the bloodshed are those crimes, already discussed in Isa. 2–3. They were moral filth and murder, corruption in business and judicial corruption, as well as religious corruption. How were bloodshed and filth to be purged and washed away? He said, “By a spirit of judgment and a spirit of burning.” We’ve previously noted Deut. 3235–36 & 43 in which Moses promised vindication for God’s people, who were helpless to deliver themselves. He also promised vengeance to be poured out on His enemies. The process of pouring out vengeance would also double as the process of purifying what was left. Some people were purged away when they went through this process; it removed them. But God’s people would go through the same process and come out pure. It wouldn’t be pleasant; but it would leave them in a good place. See Don K. Preston’s book, The Last Days Identified, for a discussion of Isaiah 2-4 and the critical theme of martyr vindication.

Jesus commented on this In Matt. 2332. He said, “Fill up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of Gehenna? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes…” Just like God sent prophets and wise men to the former generations whom they killed, whose monuments they built; Jesus planned to send His apostles and prophets to them. They would treat them just as their fathers had. They were going to scourge them in their synagogues, and persecute them from city to city…“that upon you may fall all the righteous blood shed on the land, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation” (Matt. 2335–36). (Note: Don K. Preston utilized Matthew 23 in his presentation at Criswell College, Dallas, Tx., in October 2012. The lesson was The Preterist View of the Millennium. You can have a free audio disc of that presentation by just paying $4.5- shipping and handling. This is a very important presentation so get your copy today! Contact us via email for payment instructions.)

Yahweh planned to purge away Zion’s filth “by a spirit of burning and judgment.” When the New Testament speaks of judgment and of burning, what conclusion is generally reached? Isn’t it often a scenario something like this? After the end of time there will be a great judgment in which all men will stand before God. Some will be invited into heaven and others will be thrown into hell to burn forever. There you have “judgment and burning.” Isn’t that the “popular” idea?

Unfortunately, this is just another example of how we have wrongly applied TN statements without examining the OT backgrounds and promises from which they derived. If one would turn to Isaiah (and all the other OT writers who predicted judgment and purging for Israel in her Last Days), take note of his context and see what he was talking about, they’d say: “Oh, I get it now. Judgment was not so much the process of being judged, but the penalty that was exacted as a result of the decision. It always involved an invasion and slaughter from an enemy army.”

So Isaiah’s “spirit of judgment” would be seen in the Roman Empire when it came upon Jerusalem and avenged the wrong. And what was the burning? That’s easy to answer: What happened after the Romans invaded Jerusalem? They left the city in flames. The spirit of judgment and burning—that process of siege from a foreign nation—would remove the wicked and purify the righteous. This is exactly what we see in every New Testament reference to The Judgment—purging and purifying.

Let me be clear and emphatic on this point. Judgment and purging are as ancient as Israel herself. They were not concepts introduced for the first time in the NT! They began with Moses in Deut. 3234­36 in which vengeance upon His enemies and vindication of His people was promised. They continued throughout the prophets to the last of them all, Malachi. In Mal. 33 His coming was to smelt and purify the sons of Levi (His priests). In Mal. 41–3 His coming was to remove the chaff and every evil doer, but to release His people like calves from the stall.

By the way, John the Baptizer referenced the Malachi passage when he warned of the impending wrath (Matt. 37–17); and the Hebrews writer cited Deut. 3246 when he warned of judgment in a very, very little while (Heb. 1030, 37). From these two references alone we can clearly see that The Judgment these NT prophets spoke of were nothing other than that which the prophets of old foretold. We should let it be so.

But, let’s examine Mal. 31–3 a little more closely in this regard:

Behold, I am going to send my messenger and he will clear the way before me. (That’s John, the Baptist.) And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple (that’s Jesus) and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight (again, that’s Jesus), behold, he is coming says Yahweh of hosts. Who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and a fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, he will purify the sons of Levi, refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to Yahweh offerings in righteousness.

The process of purification by smelting always develops slag and dross, which must be thrown away. Peter spoke of the identical purging when he told of the “fiery trial” which would purify those who endured it. Here’s what he wrote in 1 Pet. 15–7:

(You) are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

At the time Peter wrote this, had Jesus already died on the cross? Yes, of course He had. But look, though Jesus had already gone to the cross, Peter said that salvation was about to be revealed, ready to be revealed in the Last Days, at the time Jesus was revealed. They were anticipating a salvation that was just about to be revealed even though Jesus had already died.

Jesus had started the salvation process, but it was not completed until His return. He says, the genuineness of your faith is being proved by various trials. It is more precious than gold, even though tested by fire. Peter knew this: The rigors that would remove the wicked would also put the righteous into a crucible. Those rigors would test and purify their faith. But this is what Malachi and all his predecessors foretold. This is why Peter told them not to be surprised at the fiery trial as though it were a strange thing (1 Pet. 412). It is also why Jesus said in Matthew 2413, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” They had to go through the process to be part of the remnant (what was left after purging!).

Now let’s push forward in our text. After saying He would purge away the filth, He promised a new creation, of sorts. Let’s read Isa. 45:

Then Yahweh will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.

What would Yahweh “create” as a result of the judgment and burning? The text suggests and environment in which He would be with His people. There would be a cloud over them by day and flaming fire over them by night. Doesn’t that remind us of their wandering through the wilderness?

But look again: “For over all the glory will be a canopy.” Doesn’t this call us back to Exod. 249­11, for example, when Moses and Aaron with the 70 elders went upon the mountain? Yahweh appeared to them, but there was a firmament, some kind of platform that separated. It was clear, but it separated them. And so, back then, God was with his people, but he was separated from his people. We see the same separation theme in the tabernacle. Within it there was a veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place. Men didn’t have access to God. He was “with them,” but isolated from them. (This continues the separation which began in the Garden.)

Notice in each of these examples, Yahweh was with His people but separated from them. In contrast, when the Branch appears in the Last Days, the veil or canopy does not separate God from man any longer! Over all the glory will be a canopy. So there won’t be a canopy over the people separating the glory from the people; but a canopy that includes the glory with the people. This canopy enfolds both Yahweh and man together; which is also the point of Rev. 211–4.

Finally, let’s note Isa. 46:

There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.

After The Judgment and purging, Yahweh would provide shelter and refuge and protection for His people. That’s such a beautiful picture. Re-read Rev. 211–5. His protection is all-encompassing and His presence is real. And, if Isa. 24 can be trusted, this dwelling together of Yahweh with His people will never be disrupted.

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the New Testament is more than some tack-on to the Old, connected simply by a few thin strands, as it were. The New does not flop around, connected to but different from the Old, citing key phrases but with different intent. It is the on-going continuation of the Old. It is proof that Yahweh fulfilled His promises in the Old. It is the natural consequence of our promise-keeping God.

With the passing of the Old (Heb. 813), the New continues. With the taking away of the Old, the New is established (Heb. 109). It’s a seamless transition. It’s the glorious extension and culmination of all Yahweh had promised. It’s as though the Old were the tree, and the New is the blossom on the tree. They are not disconnected; not separate entities. The New is indeed bringing into full glory, full fragrance, full beauty, all the promises that God made to Israel in the Old. And we Gentiles, as we look at the beauty of it, are drawn to it. Israel wasn’t done; Israel had a remnant that God would fully save. And Gentiles could come and be part with them. My view of the playing-out of God’s promises is blossoming, too. It’s really exciting.