Old Testament Israel – New Testament Salvation – #2
Every constituent element of Biblical eschatology, i.e. the coming of the Lord, the Judgment, the resurrection, the New Creation, the kingdom, salvation, etc., is inextricably bound up with the Old Testament prophecies of the time of the Judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem and Israel.
My premise is the same as that given my Max King in his 1990 book, Old Testament Israel and New Testament Salvation. Be sure to read his quote in the first article.
Based on that premise, let me follow up with this:
If it is true that in the Old Testament, all constituent elements of eschatology are temporally connected with prophecies of the judgment of Jerusalem,
If it is true that in the Old Testament, the time of the judgment of Jerusalem that is connected to those constituent elements of eschatology was the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem,
It must be true that every constituent element of eschatology, i.e. the coming of the Lord, the Judgment, the resurrection, the New Creation, the kingdom, salvation, etc., was fulfilled in the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem.
My purpose in this series is to examine a few of the foundational Old Testament eschatological passages that foretold the coming of the Lord, judgment, salvation, the kingdom, resurrection, etc., and to verify my premise. The first passage to be examined is Isaiah 2-4. Due to its length, I will not copy and paste the entirety of that marvelous prophecy, but will simply take note of what some of the key texts show us. There are a couple of points to make before proceeding:
#1 – These chapters are in fact widely recognized as eschatological, since they contain prophecies of “the last days,” the establishment of the kingdom, the Messianic Temple, the Day of the Lord, the time of judgment, the time of the vindication of the martyrs.
#2 – Chapters 2-4 are a unified, united, discourse. This is evident from the constant use of the term “in that day” which links the discussion and prevents chopping the text up into disjointed discussions of widely disparate subjects separated in time by hundreds or thousands of years.
#3 – As we shall see, this entire discourse is focused on Israel’s last days, her ultimate fate. It is not about any proposed “end of time,” or the end of the Christian age. Those concepts or doctrines are not found in the text.
While a great deal more could be said I will let this suffice and proceed to an examination of the passage:
The Prophetic Context of Isaiah 2-4
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.
It is important to note that in the Amillennial paradigm, the doctrine of my early years, as well as in the Postmillennial world, a fundamental tenet is that “the last days” is defined as the entirety of the Christian age. For instance, Postmillennialist Kenneth Gentry, commenting on Isaiah 2:1-2, tells us that the passage is about the Christian age. “Israel” in the text supposedly refers, not to Israel, but to the church (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, Draper, VA; Apologetics Group, 2009), 206+).
Critically, it is also to be noted that both schools of thought teach that God was through with Israel and the Old Law at the cross. Postmillennialism, and some Amillenialists posit a yet future conversion of national Israel at the end of the Christian age, but, that is a far cry from teaching the centrality of Israel to the eschatological narrative. The fact is that both schools still divorce NT eschatology from OT Israel and her promises. There is in fact a radical dualism in these paradigms that says the “end of the age” did come in AD 70, but that those events foreshadowed the real end, the end of time and the end of the Christian age. For a thorough examination and refutation of that view see my book: A. D. 70: A Shadow of the (Real) End?).
Ask yourself the question: If the last days are defined as the Christian age, and not the last days of Israel, if God was indeed through with Israel and the Old Covenant at the cross, why is Isaiah 2-4 focused on the fate of Israel, both positively and negatively, in the Christian age???
Note that Gentry defines Israel in the prophecy as the church, and not Old Testament Israel, this is clearly an attempt to escape the implications of what the text says about “Israel.” Is this a tenable suggestion? Is Israel, Judah and Jerusalem that are mentioned in Isaiah 2-4 a referent to the church, divorced from Israel, or, are those references in fact discussions of the fate of Old Covenant Israel. Let’s look closely by walking through chapters 2-4.
2:5 – The “house of Jacob” which is nothing less than the “Zion” of the earlier verses is accused of being forsaken by the Lord for her sin: “You (YHVH, DKP) have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with eastern ways.”
Is this a description of the church in the Christian age? It must be, if the definition of the last days as the Christian age and the definition of “Israel” as the church are correct. Thus, in the Historicist and Amillennial paradigm, the church, in the last days, is forsaken by the Lord for her sin!
V. 8 – 21– As a result of the sin of the nation, the Lord promised to come in the Day of the Lord. This is the last days Day of the Lord. Thus, this must refer to the so called “end of time” – right? Of course, what is to be noticed is that this Last Days Day of the Lord was to be an event that men could flee from! They could run to the mountains, hide in the caves and call to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:19-21).
(Isaiah 2:8f depicts Israel in the days of Isaiah as guilty of idolatry. That is the typological situation that pointed to the last days. Paul affirmed that typological nature of Israel’s history in 1 Corinthians 10).
For an in-depth discussion of Isaiah 2:9f & 19-21 and how Jesus, Paul and John quoted from this passage in the NT, see my book We Shall Meet Him In the Air, the Wedding of the King of kings. The application that Jesus, Paul and John all made of these verses is undeniable and pointed directly to A. D. 70. What we have in their application is proof positive that the Last Days Day of the Lord was to be fulfilled at the time of the judgment of Old Covenant Israel, not at the end of the Christian age. Every so briefly, here is how Jesus, Paul and John applied Isaiah 2:19-21
In Luke 23:28f, Jesus quoted Isaiah directly and applied it to the coming judgment on Jerusalem.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:9f Paul quoted from the very verses in Isaiah that Jesus had applied to the coming judgment on Jerusalem, to speak of the coming judgment of the persecutors of the Thessalonians – the Jews.
In Revelation 6:12f, John quoted from the same verses that Jesus and Paul had applied to the coming judgment on Jerusalem, to speak of the imminent judgment of “Babylon” the city where the Lord was crucified.
Now, since Jesus, Paul and John all quoted from Isaiah, who foretold the Last Days Day of the Lord against Judah and Jerusalem, when men could run to the hills, that effectively eliminates all of those prophecies from being predictive of the “end of time.” And yet, commentator after commentator apply Revelation 6 especially to the end of the Christian age!
Pretty clearly, if men could run to the hills, hide in the caves and call to the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the Day of the Lord, this cannot in any sense be referent to an end of time, earth burning event that is over in a moment, “in the twinkling of an eye.”
There is something else here that is important to our investigation. In 2:19f, we are told that the Day of the Lord would be “when the Lord arises to shake the earth mightily.” This is nothing less than the destruction of the “earth” and strongly reminds us of 2 Peter 3. In Peter’s famous discourse, we find The Last Days, The Day of the Lord, the destruction of “creation.”
Chapter 3:1f– The discussion of the Day of the Lord continues, and it is a time of famine: “The Lord takes away from Jerusalem the stock and store, the whole supply of water.” It is a time when “every man is oppressed, “every man by another, every man by his brother.” Is this supposed to be a description of the church in the church age? Here is my point:
☛ Isaiah foretold the Last Days. He foretold the Day of the Lord. That Day of the Lord would be to destroy the “earth.” Yet, the fact that men could run from this Day of the Lord by running to the hills falsifies any and all ideas of a time ending, earth burning event at the end of the Christian age.
☛ Peter, who tells us that he was drawing on the OT prophets for his description of the coming Day of the Lord. He said he was living in the Last Days foretold by those OT prophets (Acts 3:19-24). That Day of the Lord would be the time of the destruction of “creation.”
Now, if Peter was indeed predicting an end of time, earth burning event, since he said he was repeating what the OT prophets foretold, if he was not drawing on Isaiah 2-4, we have a right to ask, what OT prophecy or prophecies was Peter actually drawing from?
If in fact Peter was drawing from Isaiah, it is more than apparent that he could not be speaking of an end of time event, but rather a time of judgment of Jerusalem, Judah and Israel in the last days in which he was living. That is what Isaiah was predicting.
3:8 – continues the discussion by saying, “Jerusalem stumbled and Judah is fallen because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord… they declare their sin as Sodom, they do not hide it.”
3:13 – As a result of this pride, arrogance and disobedience, the Lord said, “The Lord stands up to plead and stands to judge His people. The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders of His people and His princes, for you have eaten up the vineyard.”
This reference to the elders and leaders of the people destroying the vineyard of the Lord cues us into the fact that this is not a discussion of the church or the church age. In Isaiah 5, Israel as the nation is powerfully depicted as the Vineyard of the Lord. Other OT passages do the same (Cf. Jeremiah 2). The point, once again, is that this “last days” prophecy was focused on Israel, her sin, and the coming judgment. It has nothing to do with the end of the Christian age, or the sin of the church during the New Covenant era.
3:18 – “In that day the Lord will take away the finery the tinkling anklets and the scarves, and the crescents, the pendants, bracelets and the veils…
The “in that day” reference is to the time of the famine, the time of oppression, the time of the judgment of Jerusalem and her leaders mentioned in v. 1-3.
That assessment is confirmed in verses 24f- “instead of a sweet smell there shall be a stench. Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth, and branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the edge of the sword, and your mighty men in the war.” (This “stench” is referent to the time of war and the carnage that it brings).
It is highly significant, it seems to me, that in Luke 21:24 Jesus, in describing the impending destruction of Jerusalem, seems to directly echo this prophecy of Isaiah when he said “your men shall fall by the edge of the sword.” Thus, Isaiah foretold a Last Days Day of the Lord when Israel’s men would fall by the edge of the sword, (when men could run to the hills) and Jesus, who came in the last days, foretold an impending Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:29f – that men could run from Matthew 24:15ff) when Israel’s men would fall by the edge of the sword.
So, we have a description of what would happen to “Jerusalem” and Israel “in the last days.” Literally nothing that is said of that Day and those days allows us to see these chapters as a description of the Christian age. But we are not done.
In chapter 4:1 we find another “in that day” referent. It would be when “seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name and take away our reproach.”
This is patently not a justification for polygamy as some of the early Mormon “apologists” claimed. This describes the time when Israel’s men would fall by the edge of the sword, and as a result, there would be many widows, who had lost their “respect” and the name of their former husband. They would seek “respectability” by asking to wear the name of a husband. (One has to understand the time and culture of ancient Israel to appreciate these comments).
But then, we find a marvelous promise: “In that day the branch of the Lord (the beautiful, living one, DKP) shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing” (4:2). Here is the promise of the coming of Messiah, the Branch out of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1f), who would sit on the throne of the Lord forever (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Following on that, in 4:3, we find that in that day, “It shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy– everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.”
So, at the coming of the Messiah, blessings would flow. However, it would also be at that time that judgment would come on Jerusalem for shedding innocent blood. Here we find a “nail” upon which we can hang our interpretation of these chapters. Jesus and the NT writers are all united in telling us that the avenging of the blood of the martyrs, from Abel onward, was to be avenged in the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem. Jesus was explicitly clear on this:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (ESV – Matthew 23:29-37).
Words could not be clearer or more graphic. The judgment coming on Jerusalem in the first century was to avenge all of the righteous blood, of all the righteous, going back to Abel. That encompasses the blood of the martyrs in Isaiah 4:5-6. (Consider the list of the faithful martyrs in Hebrews 11). Unless it can be proven that the vindication of the martyrs foretold in Isaiah is a different vindication from that promised by Jesus in Matthew, that unequivocally shows that the Last Days Day of the Lord of Isaiah 2-4, when the Lord would arise to shake the earth mightily and when He would take away the blood guilt from Jerusalem, was in AD 70. Let’s look at the closing verses of Isaiah 4 now.
In verses 5-6 we find the promise of the full establishment, “above every dwelling place on Mount Zion and above her assemblies a cloud of smoke by day and the shining of flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.”
I suggest that Isaiah 2:2f and 4:5-6 form an “inclusio.” The prophecy begins with a promise of the establishment of the House of God, the temple, the dwelling place of the Lord, and concludes with the promise of the Tabernacle of God, the dwelling place of the Lord among His people. It should also be noted that we find here allusions to the Second Exodus as well as the anticipation of the final fulfillment of Israel’s final feast day, Succot, the feast of Tabernacles, which anticipated the time when God would dwell with man!
This promise of God setting His Succa, His tabernacle, in the midst of the people is powerfully echoed in Revelation 21, where after the Day of the Lord, the New Jerusalem descends from heaven and it is declared “The tabernacle of God is with man!” (Revelation 21:1-3). Needless to say, Revelation 21 is widely considered to be a major prophecy of the “end of time.” But if Isaiah 2-4 serves as the source (one of the sources) of Revelation, since Isaiah posits God dwelling with man in the eschatological tabernacle, at the time of the vindication of the martyrs, this is a powerful demonstration of our thesis: The eschatological tenets of the NT are all found in direct connection to the OT prophecies of the AD 70 judgment of Jerusalem.
Quick Side Bar: In his book, Why Not Full Preterism? Steve Gregg claims that the OT never predicted the establishment of the church, nor the resurrection (Xulon Press, 2022), 346). However, earlier in that same book, on page 135f, Gregg says the OT did in fact predict the resurrection and appealed to Job 19:25. Thus, in the same book, Gregg both affirmed that the OT foretold the resurrection, but then denied that very thing. (He also claimed, in our formal debate held in Denver, Co. in 2013, organized by my friend Mike Zeman, that the OT did not predict the resurrection). At the time of this writing, I am involved in producing a series of videos responding to Gregg’s book, Here is a link to video #1 in that series that you can find that series on my YouTube channel.
So, in Isaiah 2-4 we find some indisputable facts:
1. I have shown that these chapters constitute a united prophecy. It is untenable to divide the chapters up into different discussions of disparate times and events. The entire prophecy is delimited to “the last days,” to the Day of the Lord, to “at that time.”
2. We have the promise of the last days which were clearly not Isaiah’s generation. Those last days were in his future.
3. We have the establishment of the kingdom of God, the Messianic Temple, the house of the Lord.
4. The prophecy speaks of the sin, rebellion and the judgment on Jerusalem and Zion in the form of famine, of sword and warfare when God would stand to judge His people and Israel’s men would fall by the edge of the sword, all in “the last days.” The description of the Last Days Day of the Lord in Isaiah patently has no connection with any proposed end of time Day of the Lord.
5. The coming of the Messiah to bring blessings and salvation.
6. The avenging of the blood of the martyrs of God, through the spirit of judgment and fire.
7. The establishment of the Tabernacle among men, for the Lord to dwell among His people.
We have shown that Jesus, Paul and John all applied Isaiah’s prophecy of the Last Days Day of the Lord to the impending judgment of Jerusalem, which occurred in A. D. 70.
Since the constituent elements of Isaiah 2-4 are the identical elements of the New Testament prophecies of the Day of the Lord, and indeed, since the NT cites Isaiah in passages that are normally applied to the “end of time” this is probative, powerful support of our thesis. Every eschatological tenet and element in the NT, linked with the coming of the Lord, the judgment, kingdom, salvation, etc., finds its source in the OT prophecies of the time of the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem that were predictive of AD 70. This effectively negates any futurist eschatology.
We will continue in our next installment.