Old Testament Israel and New Testament Salvation #4 – Part 1
More On The Little Apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27) and New Testament Salvation
We are involved in an investigation of the proposition that, “There are no new eschatological prophecies in the NT. All NT eschatology was the expectation of the (imminent) fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.”
Opponents of Covenant Eschatology (Full Preterism) literally laugh and scoff at me for making such an “obviously wrong” claim. My own personal theological upbringing had no understanding of the direct relationship between the Tanakh and the New Testament. A fundamental tenet of Amillennialism is that God was through with the Old Testament and Israel at the cross, and that beginning on Pentecost God was dealing with the church, totally divorced from Israel and her promises. Yet, the evidence to prove that relationship is literally overwhelming for those willing to look.
What I am doing in this series is examining some key Old Testament eschatological prophecies to show that the New Testament writers draw directly from those prophecies made to Israel in their anticipation of the consummation of the age, the coming of the Lord, the resurrection, the New Creation, etc.. I am showing, in other words, that all New Testament prophecies of the end are nothing but the reiteration of “the hope of Israel” and cannot be divorced from that prophetic context.
Sam Frost, when still a preterist, wrote this in response to a paper written by Robert Strimple:
In a paper written against Max King’s view, Dr. Robert Strimple remarked that reference to Israel in this chapter is entirely lacking. (Strimple, 1993, Orlando Paper) – Paul is placed under a strict journalistic rule that he must always use the term ‘Israel’ when referring to Israel. Interestingly enough, Strimple’s paper does not quote the several texts in Paul’s statements in Acts to demonstrate that he is suddenly talking here of ‘resurrection of the dead’ disconnected from the ‘hope of Israel.”” It was not the hope of the Gentiles,’ but the ‘hope of Israel whenever and where ever ‘resurrection of the dead’ is discussed. You simply cannot divorce Paul’s paradigmatic statements in Acts from his Corinthians discourse (Samuel Frost, Essays on the Resurrection, (Ardmore, Ok; JaDon Management Inc. 2010), 49).
The sad irony of this astute quote is that Frost now employs the very same unrealistic and invalid “strict journalistic rule” that he rightly criticized in Strimple. He commonly argues that since a given word, term or phrase is not found in a text (that calls his views into question), that the text cannot be used!
In the last installment we began an examination of the Little Apocalypse, i.e. Isaiah 24-27. We examined the prophecy of the coming destruction of “he heaven and earth” showing that the text
emphatically gives the reason for that coming destruction, i.e. Israel’s violation of the Law of Moses (24:1-5). Now, although many commentators agree that the NT writers allude directly to Isaiah 24 in their prophecies of the coming end of the age, virtually all of them either overlook or ignore what Isaiah gives as the reason for the coming destruction. This is quite a hermeneutical and exegetical blunder, to understate the case. How can it be claimed that proper hermeneutic is being practiced when the actual context of the verses being examined or used is being totally ignored?
In this installment I will continue our examination of Isaiah 24-27 and the eschatological tenets and elements that it includes, and how the NT draws on those elements in prophecies of the end time. As in the previous installment we will see, definitively and irrefutably, that the context of what Isaiah foretold was the end time judgment of Jerusalem. This being true, when we come to the NT and find the apostles and writers drawing directly from these prophecies, that should clue us into the fact that the NT writers were likewise anticipating that the end time events were inseparably linked to the coming judgment of Jerusalem – the A. D. 70 judgment. Needless to say, this has profound implications for the proper understanding of eschatology.
For this installment I want to focus on the subject of the Messianic Banquet (and the resurrection, which we will develop in more detail later). To do that, we will look first at chapter 25.
Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. For You have made a city a ruin, A fortified city a ruin, A palace of foreigners to be a city no more; It will never be rebuilt. 3 Therefore the strong people will glorify You; The city of the terrible nations will fear You. For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. You will reduce the noise of aliens, As heat in a dry place; As heat in the shadow of a cloud, The song of the terrible ones will be diminished. And in this mountain The Lord of hosts will make for all people A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain The surface of the covering cast over all people, And the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
An in-depth exegesis would take up too much space and time. Let me simply offer some “bullet points” that are clear from the text.
One thing is clear, this text is one of the prophetic sources for Paul’s discourse on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. All commentators agree that Isaiah 25:8 is cited directly by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56. But notice that the text likewise foretold three other critical eschatological tenets:
1. The destruction of the city and the temple.
2. The establishment of the Messianic Feast.
3. The salvation of Israel “in that day” which is the day of the destruction of the city and temple, the establishment of the Messianic Banquet.
Notice in verses 1-3 that the prophet reiterates the earlier prophecy of the destruction of the City. Chapter 25:1f is not a new prophecy about another, different city or judgment of a different people. Unfortunately, some translations give rise to doubt on this. Here he laments the destruction of the city of confusion that YHVH had, through His judgment, turned into a city of ruin and the temple into a habitation of foreigners. What is being said here is echoed in Psalms 74:
O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed- This Mount Zion where You have dwelt. Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations. The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; They set up their banners for signs. They seem like men who lift up Axes among the thick trees. And now they break down its carved work, all at once, With axes and hammers. They have set fire to Your sanctuary; They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground. They said in their hearts, “Let us destroy them altogether.” They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land.
It is interesting that some commentators see Isaiah 25:1f as predictive of the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem. Steve Gregg, in his book, Why Not Full Preterism? posits this view:
It can be persuasively argued that earlier verses in Isaiah 25 describe the end of the Old Covenant with the coming of the New Order in the Messiah. Verse 2 mentions the destruction of the city that is most likely Jerusalem, followed by a number of images suggesting the Messianic (present) age. There are repeated references to things that will take place ‘in that day’ (24:21, 25:9, 27:1) and in or on ‘this mountain’ (24:23; 25:6,7, 10). The passage appears best to be understood as a description of the establishment of the Kingdom on the spiritual Mount Zion, after the destruction of the old temple and city. In the midst of the prophecy (v. 8) we find the prediction alluded to by Paul. Preston points out that the context of this verse, which Paul quotes as something to be fulfilled in the resurrection, is the passing of the Old Order, in AD 70. To which I would answer, ‘So it is.’ …… (Steve Gregg, Why Not Full Preterism?, Maitland, Fl; Zulon Press, 2022), 193+).
Amazingly, while admitting that the context of verse 8, both before and after, is in fact the AD 70 time of covenant transformation, Gregg argues that verse 8 is a stand alone, parenthetical insertion into the context. He affirms that verse 8 is indeed the “end of time” resurrection but that the prophecy is totally unrelated to the context in which it is found! (2022, 193f). I have produced several YouTuble videos reviewing and refuting Gregg’s condemnation of the full preterist view. You can watch them, beginning with #1, here.
The bottom line here is that Isaiah 25:8 is undeniably set in the context of the destruction of the city and the temple. Verses 1-5 are clear on this. The question therefore is, what suggests that verse 8 is a stand alone, independent, parenthetical prophecy of the “end of time” while the verses before verse 8 and the verses after verse 8 have nothing to do with that supposed “end of time”? Is this not the worst sort of eisegesis and presuppositonal hermeneutic?
For brevity sake, let’s examine now key elements found in Isaiah 25, that establish the premise of this series, and that is that all NT eschatology is based on and taken from God’s OT promises made to Israel.
◆ Isaiah 25:6 – The Messianic, Resurrection / Wedding Banquet.
◆ The question of the nature of the death in view in 25:8.
✦ The Banquet and the Resurrection as the promise of the restoration / redemption / resurrection of Israel, leading to salvation being offered to the nations.
We will develop this more in the next installment, so stay tuned.