The Dislocation of Time in Prophecies
Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1983
Transcribed and edited by David Sielaff, December 2003
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I want to go into a principle of understanding prophecy. This is an important principle which we must understand if really we want to view prophecy correctly. The element of time is most necessary because what use is prophecy, unless we have time indicated? Prophecy and time are partners. You cannot have one without the other.
There are a number of time prophecies in the Bible, mainly in the book of Daniel. We also have some in the book of Revelation and we have a few, a minority of them, in the book of Isaiah. I will look at a particular time prophecy in Isaiah. The subject of time is the most difficult part of prophecy. This is because we all want to know when events being described in the Bible will occur. That is what we want to know, but only God can reveal these things to us.
In fact, the prophets who made prophecies had difficulty understanding “when” prophecies would occur. If they had difficulty, perhaps we might have as well. 1 The prophets of old did not completely understand all of the prophecies they themselves spoke about. Peter tells us that in 1 Peter chapter 1. He talks about what the end of faith will bring. The end of our faith will bring the salvation of souls, and we want to be saved. The world needs to be saved. It will be saved through Jesus Christ, but that is the end of faith. Then Peter goes on to talk about this salvation. Peter talks about the several factors of salvation,
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.”
1 Peter 1:9–10
That is quite a statement Peter made because he says this “salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently” about, they not only gave the prophecies, they “searched diligently” and “enquired.” They asked when the prophecies would occur. What were they searching for diligently and enquiring about? They were wondering constantly about the very things that they were prophesying.
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
1 Peter 1:11
Notice those first two parts of verse 11 there, they were searching and enquiring diligently concerning the “what” of salvation and also (our subject today, the dislocation of time prophecies) they wanted to know the “manner of time” that these things would occur. Obviously it shows that they must not have known all about the “what” of salvation, that is all the factors concerning salvation itself, although they picked up that information piecemeal here and there, from their own prophecies and the prophecies of others. But they also wanted to know the “manner of time.” This was a problem with the prophets.
In the book of Daniel, Daniel went through some elaborate time prophecies. At the very end God told him to seal up the book until the time of the end, and then will the knowledge be made plain. I am paraphrasing, of course. Even Daniel could not completely understand the “manner of time” when these things were to occur. That is what Peter tells us here. The prophets had problems concerning the “manner of time.” So they sought, and searched diligently. It says in verse 12,
“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost [Spirit] sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
1 Peter 1:12
This means they were not to know all of the factors concerning prophecy. This is what Peter says. It is revealed “that not unto themselves” were they to minister, but really unto the apostles, the people of Peter’s time. Of course, we are an extension of the apostles time, because the gospel is with us and it really comes down to us.
Look at the last part of verse 12, “... which things,” concerning salvation (the “what,” the “manner of time”) that the prophets themselves enquired diligently about what they did not completely understand, “which things the angels desire to look into.” Even the angels want to know the “what,” and the “manner of time.” If angels do that and perhaps have a deficiency of knowledge along some of these lines, at least in the time of the apostle Peter they did, how can we human beings know much more?
I think that we might be able to. I can say that without arrogance because we have something vouch-safed above which perhaps even angels do not have. That is the Holy Spirit of God in an intimate way to teach us of God’s ways, prophecy and everything else. I think we ought to realize that we should not be haughty with that knowledge and understanding because we still come far short of understanding even the basics of prophecy in some cases.
But I wanted to establish this principle before going into a major prophecy to give an example of the dislocation of time in prophecies and how it is important for us to consider. I wanted to give this principle first because it shows that the prophets themselves did not know the manner of time in which their prophecies would be fulfilled.
The section I want to take you to begins with Isaiah chapter 7. I am going there because the apostle Peter, when I showed that principle, gave it in the context of talking about salvation. Salvation comes from only one source, that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is prophetically indicated in these chapters that I will go into. At the same time these chapters will help us comprehend this dislocation of time in prophecies.
The prophecy I want to give you starts in verse 1 of chapter 7, but it goes on through chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 10, 11 and concludes with the last verse of chapter 12 of Isaiah. Many critical scholars acknowledge this, although some do not. But a close analysis of these 6 chapters shows that it is one long prophecy given to Isaiah at a particular time in human history. There are three important principles that I want to give you for the interpretation of prophecies, and especially those relating to time.
Principle Number One
Always view the prophecies that are given in the Old Testament and the New Testament from the vantage point of the prophet when they gave the prophecies. After all, they use terms which were relevant to their time. In this case it will be the middle of the 8th century B.C.E. when Isaiah lived. Isaiah looked around him and saw several factors in evidence. He saw certain personalities on the scene, kings and other people. He saw nations come into existence at that time. He understood the geography of his time. All of the prophecy is within the context of the middle of the 8th century B.C.E. It is not the context of 1st century C.E. It is definitely not that of the 20th century C.E.
It is important to understand the history of the times to comprehend prophecy. It is one of the main reasons why God has devoted a tremendous amount of time in showing us the history of Israel. We have 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles, so we can pick up the history of what was happening when these prophecies were given.
Many people avoid completely the history of the period when the prophet spoke, and avoid the factors he was in contact with: geographical, political, and religious. Then they try to say with dogmatism that they understand what the prophecy is all about. We have to start by trying to see these factors through Isaiah’s eyes and then comprehend how he viewed things. It is quite true, as the apostle Peter told us, that they did not know the “manner of time” when some of these prophecies would transpire, so we have deficiencies in understanding, but it is best to start out with that first principle, view the prophecy from the time of the prophet and look at it through his eyes.
Principle Number Two
View the prophecy from the interpretation given by Jesus Christ and by God’s apostles in the New Testament. When they looked into the Old Testament they saw many prophecies and applied them to events in the 1st century C.E. They gave their interpretations under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit. While it is true that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the others, may not have comprehended as much spiritual truth as Christ and the apostles because it was not yet time for that, we must pay close attention to what the Gospels say and what the apostles say in the Epistles concerning the interpretation of these prophecies.
Principle Number Three
View the prophecies from its ultimate conclusion. And let us be very honest about this, when it came to “manner of times” concerning some prophecies, even the apostles in their early ministries did not completely comprehend them. God did not even give to them in some cases the “manner of times” in which certain prophecies would be fulfilled. Remember the last thing the apostles asked Christ on the Mount of Olives just before He went back to heaven? They said, “will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). The last thing that Christ said to them before He went into the cloud of heaven, He said,
“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.”
That does not mean they did not understand some of it. As time went on they were to understand more.
For us the end of the age is approaching. We have to be careful with that term, I know, but the book of Daniel says that when the end of the age comes, the understanding of prophecy will be made clearer. We are certainly, with every moment getting closer to the end of the age. No one can dispute that point.
The Example of Isaiah
We need to use the first principle (the vantage point of the environment of the prophet) the case of Isaiah chapter 7, where we are taken back to the middle of the 8th century B.C.E. We are told in the introduction of the prophecy some of the important factors and some of the individuals involved in this prophecy. Let us get the time period here,
“And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, ...”
Syria is not to be confused with Assyria, farther north at the River Tigris. Syria had its capital at Damascus about 150 miles north and a little east of Jerusalem. 2
“... and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
These two kings — Rezin of Syria, and Pekah of Israel — allied together and invaded Judah and attacked its capital, Jerusalem. Note on the map where Syria (labeled as “Kingdom of Damascus”) is located along with its capital at Damascus. Then note northern Israel below it. The events of Isaiah 7 occur some 20 years before the Assyrians took Israel captive. Judah is in the south, and note the location of Jerusalem. Northeast of Syria we have Assyria with its capital at Nineveh (not on the map). This is the 8th century B.C.E., around 742 B.C.E. It cannot be more than just a few years off, if any at all. Let us see what is happening,
“And it was told the house of David, saying, ‘Syria is confederate with Ephraim.” [Ephraim is a synonym for Israel.] And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah [the Prophet], ‘Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.’”
This is just outside Jerusalem, undoubtedly on the west side of Jerusalem. Here is Isaiah, an older man at the time, taking his son 3 to meet Ahaz at this particular pool. Isaiah was the prophet and a confidant of King Ahaz. Verse 4,
“And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not [Ahaz was nervous], neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah [Pekah of Israel]. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against you, saying, ‘Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us [into Judah, into the walls of Jerusalem], and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal.’”
Rezin and Pekah had already picked the man that they wanted to be king in Judah once Ahaz was gone. They were warring to secure that end.
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.’”
Here is a time prophecy coming within 65 years. Look at this long prophecy that will transpire, within the context of what Isaiah and his sons told Ahaz in the midst of the siege of Jerusalem. Within 65 years “shall Ephraim [Israel] be broken that it be not a people.”
“And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely you shall not be established.”
He told Ahaz not to tremble because within 65 years these kingdoms will be gone. That ought to give some comfort to Ahaz.
The Significance of This Prophecy
This prophecy is one of the most important in the entire Bible because it has to do with our Lord. It deals with His emergence, when He was to come on the scene because Immanuel will come into this here. This long prophecy, which starts in verse 10 with a major sign to be given to Ahaz, continues all the way through various events until the end of chapter 12 of Isaiah.
The prophets, as Peter said, did not necessarily understand the manner of time. But Isaiah said that within 65 years these kings here would not be troublesome any more because they will be done away with. Was Isaiah correct or not? Here is where history can help us.
In verse 10 we start the prophecy that Isaiah gave to Ahaz. Even though Ahaz was reluctant to accept it, nevertheless Isaiah gave it to him. I want you to note the individuals involved in this prophecy.
The Players in the Prophecy
Keep these players in mind within the historical context. The prophecy beginning in verse 10 has to do with our Lord. Many have read verses 14, 15 and 16, and taken them out of context. We have not really put together all that is said about Immanuel which we find in all these 6 chapters. Let us take everything together in this long prophecy because when Isaiah looked Ahaz in the eye he gave him the whole prophecy concerning Immanuel, he did not isolate one part of it and instruct Ahaz to apply it. He gave the whole thing together. The entire prophecy must be read all together the way that Isaiah gave it to Ahaz.
When you read it together, understand that a pressure situation was upon Ahaz at the time this prophecy was given. The city of Jerusalem was under siege by two united armies that sought to depose Ahaz from the throne and kill him. He was not interested in what was going to happen 100 years from now. He was not interested in what was going to happen in 500 or 1000 years. He was interested in what was going to happen then.
This prophecy (though not completely understood back at this time) was not necessarily understood with regard to the manner of time. Yes, the prophecy was given in the environment of the middle of the 8th century B.C.E. with all these factors in evidence. It was given to Ahaz to comfort him, to show him what would happen in the next years. Taking that into consideration let us go to verse 10,
“Moreover the Lord spoke again unto Ahaz, saying, ‘Ask thee a sign of the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.”
If you had an opportunity like this, what sign would you ask for? God said ask any sign; I do not care what it is, in the height above or the depth below. Ahaz, you can ask it. Ahaz did not want to ask for any sign, which would have meant a miracle of some kind. He could have asked for the earth to stop revolving if he wanted to. He could have asked for something else to happen. He could have asked for anything.
Ahaz replied, “I will not tempt the Lord.” If you knew the evil character of Ahaz as depicted in the book of Kings, you would have to say that was probably the most righteous thing that man ever said in his life. He was king Hezekiah’s father, one of the most righteous kings that ever lived, but Ahaz was so evil that he even closed the Temple of God for sixteen years during which no one could go into it.
Here was Isaiah the prophet talking to this evil king, a son of David, telling him to ask for a sign from God no matter what it was and God will give it to you. Ahaz said, “I will not tempt the Lord.” Isaiah replied,
“And he said, ‘Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’”
When God gave Ahaz this sign it was the most marvelous miracle that ever happened in the history of the world — better than the stopping of the earth, better than the opening up of the Red Sea, better than one coming out of a tomb alive like Lazarus — better than anything given in the history of the world because this sign will involve the eternal God Himself coming into human flesh. When you put it all together in this long prophecy, it is a miracle of miracles, the most magnificent miracle this world has ever seen.
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin [the virgin, in Hebrew] shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’”
The word Immanuel means “God with us,” which is a name almost blasphemous if applied to an ordinary human. However, this “virgin shall conceive” and “You shall call his name Immanuel.”
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that [or when] he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that you abhor shall be forsaken of both her kings.”
Who were the kings? Rezin king of Syria and Pekah king of Israel. The land Ahaz abhorred “will be forsaken of their kings.” From the vantage point of the 8th century B.C.E., would you not imagine that in some time in the near future, certainly within 65 years (because that was the time period given), the virgin, perhaps a particular virgin known at that time, will give birth to a child and his name it will be Immanuel, “God with us.” Would you not imagine that within a 65-year period, that young boy born of that virgin would begin to do some of the exploits that this prophecy later says he will do? I suppose you might think that.
Look at the whole scene. They are at the conduit at the upper pool near the fuller’s field and talking in this environment of the 8th century and God says I will give you, Ahaz, a sign.
“The Lord shall bring upon you, and upon your people, and upon your father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.”
He is talking about these two powers being forsaken. Now all of a sudden we find the Assyrians coming on the scene. Verses 18 through to the end of the chapter speak about the Assyrian going to tear up Syria and Israel. Chapter 8, 4 the prophecy continues.
“Moreover the Lord said unto me, ‘Take you a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.’”
That is quite a name. Some confuse this child with Immanuel to come, but his name is different. This child Mahershalalhashbaz in English means “making speed to the spoil, he hastens the prey.”
“And I took unto me [Isaiah] faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, ‘Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.’”
Notice that in verse 3 we have a fundamental distinction between the prophecy concerning Immanuel and this prophecy concerning Mahershalalhashbaz. Though a bit later we will find that the two are allied as far as to what will be done, yet they are distinct from each other for several reasons.
“For before the child [Mahershalalhashbaz] shall have knowledge to cry, ‘My father, and my mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
Isaiah is saying that he went into the prophetess and she conceived. This means that this could not be the Immanuel because He was to be born of the virgin. Here Isaiah himself goes to the priest to record something, a kind of birth certificate or a legal document. He says, “I [Isaiah himself] went into the prophetess.” It simply means his wife. Of course, there were feminine prophets. “She conceived and bare a son.” This makes Isaiah as having at least two children that we know of, Shearjashub, mentioned in Isaiah 7:3, but now this other young man is born, Mahershalalhashbaz, who is also Isaiah’s child. 5
We will see that Mahershalalhashbaz takes over as a substitute in one way from the Immanuel prophecy because the Immanuel is not to be born immediately. Verse 5,
“The Lord spoke also unto me again, saying,
‘Forasmuch as this people refuses the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah [he shall take over everything]; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.’”
Here is Immanuel mentioned again. He was introduced back in Isaiah 7:14 with a virgin producing him. Now Immanuel has another role. Notice that it says Immanuel now has a land, “thy land, O Immanuel.” Here we find that the Immanuel prophesied to come really owns the land of Israel. It is his land. Who did the land belong to at the time Isaiah was speaking? Ahaz was the owner, the king, the son of David. It was his land. But the time when the Assyrian will do this, it will be Immanuel’s land, “God with us.”
The prophecy of Isaiah continues in verse 9, “Associate yourselves, O ye people.” Associate with Syria and with Israel if you dare. Others of the people of Judah, if you read the context of First Kings, wanted to ally with Assyria because Israel and Syria were attacking Jerusalem, and they were worried about it. They wanted to rely upon the gentile power of Assyria. Isaiah says Assyria will take these over, but they too will come into Judah. Some people wanted to associate with Assyria. Isaiah says, okay, go ahead,
“Associate yourselves, O you people and you shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all you of far countries: gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.”
There it is in Hebrew spelled out. Who is with us? Immanuel, “God is with us.” Isaiah is saying do not depend upon an association between these two powers here, or Judah, or Assyria. What we have to do is to depend upon Immanuel. He is God and “God is with us.” Verse 11,
“For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say you not, ‘A confederacy,’ to all them to whom this people shall say, ‘A confederacy’; neither fear you their fear, nor be afraid.”
Judah was saying, let us confederate with Assyria. Let us be as one and we can both take care of Ephraim and Syria. Isaiah was told by God, that Judah was to have nothing to do with that confederacy.
“Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary ...”
Judah should depend on Him; to you He will be a sanctuary. But notice what He will be to those who will not have the Lord of Hosts as their sanctuary. He will be,
“... but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.”
Why? Because they are not depending upon the sanctuary of God, which is Immanuel who is “God with us,” God the Lord. 6 Immanuel owns the land and they were told by Isaiah to depend upon Him. Make Him their sanctuary. If they do not do so, they will be broken, snared, and taken. Verse 18,
“Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwells in mount Zion. ... To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Isaiah 8:18, 20
Chapter 9, moving right on,
“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali [north near the Sea of Galilee], and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations [on the other side of the Jordan].”
In the northern areas when the Assyrians first came into the land about the year 771 B.C.E., about 30 years before this time of Isaiah, they made a foray down into this territory and “lightly afflicted” the land of Zebulun, Naphtali and land on the other side of the Jordan. Isaiah is saying that he fears when the Assyrian comes this time he will not lightly afflict like he did 30 years before. It will be far more disastrous.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light<![if !supportFootnotes]> 7 : they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.”
Isaiah 9:1–2 are recited in Matthew 4:13 as referring to the ministry of our Lord in Galilee. It is interesting though that Isaiah is putting it in the context of the 8th century B.C.E. talking about Assyria 740 years before the birth of our Lord. And yet, all of this here is talking about Immanuel. Going on, in verse 3,
“You have multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before you according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For you have broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 8 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”
Notice verse 6 we are still talking about Immanuel, born of the virgin who will be the leader of the land of Israel. He will be a son of David.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:”
This is new. We have been told that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. Now we are told that here is the child being born and indeed he is old enough for the government to be placed upon His shoulders. Remember that this whole prophecy here involves, as far as Isaiah was concerned, about a 65-year period. Try to look at it from his viewpoint and the point of view of Ahaz. Within 65 years all these things have to transpire.
Here is the baby born of the virgin, Immanuel, and all that entails. Now the son is born; he is old enough to govern. How old would that be? Fifteen years? Twenty, twenty-five years? He is old enough, from Isaiah’s point of view and trying to interpret it the way he would that,
“... the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever [the age]. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Israel’s Judgment, and Judah’s
I will not go into the intricacies of the Hebrew here, but this is still part of the same prophecy. We have to put Isaiah 7:14 together with 9:6–7 because we are having a history of Immanuel being described. Verse 8, “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel” (Isaiah 9:8).
The next verses to the end of the chapter talk about a step-by-step destruction of the land of Israel. Read it for yourself.
“And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: [There will be great famine in the land.] Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah [civil war in the land]. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! And what will you do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will you flee for help? and where will you leave your glory? Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. [Note the end of v.4] For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
There is still a chance for salvation! Even at this point Israel can repent. Just put it all together. This young man has his government upon his shoulders and the throne of David that he will sit on, “Counselor, Prince of Peace,” etc. If they do not repent at that juncture, look at what it says in verse 5,
“O Assyrian, the rod of my anger, and the staff in their hand is my indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he means not so, neither does his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. For he says, ‘Are not my princes altogether kings?’”
Then he began to show how many peoples they had conquered, how many ancient gods of the peoples the Assyrians were able to conquer,
“Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?”
God said he will bring the Assyrian against Judah as well as the land of Israel. Then Assyria itself will finally be destroyed. That is what he says in Isaiah 10:24–27. The destruction upon the Assyrians will come,
“Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, ‘O my people that dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite you with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against you, after the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease.’”
Later Isaiah 26:20 discusses salvation for Judah at this time,
“Come, my people, enter thou into your chambers, and shut your doors about thee: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
Isaiah is not talking necessarily about going to a Petra, but he is instructing them to close the doors, get into their chambers, those people who will be in Judah “until the indignation be overpast.” What do we see in Isaiah 10 again, verse 25,
“... For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and my anger in their destruction. And the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb [when Israel had a great victory over the Midianites] and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off your shoulder, and his yoke from off your neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”
It says in the Hebrew, “because of the oil,” or you might say, because of the anointed one. That is interpretation, but on the other hand, I am sure that is what it means because Assyria will take these people captive, including Judah. At the same time the anointing, or shall we say the oil or the one of oil, maybe the anointed one (again, that is interpretation), but the anointed one will take care of matters. We know who the anointed one is, the one being talked about from Isaiah 7:14 to this passage here; his name is Immanuel. He will take care of matters.
From Isaiah 10:28–34 we have the last step-by-step movement of the Assyrians from the north to completely destroy Jerusalem. All of us who were down there in Israel about a month ago, 9 were in the very region where this Assyrian and his army will move step by step southward toward Jerusalem.
“He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he has laid up his carriages: They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled. Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth. Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee. As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled. And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.”
In verse 28 Isaiah picks up the movement of this Assyrian making his last attack upon Jerusalem, about 10 miles north of Jerusalem very near Bethel. In actual fact it is the place called Ai. Then he passes to Migron a little farther south. At Michmash “he has laid up his carriages.” That is about 7 miles north of Jerusalem. Then he carries on south and goes over the Michmash passage. If you ever go down to the Jerusalem area, you can see it quite clearly.
Then they take up their lodging at Geba, about a mile south of Michmash. “Ramah is afraid”; that is another ½ mile south. “Gibeah of Saul,” the ancient capital of Israel in the day of Saul is another 1½ miles south. Then he continues on farther south. He is about 4 miles north of Jerusalem when he gets to Gallim and Laish and, “O poor Anathoth.” Anathoth is where Jeremiah the prophet was born, about 2½ miles north and east of Jerusalem. He continues his progress.
Nob is just on the western side of Mount Scopus overlooking the city of Jerusalem. He has moved down, step by step, until he gets to the city of Jerusalem. When he arrives at the city of Jerusalem, what will they do? In verse 32,
“[H]e shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.”
When you get over that small rise coming from the north and over the small rise of Mount Scopus, all of a sudden the great panorama of Jerusalem comes into your view. This is where the Assyrian will be according to Isaiah; he will look over all of Jerusalem, shake his fist at the city and prepare to attack it.
“Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror [the Assyrian]: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down [the Assyrian military command, all their officers], and the haughty shall be humbled. And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon [the Lebanese cedar, a beautiful tree] shall fall by a mighty one.”
Isaiah looks on this Assyrian army as like a forest on the move, small trees, big trees and the biggest of all the cedar of Lebanon, the Assyrian king. Look what will happen to this forest. It will be cut down in the environs of Jerusalem. They shall “cut down the thickets of the forest with iron,” with an ax, “and Lebanon shall fall.” Look at the last part of verse 34, fall by whom? “By a mighty one” or “by a noble one.” Someone will cause the Assyrian to fall in the environs of Jerusalem.
Starting in chapter 7 the one who will do this will come from a virgin, his name will be called Immanuel, and He is called “God with us.” In chapter 9, once he begins to grow up we find that the government will be put upon his shoulders. He will be the prince of peace. He will be wonderful. He will be a Counselor. He will be the Mighty Father, as it says in the King James Version. Here the one of oil will take care of the Assyrian in Isaiah 10:27. Here he is called “the noble one” or “the Mighty One” as the King James has it.
In Isaiah chapter 11 we now have this Mighty One identified, carrying right on with the prophecy,
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
The Assyrians were compared to trees in 10:34. Here is a rod coming out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch that shall grow up out his roots. What this shows is that the House of David was a mighty tree, something like the Assyrian. It was cut down and all that is left is the stump and little shoots coming out. The old nation is gone. Out of the bottom part of this tree will come forth a rod or the stem of Jesse, which means of David, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Notice,
“And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”
Go back to Isaiah 9:6 again
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
He will sit where, in verse 7, upon the throne of David. When He sits there, “... the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,” and he will establish judgment, justice, “henceforth even for ever, and the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
In chapter 11 we find that as soon as the Assyrian comes to this area here (as far as Isaiah is concerned) and shakes his fist against Jerusalem, he will fall by the hand of a mighty one, who is identified here as “a rod out of a stem of Jesse,” a Branch that shall grow out of his roots, “the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom,” understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Eternal,
“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked [wicked one].
Up to this time we have been talking about the Assyrian. Sometimes he is called “the Lebanon,” the Lebanon tree or whatever it is. In this context here, he will slay the wicked one (the Assyrian described in Isaiah 10:34). What will happen once the wicked one is destroyed, and all that are with him? Verse 5,
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. [All this will transpire after the wicked one is cut down.] And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. ... They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Isaiah 11:5–7, 9
Looking Forward — From the Past
Notice verse 10, “And in that day.” I suppose Isaiah and Ahaz thought, looking at it from their vantage point, it would occur probably within 65 years. What did Isaiah really understand? Peter said concerning the “what, or what manner of time” lots of the prophets did not understand everything. That is a fact.
Many of the apostles took prophecies right out of this long prophecy in Isaiah and applied them to the time of our Lord. And truly they did apply at that time because He was born of a virgin, but not in the time of Isaiah. Mahershalalhashbaz was born, but not of a virgin, but of a prophetess, who I think took the place, shall we say, of the virgin. But the virgin birth did not occur until about 742 years afterwards. And to our very day Jesus Christ has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders, the government coming from David upon Mount Zion.
Many things concerning the Assyrian can never be shown in history to have occurred, such as his movement from the north straight south to Jerusalem, and waving the clenched fist against Jerusalem. When the Assyrians back in the 8th century came down, they came the seacoast route. This is clearly demonstrated not only in the Bible, but history and archeology clinches it as well. The Assyrian came down to a city of Lachish, and then from Lachish he attacked Jerusalem in that manner, and he did take it over in actual fact, but Jerusalem was left intact. And though Judah became a vassal kingdom of the ancient Assyrians, and though some of the Jews were taken captive, most were not. These prophecies here cannot be shown in history to have taken place in any fullness.
Let us face it. Has the Immanuel who was born of a virgin some 1,900 years ago taken upon Himself the mantel of government yet upon this earth? The answer is no. The apostles looked at this long prophecy here and applied some prophecies concerning Immanuel to the 1st century C.E., but there are still some portions concerning the Immanuel that have not yet taken place. The putting down of the Assyrian, the setting up of universal world dominion under the true Messiah, neither has taken place.
The wolf is not dwelling with the lamb. You would not find the cow and the bear being together, or the lion eating straw like an ox. Do we find that the knowledge of the Eternal is throughout the extent of the earth as the waters cover the sea? No, not yet. But look at verse 10, “And in that day ...” Isaiah does not tell us when it will be. I suppose he thought it would be soon. Time is dislocated in this prophecy of Isaiah.
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people ...”
Remember what Shearjashub means? “A remnant shall return”; that’s Isaiah’s first-born son. But before a remnant can return the meaning of the name of his lastborn son, Mahershalalhashbaz, must occur “he will haste to the spoil first.” Then afterward, Isaiah, which means “salvation is of God.”
“... I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwells in mount Zion.”
So “there shall be a root of Jesse” in that day. He shall not only stand for an ensign for Israel, but for the Gentiles. Ephraim and Israel will come back to the land of Palestine (Isaiah 11:11–13).
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations [the gentiles], and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah [any longer], and Judah shall not vex Ephraim [any longer].”
They will come back to the land of Palestine.
“And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.”
Read right on. Do not stop because we have one more chapter to go.
“ And in that day you shall say, O Lord, I will praise you: though you were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and you comforted me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall you say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he has done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.
Note verse 6 which is the closing of this long prophecy. The next prophecy as you see in chapter 13 is a different one — the burden of Babylon — altogether different. This one ends with verse 6,
“Cry out and shout, you inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of you.”
Shout in the midst of Jerusalem. No wonder Immanuel is here called “God with us” because he will be in the midst of Jerusalem. Who is he? A stem of Jesse, a branch out of his roots. He is seen to sit on the throne of David. He is to accept the government that will be upon his shoulders. He will be Wonderful. He will be a Counselor. He is even called the Mighty God, which means God with us.
The Totality of God’s Sign
When God gave this promise to Ahaz back in chapter 7, he said to him, ask you a sign of the Lord thy God (Isaiah 7:11), ask “either in the depths or in the heights above, but Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.” And it says, “hear you now O House of David, is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also?”
Notice Isaiah 7:14 again, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign.” Many have said the sign is simply the virgin birth. Oh, it includes the virgin birth, but that is not the completion of the sign. The “sign” is the whole prophecy all the way through. It begins with the virgin birth, obviously, but the rest of the prophecy talks about this Immanuel being “God with us” here on this earth. And then it goes on to say that he will be the power to put down all wickedness on this earth. He is the one to be born with the government on his shoulders,
“Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”
He will put down the Assyrian as the stem out of Jesse. That tree of Israel will grow up once again, but it will be the stem of Jesse that will cause it to happen.
If I were old wicked Ahaz back there and Isaiah came to me and said, what sign would you like God to give that you will have peace? Ahaz did not want to tempt the Lord, but if I, Ernest Martin, were living in that environment where two powers were within an ace of taking over Jerusalem and perhaps killing me, and all of that, and the Assyrians were menacing up north, war all over the place, you know what I would ask for? If I could have a sign that is in the depths below or the heights above, anything you want? I would ask for universal peace on this earth, happiness and joy, bring it to pass is what I would have asked for. Ahaz did not do it. He did not want to ask.
Do you know what God did? God told Ahaz something that was as grand as any man could ever conceive of, because He told him the sign He would give Ahaz was to start with a virgin birth, with a young man being born. He will come on the scene. He will grow up. The government will be upon his shoulders. He will be God in the flesh, Immanuel, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. God Himself was saying, I will intervene in world affairs and I will bring in universal peace and prosperity and a knowledge of the Eternal from shore to shore and from land to land throughout the entire earth. That is what I will do.
From the New Testament point of view, when we read the apostle Paul, though this prophecy here only concerns the earth, we can extend that message concerning the stem or the rod out of Jesse, the branch, not only to the earth, but He will bring peace and reconciliation and joy and happiness to the entire universe. When you get right down to it, is that not the greatest sign that could be given to anybody, the entire universe coming to a knowledge of God and coming to a peace with God? And though this prophecy here only has to do with the earth, from the New Testament we know that the Immanuel, who is God with us, to bring about reconciliation to all and every one.
That is the greatest sign ever been given in the history of the world. It is still being given. It does go beyond the depths below or the height above. We are in the midst of prophecy now! And though Isaiah did not know the manner of time, probably thinking it might occur in 65 years (and certain things did occur), many elements that concern Immanuel have about a 2,500 year history, in fact maybe a 3,500 year history. In fact, maybe many elements have longer than that. That Immanuel will bring in universal peace and reconciliation to the entirety of the universe is the greatest sign that God ever gave to mankind.
L. Martin, 1983
Edited by David Sielaff, December 2003
1 I know in the past I have said that Zechariah chapters 12 to 14 speaks about things to happen in Israel and the Middle East, but I mentioned at the last that we do not have an absolute time schedule when that will occur. It will occur, but exactly when, that is a problem.
2 Damascus is still the capital of Syria today and will soon have a time of prominence. See “The Damascus Phase of End-Time Prophecy” at http://www.askelm.com/temple/t991101.htm.
3 We do not know how old he was, he could have been a young boy or a younger man.
4 Remember that chapters are King James indications. You go right on in the original Hebrew with no chapter breaks.
5 In verse 18 of chapter 8 Isaiah talks about both these children, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwells in mount Zion.” (Isaiah 8:18). Isaiah says that he and his two sons are signs. Each of them had names that had meaning. Isaiah’s name means “salvation is of God.” Shearjashub means “a remnant shall return.” Mahershalalhashbaz means “that he makes speed to the spoil,” in the context of the Assyrian coming down to take over Ephraim and Syria. Shearjashub indicates that a remnant shall return and not be taken captive by the Assyrian. Isaiah’s name means that their salvation will come from God, finally. Each of them — Isaiah and each of his two sons — are to be distinguished from Immanuel.
6 This verse 14 where it says “but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence,” the apostle Paul in Romans 9:33 applies this to Jesus Christ clearly and plainly. It is interesting, he applies it to Jesus Christ for his time. First Peter 2:8 also quotes the same scripture and who does Peter apply it to? To the Immanuel who came forth from Mary. So Peter takes this out of the context of the 8th century B.C.E. and puts it into the context of the 1st century C.E.
7 Previously in 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word,” which deals with Immanuel here, God with us, “there is no light in them.”
8 God worked a marvelous miracle for Israel by overcoming the Midianites (Judges 6:1–8:21).
9 In 1983. I was able to join Dr. Martin at that time. It was my first trip to Israel and Jerusalem. DWS
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