The Book of Books—Part 4


Redemption promised … World government … Blessings of “last days” … Death destroyed … Houses built … Vineyards planted

ISAIAH was one of God’s holy prophets, and the major portion of the book which bears his name is prophetic in character. It contains some history, and some very precious assurances of God’s care over his people. One of these reads, “Thou [the Lord] wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”—Isa. 26:3,4

Some of the prophecies of the book pertain to the calamities which were to come upon the nation of Israel because of its sin. “Ah, sinful nation,” the prophet writes, “a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” (Isa. 1:4) In colorful and forceful language, Isaiah forecast the coming desolation of the nation and of their land, saying, “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”—Isa. 1:7,8

But the Book of Isaiah is concerned with much more than prophesying the punishments of the Lord which were shortly to come upon the nation of Israel. The fulfillment of these prophecies began when the nation was taken into captivity in Babylon. Intertwined with these are forecasts of major events in the outworking of the divine plan of redemption and restoration of all mankind, some of which were thousands of years in the future from Isaiah’s time.

Jesus’ Foretold Death

Fundamental to the outworking of the divine plan of salvation was the death of Jesus as man’s Redeemer, and in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah this is foretold. In order that the dying race might be redeemed from death, Jesus took the sinner’s place in death. Concerning the Redeemer’s suffering and death, the prophet wrote:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. … Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. … He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. … It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, … and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”—vss. 3-11

The pleasure of the Lord referred to in this passage is the divine purpose, as stated to Abraham, to bless “all families of the earth.” (Gen. 12:3; 22:18) It is through the death of Jesus as the Redeemer that these promised blessings of life will be made available to the people for the thousand years of his kingdom.

As the prophet foretold, Jesus was cut off in death, and “who shall declare his generation?” (Isa. 53:8) From the natural standpoint Jesus had no family, but, as the prophet foretold, he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. This will also be during the thousand years of his kingdom, for then the entire human race will be awakened from the sleep of death and given an opportunity to secure everlasting life through Jesus. All who then accept this loving provision of divine grace will become Jesus’ seed, his children, for he will be their father, or life-giver.

The Kingdom Necessary

The Prophet Isaiah reveals that in order for the pleasure of Jehovah to prosper in the hands of Christ, a kingdom, or government, must be established in the earth to administer the blessings provided by his death. So, in a prophecy of the birth of Jesus this is brought to our attention. We quote: “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 Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. … The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7

The government, or kingdom, of the Lord in which The Prince of Peace will be the supreme ruler is prophesied in the second chapter of the book, as follows: “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Isa. 2:2-4

In this prophecy of the kingdom of Christ, more symbolic or pictorial language is introduced. The mountain of the Lord, for example, is the kingdom of the Lord. This should have been quite understandable to ancient Israel, to whom the prophecies were originally written. As we have previously noted, God ruled Israel through one after another of the nation’s kings, of whom it is said that they sat upon the throne of the Lord. The headquarters of this kingdom arrangement were in Mount Zion in Jerusalem. To the Israelites therefore the mountain of the Lord would plainly mean the kingdom of the Lord.

Isaiah tells us that in the last days this mountain shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills. This suggests that Christ’s kingdom will take a dominating position of control over all the nations of earth. The people will quickly recognize its authority and all nations shall flow unto it. Then, as the prophet shows, there will be a genuine disarmament program, for the nations shall convert their instruments of war into utensils of peace, and they will learn war no more. Thus one of the great objectives in the birth of Christ shall have been accomplished, for he will truly then be The Prince of Peace.

This achievement of the divine purpose is to come to pass, Isaiah wrote, in the last days. This does not mean the last days of time, or of human experience, but simply the last days of the reign of sin and death. As we continue our examination of the Bible, we will find from many of its prophecies that we are even now living in the early beginning of the last days, and thus may expect that soon the kingdom of Christ will manifest itself in power and great glory, bringing peace, and health, and life to all mankind.

In chapter twenty-five, Isaiah further depicts the blessings which will reach mankind through the administration of Christ’s kingdom. Here, again, that kingdom is pictured as a mountain, and the prophecy states that “in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” Suggesting some of the things which will constitute this feast, the prophet declares that in this mountain, or kingdom, the Lord “will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. … And it shall be said in that day, Lo, 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.”—vss. 6-9

Not in Vain

An assurance of the survival of the human race is presented in the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, and the eighteenth verse, which reads, “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord and there is none else.” This is in full agreement with the divine command to our first parents to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. It emphasizes that despite man’s fall into sin and death, God intended that his original purpose pertaining to his human creation is to be accomplished, that he did not create the earth in vain.

Following this assurance that the human race was to continue on the earth, there is an apparent reference to the vain efforts of the nations today to find a solution to their problems apart from God, or by appealing to other gods—whether of military might, or of gold, or heathen deities—and that even their taking counsel together will not save them, that their only salvation is to look unto him. We quote:

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations; they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: Who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? And there is no God else beside me; a just God, and a Savior; there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”—vss. 20-23

Everlasting Joy

The thirty-fifth chapter presents another reassurance of God’s purpose to save mankind from the result of sin. As though the Lord is speaking to his people in the fear-filled world of today, asking them to give a message of comfort to those who will hear, he declares, “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.”—vs. 4

In our examination of some of the succeeding prophetic books of the Old Testament, we will learn that the period immediately preceding the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom in the earth is described as one of great trouble and distress upon the nations, prophetically described as the day of God’s vengeance against the many blighting evils which have corrupted human society. It is this which is referred to in the statement, “Behold, your God will come with vengeance.” However, in order to assure us that this manifestation of God’s righteous anger is merely against the sinful and evil practices and policies of the nations, and not against the people, except as they refuse to be separated from their wrongdoing, the prophet adds, “He [that is, the Lord] will come and save you.”

This promised salvation will reach the people through Messiah’s kingdom, established upon the ruins of the institutions of sin which were built upon human selfishness. Not only will this glorious kingdom save the people from fear and war, but from sickness and death as well. Continuing, the prophet declares: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.”—vss. 5,6

The last verse of this reassuring chapter informs us that the dead will then return from death—“The ransomed of the Lord shall return,” says Isaiah. Through Christ, the Redeemer, redemption is provided for the entire human race. All are therefore included in the statement, “the ransomed of the Lord.” And they shall return from death “with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

New Heavens and New Earth

In chapter sixty-five there is another revealing prophecy of the kingdom of Christ, pointing out the great changes which it will bring about in human experience. In this chapter, Christ’s kingdom is symbolically described as new heavens and a new earth, and associated with this picture is another; namely, a new Jerusalem. Through the prophet the Lord says, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”—Isa. 65:17,18

The new heavens and new earth symbolisms are used in a number of the Bible’s prophecies, being introduced in the Book of Isaiah for the first time. They are used to represent the spiritual and earthly aspects of Christ’s kingdom. Together, these two phases of the kingdom of Christ will constitute the Jerusalem which will be such a joy to all who become God’s people under the administration of that new kingdom. We will find these symbols in later books of the Bible and will explain them further then. Now let us note the great changes which are to be wrought as a result of the coming into power of Christ’s kingdom, the new heavens and a new earth. Continuing, the prophecy states:

“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall make them long enjoy the work of their hands.”—vss. 20-22

The elect of God here referred to is Jesus. Associated with him will be his faithful followers. As we progress with our study we will find that these will constitute the new heavens; that is the new spiritual rulers of the earth. On the other hand, those pictured as building houses and inhabiting them, and planting vineyards and eating the fruit of them, will be the restored human race.

The elect, the prophecy states, will make them long enjoy the work of their hands. This means, simply, that through Christ and his church everlasting life will be made available to all mankind. That is why one who continues in opposition to this rule of righteousness, and who dies because of his sins, will be only as an infant, even though he may not die until he is a hundred years old. Those who then accept the provisions of God’s grace, through Christ, and obey the laws of that new kingdom, will live forever.


Destruction and restoration … “Sour grape” of sin … Divine image restored

The Book of Jeremiah is next in the Old Testament collection of inspired writings. It takes its name from the prophet who wrote it, Jeremiah served Israel just before its government was overthrown and the people taken captive to Babylon. He forecast this tragedy as well as other calamities which were to come upon the nation. Because of the pessimistic nature of much that this prophet wrote he is sometimes referred to as the prophet of doom. The Lord’s commission to Jeremiah to serve as a prophet summarizes the substance of the book. It reads, in part:

“The Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”—Jer. 1:9,10

Jeremiah himself did not do any pulling down or destroying of the nations. Neither did he build nor plant. He was commissioned merely to proclaim the Word of the Lord concerning these events, and this he faithfully did. He forecast the pulling down of Israel as well as the other nations of earth, and he also foretold restoration, both for Israel and for all mankind.

Imminent in Jeremiah’s day was Israel’s captivity to Babylon. He forecast this, and also prophesied the return of the people to the Promised Land. Subsequently, however, the nation was again to be driven out of the land, and scattered among all nations. Jeremiah also forecast this. But the prophet gave assurance that this dispersion would also end, and the people again would be restored to the land which God gave to their fathers. (Jer. 16:12-18) These prophecies are even now being fulfilled.

In chapter thirty-one, Jeremiah presents a more comprehensive prophecy of restoration—one which indicates a complete change in man’s relationship to the laws of God. He declares that a time is coming when it shall no more be said, “The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”—vss. 29,30

What a drastic change this will be! In the larger vista of human experience, it was Adam who ate the sour grape of sin and as a result the entire human race was plunged into death. But as Jeremiah points out, this is to be changed, for a time is coming in the outworking of the divine plan for human recovery from sin and death when no one will die for another’s sins. That will be for the thousand years of Christ’s reign with his church. Then, the only ones to die will be those who themselves willfully transgress divine law.

As we have seen, the Prophet Isaiah reveals that the transgressions of humanity were laid upon Jesus. He died for the sins of the world, the just for the unjust. This is why, when the Lord’s due time comes, every individual member of the human family will be given an opportunity to demonstrate his own desire to obey the law of God, and those who do obey shall live forever.

Verses thirty-one to thirty-four of this same chapter are prophetic of a new covenant which the Lord promises to make “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” Other prophecies reveal that eventually Gentiles will be brought into this covenant. It is called a new covenant because it will take the place of the old Law Covenant, which as we have seen, was made with Israel at Mount Sinai. Concerning this New Covenant the Lord says: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. … And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, … Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”—vss. 33,34

This indicates a time when the human race will be restored to the original perfection, and when the image of God will be reflected in the hearts and lives of all mankind, even as it was in Adam when he was first created and before he fell into sin and was sentenced to death. And at that time also, all shall know the Lord from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.


Next comes the Book of Lamentations, which also was written by the Prophet Jeremiah. It contains little in the nature of prophecy, but rather, as its name implies, is largely a lamenting over the calamities which had come upon Israel in being taken captive to Babylon. The book is written by one who speaks with the vividness and intensity of an eyewitness of the misery which he bewails. The fact that Jeremiah had prophesied this tragedy did not make it less a cause for deep sorrow and weeping.

However, he does not complain against God in allowing this trouble to come upon his people, for he recognized that the nation was merely experiencing its just punishment for sins. Speaking representatively for the whole nation, Jeremiah wrote, “The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity.”—Lam. 1:18

In his deep sorrow, the prophet maintained his trust in the Lord, and recognized that in him was his only source of hope, so he wrote, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”—Lam. 3:24-26

Thus the prophet expressed his confidence that salvation and deliverance would eventually come to Israel. His beautiful statements of trust in the Lord are also an illustration of the manner in which the personal experiences of the writers of the Bible call forth expressions of devotion to God which, throughout the ages, have been rich sources of blessing to all who have put their trust in the Lord and have sought to know and to do his will.


Sinners resurrected … “Until He come” … Valley of dry bones … Divine intervention … Human survival

Like the other prophetic books of the Old Testament, a considerable portion of the Book of Ezekiel had its fulfillment in the ancient past, in the experiences of Israel and of the Gentile nations with which the Israelites were surrounded. However, Ezekiel records a number of remarkable prophecies of events even now taking place, and of still others yet to occur—events associated with the establishment of the kingdom of Christ and his thousand-year reign for the blessing of all the families of the earth.

All of God’s prophets were outspoken in their upbraiding of the Israelites for their sins, and Ezekiel was no exception. In the sixteenth chapter there is a notable example of this, yet withal, a promise of blessing upon the people in the resurrection, despite the scarlet nature of their sins. This particular oration begins with the forty-fourth verse, where the prophet refers to Israel as a “mother,” and to certain heathen nations, notorious for their wickedness, as “sisters,” who also had “daughters.”

He names Samaria and Sodom, cities which had been destroyed because of their wickedness. Then Ezekiel speaks of the time when all these will return to their former estate, including Israel, meaning that they will be restored to life as human beings on the earth. He thus projects the account far into the future from his day, even to the time of the resurrection of the dead. In presenting this fact of the coming resurrection of both Jew and Gentile, the prophet explains that the people of those wicked cities of the past will be brought into covenant relationship with God, together with the Israelites—into that New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah, a covenant which will be everlasting because it will not be broken, as was the original Law Covenant.—Jer. 31:31-34

This wonderful prophecy of the future restoration to life of the people of all nations helps to keep before the student of the Bible its great theme song of redemption and restoration. And, like the other prophets, Ezekiel also reminds us of God’s great kingdom plan, and that it will be through the agencies of the kingdom of Christ that the restitution, or restoration, blessings will be made available to the people.

We have already learned that the kingdom of Israel was typical in many respects of the kingdom of Christ. But as foretold by the prophets, that kingdom was overthrown by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 606 B.C. Zedekiah was the last king to reign over the nation. Ezekiel addresses him, saying: “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end. Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”—Ezek. 21:25-27

An interesting phrase in this prophecy is, until he come whose right it is. This is a reference to the coming and enthronement of Jesus as the rightful king of Israel and of the whole world. As we have seen, God ruled that one little nation of Israel through her successive kings, but Ezekiel explains that that arrangement ceased with the overthrow of Zedekiah, that it was to be no more until the time should come for God to rule through Jesus, and this rulership will not be over Israel alone, but will embrace all nations.

True to the prophecy, Israel has never had another king. Seventy years later the people were permitted to return to Palestine, but they were always subject to other powers. There was an overturning of these from Babylon, to Medo-Persia, to Greece, and to Rome, but Israel remained a vassal nation to one after another of these, and finally, by the armies of Rome, were scattered among all nations.

But the Prophet Ezekiel, nevertheless, forecasts their ultimate restoration to the Promised Land. Chapters thirty-six through thirty-eight are a remarkable setting forth of events related to their regathering in these last days. Chapter thirty-six tells of God’s purpose to restore this people to their land, not because they merited such favor, but for his own name’s sake. Chapter thirty-seven describes the reviving of the national hopes of Israel, likening their former status to a valley of dry bones.

These bones come together, are covered with flesh, and finally receive life. A great deal of this has already been fulfilled by what has occurred in Palestine in recent years. But there is still much to be accomplished, and the prophecy will continue to be fulfilled until even the dead are restored to life.

Chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine reveal, however, that before this occurs there is to be a vicious attack upon regathered Israel by aggressor forces from the north. The closing verses of chapter thirty-eight reveal that this attack will be repelled, and the aggressors destroyed, not by the Israeli army, but by divine intervention. This the prophecy reveals, will open the eyes of both Gentiles and Jews to the fact that God is taking a hand in human affairs, and that they will thus behold his glory.

It will be from this time forward that the kingdom of Christ will take a dominant role in the affairs of the nations, beginning with Israel. That is when, as we read in the prophecy of Isaiah, all nations will say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.” The people of all nations will then learn righteousness, and there will be universal and everlasting peace. Redeemed from death the people will, by obeying the laws of Christ’s kingdom, live forever; and the dead will be restored to life. This is God’s assurance of human survival!

Click here to go to Part 5
Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |