THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
Lesson 6: Chapters 9-11
Part One: Prophecies of Condemnation
The Immanuel Prophecies
Lord God of Justice and Mercy,
It is our plea that You do not raise Your hand of divine justice against our nation but that You will continue to have patience in calling our people to repentance. Increase the voice of the faithful remnant of Your people in our nation so that they can stir the consciences of our people in taking a stand against sin and injustice and in recommitting our nation to its stand as one nation under God. Please send Your Holy Spirit to guide us in today's lesson from the Book of Isaiah concerning God's just punishment of the wicked and His promises of restoration for the righteous. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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It is better to
turn again when we err than to be free from correction when we stumble. For
whom the Lord loves he chastens, and a rebuke is a fatherly action. Every soul
that is not chastised is not healed. Is not then freedom from chastisement a
hard thing? But to fail to be corrected by the chastisement is still harder.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus, On His Father's Silence, Oration 16.15
Isaiah 9:7-10:34 ~ The Coming Judgment in the Fall of the Northern Kingdom
As the voice of Yahweh, Isaiah recounts a series of divine judgments that will begin take place against the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 9:7-10:4 (in some translations these verses are numbered 9:8-10:4). In these judgments, he is describing God's continuing anger with Israel's people because of their pride and arrogance. He has sent His prophets to call His people to repentance, but they ignored the prophets' warnings. Each section is divided by the key statement that occurs four times: "Yet for all this, his anger is not spent. No, his hand is still raised!" (see 9:11/12, 16/17, 20/21; 10:4). The people of the whole of Israel (Jacob) had failed to repent, so as an example God's judgment will fall first upon the Northern Kingdom with whom His judgment will be taken to the next level. It is a concept of increasing degrees of punishments in the attempt to call a people to repentance that was introduced in the covenant judgment sanctions in Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68 where Moses described the awful progression of the consequences that would befall the covenant people if they were unwilling to repent and return to their covenant obligations and their faithful relationship with Yahweh. For example: But if you will not listen to me and do not put all these commandments into practice, if you reject my laws and detest my customs, and you break my covenant by not putting all my commandments into practice, this is how I shall treat you: I shall subject you to terror, consumption and fever, making you dim of sight and short of breath. You will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will eat it. I shall turn against you and you will be defeated by your enemies. Your foes will have mastery over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you. And if, in spite of this, you will not listen to me, I shall punish you seven times over for your sins. I shall break your proud strength. I shall make the sky like iron for you, and your soil like bronze ... And if you go against me and will not listen to me, I shall heap seven times more plagues on you for your sins ... And if that does not reform you, and you still go against me, then I shall go against you and punish you another seven times over for your sins ... And if, in spite of this, you will not listen to me but go against me, I shall go against you in fury and punish you seven times over for your sins ..." (Lev 26:14-28, emphasis added). The "seven times" increasing degrees of punishments are repeated four times in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24 and 29, climaxing in the judgment of exile among the Gentile nations (Lev 26:33).
Question: Why did God warn that He would use
degrees of punishment?
Answer: The reason for judgments was always as a means to lead to repentance and restoration. Therefore, in the different levels of judgment, God gave the people opportunities to turn back to Him, to repent, and to be restored to His divine favor.
In the course of human history, God sometimes removed His hand of protection when His people become unfaithful and rejected His promised blessings. In those cases, He let nature and sin in the world take hold of His apostate people. At other times, God used other nations as His instruments of judgment. But in those cases, the nation/nations that became His instrument must understand that they too will be judged according to their conduct. The children of Israel were God's instrument of judgment against the wicked people of Canaan who, figuratively, bathed themselves in the innocent blood of child sacrifice in their worship of pagan gods. But the Israelites warriors were to understand that they were consecrated as God's holy warriors and must behave accordingly. God will use Assyria to punish Israel, but then the Assyrians will also be answerable for any crimes against humanity that they commit as a nation.
Judgments in Isaiah 9:7/8-10:4
This section answers the theological question posed by God's assurance to King Ahaz of Judah in 7:4-9 and 8:4 that the alliance of Israel and Damascus will not be a threat. That question is: "how exactly will God insure that the Northern Kingdom's (Ephraim's) plans against Judah come to nothing?" The answer is that it will not be because of the intervention of Assyria but because of the intervention of God in bringing about the following events.
Isaiah 9:7-11 ~ Judgment by other Nations
7 The Lord has launched a word at Jacob and it has fallen on Israel; 8 and the people will all soon know it, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in the pride of their arrogant hearts, 9 "The bricks have fallen down but we shall rebuild with dressed stone; the sycamores have been felled but we shall replace them with cedars." 10 But, against them, Yahweh has raised their foe Razon, he has whipped up their enemies, 11 Aram to the east, Philistines to the west, to devour Israel with gaping jaws. After all this, his anger is not spent. No, his hand is still raised!
God has sent his "word" to all the children of Israel (the descendants of Jacob) in both nations, and now the first of the judgments will fall upon the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) and their capital city of Samaria. The "word" in verse 7/8 is not just an element of speech in Hebrew as it is in English. God's word brings about that which is spoken by Him (see Gen 1:3). When God has made a pronouncement, in a real sense, that event comes to pass (Ps 107:20; 147:15, 18, 19; Is 55:10; Heb 4:12; 6:5). Jesus is the "Living Word" who brings to fulfillment the will of God in creation and in salvation history (Jn 1:1-5).
Question: What are the two major sins of the people
of the Northern Kingdom and how have those sins led to all their other sins
including the sin of apostasy?
Answer: The people are guilty of the sins of pride and arrogance. The sins of pride and arrogance exalt humanity above God and lead to rebellion.
God sent the prophets Amos and Hosea to the Northern
Kingdom and Micah, like Isaiah, prophesied to both the Northern and Southern
kingdoms. Their missions were to warn the people and their kings to repent
before they were then overtaking by God's judgments.
Question: Despite the warnings of God's prophets and the evidence of those warnings that they have experienced through natural and political events, what do the people of the Northern Kingdom in their pride and arrogance claim?
Answer: They claim that the warnings of God's prophets are not relevant. They boast in their arrogance that they will not only rebuild but they will rebuild better than before using the finer materials of dressed stone instead of bricks and costly cedar instead of the more common sycamores.
The Israelites of the Northern Kingdom, led by their king and other leaders, choose Razon of Damascus, a former enemy, as their ally. But Isaiah reminds them that he is not their friend and their alliance with him will only serve to focus the attention of their mutual enemies. God will send the Assyrians from the east and the Philistines from the west who are in an alliance with Assyria "Israel will be surrounded by enemies, but Israel will still refuse to recognize God's sovereignty over their future and will refuse to repent. Then follows the ominous warning that this is not the end of their difficulties but the beginning, similar to the four times warning of increased punishments in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24 and 29: After all this, his anger is not spent. No, his hand is still raised!
Isaiah 9:12-16 ~ Judgment against Israel's Leaders
12 But the people would not come back to him who struck them, they would not seek out Yahweh Sabaoth; 13 hence Yahweh has topped and tailed Israel, cutting off palm and reed in a single day. 14 The "top" is the elder and the man of rank; the "tail" is the prophet teaching lies." 15 This people's leaders have led them astray, and those who are led by them are swallowed up. 16 Hence the Lord will no longer take delight in their young people, or pity on their orphan's and widows, since all of them are godless and evil, and everything they say is madness. After all this, his anger is not spent. No, his hand is still raised!
Question: In response to Israel's continued
rejection of Yahweh, what is the next judgment that God sends, using the
metaphors of the tall palm leaf and the lowly reed?
Answer: He will cut off the "top" (the leaders) and the "tail" (the false prophets) of Israelite society who mislead the people.
Sadly the whole of the Northern Kingdom's society is corrupt and godless, from the leaders to the lowly widows and orphans. They all reject God's outstretched hand with promised blessings; therefore, God's outstretched hand will still be raised in judgment.
Isaiah 9:17-20 ~ Judgment by Famine and Natural Disasters
17 Yes, wickedness has been burning like a fire, devouring bramble and thorn-bush, setting the forest thickets ablaze "up they go in billowing smoke! 18 The country has been set on fire by the fury of Yahweh Sabaoth, and the people are like food for the flames. No one spares a thought for his brother. 19 They have sliced to the right and are still hungry, they have eaten to the left and are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm. 20 Manasseh devours Ephraim, Ephraim Manasseh, together they turn against Judah. After all this, his anger is not spent. No, his hand is still raised!
God has removed His restraining hand of grace, and
wickedness has burst forth unchecked, devouring like a fire everything it
touches. In the Bible, "fire" is both a symbol of judgment and purification
Question: In verse 17 the condition of the people in the Northern Kingdom recalls what earlier period of intense wickedness that required God's judgment to set society aright again? See Gen 6:5.
Answer: It recalls the period of wickedness prior to the Flood judgment.
Historical evidence of this sin of the murder of brothers is seen in that one bloody coup after another followed after the death of King Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom in 752 BC until the final Assyrian victory 30 years later. Manasseh and Ephraim were the two largest tribes in the Northern Kingdom. The people are so wicked that there were no family loyalties and everyone tried to take advantage of everyone else. Isaiah uses the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim for this example of the loss of brotherly love. These were the half tribes of Joseph, the father of Manasseh and Ephraim. They not only turn against each other but also against their "brothers" in the nation of Judah (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin). These actions result in the continuation of God's judgment against the Northern Kingdom which will be answered with the "fire" of God's wrath.
Isaiah 10:1-4 ~ Judgment against the Unjust who
oppress the Humble
1 Woe to those who enact unjust decrees, who compose oppressive legislation 2 to deny justice to the weak and to cheat the humblest of my people of fair judgment, to make widows their pray and to rob the orphan. 3 What will you do on the day of punishment, when disaster comes from far away? To whom will you run for help and where will you leave your riches 4 to avoid squatting among the captives or falling among the slain? After all this, his anger is not spent. No, his hand is still raised!
The final indictment against human pride is in depriving the helpless of their rights in order to oppress them. Later the prophet Malachi, speaking as the voice of God, will write this condemnation: I am coming to put you on trial and I shall be a ready witness against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, and against those who oppress the wage-earner, the widow and the orphan, and who rob the foreigner of his rights and do not respect me, says Yahweh Sabaoth (Mal 3:5).
This oppression may refer to unjust decisions based on existing law (under which the poor and disenfranchised were protected) or new oppressive laws or both. God has only entrusted His servants with their positions of authority, and the day will come when they will be called to give an accounting in their individual judgments from which they cannot hide. For the fourth time we have the statement that God's anger and His judgments will continue.
Isaiah 10:5-11 ~ Assyria the Unconscious Instrument of
5 Woe to Assyria, rod of my anger, the club in their hands is my fury! 6 I was sending him against a godless nation, commissioning him against the people who enraged me to pillage and plunder at will and trample on them like the mud in the streets. 7 But this was not his intention nor did his heart plan it so, for he dreamed of putting an end to them, of liquidating nations without number! 8 For he thought, "Are not my officers all kings? 9 Is not Calno like Carchemish, Hamath like Arpad, Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand has found the kingdoms of the false gods, where there were more images than in Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 as I have treated Samaria and her false gods shall I not treat Jerusalem and her statues too?"
At this point Isaiah's discourse changes. The focus is no longer the Northern Kingdom of Israel but Assyria, the instrument of divine judgment "the "rod of my anger, the club in their hands is my fury!" It is "woe" for Assyrians because they did not recognize their part in God's divine plan. Instead, they glorified themselves and boasted of their greatness as they delivered destruction and plundered other kingdoms and their cities. Isaiah paraphrases the Assyrian's boasting in verses 7-11. Assyria is bent not just on pillage and plunder but on total devastation and annihilation, thinking themselves above all moral law, considering their military commanders equal to the kings of other nations (verse 8) and calling the gods worshipped by the Israelites and in Jerusalem "false gods" compared to Assyria's gods (verse 11). Verses 9-11 are similar to the mocking words of the Assyrian commander to King Hezekiah of Judah's delegation in describing Assyria's victories when the Assyrians besiege Jerusalem (Is 36:18-20; 37:11-13).
Isaiah 10:9 names the powerful cities which have been
conquered by the Assyrians in different campaigns.
Question: Consult a map of the region. Do you notice anything about the location list of cities?
Answer: The list presents the Assyrian advance geographically from north to south, from when the Assyrian army crossed the Euphrates River, and presents a picture of an unstoppable Assyrian advance.
The list, however, is not in chronological order:
This list of Assyrian conquests is supported in the documents discovered by archaeologists in Assyrian archives. After Damascus fell in 732 BC (2 Kng 16:7-9), Assyrian King Tiglath Pileser III then conquered the region of the Galilee and the east side of the Jordan River, sending its population into exile (2 Kng 15:29-30). After King Pekah was assassinated by Hoshea who made himself king of Israel (2 Kng 15:30), he became a vassal of the Assyrians around 730 BC (2 Kngs 17:3). The mention of Samaria as a conquered city like Damascus (10:9) anticipates the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom's capital in 722 BC and the exile of the entire population of the Northern Kingdom into Assyrian lands to the east in a second mass deportation (the first was in the Galilee and the Gilead in 732 BC).
Verse 11 ends in what the Assyrians have planned for Jerusalem "they will do to Jerusalem what they did to Samaria.
Isaiah 10:12-19 ~ Assyria's Future Judgment
12 When the Lord has completed all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will punish the fruit of the king of Assyria's boastful heart and the insolence of his haughty looks. 13 For he thinks: "By the strength of my own arm I have done this and by my own wisdom: how intelligent I have been! I have abolished the frontiers between peoples, I have plundered their treasures, like a hero, I have subjugated their inhabitants. 14 My hand has found, as though a bird's nest, the riches of the peoples. Like someone collecting deserted eggs, I have collected the whole world while no one has fluttered a wing or opened a beak to squawk." 15 Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it or the saw more strength than the man who handles it? As though a staff controlled those who raise it or the club could raise what is not made of wood! 16 That is why Yahweh Sabaoth is going to inflict leanness on his stout men, and beneath his glory kindle a fever burning like a fire. 17 The light of Israel will become a fire and its Holy One a flame burning and devouring his thorn-bushes and brambles in a day. 18 He will consume his luxuriant forest and productive ground, he will ravage body and soul: it will be like a consumptive wasting away; 19 and what remain of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child could write their number.
Assyria has a part in God's divine plan or punish His
covenant people for abandoning Him, however, when God's plan using Assyria is
completed, He will deal with Assyrian's pride (10:12, 16-19). Once again
Isaiah interprets the words and thoughts of the Assyrian king in verses 13-14,
which is answered by Isaiah in verse 15.
Question: What is the meaning of Isaiah's rhetorical question in 10:15?
Answer: Assyria has not accomplished all the things she boasts about. Assyria was only the weapon God used; she was the "axe" in God's hands and the "spear" or "club" He raised in battle.
Question: When God has finished His work for the
present with His unfaithful people, what will happen to the Assyrians and why?
Hint: the "light of Israel" is a reference to Yahweh. See verses 16-19.
Answer: God will bring judgment against the Assyrians who, in their pride and arrogance, think they have accomplished the defeat of neighboring nations all on their own.
Assyria came against the Northern Kingdom as God's instrument of justice, but because Assyria did not bow to the same natural moral laws that God has infused in the spirit of all humanity, she also faced judgment (10:5-34). In c. 627 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire began to fall apart due to a series of civil wars. In 616 BC, Assyria was attacked by an alliance of its former vassals: the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians. After a siege and bitter house-to house fighting, Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC and the city was razed to the ground. Most of the citizens of the city were either massacred or deported. Many unburied skeletons were found by the archaeologists at the site. The Assyrian empire finally came to an end by 605 BC with the Medes and Babylonians dividing its vassal states between them.(1)
Isaiah 10:20-23 ~ The Little Remnant will Return
20 When that day comes, the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the House of Jacob will stop relying on the man who strikes them and will truly rely on Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. 22 Israel, though your people are like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return: a destruction has been decreed which will make justice overflow, 23 for, throughout the country, the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth will enforce the destruction now decreed.
The theology of the "faithful remnant" is dear to Isaiah and he returns to it time after time. God will use the Assyrians to bring judgment on Israel, but He will protect Israel from complete destruction and He will preserve a remnant "of the House of Jacob."(2) "Jacob" is, of course, a reference to Jacob son of Isaac who God renamed "Israel" (Gen 32:28; 35:10), the physical "father" of the "children of Israel". But is this promise of a remnant for the Northern Kingdom of Israel or for the Southern Kingdom of Judah, or both? Most modern scholars assume it is a reference for the return from the Babylonian exile of a remnant of the citizens of Judah in c. 538 BC. The topic of this entire section has been the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but Isaiah will turn to the subject of Judah in the next passage. It is likely the return is promised for the descendants of Jacob-Israel from both kingdoms. Only the return of a remnant of Judah is mentioned in the Bible (2 Chr 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3), but we know that historically there were Israelites who returned to the region of the Galilee and settled in towns, including Joseph and Mary of Nazareth and Jesus' Apostles and many of His disciples. When Nathaniel from Cana in the Galilee came to meet Jesus, He identified him as an Israelite and not as a Jew (Jn 1:47).(3)
Isaiah 10:24-27 ~ A Call for Judah to Trust in God
24 That is why the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth says this: My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of Assyria! He may strike you with the rod, he may raise the club against you (on the way from Egypt), 25 but in a very short time the retribution will come to an end, and my anger will destroy them. 26 Yahweh Sabaoth will brandish a whip at him as he struck Midian at Oreb's Rock, will brandish his rod at the Sea 27 as he raised it on the way from Egypt. When that day comes, his burden will fall from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed.
Isaiah now turns to giving assurance again to the
citizens of Judah that they have nothing to fear from Assyria.
Question: Who is Oreb and what is Oreb's Rock? See Judg 6:1-6; 7:5; 8:3 and Ps 83:11.
Answer: Oreb was a prince/chieftain of Midian who was one of the leaders of a Midianite army that invaded and pillaged Israel for seven years in the era of the Judges (Judg 6:1-6). He was slain by Gideon's soldiers on Oreb's Rock, a site on the east side of the Jordan River in Midianite territory.
In verse 26 Yahweh reminds the people of Judah of how He delivered them from the Midianite invaders and then reminds them of His protection when He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape from the advancing Egyptian army (Ex 14:16). The nation of Judah will be threatened by the Assyrians, but Yahweh will protect them and will destroy the Assyrians, laying aside the Assyrian's "yoke" of oppression.
Isaiah 10:28-34 ~ The Invasion
28 He has reached Aiath, he has moved on to Migron, he has left his baggage train at Michmash. 29 They have passed through the defile, they have bivouacked at Geba. Ramah quaked, Gibeah of Saul has fled. 30 Cry your loudest, Bath-Gallim! Pay attention, Laish! Answer her, Anathoth! 31 Madmenah has run away, the inhabitants of Gebim have taken cover. 32 This very day, as he halts at Nob, he will shake his fist at the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 33 See how the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth violently lops off the foliage! The ones standing highest are cut down, the proudest are laid low! 34 The forest thickets fall beneath the axe, and the Lebanon falls to the blows of a Mighty One.
Isaiah describes the Assyrian invasion against Judah and Jerusalem in verses 28-32. All will appear lost for Judah as the Assyrians march through the territory of Benjamin, conquering all the Benjaminite cities in their path: Aiath, Migron, Michmash, Geba, Gibeah (the city of King Saul), Bath-Gallim, Laish, Anathoth, Madmenah, Gebim and finally Nob, a city just a few miles east of Jerusalem.
In verse 33 Isaiah compares Yahweh's destruction of the Assyrian army with the clearing of a forest. First He will remove their leaders, "the ones standing highest". It is Yahweh who will defend Jerusalem and will cut down the Assyrians. This prophecy is fulfilled in the days of Ahaz's son, good King Hezekiah (Is chapters 36-37).
Chapter 11: The Promised Davidic Savior
Isaiah 11:1-5 ~ The Branch
1 A shoot [geza] will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot [netzer] will grow from his roots. 2 On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh: 3 his inspiration will lie in fearing Yahweh. His judgment will not be by appearances, his verdict not given on hearsay. 4 He will judge the weak with integrity and give fair sentence for the humblest in the land. 5 He will strike the country with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips bring death to the wicked. Uprightness will be the belt around his waist, and constancy the belt about his hips.
Isaiah will return to the topic of Assyria's defeat later, but in continuing the themes of justice and redemption, he now turns from the just judgment of Israel and Assyria to the theme of redemption through the Redeemer-Messiah who he introduced in 7:14 and 9:1-6 "the "holy seed" of Israel.
This is the beginning of a messianic poem that describes
the characteristics of the coming Messiah who is a descendant of Jesse.
Question: Who was Jesse in the Bible? Why is he important in God's plan for salvation history? See Ruth 4:22; 1 Sam 16:1; 1 Chr 2:10-13; Mt 1:1-16; Lk 1:30-33.
Answer: Jesse was a descendant of Ruth and Boaz. He was born into the tribe of Judah, and he was the father of King David and the ancestor of all the kings of Judah. He was also the ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
But why from the "stock" or "root" of Jesse instead of from David; could it be that it is because the Messiah is more than a Davidic heir? Is it because he will be a new David, as Ezekiel will characterize him more than a hundred years later in Ezekiel 34:23 ~ I shall raise up one shepherd, my servant David, and put him in charge of them to pasture them; he will pasture them and be their shepherd. Also see other prophetic passages that support this concept in Jeremiah 30:9 and Hosea 3:5.
Isaiah's prophecy is that when the line of the Davidic kings seems to be destroyed, a shoot or branch will grow from the roots "the remnant of the House of David. There are two Hebrew words that can be translated as "branch" or "shoot" that are used in referring to the Messiah: tsemach (Is 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12) and netzer (Is 11:1; 14:19; 60:21; Dan 11:7). Isaiah uses the word netzer in verse 1. Some Biblical scholars think netzer is the root for the word Nazareth (Heb. = natseret), the city were Jesus was raised and that Isaiah 11:1 is the passage from the prophets that St. Matthew refers to in Matthew 2:23 when he writes: "... there he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled: "He will be called a Nazarene", since there are no other prophecies that can be pointed to that fits this fulfillment statement.
2 On him will
rest the spirit of Yahweh ...
translated as "spirit", "breath", or "wind". The "Spirit of Yahweh" or the "Holy Spirit of Yahweh" (Is 42:1; 61:1ff; 63:10-13; Ps 51:12; Wis 1:5; 9:17) was not understood to be the third person of the Most Holy Trinity in the Old Testament. The Spirit of God is, however, found to be active throughout salvation history. For example:
... the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of
counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh ...
In the Septuagint Greek translation and the Latin Vulgate, "power" is translated as "fortitude" and piety is included among the gifts, thus listing seven gifts of the Spirit of God. It is the list from the Septuagint and the Vulgate that is quoted in the Catechism (CCC 1831).
Question: List Isaiah's gifts of the spirit from the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate translations that are given to the Davidic Messiah and also his other characteristics.
From the earliest years of the Church, the Church Fathers have taught that Jesus is the promised Davidic Messiah Isaiah wrote about in this passage. God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism (Mt 3:16). The "gifts of the spirit" that are His are transferred to baptized and confirmed Christians as His heirs. St. Paul wrote: For all who are let by the Spirit of God are sons of God...if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:14, 17). And the Catechism teaches: "The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understand, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations" (CCC 1831). The Catechism goes on to teach that "The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity'" (CCC 1832; quoting Gal 5:22-23). The gifts of the Spirit listed in Isaiah are the interior gifts that we receive from Christ and they become the fruits of the Spirit when we apply those gifts to our lives and put those perfections into practice. See the chart in handout 2.
Isaiah 11:6-9 ~ The Eschatological Kingdom of the Davidic Heir
6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the panther lie down with the kid, calf, lion and fat-stock beast together, with a little boy to lead them. 7 The cow and the bear will graze; their young will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like the ox. 8 The infant will play over the den of the adder; the baby will put his hand into the viper's lair. 9 No hurt, no harm will be done on all my holy mountain, for the country will be full of knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea.
Adam and Eve's rebellion against the sovereignty of God (Gen 3) resulted in destroying the harmony between humanity and nature (Gen 3:17-19), and between one human being and another (Gen 4). Animals did not kill each other and mankind did not have permission to kill animals and eat their meat until after the Great Flood. In the reign of the Messiah, with sin forgiven and with man's full and complete reconciliation with God, lasting peace will be the result and justice will be established (Is 9:6; 32:17; 60:17-18; Joel 4:17; Zeph 3:13; Zec 3:10). This peace will even extend to the animals.
Question: The promise of peace and harmony between
all living creatures is a return to what period in salvation history?
Answer: It is the return to conditions on the earth as God intended and which existed in Eden before the Fall of Adam.
Question: When can we expect the return of these
ideal conditions? See Is 65:17-25; 1 Thes 4:16-18; Rev 21:1-7.
Answer: After Jesus' Second Advent, the Last Judgment, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.
Isaiah 11:10-16 ~ The Promise of the Ingathering of
10 That day, the root of Jesse, standing as a signal for the peoples, will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious. 11 When that day comes, the Lord will raise his hand a second time to ransom the remnant of his people, those still left, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, Cush and Elam, from Shinar, Hamath and the islands of the Sea. 12 He will hoist a signal for the nations and assemble the outcasts of Israel; he will gather the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 13 Then Ephraim's jealousy will cease and Judah's enemies be suppressed; Ephraim will no longer be jealous of Judah nor Judah any longer hostile to Ephraim, 14 but together they will swoop on the Philistines' back, to the west, and together pillage the people of the east. Edom and Moab will be subject to their sway and the Ammonites will obey them. 15 Then Yahweh will dry up the gulf of the Sea of Egypt, he will raise his hand against the River with the heat of his breath. He will divide it into seven streams for them to cross dry-shod. 16 And there will be a highway for the remnant of his people for those still left, from Assyria, as there was for Israel when he came out of Egypt.
On that glorious day, the "root of Jesse", the promised Redeemer-Messiah, will become a signal and a rallying point for all nations in the gift of universal salvation "people from every land, every ethnic origin. People of every nation will seek out the Messiah for counsel and instruction. Isaiah has already spoken of this in 2:2-4, and he will return to this sub-theme again and again in 42:6; 45:22-23; 49:6; 66:18-23. Simeon will speak of the child Jesus fulfilling this prophecy in Luke 2:29-32 in the hymn of praise Catholics call the Nunc Dimittis: 29 "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel" (NAB).
Simeon's prayer of praise is divided into two parts:
Having been told by God that he will live until he has seen the Messiah, when Joseph and Mary bring baby Jesus to the Temple for Mary's purification and Jesus' dedication, Simeon identifies baby Jesus as the promised Redeemer-Messiah not just for Israel but for all nations, proclaiming a universal message of salvation. Addressing God and using the prophetic language of Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6 from the "Song of the Servant" passages of Isaiah, it is the child Jesus who Simeon identifies as "your salvation."
Question for reflection or group discussion:
Are there times in more recent history where God has used nations to combat wicked nations bent on the destruction of the innocent? What according to the Church constitutes a "holy war"? To help you with your answer, see CCC 2309, 2312-13.
1. After the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC, the site remained mostly unoccupied and was never rebuilt. A few Assyrians lived amid the ruins and the city was mentioned in the Battle of Nineveh in 627 AD that was fought between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanian Empire of the Persians near the ancient city. From the time of the Arab conquest in 637 AD until today, the city of Mosel resides on the opposite side of the Tigris River from the ruins of ancient Nineveh and was claimed by the ISIS[L] Caliphate in 2015.
2. For other references to the "House of Jacob" in the Book of Isaiah see: Is 2:5, 6; 8:17; 10:20; 14:1; 29:22; 46:3-48:1; 58:1.
3. Every Judahite was an Israelite but not every Israelite could call himself a Judahite/Jew. Before the division of the United Kingdom, Jews or Judahites were only those from the tribe of Judah. After the division, those Judahites and Benjaminites from the Southern Kingdom of Judah were called Judahites or "Jews"; hence, St. Paul who was from the tribe of Benjamin called himself a "Jew" (Acts 22:3; Phil 3:5), but also an Israelite (Rom 11:1).
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