Isaiah’s Seven Spiritual Levels of Humanity
People depicted in the Book of Isaiah are more than characters who feature incidentally in ancient and end-time events. They additionally typify spiritual categories discernible by how they relate to Israel’s God. Each informs us who we are from his perspective—what defines us.
1. Perdition—A Spiritual Point of No Return
Abstract: The orchestrators of evil in the world who make up this lowest category of people retain no hope of returning to God’s good graces. The path they choose in life crosses the line into pure wickedness, perfidy, and depravity. Their conscious deliberation to wreak chaos in the earth flies in the face of all they pretend to be, as likely few people perceive the depth of their commitment to evil. Seeking power and riches to the detriment of the rest of humanity, they routinely deceive and manipulate people even as they murder and perpetrate the cruelest injustices in order to accomplish their self-serving ends. For such, there exists no hope of a resurrection as beyond death their spirits decay away in unrelenting torment in the Pit of Dissolution until they cease to exist.
At the top of the list of these antichrist types is the king of Assyria, also known as the king of Babylon—a title ancient Assyrian conquerors of Babylon applied to themselves. Because Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure transforms the entire Book of Isaiah into an apocalyptic prophecy, this king figure refers to an end-time archtyrant whom God sends against his covenant people to punish them for their wickedness in a time of apostasy: “Hail the Assyrian, the rodof my anger! He is a staff—my wrathin their hand. I will commission him against a godless nation, appoint him over the people [deserving]of my vengeance, to pillage for plunder, to spoliate for spoil, to tread underfoot like mud in the streets. Nevertheless, it shall not seem so to him; this shall not be what he has in mind. His purpose shall be to annihilate and to exterminate nations not a few” (Isaiah 10:5–7).
In the pattern of ancient Assyrian world conquerors, the end-time “king of Assyria” invades all lands, conquers a corrupt world, and boasts of his exploits without acknowledging God as the one who empowers him: “He said, ‘I have done it by my own ability and shrewdness, for I am ingenious. I have done away with the borders of nations, I have ravaged their reserves, I have vastly reduced the inhabitants. I have impounded the wealth of peoples like a nest, and I have gathered up the whole world as one gathers abandoned eggs; not one flapped its wings, or opened its mouth to utter a peep.’ Shall an axeexalt itself above the one who hews with it, or a sawvaunt itself over him who handles it? As though the rodwielded him who lifts it up! As though the staffheld up the one who is not made of wood! Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, send a consumption into his fertile lands, and cause a fireto flare up like a burning hearth, to undermine his glory: the Lightof Israel will be the fire and their Holy One the flame, and it shall burn up and devour his briars and thorns in a single day” (Isaiah 10:13–17).
The king of Assyria conquers even the great world superpower Egypt and sets his sights on a righteous remnant of God’s people, claiming he will make short work of them also: “Whom have you mocked and ridiculed? Against whom have you raised your voice, lifting your eyes to high heaven? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your servants you have blasphemed my Lord. You thought, ‘On account of my vast chariotry I have conquered the highest mountains, the farthest reaches of Lebanon. I have felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses. I have reached its loftiest summit, its finest forest. I have dug wells and drunk of foreign waters. With the soles of my feet I have dried up all Egypt’s rivers!’ Have you not heard how I ordained this thing long ago, how in days of old I planned it? Now I have brought it to pass. You were destined to demolish fortified cities, [turning them]into heaps of rubble, while their timorous inhabitants shrank away in confusion, becoming as wild grass, transiently green, or like weeds on a roof that scorch before they grow up. But I know where you dwell, and your comings and goings, and how stirred up you are against me. And because of your snortings and bellowings against me, which have mounted up to my ears, I will put my ring in your nose and my bit in your mouth and turn you back by the way you came” (Isaiah 37:23–29; compare 36:1–20).
Like the ancient gods of myth, he ascends to what appears to be a space station, from which he rules the earth. But even from there he is cast down, his spirit condemned to the Pit of Dissolution, there to suffer for his genocidal crimes against humanity: “You who commanded the nations have been hewn down to earth! You said in your heart, ‘I will rise in the heavens and set up my throne above the stars of God; I will seat myself in the mount of assembly [of the gods], in the utmost heights or Zaphon. I will ascend above the altitude of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High [God]!’ But you have been brought down to Sheol, to the utmost depths of the Pit. Those who catch sight of you stare at you, wondering, ‘Is this the man who made the earth shake and kingdoms quake, who turned the world into a wilderness, demolishing its cities, permitting not his captives to return home?’” (Isaiah 14:12–17; compare 38:17).
As the exemplar of oppressors and evildoers, the king of Assyria joins other world tyrants in hell, a place the wicked cannot escape: “Sheol cannot praise you, nor deathglorify you; those who go down into the Pit have no [further]hope of your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:18); “Tophet has been prepared of old, [a hearth]indeed, made ready for rulers; broad and deep is its fire pit and ample its pyre; Jehovah’s breath burns within it like a river of lava” (Isaiah 30:33). The spirits of the wicked in that place serve as a reminder to all humanity of the consequences of defying God: “And they shall go out and look upon the corpses of the people who transgressed against me, whose worms do not die and whose fire shall not be extinguished. They shall be a horror to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24).
Unlike persons who repent of doing evil, Perdition types never rise above their damned state. Even the memory of them ultimately vanishes with them: “O Jehovah, our God, lords other than you have ruled over us, but you alone we recall by name. They are dead, to live no more, spirits who will not resurrect; you appoint them to destruction, wiping out all recollection of them” (Isaiah 26:13–14).
2. Babylon/Chaldea—Idolaters and Evildoers
Abstract: Taking their name from ancient Babylon, the inveterate idolaters and oppressors of humanity in this category labor in a state of moral turpitude without making the effort to pull themselves out of their spiritual morass. Having bought into this world’s standard of values, they evidence little awareness of a higher reality that includes a divine Creator and Redeemer. Like the Perdition category, they are in a process of de-creation, as by their own choices they commit to living a less-than-human ethic in which they deceive themselves and their own kind. Among their estranged ranks are those who worshiped God but who, when faced with a defining moment that tests their loyalties, yield to pride, take offense, and repudiate others’ attempts to save their souls.
By paralleling ten oracles against Babylon and other foreign powers with a single oracle against Babylon, Part IV of Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure (Isaiah 13–23; 47) establishes the idea of Babylon as a conglomerate of entities similar to the ancient Babylonian empire—a kind of Greater Babylon that compares with John’s Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:5). Isaiah juxtaposes that end-time “Babylon” structurally, typologically, and rhetorically with Zion, just as he does the King of Babylon with the King of Zion. He further identifies end-time Babylon contextually as the earth, the world, sinners, and the wicked on the eve of their destruction (Isaiah 13:1, 9, 11, 19). Finally, he compares Babylon to a harlot who seeks to displace God by appropriating his godhood to herself:
“You thought, ‘I, the Eternal Mistress, exist forever!’ and did not consider these, or remember her final destiny. Now therefore hear this, O pampered lady, securely enthroned, thinking to herself, ‘I exist, and other than me there is nothing; I shall not be widowed or bereaved of children’: Bereavement and widowhood shall suddenly overtake you, both in one day. They shall come upon you in full, notwithstanding your many magical feats and exceedingly strong combinations. Secure in your wickedness, you thought, ‘No one discerns me.’ By your skill and science you were led astray, thinking to yourself, ‘I exist, and there is none besides me!’ Catastrophe shall overtake you, which you shall not know how to avert by bribes; disaster shall befall you from which you cannot ransom yourself: there shall come upon you sudden ruin such as you have not imagined” (Isaiah 47:7–11).
End-time Babylon’s self-exaltation comes to an end when Israel’s God reverses the circumstances of Zion and Babylon, exalting the one from the dust to her throne (Isaiah 52:1–3) but humiliating the other from her throne into the dust: “Get down and sit in the dust, O Virgin Daughter of Babylon; squat on the ground, dethroned, O Daughter of the Chaldeans. You shall no more be spoken of as delicate and refined. Take two grindstones and grind flour; unveil, disrobe, bare your legs, wade through streams: your nakedness shall be exposed and your shame uncovered. I will take vengeance and not be entreated of men” (Isaiah 47:1–3).
He appoints a “watchman”—a prophet or seer—“who reports what he sees,” inferring that other watchmen don’t report what they see, or don’t see at all: “My Lord said to me, ‘Go and appoint a watchman who will report what he sees. Let him watch for chariots with teams of horses, riders on asses and riders on camels. He must be most vigilant, fully alert.’ Then the lookout cried, ‘I have been standing on the watchtower day in and day out, my Lord; night after night I have stood guard. Now they come: cavalry and teams of horses!’ And he gave the reply, ‘She has fallen; Babylon has fallen. All her idol gods he has razed to the ground.’ To you who know me, who are of my fold, I have reported what I heard from Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel” (Isaiah 21:6–10).
Babylon’s “fall” compares with that of Sodom and Gomorrah—it never rises up again: “And Babylon, the most splendid of kingdoms, the glory and pride of Chaldeans, shall be [thrown down] as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Never shall it be reinhabited; it shall not be resettled through all generations. Nomads will not pitch their tents there, nor will shepherds rest their flocks in it. But wild animals will infest it, and its buildings overflow with weasels; birds of prey will find lodging there and demonic creatures prance about in it. Jackals will cry out from its palaces, howling creatures from its amusement halls. Her time draws near; [Babylon’s] days shall not be prolonged” (Isaiah 13:19–22).
Babylon’s inhabitants include in their ranks those who were God’s people but who corrupt themselves and apostatize: “Hear, O heavens! Give heed, O earth! Jehovahhas spoken: I have reared sons, brought them up, but they have revolted against me. The ox knows its owner, the ass its master’s stall, but Israel does not know; my people are insensible. Alas, a nation astray, a people weighed down by sin, the offspring of wrongdoers, perverse children: they have forsaken Jehovah, they have spurned the Holy One of Israel, they have lapsed into apostasy” (Isaiah 1:2–4); “Though favor be shown the wicked, they will not learn righteousness; in a land of uprightness they remain perverse and see not the glory of Jehovah. O Jehovah, your handis lifted up, but they perceive it not. Let them perceive with dismay your zealfor your people when the fireprepared for your enemies consumes them” (Isaiah 26:10–11).
These wicked include the leaders of God’s people who decry the new things God does at the end of the world and who disparage his seer—his end-time servant—colluding instead with the political establishment and relying on an arm of flesh: “Hear the word of Jehovah, you scoffers who preside over these people in Jerusalem. You have supposed, by taking refuge in deception and hiding behind falsehoods, to have covenanted with Death, or reached an understanding with Sheol, that, should a flooding scourgesweep through [the land], it shall not reach you. Therefore, thus says my Lord Jehovah: ‘I lay in Zion a stone, a keystone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. They who believe it will not do rashly. I will make justice the measure, righteousnessthe weight; a hailshall sweep away your false refuge and waters flood the hiding place. Your covenant with Deathshall prove void, your understanding with Sheol have no effect: when the flooding scourgesweeps through, you shall be overrun by it. As often as it sweeps through, you shall be seized by it: morning after morning it shall sweep through, by day and by night [it shall seize you]; it shall cause terror merely to hear word of it’” (Isaiah 28:14–19).
God’s end-time servant and his associates warn those who repent of evil to flee Babylon—to escape into the wilderness and not fall victim to its imminent desolation: “Go forth out of Babylon, flee from Chaldea! Make this announcement with resounding voice; broadcast it to the end of the earth. Say, ‘Jehovah has redeemed his servant Jacob.’ They thirsted not when he led them through arid places: he caused water to flow for them from the rock; he cleaved the rockand water gushed out. ‘But there is no peace,’ says Jehovah, ‘for the wicked’” (Isaiah 48:20–22); “Turn away, depart; touch nothing defiled as you leave there. Come out of her and be pure, you who bear Jehovah’s vessels. But you shall not leave in haste or go in flight: Jehovah will go before you, the God of Israel behind you” (Isaiah 52:11–12).
The exodus of God’s elect out of Greater Babylon into the wilderness resembles Israel’s ancient exodus out of Egypt and God’s victory over the armies of Pharaoh: “Thus says Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, your Redeemer: ‘For your sake I launch [an attack]on Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Chaldeans, they who sing the praises of shipping. I Jehovah, your Holy One, Creator of Israel, am your King.’ Thus says Jehovah—who provides a way in the Sea, a path through the mighty waters, who dispatches chariots and horses, armies of men in full strength; they lie down as one, to rise no more, they flicker and die, snuffed out like a wick” (Isaiah 43:14–17).
Those who remain behind in Babylon partake of its curses when Babylon’s time runs out: “Catastrophe shall overtake you, which you shall not know how to avert by bribes; disaster shall befall you from which you cannot ransom yourself: there shall come upon you sudden ruin such as you have not imagined” (Isaiah 47:11); “‘I will rise up against them,’ says Jehovah of Hosts. ‘I will cut off Babylon’s name and remnant, its offspring and descendants,’ says Jehovah. ‘I will turn it into swamplands, a haunt for ravens; I will sweep it with the broomof destruction,’ says Jehovah of Hosts” (Isaiah 14:22–23). Only Zion and persons affiliated with Zion live on into the earth’s millennial age of peace.
3. Jacob/Israel—Believers in the God of Israel
Abstract: People with whom Israel’s God establishes a covenant relationship but who renege on their commitment and falter in living by his precepts make up a large initial category of Isaiah’s seven spiritual levels. Preoccupied by worldly pursuits within the materialistic Babylonian culture to which they subscribe, they suffer from intellectual torpor and spiritual blindness that result from an infatuation with idols—the works of men’s hands. They need waking up to the imminent judgments of God hanging over the world that will surely overtake them unless they renew their covenant relationship with him, repent of their waywardness, and return wholeheartedly to their God. Only on those conditions can they participate in his salvation, temporal and spiritual.
Although they believe in the God of Israel and practice a form of religion, people in the Jacob/Israel category become lax in their devotions and blame him for their misfortunes instead of repenting of their sins: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak thus, O Israel: ‘Our path has become obscured from Jehovah; our cause is overlooked by our God?” (Isaiah 40:27); “You do not call upon me, O Jacob; you have grown weary of me, O Israel. Yet [I required]not that you bring me offerings from your flocks or pay me homage by sacrificial slaughter; I have not burdened you with oblations or wearied you with burning incense. [Nor have I burdened you] to buy me the fragrant calamus or sate me with the fat of immolations. Yet you have burdened me with your sins, wearied me with your iniquities” (Isaiah 43:22–24).
As Jehovah’s collective “servant,” the Jacob/Israel category loves its idols—things of men’s own making—more than its God. The result is a spiritual blindness to the truths of God that guard his people against enemies at home and abroad without their even being aware of their fallen state:
“Those who trust in idols and esteem their images as gods shall retreat in utter confusion. O you deaf, listen; O you blind, look and see! Who is blind but my own servant, or so deaf as the messenger I have sent? Who is blind like those I have commissioned, as uncomprehending as the servant of Jehovah—seeing much but not giving heed, with open ears hearing nothing? It is the will of Jehovah that, because of his righteousness, they magnify the law and become illustrious. Instead, they are a people plundered and sacked, all of them trapped in holes, hidden away in dungeons. They have become a prey, yet no one rescues them, a spoil, yet none demands restitution. Who among you hearing this will take heed of it hereafter, and be mindful and obey? Who is it that hands Jacob over to plunder and Israel to despoilers, if not Jehovah, against whom we have sinned? For they have no desire to walk in his ways or obey his law. So in the heat of his anger he pours out on them the violence of war, till it envelopes them in flames—yet they remain unaware—till it sets them on fire; yet they take it not to heart” (Isaiah 42:17–25).
Israel’s God appoints his end-time servant to persuade his people to awaken from their spiritual inertia and save their souls: “My Lord Jehovah has endowed me with a learned tongue, that I may know how to preach to those grown weary a word to wake them up” (Isaiah 50:4). His task is free God’s people from bondage to sin and from subjugation to enemies: “I have created you and appointed you to be a covenant for the people, a light to the nations, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from confinement and from prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6–7).
The servant’s task is to deliver them from their self-righteousness and to exemplify God’s righteousness to them: “Proclaim it aloud without restraint; raise your voice like a trumpet! Declare to my people their transgressions, to the house of Jacob its sins. Yet they importune me daily, eager to learn my ways, like a nation practicing righteousness and not forsaking the precepts of its God” (Isaiah 58:1–2); “I summon a bird of prey from the east, from a distant land the man who performs my counsel. What I have spoken, I bring to pass; what I have planned, I do. Hear me, you stubborn-hearted, who are far from righteousness: I have brought near my righteousness; it is not now far off” (Isaiah 46:11–13).
So steeped are God’s people in their materialistic idolatry that at times God’s servant feels as though he has “labored in vain” and “spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose” (Isaiah 49:4). While most people today see the ludicrousness of bowing down before manmade statues as their ancestors did, they nevertheless fail to see how close a resemblance that ancient practice still has to the worship of idols in the modern age:
“Hear me, O house of Jacob, and all you remnant of the house of Israel, who have been a load on me since birth, borne up by me from the womb: Even to your old age, I am present; till you turn grey, it is I who sustain you. It is I who made you, and I who bear you up; it is I who carry and rescue you. To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me, that we should appear similar? They who squander gold from the purse and weigh out silver on the scales hire a smith to make them a god they bow down to and worship. They bear it aloft, carrying it on their shoulders; when they set it in place, there it stands, unable to budge from its spot. Though they cry to it for help, it does not answer; it cannot save them from trouble” (Isaiah 46:3–7).
Only a few of the Jacob/Israel category ultimately respond to God’s servant by repenting of evildoing. Instead, a majority prefers a course fraught with covenant curses: “Jehovah spoke to me, clasping my hand, and admonished me not to follow the ways of these people. For he said, ‘Do not call a conspiracy all that these people call a conspiracy; be not afraid or awed by the thing they fear. But sanctify Jehovah of Hosts, making him your fear, him your awe. And [to you]he will be a sanctuary, but to the two houses of Israel a stumbling block or obstructing rock, and a snare, catching unawares the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Many will stumble into them, and when they fall shall be broken, and when they become ensnared shall be taken captive’” (Isaiah 8:11–15).
In their pride, the descendants of Ephraim come under special condemnation: “This message my Lord sent to Jacob, and it shall befall Israel. And the entire people—Ephraim and those who dwell in Samaria—shall know of it, who say in pride and arrogance of heart, ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stone; the sycamores have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars!’ But Jehovah will strengthen Rezin’s enemies against them when he stirs up their adversaries: Aramaeans from the east and Philistines from the west will devour Israel with open mouth. Yet for all this his anger is not abated; his hand is upraised still. But the people do not turn back to him who smites them, nor will they inquire of Jehovah of Hosts. Therefore Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm top and reed, in a single day; the elders or notables are the head, the prophets who teach falsehoods, the tail. The leaders of these people have misled them, and those who are led are confused. My Lord is not pleased with their young men, nor does he pity their fatherless and widows, because all alike are godless malefactors, and every mouth utters profanities” (Isaiah 9:8–17);
“‘When Ephraim’s defenses come to an end, so shall the sovereignty of Damascus: as with the glory of the children of Israel, so shall it be with Aram’s remnant,’ says Jehovah of Hosts. ‘In that day Jacob’s glory shall wane, and his fatness of body become leanness. After being like a harvest of ripe grain, whose ears are reaped by the armful, he will become like ears plucked in the Valley of Rephaim when only the gleanings are left; or when an olive tree is beaten, having two or three berries in the topmost bough, or four or five in its most fruitful branch,’ says Jehovah, the God of Israel. In that day men will have regard to their Maker, and their eyes look to the Holy One of Israel, and regard not the altars, the works of their hands, nor look to things their own fingers have made—the idols of prosperity and the shining images” (Isaiah 17:3–8).
When it is over, God’s destruction of the wicked leaves only a small remnant of the Jacob/Israel category—those for whom God’s Day of Judgment serves as a time to repent. That repentance, though belated, nevertheless assures their survival: “In that day those who survive of Israel and who escape of the house of Jacob will no longer rely on him who struck them, but will truly rely on Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel: of Jacob a remnant will return to the One Mighty in Valor. For though your people, O Israel, be as the sands of the sea, only a remnant will return; although annihilation is decreed, it shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, will carry out the utter destruction decreed upon the whole earth” (Isaiah 10:20–23).
Even last-minute appeals to the Jacob/Israel category may thus yield the salvation of a few souls: “Return to him from whom you have contrived to go far astray, O children of Israel. For in that day every one of you will despise your idolatrous silver and gold by which your hands have incurred guilt” (Isaiah 31:6). Disposing of the idols is the first step: “By this shall Jacob’s iniquity be expiated, as a result of this his sins removed: when he makes like crushed chalkstone all altar stones, leaving no idols of prosperity and shining images standing” (Isaiah 27:9). By purging their lives of worldliness and renewing their covenant with Israel’s God, people in the Jacob/Israel category become candidates for ascent to Zion/Jerusalem.
4. Zion/Jerusalem—Covenant People of God
Abstract: People who repent of transgression and keep the law and word of Israel’s God—the terms of his covenant—qualify to ascend spiritually from the Jacob/Israel category to Zion/Jerusalem. After experiencing a descent phase, a time of trial in which God tests their loyalties, they receive a remission of their sins and the constant companionship of his holy Spirit. Committed to loving God and neighbor, they are re-created or reborn on the first ascending spiritual level. With it, they receive a new name and a divine commission to minister to God’s children who have yet to ascend. As they fulfill their stewardships, God pours out on them the blessings of his covenant. Empowered by his holy Spirit, their lives assume a sacred purpose characterized by love and joy.
Beginning with the Jacob/Israel category, persons who prove loyal through the time of testing that God orchestrates succeed in ascending to higher spiritual levels: “Your faithfulness in time [of trial] shall prove to be a strength, your wisdom and knowledge your salvation; your fear of Jehovah shall be your riches” (Isaiah 33:6). In the midst of their descent phase—if they abandon their idols and return wholeheartedly to him—they are assured God’s holy Spirit will guide them as Jehovah’s coming to the earth draws near, that they will live to enjoy blessed lands of inheritance:
“Then will Jehovah delay [his coming], that he may favor you; out of mercy toward you he will remain aloof. For Jehovah is the God of justice; blessed are all who wait for him. O people of Zion, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall have no cause to weep. He will graciously respond at the cry of your voice; he will answer you as soon as he hears it. Though my Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall your Teacher remain hidden no longer, but your eyes shall see the Master. Your ears shall hear words from behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it!’ should you turn left or right. You will discard as unclean your graven idols plated with silver, your cast idols gilded in gold; you will eject them as a menstruous woman [her impurity] and say, ‘Away with you!’ Then will he water with rain the seed you sow in the ground, that the land’s increase of food may be rich and abundant. In that day your cattle shall graze in ample pasturelands, and the oxen and asses that till the soil eat grain silage winnowed with shovel and fork” (Isaiah 30:18–24);
By definition, the Zion/Jerusalem category—God’s people to whom Jehovah comes—consists of those of Jacob/Israel who repent of transgression: “‘He will come as Redeemer to Zion, to those of Jacob who repent of transgression,’ says Jehovah. ‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says Jehovah: ‘My Spirit which is upon you and my words which I have placed in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of their offspring, says Jehovah, from now on and forever’” (Isaiah 59:20–21).
At his coming, Jehovah fights their battles and delivers them from enemies too powerful for them: “Thus said Jehovah to me: ‘As a lion or a young lion growls over the prey when the shepherds muster in full force against him, and is not dismayed at the sound of their voice nor daunted by their numbers, so shall Jehovah of Hosts be when he descends to wage war upon Mount Zion and upon its heights. As birds hover over the nest, so will Jehovah of Hosts guard Jerusalem; by protecting it he will deliver it, by passing over it, preserve it’” (Isaiah 31:4–5).
Before he reverses their circumstances in his Day of Judgment, however, Jehovah tests his people’s loyalties: “I will put my words in your mouth and shelter you in the shadow of my hand, while I replant the heavens and set the earth in place, that I may say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ Rouse yourself; awaken and rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from Jehovah’s hand the cup of his wrath, drinking to the dregs the bowl of stupor” (Isaiah 51:16–17); “Awake, arise; clothe yourself with power, O Zion! Put on your robes of glory, O Jerusalem, holy city. No more shall the uncircumcised and defiled enter you. Shake yourself free, rise from the dust; sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Loose yourself from the bands around your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. Thus says Jehovah: ‘You were sold without price, and you shall be redeemed without money’” (Isaiah 52:1–3).
With Jehovah as its God, Zion/Jerusalem repudiates false suitors such as the king of Assyria: “The Virgin Daughter of Zion holds you in contempt; she laughs you to scorn. The Daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head at you” (Isaiah 37:22).
Zion/Jerusalem’s watchmen intercede with Israel’s God to restore his people to the glory he had promised them: “I have appointed watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall not be silent day or night. You who call upon Jehovah, let not up nor give him respite till he reestablishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6–7); “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent; for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain still till her righteousness shines like a light, her salvation like a flaming torch. The nations shall behold your righteousness and all their rulers your glory; you shall be called by a new name conferred by the mouth of Jehovah. Then shall you be a crown of glory in the hand of Jehovah, a royal diadem in the palm of your God. You shall no more be called the forsaken one, nor your land referred to as desolate; you shall be known as her in whom I delight and your land considered espoused” (Isaiah 62:1–4).
With Jehovah as her husband, Zion brings forth a nation of her children: “Can the earth labor but a day and a nation be born at once? For as soon as she was in labor, Zion gave birth to her children. ‘Shall I bring to a crisis and not bring on birth?’ says Jehovah. ‘When it is I who cause the birth, shall I hinder it?’ says your God. Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all who love her; join in her celebration, all who mourn for her” (Isaiah 66:8–10).
As with each ascent, God’s people receive a new commission to minister to those who have yet to ascend to their level: “Scale the mountain heights, O Zion, herald of good tidings. Raise your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, messenger of good news. Make yourself heard, be not afraid; proclaim to the cities of Judah: ‘Behold your God!’ See, my Lord Jehovah comes with power; his arm presides for him. His reward is with him; his work precedes him. Like a shepherd he pastures his flock: the lambs he gathers up with his arm and carries in his bosom; the ewes that give milk he leads gently along” (Isaiah 40:9–11).
At Jehovah’s coming to dwell with his people, a new era of peace begins on the earth: “Behold Zion, the city of our solemn assemblies; let your eyes rest upon Jerusalem, the abode of peace—an immovable tent, whose stakes shall never be uprooted, nor any of its cords severed. None who reside there shall say, ‘I am ill’; the people who inhabit it shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:20, 24); “Many peoples shall go, saying, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, that we may follow in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and from Jerusalem the word of Jehovah” (Isaiah 2:3); “They will call you the City of Jehovah, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 60:14); “Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitants of Zion, for renowned among you is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6).
5. Sons/Servants—God’s Elect or Holy Ones
Abstract: Ascending from the Zion/Jerusalem category are valiant souls who sanctify their lives by emulating Israel’s Savior-God and assimilating his attributes and perfections. Entering into individual compacts with him under the terms of the Davidic Covenant, they act as proxy saviors of others in the pattern of King Hezekiah at Assyria’s siege of Jerusalem. Proving loyal to Israel’s God through a descent phase of trials and afflictions, they are re-created in his image and likeness and inherit lands and posterities by an unconditional covenant. They serve as kings and queens to others of God’s people in bringing them into a covenant relationship with him, laying the groundwork for a transformation of the earth when Jehovah comes to establish his reign of peace.
When a large Assyrian army surrounds Jerusalem—where a remnant of God’s people loyal to King Hezekiah has taken refuge—the king appeals to Jehovah his God for his people’s protection: “And Hezekiah prayed to Jehovah and said, ‘O Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, who sits enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. It is you who made the heavens and the earth. O Jehovah, give ear and hear; O Jehovah, open your eyes and see. Listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God. O Jehovah, the kings of Assyria have indeed destroyed all peoples and their lands, committing their gods to the fire. For they were no gods, but mere works of men’s hands, of wood and of stone, and so they could destroy them. But now, O Jehovah our God, deliver us out of his hand, that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone are Jehovah’” (Isaiah 37:15–20).
At the onset of trouble—when Assyria was making inroads into the Promised Land—Hezekiah had renewed his people’s covenant relationship with their God, saying: “The wrath of Jehovah has been upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has delivered them to atrocities, desolation, and derision, as you see with your own eyes. Our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons, daughters, and wives are taken captive because of it. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with Jehovah the God of Israel that his fierce wrath may turn from us. My sons, be not now remiss, for Jehovah has chosen you to stand before him to serve him” (2 Chronicles 29:8–11).
In a classic example of what is called the “Birthpangs of the Messiah,” a repentant remnant of God’s people under a mortal threat from enemies looks to their king—their Messiah (masiah, literally “anointed one”)—for deliverance, while their king looks to his God: “This is a woeful day, a day of reproof and disgrace. Children have reached the point of birth, but there is no strength to deliver them” (Isaiah 37:3). As his people’s king and protector under the terms of the Davidic Covenant, Hezekiah’s responsibility is to intercede with Israel’s God on their behalf. For his intercession to be effectual, however, his loyalty must be impeccable: “I beseech you to remember, O Jehovah, how I have walked before you faithfully and with full purpose of heart and have done what is good in your eyes” (Isaiah 38:3).
On the model of ancient Near Eastern emperor–vassal covenants, the king is answerable for his people’s disloyalties to their God if he is to obtain his people’s physical protection. In that case, there could be a heavy price to pay: “In those days Hezekiah became gravely ill. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him and said, ‘Thus says Jehovah: “Put your house in order. You will die; you will not recover”’” (Isaiah 38:1).
In recounting the event of his personal mortal threat from that illness, Hezekiah later writes: “I said, ‘In the prime of life must I depart through Sheol’s gates, deprived of the balance of my years?’ I thought, ‘I shall not see Jehovah in the land of the living; I shall not now behold Man among those dwelling in mortality. My tabernacle is being uprooted, carried away from me like a shepherd’s tent. My life is cut off like woven fabric; he is severing me from the loom. Can I contain myself until morning, while like a lion he racks my whole frame? [Surely,] as night has followed day, you are bringing on my end! Like a mounting lark I twitter, like a dove I murmur. My eyes are drawn looking heavenward; I am utterly sleepless from bitterness of soul. O Jehovah, I am in straits; be my surety!” (Isaiah 38:10–14).
Lending substance to his intercession with Jehovah, the king’s suffering satisfies the requirements of justice for his people’s disloyalties to their God and Jehovah accepts the king’s petition: “Thus says Jehovah, the God of your father David: ‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; I will protect this city’” (Isaiah 38:5–6). In other words, after king and people pass his test of their loyalties, Jehovah delivers the people and their proxy savior from their respective mortal threats. He sends his angel, who slays the besieging Assyrian army in one night (Isaiah 37:36).
In the pattern of King Hezekiah, end-time persons who ascend to the son/servant level similarly function as proxy saviors of those to whom they minister under the terms of the Davidic Covenant. For their intercession with Israel’s God to be effectual, however, their loyalty to him must likewise be impeccable, even in the face of severe opposition: “The path of the righteous is straight; you pave an undeviating course for the upright. In the very passage of your ordinances we anticipate you, O Jehovah; the soul’s desire is to contemplate your name. My soul yearns for you in the night; at daybreak my spirit within me seeks after you. For when your ordinances are on the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:7–9); “Hear me, you who know righteousness, O people in whose heart is my law: Do not fear the reproach of men; be undaunted by their ridicule. For the moth shall consume them like a garment; moths shall devour them like wool. But my righteousness shall endure forever, my salvation through endless generations” (Isaiah 51:7–8).
Though enemies threaten, God’s sons/servants’ faith in the protection clause of the Davidic Covenant that is based on their righteousness guarantees God’s deliverance: “You shall be firmly established through righteousness; you will be far from oppression and have no cause to fear, far from ruin, for it shall not approach you” (Isaiah 54:14); “Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give up!’ to the south, ‘Withhold not!’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth—all who are called by my name, whom I have formed, molded and wrought for my own glory” (Isaiah 43:5–7).
The “sons” and “daughters” whom Israel’s God thus re-creates on the son/servant level—those “formed,” “molded,” and “wrought” for his glory—he brings home to lands of inheritance in an end-time exodus from the four parts of the earth: “Arise, shine, your lighth as dawned; the glory of Jehovah has risen upon you! Although darkness covers the earth, and a thick mist the peoples, upon you Jehovah will shine; over you his glory shall be visible. Nations will come to your light, their kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you! They have all assembled to come to you: your sons shall arrive from afar; your daughters shall return to your side” (Isaiah 60:1–4).
So numerous are Israel’s returnees that the Woman Zion is astonished at the multitude of her long-lost children: “The children born during the time of your bereavement shall yet say in your ears, ‘This place is too cramped for us; give us space in which to settle!’ And you will say to yourself, ‘Who bore me these while I was bereaved and barren? I was exiled, banished; by whom were these reared? When I was left to myself, where were they?’ Thus says my Lord Jehovah: ‘I will lift up my hand to the nations, raise my ensign to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosoms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, queens your nursing mothers’” (Isaiah 49:20–23).
Even as Jehovah’s current, unfaithful wife is cast off, his formerly unfaithful wife—she who was cast off but who has repented—he remarries: “Sing, O barren woman who did not give birth; break into jubilant song, you who were not in labor. ‘The children of the deserted wife shall outnumber those of the espoused,’ says Jehovah. ‘Expand the site of your tent; extend the canopies of your dwellings. Do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left; your offspring shall dispossess the nations and resettle the desolate cities’” (Isaiah 54:1–3); “Jehovah shall delight in you, and your land shall be espoused. As a young man weds a virgin, so shall your sons wed you; as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:4–5).
6. Seraphs/Seraphim—Angelic Emissaries
Abstract: Comprising the highest spiritual category to which one may ascend on this earth, seraphs compare with translated beings such as Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, who exercise divine powers. Their mission spans heaven and earth and extends to all nations. God’s end-time servant and his fellowservants fall in that category. Like persons on the son/servant level—from whom they ascend—they serve as kings and queens, restoring God’s people to promised lands before Israel’s God Jehovah comes to reign on the earth. Unlike the mission of God’s sons/servants, however, which is local, theirs is worldwide. Their role as proxy saviors under the terms of the Davidic Covenant involves an intense descent phase through trials and afflictions followed by a glorious ascent.
God’s end-time servant exemplifies one whom Israel’s God exalts on the seraph level. His descent into suffering and humiliation—as he fulfills the role of a proxy savior to God’s people under the terms of the Davidic Covenant—includes being ecclesiastically ostracized and physically disfigured by enemies: “My servant, being astute, shall be highly exalted; he shall become exceedingly eminent: just as he appalled many—his appearance was marred beyond human likeness, his semblance unlike that of men—so shall he yet astound many nations, kings shutting their mouths at him. What was not told them, they shall see; what they had not heard, they shall consider” Isaiah 52:13–15; compare 50:4–11); “Thus says Jehovah, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, to him who is despised as a person, who is abhorred by his people, a servant to those in authority: ‘Kings shall rise up when they see you, princes shall prostrate themselves, because Jehovah keeps faith with you, because the Holy One of Israel has chosen you’” (Isaiah 49:7).
The “kings” mentioned in these passages—unlike the political kings of the nations, whom God condemns (Isaiah 1:23–24; 3:14; 24:21–22; 30:33; 41:2; 45:1)—are persons who hear God’s servant and similarly serve as proxy saviors to God’s people on the seraph level under the terms of the Davidic Covenant. These are kings and their queens who ascend from the son/servant category as they fulfill the greater task of restoring God’s exiled people to lands of inheritance: “Thus says my Lord Jehovah: ‘I will lift up my hand to the nations, raise my ensign to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosoms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, queens your nursing mothers’” (Isaiah 49:22–23).
Nevertheless, those whom Israel’s God chooses to this task may hail from the humblest of origins. In contrast to the blind and dumb watchmen who occupy the highest echelon of society—whom God reprimands and gives over to covenant curses (Isaiah 56:9–12; 66:5–6)—they rise from the lowest echelon to become fellowservants of God’s end-time servant. Isaiah uses the historical example of “foreigners” and “eunuchs” to make his point: “Let not the foreigner who adheres to Jehovah say, ‘Jehovah will surely exclude me from his people.’ And let not the eunuch say, ‘I am but a barren tree.’ For thus says Jehovah: ‘As for the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and choose to do what I will—holding fast to my covenant—to them I will give a handclasp and a name within the walls of my house that is better than sons and daughters; I will endow them with an everlasting name that shall not be cut off’” (Isaiah 56:3–5).
Such an “everlasting name” signifies an unconditional covenant that God makes with those who prove faithful under all conditions. Isaiah, however, creates a composite of personas to depict God’s end-time servants. Making up this composite category are (1) a general class of end-time “servants” of God—as distinct from and on a higher spiritual level than those in the son/servant category; (2) new “watchmen” who displace the old blind and deaf watchmen; (3) “priests” of God; and (4) “kings” of his people:
“As for the foreigners who adhere to Jehovah to serve him, who love the name of Jehovah, that they may be his servants—all who keep the Sabbath without profaning it, holding fast to my covenant—these will I bring to my holy mountain and gladden in my house of prayer. Their offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar” (Isaiah 56:6; emphasis added); “Your heart shall rejoice to see it, your limbs flourish like sprouting grass, when the hand of Jehovah shall be manifest among his servants and his rage among his enemies” (Isaiah 66:14; emphasis added);
“I have appointed watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall not be silent day or night. You who call upon Jehovah, let not up nor give him respite till he reestablishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6; emphasis added); “You shall be called the priests of Jehovah and referred to as the ministers of our God. You shall feed on the wealth of the nations and be gratified with their choicest provision. Because their shame was twofold, and shouted insults were their lot, therefore in their land shall their inheritance be twofold and everlasting joy be theirs” (Isaiah 61:6–7; emphasis added); “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will minister to you. Though I struck you in anger, I will gladly show you mercy. Your gates shall always remain open; they shall not be shut day or night, that a host of nations may be brought to you and their kings escorted in’ (Isaiah 60:10–11; emphasis added).
Like God’s end-time servant, his fellowservants receive opposition from their own people as an integral part of their descent phase through trials and affliction while fulfilling the role of proxy saviors under the terms of the Davidic Covenant. In the end, however—after they prove faithful under all conditions—God reverses their circumstances and empowers them over their enemies:
“‘Whatever weapon is devised against you, it shall not succeed; every tongue that rises to accuse you, you shall refute. This is the heritage of the servants of Jehovah, and such is their vindication by me,’ says Jehovah” (Isaiah 54:17); “Thus says my Lord Jehovah: ‘My servants shall eat indeed, while you shall hunger; my servants shall drink indeed, while you shall thirst; my servants shall rejoice indeed, while you shall be dismayed. My servants shall shout indeed, for gladness of heart, while you shall cry out with heartbreak, howling from brokenness of spirit. Your name shall be left to serve my chosen ones as a curse when my Lord Jehovah slays you. But his servants he will call by a different name’” (Isaiah 65:13–15).
Under the pseudonym of God’s arm—harking back to Moses’ stretching forth his arm at Israel’s exodus out of Egypt (Exodus 14:21–22; Isaiah 63:1–13)—God empowers his end-time servant as the time draws near for his dispersed people to return home in a new exodus to Zion: “Awake, arise; clothe yourself with power, O arm of Jehovah! Bestir yourself, as in ancient times, as in generations of old. Was it not you who carved up Rahab, you who slew the dragon? Was it not you who dried up the Sea, the waters of the mighty deep, and made of ocean depths a way by which the redeemed might pass? Let the ransomed of Jehovah return! Let them come singing to Zion, their heads crowned with everlasting joy; let them obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing flee away” (Isaiah 51:9–11; emphasis added).
God’s empowering his arm is thus synonymous with his “baring” or “revealing” his arm and commissioning his servant and his fellowservants to herald Jehovah’s imminent coming: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, who brings tidings of good, who heralds salvation, saying to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Hark! Your watchmen lift up their voice; as one they cry out for joy: for they shall see eye to eye when Jehovah returns [to]Zion. Jehovah has bared his holy arm in the eyes of all nations, that all ends of the earth may see our God’s salvation” (Isaiah 52:7–8, 10; emphasis added); “Who among you foretold these things? It is him Jehovah loves, who shall perform his will in Babylon; his arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I myself have spoken it, and also called him; I have brought him, and I will prosper his way” (Isaiah 48:14–15; emphasis added).
The ascent of God’s servant and his fellowservants to the translated category of seraphs sets them apart from all others of God’s children. Relying solely upon Jehovah to the exclusion of all else, they “ascend” to become unwearying—like Jehovah himself: “They who hope in Jehovah shall be renewed in strength: they shall ascend as on eagles’ wings; they shall run without wearying, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31; compare vv 28–30). For their sake, God delivers many of his people at the time he destroys the wicked of the world: “Thus says Jehovah: ‘As when there is juice in a cluster of grapes and someone says, “Don’t destroy it, it is still good,” so I will do for the sake of my servants by not destroying everything: I will extract offspring out of Jacob, and out of Judah heirs of my mountains; my chosen ones shall inherit them, my servants shall dwell there’” (Isaiah 65:8–9; emphasis added).
7. Jehovah God of Israel—A Savior-God
Abstract: Descending below all prior to ascending above all in his own cyclical phase of descent before ascent, Jehovah God of Israel pays the price of his people’s spiritual salvation that extends to all humanity. As a proxy savior under the terms of the Davidic Covenant, he serves justice on behalf of those unable to make restitution in kind for transgressing against God, which restitution only a God can make. As a sacrificial offering prefigured by the Law of Moses, he atones for sin so that God may extend his mercy to all who repent. His glorious coming as King of Zion to institute his reign of peace on the earth, preceded by his earthly tenure as a “man of sorrows” who redeems humanity from the Fall, comprise the two most significant events to impact human history.
As all salvation, temporal and spiritual, comes from God, under what principles does salvation operate? Even proxy saviors under the terms of the Davidic Covenant on the seraph and son/servant levels only create the conditions for salvation to occur. They don’t actually save their peoples themselves—Israel’s God does. Still, even he, Jehovah, follows the same pattern he has laid down on whose basis all proxy salvation occurs: on the model of ancient Near Eastern emperor–vassal covenants, the vassal answers for the disloyalties of his people to the emperor. In practical terms, those disloyalties consist of God’s people’s sins and transgressions before God, which Jehovah takes upon himself and answers for to the Most High God, his Father, under the terms of the Davidic Covenant. In other words, he willingly fulfills the requirements of justice by suffering the curses of the covenant that have accrued to his people who repent of transgression, obviating the need for them to answer for them:
“He bore our sufferings, endured our griefs, though we thought him stricken, smitten of God, and humbled. But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the price of our peace he incurred, and with his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep had gone astray, each of us headed his own way; Jehovah brought together upon him the iniquity of us all. He was harassed, yet submissive, and opened not his mouth—like a lamb led to slaughter, like a sheep, dumb before its shearers, he opened not his mouth. By arrest and trial he was taken away. Who can apprise his generation that he was cut off from the land of the living for the crime of my people, to whom the blow was due? He was appointed among the wicked in death, among the rich was his burial; yet he had done no violence, and deceit was not in his mouth. But Jehovah willed to crush him, causing him suffering, that, if he made his life an offering for guilt, he might see his offspring and prolong his days, and that the purposes of Jehovah might prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:4–10).
Persons who perceive the magnitude of Jehovah’s sacrifice on behalf of his people can’t help but exude gratitude for such infinite love: “I will recount in praise of Jehovah Jehovah’s loving favors, according to all that Jehovah has done for us, according to the great kindness he has mercifully and most graciously rendered the house of Israel. For he thought, ‘Surely they are my people, sons who will not play false’; and so he became their Savior: with all their troubles he troubled himself, the angel of his presence delivering them. In his love and compassion he himself redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:7–9).
From Jehovah’s foundational sacrifice for sin springs all salvation, spiritual and temporal: “[In that day you will say,] ‘O Jehovah, you are my God; I will extol you by praising your name. For with perfect faithfulness you have performed wonders, things planned of old. . . . You were a refuge for the poor, a shelter for the needy in distress, a covert from the downpour and shade from the heat. When the blasts of tyrants beat down like torrents against a wall, or like scorching heat in the desert, you quelled the onslaughts of the heathen: as burning heat by the shade of a cloud, you subdued the power of tyrants. In this mountain will Jehovah of Hosts prepare a sumptuous feast for all peoples, a feast of leavened cakes, succulent and delectable, of matured wines well refined. In this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the shroud that shrouds all nations, by abolishing death forever. My Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the reproach of his people from throughout the earth. Jehovah has spoken it. In that day you will say, ‘This is our God, whom we expected would save us. This is Jehovah for whom we have waited; let us joyfully celebrate his salvation!’” (Isaiah 25:1, 4–9).
Jehovah’s coming to establish his reign of peace on the earth nevertheless has a twofold aspect, additionally involving the demise of those who don’t repent: “‘From the west men will fear Jehovah Omnipotent, and from the rising of the sun his glory. For he will come [upon them]like a hostile torrent impelled by the Spirit of Jehovah. But he will come as Redeemer to Zion, to those of Jacob who repent of transgression,’ says Jehovah” (Isaiah 59:19–20); “As one, the makers of inventions retired in disgrace, utterly dismayed and embarrassed. But Israel is saved by Jehovah with an everlasting salvation; you shall not be dismayed or put to shame worlds without end” (Isaiah 45:16–17); “Lift up your eyes to the heavens; look on the earth beneath: the heavens shall vanish as by smoke, the earth wear out like a garment—its inhabitants shall die in the manner of vermin. But my salvation shall be everlasting; my righteousness shall never fail” (Isaiah 51:6); “Israel is saved by Jehovah with an everlasting salvation; you shall not be dismayed or put to shame worlds without end” (Isaiah 45:17).
Once his people prove loyal as a nation by keeping his law and word, Israel’s God reverses their circumstances and restores them to glory: “Although you had been forsaken and abhorred, with none passing through [your land], yet I will make you an everlasting pride, the joy of generation after generation. You will suck the milk of the nations, suckling at the breasts of kings. Then shall you know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior, that your Redeemer is the Valiant One of Jacob. In place of copper I will bring gold, in place of iron, silver; in place of wood I will bring copper, in place of stones, iron. I will make peace your rulers and righteousness your oppressors: tyranny shall no more be heard of in your land, nor dispossession or disaster within your borders; you will regard salvation as your walls and homage as your gates. No longer shall the sun be your light by day, nor the brightness of the moon your illumination at night: Jehovah will be your everlasting light and your God your radiant glory. Your sun shall set no more, nor your moon wane: to you Jehovah shall be an endless light when your days of mourning are fulfilled” (Isaiah 60:15–20).
Upon their adverse circumstances being reversed, God’s people enter an entirely new phase of human existence: “The troubles of the past shall be forgotten and hidden from my eyes. See, I create new heavens and a new earth; former events shall not be remembered or recalled to mind” (Isaiah 65:16–17); “In that day you will say, ‘I praise you, O Jehovah. Although you have been angry with me, your anger is turned away and you have consoled me. In the God of my salvationI will trust without fear; for Jehovah was my strength and my song when he became my salvation. Then shall you rejoice in drawing water from the fountains of salvation” (Isaiah 12:1–3): “As the earth brings forth its vegetation, and as a garden causes what is sown to spring up in it, so will my Lord Jehovah cause righteousness and praise to spring up in the presence of all nations” (Isaiah 61:11).