Sunday, August 30, 2015

John 12:37-41 comments: Isaiah saw Christ's glory

37 ¶  But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41  These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

John here quotes Isaiah 53:1 and alludes to or paraphrases other passages in Isaiah.

Isaiah 6:9 ¶  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10  Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Isaiah 44:18  They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

Isaiah 53 was long understood to be a reference to the Messiah to come (from Isaiah’s viewpoint) until, as stated earlier in the comments on chapter one, verse twenty nine, the 11th century AD when a Jewish commentator and rabbi named Rashi began applying that chapter to Israel itself as the suffering servant. Now, many Jews claim that it was always meant to refer to Israel as a nation. This belief came about primarily due to Jewish suffering at the hands of medieval Christians in the time of the Crusades. For Biblical reasons for their point of view see Exodus 4:22 and in light of that verse see Proverbs 30:4 and understand that by rejecting the New Testament they have an incomplete understanding of Biblical doctrine as those verses are among the hundreds that point to Christ.

 Verse 41 contains the stunning statement that Isaiah, eight centuries before Christ, saw Christ and spoke of Him. Isaiah’s writing contains many statements of Christ. As examples, besides Isaiah, chapter 53, which you should read, are Isaiah 9:6,7 which contains both advents in one place;

Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

It is not unheard of in the Old Testament for both arrivals of Christ to be included in one passage. Christ Himself teaches us how there can be a great gap in between them. Here he quotes Isaiah;

Luke 4:14 ¶  And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17  And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Here is the passage in Isaiah;

Isaiah 61:1 ¶  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

So, as Jesus stops with, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,” we can see that the rest of the passage, starting with, “and the day of vengeance of our God,” is not for the time of Christ’s first advent but clearly for the second as He Himself stops at that point and declares it fulfilled. (Also see, by word substitution, how the Holy Spirit defines words in the Old and New Testament by comparing a word and what word is substituted for it. For instance, to preach is to proclaim, gospel is good tidings or news, liberty is deliverance, and the prison that people were bound in was their suffering, of which Christ delivered many from.)

Another verse as an example of Isaiah’s writing referring to Christ is Isaiah 7:14 which is quoted in the New Testament;

Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Truly, Isaiah saw Christ’s coming even if he didn’t understand the doctrine fully and we can see Christ in Isaiah’s writings.

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