Monday, August 9, 2010

The Promise of the Remnant

After having studied each of the covenants individually, it is easy to conclude that the existence of the nation of Israel is necessary to the fulfillment of each. Though the people broke covenant with the LORD and ended up scattered among the nations in judgment (as foretold), God always preserved a remnant through whom those covenants would eventually find fulfillment. The first use I could find of God declaring His preservation of a remnant was related to His sparing of Jerusalem from the invading Assyrian forces. Hezekiah made all the right physical preparations for defense, but He went to the LORD in prayer as His primary defense. This is part of the answer that Isaiah relayed to him.

2 Kings 19:30–34 “And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts SHALL DO THIS. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”

It is interesting to note that the LORD is determined to save Jerusalem not only according to His own purposes, but also in consideration of His servant David. Though God protected “the remnant” at that time, He would not long thereafter determine that this remnant required a refining fire of judgment.

2 Kings 21:10–15 “And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols…I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.”

The prophet Isaiah declared that God would again preserve a remnant and Ezra records his response in thanks to God for allowing that remnant a fresh start in the land of Judah.

Isaiah 10:20–21 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.”

Ezra 9:8–9 “And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.”

In the very next chapter Isaiah declares the return of a second “remnant” to the land of Israel.

Isaiah 11:1–12 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

I think it was necessary to include such a large section of scripture to establish the context of the return of this second remnant. This remnant will return from “the four corners of the earth” or from all over the world. This return will be facilitated by One described as descending from Jesse (the father of David) and possessing the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He will rule over the earth in righteousness and supernatural power. During His reign children can safely play with snakes, lions will no longer be carnivores and cows and bears will graze side by side. During His rule the earth will be “full of the knowledge of the LORD.” This is a prophecy regarding the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth in literal fulfillment of His covenants with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David.

No one who accepts the scripture as the word of God can dispute that this is describing a time a yet future, for there has never been such a time since Isaiah made this prophecy. I am sure that for hundreds of years people had a hard time believing this prophecy could be literally fulfilled. Since the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, I don’t see why anyone should deny that God intends to fulfill this prophecy according to His covenant promises.

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