Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Isaiah 11: 11-13

 The Restored Remnant

11 Then it will happen on that day that the Lord
Will again recover the second time with His hand
The remnant of His people, who will remain,
From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath,
And from the islands of the sea.
12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
13 Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart,
And those who harass Judah will be cut off;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
And Judah will not harass Ephraim.

After prophesying the time of eternal peace, Isaiah then says that this is the time when the remnant of God's people will be restored. In reading the beginning of verse 11, you see "...the Lord will again recover the second time...." This would imply that there was a first time, which there was with the exodus from Egypt under Moses' guidance. This second restoration will not fully come with Judah's freedom from exile in Babylon. Isaiah is speaking of a time still to come.

We know that God has plans to preserve His people. We have read in Isaiah how He will prepare "the remnant of Israel and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped...." (Isaiah 10: 20) Here, in the second part of verse 11, we learn some of the places from where the remnant shall come: "...from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea." Let's look at where these places are. (Facts are drawn from The Encyclopedia of the Bible.)

Assyria--In our short study of Isaiah so far, you probably guessed that God's people would be coming from Assyria. We know that the 10 tribes of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) were brought into exile here. It makes sense that some would make their return from where these families had been planted.

Egypt--It might not make sense that the place of original exile would become a place of new refuge for the Israelites, but.... I don't usually preview verses before we get to study them, but, it helps to look at Isaiah 19: "In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria." (Isaiah 19: 23-24a) The scattering and blending of God's people among the nations would clearly be seen in the relationships between these countries. Egypt may also be translated "Lower Egypt."

Pathros--Because Pathros is considered "Upper Egypt," "roughly the Nile Valley between Cairo and Aswan."

Cush--Also known as Ethiopia, which is located south and east of the Egypts, right along the Red Sea.

Elam--"Elam is the Biblical designation of a people and a country in the southern area of the Iranian plateau in the Zagros mountains east and northeast of the valley of the Tigris. It is approximately equivalent to the present Iranian province of Khuzistan." This would be quite a bit east and then south, into the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

Shinar--Shinar is another word for Babylonia, so, again, no surprises here. This is the land to which the exiles from Judah would go, as Daniel tells us in his book (Daniel 1:2).

Hamath--This was a city in Syria, north of Damascus. Assyria's Tiglath-Pileser and Sargon II would invade Hamath as part of their conquests. After Israel was destroyed, some exiles were relocated to Hamath. 

Islands of the sea--An alternate translation might be 'coastlands.' The Amplified Bible uses, "from the countries bordering on the [Mediterranean] Sea." The scattering of God's people was quite wide. Verse 12 will label the wideness as "the four corners of the earth."

Continuing now with Isaiah, verse 12, "He will lift up a standard...." We spoke of this last week, that standard or "ensign"--the root of Jesse--being Jesus Christ. God will bring His "banished" and "dispersed" people together in assembly under the reign of His chosen One, the Prince of Peace.

“I will strengthen the house of Judah,
And I will save the house of Joseph,
And I will bring them back,
Because I have had compassion on them;
And they will be as though I had not rejected them,
For I am the Lord their God and I will answer them."

--Zechariah 10:6

And in this time of peace, under the Prince's reign, a miracle:  "Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, and those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim." (vs. 13) The long-time divided Northern (Ephraim) and Southern (Judah) Kingdoms would be reunited. It was only two chapters ago, Isaiah 9, that we read of these Kingdoms devouring one another. God did not intervene:

"Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
And together they are against Judah.

In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away
And His hand is still stretched out."

--Isaiah 9: 21

But, "it will happen on that day" (vs. 11) that God will have compassion on His people and restore them to Himself. He had always planned on having His people return to Him. The Word of God in its entirety is the story of God's love for His people, and His plan to keep His people with Him always. Circumstances and time remain in His hand.

Ending on a personal note today.... I can't help but read this passage and think about the recent schism that divided my former church into two "kingdoms." Both are moving forward, re-forming and re-establishing themselves. It's hard not to look back over the time of struggle and see bits of "jealousy" and "harassment" even as both sides claim Christ as their "standard." I still grieve the loss of the outcome of this split, even as I have been moving forward. God is grieved when His people "divorce," if you will. Yet, there is certainly a history of God scattering His people with intent and purpose.

Prayerful that His Church will know restoration, now and in the days to come.... 

How the Lord will move "on that day".... 'Til next Wednesday!

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Next week: Isaiah 11: 14-16

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).