Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Bible According to Isaiah

A man once told of an encounter he had with woman who believed the Bible to be a false book. Her position was that the Bible contained the book of Esther, and that since the book of Esther didn't contain the name of God, it must necessarily be a false account. She reasoned that it then follows that the Bible must also be a false compilation since it contains a false book (according to her).

The man challenged her notion on the grounds that the Bible has 66 books and the book of Isaiah has 66 chapters. He continued by saying that if the book of Esther were not included in the Bible, then the Bible would only have 65 books. This would then make the number of books in the Bible different than the number of chapters in Isaiah. This was his proof that the book of Esther is supposed to be included in the Bible.

The humor in this dialog may cause us to chuckle, but as I relfected on this story I wondered; Isn't it interesting that there is one book in the Bible that has the same number of chapters as the Bible has books? I concluded that it didn't mean anything at all, but as I thought on it for the next few days my opinion changed. I asked myself; Could it mean something?

Questions sometimes make it hard to go to sleep, and I found that to be the case one night with respect to this Isaiah question. What if? What if each chapter of Isaiah had some connection to a book of the Bible? For example; What if Isaiah's sixty-sixth chapter had some connection to the book of Revelation. What if Isaiah's first chapter had some connection to Genesis? I have a fair working knowledge of the book of Revelation, so, I got out of bed and opened Isaiah chapter 66 to see what it might say.

What I made of that chapter can befound under the heading: Isaiah chapter 66 - Revelation. Perhaps you see additional connections, and will post them?

Click on the book you want from the index on the left side.

This site is under construction. As of the day you read this I have posted the connections for all but four of the Bible's sixty-six books. The four books for which the connections have not yet been found are: 2nd Corinthians, Philippians, Colosians and 1st John.

Note: Not all of the connections are of the same strength.
Some may be stretching your imagination to see the connection, but
I'm still working on these, and praying the Spirit will show me more.

Isaiah chapter 1 - Genesis

The opening verses of the first chapter of Isaiah are where I find the first connection to the book of Genesis. Verse two of Isaiah chapter one says, in part:

“I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.”

What is the subject of Genesis chapter three? The rebellion of man against God, and the resultant fall of mankind. What is the subject of Genesis chapter six and following? God saving a small remnant of creation, Noah and his family. What does Isaiah 1:9 say?

“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)

We read about God saving a remnant of His people in several Bible passages, but this one says a “very small remnant”. It would be hard to get a smaller remnant than eight people saved on the ark, but these are the words that the Holy Spirit gave Isaiah to use in his first chapter. Of course, an even smaller remnant was saved out of Sodom and Gomorrah, but then, they were just the remnant of one city, whereas Noah et.al. were the remnant of the entire human population. Either way, Noah or the twin cities, the remnant was small.

In verse nine and then again in verse ten, Isaiah compares Jerusalem and Judah to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? Certainly, Israel’s time in Egypt was more recent in the Israelite memory than going all the way back in time to Sodom and Gomorrah. The likeness of Israel to Egypt would have been just a powerful as the comparison to the two cities that had not existed for so long.

I believe that the Holy Spirit coordinated all three writings, and in doing so, He had the comparison of Isaiah's first chapter connect with what only He knew would come to be the first book of the Bible.

Isaiah chapter 2 - Exodus

“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

The above passage speaks of the origination of the law and the word of the Lord. Could that be related to the “Law” of Moses and to the “Word” of God, the Bible? I am convinced that it is. Where was Israel when God gave them the Law and the Word? They were in the deserts of Sinai, and these events are first recorded in the second book of the Bible, Exodus. In fact, the giving of the Law and the Word is the primary subject of the book of Exodus. Is it just coincidence that the passage above is found in the second chapter of Isaiah? Hardly. There is more in this chapter that connects with Exodus too.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is there a more vivid picture of Israel’s idolatry than what we find at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses is up on the mountain meeting with the Lord. Flagrant abuse and total abandon is what we see in this picture, and in Isaiah 2:6-9 Isaiah implores God to forgive [Israel] not because they are worshipping idols in his day too. Isaiah is still talking about his own people, but he’s not at the foot of Mount Sinai this time. He’s right in Jerusalem, and he’s speaking of the idolatry of the Israelites there and then, but the connection is made to an earlier time, back in the days of the Exodus. What did God do when Moses came back down from the mountain? God destroyed the idol that Aaron had fashioned when Moses threw the stone tablets at it, and what does verse eighteen of Isaiah chapter two tell us?

“And the idols he shall utterly abolish.”

Isaiah chapter 3 - Leviticus

As I continue to look at Isaiah, I have to remember that the subject of the chapter will not necessarily be the same as the book to which it corresponds numerically, but so far I have found little tidbits in each chapter that make some kind of connection. I guess that I want there to be a connection, but I want to see a robust connection indicating that God set up the book of Isaiah as an indicator that the entire Bible was all laid out as early as the days of Isaiah.

Of course, I believe that it was laid out long before that, but I want to be able to show the critics that nothing is missing and that every book is in there that is supposed to be in there, and that there aren’t any that are missing. I have found some chapters where the connection is unmistakable, but there are others where the only connection I find is very subtle. I was highly amused by what I think is a connection between the third chapter of Isaiah and the book of Leviticus.

The first verse of the third chapter of Isaiah says:

“For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water. (Isaiah 3:1)

May I paraphrase part of the above to say that; ‘The LORD takes away all of Israel’s bread? He takes away their bread sustenance.’ Now I know what the primary subject of the book of Leviticus is. Leviticus is centered on the offerings, sacrifices and oblations as well as the special feasts. Every specific detail of the temple offerings is spelled out in Leviticus, but one word is conspicuously absent from the text.

It isn’t the word ‘bread’. ‘Bread’ occurs many times as unleavened and as leavened bread to be used in the temple service. Nope. The word that is missing is ‘manna’. Manna was the bread that Israel got to eat. Manna was the bread that sustained the people. They didn't eat the bread used in the temple service. The priests ate that bread.

God began giving manna to the Israelites in Exodus, and He continued giving them manna until they crossed the Jordan River and entered the promised-land. That takes us clear into the book of Joshua, and ‘manna’ is mentioned in every book from Exodus to Joshua, but it’s not in the book of Leviticus. This is a connection between the third chapter of Isaiah and the book of Leviticus. It’s an oblique connection, but it is there just the same. The clever part in my estimation is that Isaiah 3:1 says that God will “take away” the bread from Israel, and God took away the word ‘manna’ from the text of the book of Leviticus.

It is in the third chapter of Isaiah that the Holy Spirit says that God will take away the whole stay of bread. The third book of the Bible makes no mention of the bread that God was giving Israel to sustain them. Chapter three of Isaiah; book three of the Bible. They are connected.

Isaiah chapter 4 - Numbers

The Holy Spirit used the words ‘number’ or ‘numbered’ 114 times in the 36 chapters of the book of Numbers. What was God doing in the book of Numbers? The people were wandering in the desert because they had been faithless. They did not trust the Lord to take them into and give them victory in the promised-land. They were to wander for forty years until an entire generation of Israelites died in the desert because of their unbelief. God was purging Israel of her unbelievers. And, what do we find in Isaiah chapter four?

“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” (Isaiah 4:4)

God would purge Israel again in the time period being forecast by Isaiah’s prophecy, but here’s one connection to the fourth book of the Bible, Numbers, and notice that it is chapter four and verse four. Then, in the next verse of Isaiah chapter four we read:

“And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense.” (Isaiah 4:5)

A cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? That’s what Numbers 14:14 says.

“And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.” (Numbers 14:14)

Finally, in Isaiah 4:6 we find the word “tabernacle”. Isaiah isn’t talking about the Holy Tabernacle that traveled with Israel in the desert. He’s talking about a shelter from the heat of the day and from the storms, but the book of Numbers uses the word ‘tabernacle’ ninety-one times. There are only six verses in the forth chapter of Isaiah, but we find the word tabernacle there, and why is that? It seems almost out of place. Look at verse six.

“And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”

Once again, there are only six verses in Isaiah chapter four, but three of them draw a connection to the forth book of the Bible, the book of Numbers. Chapter four of Isaiah; book four of the Bible. They are connected.

Isaiah chapter 5 - Deuteronomy

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses lays out the good news and the bad news, so to speak. For forty years these people have seen one miracle of God after another, and they have watched (and probably participated) as their parents have repeatedly turned from God, following after idols, and then watched again as God encouraged them to come back to himself.

Moses is addressing Israel as they are preparing to enter into the land promised to their fathers forty years earlier, and as he (Moses) is preparing to go up into the hills to die. He lays out two scenarios.

The first is positive. Moses details all the blessings that Israel can expect if they but obey God and stay true to Him alone. It’s a beautiful thing.

The second is negative. Moses details all that Israel can expect if they do not obey their LORD and stay true to Him alone. This is not pretty.

In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, the first two verses are filled with what God has done for and on behalf of His “vineyard” and His “pleasant plant”. Isaiah tells us later in verse seven that the vineyard is a symbol of the House of Israel, and the pleasant plant is a picture of the men of Judah, and it is consistent with the promises of God that Moses had enumerated in Deuteronomy.

“And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” (Isaiah 5:1-2)

The husbandman here did everything he knew to do to insure the production of grapes. This is a picture of Israel newly resident in the land of promise. In the first place, God selected a “pleasant plant” for the stock for His vineyard. Israel was His chosen people for the land. In addition, God protected them from outside interference by putting up a fence.

He also built a tower in the middle so He could watch over His vineyard. The stones that He removed from the land represent the abominable nations that He told Israel to destroy from the land upon entering therein. And, God looked forward to Israel bringing Him fruit.

And, they did bring forth fruit, but it was not the fruit He had hoped for. The grapes that were produced were wild grapes that didn’t taste the same as those from the vine He had planted. So, the husbandman (God) asks some questions, and then changes a few things.

“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”
(Isaiah 5:3-4)

“And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” (Isaiah 5:5-6)

Wild grapes send out runners into other terrain rather than putting their energy into producing fruit. This is the picture of Israel going after other gods. The one, true God, the husbandman of Israel, proceeded to remove the things that He had done for obedient Israel because they had departed from Him and followed other Gods.

Instead of abundant rain, there was to be drought. Instead of His protection, their enemies would enter the land and ravage them. Even their eventual captivity is forecast in the fifth chapter of Isaiah. The entire balance of chapter five spells out doom and gloom for the nation of Israel.

All of this is consistent with the two scenarios laid out by Moses at the horizon of Israel’s tenure in the land of promise as we can read about it in the book of Deuteronomy.

Isaiah chapter 6 - Joshua

The story of Israel’s history that is found in the book of Joshua can be easily summarized as the removal of the people groups living in the land which God was in the process of giving to Israel. The process for each of the cities was the same; kill every living soul in the city and take the possessions as prey.

The Israelites were to leave no one living. Complete and utter desolation of every city was the order of the day. We read the following from the pages of the sixth chapter of Isaiah.

“Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.”(Is. 6:11)

The connection between the book of Joshua and Isaiah’s sixth chapter is simple, but it is highly visible and succinct.

This is the sixth chapter of Isaiah, and Joshua is the sixth book in the Bible. They are connected.