Isaiah: The Prophet of Christendom

isaiahIsaiah: Prophet of Global Christendom
By Frank Brito

And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)

The book of Isaiah is very appropriately known as “the fifth Gospel” and the prophet Isaiah himself is often referred to as “the fifth evangelist”. The reason is that the book contains an extensive amount of prophecies directly related the Jesus the Messiah. Most Christians, and even many non-Christians, are aware of Isaiah’s vivid description of Our Savior’s passion:

Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12)

This is undoubtedly one of the most important passages in the Bible. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed” (Lam 3:22) and the Lord’s mercy has no other ground of being except in the cross of Christ, as vividly described in Isaiah 53. Every Christian will readily acknowledge this basic fact. However, although Christians do adequately understand the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ’s death for our sins, the fact is that too many modern Christians do not have a proper understanding of the larger context of the prophecy. What is frequently missed is that Isaiah’s prophecies, including Isaiah 53, do not merely establish Christ’s death as the basis for the salvation of individual souls, as important as that is, but also as the foundation for global Christendom.

The Historical Circumstances

In order to adequately understand Isaiah’s prophecies, we must be familiar with the historical context in which he ministered. On the first chapter of the book, he gave us an outline of Israel’s spiritual condition in his own day:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 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. Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the Law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies. (Isaiah 1:2-24)

Isaiah came before Israel with a complaint from God. Their rebellion was so great that God compared them to Sodom and Gomorrah, which are among some of the most ungodly civilizations in history. It is important to observe that God’s complaint was against Israel as a civilization and not against mere isolated individuals detached from their culture – “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger… the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (v. 5-7). It is also important to observe that God was very clear as to exactly what characterized Israel as apostate: “Hear the Word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the Law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah” (v. 10). Apostasy is essentially shutting up our ears to God’s Law-Word. To reject the Law of God is to despise God Himself. Isaiah says this repeatedly throughout the entire book:

Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the Law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  (Isaiah 5:24)

To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)

That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the Law of the LORD. (Isaiah 30:9)

Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his Law. (Isaiah 42:24)

And not only was Isaiah very clear as to exactly what characterized Israel as apostate, He was also very specific as to which of God’s commandments were broken the most:

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of the goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. (Isaiah 1:11-15)

Here God complained about public worship in Israel. It is important to observe here that God did not have any complaint whatsoever regarding the external ceremonies of public worship in Israel. As far as Isaiah’s description here is concerned, their liturgy was just fine, adequately in harmony with the ceremonial requirements of God’s Law. Why, then, did God complain? Why did He question the “purpose” of these sacrifices? Why did He say He was “full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts”? Why did He call the oblations “vain”? Was it not God Himself who required these sacrifices in His Law? Why did He call the incense “an abomination”? What about the new moons and the Sabbaths? Where not all this things ordained by God himself? Why, then, did He declare to be “weary to bear them”? Why would He not even listen to these people’s prayers? The rest of the chapter gives us the answer:

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. (Isaiah 1:15-23)

The substance of Isaiah’s complaint was that, although Israel’s public worship was in perfect harmony with the requirements of God’s Law, it was all still hateful in God’s eye simply because they were morally corrupt. John Calvin described the issue well:

For what could be more vain or frivolous than for men to reconcile themselves to God, by offering him the foul odour produced by burning the fat of beasts? Or to wipe away their own impurities by be sprinkling themselves with water or blood? In short, the whole legal worship (if considered by itself apart from the types and shadows of corresponding truth) is a mere mockery. Wherefore, both in Stephen’s address (Acts 7:44), and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, great weight is justly given to the passage in which God says to Moses, “Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee in the mount,” (Exod. 25:40). Had there not been some spiritual end to which they were directed, the Jews, in the observance of them, would have deluded themselves as much as the Gentiles in their vanities. Profane men, who have never made religion their serious study, cannot bear without disgust to hear of such a multiplicity of rites. They not merely wonder why God fatigued his ancient people with such a mass of ceremonies, but they despise and ridicule them as childish toys. This they do, because they attend not to the end; from which, if the legal figures are separated, they cannot escape the charge of vanity. But the type shows that God did not enjoin sacrifice, in order that he might occupy his worshippers with earthly exercises, but rather that he might raise their minds to something higher. This is clear even from His own nature. Being a spirit, he is delighted only with spiritual worship. The same thing is testified by the many passages in which the Prophets accuse the Jews of stupidity, for imagining that mere sacrifices have any value in the sight of God.[1]

Here Calvin correctly observed that ceremonies, “if considered by itself apart from the types and shadows of corresponding truth”, were “a mere mockery”, even if they had been ordained by God Himself. Israel’s public worship meant nothing if, by their moral corruption, they denied that which the ceremonies sacramentally represented.

Isaiah was very specific regarding the kind of corruption that abounded in Israel. Israel’s corruption most certainly included all sorts of sins, but it is important to observe that Isaiah’s indictment included primarily political sins. While the people’s hands were “full of blood” (Is 1:15), the judges and princes refused to enforce justice against such criminals, but, instead, were “rebellious, and companions of thieves” (v. 23).

“Your hands are full of blood” was an indictment against Israel in Isaiah’s time just as much as it is against America in our own day. Some may try to fool God by arguing that their hands are not literally stained with blood, but churches are undoubtedly sunk in a ruthless bloodbath if they are in any way silent about the massive baby holocaust in America or if they are in any way lenient about enforcing God’s Law in courts against abortionists. Just as Israel in Isaiah’s day could be proud of having a “biblical liturgy”, many in our own day are proud of their abominable theology which deals exclusively with “churchly matters”.

What Isaiah’s indictment makes clear, however, is that there is an inescapable link between what goes on in church and righteousness in society as a whole. God, through His prophet Isaiah, made it perfectly clear that He hates and despises worship and churchly matters wherever those who profess to be people are not committed to confronting rulers, enforcing righteousness in the courts and in society as a whole. God is as interested in righteousness in the civil government as he in the church. God will not be mocked by false worshipper who argue otherwise. As John Calvin wrote:

This consideration ought to be constantly present to the minds of magistrates, since it is fitted to furnish a strong stimulus to the discharge of duty, and also afford singular consolation, smoothing the difficulties of their office, which are certainly numerous and weighty. What zeal for integrity, prudence, meekness, continence, and innocence, ought to sway those who know that they have been appointed ministers of the divine justice! How will they dare to admit iniquity to their tribunal, when they are told that it is the throne of the living God? How will they venture to pronounce an unjust sentence with that mouth which they understand to be an ordained organ of divine truth? With what conscience will they subscribe impious decrees with that hand which they know has been appointed to write the acts of God? In a word, if they remember that they are the vicegerents of God, it behoves them to watch with all care, diligence, and industry, that they may in themselves exhibit a kind of image of the Divine Providence, guardianship, goodness, benevolence, and justice. And let them constantly keep the additional thought in view, that if a curse is pronounced on him that ‘doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully,’ a much heavier curse must lie on him who deals deceitfully in a righteous calling… This admonition ought justly to have the greatest effect upon them; for if they sin in any respect, not only is injury done to the men whom they wickedly torment, but they also insult God himself, whose sacred tribunals they pollute. On the other hand, they have an admirable source of comfort when they reflect that they are not engaged in profane occupations, unbefitting a servant of God, but in a most sacred office, inasmuch as they are the ambassadors of God.[2]

That is why Isaiah said:

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:15-17)

 White as Snow

Isaiah’s description of Israel’s moral corruption is the proper context to understand the book’s prophecy regarding God’s plan of salvation through the Messiah. Salvation cannot be understood except in the context of condemnation. Isaiah 53 cannot be properly understood except in the context of Isaiah 1:

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

These words must be understood in the context of Isaiah’s complaint against Israel:

The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (Isaiah 1:5-6)

Christ’s redemption is presented as God’s solution to the problem of Israel’s moral corruption. God’s redemption, therefore, must necessarily be understood as being as comprehensive as Israel’s corruption.  That is the basis for God’s promise to Israel in Isaiah 1:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool… And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. (Isaiah 1:18,25-27)

 The sins Isaiah had just described were “as scarlet” and “red like crimson”. God, however, promised to make them “white as snow” and “as wool”. (v. 18) God’s complaint was against Israel as a civilization and not against mere isolated individuals detached from their culture. God’s redemption, therefore, means God saves Israel as a civilization and not individuals detached from their culture. That is why He promised to “restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning” (v. 26). Israel’s corruption most certainly included all sorts of sins, but Isaiah’s indictment included primarily political sins. That is why redemption, on the basis of Christ’s atonement, includes sanctification against all kinds of sin, including political sins. Isaiah 53, therefore, does not merely establish Christ’s death as the foundation of the salvation of individual souls but also as the foundation for a godly civilization.

Global Christendom

In his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul asked the rhetorical question: “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles?” Isaiah gives us the same answer as St. Paul: “Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law.” (Rm 3:29-31) As it is also written: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Isaiah saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” (Rom 15:8-12) Throughout his whole book, Isaiah repeatedly shows that these promises of comprehensive salvation were not made to Israel alone, but to the whole world; that Christ – the Servant – came to save both the circumcision and uncircumcision through faith, so that the Law would be establish as the sole rule of righteousness for all nations:

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 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. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:1-4)

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… 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. (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his Law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:5-6)

And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. (Isaiah 49:5-8)

Behold, my Servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. (Isaiah 52:13-15)

“Hear the Word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the Law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:10). Salvation cannot be understood except in the context of condemnation.  As the entire book demonstrates, this command was as binding to the Gentiles as it was to Israel. Just as Isaiah described apostasy as shutting up our ears to God’s Law-Word, He described salvation as being regenerated to obey the Law and as civilizations having the Law established as God’s standard of righteousness. Just as God’s redemption meant God would save Israel as a civilization and not as individuals detached from their culture, He also promised to save the Gentile civilizations and not merely “individual souls”. Just as He promised Israel to “restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning” (Is 1:26), He promised regarding the Gentiles, “Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and He shall choose thee.” (Is 49:7) Isaiah described the scope of Christ’s redemption as being so comprehensive that the world would eventually come to a point in which wars would cease: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Is 2:4). The reason given for the global cessation for wars is that “out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Is 2:3), “the isles shall wait for His Law” (Is 42:4) and, therefore, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Is 11:9). Isaiah, simply put, prophesied nothing less than global Christendom.

 The Abrahamic Covenant

When a nation finds itself in circumstances that are similar to what was going on in Isaiah’s day, one is tempted to regard Isaiah’s promises of comprehensive salvation as an elusive utopia. That is why God told us:

Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for the Law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. (Isaiah 51:1-7)

Isaiah mentions Abraham and Sarah for two main reasons. First, just as the spiritual condition of our society may often seem to be beyond all hope, Sarah’s old age could have easily made God’s promise to Abraham appear to be a mere illusion. But, as it is written, “We live by faith, not by sight” (II Co 5:7). And that is why God reminds us: “I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Is 51:2-3). Second, all of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the worldwide establishment of Christendom are simply the historical fulfillment of the Abraham Covenant:

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Gen 18:17-18)

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)

And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 26:4)

God wanted these promises to be so clear that He even changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of many nations”: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (Gn 17:5).

This is the context of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the worldwide establishment of Christendom on the basis of Christ’s death. Isaiah simply gives us a more detailed description as to what it would mean for all nations of the earth to be blessed. It meant that Christ’s death would reconcile the whole world from their apostasy in a way that God’s Law would be established as the sole rule of righteousness in all nations. As it is written:

“Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” (Acts 3:24-26)


[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2:7:1

[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4:20:7.

Share on Facebook

About Frank Brito

Frank Brito is involved in missionary work in his homeland, Brazil - planting churches that are committed to a comprehensive Biblical Worldview and providing translations of sermons, books and videos from both historic and modern Reformers that will help build the spiritual and intellectual foundation for the future Christian civilization in Brazil. Currently, he is working to develop an online Institute that will provide for the theological education of those who wish to become church leaders.

Leave a Reply