Rev. Lubbers is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them (stock, stem), when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
There is hope in the latter end for the Israel of God. This latter end is really the glory, the time when the whole earth shall be full of the glory of God’s sovereign grace and mercy. It is the fulfillment of what we read in Isaiah 40:5: “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”
Such is the secret of the hope of Israel in the captivity, whilst they hang their silent harps upon the willows growing beside Babel’s streams where the righteous weep in their great love for Jerusalem and the temple-worship!
But we are anticipating. We are anticipating according to the sure word of the prophecy of father Jacob when he prophesies, “…until Shiloh come: and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:10).
In our Scripture passage, taken from Isaiah 6:13, this glorious future hope is promised and foretold by Him who sits on the throne, Adonai. He is the One who gives preaching orders to Isaiah, the prophets, and even to the Christ, who was born from a woman and made under the law.
Is he not the LORD who visits apostatizing and unbelieving Israel with His chastisements for the exact duration of seventy years?
Yes, there is hope in Israel’s latter end. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, the Jew first and also the Greek. That is God’s beacon light which shines more and more unto the perfect and great Day of the Lord.
There is a remnant in Israel. These are they who are born of the promise. These, and they only, are counted for the seed (Rom. 9:8). Such was the sure word of God to sorrowing yet believing Abraham (Gen. 21:12). Yes, in Isaac shall the seed be called!
We will come to this presently.
For the moment let us notice that the text speaks of a “tenth” which shall return. Of all the vast number which were taken captive to Babylon, only a fraction returned to the promised land, the land of God’s Sabbath-rest. There is great wisdom in this selected number. These represent the full number of those whom God, in the purpose of His counsel, will bring back under Ezra’s leadership upon the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia. Indeed, these are the tribe of Judah, in which the 3 x 14 generations from the Captivity to Christ’s birth shall be realized in the fullness of time. In this tenth, the Virgin Mary is the central consideration, according to Isaiah 7:14. The very core of this “tenth” is the future birth of the Son of God (born from a Virgin), whose name is Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!
Yes, this Divinely designated number shall surely return! They shall return to the land of Beulah, the land of the Sabbath-rest of the God of Jacob.
Is not God married to Israel by His sure word of oath? Is He not her God, who in the greatest pathos says, I will never leave thee in my everlasting, sovereign loving kindness? The promise is that after seventy years, when the land has enjoyed its Sabbaths, then Israel shall return (Jer. 25:9; II Chron. 36:20-25).
Indeed, they shall return and rebuild Jerusalem, rebuild her .walls, and resurrect the temple from her ashes and ruins. But she shall perform this only through the utmost trials and afflictions and persecutions. The text suggests this when it adds “and shall be eaten.” The term makes us think ofPsalm 27:2: “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” Surely these enemies were not cannibals. This is metaphor, expressing that they desired to slay David, the king, even as Goliath boasted he would do to David when David was but at stripling, a tender youth (I Sam. 17:44). And David returns the reply in his great confession, “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee: and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the vultures, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
Such was the history of Israel under the reign both of the Persians and of the Macedonians, as we read of this in Daniel 10-12. Small wonder that the psalmist cried, “For thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” (Rom. 8:36; Ps. 44:22). Often the righteous in Israel, especially in the days of the Maccabees, must have cried:
Awake, why sleepest thou, O LORD? arise, cast us not off forever. Why hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.
Yes, they shall be eaten, devoured, and well-nigh cast off as the scum of the earth. Notwithstanding this, there is hope to Israel. She is not a mere useless vine, but she is as a teil tree, as an oak tree!
Yes, Israel is a nation which shall endure. When all the nations which plowed deep furrows upon her back are no more, having been destroyed from off the face of the earth by the fury of the Lord of Hosts; when the thrones of such nations as Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia have been cast down, and the mighty Macedonian power has been crushed forever, then Israel’s throne shall be in the center of the universe, on the heavenly mount Zion, high and lifted up (Isaiah 2:2-5).
The reason? In the unchangeable faithfulness of Jehovah to His beloved Jacob (Mal. 1:1-4; Mal. 3:6), He has made them to be like a teil and an oak tree. That is the figure of speech here in verse 13. In chapter 5 Israel is portrayed under the figure of a “choice vine.” In another, separate essay we will call attention to this. Yes, the Lord could have done no more to Israel than what He had. But the vine does not lend itself to what can endure the fiery trials of the persecution by the heathen nations. But when strength, endurance is to be indicated, then the oak tree is a fitting symbol, as that which can resist the winds of opposition (Is. 1:29-31)!
Here the hellish assaults of the enemies of God’s church in the wise providence of God over His church is likened unto a burning fire. The term used in our text is that this tree, to which we have called attention earlier, shall be eaten. The remarkable feature of the tree’s being eaten by fire is that the end result was not that all is ashes and ruins. Such seemed to be the case when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem; but the result was rather that there was still a “stock” left, a living (substance), a spiritual entity., which would grow out as wonderfully as did the mustard seed in Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed. It is the root of David out of dry ground (Is. 53:2). Or, again, we read that there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots (Is. 11:1); and the beautiful promise is added in verses 10, 11 of this same chapter, “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 (a sweet smell).”
Pinpointedly the text speaks of the holy seed as being the substance of this “eaten teil tree.”
The term holy seed sometimes refers to Israel as the remnant according to the election of grace. InIsaiah 41:8 we read, “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend…. Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.” Yet, for the deepest sense of the term seed, we must read the Holy Spirit’s own interpretation as written by Paul in Galatians 3:16: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not unto seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ”!
This is, therefore, the infallible interpretation of the term “holy seed” in Isaiah 6:13!
Christ is the end of the law of righteousness to every one who believes. All were included (shut up) under sin that he might be merciful to all the Seed of Israel, both Jew and Gentile.
Here is the great capstone, the unfolding of the mystery of godliness, when the glory of Christ, who sits on the throne in His temple, shall fill all the earth!