Martyr Vindication and the Last Days- #3
We continue now with the presentation of a paper that I presented at Criswell College, Dallas, Texas 2012. The subject was “The Preterist Perspective of the Millennium.” Be sure to read the first two installments of this series #1 and #2. A CD of that presentation is available from me.
The third text I want to look at is Isaiah, chapters 24-27, known as the Little Apocalypse. Beginning with verse 7 in chapter 25, the Lord said, “He will destroy on this mountain” – that’s Zion. I would like to have a lot to say about that, but I can’t – “the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all of the faces…and it will be said in that day, behold this is our God; we have waited for Him; He will save us…. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” This is very clearly the end-of-the-millennium resurrection. It’s the very verse that Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when he said “this mortal has put on immortality… the corruptible has put on incorruption, then shall be brought to pass the saying, death is swallowed up in victory.” That’s Isaiah. Therefore, Isaiah is the end-of-the-millennium resurrection.
This is patently the salvation hope of Israel. But let’s look a little closer at the Little Apocalypse, let’s move into chapter 26. Now by the way, most of these men agree that the Little Apocalypse is speaking of the eschatological consummation, not a typological consummation. Isaiah predicted the end-of-the-millennium resurrection (Isaiah 25:8).Likewise chapter 26:19f, the earth shall give up its dead. But notice, it would be in the day in which the Lord shall descend out of the heavens and tread on the tops of the mountains (26:20).
But notice this. It is also the time of the vindication of the martyrs – the earth shall disclose its blood. Meredith Kline wrote a great article demonstrating this not too long ago. (Meredith G. Kline, “Death, Leviathan and Martyrs: Isaiah 24:1-27:1″ A Tribute to Gleason Archer, ed. by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. And Ronald Youngblood, Chicago; Moody Press, 1986), 229-249). But notice this. In that day, in what day? The day of the vindication of the martyrs, the day of the coming of the Lord, the day of the end-of-the-millennium resurrection. In that day, Leviathan shall be destroyed (27:1).
Note that in 27:10-11, it is at the time of the salvation of Israel which Isaiah 25:8-9 told us the resurrection is the salvation of Israel. Significantly, it is likewise, the time of the destruction of Old Covenant Israel, because in that day would be the time when He turns the stones of the altar into chalk stone, He destroys the fortified city, and, “the one who made them will no longer have mercy on them.” And why? Well, it tells us. Because, “this is a people of no understanding,” a direct citation or allusion to Deuteronomy 32:28. Deuteronomy 32:28 that said in Israel’s last days, here is what will happen: They will become like Sodom; I will destroy them. So, in Isaiah 24-27, we have Israel’s last days, the vindication of the martyrs at the destruction of Old Covenant Israel.
Passage number 4 – Isaiah 59. As universally acknowledged, Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59 serve as Paul’s source for his prediction of the salvation hope of Israel in Romans 11:25-27. Just like Deuteronomy 32, just like Isaiah 2-4, just like Isaiah 26-27, Isaiah 59 predicted the vindication of the martyrs at the Day of the Lord and also at the judgment of Old Covenant Israel. Isaiah 59 breaks itself down easily into three headings:
Number one – Accusation – four times in verses 3-7 God accuses Israel of shedding innocent blood, of being quick to violence, and that leads to point #2.
Point #2 – Israel Acknowledges her guilt. Notice what she says, “our transgressions are multiplied before you.” This is Deuteronomy 31:29: You will fill up the measure of your sin. So Israel even admits her transgression, “our transgressions are multiplied before you.”
And so, Point #3- Yahweh decides to take Action in verses 16f: “He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, he was clad with zeal as a cloak, according to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies…so shall they fear the name of the Lord…the redeemer will come to Zion and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord. As for me, says the Lord, this is my covenant with them.”
Now, Romans 11:25-27 anticipated the parousia for the salvation of Israel in fulfillment of Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59; that is more abundantly clear.
However, Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59 foretold the coming of the Lord, and to be sure, for the salvation of Israel, i.e., the salvation of the remnant. And, that would be at the end-of-the-millennium resurrection (Isaiah 25-26).
Remember it would be at the destruction of Leviathan, Satan. When does the destruction of Leviathan take place? All you have to do is read Revelation 20:10-12 – at the end of the millennium. When would that be, however? According to Isaiah 26:21 and Isaiah 59:16, it would be at the coming of the Lord for the vindication of the martyrs. But that is not all. It would be when the fortified city would be destroyed, the altar crushed and the people whom Yahweh had created would be forsaken. That is not the church.
Thus, Romans 11, being the anticipation of the fulfillment of Isaiah 27 and 59 would be fulfilled at the end of the millennium, at the avenging of the blood of the martyrs, at the time of the destruction of Old Covenant Israel. But, we want to look a little closer.
I suggest that there is no futurist eschatology that properly honors what Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59 actually says.
Amillennialists redefine Israel in Romans 11, as somehow the church, or they posit the salvation of ethnic Jews throughout the entire span of the Christian age. Greg Beale does this. (Greg Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids; Baker, 2011), 706+). But these positions ignore the vindication of the martyr motif and the judgment of Israel motif explicitly found in Isaiah 27 and 59.
Post-millennialists likewise ignore the judgment of Israel and the martyr vindication specifically and explicitly found in Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59, as does Kenneth Gentry. While Gentry spends time discussing Romans 11 in his massive He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA, Apologetics Group, 2009)254) he ignores the prophetic background and does not so much as mention the themes found in Isaiah 27 / 59. He posits the traditional Postmillennial view that Romans 11:25f speaks of a yet future “massive, world-wide conversion.”
Pre-millennialists posit unbelieving Israel as the victim of a foreign persecuting power, not the persecutor as Isaiah clearly says. I would suggest, therefore, that none of these truly honors what Isaiah says. I have not found a single Dispensational author who honors the prophetic source of Romans 11:25f and the proper identification of Israel as the persecutor. Invariably, Premillennialists posit Romans 11 as predictive of a future time when Israel, being persecuted by the anti-christ, cries out to the Lord and is saved at the parousia. This is patently not what Isaiah predicted!
This raises a very serious hermeneutical question. Isaiah 26 and 27 predicted the end-of-the-millennium resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the destruction of Satan, the vindication of the martyrs at the time of the salvation of the righteous remnant, as well as the judgment on Old Covenant Israel, not the church.
Isaiah 59 likewise foretold the Day of Lord, the vindication of martyrs, the salvation of the remnant, the judgment on Old Covenant Israel as the persecuting power. Now Romans 11 anticipated the fulfillment of Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59. What then, is the hermeneutical principle for saying Romans 11 anticipates a future salvation of the church or deliverance of Israel from a foreign persecuting power divorced from the context of judgment on Old Covenant Israel for her blood guilt for shedding innocent blood? More to come. See my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Future or Fulfilled? for an extensive discussion of martyr vindication.