J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)
More definitely as to Isaiah. The first four chapters are introductory. Jerusalem being judged, all the earth will smite it, and then the glory be over Jerusalem. Then in Isaiah 5 we have Israel judged as a responsible people in this world, according to the government of God in it, and, in the close of it, smiting within by Jehovah, and bringing on them enemies from without. Isaiah 6 to 9:7, take up the question of Christ as an introduced subject, as it historically was, into the midst of this history. He being introduced, we have first the general fact of the Assyrian over-running the whole land. Then Immanuel, as the seed in it - a confederacy of nations, but the Remnant, who, associated with the Rejected Stone, wait for the Lord, delivered by the intervention of God in judgment - and the Messiah-reign celebrated. In a word, though chapter 5 closes in itself, chapters 6 to 9:7, come in parenthetically in connection with Christ, and Isaiah 9:8 resumes the general history from the time of the prophecy. God's hand is stretched out still. Then the governmental dealing with the people is carried on to the Assyrian at the end, and the blessing of Jehovah in the midst of Zion. Isaiah 13 begins Babylon, which is no part of the general history (i.e., of Israel - God dealing with them as His people) because Judah was in captivity there. The only question is, Who is the king in Isaiah 8:21? I suppose the evil king, only so noticed in Isaiah; see Isaiah 30:33.
Note, in passing, Isaiah 7 as an instance of how literal facts are made to assimilate to typical circumstances, though they detail literal prophetic facts. We may remark how this pictures the rebellious people and the world within the limits of mystic Israel, setting up Antichrist in opposition; yet, I doubt not, literal fulfilment.
Isaiah 21 seems to me to give us Babylon in its mystical character at the end, drawn it may be, as the prophecies ever are, from present circumstances. I note it, because we have the prophecy as to Babylon proper in Isaiah 14. This, too, goes on to the end, but gives the actual taking of the city there far more fully; still it goes to the end in the worldly history.
There are three great general facts which enter into this prophecy which is not idias epiluseos (of its own particular interpretation) and which are used to complete the scene, while the final reference is to the latter day. The Assyrian (Israel being owned) Nebuchadnezzar, his inroad, setting up the beast, and times of the Gentiles. His destruction which leads on to the last days, and the restoration of Jerusalem. Isaiah 13 and 14 take up Babylon, representing there the new formed power of one Gentile beast as a whole, and goes on to Jehovah's founding Zion. This was anticipatively represented by Cyrus s action.
84 Moab is then judged as all within the promised Land, and while the main prophecy goes on the establishment of the throne of David (Christ) making allusion to David's history, who sent his parents there, and also to the tribute paid to the kings of Israel, but also to the fugitives of Judah in the last days. The present fate of Moab is also announced, I suppose, from the hands of the Assyrian, but it may be from those of Nebuchadnezzar, as he hesitated whether he should first go against Jerusalem or Ammon, verse 14, but rather, I apprehend, the Assyrian.
Damascus and Ephraim, Isaiah 17, we know to have been the Assyrian, but the chapter goes on in the clearest way, to his doings in the last day. This introduces the general history of Israel in the last day expounded elsewhere.
In Isaiah 19 and 20 we have the judgment of Egypt, and its healing for full latter-day blessing. Here it is again the Assyrian; Isaiah 20:4. We have then a mysterious Babylon - the desert of the Sea - and Edom, where we know the last judgments are to fall.
Isaiah 21:16 declares the then present judgment of Edom, as before of Moab. We have then Jerusalem itself judged, and Eliakim, he whom God shall raise up, substituted for Shebna, the false and judged holder of the key of the house of David, or who at least is over the house. Moab, Damascus which introduces, by the figure of Assyria, the inroad of the nations of the last day, come first - they are the clearing of the promised Land. Then the condition of Israel on their return into the Land. Then we come to what is outside - Egypt - and it and the Assyrian are blessed with Israel. Then mystic Babylon, and Idumea, the final judgment of Babylon and of the beast, and hostile power in Idumea. Then the judgment of Jerusalem, but the house of David set up.
85 Tyre, I apprehend, represents the world, perhaps to be accomplished in this place - its gain and merchandise consecrated to Jehovah, though it remain the world; Isaiah 24. Though it be the land as the sphere where all is brought to an issue, yet it takes in the earth, the known formed sphere, as all judged there. The then coming judgments are also noticed, as Isaiah 20, 21, and Isaiah 16:14.
Chapter 24 clearly unites the thought of the Land and of the earth. Thus in verse 5, we have, one cannot doubt, the Jew order of things, though it may extend further. In verse 16 we begin a series of verses which reach to a wider earth; in verse 17 we have the expression of Revelation, "them that dwell on the earth" katoikountas epi tes ges. Then in verse 18, though the Land is still the scene of judgment, yet "the earth" goes out to the wider sense; verse 21 is clearly so. But it always, I think, contains the sense of those that have had to say to God, and the revelations of His ways, and rejected, oppressed, opposed, or despised, apostatised from the revelation He has made of Himself. There is a wider scene called the world. The earth is a moral thing, "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."