6.44 Isaiah -- Gentiles and Restoration
Clearly there is a lot more going on here than just a return from exile and rebuilding the earthly Jerusalem! This vision of restoration includes the survivors of Judah, indeed they are central to it. However, other nations are included, and even the whole earth. As noted before, verses such as these have to be regarded as pointing to a dual fulfilment. There is to be an historical return from Exile to Judah in the near future. Yet, beyond this, in the indefinite future, there is to be a global restoration: and the two processes are linked because it is the same Spirit who brings them both about. Though separated in time, they are both the outworking of God’s plan for mankind.
The most signficant racial element in Isaiah's end-time vision is that the prophet sees beyond the narrow confines of the community of Israel:
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9).
We are not provided with a roadmap of how this greater restoration is to come about, only images of what it will look like when accomplished. Some of the characteristics of this fulfilment from the words of Isaiah are:
a. history is meaningful and purposive. It is not a matter of random chance, it is not going to end in global racial suicide.
b. history is God’s vehicle for Self-revelation. At some point, Scripture and history will meet in agreement, and both will give a unified witness of His character.
c. God is known through obedience in history rather than in mysticism or idealism (a denial of existence).
d. God’s good purpose does not rule out extensive and prolonged human suffering.
e. But even here, God does not stand afar off:
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old
f. Ultimately, history is not about man’s achievements, the rise of civilization and global community, etc. God is the owner, and He will intervene when and how He chooses.
g. For the first time, Gentiles have a specific hope, a stake in God's promise to Abraham.
h. The rivalry and hostility between Gentile and Jew will come to an end, and both alike will worship the true God. The Gentiles will acknowledge God's revelation to and through the people of Israel.