The final OT passage that the Apostle Paul quotes in this mini explosion of Old Testament references in Romans 15:8-12 concerning the salvation of the Gentiles is Isaiah 11:10. We cannot simply look at this one verse; the entire chapter of Isaiah 11 must be studied. This verse contains a nugget of truth about God’s plan for Gentile nations, but there are many other events occurring right alongside the salvation of the nations.
I will note before getting into the immediate context, that Isaiah 7-12 is one unit. The direction of this prophecy is toward the house of David, which Ahaz was the current occupant of the throne. Isaiah had some bold words for this ungodly king. There would be another king who would occupy the throne named Immanuel. A virgin would give birth to him. He would be a stone of stumbling and rock of offence to both Judah and Samaria. Amidst this rejection, His disciples would keep His testimony waiting upon the LORD. They would perform signs and wonders to the nation of Israel. Those who would be the first hand recipients of Immanuel’s light would be those who live in the northern section of Galilee. This Immanuel personage would be none other than the mighty God and Prince of Peace occupying the throne of David. Just read Isaiah 7-9 to see this foundation before we get to Isaiah 11.
Now beginning in Isaiah 11:1, we read the mention of the Branch which comes out of the stump of Jesse, which was the house of David. We should connect the dots and realize this is the same person that Isaiah has been prophesying about throughout this passage. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on this future King. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD, 11:2.
Notice His judgement in 11:3-5. His judgement shall not be according to what is seen with eyes or heard with ears, but according to righteousness and equity. Notice those He is concerned with: the poor and the meek. These aspects describe an ongoing judgement, or an ongoing reign. We then have two statements that refer to a one-time type of judgement at the onset of His reign. He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. The physical earth gets a swat on the behind, and those wicked people get slaughtered.
Before we go any further, let’s put this together. A King will one day rule from the throne of David. He will show forth wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the LORD. The judgement issuing from His throne will go beyond physical evidence, and will include righteousness for the poor and equal treatment for the humble. But as He ascends the throne, there will be a judgement of condemnation upon the wicked, resulting in a slaughter. He also strikes the earth with His royal sceptre.
Although Jesus has displayed the above characteristics at His first advent, He has not yet taken the place on earth whereby He governs the poor and meek on an ongoing basis. He refused to do this at His first coming, Luke 12:13-15. Although Jesus is destined to take this place sometime in the future, He has not yet struck the earth with the sceptre of His authority, or slaughtered the wicked upon ascending that throne.
Verses 6-9 describe a transformed earth in great detail. Since we saw two statements, one relating to the wicked, and the other relating to the physical earth, these statements should be read as referring to the nature of relationships here on the physical earth during the reign of this Branch of David. Animals who once hunted each other will lie down in peace together. Carnivores and herbivores will be led together by a small child. Imagine an eight year old child holding two leashes, one around the neck of a leopard, and the other around the neck of a calf. A child who is still nursing will be able to play outside among creatures that are now poisonous. Imagine a two year old playing on top of a nest of asps. These creatures will not hurt (be evil) or destroy in the holy mountain of the LORD because the earth is now filled with the knowledge of the LORD. So the Messiah strikes the earth with the sceptre of His power, the earth becomes filled with the knowledge of the LORD, which transforms the entire animal kingdom and how it relates to mankind. Yet in verse 9 there is a hint that this will be the beginning of the transformation of the earth, and not the entire process. These renewed relationships will be in the holy mountain of the LORD, meaning in Mount Zion, in a New Jerusalem, (which is the way Isaiah 65:17-25 also describes it) but the knowledge of the LORD will fill the entire earth.
And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.
Now we arrive at our key verse, Isaiah 11:10. It is in the midst of this transformed earth that we see the raised banner of the Messiah as Gentiles are seeking it out. The place of God’s rest to which they will seek will be glorious. Gentile nations will seek out this righteous king ruling from the throne of David. It will be like the great commission only in reverse. Instead of the believing remnant of the nation of Israel going forth into the Gentile nations to preach the gospel, the Gentile nations come to the nation of Israel to ask of their Messiah, II Chronicles 9:1-2, Matthew 12:42.
If one would doubt the restoration of Israel as a nation while Messiah is reigning during this period of time, the remaining verses in Isaiah 11 clear up any doubt. In 11:11-16 we read that the LORD will gather the physical nation of Israel out from all nations from whence they have been scattered. There will no longer be animosity within the nation of Israel between any factions as they will be one people. The Egyptian Sea will dry up so the Israelites may walk over it as they make their way into the land God has for them. This is the second exodus as prophesied in Jeremiah 23:5-8, notice the similarities to Isaiah 11.
Here is the picture. Israel is restored to her place of prominence among the nations because they have the King of kings as their personal ruler. It is not because of anything special the nation of Israel has done, but because of their Messiah. Gentile nations exist alongside Israel during Messiah’s reign and they seek out Messiah’s light. At least in the holy mountain, creation is now at peace because Messiah has struck the earth with the sceptre of His power. Animals are at peace with each other and with mankind, including little children. Righteous judgement is decreed from the judgement seat of this Davidic King. The poor and meek will find favor in His sight. This is a plain reading of the text which leads us to a PreMillennial understanding of this kingdom.
Note: Gentiles find favor with God without having to become citizens of the nation of Israel.
Why does the Apostle Paul quote this verse in Romans 15:12? Remember Paul’s original assertion. Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision in order that the Gentiles also may glorify God for His mercy. When the way was opened up for Gentiles to be saved, they did not have to become citizens of the nation of Israel to come under the reign of Israel’s Messiah. They were to glorify God alongside the nation of Israel just as they were, as Gentiles. There was no joining the nation of Israel. I’m saying this because this is the definitive place of departure with Covenant Theology. This entire passage of Romans 15:8-12 that I have been blogging on proves that the nation of Israel does not become bigger and bigger with each added Gentile. Gentiles are a part of Messiah’s body, but they glorify God alongside national Israel. But each Messianic Gentile is just as much a part of the true Israel as each Messianic Jew, since Jesus is the true Israel. Until we reach the other side of the Millennial Kingdom, these national distinctions will remain a reality here on planet earth, and possibly even beyond that.
Here is where I believe A-Millennialism is both right and wrong. Gentile nations will one day seek out the God of Israel. There will be no requirements for them to have to obey the laws of Israel in order to worship the God of Israel. They must simply have faith in the God of Israel and Israel’s Messiah. This future, Messianic kingdom whereby Gentiles come to God’s light has broken forth into the last days of this age. The kingdom is present among us as those in Messiah submit to His righteous rule. But there still remains a literal fulfillment of Isaiah 11 which will include the details above. To focus entirely on the kingdom present but to deny a literal, future, Millennial kingdom in the age to come is the error of A-Millennialism in my view. My dialogue on Illumination showed me that A-Millennialists view it as an either/or type of thing, while I see it as a both/and. To focus entirely on the kingdom future but to deny the kingdom present is the error of Dispensationalism, although Progressives have conceded this.
Here is where I believe Post-Millennialism is both right and wrong. Gentile nations as a whole will one day come to Messiah’s light, but not during this current age. In the age to come, when Messiah establishes His kingdom, then Gentiles will willingly seek out Messiah. National entities will recognize Messiah’s righteous rule. But during the current preaching of the gospel, only a remnant of Gentiles will come to His light. Governmental structures will fail to recognize Jesus as the Messiah until He returns. Israel will be the first to come to Messiah’s light. Gentile nations will be able to rejoice alongside Israel in this knowledge. But it will not happen through the current preaching of the gospel, or through Christian political activism. To believe that a Gentile nation could belong to the Messiah (i.e. be considered a Christian nation) before Messiah establishes His earthly rule is the error of Post-Millennialism in my view. This is interesting because most of the founding fathers of our nation were Post-Millennialists. They viewed the United States as a Christian nation believing that the preaching of the gospel through our missionaries would bring Gentile nations as a whole to convert to Christ. Instead we see the kingdom parables that Jesus spoke in Matthew 13 playing out to a T.
I am almost through with this series on the salvation of the Gentiles. I feel that I have examined each passage that the Apostle Paul quotes from the Old Testament in an objective way. I have examined the original context, sought out the New Testament light that we have, then applied it to the point Paul was making concerning Gentiles, Israel, and their Messiah.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman