BW Newton quote: Immanuel in Isaiah 8

I am sporadically working my way through the book Thoughts on the Whole Prophecy of Isaiah by B.W. Newton.  I’m not recommending it really, unless you’ve got some time and enjoy the older PreMillennial writings.  The title would be more accurate if it read Random Thoughts on the Whole Prophecy of Isaiah.  He gets off on some pretty wild tangents at times.  Just to give you an idea, there are 308 pages in the book.  I’m currently on page 177 which is only describing Isaiah 8-9:7.  Do you see the problem?  I’m over halfway through the book, and only one eighth of the way through Isaiah.  The section describing chapters 40-52 is only eight pages long!  I was interested in how Historic PreMillennialism viewed passages like Isaiah 42, 49, and 54; but I’m pretty sure I’ll be disappointed once I get there.  It seems like he went overboard on chapters 1-9 of Isaiah, which constitutes 197 pages of his book.  Chapter 10-66 only constitute 96 pages.  (There are two addendum chapters at the end.)


But there is a pretty good tangent that I’d like to type up here.  It comes from the chapter titled Thoughts on Isaiah 8 and 9.1-7.  Emmanuel.  So for those who like the old school PreMillennialists, meditate on this for awhile.  The opening paragraph sets the context of Immanuel against the backdrop of the Assyrian Empire approaching.  Yet Newton asserts that the antichrist empire can be seen from this point of view.  I enjoy how he attempts to untangle the threads of prophecy which are woven in this passage; something that I have attempted to do on occasion as well.  I also was struck by some of his references to the psalms and found myself looking them up to see if I could make the connections he was making.  Here is the quote, italics and bold are his:


Yet ominous as this name was of evil to Jerusalem, its first application was not to them, but to their enemies.  The terror of the name Mahershalalhashbaz was first to be directed against Syria and Israel – the foes before whom Jerusalem and Ahaz had quailed.  “Before the child shall know to cry, my father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.”  Gratefully, therefore, must the name of Mahershalalhashbaz, at its first utterance, have fallen on the ear of Ahaz.  It seemed to attest the success of this most cherished scheme, and to say to him, Go on and prosper.  The razor that he had hired against Syria and Israel was to fulfill its work.  The tablet inscribed “unto Mahershalalhashbaz”, and the child of the Prophet bearing the same portentous name, were both before him as constituted signs that utter ruin shall soon overtake his enemies.


No doubt it was a day of proud exultation to the House of David and to Jerusalem, when they found that their device had prospered.  They had summoned the king of Assyria to their aid: he came at their bidding, and they beheld their ancient enemies sink utterly before his power.  Their scheme had prospered, and they were rejoicing with great joy, when suddenly the voice of the Lord again sounded in their midst.  Before, in the day of their calamity, when the heart of their king, and their hearts were moved as the trees of the wood are shaken by the wind, Isaiah had been sent to them with words of encouragement and mercy.  Now, in the hour of their triumph, he again stood in their midst, not however with a message of mercy, but of judgment.  They had despised the stream that flowed softly from beneath Zion, the mountain of their true strength, and instead thereof had sought to the waters of Euphrates, “strong and many”.  Therefore the lips of the Prophet were again opened.  “Jehovah spake unto me yet again, saying, Forasmuch as this people (he refuses to call them by the too honourable name of Judah) hath forsaken the waters of Shiloah that flow softly, and (because) there is joy with respect to Rezin and Remaliah’s son; (that is, joy over their destruction) therefore the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river that are strong, and that are many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he (the king, still spoken of under the emblem of the river) shall rise above all his channels, and go over all his banks: and he shall pass over into Judah; and shall overflow and pass through, even to the neck shall he reach; and the spreading of his wings shall e the filling of the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.”  Such was to be the result unto Jerusalem.  She had planned and achieved the ruin of her foes; but she had ruined herself also.  The same wing of darkness that she had caused to be spread over Israel, was to be extended over herself likewise, until the whole land of Immanuel should be therewith shrouded.  “The spreadings of his wings shall be the filling of the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.”


But Immanuel is a name of joy, and triumph, and blessing.  As such it was given; and so faith ever recognises it.  Accordingly, as soon as that name had passed the lips of the Prophet, the strain of the prophecy changes.  Another string is touched.  Words of woe give place to the voice of triumph.  The stream of prophetic denunciation is turned away from Jerusalem, and made to bear upon her enemies; for her enemies are also the enemies of Immanuel.  Their strength, therefore, is defied: their doom pronounced.  “Associate yourselves.  O ye peoples, and be broken in pieces; and give ear ye, ye far off countries of earth: gird yourselves and be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought: speak the word, and it shall not stand; for IMMANUEL.”  These words, so long since uttered, have not yet been fulfilled.  They dwell still, even as they have ever dwelt, upon the lips of faith, but for their accomplishment we wait.  They carry us onward into the future.  We pass on from the then incipient hour of Jerusalem’s sorrows to that future time when, begirt with confederated enemies more terrible than any that have yet assailed her (see Joel 2, Is. 29, Zech. 12), she shall see them suddenly vanish as smoke before the wind, as wax before the fire, because of the manifested glory of Immanuel.  “Lo, the kings were assembled; they passed by together.  They beheld, so they marvelled; were troubled, and hasted away.  Fear took hold upon them there, and pain as on a woman in travail.”  Ps. 48.4.  In vain, therefore, shall they gather themselves together: in vain shall they consolidate their strength.  “Gird yourselves and be broken in pieces: gird yourselves and be broken in pieces”, “for God is with us.”  Such, even now, is the anticipative voice of faith; such the cry that shall finally be heard from the lips of the repentant and spared remnant of Israel.  A confederacy mightier and more terrible than any that earth has ever yet seen, will be formed against Jerusalem.  They will say of Jehovah and of Christ, “Let us break their bands asunder”: they will say of Israel, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance”.  Ps. 83.4.  It will be a confederacy of the kings of the whole Roman nation gathered by “spirits of devils working miracles”.  No gathering has been ever like it, neither will be ever again: “a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations”.  Joel 2.2.  The power of Jehovah of Hosts is alone competent to conflict with them; and He will conflict with them.  “In Judah is God known; his name is great in Israel.  In Salem also is his Tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion.  There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle….  The stout-hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep; and none of the men of might have found their hands.  At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.  Thou, even thou, art to be feared; and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?  Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth trembled and was till, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek upon earth.” Ps. 76.  Then, but not before, shall the words be fulfilled, “Gird yourselves and be broken pieces; gird yourselves and be broken in pieces”.  It will be “the battle of the great day of God the Almighty”, that day of burning of which the closing verses of the passage before us speaks.


But this attestation to the glorious power of God, pledged though it was in the name Immanuel, was in the far distant future.  In sending for the His Prophets, His power chose for itself a far different mode of operation.  It operated in the midst of rebellious and obdurate evil, submitting to take the place of rejection and reproach, content with gathering to itself a remnant who also were to be despised and to suffer.  Such was the place to which Isaiah was appointed, and for which he was strengthened.


Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13


-The Orange Mailman

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