Culture

The Bible as Literature: The Prophets—the Great Day of Vindication and Restoration

First, I will review each of the prophet’s oracles and what they feature in their foretelling the great day of vindication and restoration. Next, I’ll compare the similarities and differences between the prophecies. Finally, as instructed, I’ll wind up by offering conclusion about what these prophetic traditions say about the envisioned time of God’s blessing on Israel.

Amos

Amos prophesized that the dynasty, or the booth of David, would be raised up, repaired, and rebuilt. Then the remnant would be repossessed. Then the story tells how the worker (Israelite) will overtake the overseer (the oppressor), and thereby restored to their proper positions. Then we are told that mountains will drip sweet wine, and the hills will overflow. Their fortunes will be restored. Their cities will be rebuilt and they will once again inhabit them as a nation restored. The vine they plant they will drink from, as opposed to when they planted for others; the gardens they plant they will eat from, rather than sowing for the benefit of others. Lastly it is promised that the Lord will plant them (as a people) and they will never again be plucked up (from their Promised Land).

Isaiah, Chapter 2

In Isaiah’s prophecy the House of Lord is established as the highest, is raised above where the nations will flow to it. They, those of the nations (apparently not Israelites) will go to the prophetic mountain and house of God, to be taught to walk in his ways. These nations would be judged by God and he would ‘decide’ for many peoples. Peace is then prophesized when we’re told that they will turn their swords in plow shears and their spears into pruning shears, and they will ‘learn’ war no more, suggesting that they will not partake in war. There is a weird break where quickly the house of Jacob is then invited to walk in the light of LORD. Then it jumps again to condemn those who rejected ‘thy people, the house of Jacob’. The condemned are humbled and the LORD is exalted. The conclusion shares that the condemned will cast away their idols hide in caverns and clefts to escape the wrath of the LORD and his vengeance.

Isaiah 11

Chapter 11 beings with a shoot from the stump of Jesse prophesied to become the Messianic king. This king is gloriously described for his righteousness and faithfulness in judging. Again, we have a peace prophesied when a wolf, lamb, lion, cobra coexist peacefully and a child plays among them. And again, we have the recovery of the remnant of the LORD’s people from among the nations. Then the LORD takes vengeance against his people’s oppressors. Finally we close again with a path or highway, presumably to the mountain.

Isaiah 12

This chapter of Isaiah seems much less a prophecy of the great day of vindication and restoration, but rather a prophecy of the people’s thanksgiving following the ‘great day’ prophecy’s fulfillment. The nation gives thanks and recognize while he, the LORD was once mad at them, has now turned and is comforting them. They recognize him as their salvation, and they will not be afraid. This is followed by verses of joyous giving of thanks, proclaiming his deeds, making his name exalted, and generally singing his praises.

Jeremiah 31

Jeremiah begins by telling how their fortunes will be restored. There will be praise and blessing from Israel to God. Once more, they will all be gathered together again in Judah. God will replenish and satisfy their souls. He foretells the promise that instead of plucking up the nation (in punishment) and breaking it down (in retribution) he will instead be with them as they build and plant. They will not eat sour grapes, though those that oppressed them will. A new covenant is foretold. God will put his law within them, on their hearts as he will be their God, and they his people. It is foretold that unlike the past, they’ll all know him—no one needs to remind them of him (and his glory and power). Lastly it is foretold that he, God, will forgive and forget their sin.

Amos alone focuses on rebuilding, and repairing the cities. Both Amos and Jeremiah speak of their fortunes being restored. In this way you could say that both Amos and Jeremiah are focused on Israel as a nation and their restoration. They both promised that Israel as a nation will planted and left to build, instead of being plucked up as he has done to them in the past.

Isaiah on the other hand seems to focus more on the restoration of the Lord’s house, the symbolic place of worship for the Yahwists, and their religion being established highest. He alone highlights how nations will turn to the lord in worship, streaming to his mountain of Zion. His prophecy alone speaks of the dramatic vengeance in such detail.

Lastly, Jeremiah is the only one who moves beyond the promises of restoration to bring great detail to the praise, proclamation and exaltation of the LORD.

Above and beyond the prophecies we’ve analyzed here I can only conclude that the time of God’s blessing on Israel would be an amazing revelation for the entire planet. Imagine the streaming of Jews from around the world back to the ‘Promised Land’ and how disruptive that phenomenon would be. Not only that we’d see the underdog become a rich nation, to which others would flock and suddenly worship as they do. It’s just such a dramatic scene, similar to the over-the-top scenario of the Christian’s version of the prophecy, ‘Left Behind’. As over-the-top as these scenes seem, my insight is that the trouble within the Middle East stem from absolute belief by many in the region who struggle to reclaim the holy ground and establish themselves as the people prophesied about.

To be totally forthright – I’m not involved in politics and even less so religious politics, so I’m not sure this insight is correct or not. However this is the first time that it all seems to make sense to me, and therefore rings true to my ears. These nations are clamoring to be ‘the one’, each believing that they are entitled and can’t wait to get their hands on the riches and prominence that is promised.

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