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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

The Best Commentary On The Bible Is The Bible Itself
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
 
The Reflections Newsletter

Thurssday, September 25, 2008

**In This Issue**

  1. How Many Isaiah's?
  2. What Does the Bible Say About...?
     

Welcome to the Reflections Newsletter from Reflect His Glory.  RHG is a co-ministry with Creation Science Ministries.  Feel free to send this to your relatives and friends.
 


How Many Isaiah's?

How Many Isaiah's?

With its 66 chapters, the Book of Isaiah is the longest prophetic book of the Old Testament.  Most scholars agree that the book falls naturally into two major sections, Chapters 1-39 and Chapters 40-66.

The first section has a distinctive style which changes noticeably in the final section.  This is easy to remember since it parallels the Bible itself, having 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.  Now, I would not encourage this since the chapter divisions in the Bible, as we know them, were added in the 13th century.

 The Deutero-Isaiah Theory

The "textual critics" have insisted that the Book of Isaiah is a compilation of two different writers, each calling himself Isaiah but writing at different times.  This "Deutero-Isaiah" theory is surprisingly prevalent in many modern ("liberal") commentaries.

The first section of the book deals with God's approaching judgment on the nation of Judah.  In some of the most striking passages in all the Bible, the prophet announces that God will punish His people because of their sin, rebellion, and worship of false gods.  While the first section includes several references to the coming Messiah, including His virgin birth and His rule on the throne of David, the style of this section is distinctively harsh, and certainly fits the subject matter.

The second section, Chapters 40-66, in contrast to the first, is noticeably different.  It emphasizes the Messianic expectation and an ultimate comfort for God's people, and therefore are written with a softer genre.  Most of Handel's Messiah was drawn from this section of the Book of Isaiah.  The heart of Isaiah's stunning prophecy occurs in Chapter 53, as he presents the role of the coming Messiah in its highest point.  Some call this passage the "Holy of Holies" of the Old Testament. The Servant's suffering and death and the redemptive nature of His mission are clearly foretold.

Although mankind deserved God's judgment because "we have turned, every one, to his own way," God sent His Servant to take away our sins.  According to Isaiah, it is through His suffering that we are reconciled with God, since "the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

It is primarily on the basis of the stylistic changes between the two sections that critics have developed the Deutero-Isaiah theory.  Those who assign Chapters 40-66 to a "Second Isaiah" point out that the two major sections of the book seem to be set in different times.  Chapters 1-39 clearly belong to the eighth century BC, a turbulent period in the history of Judah.

However, Isaiah 40-66, according to these scholars, seem to be addressed to the citizens of Judah who were being held as captives in Babylon about two centuries after Isaiah lived and prophesied.  These scholars also point to the differences in tone, language, and style between the two major sections as proof that the book was written by two different authors.

The Traditional View

There are, however, conservative scholars who insist the entire book was written by the famous prophet Isaiah who ministered in the southern kingdom of Judah for 40 years, from about 740-700 BC.  They point out that the two sections of the book have many similarities, although they are dramatically different in tone and theme.  Many phrases and ideas that are peculiar to Isaiah appear in both sections of the book.

A good example of this is Isaiah's unique reference to God as "the Holy One of Israel."  The appearance of these words and phrases can be used to argue just as convincingly that the book was written by a single author.

In the second section of his book, Isaiah looked into the future and predicted the years of the Captivity and the return of the Covenant People to their homeland after the Captivity ended.  If the prophet could predict the coming of the Messiah over 700 years before that happened, he could certainly foresee this major event in the future of the nation of Judah.

The style of each section deliberately matches its subject matter.

The Effect of the Valley of Doubt

Doubts about the authorship and authenticity of any book in the Bible can have tragic consequences for those who are attempting to take the Bible seriously.  As I look back on my own spiritual journey, I recall the many years that these views introduced a subtle doubt in my mind and hampered my early growth in the Word.

Is there a way to resolve this without getting drawn into the distressing debates and arrogant displays among those erudite scholars and "textual critics"?  Indeed, there is.  If I had discovered it earlier in my own travels through God's wondrous Word, I could have save myself about two years of 'extra curricular' study.

A Discovery in John 12

John 12 helps us to see the truth!  Verses 37-41 save us all kinds of time and energy looking for the truth.

37] But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him:
38] That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39] Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again,
40] He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
41] These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of Him.  KJV ER"

In this passage we first encounter a quote, in verse 38, familiar to many of you, that begins the famous chapter of Isaiah 53.  This would be in the section attributed to the "Second Isaiah."

In verse 40 we have a quote from Isaiah Chapter 6, verse. 10, and verse 41 also highlights what occurs when Isaiah beholds the throne of God.  This is, of course, attributed to the "First Isaiah."

But the Lord once again graces us with the truth in verse 39.  Notice that John tells us that "that Isaiah said again" when he links the two passages and, as a result, attributes them both to "that" (same) Isaiah!  If you take John seriously, and recognize the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then you need not doubt the authorship of Isaiah - both "sections."  There was only one Isaiah who penned the Book of Isaiah.

It is interesting to notice that there is no heresy... or controversy... that has not been anticipated by the Holy Spirit within the Scriptures.  If we recognize the reality that we have 66 books penned by 40 authors over thousands of years, that are an integrated whole, and that every detail has been the result of careful and skillful engineering, then there is no need to stumble over the skepticism and arrogance put forth by some scholars who obviously are not tuned in to the Word.

Don't we have a wonderful God?  All we have to do is just learn to take Him at His Word.


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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory


What Does the Bible Say About...?

 

In this section of the Reflections Newsletter we answer questions that have been asked.  If you have a question that you would like ask, and do not mind having printed in the newsletter, (your name will not be mentioned), feel free to send your question in an email to me at biblequestions@reflecthisglory.org.  Of course, you may call me anytime by phone at 801.302-1111.

The question for this issue is, "In John 6:44, Jesus said that no one could come to Him unless His Father draws him.  Doesn't this mean that only God can draw man to Him, and as a result, only some are drawn, while others are not?"  How does this correlate with the un-evangelized people in the far reaches of the world?

What Jesus meant in this verse is that mankind is so steeped in sin and worldliness, that an individual could never, by himself, come to salvation, were it not for Divine help.  This Divine help comes in the form of the Father drawing him by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is later reflected in the Gospel of John, where Jesus says that when He sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, He "will reprove (convict) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment"  John 16:8.  The Apostle Paul says that following this leading of the Holy Spirit makes us members of God's family:

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,"           Romans 8:14

Regarding the un-evangelized, the Book of Romans indicates that God provides a certain amount of light to them:

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them.  For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"  Romans 1:19-20  KJV ER

Here, the Apostle Paul was echoing the thoughts of the Psalmist, who said:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork,"  Psalm 19:1  KJV ER

In other words, God has revealed Himself through His creation.  He has shown the revelation of Himself to mankind.  This revelation demonstrates God's power and nature, so those who reject it "are without excuse."  Further, God has written His laws on the hearts of mankind, so even though they may have never heard the Gospel, mankind everywhere has a concept of right and wrong.  Even the most primitive cultures, there are prohibitions against killing, stealing, and otherwise harming another person.  Such concepts can only come from God, as they are embodied in the Ten Commandments.  Paul goes into detail on this by saying:

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves:  Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another,"                 Romans 2:14-15 KJV ER

While neither obedience to the conscience nor worshipping the God of nature is the basis for salvation, it is at least a beginning point.  And the Bible teaches that when a searching soul worships with all his/her heart according to the light that has been received, God will make it possible for him/her to come to Christ Jesus.

"And you shall seek me, and shall find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart,"  Jeremiah 29:13  KJV ER

Illustrations of this principle are found in the conversions of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, Cornelius in Acts 10, and Lydia in Acts 16.  In each instance, people worshipped with all their heart, and God sent a Gospel messenger.

Finally, it must be remembered that God is a just God.  Just as we have faith that God will treat us, who are covered by the blood of Jesus, with fairness in the area of judgment, we must also have faith that He will extend the same perfect fairness and justice to each member of the human race.

 

 

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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

 

**MEMORY VERSE OF THE MONTH**

And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed My voice.

Genesis 22:18  KJV ER

Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory

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"Then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him,
"
If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed;
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
."

John 8:31-32

  
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
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Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory
Bruce Larner - Reflect His Glory