Isaiah: The 'Romans' of the Old Testament
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that
the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of
the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
Isaiah 40:28 (Spoke 1, Cycle 2)
The verse above exemplifies the profound link between Genesis and Isaiah based on the primary
Aleph themes of Creation and the Sovereignty of God. It is one
of the principal hallmarks of the twenty-third book, as seen in these representative verses:
- Isaiah 40:28 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it:
- Isaiah 45:11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker ... I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
- Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
- Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
The revelation of God's Sovereignty in Isaiah and
its relation to Genesis has been noted by many scholars, such as John D. W. Watts in his Word Biblical Themes:
Every student of Hebrew is aware the word 'create' in
Genesis 1 is a rare
word used only with God as subject. The highest concentration of uses of that word occurs in
Isaiah 40 – 66.
If there should be any fear that Isaiah's emphasis on God as the owner of Canaan represents a provincial
and limited picture of God, this fact should dispel it. ... God is understood in Isaiah to be the
sovereign ruler over all his creation and over Canaan particularly.
Watts' observation extends to include the Book of Romans which contains the highest frequency of
the corresponding Greek word meaning "to create" in the New Testament. When we calculate the
sum of all occurrences on each Spoke, we find that they occur on Spoke 1 nearly ten times above
average. We have, therefore, an objective mathematical measure of this correlated theme. Graphs of
this phenomenon are shown below in the Distribution of Creation Words
on the Wheel (BW book pg 103). Each Spoke shows similar peaks in the distribution of words relating
to its primary themes based on the corresponding Hebrew Letter.
It is of utmost importance to remember that Watts, like all scholars cited in
this book, provides a completely independent witness to the Divine design of the Bible.
He knew nothing of the Wheel. He did not write his words to support the geometric and alphabetic correlation
revealed by the structure of the First Spoke. His comments are based entirely on
the content of Genesis and Isaiah, yet he writes as if he were holding the Bible Wheel in his
very hands! Hubbard’s comments from his Forward to Watts' book, quoted earlier in the review of
the seven canonical divisions (BW book pg 28),
are worth repeating here:
The Book of Isaiah is the Mount Rushmore of biblical prophecy. Sculpted on its massive
slopes are the major themes of Scripture: who God is, what he has done for his people,
and how he expects us to serve him. ... No other part of the Bible gives us so panoramic a view
of God's handiwork in Israel's history nor such clear prophecies of his lordship over the
nations. If Beethoven's nine symphonies loom as landmarks on the horizon of classical music,
Isaiah's sixty-six chapters mark the apex of prophetic vision.
Like Watts, Hubbard emphasized the theme of Sovereignty (Lordship) in Isaiah that naturally
links it with the meaning of Aleph as Leader. And
just as the major themes of Scripture find their root in Genesis, so their branches spread forth
into a full "panoramic" view in Isaiah which he called the very "apex of prophetic vision."
Similar observations abound throughout the literature. Both Jews and Christians have recognized Isaiah
as the first and greatest of the prophets since the earliest times. Here is how The New
Bible Dictionary states it:
From ancient times Isaiah has been considered the greatest of OT prophets.
He has been called "the eagle among the prophets", "the Evangelist of the Old Covenant", and the like.
His book is not only lofty in style and conception, but rich in spiritual meaning.
Likewise, The Teachers' Commentary has this to say:
To the Jews, Isaiah was the greatest of the prophets. The commentator Karl Delitzsch
called Isaiah the "universal prophet." Probably no other Old Testament document has been more deeply
studied than the Book of Isaiah. Certainly none has had more books and articles written about it.
And here is how James Smith put it in his book on the Major Prophets in The Old Testament Survey Series
where he quotes four other commentators:
He has been called "the Prince of the Old Testament Prophets" (Copass),
"the Saint Paul of
the Old Testament" (Robinson) and "the greatest prophet" (Eusebius).
Isaiah son of Amoz was a
theologian, reformer, statesman, historian, poet, orator, prince, and patriot. He was "prophet of
the gospel before the Gospel" (Robinson), the fifth evangelist.
Quotes like these could fill a book. Isaiah is truly the supreme Old Testament prophet. His
work is unique in its genre and its preeminence makes its appearance on the First Spoke truly stunning. Just
as a dominant wolf is called the Alpha Male, so Isaiah could rightly be called the Alpha Prophet,
or as we would say in Hebrew, the Aleph Prophet. Its placement on Spoke 1, like that of
Genesis, is without question optimal. It is exactly where any informed
person would have placed it
if he or she were consciously designing the Wheel from whole cloth, especially in light of
its conformation with the self-description of the Old Testament as the Law
(beginning with Genesis) and the Prophets (beginning with Isaiah). This is quite a "coincidence"
to emerge from simply "rolling up the Bible like a scroll."
Yet this is but the beginning of wonders. Numerous scholars have also recognized
the intimate and profound theological resemblance between Isaiah and Romans and
they base their observations on primary themes relating to the symbolic meaning of Aleph!
Oh! The glory of God's Wisdom! Praise His name now and forever! Here is how Lewis Sperry
Chafer explained it in an article in the journal of the Dallas Theological Seminary, Bibliotheca Sacra ,
written in 1936, fifty-nine years before the revelation of the Wheel:
For breadth of divine revelation covered, the Book of Isaiah reminds us of the
Epistle to the Romans. Some have called Isaiah the Paul of the Old Testament.
C. S. Robinson goes even further when he maintains that it "is, perhaps, not too much to say that,
if the New Testament were lost, a helpful gospel for sinners' salvation, available and clear,
might be easily compiled from the chapters Isaiah has written." Isaiah with Paul [in Romans]
shows us in the beginning of his message the utter depravity, perversity, and helplessness of man,
and then presents the effectual remedy of God-salvation in Himself. Both are prophets of God speaking
for Him and both are pre-eminently theologians. ... [Isaiah] has a most exalted idea of God in
His majesty and sovereignty. It is not too much to say that no writer in the
Bible has a more exalted or clear conception of the greatness of God than had Isaiah.
This quote is typical of the continuous outpouring of revelation that has been my daily bread
since I first discovered the Wheel in 1995. There is really no end to it. Like Watts above,
Chafer wrote as if he had the Bible Wheel right before his eyes. Not only did he note Isaiah's
exceptional emphasis on the Aleph concept of God’s Sovereignty, but he also commented on the
united thematic river flowing through Isaiah and Romans that originates with the Fall in Genesis.
The parallel of the opening passages of these two Books is impossible to miss:
|Isaiah (Spoke 1, Cycle 2)
||Romans (Spoke 1, Cycle 3)|
|[1:2] Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have
nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox
knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my
people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of
evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked
the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken
any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and
bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither
mollified with ointment.
||[1:18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness
and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that
which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto 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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified
him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations,
and their foolish heart was darkened. ... Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness
through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature
more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. And even as they did not
like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind ...
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;
full of envy, murder, debate, deceit …haters of God ... |
The thematic flow of Isaiah 1 parallels the first few chapters of Genesis with extreme precision.
Its opening "Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth, for the Lord has spoken" hearkens back to
Genesis 1 when "God created the heaven and the earth" by His Word, repeatedly speaking
"Let there be..." It then echoes the creation of Adam and Eve of Genesis 2 saying,
"I have nourished and brought up children." It sums up Genesis 3 in the words "and they have rebelled
against me" adding that "Israel doth not know," thereby reflecting their original sin of eating from
the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The parallel passage in Romans 1-3 gives the universal
application of these ideas that were typologically applied to Israel in Isaiah.
And just as these two premier Books begin "in the beginning" with the universal problem of sin,
so they conclude with the most explicit and comprehensive proclamation of God's Way of Salvation
to be found in their respective Testaments. Here is how Herbert Wolf put it in his book
Interpreting Isaiah, the Suffering and Glory of the Messiah :
The Book of Isaiah, one of the most important and best-loved books in the Bible,
is sometimes called the Gospel of Isaiah because of the good news that characterizes
its message. Indeed, no other Old Testament book contains as many references to the Messiah as
does the Book of Isaiah. Its sixty-six chapters contain crucial passages that allude
to Christ's incarnation, earthly ministry and atoning death and glorious world-wide rule. ...
Isaiah also has been called the Romans of the Old Testament because like the Book of Romans,
it sets forth God's case against sinners, unveils the wretchedness of the human heart, and reveals the
way of salvation for Israel and the world. Under the hammer blows of Isaiah's message,
God calls sinners to repentance and graciously promises forgiveness. It is no accident that in
Romans Paul quoted Isaiah seventeen times - more than any other New Testament author. And,
like Romans, Isaiah is a profoundly theological book that deals with a number of vital doctrines.
To behold Isaiah as the "Romans of the Old Testament" appears, in light of God's Wheel, to be
nothing less than the purest prophecy. To see it called the Gospel of Isaiah and its prophet the
Evangelist of the Old Covenant elevates it to the highest level of Biblical significance, the Good
News of Jesus Christ being the whole point of all Scripture. This is what the Bible Wheel is really
all about. We are seeing into the Mind of God and perceiving the Divine Thoughts revealed in the fully
integrated geometric, thematic, and alphabetic structure of His everlasting Word, established before
the foundation of the world.
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