Words, Life, and Work

Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Amos

“And the redeemed of Jehovah shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10. All scriptures from RVIC unless otherwise noted.)

By Len Griehs

Words, Life, and Work – Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Amos

When Abram obeyed God’s call to come out of Ur of the Chaldees into a new land, God promised him that his willing obedience would lead to a blessing for all people on earth (Genesis 12:3). Almost 2,000 years later, Matthew’s gospel uniquely associated Jesus with Abraham and therefore to this unconditional promise: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

Jesus proved faithful to his calling, and through his obedience he became the key to the success of this unconditional promise: “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18). Jesus would receive the throne of David and rule God’s kingdom from its capital, Israel (2 Samuel 7:12, 13).

While Jesus’ birth, ministry, and sacrificial death sealed the Abrahamic Promise, God provided precious insights and encouragement throughout the Old Testament, for the benefit of Jewish believers. We will consider how the words, life, and work of Isaiah, Micah, Joel, and Amos cast up a vision of a future of gladness and joy, to those looking into the Word of God.

Isaiah — Atonement

“And in this mountain will Jehovah of hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy [swallow up] in this mountain the face of the covering that covereth all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He hath swallowed up death for ever; and the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth: for Jehovah hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is Jehovah; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:6-9).

These lovely words are enhanced in Isaiah 35:10, 65:17-25, and 11:6-9. They describe the conclusion of the promised atonement between God and mankind.

Jesus’ life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection would become the “engine of salvation” that would power the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to bless all of the families of earth. But first, God promised to restore Israel as a nation. Then, He promised to remove all other nations since they would be roadblocks to God’s righteous Kingdom (Isaiah 1:21-31, Jeremiah 30:11). Revelation 21 provides one of the key elements of this process with a description of the restored earth, ready to thrive under the blessings of Jehovah. “And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell [tabernacle] with them, and they shall be his peoples … and he shall wipe every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away’” (Revelation 21:3,4).

Although this passage is read at many funeral services, few understand its true implications. Sorrow and sadness will be fully removed and mankind’s sonship with their Creator will surely be restored, but only when mankind, without sin, comes into harmony with the laws of God’s righteous Kingdom.

When resurrected as a “life giving spirit,” Jesus became the “second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45-48), and he secured the power to restore all that was lost in Adam’s disobedience. Described by Isaiah as “the Father of Futurity” (Isaiah 9:6, Rotherham), Jesus and his Church will raise the entire seed of Adam (Acts 24:15) and provide them with the opportunity to learn righteousness. The restored race will comprehend the true character of our Heavenly Father and Jehovah will “dwell” with man once again after their final test of faith (obedience).

Here is Jehovah’s lovely invitation of consecration (to righteousness) that will be given to the resurrected millions of mankind. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price … Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples” (Isaiah 55:1-4).

Micah — Israel Rising

“In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted; and I will make that which was lame a remnant, and that which was cast far off a strong nation: and Jehovah will reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth even for ever” (Micah 4:6,7).

Abraham looked for a city whose “builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). He did not expect to find a newly built physical city of divine construction, or a New Jerusalem, as the old one was not yet even established. Abraham did not understand the details of how the promise would be fulfilled, but he believed that God would establish a kingdom on earth and was given the clue that God would establish a heavenly seed (Genesis 26:4). While Israel was yet to be established as a nation at the time of the promise, Jesus indicated that Abraham realized the atonement implications of such a promise: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

The restoration of Israel in our day, as a visible testimony to the world of mankind, is one of the surest witnesses to the authenticity of the divine Abrahamic Promise. Wars in 70 AD and 135 AD destroyed the nation of Israel and dispersed the Jewish people. The temple at Jerusalem was plowed under, the name of the city was changed, and exiled Jews were forbidden to enter it except on the 9th of Av, their annual day of mourning. Almost 2,000 years of persecution of Jews began. Yet God would remember Israel at the time due. The divine promise assured it.

Isaiah wrote: “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons … Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her” (Isaiah 66:8, 10, NASB).

In 1878, with the establishment of a colony in Palestine, Isaiah’s words rang with the first gleams of fulfillment. But the struggle would continue: one-third of the Jewish population would be annihilated during World War II. That was a low point for the Jewish people. If left in the hands of the persecutors, the Jewish race might have been wiped from existence. The hand of God intervened, and from this low point Jehovah raised up the Jewish people and overruled the reestablishment of the modern-day nation of Israel. On May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was restored. Secular observers cannot deny the overwhelming odds against this miracle. Those observing it saw the hand of God. For us, with the nation of Israel rising among the nations under God’s direction, we plainly see one of the final pieces of the puzzle put into place (Hosea 2:14, Ezekiel 37).

Amos — Israel Restored

“And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith Jehovah thy God” (Amos 9:14-15).

“And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith Jehovah thy God” (Amos 9:14-15).

As a nation, Israel died in 70 AD, and shortly thereafter, when the apostles died, Satan’s influence over the Christian church grew stronger (Matthew 13:25). For example, Justin Martyr (160) proclaimed to the Jews, “The scriptures are ours, not yours.” Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (177) wrote, “Jews are disinherited from the grace of God.” Tertullian (160-230) said that God had rejected the Jews in favor of Christians. Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli (170), claimed that all promises in Hebrew scriptures were transferred to Christians, and this replacement theology continued. In 387, John Chrysostom, Bishop of Antioch (Paul’s home ecclesia), introduced the term “deicide” (Latin for “God-killer”), saying, “Jews are abandoned by God, and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible.”

Jewish persecution continued throughout the Middle Ages. Jews in Mainz, Germany, invited to take refuge from persecution in the ruling palace, were slaughtered upon entry. Some 350,000 Jews were tortured and killed during the Spanish Inquisition. Even Martin Luther, believed to be one of the seven messengers to the Church, rejected the Jews in his 1540 AD publication, On the Jews and Their Lies. Later Adolph Hitler would use this very document to justify the annihilation of six million Jews in what he termed “the Final Solution.”

Many Christians see Israel’s re-emergence as a modern miracle, but do not see the purpose behind it. Few see that a kingdom of God will be established on earth, with Jerusalem as the center of the work of the Millennial Age, the grand fulfillment of the Abrahamic Promise. Few see that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, tested and proved by their faith (Hebrews 11:39, 40), will be among a group that will personally administer the principles of God in that work. Few see that the New Covenant is to be established with all of mankind through Israel. “For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall have come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: And this is my covenant unto them, When I would take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27, quoting Isaiah 59:20,21). “For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God: Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above [out of] all peoples that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

Joel — Restitution

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). Peter recalled the words of this prophecy to some 3,000 devout Jews gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. The preparation for its fulfillment had begun as the crowd heard the apostles speak. But it was just the beginning; a shadow of things to come. It was a guarantee that God would restore all mankind to himself. Peter called it “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). When quoting the above text, Peter included the time when the holy Spirit would be poured out. He said, “in those days” (RVIC) or “afterward” in Joel.

The holy Spirit, the power of God, will reconcile the world through the assurance of the Abrahamic Promise, sealed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus takes the role of Mediator, he will bring into fellowship those of the redeemed race who respond to this very opportunity. This will require turning away from sin, an acceptance of Jesus as their redeemer, and a commitment to the divine standard of righteousness (Isaiah 28:16-17). All such respondents will experience a transformation of both mind and body (Zephaniah 3:9).

This process of restitution will be somewhat similar to the process of sanctification in the Gospel Age, where followers of Jesus must carry their new mind in an old body. But, for the human race during the kingdom, conditions will be much more favorable: the resurrected of mankind will have a new body and the great tempter, Satan, will be bound (restrained) and will not be able to influence any of mankind (1 Corinthians 15:38, Isaiah 33:24, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Revelation 20:2). The blessings of restitution will come to mankind first, as the holy Spirit is “poured upon” those raised to life and as it leads them into voluntary harmony with the new order (Isaiah 35:8-10). This will result in the change of their stony heart, and ultimately, voluntary obedience. Only when the willingly obedient and faithful citizens of the earth pass a final test in the little season of Revelation 20:8-10, will they truly regain all that was lost in Adam and be restored to the same standing before God as their father Adam once had.

A Lengthy Process

Abraham and his descendants were promised that they would ultimately possess the and of Israel forever (Genesis 17:8). In our day, we have seen the restoration of the land of Israel to Abraham’s descendants (Amos 9:14,15). Many immigrating to Israel are exposed to Jehovah and to the holy scriptures for the first time. A second and third generation of Jews have been born and raised in the midst of the restored land which was promised to their father Abraham. Soon, the entire world will recognize that the promise to Abraham was to include them, too!

Long ago, the faithful words, life, and work of the holy prophets Isaiah, Micah, Joel, and Amos, provided detail of God’s great plan of atonement with the restoration of Israel an important part (Isaiah 11:12). But it would also be a lengthy process as alluded to by the prophet Ezekiel.

“I will set my glory among the nations: and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am Jehovah their God, from that day and forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity … and I hid my face from them: so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries … Now will I bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for my holy name … when they shall dwell securely in their land, and none shall make them afraid; when I have brought them back from the peoples, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations. And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God … I will leave none of them anymore there; neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah (Ezekiel 39:21-29).

We are now on the threshold of God’s mighty Kingdom. Blessed are our eyes for they see and our ears for they hear! Let our words, our life, and our work also be a faithful offering to our Heavenly Father, and He will use it as a blessing to all.