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"In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression"
(Isa. 54: 14).
The verses we are considering in Isa. 6: foreshadow not only the Assyrian and the
Babylonian captivities, but also the great dispersion that followed the overthrow of
Jerusalem in A.D.70, for at the end of the Acts Isa. 6: 10 is quoted for the last time.
The Lord's words in verses 11 and 12 indicate a long and severe judgment, but the
chapter ends with a note of hope. If we turn back to Isa. 1:, we learn there that Israel was
saved from utter destruction, "as Sodom and Gomorrha", because of a "remnant"
(Isa. 1: 9). Similarly in Rom. 9:-11:, we find that the Apostle uses the same argument--
the remnant saved in Rom. 9: 27 were a firstfruits, pledging the salvation of all Israel in
the future (Rom. 11: 16, 26). So here, it is this same idea of a firstfruits that we find in the
last verse of Isa. 6:
We must now pay careful attention to the wording of this last verse. We observe first
of all that the words "their leaves" are in italics, and therefore added by the translators.
The word "cast", which precedes the italics, refers to the felling of a tree rather than to
the falling of leaves. Moreover there is no "substance" in leaves that can in any sense be
regarded as a pledge of restoration, especially when we learn that the Hebrew word for
"substance" is usually translated "pillar". This latter word suits the idea of the stem of a
tree, and this is undoubtedly the intention of the passage.
Some translators have looked upon the words "shall return" in verse 13 as giving the
idea of repetition, as though to imply the thought of repeated destruction. This, however,
ignores the way in which the Hebrew word shub is used by the prophet. We have already
seen its use in Isa. 1: 27--"her converts", and it is also found in Isa. 6: itself: "And
return, or convert, and be healed" (Isa. 6: 10). The prophetic name given to Isaiah's
firstborn, Shear-jashub, or "The remnant shall return" as Isa. 10: 21 renders it, also
indicates that the words "shall return" must be given their primitive meaning.
If the words: "But yet in it shall be a tenth" are put into parenthesis, we can then read
straight on from the end of verse 12 to the second clause of verse 13:
"And the land be utterly desolate (but yet in it shall be a tenth) And it shall return, and
shall be eaten . . . . ."
Even though this returning remnant should again be "eaten", it is likened to the teil
and the oak tree, that in falling, have substance in them, so that, even though cut down to
the ground, they will again send forth new shoots and in time produce a new tree. The
tenth or tithe is the Lord's portion, a beautiful title for the remnant according to the
election of grace.
So ends the vision of Isaiah. It begins with utter failure, as does the prophecy itself,
but, after desolation and forsaking have done their work, it at last reaches restoration and
blessing. The vision that Isaiah saw in the year that King Uzziah died is, therefore,
practically an epitome of his life's ministry.