As great as America has been in years past, and as wise as our founding fathers were, the bold experiment known as the United States of America will eventually come to an end. As other mighty empires have gone before, America will prove to be no different (Dan. 2:21). And given the current state of the "union," it appears that the nation is in a precipitous decline. Old Glory's fading fast...
Don't feel too bad for her, though. The U.S. has had a good run. Giving equal opportunity for all, she has allowed the Church to thrive within her borders and provided fertile ground for numerous cults and false prophets to flourish as well (think wheat and tares growing up 'til the harvest). Yet, even with all that is good and redeemable about her, man's best effort at self-government will still fall way short of the mark. At the end of the day, 666 ain't quite 777.
All is not lost, however. There is hope in the midst of impending judgment during this twilight hour of the age of grace. Do you want to be a part of something truly great? Then join the real E Pluribus Unum. In all likelihood, 33 days from the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017, a new nation will have been born: The ripe and fully mature United State of Christ—both Head and Body together as one new man (Eph. 2:15; Rev. 12:5).
Recall from Part I of this study, that the concept of a collective resurrection (and rapture) in Rev. 12:5 is implied by the metaphor of a birth. We saw in Isaiah 66 how the birth of the male-child of Rev. 12:5 is revealed to be "a nation born in one day," miraculously delivered before Israel (the woman) goes into her final, last-days labor. Now in Part II, we'll develop this birth metaphor even further and throw in some harvest imagery. In Isaiah 26 the collective resurrection and subsequent concealment of the Church/nation/male-child will help to complete the big picture.
This is a Great Mystery: But I Speak Concerning Christ and the Church
The mystery of Christ's body is profound (Eph. 5:32), and there is still more to uncover in the book of Isaiah. Throughout the following study we should imitate the Ethiopian eunuch when he asked Philip a question after reading the text of Isaiah 53:7-8:
The eunuch asked Philip, 'Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" (Acts 8:34, NIV).
We'll be asking the same question as we go through Isaiah 26, seeking to discern who the prophet is talking about. Therefore, we should pay careful attention to detail, because the prophets often weave in and out of past, present, and future. You can be in the middle of a few verses and the gears will suddenly shift from 1st person to 3rd, forth-telling to foretelling in an instant (e.g. Isa. 61:1-3; c.f Lk. 4:17-21).
Something else to keep in mind: We'll be working with both the Greek (LXX) and the Hebrew (MT) texts of Isaiah. Oftentimes the New Testament quotations and allusions to the Old Testament reflect more accurately the Greek version than the Hebrew (case-in-point would be the passage referenced above in Acts 8; this portion of Isaiah 53 recorded by Luke reflects the LXX translation slightly more than the MT).
Before we go any further, here's sage counsel from Dr. Constable regarding the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah's vision of the future followed the course of events that later revelation clarified, but he did not present the eschatological future as consisting of consecutive watertight compartments—for two reasons: First, he did not see the future as clearly as later prophets did (1 Pet. 1:10-12), and second, he described the future here as a poet rather than a historian" ("Notes on Isaiah," pg. 118).
Wise advice, indeed. It relates to a point mentioned in Part I about the book of Revelation, especially chapter 12—John records his visions in a poetic style and is not so much concerned with being strictly linear or placing events in chronological order. That's why you shouldn't approach these books like you would a New Testament epistle, or as if you were trying to decipher an IKEA manual (please, no). Likewise, Isaiah often uses creative imagery and style as a means to convey the reality of what he saw and heard. In short, it is both an art and a science to interpret Bible prophecy correctly.
On the Way to Isaiah's Apocalypse
Chapters 24–27 of Isaiah are often referred to as "Isaiah's Apocalypse," and even before this point in the book, there are sections where Jacob's trouble and the final judgment of the nations are in view. And since we've been on the subject of surprising "births" lately, we can trace this dominant pregnancy-labor-birth theme throughout the book—one that is based on the original promise given in Genesis 3:15-16.
In Isaiah, a glimmer of hope for Israel and the nations begins with a sign, a great wonder:
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel" (7:14, HCSB).
This expectation of the Messiah's birth continues in Isa. 9:6-7 and 11:1-5. Further revelation concerning the Suffering Servant of Yahweh is woven throughout the rest of the book and then magnified in chapters 52–53. Curiously, and ever so cryptically, Isaiah also reveals that the Messiah is not alone. As we discovered in Part I, the Messiah awaits the birth of His body, a nation not known to Israel in former times, but one yet to be born (Isa. 65:1; 66:7-8; c.f. Rev. 12:5).
*On the Immanuel prophecy: The enemy has deceived many about the true interpretation of the "Revelation 12 Sign" coming into alignment on Sept. 23, 2017. The rise of Emmanuel Macron of France also appears to be immensely prophetic, and his adoption of the title "Jupiter" is deliberate...almost as if he knows what's about to be born in the heavens above. Both seen and unseen principalities know what's going on up there, and Gary has written on this extensively: See his coverage of Beyonce's performance; his post, "The Strange Earthly Parallel of Revelation 12;" and "Eyes on Macron."
A couple of parallel chapters leading up to Isaiah 26 contain some interesting elements. In order to get the full effect of what's going on in chapter 26, we need to take a look at chapters 13–14, especially. This will involve an in-depth word study on a couple of Hebrew terms: gibborim and rephaim. When you compare the Hebrew text with the Septuaguint (LXX), things get...really interesting.
Isaiah 13–14: The Gates of Hell Opened, and A Fearsome Army Unleashed
The vision describes the Day of Yahweh, a dreadful and terrifying time of unprecedented death and destruction (Isa. 13:6-9). When the veil is removed and the gates are opened (Isa. 13:2), who are the instruments of the LORD's wrath on this Day? Here is Isaiah 13:3:
I have given orders to my chosen soldiers; I have summoned the warriors [Heb. gibborim] through whom I will vent my anger, my boasting, arrogant ones" (NET).
Now compare the above translation with the LXX of Isa. 13:3:
I, even I, am appointing them! Giants [Grk. gigantes] are coming, rejoicing and boasting at the same time to fulfill my anger" (LES).
Whoa. What's going on here? Where does the LXX translator get the idea that giants should be associated with the Hebrew term gibborim?
Most of you will recall where the term gigantes first occurs in Scripture: Genesis 6:4. Well, so does the term gibborim, "...[they] were the mighty men [gibborim] who were of old, the men of renown." Isaiah's first prophecy in a series of "woe oracles" against the nations includes a loaded term that should pique the interest of anyone who knows anything about the "days of Noah" (Gen. 6:1-4; c.f. Matt. 24:37).
Even more compelling is that fact that the word gigantes (sing. and pl.) occurs only about 40 times in the LXX (including extra-biblical books like Baruch, Judith, and 3 Maccabees). That should give us pause when we find the word twice in the span of two chapters in Isaiah. The next occurrence comes in Isa. 14:9:
Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades [Heb. rephaim] to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations" (ESV).
The Hebrew term rephaim is also variously translated as "departed spirits" (HCSB, NIV) and "spirits of the dead" (NASB, NET). And now check out how the LXX translates Isa. 14:9:
Hades below was embittered after meeting you; all the giants [Grk. gigantes] who ruled the land, who roused all the kings of the nations from their thrones, rose together with you" (LES).
For many, chapter 14 is familiar because of verses 12–15, which is a glimpse into the fall of Helel Ben Shachar, "Morning Star, Son of the Dawn," or "Lucifer" (a la Jerome's Latin translation). But how many have considered the surrounding context: This is a scene where a chief, rogue angel is cast down to the ground [v. 12; Heb. eretz] and eventually finds himself in the Pit (v. 15); also, this vision given to Isaiah depicts events taking place after Babylon has finally been destroyed, after Israel's "hard labor" of Tribulation (Isa. 14:3), and when Israel has returned to her land and is ruling over the Gentiles (see Isa. 13:19-22; 14:1-4; c.f. Rev. 12:7-9; 18:21-24; 20:1-3). To see how this present study relates to the fall of Satan, an end-times invasion of supernatural armies, and the alien deception, see my previous post, "The Coming U.F.O. Disclosure."
As it turns out, there is more to the rephaim than merely being a catch-all term for dead people. The scenes portrayed in Isa. 13–14 involve some familiar foes to the people of Israel—legendary superheroes of old, gigantes, who are seeking another opportunity to overtake God's covenant land and prevent the Greater Son of David from ruling on His throne...
*Note: The common Hebrew noun 'eretz' (earth, land, etc.) has flexibility and a range of meaning depending on the context. Its usage in some passages suggest that the "underworld" or "realm of the dead" is in view—a realm which intersects with our own realm/dimension and can be difficult to distinguish at times. For example, 'eretz' is used in Jonah 2:6 in the sense of the underworld; so also in the passage above, Isaiah 14:12, "...you are cut down to the ground," and compare with Ezekiel 28:17, where this same fallen guardian cherub of Eden is cast down to the 'eretz' (earth, ground, underworld) in the sight of other fallen kings. It's not far-fetched at all to perceive the fallen 'prince of the power of the air' as ruling over the walking dead of the underworld (see Eph. 2:1-2); after all, one of the satirical names for Satan among the Jews was 'Beelzebub,' or 'Lord of the Flies' (c.f. Matt. 12:24-27).
The Reappearance of the Rephaim: More Allusions to the Return of the Giants
All right, so we've discovered a conceptual link between gibborim + gigantes + rephaim in Isaiah 13–14. Hopefully, you're catching on that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to these mysterious rephaim. For more on the rephaim, please see Michael Heiser's entry in the Lexham Bible Dictionary available online here.
Heiser has a couple of quotes that are relevant to our study:
...it seems likely that, at least in some instances, the Rephaim are being distinguished from the mere human dead [methim]. This would mirror the usage of rp'um in Ugaritic texts, which have the human dead and the divinized rp'um both present in the same underworld...[f]or example, some texts clearly suggest that the Rephaim are warrior kings in the manner described in the material from Ugarit. Isaiah 14:9 is particularly interesting in this respect, as it describes Sheol awaiting the repha'im, a term set in parallel to 'the leaders (literally, 'goats') of the earth..." (LBD, "Rephaim," pg. 4).
He also mentions that the term "goats" [Heb. attud] is connected with Ezek. 39:18; c.f. "bulls of Bashan" in Psalm 22:12 as well. These terms go beyond mere human agents:
Recall that rephaim was another name for the giant Anakim—descendants of the Nephilim—at the time of the conquest (e.g. Deuteronomy 2–3; Numbers 13:32-33)" (Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, pg. 157).
Stay with me. This background information regarding the rephaim will be integral to our understanding of Isaiah's prophecy in chapter 26, especially how it relates to Joshua and the conquest of the land of Canaan. The battle for the rule of God's land is ongoing, and we are on hurtling toward the climax. Whose dynasty will outlast the other: The dragon's offspring, or the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15-16)?
Another allusion to the giants is found in Isa. 17:5: During the Day of Yahweh, Damascus is destroyed, but Israel also takes a beating:
On that day the splendor of Jacob will fade...[it will be] as if one had gleaned heads of grain in the valley of Rephaim" (Isa. 17:4-5, HCSB).
The valley of the Rephaim, known for its fertility and located northwest of Jerusalem, is named in the conquest accounts (Josh. 15:8; 18:16) and in David's famous battles with the Philistines (ahem, who were giants—2 Sam. 5:18, 22; 23:13; 1 Chron. 11:15; 14:9). And if an association with giants wasn't enough, how about the LXX rendering of 2 Sam. 5:18. The "valley of the Rephaim" gets translated "valley of the Titans [Grk. titanon]."
Remember the Titans? How could we forget when Hollywood keeps reminding us? I can't help but think of Liam Neeson's epic one-liner, "Release the Kraken!" Additionally, there are other scholars who have also picked up on this momentous theme in the book of Isaiah:
The word in the Hebrew Bible most often translated as gigas ['giant'] is gibbor; but there is also one other group in the LXX translated with gigas, namely the enigmatic rephaim. Significantly, the rephaim are translated not only with gigas, but also with titan...an extremely suggestive conflation of Greek mythology with the Hebrew traditions" (Brook Pearson, "Resurrection and the Judgment of the Titans," pgs. 36-37).
There is considerable biblical and non-biblical evidence to suggest that these rephaim-gigantes-titanon want another crack at establishing their dynasty and being famous again in the sight of all the world. Could these dark powers seek to reemerge in some form? Could there be some sort of false/counterfeit resurrection in the works? CERN, anyone?
Astute researchers of prophecy and the paranormal like Tom Horn believe that this operation has been underway for some time now:
...[The enemy seeks] to create a generation of genetically altered 'fit extensions' for the resurrection of the underworld Nephilim [Rephaim] hordes in preparation for Armageddon...[t]he prophet Isaiah (chapters 13 and 14) spoke of the return of these beings [Nephilim], and tied the advent to the destruction of the city of Babylon in the final age..." ("Forbidden Gates: Part 18").
The rephaim will show up again in Isaiah 26, and the context of their reappearance includes references to raising the dead. But as we will find out shortly, there is only One who can effectively raise the dead unto eternal life...
Isaiah 26: The Early Harvest Vanishes, Jacob is Threshed, and Satan is Crushed
Isaiah's Mini-Apocalypse (chapters 24-27) is arranged much like John's visions in the book of Revelation. Again, these visions are not arranged in strict chronological order, but both Isaiah and John describe events surrounding the Day of Yahweh [Jacob's trouble] in the form of overlapping visions of judgment, salvation, and songs of triumph.
Browse through chapters 24–25 and notice the strong synchronicity with Revelation chapters 17—22. See especially:
1) The judgment of the fallen sons of God and the kings of the earth in Isa. 24:21-23 (c.f. Rev. 17:12-14; 19:17-21; 20:1-3).
2) The fall of a great city [worldwide empire] never to be rebuilt again in Isa. 25:2, 12; 26:5-6 (c.f. Rev. 17:18; 18:1-3; 19:1-2).
3) The LORD's supper/wedding feast in Isa. 25:6 (c.f. Rev. 19:6-9).
4) The LORD God wiping away tears and lifting the curse of death in Isa. 25:7-8 (c.f. Rev. 21:3-4).
5) The LORD's city established on earth—a stronghold for the righteous in Isa. 26:1-2 (c.f. Rev. 21:1-2, 9-27; 22:1-5).
As we work through chapter 26, remember that the chapter divisions are somewhat arbitrary, and so Isaiah's vision of the end continues on through 27, 28, and even 29. With this in mind, I would like to first outline a cast of characters, and they might sound familiar to you (i.e. Revelation 12:1-5):
1) First, there's Isaiah, speaking individually (26:9) and as a representative of the nation, Israel—the Woman in labor (26:17-18).
2) Second, there's the Dragon, the Serpent of Old, "Leviathan" (27:1) and his fallen cohorts (26:14, 21).
3) Third, there's the subtle inclusion of the Male-Child (26:19), the nation brought forth of the woman and born in one day (66:7-8); a collective body caught up to the Father's house (26:20), and those who escape God's impending wrath and judgment upon the earth (26:21).
Wait a minute! Am I just seeing things here? Is this just wishful thinking on my part, foisting the Church unnecessarily into this context? Well, before you cry foul, please examine the evidence first. This mystery is profound (Eph. 5:32), and we should remember the Ethiopian eunuch, "Who is the prophet referring to—himself or someone else?" And like him, we need an able guide. May the Holy Spirit guide you.
The meat of the discussion will center around a significant shift between 26:18 and 19, and there are many textual considerations to work through. A cursory examination of a few English translations will reveal that a variety of interpretative options exist.
The English translation below will come from the HCSB with a few of my own highlights. Also, behind the scenes I'll be looking at both the Greek (LXX) and Hebrew (MT) texts. When we get to Isa. 26:16-21, I'll break this section down like I did in Part I with Isa. 66:7-8. There is a lot going on here, lyrically speaking, with parallelism and contrast, so some color-coding will bring out these elements...this is a song from a gifted prophet-poet, after all.
Recall the previous discussion about the reemergence of the rephaim. Given the background of what we've covered so far, I believe that Isaiah presents a polemic against the rephaim [giants] and the occult practices of nations surrounding Israel—those who rule over her during the Times of the Gentiles (Dan. 2:31-45; Lk. 21:24; Rev. 11:2). During the Day of the LORD, these sinister powers will be up to their old tricks again—even "raising the dead" and offering a counterfeit form of eternal life (Deut. 18:9-14; Isa. 8:19-22; c.f. Rev. 9:6; 13:3, 14; 17:8).
A polemic is a rhetorical strategy found throughout the Scriptures in order to demonstrate that Israel's God, Yahweh, is the one true God and Ruler of all creation (e.g. The Exodus judgments, Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal, etc.). As we'll soon discover, Isaiah wants his readers to know and understand: There is no one like Yahweh—He alone can save (Isa. 43:10-12; note: the prophet's own name illustrates his message, "Yah saves, or salvation is of Yah(weh)."
Here is Isaiah 26:12-15:
LORD, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our work for us. LORD, our God, other lords than You have ruled over us, but we remember Your name alone. The dead do not live; departed spirits [rephaim] do not rise up. Indeed, You have visited and destroyed them; You have wiped out all memory of them. You have added to the nation, LORD. You have added to the nation; You are honored. You have expanded all the borders of the land."
Isaiah 26:12: "Peace and security!" O' Israel, if you only knew what would come upon you as a result of your covenant of peace with the nations. Notice how this ties in nicely with Isa. 27:5, the LORD's plea, "...make peace with Me," and Isa. 28:14-22 (Israel's covenant with 'Death' and 'Sheol'). The phrase "You have also done all our work for us" speaks prophetically of the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, the Savior who cried "It is finished!" (Jn. 19:30; Rom. 5:1).
Isaiah 26:13: The prophet speaks of Israel's penchant for going astray and turning to the gods of other nations. While in exile during the Times of the Gentiles, their overlords were oppressive and cruel. But in hindsight, after Yahweh disciplines Israel during her time of trouble, she remembers her covenant relationship and primary mission to make the LORD's name great throughout the world (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 12:4).
Isaiah 26:14: This is a significant verse that contributes to what we've covered previously about the rephaim. In context "the dead" here are in parallel to "departed spirits" [Heb. rephaim], which links back to "the lords" in 26:13. Recall Heiser's comment above about the Ugaritic rp'um being divine fallen warriors often portrayed as residing in the underworld.
We're not finished digging up dirt on the rephaim. Many scholars have long suspected that the term rephaim stems from the root word rapha, "to heal." Hence, this is why the LXX here in 26:14 and elsewhere translates rephaim with the Greek word iatros, "physician, healer" (c.f. Lk. 4:23). The LORD has promised His children an inheritance and a dynasty, but we know that the enemy seeks to counter Yahweh with his own dynasty:
Today there is nearly complete agreement [among scholars] that the Ugaritic rpum were believed to watch over the dynastic continuity, granting offspring when needed. These royal dead were thus in a sense 'healers' (H. Rouillard, "Rephaim," in the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible).
This insight about "dynastic continuity" and "granting offspring" is instructive, because one of the underlying questions asked throughout the Scriptures has been, "Whose right is it to rule?" Answer: Yahweh's son, His only begotten firstborn (see Gen. 49:10; Ps. 2:7-9; Rev. 4:4-5, 9-10).
Are you ready for this? I stumbled upon a startling find while digging into the LXX of this passage. First, here is a translation of the Greek for Isa. 26:14
But the dead will not see life, nor will physicians [Grk. iatroi, "healers"] raise them up; because of this you have brought them and destroyed them and taken away all their males [Grk. arsen]" (NETS).
It's arsen showing up again! The singular, neuter adjective stands out here in 26:14, which reads literally, "...[You have] taken away every male [arsen] from them." If you've been tracking with me so far, then you may be asking, "Is this the same arsen of Revelation 12:5 and Isaiah 66:7? Yes, yes it is! Ok, but how rare is this form of the word? Glad you asked...
In my search through the LXX (Rahlfs-Hanhart edition via Logos Bible Software), I found only 30 occurrences of arsen in the entire Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. There are only two occurrences in Isaiah—26:14 and 66:7. And just like that, we have added confirmation of a tight-knit connection between these two chapters. Keep arsen in mind as we get to 26:19, because there may be subtle wordplay going on.
Two other uses of arsen in the LXX have relevance to our study:
1) Leviticus 12:2 — You may already be familiar with this insightful prefiguring of the Rev. 12:5 event: After the woman gives birth to a male [arsen], she is unclean for seven days [corresponding to 7 years of Tribulation] before her day of atonement (Lev. 12:7-8; c.f. Isa. 27:9). *For a detailed analysis of the fulfillment of the Feast of Atonement and its relationship to the sealed remnant of Israel during the Tribulation, see my previous post, "The Three Final Gatherings (Part 2)."
2) Exodus 2:2 — More typology of the Church's birth + concealment, "The woman conceived and bore a son [arsen], and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months" (ESV).
Isaiah 26:15: Further allusions to the conquest of Canaan in Joshua/Judges—all based on Yahweh's irrevocable covenant with Abraham and his offspring, "...you have expanded all the borders of the land!" (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:17-20). What the Israelites failed to do in the past, Joshua—Yeshua—Jesus will accomplish at the end of the age (c.f. Isa. 26:11-12; 63:1-6).
All right. We're honing in on the focal point of our current endeavor. The discrepancies in this passage between the Greek (LXX) and Hebrew (MT) are noteworthy and warrant some explanation. I will do my best to decipher what I believe this passage reveals, especially in verse 19, which is one of our crucial texts for this Revelation 12 study.
I'll go ahead and cite the HCSB English translation which mostly favors the Hebrew rendering; but I'll also quote from an English translation of the LXX, so that you can see the slight variations that exist. Then I'll break down the passage by color-coding the verses and, lastly, include my commentary on key interpretative decisions.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible's (HCSB) translation of Isaiah 26:16-21:
LORD, they went to You in their distress; they poured out whispered prayers because Your discipline fell on them. As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so we were before You, LORD. We became pregnant, we writhed in pain; we gave birth to wind. We have won no victories on earth, and the earth's inhabitants have not fallen. Your dead will live; their bodies will rise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust! For you will be covered with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth the departed spirits [Heb. rephaim]. Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you. Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed. For look, the LORD is coming from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth will reveal the blood shed on it and will no longer conceal her slain."
The New English Translation of the Septuagint's (NETS) translation of Isaiah 26:16-21:
O' Lord, in affliction I remembered you; with small affliction your chastening was on us. And as a woman in travail is about to give birth and cries out in her pangs, so were we to your beloved, because of the fear of you, O' Lord. We conceived and travailed and gave birth; we produced a wind of your salvation on the earth, but those who dwell on the earth will fall. The dead shall rise, and those who are in the tombs shall be raised, and those who are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from you is healing [Grk. iama] to them, but the land of the impious shall fall. Go, my people, enter your chambers; shut your door; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath of the Lord has passed. For look, the Lord from his holy place brings wrath upon those who dwell on the earth; the earth will disclose its blood and will not cover the slain."
As you can see, the similarities far outweigh the differences. However, a key disagreement arises in the last line of verse 19 (highlighted in bold). The resurrection of the LORD's dead is clearly in view, "Your dead will live; their bodies will rise...you who dwell in the dust [Heb. aphar—see also Gen. 2:7; 3:19]." But the last line is tricky and a viable interpretation depends on a few things:
1) How you interpret rephaim (see the previous discussion in an earlier part of this study)
2) Whether you are okay with naphal meaning "to give birth," which, according to the lexicons, would be extremely rare. Mainly, the verb naphal [Hebrew consanants: npl] carries the sense of "to fall, cast down, abandon, etc."
3) Similar to point #2, the parallelism of 26:18c and 26:19c forces one to choose between either a contrast or a synonymous connection. Compare various English translations like the NASB, NET, and NIV versus the KJV, ESV, and HCSB. Ah, this is not an easy decision!
The LXX might be the difference-maker in this translation debacle. Either way you take it, some serious wordplay is going on, and you can see evidence of literary brilliance in both the Hebrew and the Greek texts. Here's my color-coded breakdown based on the HCSB with a slight modification to 26:19 [credit to the LEB for including an alternate translation in a footnote—see here]:
26:16: LORD, they went to You in their distress; they poured out whispered prayers because Your discipline fell on them.
26:17: As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so we were before You, LORD.
26:18a: We became pregnant, we writhed in pain;
26:18b: We gave birth to wind. We have won no victories on Earth,
26:18c: And the earth's inhabitants have not fallen.
26:19a: Your dead will live; their bodies will rise.
26:19b: Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust! For you will be covered with the morning dew,
26:19c: *But the land of the Rephaim will fall.
26:20a: Go, my people, enter your rooms and close the doors behind you.
26:20b: Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed.
26:21a: For look, the LORD is coming from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.
26:21b: The earth will reveal the blood shed on it and will no longer conceal her slain.
Whew! Ok, this would be a good time to echo the question of the Ethiopian eunuch again: Who is Isaiah talking about?
Highlighted in red: These verses refer to Israel, the Woman who is in labor. In one sense she has always been in labor, but she has not always borne good fruit, especially during this current dispensation of partial hardening (c.f. Rom. 11:11-12, 25). Hence, this is why you have Isaiah voicing the nation's frustration, "We gave birth to wind. We have won no victories on earth" (26:18b). There could be a subtle play on words in 26:18c, which further accentuates the contrast between a frustrated Israel and a victorious Church, "We gave birth to wind [Heb. ruach; Grk. pneuma]..." Wind could be variously translated "spirit," or "breath." Look again at the LXX, "...we produced a wind [spirit] of your salvation..." Credit to Scott Clarke for picking up on this possible hint at the Spirit-filled body of Christ, birthed and taken away like the wind [see also Gary's post, "The Celestial C-Section"].
Highlighted in green: These verses refer to the Dragon and his fallen kingdom. The repetition of his defeat can be seen in the parallelism of 26:14-15 + 26:18c + 26:19c + 26:21 + 27:1. Both the Greek and Hebrew texts include profound wordplay, expressing a covert put-down of sorts. For example: The Hebrew of 26:19c has both the verb naphal + the rephaim. This may be a clever way of alluding to Genesis 6, where you have the presence of the Nephilim [Hebrew consonants npl] and their subsequent demise in the Flood, "...You have visited and destroyed them; You have wiped out all memory of them" (Isa. 26:14; c.f. Ps. 88:10-12). Additionally, in the Greek you have the connection of iatros, "healers" in 26:14 and the "the healing" [iama] applied to those whom Yahweh raises from the dead. Boom! Double put-down. These "healers" aren't really healers at all—there is only One who can raise the dead and cure the disease of sin (Ex. 15:26; c.f. Jer. 51:9)!
Highlighted in blue: In sharp contrast to a frustrated Israel under heavy discipline, these verses refer to the Church, the body of Christ, the nation born from the earth in one day (Isa. 66:7-8), the male-child [arsen] of Revelation 12:5. The verses in blue reiterate the myriad typology and prefiguring of a birth/rescue + concealment throughout the Scriptures. Isa. 66:8 reveals that "the earth gives birth in one day, " and in 26:19, the metaphor is fleshed out even further—this miraculous earth-birth is a literal resurrection of the dead + an immediate concealment in "rooms" (c.f. Jn. 14:1-6). Notice the ironic shift from 26:20 to 21: The Church is delivered from God's wrath and then told to hide away (concealed), but the unbelievers who are left behind suffer God's wrath, and the earth is said to "no longer conceal her slain."
We are also given significant harvest imagery in 26:19b; for example, see the NET's paraphrase, "...for you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew." There is a powerful messianic connection with this "dew of the dawn" concept in Psalm 110:3. Included among the armies returning with Christ back to the earth for the battle of Armageddon is His body, the Church (Rev. 19:14; see also the royal, messianic connection that the apostle John makes in Rev. 2:26-27; 12:5; and 19:15—all in relationship to the Church). Also, remember the Greek translation of 26:14, "...You have taken away every male [arsen] from them?" Do you see yet another subtle stab at these illegitimate heirs? A few verses later you have another male [arsen] taken away [positively] as the true firstborn inheritor of the earth (Rev. 1:5; 12:5; c.f. Matt. 5:5).
Oh, and one more thing: Isaiah may have previously alluded to this "vanishing, early harvest" in 17:11. Please take a look at the NET's footnote regarding a textual issue in 17:11 (here); as a result of Israel's apostasy, she then plants "a strange vine" (Isa. 17:10), and helps it to grow; but in the morning, "...[her] seed...the harvest will vanish on the day of disease and incurable pain [a.k.a. Tribulation, Day of Jacob's Trouble]." Now look at Isa. 26:18-19, and tell me if you see any similarities. What about Isaiah 57:1-2? And Micah 7:1-2?
The Happiest Birthday
Thank you for taking the time to go on this journey with me. I have been blessed by the many surprises along the way as we've ventured from Revelation 12 to Isaiah 66, and finally to Isaiah 26. It has been my aim in this study to demonstrate how the Pre-tribulation Resurrection and Rapture of the Church in Revelation 12:5 stems from a very deep root. It's not a fanciful pipe dream from a bunch of over-eager believers. The doctrine is legitimate and verifiable through sound exegesis and, most importantly, listening to what the Spirit says through the pen of His chosen prophets.
Are you ready to be born? It's time to wake up before the shake up:
...Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you" (Eph. 5:14, HCSB).
*P.S. It's my birthday today (7/21), but I'm really looking forward to celebrating with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ on the day of our true birthday! This post is my gift to you until then.