Thursday, September 18, 2014

Out of Zion the Deliverer

Paul has some things to say about how Israel would eventually be brought to believe in the gospel after having rejected it in Paul’s day.

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written,
There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer,
and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25-27)

I was really curious about this quotation Paul used.  I wanted to know where it came from.  The footnote pointed to Isaiah 59:20, and that’s where I discovered something really interesting—it looks like Paul was quoting Isaiah but there are some significant differences between Isaiah and Paul’s quotation.

20 ¶And the Redeemer shall come to Zion,
and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.
21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. (Isaiah 59:20-21)

In Isaiah, Zion and Jacob seem to be used parallelistically and meant to mean the same entity, although you could argue that mentioning them twice indicates the possibility that they are separate there.  At best it is ambiguous.

The way Paul renders Isaiah, Sion is considered a different entity from Jacob, such that the Deliverer comes to Sion first and then goes to Jacob!

Another difference between Paul and Isaiah is that Paul states the Deliverer will go from Sion to Jacob, implying a previous time when Jacob will not have this Deliverer and will need redemption.  Yet Isaiah says the Redeemer will come to Zion and Jacob, as if it happens at the same time (which adds to the sense of parallelism).

Another difference is Paul’s rendering making it known it is the Deliverer who turns away ungodliness from Jacob.  Isaiah makes it seem like the Redeemer is coing to those of Jacob who have already turned away from their transgressions, implying the visit is a reward for previous repentance.  Paul, on the other hand, makes the point that the visit is what brings the repentance.

What are we to make of this?  Usually Paul is very careful with his quotations.  It makes me think that there might have been a big change made to that part of Isaiah in order to try to bury the implications that there would be a time when Zion would be a separate entity from Jacob.

I also went looking to see if there were any other scriptures from the Old Testament that supported Paul’s rendering and I found Psalms 14:7:

Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!
when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people,
Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

Here too we see the idea of salvation coming out of Zion then going to Jacob and Israel, implying Jacob/Israel is separate from Zion and that salvation in the latter days comes from Zion to Jacob/Israel.

This essentially prophesies of the restoration of the gospel that would come to the gentiles, create Zion, and then go from Zion to descendents of Jacob.  Paul knew the apostasy would occur even after the gospel had gone to the gentiles in his day.  He knew it would be restored and then spread to gather Israel.