Isaiah 6.9-10 is quoted to in every one of the Gospels (Matt 13.14-15; Mk 4.12; Lk 8.10; Jn 12.40). In each of he Gospels salvation is announced and rejected, Why is this the case? How is it that Israel can so easily reject their Messiah?
Last time we look at Isaiah 6 and saw that Israel was idolatrous. They had been for a long time (e.g., Abraham was a pagan idolator). But more than that, much of Israel’s history after that had to do with God working idolatry out of them, and them clinging to it even harder. So God calls Isaiah to preach to them, with the result that their hearts will be hardened against God. Israel will become deaf, blind, dumb, hard-hearted, and eventually breathless as they continue to trust in their idols, even as it leads them to their doom.
In Isaiah 7-9, salvation and judgment are effected through parables. Ahaz has the choice to trust in God, but instead, he, like his wilderness forefathers, tested Yahweh. In the end, Judah would be judged by Babylon.
Jesus speaks a parable about binding the strong man in Mark 3. The Pharisees have rejected Jesus. Israel is doing what Ahaz did all those years ago. Once they respond in an attitude of rejection, Jesus speaks in parables. The hearts of Israel are hardened even more. Paul said Israel sought a righteousness all of their own (Rom 10.3) and not a righteousness brought by truly following God. Jesus commands the crowds to listen to his parable in Mark 4.3, and he ends his parables with, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (4.9). Some will hear, and some will not. Those who take and use what is given, more will be added. But those who do nothing with it, even what they have will be taken away (4.24-25; Matt 25.29).
How you hear determines if you are on the inside or the outside (“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables…” Mk 4.11). Watts says this is not about predestination. And what I think he means is that Jesus isn’t teaching a seed-form of predestination here. He’s not thinking about that at all. What he means is that Israel is idolatrous, and some will respond rightly to Jesus, but many will only become more hard-hearted to him. This is God’s response to an Israel/Judah who have already rejected him. In fact, in the Parable of the Vineyard the Jewish leaders understand that Jesus says he is the Son and that he speaks against them (Matt 21.45; Mk 4.12; Lk 20.16). Instead of bowing at his feet in worship, they want even more to kill him.
This was a brief look at Isaiah 6.9-10 and how it is used in the Gospels, but I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts. Hopefully we can start to see the importance of the OT context and storyline when studying the NT. Next up will be three more posts:
- Did Paul misquote Psalm 68 in Ephesians 4?
- Warrior Armour in Ephesians 6
- My review of Watts’ ‘Isaiah’ class.