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Enthronement, Isaiah and New Exodus

June 6, 2008

I was asked recently:

Just out of interest, how are the enthronement psalms and Isaiah 40+ related to the new-exodus motif?

Below is my reply. It is in a very embryonic form I admit. This will form the basis of a future post when I get the time.

The details need to be fleshed out and an article on this is currently a work in progress but in brief:

1. A new exodus is spoken of by Isaiah. The theme begins in the 40th chapter hence we find “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” as being fulfilled in John the Baptist.

2. The theme continues into Isaiah 42 with “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” finding fulfillment in Christ hence at his baptism (annointing), “And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

3. Still in Isaiah 42 we read “Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.” Familiar? Well now we can visit Psalm 98, ” O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.”

4. What is this victory? “The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” Kraus notes that this pictures YHWH leading his people home from Babylon through the desert to Jerusalem. What we find is the psalmist looking backwards to the first Exodus and then forward to the second exodus which is brought about by a great theophany, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Godhead as Jesus, who keeps the Torah, is the revelation of YHWH’s hesed, who dies and is raised for our justification and enthroned on high at whose name all nations shall bow the knee and acknowledge him as Lord (Phil. 2:8-11).

5. Keep this going; the enthronement psalms are those declaring YHWH mlk or “The LORD has become king” or “The LORD is king” (Pss. 93, 95-99) and this is Isaianic hence we read in Isaiah 52:7-10, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. ”

This all is found upon Psalm 2 where YHWH declares to the Messiah in covenant, “I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2008 10:04 pm

    Thanks for the effort, I look forward to hearing the more detailed future post. Thank you for being so quick to get involved!

  2. June 7, 2008 9:45 am

    My pleasure. My dissertation is starting to really eat up my time but that should be done soon and then I will have some time to flesh out the details.

    In the meantime – N. T. Wright (for all his faults) has made some interesting comments:

    A.

    “These passages [Isa. 40:9; 52:7], in company with others, are among the climactic statements of the great double theme of the whole section (Isaiah 40-55): YHWH’s return to Zion and enthronement, and the return of Israel herself from her exile in Babylon.” (Gospel and Theology in Galatians)

    B.

    “On the one hand, the gospel Paul preached was the fulfilment of the message of Isaiah 40 and 52, the message of comfort for Israel and of hope for the whole world, because YHWH, the god of Israel, was returning to Zion to judge and redeem. On the other hand, in the context into which Paul was speaking, “gospel” would mean the celebration of the accession, or birth, of a king or emperor.” (Paul’s Gospel and Caesar’s Empire)

    C.

    “I regard it, in fact, as historically certain that Jesus regarded himself, and was regarded by his contemporaries, as a prophet, like John the Baptist only more so. Moreover, I regard it as overwhelmingly historically probable that Jesus regarded himself as, intended to act as, and was perceived to be acting as, an eschatological prophet, announcing the Kingdom of God…They [the Jews] believed that Yahweh would become King; in other words, they believed that the exile would end at last (or, if you like, the New Exodus would occur); that evil, by which they would mean paganism and the debased forms of Judaism, would be defeated; and that Yahweh himself would return to Zion…I believe, the very passage that sums up the whole of Jesus’ public ministry, Isaiah 52:7-12. “How lovely upon the mountains are the feet of the mebasser, the herald of good tidings, the one who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!” Astonishingly, the concordance worship that has characterized so much New Testament scholarship has sometimes meant that this passage hasn’t been considered relevant, because it doesn’t use the phrase “Kingdom of God”; but that is obviously what it means. And when Zion’s God becomes king, three things will happen, according to this short and pregnant passage. The exile will end at last, with a purified people returning home; evil will be defeated, as Babylon falls at last; and, most important, Yahweh himself will return to Zion. Again, I find it astonishing that the theme of Yahweh’s return to Zion has been so largely ignored in New Testament scholarship, though it is assuredly one of the two great themes of Second Isaiah as a whole, announced in chapter 40 as the main message of good news, and reinforced here in particular…Read Daniel 9, Ezekiel 34-37, Jeremiah 31, and above all Isaiah 40-55, and you will see that if exile is the result of sin, return from exile simply is the forgiveness of sins…If you’re in prison, being granted an amnesty doesn’t mean you can feel good inside yourself. It means you are free to go home. This is all summed up in a little verse in Lamentations, 4:22: “The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished; he will keep you in exile no longer.” Jesus’ announcement of the Kingdom, therefore, and his regular offer of forgiveness of sins, mean, in effect: this is how exile is ending! This is how God is becoming King! This is how evil is defeated! This is how Yahweh is returning to Zion!” (The Servant and Jesus)

    James T Dennison’s article “The Exodus and the People of God” makes for interesting reading also:

    In Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, but especially in Isaiah, the exodus of the past is projected into the future. Isaiah speaks of a new beginning — a new exodus more glorious than the old exodus from Egypt. The first exodus is the prototype for the eschatological exodus.

    Isaiah describes the future great act of redemption for the elect people of God in the following way. The new exodus brings liberty to the captives: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound’ [61.1]. This kerygma of emancipation will be proclaimed by God’s chosen instrument of deliverance for the new exodus, i.e. the Servant of Jehovah, the elect of the Lord: ‘Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth’ [42.1]. As at the burning bush, the agent of the new exodus is commissioned by One bearing the theophanic name [41.4; 43.10, 13; 48.12; 51.12]. Vicarious suffering will be the ransom-price of the people of God in the new exodus [53]; only here the lamb is the Servant-Mediator himself!

    In the new exodus, the people of God will once again inaugurate their sojourn by passing through the sea: ‘thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters . . . When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee’ [43.16, 2; cf. 44.27; 50.2; 51.9-11, 15; 63.11, 12]. The new exodus will bring a return to the wilderness for the Israel of God. In the land in between, the pilgrim people of God will sojourn: ‘Behold I will do a new thing . . . I will even make a way in the wilderness’ [43.19; cf. 40.3; Ezek 20.35, 36; Hos 2.14; 13.5].

    God will once again provide water in the desert for the pilgrims: ‘I will give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen’ [43.20; cf. 41.17, 18; 35.6b, 7; 48.21]. The new exodus brings the pilgrims to the mountain of the Lord [56.7; 65.25]. Here, the eschatological suzerain [41.21; 44.6] once again comes down to meet with his people [64.1; cf. Joel 3.17; Ezek 43.7, 9; Zech 2.10; 8.3]. He comes awesomely and terribly [29.6; 30.27-33; 50.3; 64.1-3; cf. Joel 3.16; Zech 9.14], but also condescendingly, graciously tabernacling in the midst of his people [4.6; 7.14; cf. Ezek 37.27, 28]. The Lord enters into a new covenant with the eschatological pilgrims [cf. Jer 31.31-34; compare the eschatological meal in Isa 25.6-8 with Ex 24.11]. At last, the new exodus will conclude with the entrance into and possession of the land [49.8, 9; cf. Hos 2.15]. The emancipated captives will settle permanently in the eschatological land of milk and honey.

    The pattern of prophetic judgment: a reversal and a return of the old Israel to the place of redemptive — historical beginning. The pattern of prophetic eschatology: from the point of the old beginning, a new beginning — a new exodus, a new passage of the sea, a new sojourn in the wilderness, a new covenant, a new entrance into the land.

    And of course there is Derrick Olliff’s “The Gospel: The Return of the King”.

  3. June 14, 2008 8:01 pm

    Jerome Creach’s short book on יְהוָה as Refuge and the Editing of the Hebrew Psalter has an appendix in which he suggests a structural isomorphism between Book 4 of the Psalms and the Book of Consolation – I like his little book but have not yet made much of it visible.

    My own blog which I started in 2006 as a bootstrap for learning Hebrew with particular reference to the Psalms has an ’emerging’ portrait of the psalter in colorful images. I have linked to your blog and included you on my reader – as a real resource. Thanks for the collection of such interesting articles.

  4. June 14, 2008 8:12 pm

    Bob,

    Thanks for your comments. I haven’t gotten around to reading Creach’s book yet. I am about to start Geoffrey Grogan’s commentary on the Psalms.

    I started learning Hebrew to understand the Psalms better but progress is slow at the moment.

    Enjoy your continued study of the Psalter!

  5. Neal Cushman permalink
    July 10, 2010 12:12 am

    Judging from the dates on these posts, I am entering this discussion a bit late. I noticed that you were working on a dissertation involving the New Exodus; did I miss read? If so, I would be interested in reading it, as I am working in this same area on my dissertation.

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