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Which Nation Was Born In A Day?
by Albert Persohn
In Sunday school we learned that the 'Old Testament is the New Testament concealed' and the 'New Testament is the Old Testament revealed'. In some respects we should never have separated our Bible into two parts. I have always felt that if there was to be a separation between Old and New a more logical place would have been at Jesus' resurrection.In Sunday school we learned that the 'Old Testament is the New Testament concealed' and the 'New Testament is the Old Testament revealed'. In some respects we should never have separated our Bible into two parts. I have always felt that if there was to be a separation between Old and New a more logical place would have been at Jesus' resurrection.Dispensationalism is unique in Christian eschatologies in that it teaches that the Church is not revealed in the Old Testament and Israel is not revealed in the New. The New Testament (covenant) was cut with the death of Jesus at Calvary. The earthly ministry of Jesus as found in the Gospels may have led to the New Testament but occurred in the Old Testament period. Dispensationalists would do well to consider this point, as the Gospels never mention any future land promises. Jesus, as an Old Testament prophet, makes no indication of a temple that will be rebuilt after the first century. Some Dispensationalists distance themselves from this inconvenient truth by splitting the Olivet Discourse or simply teaching that Luke 17 is about the destruction of Jerusalem while Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are about the end of the world.
Dispensationalists see that the Old Testament does prophesy the birth, youth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. They accept that the Old Testament foretells Pentecost in Acts 2 and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. They understand that many times the New Testament uses statements like 'so that the prophecy may be fulfilled'. Yet they insist that in all of this the Old Testament never once mentions the Church.
If the Bible ended at Malachi we would be forced to interpret its prophecies and promises 'through a glass darkly'. Psalm 23 would be about a literal shepherd and Isaiah 53 about a literal servant etc. The Dispensationalist prophetic model has a selective Old vs. New separation. Dispensationalists understand that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the He is Isaiah's suffering servant yet they suffer with selective blindness where Israel is concerned.
Born In A Day
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. Isaiah 66:8
If the Bible ended with Malachi, or if there was no New Testament commentary on it, this passage would need to be interpreted 'through a glass darkly'. Modern Dispensationalists, by ignoring New Testament commentary on this topic, have taken the Jewish approach to this verse. Either out of genuine or willful ignorance this passage is taken to mean that the birth of modern Israel in 1948 was the 'nation born in a day'. What does the New Testament have to say on the matter?
We need to consider verses one through nine together. God begins by stating His Lordship over all things. Stephen reminded his murderers about the throne and footstool of God from this very passage. In verses three and four God condemns the temple sacrifices. Jesus in His earthly ministry said of the temple 'your house has left you desolate'. Dispensationalists who are so keen to rebuild the temple need to be reminded that God took no pleasure in animal sacrifices but used them and the whole temple framework as a schoolmaster.
Verse four addresses the closed mindedness of Israel. The New Testament often spoke about apostate Israel who did not listen to Jesus the Apostles or the testimony of the prophets. Even Josephus, nearing the end of the Roman siege, attempted to remind his countrymen of their historical struggles against God. It is noteworthy that Paul in Thessalonians writes about a strong delusion that would come on those who 'have pleasure in unrighteousness'.
Verses five and six may be the most interesting of all. The prophet addresses people who hear and tremble at the Word of God. These people are persecuted. Who was the persecutor and who was the persecuted? This is answered in the New Testament. Jesus, the martyrs and the prophets were killed by rebellious Israel. It would be apostate Israel who would lose their city and their temple at the day of vengeance. The city and temple were lost in AD70.
Verses seven through nine speak of a woman who gave birth to a male child. The birth was instantaneous and on time. It was not delayed. The male child is called a nation. The nation was born in a day. Here are some of the Dispensationalist's problems. a) If modern Israel is the male child born in a day, who is the mother? b) If the mother is Old Covenant Israel how can modern Israel be the same nation reconstituted? Can you be your own mother? c) Is God the Mother? Hardly. d) Is the Church the mother? The Bible never suggests such a thing, and even if it was how could the Church give birth to a physical nation? d) Is the mother symbolic? How can a symbolic mother give birth to a natural nation?
We are not left without a key to this passage. In Isaiah 54:1 we read of a woman who begins to produce children. She was barren and had no previous children but was now more fruitful than the married woman. Who was the married woman? Who, for that matter, was this fruitful woman? Who were her children? The answer to this is found in Galatians 4. Paul contrasts the Old and the New Covenant in verses twenty-one through thirty-one. The Old Covenant was symbolized by Hagar who had a son by natural means. The New Covenant by Sarah who had a son by supernatural means. Hagar symbolized Mt. Sinai or the Jerusalem that was in Paul's day. That Jerusalem was in bondage and soon to be destroyed. The New Jerusalem is the new mother of the new nation. Paul's quote of Isaiah 51:1 identifies the woman of Isaiah as the New Jerusalem, 'The mother of us all'. Peter, in his letter, calls Christians a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
Paul further connects the birth of the church, Isaiah 51:1 and Isaiah 66:5 in a statement he makes in Galatians 4:29. He writes that the children of the spirit were persecuted by the children of the flesh in Paul's day as in Sarah's. Paul teaches that the persecution of his day is what Isaiah spoke of.
At Pentecost, the New Jerusalem, the mother of us all, gave birth to a holy nation. Within the same generation the temple and the city were destroyed. Between the birth of the holy nation and the destruction of the temple and the city this new nation was persecuted by the natural nation. The new nation is vastly larger than the old nation could ever be. The nation 'born in a day' is the Church.
Isaiah 66: 1 Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? 2 For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “ But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. 3 “ He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, 4 So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered,
When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” 5 Hear the word of the LORD, You who tremble at His word: “ Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘ Let the LORD be glorified, That we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed.” 6 The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, Who fully repays His enemies! 7 “ Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child. 8 Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. 9 Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.
Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.
Galatians 4: 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the[d] two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:
“ Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.”
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.