Isaiah and the Highway (Response to Preston, Part 6).

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

The imagery as we discussed in my last article as it concerns Isaiah is that all nations will be called to gather together as God’s elect to the “Holy Mountain.”  This theme runs throughout Isaiah.  It also touches upon the theme of the New Heavens and New Earth (a phrase used only by Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible).  The nations are called (gathered together) to bring about the unification of the peoples of the world (think the opposite of God scattering the peoples at the Tower of Babel).  This gathering takes place as the “highway” is built upon which the peoples are seen to tread upon towards the Holy Mountain.  Saint Paul identifies this mountain as “Jerusalem Above” (which is also found in Rabbinical thought of his era).

The items marked in Isaiah 65.17-ff is a stark contrast between the futurity of God’s people with the circumstances of them in his day.  Israel was war torn with the threat of Assyria and Babylon.  Idolatry was rampant.  The Temple was scorned.  Famines, plagues, drought and economic insecurity abounded.  In Isaiah 65.17-ff we read this future hope:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD” (ESV).

 

This, as the scholars rightly understand, is the culmination of the dominant themes that have already been encountered several times in the Prophet (as I mentioned in the previous article).  Of course, the language is human to describe the hope, but we must always recognize the fact that this is prophecy, and thus, as the syntax itself in its form tells us, is poetic.  Secondly, we must always keep in mind the previous material of Isaiah to which this passage is connected.  When we survey the entire corpus of this book (which is the context), and note the current situation, historically, of the Prophet, then we can see the stark contrast between this hope where Israel lives at total peace without any misfortune and then as she was.  Third, as already mentioned, God envisions through the Prophet not just a hope for Israel, but also through Israel the nations becoming Israel themselves!  This is the “mystery” Paul talked about in his letters, “the nations and Israel coming together” as one People.  For Paul, this coming together of the nations was a prelude to the hope being made manifest.  How were the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Assyrians and Chaldeans to be also called, “My People”?  In what manner was the fact of this prophecy, the unification of the world into a new world world peace would reign and death would be swallowed up in victory?

 

Paul called this a “mystery” because of the fact that it was plain in the Prophets that the nations would come in by the scores of an innumerable  multitude.  Not only that, but that they would also be counted as “My People” – a covenantal designation that some in Israel took for their own prestige, as if something belonged to them and not others.  As if something that belonged to them could not belong to others regardless of how they were assimilated into the covenant people.

 

Make no mistake about it: Peter, James, John and Paul regarded the mission to the nations (often called, “Gentiles”) as prophetic.  That is, what they were doing was according to the time Isaiah saw in the future of his day.  There were two things that settled this: the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, Son of David to the right hand of God, and the pouring out of the Spirit (events mentioned in Isaiah).

 

We must understand, though, that Jesus continually reminded his followers that “he must first suffer and be handed over and die” before the in-breaking of God to “restore the kingdom to Israel”.  They saw, at first, that Jesus, being recognized as the True Messiah, would at that time bring about the dawn of the Isaianic Kingdom.  But, there is an order here.  And we find it in Isaiah.

 

Frankly, I was going back over my lectures that I gave on Isaiah (I was writing a commentary on the book at the time) when I was Pastor of Christ Covenant Church (7-12-2005).  The points I am making now were pretty much the same I was making then.  However, when it got to other matters of the text I had to revert to a method of interpretation that was foreign to what got me there.  I had to spiritualize the text so that it “fit” with the notion that “all prophecy was fulfilled” by the time of AD 70 (the heresy of Full Preterism).  Be that as it may, and going back and reading Breuggemann and Watts, it is refreshing that to see that my start was good at that time.  My end was horrible!

 

Isaiah sees Israel under the threat of doom and the Assyrians and the Babylonians are coming to finish the job of YHWH’s wrath.  Equally, the nations are doomed and the Lord is ready to burn the entire thing up.  This is to be understood from the perspective of what ought to be, what should be if God acted entirely on the basis of righteous judgment.  However, as we are taught from the beginning, God did not wipe out “all flesh.”  He saved Noah and his family.  He did not wipe out all of Sodom and Gommorah, he saved Lot and his family.  He did not wipe out Esau’s birthright, but gave it to the lesser.  He did not wipe out Ninevah, but saved them instead, even though impending doom was over their heads.  And, so, we find with Isaiah that God will save Israel through a remnant.

 

From this remnant we have the Christ, who is named Cyrus (Isaiah 45.1-ff).  God is calling the nations (here, Cyrus) who has “not acknowledged me” (compare 65.1).  45.8 reflects the NHNE (new heavens new earth) motif.  45.11-ff is a creation reference to Adam and is now focus on the Messiah Cyrus who will rebuild the remnant.  We find this history recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah.  But, as I stated before, it doesn’t pan out that way.  Cyrus dies and another kingdom comes.

 

However, Isaiah mentions other factors to come like the “suffering servant” (50-53), who will die and be raised from the dead (53.8-12).  This “servant” is a “tender shoot” (53.2), and this maintains the “root” or “Branch” who is to come.  It’s not Cyrus.  In Isaiah 11.10-ff this “root” take a “remnant” and signals the nations to come and gather together as well to form “My People” (19.25) made from the remnant of Israel (who were flesh and blood descendents of Abraham) and the nations (who are called “My People” not according to flesh-birth).  These together will gather upon the Highway which is bound to the Holy Jerusalem, the Mount of Zion, the Temple of the Lord in heaven.

 

Isaiah, then, foresees something beyond Cyrus.  Israel will be decimated yet again after her regathering under Cyrus!  Let me quote from another Sermon I delivered on Isaiah while I was a Full Preterist: “But, as we have seen, Isaiah is not concerned with just that return.  A remnant (a tenth) returned to the land, but Isaiah sees another burning that will take place after that return.  It is in the days of that second burning that the restoration of the remnant into a powerful, enlarged nation will emerge.  However, Isaiah has placed the restoration vision, in many places throughout the book, in areas that have to do with his immediate context.  In our last lecture we saw that in 10-11 it appears that after the Assyrians are destroyed, then God would bring about “the Branch”, the “root of Jesse.”  This is how Isaiah places these passages.  A nation has fallen, restoration might ensue….but it does not.  Babylon falls and maybe now the restoration of God will ensue….but it does not pan out.  A remnant is regathered back into the land under Cyrus the Persian, so maybe here is when God will restore us…..and it does not happen.  Jerusalem is rebuilt and the offerings are once again offered….but here come the Syrians and Antiochus Epiphanes IV.  And then Rome….how long, O’ Lord?  It is as if Isaiah has deliberately placed these visions of hope after the destruction of these nations, one by one, to keep it in front of them that one day this will happen.  Isaiah states this: “I will wait on the Lord who is hiding his face from Jacob, I will put my trust in him” (8.17).  This waiting and having faith is rooted in the Hope of Israel, her restoration.  It is this kind of faith anchored in the hope that Isaiah has scattered throughout the texts.  He sprinkles visions of hope and glory in the midst of historical conflict, civil war, idolatry, exile, desolation, misery and despair.  Only a small, small portion of those under Moses’ covenant have this kind of faith.  Most among Israel and Judah do not.  They hear, but never understand.  They have eyes, but cannot see.”

That was preached in 2005!  The text I used was Isaiah 6.13, which, as many scholars understand, is a vision of a second destruction of the land.  And, here, the Branch will “reclaim a remnant a second time” (11.11).  That lands us in Paul’s day.  The remnant is regathered out of and together with the Nations to form one new people.  It is this people that is placed upon the Highway that leads to Mount Zion, where, “He shall swallow up The Death forever” (Isaiah 25.8) – the “shroud that covers over all the nations.”  In Adam, all die and “all the nations” came from him (Acts 17.11).  Jesus, the Branch, the Root, the Suffering Servant.  “Because that he exposed to The Death his soul, And with transgressors he was numbered, And he the sin of many hath borne, And for transgressors he intercedeth.”  Because he exposed himself in obedience to The Death, he abolished The Death in himself (2 Timothy 1.10), holding the keys of The Death (Revelation 1.18 – all verses are literally in Greek/Hebrew “the death”) he now leads all nations, My People, to the Mountain upon which he reigns and sits at the Right Hand of God on a Broad Highway where he will swallow up The Death forever.  That which has been done for Him will be done for His People; The Death will be swallowed up in victory.  The Gospel of the New Covenant is this: The Restoration has begun.  The Highway is here.  Good news, indeed.

It is in this imagery that John the Revelator sees “The Death” hurled into the eternal fiery lake, and explicitly alludes to Isaiah 65.17-ff (Revelation 21.1-ff).  And, Scripture interpreting Scripture, we are to understand Isaiah’s vision of the ultimate hope of Israel, the restoration of the kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven where it cannot ever be disrupted again.  Isaiah’s vision of a NHNE is Edenic and it is also the reversal of the curses of Israel found in the book of the Law (which, also, is upon any nation that serves not the Lord.  God does not have two different types of wrath.  There is not an “old covenant plague” versus a “natural plague” – a plague is a plague is a plague).  It is in this way that he sees a vision of My People in surroundings (heaven on earth) that are quite foreign to what we see presently (Hebrews 2.8, commenting on Psalm 8, which is Edenic before the Fall).  “But we see Jesus”!

Therefore, what we can now ascertain in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets is that Jesus, the Root, has come.  Jerusalem would be sacked one more time (70 AD).  Yet, from this a remnant would be gathered from Israel who were so by physical descent.  From this remnant, this root, this lump, and together with them “the Nations” would be called forming one new man.  These would be placed on the Broad Highway of Holiness that leads to Mount Zion, Jerusalem Above, “which is” also “coming down out of heaven” (Revelation 21.2).  The People of God, the Israel of God, are on a Highway going up, while the City they are going to is coming down!  “On earth as it is in heaven.”  This is the New Heavens and New Earth wherein The Death shall be no more once “all those” who have been given to the Son by the Father have been “raised on the last day.”

This understanding, shared so much from the early days of the Church to today is an amazing impetus for the faithful, the People of God, My People.  “Who hath wrought and done, Calling the generations from the first? I, Jehovah, the first, and with the last I am He” (Isaiah 41.4).  He is from the first generation to the last generation”.  He is speaking “to the nations” in this passage, revealing to them (who have not heard, nor seen) who He is.  He is the Span of Time from Beginning to End.  Isaiah’s message speaks to these generations, each one of them.  God has raised up a Banner to the Nations.  A Highway has been built.  God’s People are walking on it, heading to Zion where Death will be swallowed up for all the nations (resurrection).  Today is the Day of Salvation.  HEAR HIM who utters FROM HEAVEN!  Drink FREELY of the river that flows from the Heavenly City down to the corrupt world.  Grace is offered NOW to the oppressed, the downtrodden, the prostitute, the used, abused, tossed away and the afflicted.  Praise His Holy Name!  Maranatha!

 

Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader.  Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s.  While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree.  It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology.  Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969).  It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University).  Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington, who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners. Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy).  Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree.  He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS and graded exams in Hebrew. Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition.  Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him.  Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units.  While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ.  The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism.  Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe.  To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133).  It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position. Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40).  Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004).  Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.).  There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011). Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry.  That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation.  Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869).  By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations.  Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity.  Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness.  Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members.  Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston.  CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles.  Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature). During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010).  Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers.  However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him.  In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida .  Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole. The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry.  Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly sold out its first run.  The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019).  Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well.  Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (Kindle/Amazon, 2019); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017).  He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse) working directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc.  Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon.  He also is working with Redemption Life Bible Church with Pastor Tyler Jackson in New Castle, Indiana.  Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church. Samuel has four children, one step-son, ages sixteen to twenty-eight and has worked part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for over five years.  He has a solid reputation in the community, and has performed marriages and funerals.  He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle.

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