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Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven


Hitherto unseen literary evidence reveals a new dimension to Isaiah’s prophecy that uses Israel’s ancient history as an allegory of an end-time scenario. Isaiah’s Hebrew gospel preempts the New Testament by teaching the path through which God empowers his children to ascend to the highest heaven.

CONTENTS

FIGURES

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

1. THE LADDER TO HEAVEN

Living a Higher Law Leads into God’s Presence
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah Contains a Clue
Humanity Divides into Seven Spiritual Categories
Isaiah Presents Models on Each Level of the Ladder
The Past Provides a Sure Pattern of the Future
Isaiah Predicts Two Separate and Distinct Scenarios
Ancient Names Are Codenames of End-Time Powers
We Determine Our Own Level on the Ladder
Isaiah Sees a Glorious New Era for God’s People
Postscript

2. THE ARCHTYRANT, CANDIDATE FOR PERDITION

A Return to Chaos Is the Prelude to a New Creation
The Tyrant and the Servant Are Our Role Models
Humiliation Is Essential for Attaining Exaltation
God’s People Are the Object of Assyria’s Aggression
End-Time “Assyria” Conquers and Destroys the World
America Has a Double Role in Isaiah’s Prophecy
The King of Assyria/Babylon Seeks to Displace God
Postscript

3. BABYLON, REBELS AND WORSHIPERS OF IDOLS

Ancient Zion and Babylon Are Types for Today
Zion and Babylon Are Two Peoples and Places
Babylon Is the Antithesis and Adversary of Zion
A Worldwide Conglomerate Asserts Itself over All
The Harlot Babylon Persecutes the Virgin Zion
A False Socio-Economic System Sustains Babylon
Modern Idolatry Mirrors Ancient Counterparts
The Rebellious among God’s People Join Babylon
Postscript

4. JACOB/ISRAEL, BELIEVERS IN A CREATOR–GOD

Ambivalent Believers Awaken to Their Identity
God’s Servant Fulfills a Mission to the Nations
Spiritual Conversion Precedes Physical Return
God’s Curses Are a Prelude to God’s Blessings
Ascent to Zion/Jerusalem Can Be Sooner or Later
Repentance/Return Leads to Healing/Salvation
Postscript

5. ZION/JERUSALEM, GOD’S COVENANT PEOPLE

Cosmic Parallels Reflect Our Spiritual Journey
God’s People Receive the Servant’s Message
Analogies Occur between the One and the Many
People Pass or Fail the Three Tests of Loyalty
People at Home and Abroad Face the Archtyrant
Zion/Jerusalem Assumes a Paradisiacal Glory
Postscript

6. GOD’S SONS/SERVANTS, PROXY DELIVERERS

God’s Sons/Servants Overcome Sin and Iniquity
Jehovah Ministers Personally to His Sons/Servants
“Son” and “Servant” Imply a Covenant Relationship
God’s Sons/Servants Secure Divine Protection
Proxy Salvation Proceeds from the Highest Levels
Service and Suffering Qualify God’s Chosen Ones
Sons/Servants Have Male and Female Dimensions
Sons/Servants Become New “Adams” and “Eves”
The Son/Servant Level Defines a Female Paradigm
Postscript

7. SERAPHIM, GOD’S ANGELIC MESSENGERS

Seraphim Serve as God’s Angelic Emissaries
Seraphs/Saviors Minister among All Nations  
The Hebrew Prophets Corroborate One Another
God’s Seraph/Servant Fulfills an End-Time Mission
The Servant Endures Suffering and Humiliation
Covenant Curses Turn into Covenant Blessings
Humanity Rediscovers the Path to Exaltation
God Manifests Himself to Humanity by Degrees
Postscript

8. JEHOVAH, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, KING OF ZION

Isaiah Defines the Nature of God as a “Father”
Creation and Re-Creation Are a Cyclical Process
God’s “Oneness” Implies Unity, Not Singleness
Jehovah Fulfills the Function of “Father” and “Son”
The Most High God Reverses the Curse of Death
Jehovah Serves as Savior and Sacrificial Victim
The Door Opens beyond Salvation to Exaltation
Jehovah Is His People’s Judge, Lawgiver, and King
Jehovah Provides a Pattern for Life after Death
Jehovah Comes in Glory to Reign on the Earth
Postscript

9. ASCENDING THE LADDER TO HEAVEN

All Prophecies of the “Last Days” Are Fulfilled
Ascending the Ladder Is a Step-by-Step Process
The Tabernacle Is a Type of Ladder to Heaven
Human Traditions Impact the Worship of God
Pure Religion Answers Life’s Tough Questions
Reaching Out in Love Is the Vehicle for Ascent
Covenant Keeping Is a Key to Spiritual Ascent
Postscript


Excerpts

Using his own day as a jumping-off point, Isaiah predicts a future world conquest and destruction involving a new king of Assyria/Babylon whom God empowers for the job. That king will resemble the ancient kings of Assyria and Babylon who conquered and destroyed much of the old world. Isaiah predicts this end-time scenario using a simple but effective technique: he organizes his writings using two entirely different kinds of literary structures simultaneously. The way the individual parts of these structures interrelate conveys its own prophetic message over and above what we read on the surface. That way of prophesying is more sophisticated than most, concealing multiple levels of meaning. (Chapter One, Isaiah Decoded.)

In that end-time setting the names Assyria, Babylon, and others function as codenames of end-time entities. Isaiah uses ancient names to depict future world powers based on the prophetic idea of “types,” a literary term that describes a thing in the past that resembles something in the future. Anciently the militaristic kings of Assyria, who came from the North, were the first to conquer the known world; by so doing they set a precedent. For that kind of thing, therefore, they became a type. Kings of Babylon, on the other hand, set a precedent of world rulers promoting an idolatrous ideology, a belief system all its citizens were compelled to accept. For that kind of thing they became a type. (Chapter One, Isaiah Decoded.)

Isaiah also shows that the way people acted in the events of old is how they will act again when the events roll around a second time. And how God dealt with people in the past—in delivering the righteous and punishing the wicked—is how he will deal with them in the future. Times may have changed—they may be radically different—but God hasn’t changed. That keeps things on the same footing they have always been on. In Isaiah’s end-time scenario the future is a mirror of the past, both in the events themselves and in the way God acts in history. I find that idea comforting because it affords us incredible hindsight. We can turn such hindsight into foresight as the end of the world draws near. (Chapter One, Isaiah Decoded.)

Isaiah provides a yardstick by which we can measure ourselves. If we want to know what level we are on, we can compare ourselves with the people on Isaiah’s ladder. We don’t need to wait until we are dead to discover how far we have ascended or descended. Knowing exactly where we stand puts to rest any false notions of grandeur we may have about ourselves. On the other hand, it may surprise us to learn we are not as low down the ladder as we might have thought. We can discern a lot about our standing with God from how we match up with the heroes or villains in Israel’s history. On whatever spiritual level we find ourselves, our challenge is to advance from there all the way to God. (Chapter One, Isaiah Decoded.)

In that end-time scenario the king of Assyria/Babylon is a key player. When he arrives on the scene we will know the end is near. Because his appearance is one of the first things to occur among Isaiah’s new versions of ancient events, he heralds the end of an era for humanity but also the beginning of a new one. In his days political evil escalates more than ever before, much as happened with Hitler in Germany prior to World War II. In response, many people either go over to him or renew their commitment to God. Things come to a head as people realize that the world’s days are numbered, that they face a point of no return. The world will never be the same again after the archtyrant appears. (Chapter Two, Isaiah Decoded.)

Just as with ancient Assyria and Babylon, so end-time “Assyria” rises to power in the world as God’s people decline into a state of spiritual decay. That correlation works as predictably as a mathematical equation. You recall that Moses outlined the blessings and the curses of the Sinai Covenant, telling God’s people that if they proved loyal they would receive certain blessings. But if they were disloyal they would be cursed or plagued (Deuteronomy 28). One such blessing was that God’s people would become the “head of the nations”—in other words, the leading nation in the world. And its opposite: if cursed, they would be the “tail”—foreign nations would dominate and oppress them. (Chapter Two, Isaiah Decoded.)

We need opposition to ascend because that is how we grow—with God’s help. We ascend the ladder in stages in direct proportion to God’s fortifying us against evil (see Figure 34). God empowers all who comply with his will so that they can overcome their troubles. He allows us to experience adversity, often letting it run its course so we can learn to rise above it. In fact, God makes us equal to each challenge—to whatever opposition we receive—so long as we stay loyal to him by keeping his law and word. Unless we again transgress against him, his empowering us is cumulative. In other words, God’s grace remains with us from that time forth, increasing our capacity to manage adversity. (Chapter Three, Isaiah Decoded.)

It isn’t difficult to see parallels of ancient image worship in our modern society. Our images may be more sophisticated than those of our forebears but we love them equally well. Today’s movie theaters resemble “houses of Baal,” where people worship at his shrine and lust after likenesses. TV sets parallel personal shrines at which we adore pictures of the elite of Babylonian society, images in color, of people attired in its finest fashions (see Figure 41). Our attention easily gets distracted from the true God to such substitutes, as we worship the creature rather than the Creator. The images arouse our baser natures; the more we give them license, the more corrupt we become—like the images themselves. (Chapter Three, Isaiah Decoded.)

Today, after nearly three millennia of exile, God’s people are most likely so far dispersed that every nation, kindred, tongue, and people is infused with the lineages of Israel as the prophets foretold. That assimilation sets the stage for a key part of Isaiah’s end-time scenario to commence: Jacob/Israel—a worldwide category of God’s people—renews its allegiance to Israel’s God and prepares to return home at the end of the world. Jehovah will “assemble the exiled of Israel and gather the scattered of Judah from the four directions of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12). A reawakening of peoples to their Hebrew roots in that day causes some to name themselves “Jacob” and others “Israel” (Isaiah 44:5). (Chapter Four, Isaiah Decoded.)

Our journey through life, then, is not just cyclical—passing through experiences that repeat themselves—it is also climactic, passing through experiences that intensify. By their very nature they demonstrate our divine potential as children of God. The history of God’s people in general, of individuals born on the earth, and of the earth itself, continues in ever-expanding and more elevated circles unless one chooses to descend. The ancient Maya understood the inseparable relationship of humanity to the cosmos. They saw human history as cyclical, not linear. What happened in the past would happen again but on a larger scale. The past thus serves not just as a type but as a microcosm of the future. (Chapter Five, Isaiah Decoded.)

Isaiah’s three tests resemble those of Greek legend and appear also in the literature of ancient Mesopotamia. Odysseus, on his return home from Troy, for example, faces three similar such tests, each of which he passes. Cyclops, the angry one-eyed giant, does battle with him, intent on killing him. The Sirens, sensuous females on a “pleasure island,” seek to seduce and capture him. And false suitors woo his wife in his absence and wantonly squander his inheritance. Isaiah’s version of these tests are the king of Assyria/Babylon, idolaters or idolatry, and false brethren (see Figure 62). By passing the tests, God’s people ascend to Zion/Jerusalem, but by failing them they descend to Babylon. (Chapter Five, Isaiah Decoded.)

The prophets use the terms “son” and “servant” in both a general and specific sense. Against the ancient Near Eastern background of the Bible, these terms express a covenant relationship as between an emperor and a vassal king. When seeking to establish such a covenant relationship with the Assyrian emperor Tiglath-Pileser, for example, the Jewish King Ahaz says to him “I am your servant and your son” (2 Kings 16:7). In that sense the words “servant” and “son” are legal terms that reflect an agreement between a superior and inferior party. By making that statement, Ahaz assumes the role of a vassal king to Tiglath-Pileser, thereby turning his back on his covenant relationship with Israel’s God. (Chapter Six, Isaiah Decoded.)

Our very definition of God links us inseparably to him. Yes, he is the Creator of the cosmos—the heavens and the earth. But as Isaiah makes clear that cosmos exists solely for its occupants “as a tent to dwell in.” God’s “throne” is there (Isaiah 40:22). And as he continues to “stretch out the heavens” it would indeed be ethnocentric of us to assume that ours is the only “tent” God is concerned with. The Hubble Telescope’s pictures of deep space show the existence of billions of galaxies stretching out in all directions as far as space can be detected. Obviously, God’s creation has been going on since long before we arrived on the scene, and it will go on long after the millennial age is over. (Chapter Eight, Isaiah Decoded.)

Because re-creation occurs on every level of the ladder, God’s creation is an unbroken, cyclical process that ensures that those lower may ascend higher. The many cycles or sequences of creation going on simultaneously on different spiritual and physical planes enable those whom God has created to pass through different phases of ascent and descent. From Isaiah’s perspective God’s creation could not have started with Adam and Eve, nor can it end with the millennial age. Compared with the ever-expanding cosmos and its countless hosts that God has created, what he has revealed of this earth is but a detail of a much bigger picture, a brief “moment in time” within an endless continuum. (Chapter Eight, Isaiah Decoded.)

Traditional Christianity has deviated from the teachings of Jesus no less than traditional Judaism has from the Law of Moses. While pious people in these religions live God’s precepts the best they know how—forming the backbone of their sects—their institutions have no power to take one through heaven’s gate. What person practicing modern Judaism has ascended to see God as the elders of Israel did with Moses on the mount? Who, by observing the current code of Christianity, has seen Jesus transfigured, has seen Israel’s God in his glory, as did Jesus’ three disciples? If what is missing from this scenario isn’t restored, things will go on as they are and Jehovah/Jesus cannot come. (Chapter Nine, Isaiah Decoded.)

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