For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins - The reader on referring to Isaiah 59:20, Isaiah 59:21, will find that the words of the original are here greatly abridged. They are the following: -
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.
For the manner in which St. Paul makes his quotation from Scripture, see the observations at the end of the preceding chapter, ( Romans 10:21; (note), Part I.). The whole of these two verses should be read in a parenthesis, as I have marked them in the text; for it is evident that the 25th verse should be immediately connected with the 28th.
It may not be amiss to subjoin here a collection of those texts in the Old Testament that seem to point out a restoration of the Jewish commonwealth to a higher degree of excellence than it has yet attained. Isaiah 2:2-5; Isaiah 19:24, Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 25:6, etc.; Isaiah 30:18, Isaiah 30:19, Isaiah 30:26; Isaiah 60:1-22; Isaiah 65:17-25; Jeremiah 31:10-12; Jeremiah 46:27, Jeremiah 46:28; Ezekiel 20:34, Ezekiel 20:40, etc.; Ezekiel 28:25, Ezekiel 28:26; Ezekiel 34:20, etc.; Ezekiel 36:8-16; Ezekiel 37:21-28; Ezekiel 39:25, etc.; Joel 3:1, Joel 3:2, Joel 3:17, Joel 3:20, Joel 3:21; Amos 9:9-15; Obadiah 1:17, Obadiah 1:21; Micah 4:3-7; Micah 7:18-20; Zephaniah 3:19, Zephaniah 3:20.
For this is my covenant - This expression is found immediately following the other in Isaiah 59:21. But the apostle connects with it a part of another promise taken from Jeremiah 31:33-34; or rather he abridges that promise, and expresses its substance, by adding “when I shall take away their sins.” It is clear that he intended to express the general sense of the promises, as they were well known to the Jews, and as it was a point concerning which he did not need to argue or reason with them, that God had made a covenant with them, and intended to restore them if they were cast off, and should then repent and turn to him. The time and manner in which this shall be, is not revealed. It may be remarked, however, that that passage does not mean that the Redeemer shall come personally and preach to them, or re-appear for the purpose of recalling them to himself; nor does it mean that they will be restored to the land of their fathers. Neither of these ideas is contained in the passage. God will doubtless convert the Jews, as he does the Gentiles, by human means, and in connection with the prayers of his people; so that the Gentiles shall yet repay the toil and care of the ancient Jews in preserving the Scriptures, and preparing the way for the Messiah; and both shall rejoice that they were made helps in spreading the knowledge of the Messiah.
Christ declared that, after His ascension, He would send to His church, as His crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take His place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit—the soul of His life, the efficacy of His church, the light and life of the world. With His Spirit, Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power to take away sin. TDG 257.2Read in context »
The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the centuries and witnessing the rejection of prophet after prophet and finally of the Son of God, was inspired to write concerning the acceptance of the Redeemer by those who had never before been numbered among the children of Israel. Referring to this prophecy, Paul declares: “Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me. But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” AA 375.1
Even though Israel rejected His Son, God did not reject them. Listen to Paul as he continues the argument: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” AA 375.2
Israel had stumbled and fallen, but this did not make it impossible for them to rise again. In answer to the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” the apostle replies: “God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” AA 375.3Read in context »