Isaiah 51:12–61:11 Explained
The word gospel is one of the most common words in all Christendom. But what does it mean, and where does the concept originate? Most Christian believers would doubtless assume that the concept of the gospel is a New Testament one? As we shall soon see below, the term gospel (Old English for good news) originates in the Tanakh (Old Testament or OT) in the writings of the prophet Isaiah.
The word gospel itself is easily enough defined, but what about the concept behind the word? This will take us into another, deeper dimension of understanding this concept. Gospel or its synonyms are used 132 times in the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament or NT). The word gospel literally means “good news or glad tidings.” Two Greek words (euaggellion and euaggelizo) are translated into English in the Authorized Version (KJV) via the following words: as a noun, gospel and as a verb, preach, bring good tidings, show glad tidings, declare, and declare glad tidings. As we can see, the word gospel is easily enough defined, but what really is the good news? Let us begin to answer this by seeing how the apostolic authors of the Testimony of Yeshua used this term:
- Gospel of the kingdom or of Elohim (used five times, see Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14)
- Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah or Yeshua (used 15 times, see Mark 1:1; Rom 1:16; 15:19; 1 Cor 9:12; Gal 1:7; Phil 1:27; 1 Thess 3:2)
- Gospel of the grace of Elohim (Acts 20:24)
- Gospel of Elohim (used five times, see Rom 1:1; 15:16; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:2,8,9)
- Gospel of peace (Rom 10:15; Eph 6:15)
Besides these noun phrases just listed, in the majority of cases, the word gospel as found in the Testimony of Yeshua stands alone in its noun form as simply the gospel without any adjectival modifiers.
But again, what is the good news? One cannot read the Testimony of Yeshua without seeing that Yeshua the Messiah is at the center of this good news message. Thankfully, this same good news (or gospel) of “Jesus” has been at the center of the Christian message for two thousand years. This likely doesn’t comes as a new revelation to the reader. The famous passage of John 3:16 sums up this blessed message perhaps better than any other: “For Elohim so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In brief, this good news of the Messiah (Acts 5:42; 1 Cor 1:23; 2:2; 2 Cor 2:12) involves understanding the spiritual significance of his death, burial and resurrection and how that relates to the redemption, reconciliation and salvation of sinful man through Yeshua’s shed blood at the cross of Golgatha. But is there more to the basic message of the good news that most have missed? There is more, much more as we are about to find out. Hopefully, this new understanding will activate and deepen your live for Yeshua the Messiah and for you Father in heaven who sent him to be a river of life to all those who will put their faith and trust in him!
The Paul, the apostle, a formerly and formally educated Jewish Torah scholar without peer in the first century, discusses the deeper implications of the meaning of the term gospel in Romans 10:14–15,
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
This is actually a quote from Isaiah 52:7. So what is this good news or gospel to which Paul is referring? Let us now make a quick overview of the context of the Isaiah passage from which Paul is quoting by starting in Isaiah 52:2.
- Isaiah 52:2, “O captive daughter of Zion.” This verse identifies the subject of the prophecy as the people of Israel.
- Isaiah 52:3, “You have sold yourselves [to your harlot lovers] for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money.” Israel had become apostate spiritually. This history has repeated itself many times in Israel’s long and sad history.
- Isaiah 52:5, “… my people is taken away for nought?” Israel went into captivity because of her spiritual apostasy. In other words, she had turned away from the Torah-Word of Elohim which she had promised to obey when she entered into a spiritual, covenantal agreement with Elohim at Mount Sinai.
- Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Your Elohim reigns!” Isaiah prophesies that the time of Israel’s spiritual restoration, redemption and deliverance was coming.
- Isaiah 52:8, “… when YHVH shall bring again Zion.” YHVH promises to redeem Israel from captivity where they were taken because they left the Torah-Truth of YHVH and sold themselves into spiritual adulterous and idolatrous relationships with her foreign, heathen lovers and their pagan gods and idols.
- Isaiah 52:9, “… he has redeemed Jerusalem.” How will YHVH redeem Israel out of sinfulness and bring them back to himself spiritually?
- Isaiah 52:13ff, At this point, Isaiah introduces the concept of the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, who would redeem the people Israel. Christian believers recognize this messianic figure to be Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
- Isaiah 53:4–6, Isaiah prophesied that this messianic Redeemer of YHVH would bear upon himself the sin (death) penalty for adulterous Israel and Judah by his dying and after which he would “prolonged his days” (verse 10) by being resurrected so that he could enter into a new covenantal (or marital) relationship or agreement with the descendants of the Israelites of Isaiah’s days as we shall discuss more fully below.
- Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and YHVH has laid on him [Yeshua the Messiah] the iniquity [i.e. Israel’s sinning against YHVH through violation of the Torah covenant or marriage agreement with YHVH that she made at Mount Sinai] of us all.”
- Isaiah 54:1, “… for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says YHVH.” In captivity, Israel became spiritually desolate and was trampled under the foot of men like the dust of the ground.
- Isaiah 54:3, “your seed shall inherit the Gentiles …” Where Israel became like the dust of the ground, YHVH promises to redeem her from captivity and declares that she will become like the stars of heaven in numbers and glory. Israel will then become as a net who brings with her the riches of the sea (that is the Gentile people of the nations with whom she has mixed through intermarriage).
- Isaiah 54:4, “for you shall forget the shame of your youth, and shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.” The descendants of ancient Israel will have their honor and dignity restored in spite of their sinful past and that of the ancient forbears.
- Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband; YHVH of Hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Set-Apart One of Israel; the Elohim of the whole earth shall he be called.” The descendants of the Israelites to whom Isaiah was speaking shall enter into a righteous and loving relationship with Elohim.
- Isaiah 54:6, “For YHVH has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when you were refused, says your Elohim.” Again, Isaiah is prophesying about some future Israelites.
- Isaiah 54:7, “For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you [out of captivity back to Zion].” In the future, YHVH will graciously redeem out of spiritual captivity the descendants of the Israelites to whom Isaiah was now prophesying.
- Isaiah 54:8, “‘In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you,’ says the YHVH your Redeemer.” YHVH’s punishment upon the rebellious Israelites of Isaiah’s time would last but a short time after which YHVH promises to redeem or save them.
- Isaiah 54:10, “‘… but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,’ says YHVH that has mercy on you.” This is a reference to the renewed marriage covenant YHVH would make with future Israelites. This would literally be a renewal of their wedding vows (Jer 31:31–33), which they made at Mount Sinai (Exod 19-24 cp. Ezek 16:1–14). This is what is commonly referred to as the New or Renewed Covenant, about which Jeremiah prophesied and to which Yeshua makes reference in Matthew 26:28 as does the apostolic writer in Hebrews 8:8.
- Isaiah 54:11–12, “And I will make your windows of agates, and your gates of carbuncles …” This is a reference to the New Jerusalem of which all Israel will be a part and which contains only 12 gates named for the twelve tribes of Israel. There will be no Gentile gate (Rev 21:12).
- Isaiah 54:17, No weapon formed against the people of Israel shall prevent their redemption, restoration and attainment of righteousness through YHVH.
- Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters,” Israel, returning out of the wilderness of her captivity, will be thirsty. Indeed she will drink water from the wells of her salvation in Yeshua, her Redeemer and Bridegroom (cp. Isa 12:3). Isaiah 11:10–12:6 is a corollary passage to this verse. There we find a prophecy about a spiritual root or offspring that would come from Jesse the father of David who will stand for a banner of the people and the Gentiles will seek after it. This is a messianic prophecy pertaining to Yeshua the Messiah, a direct descendant of Jesse and David. Because of Yeshua, a remnant of YHVH’s people that have been scattered in Assyria, Egypt, and elsewhere, the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah, will return to the land of Israel from the four corners of the earth and will reunite with their brothers Ephraim and together they will become a united kingdom under King David once again (Ezek 37:15–28).
- Isaiah 55:3, “Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to YHVH, speak, saying, ‘YHVH has utterly separated me from his people.’ Neither let the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’” By all appearances it would seem that the dispersed of Israel had been cut off with no inheritance or progeny and had become like a dry tree or life a eunuch and incapable of producing offspring. In reality, the opposite was true. While in captivity, Israel had become a vast multitude of people that would eventually be added to the tree of Judah (Ezek 37:19). These are the so-called “Gentiles” that Paul proclaims were in his day being grafted back into the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:13–24).
- Isaiah 56:1ff, Sabbath-keeping is at the center of Israel’s redemption. The Sabbath is a covenantal sign between YHVH and his people. Moreover, the Sabbath is one of the first Torah-commands to which YHVH’s apostate (“Genitle”) people return on their path back to him.
- Isaiah 56:6, Here are the sons of the stranger that join themselves to YHVH to serve him and to love his name, who keep his Sabbath from polluting it, and take hold of his Torah-covenant.
- Isaiah 56:8, YHVH will gather the “Gentile” outcasts of Israel.
- 56:10–12, Israel’s (Christian’s) watchmen (prophets) and shepherds (pastors) are blind, ignorant, dumb, barkless and greedy dogs.
- Isaiah 58:1, “Cry aloud and spare not, lift up your voice like a shofar [in our days, the sound of the shofar is stirring the hearts of apostate Israelites (Christians) and bringing many outcast of Israelites back to their Hebraic heritage] and show my people their transgression [i.e. violation of their Torah-covenant or marriage agreement that their forefathers made with YHVH at Mount Sinai] and the house of Jacob their sins.”
- Isaiah 58:13, The Sabbath is a focal point again. After all, it was the sign of the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant Israel made with YHVH (Exod 31:13).
- Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of YHVH Elohim is upon me; because YHVH has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Yeshua declared that this prophecy pointed to him and he was fulfilling it (Luke 4:18–21).
- Isaiah 61:2, “To proclaim the acceptable year of YHVH, [fulfilled in the first coming of Messiah] and the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn [to be fulfilled at the second coming of the Redeemer of the outcasts and dispersed of Israel].”
- Isaiah 61: 3, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of YHVH, that he might be glorified.”
- Isaiah 61:5, “Strangers…sons of the alien…” are a reference to the dispersed ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which are among the lost sheep of the house of Israel that Yeshua proclaimed he and his disciples were regathering through the preaching of the gospel message (Matt 15:24; 10:6; 28:19; Acts 1:8).
- Isaiah 61:9, “Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people….” This is because the gospel will be preached to all the nations of the world.
- Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in YHVH, my soul shall be joyful in my Elohim; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Again, this is because the gospel has been preached to all the lost and scattered sheep of Israel and in all the Gentiles nation to which they have been scattered and with whom they have intermarried. YHVH will gather his people in and bless them, or at least those who return to him.
- Isaiah 61:11, “For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so YHVH Elohim will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” From the nations of the world will come a wildly rich and abundant spiritual harvest as the message of the gospel goes forth.
What Then is the Good News or Gospel?
The good news or gospel message is the unquenchable love that YHVH-Yeshua has for his people Israel who have been dispersed and exiled among the Gentiles because they strayed from his ways and Truth— from the covenants they made with him at Mount Sinai where they promised to be obedient to his Torah-commandments. As a result of their disobedience, they were cut off from their Maker, their Husband, were taken into captivity and then scattered among the Gentile nations where they became aliens from the covenants of promise and from the commonwealth of Israel, without Elohim and without hope (Eph 2:12).
The gospel message, furthermore, involves the regathering of Elohim’s lost and scattered people, which Yeshua referred to as “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24; 10:26), who were scattered over the whole world and to which he commissioned his disciples to carry the message of the gospel (Matt 28:19 cp. Acts 1:8). Eventually, these regathered and redeemed Israelites who had mixed themselves with the Gentiles nations of the world would become the glorified children of Elohim and would inhabit the heaven on earth that Scripture refers to as the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:12). This aspect of the gospel message has been largely overlooked by the mainstream church, even though it has been hidden in plain sight all along in the pages of the Bible.
Because of YHVH’s unfailing love, these same wayward children of the patriarchs have been brought near to YHVH through the preaching of the gospel and have been redeemed from their sin and spiritual waywardness by the blood of Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, the Suffering Servant, who paid the price for the sin of their spiritual adultery, and for breaking their marriage agreements with YHVH. As a result, they have been brought into the kingdom of Elohim and are, therefore, no longer strangers and aliens from the nation and household of Israel, but, like the prodigal son in the parable of Yeshua, are returning to their Father’s household (Luke 15:11–32; Eph 2:11–19). They are also like wild olive branches that had been broken off of the olive tree of Israel because of their disobedience to YHVH’s laws and because of unbelief (Rom 11:13–24), but through repentance and faith in and faithfulness to YHVH, they are being grafted back into that same olive tree from which their unfaithful forvears where broken off long ago. This process of regathering the tribes of Israel started in the first century with the preaching of the gospel by Yeshua and his disciples and has continued to this day.
Being grafted back in to the olive tree of Israel, or being repatriated back into the commonwealth or nation of Israel is rehearsed each time a believer in Yeshua drinks from the cup of communion. Spiritually, this symbolizes the Cup of Redemption, the third cup of the biblical Jewish Passover Seder, which corresponds to the Cup of Acceptance that a Jewish maiden drinks at her betrothal ceremony to show her Israelite suitor that she accepts his marriage proposal signifying the beginning of their betrothal. This cup also corresponds to when Yeshua, on the night of his Passover with his disciples, drank of the fruit of the vine, and then passed that cup around and had them also drink therefrom, which was their accepting, as representatives of the spiritual bride of Israel, his marriage proposal to Israel. This, in turn, corresponds to a new believer in Yeshua confessing with his or her mouth Yeshua as their Master and believing in their heart that Elohim has raised him from the dead. At this point, one believes unto righteousness and accepts the redemption of Messiah Yeshua and is saved (Rom 10:9–10), and is instantly grafted into the olive tree (or tree of life), which is a picture of Yeshua who is the Tree of Life. Yeshua spoke of this tree when he said, “I am the vine and you are the branches …” (John 15:1–6; Rom 11:13–24).
This is the Hebraic context and fuller understanding behind the oft-used term the gospel, andinvolves the redemption and salvation of Elohim’s lost and scattered people through Yeshua the Messiah (Rom 10:9–10) after which they are grafted back into the olive tree (or tree of life), which is a picture of Yeshua who is the Tree of Life (Rom 11:13–24). Yeshua referred to this process and this tree of life when he declared, “I am the vine and you are the branches …” (John 15:1–6).
This then is the larger, whole-Bible message behind the oft-used term the gospel.