Isaiah gives us we the Jewish remnant in the latter day. Christ’s personal service on the earth when He first came bore on and spoke of remnant. The blessing is earthly, Jewish, and millennial. Christ, the great Prophet on the earth, to whom Israel was to hearken, the minister of the circumcision, was rejected. The Gentiles are introduced to prove God’s patience with Israel.
God will not destroy all Israel: those who forsake Him and are judged. Those who hated God’s servants, who trembled at Jehovah’s word, are cast them out.
Meanwhile His servants sing for joy of heart. They are righteous, so when Christ appears, He gives them the earthly blessing, they inherit the mountains, enjoying peace like a river (Isa 66:12).
The prophecy does not relate to the church.
Numerous Old Testament scriptures refer prophetically to the Jewish remnant. The Spirit of Christ enters into their thoughts, feelings, hopes and even fears. Prophetic scripture place this remnant in time before the Lord’s appearing. Those of the remnant will be waiting for that appearing.
At the present time, the church has a special and peculiar character and relationship with Christ. It was formed into one body by the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven. The remnant is totally distinct from the church. The Lord will have raptured His church when the spirit of God works sovereignly in righteous, godly Jews. These will recognise their Messiah, rest on His sacrifice for their salvation, and testify to the glory of Christ amid terrible persecution. But they will have a totally different relationship to Him compared with that of the church.
Unfortunately, many Christians deny the existence of the Jewish remnant. This is a serious error because it connects the Spirit of Christ with the ungodly and unconverted proud, self-righteousness Jews. It is hard to allege that the Lord should connect the breathings of Christ’s Spirit, and the piety flowing from it, with this self-righteousness. Really, those who deny the secret rapture of the saints before Christ’s appearing, and, consequently, the existence of a Jewish remnant, are doing just that.
There are four points on which have the clear testimony of Scripture:
- The true church of God is being formed at the present time.
- The church will be raptured at the end of this time.
- There will be a distinct suffering Jewish remnant after this.
- Then Christ will appear and the Millennium will commence.
Here are some scriptures which support the truth as to the Jewish remnant. It will come to light after the Lord’s coming, delivered and blessed by the Him on the earth. However, this remnant will have neither the church’s heavenly blessings nor the church’s hope.
Firstly as to the Jews:
‘And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God’ (Zech 13:8-9).
Then as regards the ten tribes of Israel,
‘And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face . . . . And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezek 20:33-38)
‘Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand’ (Ezek 37:19).
‘And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, … shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God’ (Isa 10:20-21).
‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him’ (Mal 3:16-17).
The last word in the Old Testament:
‘For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth [land] with a curse.’ (Malachi 4).
Here is a vital matter for Christians. The error is promulgated is that this is a Christian rather than a Jewish remnant. But it is clear that the blessings of the remnant are earthly, not heavenly. Satan’s work is to deny a distinct Jewish remnant, having Jewish faith, Jewish hopes, and resting on Jewish promises. It reduces the church to the level of these; and denies and loses the value and power of our spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and the union of Christ’s with Him. Those Christians who hold this have been deceived by the enemy, though they may be unaware of it.
But Scripture shows us that this honoured and glorified remnant is blessed by the Lord, for they have been waiting on Him, and that He recognises those of it as Israel. Some scriptures speak of the intervention of God to deliver or gather Israel, blessing the nation. Other passages refer explicitly to the despised remnant and its state prior to God’s intervention in power. Thus article focusses on the latter. This truth rests not just on a few casual texts, but on the consistent teaching throughout Scripture.
We need to understand the chronology. The prophets refer to ‘the day,’ or ‘that day,’ with without any supposed interruption or interval (i.e. of the church period). The godly people looked forward to Christ, who is viewed as the great Prophet of Israel: by His Spirit alone the prophets prophesied. The prophetic witness is continued in connection with a waiting remnant during His life, and afterwards. However, He warned His disciples as to the pending destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), and the consequent judgment of the nation. This judgment broke all connection of God’s testimony with the nation, and left the exclusively heavenly church (principally Gentile) the only acknowledged witness until the rapture.
Although the scripture in Malachi above can be applied to to Christ and John the Baptist (Elijah), this passage has a Jewish character and application and refers to the days following the rapture. The godly Jewish remnant, who fear Jehovah’s name, is contrasted with the wicked. Like the godly in Israel in the prophet’s time, they speak often one to another His. They triumph judicially over their wicked oppressors, and and God will spare them in that day.
The Remnant in Isaiah
We have already seen that the Old Testament scriptures relate directly to Israel and God’s government of the world, but they may be applied to the church, and to God’s sovereign grace. This grace must be in Christ, for He is the centre of all God’s ways – the Messiah of the Jews and the King that is to reign in righteousness. The kingdom was not set up, but the King was there. Although John the Baptist having preached about its imminence. But the kingdom will not be established on the earth until the King returns from heaven.
In the gospels we see Christ’s relationship with Israel. We have God’s dealings in grace, but the refusal of God’s grace exposed the state of the nation. As a result God separates the remnant, and judges Israel as a nation. After sending the prophets to seek fruit, the Lord of the vineyard said, ‘I have yet one Son: it may be they will reverence my Son when they see Him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.’ (Luke 20:13-16). We know the result: judgment came upon the nation but a remnant clung to Him through grace. It is important to see, though, that this remnant is future. The disciples were Jews, but they did not form part of the remnant.
Let us examine the testimony of Isaiah as to the remnant. The prophet (i.e., the Spirit of Christ), says as to state of Judah: ‘Why should ye be stricken any more? . . . Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and made like unto Gomorra.’ (Isa 1:5, 9). According to the prophet, the nation must be restored and purified by judgment (see ch. 1:27). There will be just a remnant left (10% according to ch. 6:13), full of glory and holiness and protected by Christ (see ch. 4:2-6), with with Jerusalem on earth as its centre.
Isaiah 7 and 8 unfold this more fully in connection with Emmanuel. Assyria will overrun Judah and there will be a confederacy of nations against it. Israel’s enemies are set aside, but they are not to lean on human sources of strength. A sign was given: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (ch. 7:14). The Lord of hosts would be in the sanctuary. The Lord of hosts separates the remnant, being a stone of stumbling to the nation. The period of the church is passed over.
The prophecy that follows from ch. 9 onwards takes up the general history of Israel in the prophet’s time, its chastisements and hardness of heart. The Assyrian becomes the instrument of God’s anger, but Israel is encouraged not to be afraid of him, for His indignation would soon cease when the Assyrian is destroyed. This has its parallel with the remnant. Israel will suffer under the Antichrist. But the word is to to be kept at peace, with a mind stayed on the Lord, until the indignation be overpast. (Se ch. 26:3, 20). They say, ‘Lo! this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation‘ (ch 25:9) Things will be turned: ‘In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people’ (Isa 28:5). God weighs the path of the just (see ch. 26:7). These chapters is show the character and glory of the remnant before judgment is executed on the nation.
In Chapter 33 we have the last day of trouble righteous remnant in Zion. Its security is announced on the ground that they walk righteously. ‘Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you’ (Ch. 35:3, 4). The feeble remnant is encouraged while waiting for the Lord. When He comes with vengeance, the ransomed of the Lord come to Zion with song. It is a Jewish deliverance.
That part of Isaiah which extends from chapter 40 to the end has quite another character: God reasons with His people. In ch. 40-48 we have the general restoration of the nation and the futility of the Babylonish idols. Cyrus is introduced by name, and Christ takes the place of Israel as servant; He is the true vine
In chapter 49 we have the remnant, the preserved of Israel (see v.6), ‘they fear the Lord, and listen to the voice of his servant’. On the other hand, God had laboured in vain for Israel. In chapter 51:1, they know and follow after righteousness, and have the law in their heart. At first the the comfort of Zion has not yet come, nor has His arm put on strength. But later this happens, and the redeemed of the Lord return to Zion. The whole chapter follows the the appeals of Jehovah to the righteous remnant, and their deliverance by Him.
Afterwards, in ch. 52, the exalted servant is introduced, and the Lord bares His arm in the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth see the salvation of the God of Israel. The remnant recognises that the despised and rejected Christ had been bruised for their iniquities (see ch. 53). Then comes the full blessedness of Jerusalem: her Maker is her husband (ch. 54:5). In ch. 57, some of the righteous perish like the Righteous One, but the wicked never have peace. In ch. 58 we see the spirit in which the godly Jew should walk; being part of suffering remnant, in the midst of an ungodly nation. Jehovah comes in in righteousness in ch. 60. Ch. 61 is remarkable in that the Lord quotes from the this scripture in Luke 4, applying it to Himself, but stops before the part which speaks of the day of vengeance. Yet in the future time, the day of vengeance comes ‘to comfort 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 the LORD, that he might be glorified’ (ch 61:3).
Through these prophecies we understand the doctrine of a Jewish remnant. The remnant is owned by Jehovah, piously and confidently waiting for Him to deliver them. This is not a matter of speculation, nor of the interpretation of some difficult or obscure text, but the clear, consistent testimony of the Spirit of God. This remnant is directly connected with the earth, at the time of Christ’s return presence on the earth, though meanwhile, for other purposes, the Lord may hide His face from the house of Jacob.
Summary by Sosthenes