Isaiah Class Notes: Lesson 23
Isaiah 60 - 62
In this chapter and the two that follow there is not a single criticism or rebuke of the people. In these chapters Jehovah reveals the future glory of Zion, the work of his hands. Isaiah has already announced that when the people are free to go home that they "shall mount up with wings as eagles" (40:31). Zion will be glorious in their eyes, but it is only under the Redeemer (59:20) that the glowing description of chapters 60-62 can be fulfilled. The exaltation of Zion is in sharp contrast to the lowly condition of the people (chs. 58-59). From the ashes of physical Jerusalem that fades into the background, rises the splendor of the new city under the Messiah. Isaiah extols the glory of Jehovah's holy city (v. 14) and, as he does so, weaves into the picture images from various realms of creation – light, man, animals, God, incense, birds, and the majestic trees of the forest.
Vv. 1-3 – Made Glorious through the Light of Jehovah's Presence
Many parents have awakened their children with the call, "Rise and shine." That is now the prophets call to God's children, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee." The light that now shines upon them is Jehovah's glory. Isaiah had told of a time when the world would be covered in darkness and the people in gross darkness. The dawning of Jehovah's glory would attract nations that will come to learn of Jehovah's ways and to walk in them (2:2-3; cf. 40:5), and their kings who, impressed by the glory, would worship Jehovah (cf. 49:7; 52:15)(1-3).
Vv. 4-9 – Made Glorious Through the Return of Her Children
Now that God's children have arisen, they are called on to Lift up thine eyes round about, and see." They will see their sons and daughters (converts, spiritual seed) gathering together. The sight of the gathering children,*1* who bring new wealth will bring radiant faces and thrilled and enlarged hearts to Jehovah's people. That wealth is described by reference to nomadic traders and their goods as they proclaim Jehovah's praise. They come dedicating all that they are and have, including their wealth that Jehovah accept[s] on [his] altar. God will glorify the house of [his] glory by receiving Abraham's cast-off descendants and their gifts. All are Jehovah's creations, and creations' best belongs to him.
Vv. 10-14 – Made Glorious Through Offering
And foreigners shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee. Cyrus aided in the supply of timber for the construction of the second temple (Ezra 3:7). Artaxerxes sanctioned the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. (Neh. 1:3; 2:5–8). However, there is a greater meaning beyond the literal one. "Strangers" of all kinds assisted in building and enlarging the walls of the Zion as it spread over the world. Their kings shall minister unto thee. All of this is occurring because the day of God's wrath had ended and the day of mercy had come (10).
In order for the wealth to come into Zion, its gates shall not be closed either day or night.*2* Kings shall serve it, and those nations and kingdoms that will not serve Zion will perish and be utterly wasted (cf. Zech. 14:16-19) (11-12). In a strongly Messianic chapter Micah strikes similar tones, saying that Jehovah would "execute vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations which hearkened not" (Micah 5:15). Obviously, the time following the exile is not in view.
Trees are brought into the city, not for building but for beauty, and God will make the place of his feet*3* glorious. Jerusalem-Zion, which for so long has been afflicted and despised, shall now be honored by her oppressors. They shall recognize her relationship to God and bow at the soles of her feet. They shall do homage in honor of her God who has beautified her. And they shall call her "The city of Jehovah, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (13-14).
Vv. 15-18 – Made Glorious Through Her Eternal Excellency
Because his people had forsaken him, Jehovah gave them up to their own ways (cf. 50:1; 54:6) as he had told them from the beginning that he would (2 Chron. 12:1, 5; 15:2). Because of the desolation no one lived in Zion and no man passed through her (cf. 33:8—9). Jehovah will now change this condition. He will make her an eternal excellency and a joy of generations. "Eternal" indicates a long time or period; Zion will last for an entire age through many generations. It is possible that it also looks beyond the Messianic stage into the home eternal (15).
Thou shalt also suck the milk of the nations. This unusual figure must be taken figuratively (cf. 49:23), possibly drawn from Deut. 33:19. While they are sustained and built up by the wealth of nations and kings from their breasts, she shall know that Jehovah is her Savior and sustainer. He is the Mighty One of Jacob, able to redeem, build, and sustain the new nation of Zion just as he built and cared for the Israel of Zion of old (16).
The nature of the materials that go into the building of Zion makes it precious in value and indestructible. The figurative prophecy is an indication that God's house will progress from good to better: brass to gold, iron to silver, more precious wood than before, stones to iron. Everything is better and more precious than before (17).*4*
In the worldwide kingdom of peace ruled from Zion, violence shall no more be heard in the land. Those drawn to Zion from among the nations shall have beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; they will learn war no more (2:2-4). There will be no desolation and destruction within the borders of Zion, for desolation and destruction pertain only to those who know not Jehovah and the joys of Zion. By contrast, those who have passed through the gates of Praise and dwell within the wall of Salvation will continue to praise him for his salvation and to practice peace instead of violence (18).
Vv. 19-22 – Made Glorious Through Jehovah's Everlasting Light
This chapter began with Jehovah's glorious light in his future kingdom (see also 24:23; 30:26). Jehovah now returns to that light. In the city described here the sun and moon contribute no light, for Jehovah will be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. If the sun and the moon can contribute no light, what light can human wisdom and philosophy add? They can only add darkness and confusion. With Jehovah as the light the Sun and Moon shall no more go down.*5* Moreover, mourning shall be ended (19-20).
A city of Zion's nature demands citizens of a special character – they shall be all righteous (see Rev. 14:1-5). The righteous are to inherit Zion's land forever (cf. 57:13b); they shall never be driven out or cast off. Earlier Jehovah's vineyard had been left to destruction (5:1-7), but the citizens of his new city are identified as the branch of my planting, which relates them to the Root and Branch of Jesse, the rallying point of the nations (11:1, 10). Through the Servant, Jehovah will accomplish this planting, the work of his hand, that he may be glorified (cf. 61:3) (21).
The number and strength of the citizens will be multiplied. Jehovah will hasten fulfillment in its time (cf. Mark 1:14-15; Acts 1:7; Gal. 4:4). What has been promised will be done, for "the zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this" (9:7) (22).
Glorious Zion! (2)
Several commentators have suggested that chapter 60 relates to the outer glory of Zion while chapter 61 relates to her inner glory. In chapter 60 Jehovah is the speaker and declares "I will glorify the house of my glory (60:7); in chapter 61 the Servant is the speaker and through him Jehovah will bring inner beauty to his glorious city.
Vv. 1-3 – The Herald of Good Tidings
Although the word "Servant" is not mentioned in these verses, the similarity to prior Servant passages leaves little doubt as to the speaker's identity. While some commentators identify Isaiah as the speaker, it is not likely to be the case. The speaker's message and work far transcend those of a prophet, even the greatest of the prophets. The message and work are more characteristic of deity. In this case there is no doubt. When Jesus began his ministry, he read these verses in the synagogue and then said, "Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:16-21).
The servant begins by declaring that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him.*6* Peter declared that God anointed Christ "with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts 10:38). Having announced this anointment and power, the Servant declares the cause: because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland*7* for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Notice these words carefully – the Servant is anointed not only to preach and proclaim, but also to bind and comfort. He was not only to speak; he was also to act and do. The end result sought was that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified (1-3).
Vv. 4-9 – The Mission and Blessing of the Redeemed
Those who have been blessed by the Servant's work are given a threefold task. They are to: 1) build the old wastes (waste places); 2) raise up the former desolations; and 3) repair the waste cities. The desolation that had laid Zion waste has occurred over many generations. The repairs are to include new boundaries. The old ones are too restricted for the new Zion. Isaiah's view here is a world-view (see 49:19-20) (4).
Strangers, people who were not related to the original citizens of Zion and who were not party to the covenants of the promise (Eph. 2:12), will contribute their part in building Zion. The language used is metaphorical – there is no evidence after the return from exile that foreigners fed the flocks, plowed the fields, or dressed the vineyards of the Jews. Indeed, spiritual Israel is not concerned with flocks or plowmen or vineyards. It is true that the Gentile converts helped to alleviate the physical needs of Jewish saints as the Jewish saints ministered to the spiritual needs of the Gentiles (Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:13-15; 9:12-15), but even that conduct fails to be broad enough to qualify for what is envisioned in this verse. The thought appears to be that the Jews and Gentiles will work together in building the new Zion (5).
New Zion will be priests and ministers of God. There will be no special priesthood apart from the citizens of the new Zion (1 Pet. 2:5). Neither will there be clergy and laity; each citizen will be charged with offering "service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe" (Heb. 13:15). The priests and ministers are worthy of support and, as they come into the kingdom, dedicating all that they are and have, they will provide support (see comments on 60:4-9 and the passages listed in the paragraph above). To the extent that this language implies some lower social class for the nations, it is not implying that the Jews are to lord it over the nations. The day is coming when the Jews will no more need to fear the nations. What the language does proclaim is that the day is coming when the abundance of the nations will be Israel's to enjoy and to take pride in. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament comments on this passage:
A third contextual use of the root, eating well, indicates prosperity (Joel 2:26; Gen 45:18; 2 Kgs 18:31; Prov 24:13; Deut 8:3) or the lack of prosperity when eating does not satisfy (Mic 6:14). Closely related to this is the circumstance of eating what others earned as a symbol of victory (Isa 61:6) but others eating of it symbolizes defeat (65:22).
All through Isaiah Jehovah has proclaimed victory over the nations, not only in the sense of their defeat to free his people, but of leading them to salvation in the New Zion. Since it is the New Zion that is in view here, and given the prophecy discussed above (60:4-9), the concept seems to be that the Jewish converts will glory in and boast of the fact that the abundance of the nations will be theirs to enjoy because of their victory. History may seem to have suggested that the gods of the nations were greater than the God of Israel, but the further unfolding of history will make it abundantly clear that this was not and is not the case (5-6).
Instead of shame and dishonor, Israel shall have a double portion in which they shall rejoice. "Double" basically involves a doubling of an original item, whether it be 1) getting twice as much as originally, or 2) making a duplicate so as to have an exact copy, or 3) having a second item or person, a second rank or section. Thus Jacob's sons, on their second trip to Egypt took double the money they took on the first trip (Gen 43:15). In Zech 9:12 and here God promises Israel a double portion, which may mean a superabundance of blessing, or perhaps better the full blessing and inheritance as the firstborn heirs, that special place which the heir occupies in the father's household and in his plans. This double blessing will take place in their land that they possess, the new Zion where they shall have everlasting joy (7).
The shame of banishment will then be changed into an excess of joy, and honorable distinction. Jehovah will provide that joy because he loves justice and hates robbery with iniquity. He will give them their recompense in truth and make an everlasting covenant with them. That covenant will be a covenant of peace with his sanctuary in the midst of his people (see Ezek. 37:26) (8).
The seed of the godly will be recognized among the nations because they are different. The heathen may not accept the truth that guides the lives of the godly, but they will recognize the righteousness of their lives and the spirit of joy and peace that they possess. These are blessings that come only from above (9).
Vv. 10-11 – Zion's Burst of Praise!
It is Zion that now breaks forth in song rejoicing in Jehovah and being joyful in God. She is the recipient of the blessings described in vv. 1-3, and Jehovah has clothed her in garments of salvation and thrown over her the robe of righteousness. The filthy garments of the past have been cast off. To emphasize the beauty of Zion's glory Isaiah compares it with the attire of a groom and the adornment of the bride with jewels (10)
That which is achieved in Zion through the Servant will be Jehovah's work. Just as he causes the plants of the earth to sprout and grow and the seed sown in the garden to come forth, so shall he cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. In spite of all the nations' opposition, Jehovah will anoint the Servant with his spirit, redeem and glorify Zion, establish an everlasting covenant, and make his people known among the nations (11).
Salvation is Drawing Near
Vv. 1-5 – The New Name and Glory of Zion
Whom do men say that the speaker is in chapter 62? Some say that it is Jehovah; some, the Servant; others say it Isaiah or that it is uncertain. While each of these has its arguments, v. 6, where the speaker says, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls," seems to settle the issue in favor of Jehovah. Whichever is correct, the answer does not affect the end result of that which we have here – the word of Jehovah through the prophet revealing the Servant's work.
For Zion's sake, on her account and for her benefit, Jehovah will not hold his peace, nor will he rest until her righteousness go forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burneth. Her righteousness is her vindication or justification; it rests upon her salvation through a Savior (the Servant). The righteousness and salvation, the work of Jehovah upon Zion, will be seen as a steadily beaming light from a lamp that will not go out (1).
Zion's righteousness will be seen by the nations, kings will see her glory, and the mouth of the Lord will give her a new name by which she shall be called. The identity of the new name is not made clear. What is clear is that in Israelite culture as well as in the entire ancient Near East, name and character were intimately associated. This is the reason for the importance attached to the naming of children (cf. 7:3, 14; 8:3; 9:5). It also explains the significance of important name changes in the patriarchal accounts (Gen. 17:5; 32:28). Here the proclamation of a new name for Zion indicates the new condition and character that God's salvation will provide for her. Some associate the new name with believers first being called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26); however most commentators see no such relationship.*8* V. 4 may be what is meant in v. 2.
Before the announcement of the new names, however, another image is introduced to convey the character and condition of Israel. In 28:1-4 Ephraim was said to be a "a "proud crown whose beauty was fading like a party goers wreath of flowers."*9* Only the Lord can be Israel's "crown of glory" (28:5). Here Jehovah says that Zion will be a "crown of beauty" and a "royal diadem" in his hand. Why in his hand? Commentators have suggested several reasons why a crown would be in God's hand instead of on his head, some of them quite silly. If there is significance it is possibly the fact that being in Jehovah's hand speaks of the protection of God for his people (3).
Now we come to names specifically identified as new – Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah. The reason for the new names is that Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. Note the distinction drawn between Zion and the land. Desolation and devastation had been the result of the sins committed in the land; a divine judgment had been brought upon it. But Zion is now called Hephzi-bah ("My delight is in her") and the land is called Beulah ("Married"). There will be a close and permanent relationship of possession between Zion and the land, for "he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain" (57:13) (4).
As a young man marries a virgin and dedicates himself to protecting and caring for her honor, so the sons of Zion dedicate themselves to the honor of Jehovah's land and people—his kingdom. Their relationship we be pure and chaste. As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Vv. 6-9 – Jehovah's protection and provision for Zion
To what is Jehovah making reference when he declares, I have set watchmen upon they walls, O Jerusalem. It cannot refer to fallen Jerusalem when the people are captives in Babylon, nor can it refer to the return from exile. It was a hundred years before Nehemiah completed rebuilding the walls. Jehovah has been speaking of spiritual Zion, the walls of which will be called "Salvation" and her gates "Praise" (60:18). There is no reason to suppose that here he has switched to physical Jerusalem. Who, then, are the watchmen? Some say they are the prophets; some say they are the priests and prophets; some say they are angels. Haley suggests that there is a choice that relates more to spiritual Zion? "11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors*10* and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-12). Their assigned task is the perfecting of the saints. In that task they shall never hold their peace day nor night; [they] are Jehovah's remembrancers [and are to] take … no rest." While this is appealing, the assigned task seems more related to the coming of spiritual Zion than to spiritual Zion's care after its coming. If that is the case, who then are the watchmen? Some history may help reach a conclusion. First, "watchmen" is used one other time in 21:11 where they are asked what they see coming in the distance. A synonym occurs in 52:8 where the "watchmen" are fulfilling a similar role as they report the return of the victorious God to his city. A similar task may be implied here in that the watchmen are in position to report the arrival of God to complete his glorious plans for the city (cf. v. 10). But if that is their function it is strange that no mention is made of it. What is stated is that their commission is to remind God of his promise until it is accomplished (7).
In Ezekiel it is plain that the function of the watchman is to make people aware of coming danger so that they can avert the disaster, if they will (3:17-19; 33:7-9). The context there makes clear that those "watchmen" are the prophets, as some believe they are here. But the text here has no hint of the task of warning. Moreover, the text related to the New Zion makes clear that there will be no enemies for the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem to be warned of. Furthermore, it is not clear that a major part of the prophetic calling was the kind of intercession that is highlighted here.
A third possibility, and the one that has perhaps the fewest difficulties is that these are angelic beings (cf. e.g., Dan. 4:13) who have been appointed by Jehovah as functionaries in the heavenly court, specifically those that remind. As 2 Sam. 18:6, 1 Kings 4:3, and Isa. 36:3 show, the Israelite kings had officials who title was "The One Who Reminds."*11* This person's task was probably to be certain that the king remembered what he had committed himself to do. Here then God, the heavenly king, is reassuring his people with imagery familiar to them that he will not forget what he has promised to do. He has gone so far as to appoint "watchers" whose sole task is not to allow him to forget how precious Jerusalem (walls is a synecdoche) is to him and what he has promised to do for it (Zech. 1:12; also Isa 43:26).
But why would God need to be reminded of his promises? That question arises from reading the imagery too literally. Whoever the "watchmen" are, the important thing is that God is asserting that he will never forget what he has promised, no matter how dark the days may become between the hour the prophet speaks it and the day of its fulfillment. To make that point again (cf. 49:15-16) he uses the imagery of the royal court. He will not forget, but just to be sure he will not, he has appointed "Reminders" whose sole duty it is to say, "Sir, don't forget what thou have said about Jerusalem." Will he forget" "No," a thousand times "no"! Not only will he not allow himself to rest (v. 1), neither will he allow those who remind him to give him rest until the day that his vision for redeemed humanity is fully accomplished (8).
How certain is it that Jehovah will keep his promise. Just as God swore that he would not be wroth with Zion, that his loving-kindness would not depart from her, and that the covenant of peace would not be made void (54:9-10). Now he adds to that oath. By his uplifted hand and by the mighty arm of his strength, he swears to more will he give to Zion's enemies the grain and wine for which they had labored. Of course, this signifies spiritual food since literal grain and wine can neither sustain the immaterial part of man nor support an immaterial city. Zion's food is spiritual food: "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6:27) (9).
Vv. 10-12 – Salvation of the Daughter of Zion
The majority of commentators think that the command to go through the gates relates to the return from the Babylonian exile. However, this does not seem to fit well with the remainder of the chapter. Zion's glory has been established and Jehovah's care guaranteed by an oath. It seems here that Jehovah is enjoining Zion to prepare for the nations to come in. Those within are to go forth and prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones, and then lift up an ensign for ("over," margin) the peoples. The ensign or standard could be a rallying point for an army in the field or for a scattered people. Earlier Isaiah said that the Root of Jesse would stand for an ensign of the peoples and that unto him would the nations seek (11:10). Jehovah promised that he would lift up his hand to the nations and "set up [his] ensign to the peoples" (49:22), whereupon they would bring Zion's sons and daughters to her. Thus, the language seems to teach that Zion's citizens go forth removing obstacles, making clear the way, and lifting high the banner so that those of the nations (Gentiles) can find their way to Zion and pass through the gates into the city (10).
When the Servant comes, he will come not only to the Jews, but will also be "for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth" (49:6). This proclamation is made to his people who are scattered to the ends of the earth: Say ye to the daughter of Zion (the citizens), Behold, thy salvation cometh. The prophet is looking to that time when the glory of Zion will be complete through the Savior; then Jehovah's reward to the people will be a dwelling place in his presence, the wages for their patient waiting and labor (cf. 40:10) (11).
Those to whom salvation comes will be called The holy people, The redeemed of Jehovah. They will be recognized a people separate from all others because their redemption is of Jehovah, not man. The complaint that Jehovah has forsaken Zion (49:14, that she has been cast off as his wife (54:6), forsaken and hated (60:15) will no more be heard. Rather, thou shalt be called Sought our, for the Lord will have sought and called her out of the world, and A city not forsaken (cf. v. 4), constantly under his divine care and protection. While Isaiah does not include this warning, we can surely conclude from what he does say that should the citizens of Zion lose sight of this sacred relationship, become a religious "social club" concerned primarily with political affairs and business enterprises, they will cease to be The holy people, separate and different from the world. They will become just another religious body.
*1* The abundance of the sea may be the nations made restless by Jehovah or a reference to the wealth that they bring with them.
*2* See Rev. 21:25. Both of these passages relate to the church militant, not heaven or the church triumphant. When the redeemed have passed through the gates of heaven they shall indeed be closed (see Matt. 25:10).
*3* The temple is referred to as "the footstool of our God" (1 Chron. 28:2), and the place of worship as "his footstool" (Psa. 99:5; 132:7). In worship we "look up" to him.
*4* The word "better" occurs 13 times in Hebrews, indicating the superiority of spiritual Zion.
*5* "I have heard of a land On a far away strand/ In the Bible the story is told,/ Where cares never come, Never darkness nor gloom,/ And nothing shall ever grow old./ In that beautiful land On the far away strand,/ No storms with their blasts ever frown;/ The streets I am told, are paved with pure gold,/ And the sun, it shall never go down." F.A.F. White, "I Have Heard of a Land," stanza one and chorus.
*6* Isaiah sees the Spirit as having a developing role in the work of the One to come – 11:2; 42:1; 48:16b; 49:8; 50:4.
*7* The basic meaning of rAaDÚp in the Piel [Piel and Hithpael, below, are "stems" in the Hebrew language that affect the meaning of words.] is "to beautify/glorify." In the six instances of this, the subject of the verb is always God. The recipient is his child(ren), for example, 55:5; Ps 149:4, or his sanctuary (Ezr 7:27; Isa 60:7, 13). This thought is carried into the use of pÚDaAr in the Hithpael (Isa 44:23; 49:3; 60:21; 61:3). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. This is the basis for the King James translation, "beauty for ashes." I prefer it because of its "beauty." "Beauty for ashes, gladness for tears,/ Sunshine for darkness, faith for our fears;/ Peace for our turmoil, concord for strife,/ Heaven at evening – then endless life!" Beauty for Ashes, Grant Colfax Tullar, stanza three.
*8* In his commentary on Acts, J.W. McGarvey, one of the greatest scholars of the church, did not mention Isaiah or ch. 62:2. The closest he came to talking about the "new name" in his comments on Acts 11:26 is: "There has been much dispute as to whether this new name was given by Barnabas and Saul under divine authority, or by the Gentiles of Antioch, or by the disciples themselves. It would serve no practical purpose to decide between the latter two suppositions, for, with whichever party it originated, it was subsequently accepted by the disciples in general.
As to the supposition that the name was given by direct revelation through Barnabas and Saul, a thorough discussion of its merits would require more verbal criticism than is suited to the design of this work, and, at the same time, be less decisive in reference to the authority of the name in question, than the course of investigation which we prefer to institute. We retain, therefore, the common version of the passage, which is sustained by the great mass of critics of all ages and all parties, while we seek a more certain basis on which to rest the divine authority of the new name than verbal criticism can establish."
*9* This is a paraphrase. The text reads: "Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!" (ASV)
*10* Of the elders, "them that have the rule over [us]," it is specifically said that "they watch in behalf of [our] souls" (Heb. 13:17).
*11* Heb. Mazkîr, a Hiphil participle from zkr, "to remember," is usually translated as "secretary" or "recorder."
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)