27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
1901 ASV Translation:
27 And Isaiah crieth concerning Israel, If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved:
28 for the Lord will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short.
29 And, as Isaiah hath said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We had become as Sodom, and had been made like unto Gomorrah.
I. Paul's References to Isaiah.
A. Both of the statements indicate that only a small portion of Israel shall be saved.
1. The import of these statements is that God's program to develop "vessels of mercy" out of "people" who were "not My people" had a background in the fact that the "people" who were supposed to be "His people" were a hard-hearted, stiff-necked, rebellious and wicked bunch who, left to themselves, would have become as Sodom and Gomorrah.
a. This is a significant indictment, but not so much stronger than Paul's denunciations already made in Romans 2:17-29. The bottom line is the fact that the arrogance of those who attempted to use the special mercy of God as a basis for their own exaltation was, in fact, being rejected by God. The stench of self-importance is so great that Heaven has to use incense to cover the stink when men come to "worship" God. "Love", Paul wrote, "vaunteth not itself."
1) "People" are incorrigible in regard to their commitment to be treated as if they are "specially valuable".
2) God, Who actually considers people as enormously valuable, is especially angered by this incorrigible insistence. It is only the love of God when those who really are valuable consider others as more valuable than themselves. In fact, God puts even more value upon a person who is willing to decrease his own value in his own eyes in order to elevate someone else's need above his own. Jesus said, "Therefore doth My Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again" (John 10:17). The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep even when his death will mean the sheep are now without a shepherd. He does not use the deception: Well, I cannot allow myself to be killed to spare a few sheep because that will leave the other sheep to the mercy of the wolves. The fact is that when presidents and kings stopped being the first man out of the fox hole to lead the charge, those "leaders" ceased being worthy of their following. It was when David did not "go forth" that he pulled his "Bathsheba" stunt (2 Samuel 11:1).
b. Isaiah, himself, who cried out that only a remnant would be saved, was a man who claimed that he, as a man of unclean lips, "dwelt in the midst of a people of unclean lips".
1) The language of the text is such that we must understand that Isaiah, and Paul, were contrasting the impressive growth of "the sons of Israel" with what was really going to happen: only a remnant would be saved.
2) The rationale is given: the Lord will "do" a/the "word" upon the earth with two attendant activities: completing and cutting short.
a) The word translated "finish" is used seven times in the New Testament. It refers to something that has come to an end, or conclusion. In this statement, the implication is that God will bring "the word" to a conclusion; the "program" will be brought to a successful end.
b) The word translated "cut it short" is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. Paul's use of Isaiah 10:22-23 is not a precise quote, but a reference to the truth of his words.
3) The point is that Paul conceived of the Lord's "performance" of the "word" in terms of both a host of "processes" that were designed to lead to a certain result and an action of suspension by which those "processes", having done what was decreed, were "cut off". Much like the pine forests which produce an enormous amount of pollen in order to fertilize the seeds within the pine cone, the "processes of God" are extravagant so that an enormous "number" is generated to produce a limited group.
2. The fact is this: Paul's announcement that God was including "Gentiles" in God's chosen "vessels of mercy" would have been no significant announcement if the "Jews" had not become so arrogantly exclusive of others in their view of their own place in the Plan of God to bring Life to the world.
a. This is not an argument for "inclusiveness" sans the truths that lead to inclusion. There is an hypocritical "inclusiveness" that only seeks to be highly regarded by a larger number of "others". But there is also an unhypocritical inclusiveness that seeks to include by persuasion of the truths that allow inclusion.
1) There are truths that "exclude".
2) There are truths that "include".
3) But both exclusion and inclusion are bastardized when their set of truths are jettisoned. The Truths are the parents; inclusion and exclusion are the children.
b. This is an argument for damping down the fleshly lust to be treated with "respect".
B. Isaiah's claim that only a "remnant" would be saved clearly declares that all of those fleshly attempts to produce something "worthy of honor" are going to be defeated. No matter how "big" (impressive) the number of the "sons of Israel" gets, only the few who are yet malleable by the words of Truth will be saved.
1. It must be an indisputable fact that malleability yet exists.
a. By "malleablity" I mean the inconclusive grip that Sin has upon personality.
b. It is only an unrevealed rationality that there is no "Savior" for angelic rebels because their sin instantly put them "over the edge" in terms of Sin's dominion. But, if this be "fact", then humans have a "Savior" because they are yet "savable". But the Bible warns of humans moving into the realm of the incorrigible; the realm of unmalleability. Hardening of the heart happens. At some point, even the grace of God cannot make a dent. At this point, wrath is the only "solution" to the on-going carnage.
2. But the questions arise: at what point does even God acknowledge the end of it?
a. Does God simply reject, and dispose of, those who are yet in the malleable stage?
b. Or does He permit the stage to die before He imposes judgment?
c. Or are there those who are "born" unmalleable because of the degeneration over generations? Do God's "elect" have a "protected" genetic encoding that keeps them malleable until grace intervenes unto salvation?
1) To what degree do genetics impact the issue of Sin's dominion over the children of the fallen Adam? Was there a genetic poison in the fruit of the forbidden tree that pervaded Adam's gene-code, but with greater and lesser generational communicability? Was Cain initially more corrupted than Abel, or was it the way Adam and Eve fawned over him what made the difference? Are all the sons of Adam "equally" subject to Sin at birth so that it is the actions and reactions after birth that make the distinctions, or are some more poisoned than others?
2) To what degree does God oversee the actions/reactions of His elect so that they are protected from the hardening process?