Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is Isaiah 25 A Universalist Text

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will prepare a rich feast for all peoples,
A banquet of choice wines, fat meat full of marrow, and of rich wines well strained.
7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is draped over the faces of the peoples,
The covering spread over all the nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever.  The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces;
He will end the reproach of his people in all the earth,
For it is the Lord who has spoken.

In the middle of woe oracles against Edom, Moab, Egypt, and every other surrounding nation to Israel, the book of Isaiah provides us with some universalist prooftexts!  Take heart, universalists, you too have scriptural passages that you can throw at Christians who love to talk about hell as eternal, conscious torment.  But take note, you will still be wrong. 
The thing that this passage does provide is a glimpse of the future hope that Yahweh will bring the nations into his final resolution of all things.  He will wipe away the tears from all faces, and His feast will be for all peoples.  This is a notion particularly in Isaiah (but in the other prophets as well) that becomes extremely important for the interpretation of early Christians.  God’s message is a message for all peoples.
Unfortunately, some will refuse to participate in the grand story that Yahweh offers for all people.  In verse 10, the prophet explains that “Moab will be trampled upon in His place, as a straw is trampled in a manure pit” because they continually rebel against Yahweh.  According to Brevard Childs, chapter 25 singles out Moab as a vessel of destruction “not for personal spite, but as the symbol of arrogance and pride that rejects the inclusion of all nations under the rule of Yahweh, Lord of hosts.”  God’s salvation is for all people, but not all will take part in what He has done.

1 comment:

  1. You're right-- salvation made available to all does not mean everyone will choose to accept and take part in what He has done. Here's a harder question: what happens to those who live justly and rightly but don't know the name of Jesus?