The Future Conversion of the Jews Examined in Light of Isaiah 61:1-4
Proof #4: We derive this proof from Isaiah 61. “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings … to proclaim liberty to the captives” (vs. 1); “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (vs. 2); “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes … that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified” (vs. 3); “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations” (vs. 4); “But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (vs. 6); “For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them” (vs. 7). Here a most excellent restoration of Israel after her destruction is prophesied—according to body and soul. Nothing can be construed against this, except if one were to maintain that the prophet is speaking of the deliverance from Babylon. Since it is a certainty, however, that after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., and the dispersion of the Jews by them, there will be a general restoration of the Jews—as we have previously shown from the New Testament—one would have to show from this text that the reference here is to the deliverance from Babylon rather than to their last conversion.
Objection: This is the point of contention, namely, whether such a conversion is to be anticipated.
Answer: If the matter itself has been confirmed from other texts, and one then arrives at this text, the point of contention is: Of which of the two deliverances does this text speak? If one claims that the reference is to the first, one will have to prove this to be so. However, let us consider the text by itself, and it will be proven that the reference here is not to the deliverance from Babylon, but to a deliverance of Israel which as yet has not transpired, but will occur.
(1) This deliverance after a lengthy desolation would occur after the coming of the Messiah. This is evident when we compare verses 1-3 with Luke 4:14,21, where the Lord Jesus, having read this prophecy, states, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
(2) This conversion and restoration would take place after a desolation of Canaan, the duration of which would be from generation to generation. It cannot be said of the captivity in Babylon, which lasted but seventy years, that it lasted from generation to generation, for the same generation returned. There were those among them who still had a good memory of the glory of the first temple (Ezra 3:12).
(3) They did not receive double after their deliverance from Babylon—also not spiritually. Generally speaking, they were buried under a deep layer of ignorance, superstition, and ungodliness. How wretched was their condition when Christ came! After this deliverance, however, Israel would be “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” This was also not true in physical terms, for during the entire period from the restoration from Babylon until the destruction of Jerusalem, which is a period of approximately five hundred years, they have experienced nothing but unrest, troubles, wars, and their land being occupied. They did not possess their land, but were cast out—as is the case until this day.
(4) Israel would be adorned with an extraordinary luster and glory after this deliverance. They would be called priests of the Most High. In the Old Testament, the priestly office was limited to the tribe of Levi, to the house of Aaron, while other tribes were barred from this. However, here a time is prophesied of when the entire nation would thus be glorified, and all would approach unto God, as did the priests. After their deliverance from Babylon they have never been in such a state as is promised here. “And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed” (Isa 61:9). From all that has been said it is evident that this text does not speak of the deliverance from Babylon, but of a conversion and restoration which as yet is to be anticipated, and which is promised here in certain terms.
Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 4, pp. 526-528