Today (the 9th of May) in the church calendar is the memorial day of the great Hebrew prophet Isaiah. Here is his entry in the Roman Martyrology:
“Commemoration of Saint Isaiah the prophet, who, in the days of Ozias, Ioatham, Achaz and Ezechias, kings of Juda, was sent to reveal to an unfaithful and sinful people the Lord, Who is faithful and their Saviour, in fulfilment of the promises made to David by God. According to the tradition of the Jews, he suffered martyrdom under king Manasses of Juda.”Roman Martyrology, May the 9th
Isaias son of Amos lived some time before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, but could certainly see far enough, by the grace of God, to know that this bombshell was approaching and what it would do to the people. Indeed he could see even further into the future and describe in many ways the Messianic age we are living in, so much so that he is often said to have written the fifth Gospel. I shall try to add as much of this as I can, without making this post too long. In Scripture school, you hear that there is a consensus that the book of Isaias was written in three segments, at three different periods, and later on merged together into a single book; scholars who support this theory may speak of a ‘school of Isaiah,’ composed of the prophet’s disciples, who produced the later sequences. It’s all terribly clever, I’m sure, but I shall be treating the book as a whole, as it was first given to us by the Church, and not speculating about multiple authors.
Isaias is similar to other prophets in the usual condemnations: the people have forsaken the God of their ancestors and become thoroughly idolatrous, becoming comparable to the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; their practice of the Hebrew religion is superficial and has become abominable to God; and they are morally corrupt. All this is in the first chapter, which gives us the famous call to penitence and the washing away of the filth of sin:
“‘Wash yourselves clean, spare Me the sight of your busy wickedness, of your wrong-doing take farewell. Learn, rather, how to do good, setting your hearts on justice, righting the wrong, protecting the orphan, giving the widow redress; then come back,’ says the Lord, ‘and make trial of Me. Crimson-dyed be your guilt, it shall turn snow-white; like wool new-washed yonder scarlet stain. Will you think better of it, and listen, and have rich harvests to feed you? Or will you refuse, and defy Me, and yourselves be food for the sword? The Lord has given sentence.'”Isaias, 1: 16-20
This is very sad, because in the time of Isaias, the people still had a chance to turn back to God and find atonement with Him, but by the time of Ezechiel their chance had passed by and not even the good will of the reformer King Josias could turn back the wrath of God. There’s that wonderful bit from chapter two that is also present in Michaeas (chapter four), a picture of the Messianic age, when the Gentiles would enter the Church of God:
“In later days, the mountain where the Lord dwells will be lifted high above the mountain-tops, looking down over the hills, and all nations will flock there together. A multitude of peoples will make their way to it, crying, ‘Come, let us climb up to the Lord’s mountain-peak, to the house where the God of Jacob dwells; He shall teach us the right way, we will walk in the paths He has chosen.’ The Lord’s commands shall go out from Sion, His word from Jerusalem, and He will sit in judgement on the nations, giving His award to a multitude of peoples. They will melt down their swords into plough-shares, their spears into pruning-hooks, nation levying war against nation and training itself for battle no longer. ‘Come you too (they will say), children of Jacob, let us walk together in the path where the Lord shews us light.'”Isaias, 2: 2-5
In chapter five, we find the story of the owner of the vineyard that was adopted by Christ after his entry into Jerusalem as Messiah (Gospel of S. Matthew, 21: 33-46), to the great rage of the Sadducees and the scribes, who realised that the original condemnation of Isaiah against the rulers of the Israelites of his time was now being levelled against them in Jerusalem by the successor of David.
“‘A song, now, in honour of one that is my good friend; a song about a near kinsman of mine, and the vineyard that he had. This friend, that I love well, had a vineyard in a corner of his ground, all fruitfulness. He fenced it in, and cleared it of stones, and planted a choice vine there; built a tower, too, in the middle, and set up a wine-press in it. Then he waited for grapes to grow on it, and it bore wild grapes instead. And now, citizens of Jerusalem, and all you men of Juda, I call upon you to give award between my vineyard and me. What more could I have done for it? What say you of the wild grapes it bore, instead of the grapes I looked for? Let me tell you, then, what I mean to do to this vineyard of mine. I mean to rob it of its hedge, so that all can plunder it, to break down its wall, so that it will be trodden under foot. I mean to make waste-land of it; no more pruning and digging; only briars and thorns will grow there, and I will forbid the clouds to water it. Alas, it is the house of Israel that the Lord called his vineyard; the men of Juda are the plot he loved so. He looked to find right reason there, and all was treason; to find plain dealing, and he heard only the plaint of the oppressed.”Isaias, 5: 1-7
See also chapter twenty-seven, where the destruction is given as a means of disciplining the people, aimed at purifying them and cleansing them of their errors. The rest of chapter five continues the condemnation of the rulers of the people and the false prophets, who had not only led them into ruin through idolatry (see also chapter twenty-eight), but were thoroughly unjust in their dealings with ordinary people (stealing their land and possessions, for example), had neglected the warnings of the true prophets as well, and so were leading all their dependants into utter ruin (see also chapter nine). Chapter six provides us the details of Isaias’ calling and his famous cleansing of soul by the angel, sometimes used at Ordination Masses.
“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne that towered high above me, the skirts of His robe filling the temple. Above it rose the figures of the seraphim, each of them six-winged; with two wings they veiled God’s face, with two his feet, and the other two kept them poised in flight. And ever the same cry passed between them, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; all the earth is full of His glory.’ The lintels over the doors rang with the sound of that cry, and smoke went up, filling the temple courts. ‘Alas,’ said I, ‘that I must needs keep silence; my lips, and the lips of all my countrymen, are polluted with sin; and yet these eyes have looked upon their King, the Lord of hosts.’ Whereupon one of the seraphim flew up to me, bearing a coal which he had taken with a pair of tongs from the altar; he touched my mouth with it, and said, ‘Now that this has touched thy lips, thy guilt is swept away, thy sin pardoned.’ And now I heard the Lord say, ‘Who shall be my messenger? Who is to go on this errand of ours?’ And I said, ‘I am here at Thy command; make me Thy messenger.’“Isaias, 6: 1-8
The following chapter, chapter seven, gives us the famous prediction of the virgin birth, in response to a question from King Achaz, a rather wretched king but with a superficial piety, and yet grateful that the coalition of the northern kingdom of Israel and the Syrian kingdom would not succeed in attacking Juda. If I remember correctly, it was Achaz who had called on the help of the Assyrian king against the above-mentioned coalition and so drawn the attention of Assyria to the wealth of Juda; thereafter the Judaites would be paying tribute to the Assyrians until the end.
“The Lord sent, besides, this message to Achaz, ‘Ask the Lord thy God to give thee a sign, in the depths beneath thee, or in the height above thee.’ But Achaz said, ‘Nay, I will not ask for a sign; I will not put the Lord to the test.’ ‘Why then,’ said Isaias, ‘listen to me, you that are of David’s race. Cannot you be content with trying the patience of men? Must you try my God’s patience too? Sign you ask none, but sign the Lord will give you. Maid shall be with child, and shall bear a son, that shall be called Emmanuel. On butter and honey shall be his thriving, till he is of age to know good from harm; already, before he can tell this from that, king they shall have none, the two kingdoms that are thy rivals. As for thee, and for thy people, and for thy father’s house, the Lord means to bring upon thee such days of trouble as have not been seen since Ephraim parted from Juda, with the coming of the king of Assyria.'”Isaias, 7: 10-17
“From the stock of Jesse a scion shall burgeon yet; out of his roots a flower shall spring. One shall be born, on whom the spirit of the Lord will rest; a spirit wise and discerning, a spirit prudent and strong, a spirit of knowledge and of piety, and ever fear of the Lord shall fill his heart. Not his to judge by appearances, listen to rumours when he makes award; here is judgement will give the poor redress, here is award will right the wrongs of the defenceless. Word of him shall smite the earth like a rod, breath of him destroy the ill-doer; love of right shall be the baldric he wears, faithfulness the strength that girds him. Wolf shall live at peace with lamb, leopard take its ease with kid; calf and lion and sheep in one dwelling-place, with a little child to herd them! Cattle and bears all at pasture, their young ones lying down together, lion eating straw like ox; child new-weaned, fresh from its mother’s arms, playing by asp’s hole, putting hand in viper’s den! All over this mountain, my sanctuary, no hurt shall be done, no life taken. Deep as the waters that hide the sea-floor, knowledge of the Lord overspreading the world! There he stands, fresh root from Jesse’s stem, signal beckoning to the peoples all around; the Gentiles will come to pay their homage, where he rests in glory.“Isaias, 11: 1-10
It all brings a tear to the eye, these visions of the Messianic age. We Catholics may look at the flower springing from the root of Jesse as the Blessed Virgin herself, for she was of the tribe of Juda and of the family of King David, and through her agreement to the plan of God, permitted God to take human form and walk among His ancient people as He had never done before. As we can see, the main sign of the Messianic age is the entry of the Gentiles into the Church of God, the very thing the Sadducees and the scribes of Christ’s time could not tolerate (remember that even the people of Nazareth tried to kill Christ, when he mentioned this, Gospel of S. Luke, 4: 24-29). The next few chapters begin with a series of woes on all the nations that had made some form of enmity with the Israelite kingdoms, and this formula is common to the other great prophets: there was Babylon, that would be the instrument of God’s punishment of the people (chapter thirteen) and would herself one day lose her strength and be destroyed by the Persians; there was Philistia, who rejoiced in the destruction of the power of Juda during Sennacherib’s invasions (end of chapter fourteen); there was Moab, one of the earliest foes of the Israelites (chapter fifteen and sixteen); there was the Syrian power of Damascus, soon to be overrun by the Chaldeans (chapter seventeen); there was Egypt, that rejoiced in an ancient wisdom and power, but which would also be overrun by the Chaldeans (chapter nineteen); there were the Persians of Tyre, famous merchants and traders, who would rejoice in the destruction of the power of Israel and Juda, who had monopolised access to the ancient trade routes, so that all merchandise reaching Tyre passed through Israel (chapter twenty-three). The Chaldeans would wipe the slate clean with the Holy Land and its neighbouring territories, and all that would be left would be a Hebrew remnant, chosen to rebuild.
“In the midst of the wide earth, among those many peoples, what shall be left? A remnant, the last olives that are shaken from the tree, the gleanings that remain when vintage-time is over. Few only, but they shall lift up their voices in praise; God’s honour vindicated, their rejoicing shall be heard across the sea, Give glory to God, where knowledge of him is revealed; praise to the God of Israel among the distant isles; here at the ends of the earth his song of triumph has reached us, the boast of his elect.”Isaias, 24: 13-16
And then Isaias goes Messianic again, recalling that feast on mount Sion to which Gentiles would arrive (chapter two), and we get a wonderful little piece which is echoed in the Gospels and in the book of Apocalypse (aka. Revelation) – it’s all about the freedom of the people and the removal of sadness and despair.
“A time is coming when the Lord of hosts will prepare a banquet on this mountain of ours; no meat so tender, no wine so mellow, meat that drips with fat, wine well strained. Gone the chains in which He has bound the peoples, the veil that covered the nations hitherto; on the mountain-side, all these will be engulfed; death, too, shall be engulfed for ever. No furrowed cheek but the Lord God will wipe away its tears; gone the contempt His people endured in a whole world’s eyes; the Lord has promised it. When that day comes, men will be saying, ‘He is here, the God to whom we looked for help, the Lord for whom we waited so patiently; ours to rejoice, ours to triumph in the victory He has sent us.’“Isaias, 25: 6-9
But succeeding chapters insist that before all of this comes great destruction, devastation of all the Israelite cities and their dependencies. Chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight begins this with another diatribe against the rulers of the people and chapter thirty and chapter thirty-one call out their diplomatic visits to Egypt, seeking for military aid as the armies of the Assyrians appear on the horizon. Pharaoh, says the prophet, is too weak to provide the support the Judaites are looking for, even if he could challenge the will of God for Juda. From chapter thirty-six, the prophecy is paused for an historical sequence which is almost identical to some of the final chapters of the fourth book of Kings, dealing with the invasion of the Assyrians under King Sennacherib and his challenge to the God of Israel. The Assyrians eventually abandon the assault on Jerusalem, thanks to the prayers of King Ezechias, buying Juda a few more years of respite. The prophetic sequence begins again with chapter forty, and a beautiful set of verses with a Messianic flavour.
“A voice came, bidding me cry aloud; asked I in what words, in these: ‘Mortal things are but grass, the glory of them is but grass in flower; grass that withers, a flower that fades, when the Lord’s breath blows upon it. The whole people, what is it but grass? Grass that withers, a flower that fades; but the word of our Lord stands for ever. Good news for Sion, take thy stand, herald, on some high mountain; good news for Jerusalem, proclaim it, herald, aloud; louder still, no cause now for fear; tell the cities of Juda, See, your God comes! See, the Lord God is coming, revealed in power, with His own strong arm for warrant; and see, they come with Him, they walk before Him, the reward of His labour, the achievement of His task, His own flock! Like a shepherd He tends them, gathers up the lambs and carries them in His bosom, helps the ewes in milk forward on their way.“Isaias, 40: 6-11
This doesn’t quite mention the Gentiles, but it introduces what scholars call the Suffering Servant songs, which some people consider a story of the suffering nation of Israel, but which can be extremely personal, as if speaking of a single person, a particular person. And the Christian mind realises that these are startling images of Christ Himself. See this initial sequence, for example, which Christ quoted in the Gospels…
“‘And now, here is My servant, to whom I grant protection, the man of My choice, greatly beloved. My Spirit rests upon him, and he will proclaim right order among the Gentiles. he will not be contentious or a lover of faction; none shall hear his voice in the streets. he will not snap the staff that is already crushed, or put out the wick that still smoulders; but at last he will establish right order unfailingly. Not with sternness, not with violence; to set up right order on earth, that is his mission. He has a law to give; in the far-off islands men wait for it eagerly. Thus says the Lord God, He who created the heavens and spread them out, Craftsman of the world and all the world affords, He who gives being and breath to all that lives and moves on it: ‘True to My purpose, I, the Lord, have summoned thee, taking thee by the hand and protecting thee, to make, through thee, a covenant with My own people, to shed, through thee, light over the Gentiles: to give sight to blinded eyes, to set the prisoner free from his captivity, from the dungeon where he lies in darkness.’“Isaias, 42: 1-7
Chapters forty-three and forty-four are something of a love song of God to His chosen people, in which He grumbles that they have not returned His affections and calling them back once more, all idolatry cast aside summarily. And now, chapter forty-five appoints a very particular messiah, the Median (Persian) king Cyrus, who is to vanquish the neo-Babylonian empire and permit the Judaites (now called Jews) to return to Juda and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple; the next two chapters tell of the fall of Babylon. The time of schooling over, the Messianic age beckons once more – Christ and His Church will be the light to the Gentiles, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth:
“‘Listen, remote islands; pay heed to me, nations from far away. Ere ever I was born, the Lord sent me His summons, kept me in mind already, when I lay in my mother’s womb. Word of mine is sword of His, ready sharpened, under cover of His hand; arrow He has chosen out carefully, hidden yet in His quiver. ‘Thou art My servant,’ He whispers, ‘thou art the Israel I claim for my own.’ To me, all my labour seemed useless, my strength worn out in vain; His to judge me, He, my God, must reward my work as He would. But now a new message He sends me; I am His servant, appointed ever since I lay in the womb, to bring Jacob back to Him. What if Israel will not answer the summons? None the less, the Lord destines me to honour; none the less, He, my God, protects me. ‘Use thee I will,’ He promises, ‘nor with thy service be content, when the tribes of Jacob thou hast summoned, brought back the poor remnant of Israel; nay, I have appointed thee to be the light of the Gentiles, in thee I will send out my salvation to the furthest corners of the earth.’“Isaias, 49: 1-6
The height of the Suffering Servant verses is reached in the end of chapter fifty-two and all of chapter fifty-three, where the Sacrifice of Christ is manifested in frightening detail.
“‘See, here is My servant, one who will be prudent in all his dealings. To what height he shall be raised, how exalted, how extolled! So many there be that stand gazing in horror; was ever a human form so mishandled, human beauty ever so defaced? Yet this is he that will purify a multitude of nations; kings shall stand dumb in his presence; seen, now, where men had no tidings of him, made known to such as never heard his name.'”Isaias, 52: 13-15
“Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path; and God laid on his shoulders our guilt, the guilt of us all. A victim? Yet he himself bows to the stroke; no word comes from him. Sheep led away to the slaughter-house, lamb that stands dumb while it is shorn; no word from him. Imprisoned, brought to judgement, and carried off, he, whose birth is beyond our knowing; numbered among the living no more! Be sure it is for my people’s guilt I have smitten him. Takes he leave of the rich, the godless, to win but a grave, to win but the gift of death; he, that wrong did never, nor had treason on his lips! Ay, the Lord’s will it was, overwhelmed he should be with trouble. His life laid down for guilt’s atoning, he shall yet be rewarded; father of a long posterity, instrument of the divine purpose; for all his heart’s anguish, rewarded in full. The Just One, My servant; many shall he claim for his own, win their acquittal, on his shoulders bearing their guilt.”Isaias, 53: 6-11
The following chapter returns to the marital language of God’s covenant with the people, renewed in the suffering of His chosen Servant.
“‘Husband now thou hast, and the name of him is the Lord of hosts, thy Creator; He, the Holy One of Israel, that will now be called God of the whole earth, makes thee His own. The Lord calls thee back, a woman forsaken and forlorn, the wife of His youth, long cast away; thy God sends thee word, ‘If I abandoned thee, it was but for a little moment, and now, in My great compassion, I bring thee home again. Hid I My face from thee, it was for a short while, till My anger should be spent; love that takes pity on thee shall be eternal, says the Lord, thy Ransomer.”Isaias, 54: 5-8
And when you remember Christ standing on the Temple mount in Jerusalem and calling aloud, Come to me all you who thirst and drink (Gospel of S. John, chapter 7), you may be certain that at least some of the Jews who heard Him remembered this bit from Isaias. Even that was a Messianic call.
“‘So many athirst; who will not come to the water? So many destitute; who will come and get him food, get wine and milk free, no price to be paid? What, always spending, and no bread to eat, always toiling, and never a full belly? Do but listen, here you shall find content; here are dainties shall ravish your hearts. To My summons give heed and hearing; so your spirits shall revive; a fresh covenant awaits you, this time eternal; gracious promise of mine to David shall be ratified now. Before all the world My witness thou, a prince and a ruler among the nations! Summons of thine shall go out to a nation thou never knewest; peoples that never heard of thee shall hasten to thy call; such the glory thy God, the Holy One of Israel, has bestowed on thee.“Isaias, 55: 1-5
Right, then. Hastening on towards the end – and this is mostly all Messianic now – let’s begin with chapter sixty. Rise up, O Jerusalem, mother of nations… when a Christian reads this, he or she is probably thinking of the book of Apocalypse (aka. Revelation) and the new Jerusalem, with a flood of Gentiles, the new sons of Jerusalem, entering the Church:
“Rise up, Jerusalem, and shine forth; thy dawn has come, breaks the glory of the Lord upon thee! What though darkness envelop the earth, though all the nations lie in gloom? Upon thee the Lord shall dawn, over thee His splendour shall be revealed. Those rays of thine shall light the Gentiles on their path; kings shall walk in the splendour of thy sunrise. Lift up thy eyes and look about thee; who are these that come flocking to thee? Sons of thine, daughters of thine, come from far away, or rising up close at hand. Heart of thee shall overflow with wonder and gratitude, to see all the riches of ocean, all the treasure of the Gentiles pouring into thee! A stream of camels thronging about thee, dromedaries from Madian and Epha, bringing all the men of Saba with their gifts of gold and incense, their cry of praise to the Lord! Into thee all the herds of Cedar shall be driven, the rams of Nabaioth shall be thy victims; gifts at my altar accepted, to make the fame of My temple more famous yet. Who are these that come, swift as the cloud-wrack, as doves flying home to the dove-cot? These, too, are thy sons; long since, the islands and the ocean-going ships have awaited my signal, when I would bring them home from far away, their silver and their gold with them, for the honour of the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, that has bestowed this glory on thee.“Isaias, 60: 1-9
And there’s that bit that Christ read at the synagogue at Nazareth, on probably His last visit to this synagogue of His youth (Gospel of S. Luke, 4: 24-29):
“The Lord has anointed me, on me His spirit has fallen; He has sent me to bring good news to men that are humbled, to heal broken hearts, promising the release of captives, the opening of prison doors, proclaiming the year of the Lord’s pardon, the day when He, our God, will give us redress. Comfort for every mourner; Sion’s mourners, what decree should I make for them, what gift offer them? Heads shall be garlanded, that once were strewn with ashes; bright with oil, the faces that were marred with grief; gaily they shall be clad, that went sorrowing. Sturdy growths (men will say) that fulfil hope reposed in them, pride of the Lord’s planting! Theirs to rebuild what long has lain desolate, repair the ruins of past days, restore the forsaken cities that were lost, we thought, for ever.”Isaias, 61: 1-4
More Messianic verse still to come!
“For love of Sion I will no more be silent, for love of Jerusalem I will never rest, until he, the Just One, is revealed to her like the dawn, until he, her deliverer, shines out like a flame. All the nations, all the kings of the nations, shall see him, the just, the glorious, and a new name shall be given thee by the Lord’s own lips. The Lord upholds thee, his crown, his pride; thy God upholds thee, his royal diadem. No longer shall men call thee Forsaken, or thy land Desolate; thou shall be called My Beloved, and thy land a Home, now the Lord takes delight in thee, now thy land is populous once again.”Isaias, 62: 1-4
Notice now that a new name is to be given to the Church of Christ. No longer Jacob, or Israel, after the patriarch of the people, perhaps because that name is so much associated with the idolatry of former days, which resulted in God’s holy Name being dragged through the dust before the world. Instead, here, the chosen people is called My Beloved. The prophet sees something brilliant in the distance and he seems to be impatient for it to burst into reality before him.
“Wouldst Thou but part heaven asunder, and come down, the hills shrinking from Thy presence, melting away as if burnt by fire; the waters, too, boiling with that fire! So should the fame of Thee go abroad among thy enemies; a world should tremble at Thy presence! Of Thy marvellous doing, we ourselves cannot bear the sight; so it was when Thou camest down, and the hills shrank away before Thee, long ago. Such things as were never known from the beginning, as ear never heard, eye never saw, save at Thy command, Thou, O God, hast made ready for all that await Thy aid.”Isaias, 64: 1-4
Many prophets have used this type of poetic language for the arrival of God. See, for example, King David in Psalm 17(18) and Habacuc. But come He would eventually, and making all things new (just as in the book of Apocalypse, 21: 5: Behold, I make all things new…):
“‘My servants shall be light-hearted and sing, while you, with sad hearts, cry aloud, groan in the heaviness of your spirits. A name you shall leave behind you to serve My chosen people as a curse; the Lord God takes full toll. For His own servants He will have a new name instead; By the God of Truth shall be the blessing men invoke, By the God of Truth shall be the oath men take, in this land of Mine henceforward. Forgotten, the sorrows of past days, hidden away from My eyes. See where I create new heavens and a new earth; old things shall be remembered no longer, have no place in men’s thoughts. Joy of yours, pride of yours, this new creation shall be; joy of mine, pride of mine, Jerusalem and her folk, created anew.”Isaias, 65: 14-18
Yes, the Church will have a new name, given her by God – that is to say, the remnant of the people would be given a new being, a new character, a new promise and covenant. God Himself is no longer to be called the God of Israel or the God of Jacob, but the God of Truth. Now recall that Christ said, I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life (Gospel of S. John, chapter fourteen), and you may see the full depth of His claims in Jerusalem, during those last few days, during Holy Week. The Apostles will have remembered this last part of Isaias when they heard Him, even if Pilate wondered what He meant by Truth. And that brings me at last to and end for this long post, and we may end well on the final blessing for the Church and with mention of her priests and deacons (priests and Levites), which is the end of the Book of Isaias.
“‘What of those that find deliverance? I have an errand for them, to be My messengers across the sea; to Africa, and to Lydia where men draw the bow, to Italy, and to Greece, and to the Islands far away. They shall go out where men never heard of My Name, never saw my glory yet, to reveal that glory among the nations. And out of all nations they shall bring your brethren back, an offering to the Lord, with horse and chariot, with litter and mule and waggon, to Jerusalem, the Lord says, to this mountain, My sanctuary. A bloodless offering this, for the sons of Israel to bring, in its sanctified vessel, to the Lord’s house! And some among these newcomers, the Lord says, I will choose out to be priests and Levites.‘ This, too, He promises: Enduring your race and name shall be as the new heavens, the new earth I fashion, to stand continually in My presence. Month after month, sabbath after sabbath shall go by, and still all mankind shall come to bow down before Me, the Lord says.”Isaias, 66: 19-23