A few years before Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, captured the City of Samaria, the capital of the ten tribes of Israel, Isaiah was called and commissioned to go to Judah with a message for the people of Judah and Jerusalem. He was given a vision of Jehovah of hosts and when he had been called to his task, his commission was:
“GO AND TELL THIS PEOPLE, HEAR YE INDEED, BUT UNDERSTAND NOT; AND SEE YE INDEED, BUT PERCEIVE NOT. MAKE THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE FAT, AND MAKE THEIR EARS HEAVY, AND SHUT THEIR EYES; LEST THEY SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART, AND CONVERT AND BE HEALED.” Isaiah 6:9 and 10.
This was to be the burden of Isaiah’s message. Shortly thereafter Judah was given to see in the experience of the ten tribes of Israel just what would be their fate, if they continued to reject the Word of God. They did not heed this lesson, and about a hundred years later Judah suffered a terrible judgment. Jerusalem was besieged, the temple desecrated and destroyed and God’s people were carried away into captivity at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Thus was political independence taken away from the Jews and governmental authority was vested in the Gentiles. Thus began, politically, the “times of the Gentiles.”
When the fulness of time was come God sent forth His Son. When Jesus appeared He came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. He said, “the time is fulfilled.” Mark 1:14 and 15. He followed John the Baptist whose call to the Jews was: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2. Jesus likewise began with the same message: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. The kingdom of the heavens that He announced as being at hand was the kingdom prophesied by Daniel when he said: “the God of heaven Shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.” Daniel 2:44. When the Lord Jesus had been approved by God in the midst of Israel by miracles and wonders and signs, when by fulfilling Isaiah 35:5 and 6 Jesus had proved that He was indeed Israel’s King, He sent His twelve apostles out with the same message: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 10:7. With the message Jesus gave His apostles authority and power to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons. But the leaders of the Jews would not have the Lord Jesus as King. They rejected the testimony of John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus and His apostles. The Lord then very significantly quoted the passage with which we are dealing. Isaiah 6:9 and 10: “Therefore, speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith
“BY HEARING YE SHALL HEAR, AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND SEEING YE SHALL SEE, AND SHALL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THIS PEOPLE’S HEART IS WAXED GROSS, AND THEIR EARS ARE DULL OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED; LEST AT ANY TIME THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND SHOULD BE CONVERTED, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.” Matthew 13:13 to 15.
In the Gospel according to John we have the record, of Jesus’ seven great signs given to Israel to show them His Messiahship. He turned the water into wine, healed the nobleman’s son, raised up the man at the pool of Bethesda fed the five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes, walked on the water, opened the eyes of the blind man, and lastly, He raised Lazarus from the dead. When he had performed these mighty miracles the chief priests and Pharisees “took counsel together for to put Him to death”. John 11:54. We then hear Jesus, just before He went to the cross, quote again Isaiah 6:9 and 10:
“THEREFORE THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE, BECAUSE THAT ESAIAS SAID AGAIN, HE HATH BLINDED THEIR EYES, AND HARDENED THEIR HEART; THAT THEY SHOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, NOR UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.” John 12:39-40.
Again after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as we turn to the Book of Acts, we find the Lord giving the Jews another opportunity to receive the Messiah and the Kingdom. Acts 3:19 to 21. The Holy Spirit now gave witness to the Jews of a risen, glorified Messiah who was willing to return and fulfill the prophecies, if the Jews would accept Him. But they would not receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51; Acts 5:26 to 33. For thirty years we find the message of the Holy Spirit going forth first to the Jews (during the “Acts” period) and they everywhere refusing the testimony. Acts 13:46; Acts 18:6. Finally Paul reached Rome and called for the Jews first. Acts 28:17 to 28. To them he spake concerning Christ as the hope of Israel (verse 20) and expounded to them out of the law of Moses and the prophets the things concerning Jesus and the kingdom of God. (verse 23). When they were not agreed Paul quotes for the last time Isaiah 6:9 and 10.
Acts 28:26 and 27:
“SAYING, GO UNTO THIS PEOPLE, AND SAY, HEARING YE SHALL HEAR, AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND SEEING YE SHALL SEE, AND NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE IS ‘WAXED GROSS, AND THEIR EARS ARE DULL OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES HAVE THEY CLOSED; LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART, AND SHOULD BE CONVERTED, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.”
Paul declared this to be the word of the Holy Spirit and then he added (verse 28): “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it”.
The Book of Acts very significantly closed at this place and then in the Epistles written after the statement of Acts 28:28, we find Paul explaining the Mystery, hid from other ages, but now made known: the Mystery among the Gentiles “Christ in you the hope of glory”; the mystery concerning the believer’s identification with the risen Christ seated in the heavenlies.
When “the times of the Gentiles” were ushered in, after Isaiah’s first usage of our passage, governmental authority was taken from the Jew and given to the Gentile. When Paul finally quoted it in Acts 28:26 and 27, spiritual authority was taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. Soon thereafter the judgment fell and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the Jews were scattered abroad in fulfillment of Luke 21:24; Matthew 23:37 to 39. We do seriously blunder to teach that Israel was set aside with the death of Christ. God gave them years of grace in answer to the Lord’s prayer on the cross. Compare Luke 21:20 with Matthew 23:38 and Acts 28:25 to 28 and decide whether Israel’s desolation took place in 33 A.D. or after 63 A.D.
A word of warning might well be added by application to Christendom today. What happened to the Jew is about to happen to Christendom because they have closed their eyes and stopped their ears and hardened their hearts against the Word of God and judgment is about to fall upon on apostate church.