CALVIN’S POSTMILLENNIALISM? (4)

PMW 2019-093 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my final posting of Calvin’s exposition of the latter verses of Isaiah 19, which present a postmillennial hope.

In that day shall Israel.

Isaiah concludes the promise which he had briefly glanced at, that the Egyptians and Assyrians, as well as Israel, shall be blessed (Isa 19:24).

Isaiah concludes the promise which he had briefly glanced at, that the Egyptians and Assyrians, as well as Israel, shall be blessed (Isa 19:24).

Formerly the grace of God was in some measure confined to Israel, because with that nation only had the Lord entered into covenant. The Lord had stretched out a cord over Jacob (Deut 32:9,) as Moses speaks; and David says, “He hath not done so to any nation, and hath not made known to them his judgments.” (Psa 147:20).

In a word, the blessing of God dwelt solely in Judea, but he says that it will be shared with the Egyptians and Assyrians, under whose name he includes also the rest of the nations. He does not mention them for the purpose of shewing respect, but because they were the constant enemies of God, and appeared to be more estranged from him and farther removed from the hope of favor than all others. Accordingly, though he had formerly adopted none but the children of Abraham, he now wished to be called, without distinction,” father of all nations.” (Gen 17:7; Exo 19:5; Deu 7:6).


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Israel shall be the third blessing.

Some render it, Israel shall be the third I do not approve of that rendering; for the adjective being in the feminine gender, ought to be construed with the noun berachah, “blessing,” and blessing means here a form or pattern of blessing.

Because the Lord of hosts will bless him (Isa 19:25)

He assigns a reason, and explains the former statement; for he shews that, through the undeserved goodness of God, the Assyrians and Egyptians shall be admitted to fellowship with the chosen people of God. As if he had said,” these titles belonged exclusively to Israel, they shall likewise be conferred on other nations, which the Lord hath adopted to be his own.” There is a mutual relation between God and his people, so that they who are called by his mouth” holy people” (Exo 19:6), may justly, in return, call him their God. Yet this designation is bestowed indiscriminately on Egyptians and Assyrians.

Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands.

Though the Prophet intended to describe foreign nations as associated with the Jews who had belonged to God’ household, yet he employs most appropriate marks to describe the degrees. By calling the Egyptians” people of God,” he means that they will share in the honor which God deigned to bestow in a peculiar manner on the Jews alone. When he calls Assyrians the work of his hands, he distinguishes them by the title peculiar to his Church. We have elsewhere remarked that the Church is called” workmanship” of God (Eph 2:10), because by the spirit of regeneration believers are created anew, so as to bear the image of God. Thus, he means that we are” work of God’ hands,” not so far as we are created to be men, but so far as they who are separated from the world, and become new creatures, are created anew to a new life. Hence we acknowledge that in “newness of life” nothing ought to be claimed as our own, for we are wholly “the work of God.”

And Israel my inheritance.

When he comes to Israel, he invests him with his prerogative, which is, that he is the inheritance of God, so that among the new brethren he still holds the rank and honor of the first-born. The word inheritance suggests the idea of some kind of superiority; and indeed that covenant which the Lord first made with them, bestowed on them the privilege which cannot be made void by their ingratitude; for” gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” as Paul declares, (Rom 11:29), who shews that in the house of God they are the first-born (Eph 2:12). Although therefore the grace of God is now more widely spread, yet they still hold the highest rank, not by their own merit, but by the firmness of the promises.


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Four lectures by Ken Gentry (downloadable 4 mp3s).
(1) Postmillennialism: Wishful Thinking or Certain Hope?
(2) The Identity of the Beast of Revelation.
(3) The Resurrection of the Dead.
(4) The Great Tribulation is Past.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Gentry note: Thus, endeth the exposition of John Calvin. Be warmed and filled! And while you are at it, Go, and sin no more.

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One thought on “CALVIN’S POSTMILLENNIALISM? (4)

  1. howarddouglasking November 15, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Thank you for this stimulating presentation.
    I have never met with this interpretation before. I have always taken Egypt and Assyria literally; and argued from it that there is a time coming when the gospel will reconcile all three to God and to each other, which has never happened yet. I viewed it as an unfulfilled prophecy, and proof that Jesus cannot come at any moment. But it is not clear to me whether Calvin thinks that there is a future fulfillment; or whether it is now being fulfilled.
    I have not met with Calvin’s opinion that Israel remains the firstborn, and has a certain status above the Gentile nations in other writers (other than dispensensationalists). He makes a similar statement in his commentary on Romans 11:26. His treatment of that chapter, it seems to me, is very clear that Israel will be redeemed because of their special covenant relationship to God, which still exists even thought they are rebels and under his wrath at present.
    Dispensationalists have gotten hold of this truth and made themselves seem more credible because so many Reformed commentators are amillenial, and deny not only the victory of the gospel, but the restoration of Israel as well.

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