Question:

Good day,

I am a member of the Lord's church here in the Philippines, I have a question regarding Isaiah 46:11 and Isaiah 43:5-7. A religious group called Iglesia ni Cristo claims that their "Sugo" or messenger, Felix Manalo, from the islands mentioned in Isaiah 24:15; 59:19 and Psalms 113:1-3, which they claim the islands are the Philippines.

They also claim in Revelation 7:1-3 that the angel from heaven is Felix Y. Manalo, the last messenger of God.

Some religious groups say that Isaiah was referring to King Cyrus, and some group says that it was Jesus, since God through his prophets did not use names in His prophecy.

I hope you can help me with this, so I could share it with my friends in Iglesia ni Cristo.

God bless.

Answer:

"Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.  Listen to Me, you stubborn-minded, who are far from righteousness. I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; and My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, and My glory for Israel" (Isaiah 46:9-13).

To understand a passage, you first need to read its context. It is far too easy to pull a sentence or a phrase from the Bible and claim it to mean anything you want. A claim doesn't establish the truth.

In this passage, God is proving to Israel that He is far greater than any idol. He asks Israel to recall the things that God said would happen hundreds or thousands of years prior and how they came to pass.  Because of Hezekiah's mistake in showing off Israel's treasures to the Babylonian envoys, God declares that Judah would be carried off into captivity in Babylon (Isaiah 39). God does promise Israel deliverance, not just from captivity but also from the captivity of sin (Isaiah 40-41). Isaiah 42 discusses the coming Servant (Jesus) who would deliver Israel from sin.  Isaiah 43:1-13 is talking about calling the scattered Israelites back to Israel. Then God promises to destroy Babylon (Isaiah 43:14-21). Not that Israel deserves it because of their idolatry (Isaiah 43:22-44:20). But God is going to deliver them (Isaiah 44:21-45:25).

In particular, God names who the deliverer will be: Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). The claim that God does not use names is false since these two passages clearly do give a name. What is significant about this passage is that Isaiah wrote this in the days of King Hezekiah. The Assyrians were a rising power but had not expanded to the south yet. They would be conquered by the Babylonians. The Babylonians would, in turn, be conquered by a man from the east who will be named Cyrus. Who could possibly name the leader in the future, not of the current government or the next or the one to follow it but the third ruling government? This was God's point. He is not a man-made idol. He is God. He states what will happen hundreds of years in advance and then brings it about.

The man from the east who is carrying out God's will is Cyrus. He would cause Jerusalem to be rebuilt (Isaiah 44:28), thus, saving Israel (Isaiah 46:11-13). The Medo-Persian Empire that Cyrus ruled was to the east of Israel and the Babylonian Empire.

Some guy in the Philippines is not going to rescue Israel 2,500 years after Israel was already rescued from the Babylonian captivity. Nor would he be evidence of God's ability to predict and cause the future to happen. His claim does not match the context of the passage.

"For thus it will be in the midst of the earth among the peoples, as the shaking of an olive tree, as the gleanings when the grape harvest is over. They raise their voices, they shout for joy; they cry out from the west concerning the majesty of the LORD. Therefore glorify the LORD in the east, the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, in the coastlands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear songs, 'Glory to the Righteous One'" (Isaiah 24:13-16).

Just because "east" and "islands (or coastlands)" are mentioned, it does not mean that God is talking about the Philippines. After all, there are other islands. The selection of the verse skips the one mentioning the west. God is saying all the earth will glorify God. Psalms 113 is much the same.

"According to their deeds, so He will repay, wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the coastlands He will make recompense. So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun, for He will come like a rushing stream which the wind of the LORD drives" (Isaiah 59:18-19).

In the same way, Isaiah 59 is also discussing the entire world. In this case, God will repay evil regardless of where the wicked are.

Regarding Revelation 7:1-3, see discussion of the interlude in The Seven Seals. It is a prophecy about God protecting all His people across the world from the destruction He is about to unleash against the Roman Empire. Revelation is a prophecy about things soon to take place after the time of its writing (Revelation 1:1-3). 2,000 years later is not soon.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email