Iglesia ni Cristo use this passage to say they were prophesied in the Bible. They added Far East to it to make this claim. But what is this passage really referring to?
This passage refers to the new exodus God promises to bring for his people. This will restore the covenantal relationship of Israel and Judah and free them from bondage (Jer 31:1-22; Ezek 37:15-18) and, in the New Testament, reach out to all humanity (Gal 3:26-29).
alright what did all the talk about the east and the north, south etc?
Well the passage talks about restoring God’s people, who have been scattered by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Hence, God will bring them back to himself (here referring to Jerusalem) from all the directions they have been scattered. The New Testament takes this further when it shows Jesus bringing salvation to all people, whether located in the north, south, etc.
ah ok that helps a lot!
I have an answer if you are willing to read. Here is Isaiah 43:5-6 for others who might read along.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
We have to understand the history of Israel in order to understand what Isaiah is talking about. Bear with me. It is an interesting story. We have to go back to Solomon.
King Solomon built the temple, a palace, and elevated Israel above all the surrounding nations. All that splendor however, came at a price. Solomon was a harsh ruler, exacting high taxation and forcing people to labor. God had warned Israel through the Prophet Samuel that such would be the case if they asked for a king.
"He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day." But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No! but we will have a king over us.” (1 Samuel 8:17-19)
Solomon was the fulfillment of that prophecy. Solomon’s son Rehoboham ruled even more harshly after Solomon’s death. The people asked to have the burden lightened but Rehoboam refused.
he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” (1 Kings 12:14)
As a result, the ten northern tribes of Israel revolted.
**And when all Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king,
“What portion have we in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
To your tents, O Israel!
Look now to your own house, David.”
So Israel departed to their tents. **
(1 Kings 12:16)
The two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin became the nation of Judah in the south. Jerusalem is in Judah. The ten northern tribes became the nation of Israel to the north. Israel set up two golden calves to worship and David’s other son Jeroboam became king. This era of Israel’s history is known as the divided kingdom.
Here is a map of the divided kingdom if you want to look at it. bloggang.com/data/amene/picture/1297255375.jpg.
The nation of Assyria attacked the northern nation of Israel around the year 740 BC and took part of the nation into captivity. There was another major deportation again in 722 BC and a significant portion of the population of Israel were taken into exile into Assyria. Assyria was conquered by the nation of Babylon and Babylon took all of Jerusalem and Judea (Jews) into captivity in 597 BC. This period is known as the Babylonian Exile.
The Jews were allowed to return in 537 BC but most of the northern tribes of the nation of Israel chose not to return. These adopted the diet, religion and customs of their captors and faded into oblivion. Those from Israel who were not deported by Assyria and those who did return to Israel at the end of the exile became Samaritans - a conglomeration of different religions and customs which were abhorrent to the Jews who had returned to Judea and were rebuilding the temple.
This is the background to your question.
The nation of Israel was scattered north, south, east and west by God for their disbelief and disobedience. God is promising to gather them back together from the four corners of the earth, join them to the nation of Judea, and make them one flock again. Scattering and gathering is a very common theme in the Bible.
*Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands afar off;
say, `He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
Therefore say, `Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ (Ezekiel 11:17)
Though I scattered them among the nations,
yet in far countries they shall remember me,
and with their children they shall live and return.
This is exactly what Jesus does, dies so that the lost nation of Israel who was scattered abroad might be gathered together.
He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (John 11:50-52)
This is what Isaiah is talking about, gathering the scattered nation of Israel from the four corners of the earth and joining them to the Jews.
oh wow thanks for the very detailed background. This will help a lot
D-R Bible, Haydock Commetary:
Ver. 5. East. Babylon. — West. The islands beyond the Mediterranean.