According to scholars, the Old Testament was first divided into sections sometime prior to the Babylonian captivity and was later broken into other subdivisions to support ease of reading. Centuries beyond it was then divided into chapters by a man named Stephen Langton. His system is the basis for the chapter separations used today.
Robert Estienne, a 16th century French printer, known later by the Anglicized version of his name as Robert Stephens, was the first to divide the Bible using verse markers. It was said he set the New Testament verse breaks while riding through France.
All of this clearly had been an evolving process over the centuries; and some of it maintains a random feel as chapters and sentences have on occasion been divided with no visible accounting for content or context. However, in some other instances some easy mnemonics appeared out of the choices.
Most serious Bible students and teachers are aware of the “Two’s”: chapter two respectively of Isaiah, Daniel, Joel, and Acts. Thousands of lessons and sermons have used the progression of prophecy found in these passages. These four passages offer us a solid glimpse into the foundation and fulfillment of the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven as it was signified by God; a glimpse at his plan of good will through prophecy; and the culmination of it all in the establishment of the church, when His favor had clearly returned to mankind. It takes us up to the opening of the figurative gates to the Kingdom of Heaven, by Peter with keys in hand, along with the rest of the apostles; and prophesies of our pending access and allowance to become a part of it — in the events of that Pentecost that had followed Christ’s death and resurrection, followed in order with the establishment of His church, the body of Christ.
Isaiah two starts this way.
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s House shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’ (v. 2 – 4).
Do we need to remind one another that this is prophetic language? “Mountain” signifies that the house of God would be easily identified, that it cannot be hidden. It is not talking about a fancy temple high on a ridge. Peace will reign without a literal plowshare being formed from any sword, but rather a turning from one type of behavior to a new is enjoined. And Christians will not lead in the physical fight against anyone. How hard is all that?
Isaiah looks to the return of the spiritual Kingdom, and in his glimpse of things offers a prophecy of the end of Judah and Jerusalem as the people and the city of God. Israel had already been long ago dispersed to the dustbins of time. Even with that noted some people are slack at identifying that the prophecy had also itself long ago been fulfilled. They would look to our own days and beyond to have Israel or Judah rise from the ash heap, so that some physical kingdom might be raised out of speculative destruction and decay. This even though Isaiah clearly here says God’s favor had already departed from both city and people, and that destruction was already set (v. 10, 11 and elsewhere).
But pending destruction is what was predicted toward Judah and Jerusalem, and was what eventually occurred; and decay and ruin is all that remains. Yet no fanciful notions exist such as are taught today with idyllic lions and lambs idling time together while some inspiring government is established in broken down Jerusalem. That is not what is taught and it certainly is not on the horizon. What a penchant and longing desire we have for ancient ruins and through days that lead nowhere but to dusty death. These false teachers would have you believe some glorious government will ultimately rise out of some pending millennial destruction, to which we must then all pay homage, stealing away with the truth and substituting in yet another glaring misappropriation of the Word of God. And what did Isaiah say for his part?
For the day of the Lord shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up, and it shall be brought low. Upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; upon all the high mountains and upon all the hills that are lifted up; upon every tower, and upon every fortified wall; upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the beautiful sloops. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, but the idols He shall utterly abolish. (v. 12 -18).
Is anything left of those ancient places and of the nation who built them?
In spite of the warnings, Isaiah also had offered the hope of God.
Next time we’ll take a brief look at Daniel two.
In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the ragged rocks, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of his majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.
Sever yourselves from such a man, whose breath is in this nostrils – for of what account is he?
(Isaiah 2: 20 — 22)