THE GATHERING OF GOD'S PEOPLE IN ISAIAH 43:5-6
From the far east will I bring your offsprings, and from the far west I will gather you, I will bid the north lands give them up, and bid the south let go, bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth...
(Isa 43:5-6 Moffatt)
ERRONEOUS CLAIM OF PROPHECY
A certain Christian sect, the Iglesia ni Cristo (1914), claim to be the exclusive entity being the fulfillment of this specific Isaiah prophecy. This is how they present this prophecy:
That the fulfillment of the prophesied far east is the Philippines while the fulfillment of the prophesied far west is Hawaii; and that the fulfillment of this gathering was when their late Executive Minister, Bro. Erano G. Manalo, officiated the first worship service in Ewa Beach, Hawaii on July 27, 1968. It is a fundamental and cornerstone doctrine of the INC1914 that FROM the Philippines (in 1914) God’s people are gathered in Hawaii (in 1968) as a fulfillment of Isaiah 43 verse 5.
Herein lies a great flaw. In their explanation of the prophecy, it appears that the people of God were brought FROM the far east and then gathered TO the far west. However, that is not how the prophecy was presented as the preposition FROM was used in the prophecy to denote both (from) the far east and (from) the far west! Their explanation of FROM the Philippines (far east) TO Hawaii (far west) is contradictory to what is actually mentioned in the prophecy which is “FROM the far east, and FROM the far west”.
They could attempt to explain that the children of God would also be gathered or coming FROM Hawaii (far west) as the prophecy stated. However, it could not be so since in 1968 they were just starting to be gathered IN Hawaii and NOT FROM Hawaii as the logic of the prophecy. Thus, their other claim that the year 1968 was the time of fulfillment of the gathering FROM the far west could also not be true. This is indeed a catch 22 for them – would it be FROM the far west as prophesied or TO the far west as they explain. And if it does not make any logical sense then they are simply misinterpreting the prophecy to fit their agenda of ‘exclusivity’.
THE CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF ‘FROM THE FAR EAST AND FROM THE FAR WEST’ IN ISAIAH 43:5
Since God is the speaker in this verse let us understand this verse from His stand point. If God is facing the world, then the farthest east would be on the opposite side of the world, in fact, it meets up with the farthest west. When God will bring and gather the descendants FROM BOTH the far east and far west, it simply means that He will bring and gather them towards Him on the other side of the world where He is at. We know that this is a figure of speech as God is in all places or directions. Thus, the reference of (FROM the) far east and (FROM the) far west only shows the emphasis how FROM around or all over the world God will bring or gather His people for salvation. The Almighty God desires to cover the entire world with His salvation!
To whom then would God bring and gather the descendants who are coming from all over the world?
(Isaiah 43:1, 4)
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine...
4 Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
From the verses (Isa. 43:1, 4) preceding the falsely claimed verses (Isa. 43:5-6) we can already arrive at an understanding that to the prophesied Jacob or Israel (one and same person) would God give men 'for Him'. The Lord Yeshua was prophesied as Jacob (Ps. 24:3-6), as well as Israel (Hos. 11:1 / Mat. 2:13-15). Another of Isaiah's prophecy further confirms this truth:
(Isaiah 8:14, 18a)
14 He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel,
As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem...
18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
The prophesied Rock who will be as a sanctuary is The Christ Yeshua. He is the One given to the children of God, the people whom God counts as His 'witnesses' (Isa. 43:10), the same people He formed that 'they shall declare His praise' (Isa. 43:21). This truth is directly acknowledged by Christ in His own testimony:
(Johnn 6:39-40 NKJV in all citations)
“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
It is an evangelical truth that FROM around or all over the world God will bring or gather (or give) His children unto Christ, and that His will is that no one among them should be lost but rather be saved.
How about the mention of 'north and south' in verse 6 (Isa. 43:6) that the INC (MCMXIV) explained to be Protestantism (north) and Catholicism (south)? The Lord Yeshua disproved their claim when He spoke about the people who will be saved:
"They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God."
The mention of the four directions in the prophecy of Isaiah only shows the directions where God's servants, by virtue of His commissioning of Christ, will come from. They will come from all directions! This is the same 'four winds' where Christ will gather His elect from (also in Mat. 24:31). And to further His testimony, He likened them to the wind, and just like the wind they will come from all directions:
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
GATHERING OF GOD'S PEOPLE IN CHRIST
When will the gathering of God's people from all directions happen? Another prophecy of Isaiah explains this:
“Indeed He says,‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
The fulfilment of the Isaiah prophecy regarding the gathering of God’s offspring from all over the world is at the time when Christ is God’s “salvation to the ends of the earth”. When is this prophetical time ‘ends of the earth’? This is the time frame wherein Christ is God’s salvation to mankind, otherwise known as the Christian dispensation or era (from the first century) and not just the time frame starting in 1914 that the Iglesia ni Cristo (MCMXIV) started to claim in the 1920’s. Thus, for as long as Christ is God's salvation to man the gathering of His people into Christ will continue. And as The Lord Yeshua was tasked with God's salvation, He do so with mercy and compassion, receiving ALL that are given to Him by God:
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."
May this presentation brings understanding to those who were taught such an arbitrary and man-made interpretation of scriptural prophecies by the Iglesia ni Cristo (1914).