Continuing in our series on the early Church and their views about prophetic “fulfillment,” Eusebius offers further comments from the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:9-12, he describes the way in which such prophecies were ultimately fulfilled in the first century. His comments about Isa. 6:9-11 are especially helpful considering that these passages are cited by Jesus and St. Paul as reaching complete fulfillment in their own generation (i.e. the first century; c.f. Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:26-27; Romans 11:8).
“Ye shall hear indeed, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see and not perceive.* For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and they hear with heavy ears, and they have closed their eyes, lest they should ever see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,1 and turn, and I should heal them.2 And I said, Until when, O Lord? And he said, Until the cities be desolated that none dwell in them, and houses that no men be in them, and the earth be left desolate. And afterwards God will increase men, and they that are left on the earth shall be increased.
And notice here how they that are left again on the earth, all the rest of the earth being desolate, alone are said to multiply. These must surely be our Saviour’s Hebrew disciples, going forth to all men, who being left behind like a seed have brought forth much fruit, namely, the Churches of the Gentiles throughout the whole world. And see, too, how at the same time he says that only those will multiply who are left behind from the falling away of the Jews, while the Jews themselves are utterly desolate: “Their land,” he says, “shall be left unto them desolate.” And this was also said to them before by the same prophet: “Your land is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire, your country strangers devour it before your eyes.”And when was this fulfilled, except from the times of our Saviour? ...But from that inspired word, by which our Lord and Saviour Himself predicted what was about to fall on them, saying: “Your house is left unto you desolate,”3 from that moment and not long after the prediction they were besieged by the Romans and brought to desolation.…The Scripture, as I suppose, means by this, that after the first siege, which they are recorded to have undergone in the time of the apostles, and of Vespasian, Emperor of the Romans, being a second time besieged again under Hadrian they were completely debarred from entering the place, so that they were not even allowed to tread the soil of Jerusalem.4
* Isa 6:9.
1 S.: καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν.
2 S.: ἰάσομαι. E.: ἰάσωμαι.
3 Matthew 23:38
3 Matthew 23:38
4 Cf. H.E. iv. c. 6; Tertullian, Apol. c. 16. Origen, c. Celsum viii. ad fin.; Gregory Naz., orat, xii. After the founding of Ælia Capitolina, Milman says, “An edict was issued prohibiting any Jew from entering the new city on pain of death, or approaching its environs so as to contemplate even at a distance its sacred height.”—History of the Jews, Book. XVIII. ad fin.
Eusebius of Cæsarea. (1920). The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea. (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans.) (Vol. 1, pp. 83–84). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company.
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