Decades ago, a professor named William Brownlee discovered in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah a seven part division of Isaiah’s book in two parallel blocks of chapters. At that time, scholars barely determined that biblical books even had literary structures. So Brownlee’s discovery was mostly passed over. Another professor, a colleague of Brownlee by the name of Roland Harrison, a mentor of Avraham Gileadi, suggested that Gileadi explore this structure for his doctoral thesis. And so a chiasmus of history was examined that became what Gileadi describes as Seven Spiritual Categories or Isaiah’s Ladder, which looks like this:
It is reminiscent of Jacob’s ladder as described in the book of Genesis:
Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 ¶And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Isaiah seems to codify his own ladder, which symbolizes the different ways of living that people choose, which either move them up the ladder to God or down the ladder toward destruction.
So using the code above (1a corresponding with 1b, etc), we have the following structure in categories corresponding with chapters:
-Ruin and Rebirth (1-5, 34-35)
–Rebellion and Compliance (6-8, 36-40)
—Punishment and Deliverance (9-12, 41-46)
—-Humiliation and Exaltation (13-23, 47)
—Suffering and Salvation (24-27,48-54)
–Disloyalty and Loyalty (28-31, 55-59)
-Disinheritance and Inheritance (32-33, 60-66)
There are distinctions within each level or set of choices we make that brings covenant blessings or covenant cursings. A ladder appears when we recognize these categories of people as an ascending order, from the lowest (or farthest from being like God) to the highest (most like Him). John made it clear in one of his epistles when we obtain the highest rung:
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
We find ourselves at any given time on one rung or another depending on the choices we make; or in other words, what spiritual laws we live or choose not to live. We are either ascending or descending. And if we are idle, well that isn’t good either. You gotta climb. We gain God’s presence when we enter heaven. Some people attain this state in this life.
This seven part structure presents models on each level, or on each rung. We participate in the role of each model as we ascend or descend. Isaiah’s “ladder” looks like this:
Jehovah-God of Israel
Sons/Daughters-Servants of God
Zion/Jerusalem-God’s Covenant People
Jacob/Israel-Believers in a Creator-God
Babylon-The Wicked of the World
King of Assyria/Babylon-Perdition
At the bottom is depicted the archtyrant who conquers and destroys. People on the lowest rungs resemble the archtyrant as they follow his example of despotism. The more we resemble him, the lower we descend. Conversely, the more we become like Jesus Christ, the higher we ascend. By looking at Israels’ history and its people we can compare ourselves to them and see where we are on the ladder. Isaiah provides that yardstick for us. We don’t need to wait until we die to ascend or descend. Knowing exactly where we stand NOW puts to rest any false “notions of grandeur” that we have about ourselves. I believe some of us are in the Jacob/Israel rung, some with one foot on the Babylon rung and others with one foot in the Zion/Jerusalem rung. Some of us are on the Zion/Jerusalem rung. Most of us are in the Babylon rung. A careful reading of chapter six of Isaiah indicates that he became a type of angelic emissary. God tends to call those in higher rungs to minister to those in lower rungs. For example, Jehovah ministers to Isaiah, Isaiah ministers to King Hezekiah, and King Hezekiah ministers to his servants who minister to the people of Israel. The higher one ascends, the more like angels they become.
Such archetypes can be found in many literary works and fiction. It’s kind of fun to plug in these archetypes into familiar stories, though not all types are always utilized.
Zion, the last and only human city on Earth
People asleep in the Matrix
Obi-wan Kenobi, Princess Leia
The Rebellion, Biggs, Wedge, etc
The people in the Galaxy far, far away
The Empire, Darth Vader, stormtroopers, etc
The more a covenant people (ten tribes of Israel) resembles Zion, the less they have to do with Babylon, Mammon, and all materialism. Buying things where moth and rust corrupt is no longer part of their lives and money is used to liberate and elevate the poor and needy, the widows and fatherless. As such, idols and figures, no matter how ornate and beautiful are abandoned.
The less a covenant people resembles Zion, the more they resemble Babylon and all things worldly. Commerce and materialism abounds. Vanity is a commonplace and self indulgence becomes the doctrine.
In this fallen world, it’s not difficult to tell where Israel ends and Babylon begins when money changers are exalted as mankind’s saviors.
Years ago, I watched a few videos in the series, How The Universe Works. I really enjoy watching these documentaries periodically to remind me how certain laws of physics must be obeyed. One example is gravity. While on a mission in space, an astronaut put some left-over salt and other food debris in a plastic bag filled with water for a fun experiment. Low and behold, these granules, as they randomly bumped into each other, stuck together. Before long, more and more of these granules and food stuffs began clumping. This discovery and the point of the experiment is that in the vacuum of space, matter tends to clump together due to gravity.
Because of the “Big Bang,” which sent into space unimaginable amounts of debris, gravity caused a lot of this debris to begin to attract other debris. Bits and pieces of elements begin to clump, forming larger clumps and so on. Eventually, as enough hydrogen and helium elements find each other and clump together because of gravity, they accumulate so much mass that fusion occurs. When fusion occurs there is an explosion. But because gravity is so powerful in this new mass, it holds the fusion back. So you have this constant struggle between fusion and gravity. And this tug of war creates a star just like our own sun. Meanwhile around the sun, more and more debris continues to collide and clump together, forming planets and moons. As the momentum of the Big Bang continues, all things continue moving outward into space, becoming organized into swirls of bodies. Moons settle into orbits around planets, planets settle into orbits around stars like our sun and more still, our solar system travels around what is called a singularity, which is at the center of our galaxy. All of this happens because of gravity.
It is gravity that has caused this “organization” of matter (stars, planets, moons, gases, debris) to swirl around a singularity (also known as a black hole). Vast arms of debris swirl around the center of the galaxy in a giant disc. This has all been happening for billions of years. But time is appointed only to man. Time is irrelevant to God who exists outside of time. In our Milky Way Galaxy, our tiny solar system lies a certain distance from the singularity in the center. If we were too close to this singularity, we’d suffer from the radiation of the many giant stars which orbit the singularity. We are located in just the right spot in one of the galaxy’s arm known as Orion’s Arm. Anyway, we are all still experiencing the after effects of the Big Bang, or as we like to call it, creation. It’s all slowing down, but it’s happening in terms of millions of years, even though we’re traveling through space at unimaginable speed from the momentum of creation.
Back to gravity. The closer to the center of the galaxy we look, the more we see giant stars orbiting the singularity at tremendous speeds. All these giant stars towards the center of the galaxy give off tons of radiation. The farther out the stars orbit the singularity, the slower the orbit around the singularity, like our sun. As such, there is allowance for planets and moons to do their thing, forming solar systems. And of course at the edge of our galaxy, everything is moving the slowest, but all are still held together by what is called dark matter, or else, we’d all be flung outward into space, with the galaxy dissipating into nothing.
An analogy can be made that each time we ascend, we must first descend (Jesus Christ descended below us all so that he could lift us all). We must first experience sacrifice/humility in order to grow spiritually to the next level. For example, each season a tree grows by shedding its leaves, then becomes dormant and then comes alive again the next season with new life, new leaves, etc. A cross section of a tree reveals rings, indicating how many seasons the tree has grown. The tree obeys certain laws of nature. It experiences cycles of death and cycles of rebirth just as Jesus Christ descended from His throne to be born and then die that a new creation (us) might come forth because of His own resurrection. The same analogy can be made with the universe. All matter must obey laws, too. Smaller bodies obey laws of larger bodies. Moons obey the law of gravity of planets. Planets obey the law of gravity of their suns. Suns obey the law of gravity of the singularity at the center of the galaxy. I find it fascinating that scientists have mathematically concluded that time cannot exist in a singularity. Just as with God, time does not exist. It is only appointed to us, who progress by obeying laws to those higher than us (Jesus Christ) who also obeyed laws higher than Him (the Father). We exit this temporal (time) existence when we ascend to where God is outside the confines of this massive vacuum.
In the above ladder, we also observe the descent into the Babylon level and also Perdition. Likewise in the universe there are rogue bodies such as asteroids and comets and other random debris, all of which are much smaller by comparison to planets and suns. These rogue bodies do not obey laws. They are lost without a pattern to follow. Such symbolism in creation testifies to the beauty and intelligence of a Supreme Creator who knows all things and does all things. And like the body of the sun, which we compare to the celestial glory, (in contrast with the terrestrial glory, 1 Corinthians 15:40), when fusion occurs, light and glory is manifested. The more we understand the profound writings of Isiah, the better we will understand our place in the grand scheme of creation.