From the beginning —before the founding of the world of mankind —when Satan originally slandered God, implying that God did not trust His creation and the creation ought to be suspicious of their Creator, Jehovah determined to bring into existence a new creation —something that has never existed before.
It is not that the individuals who will make up the new creation have not lived already, but by the miraculous process of a new birth a select number of imperfect people are destined to be transformed into immortal spirits. Not even the angels are immortal. It is a big, big deal. Paul explained it in his letter to the Ephesians, writing: “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in union with Christ, as he chose us to be in union with him before the founding of the world, that we should be holy and unblemished before him in love. For he foreordained us to be adopted as his own sons through Jesus Christ, according to his good pleasure and will, in praise of his glorious undeserved kindness that he kindly bestowed on us by means of his beloved one.” — Ephesians 1:3-6
In saying that the Father chose us before the founding of the world, the apostle was not implying that God selected individuals before they were born. The way this is to be understood is that from the moment when Satan began —before any of mankind was born to Adam and Eve —God purposed a predetermined number to adopt as sons.
Contrary to what some churchgoers may believe, imperfect humans are not sons of God. True, the first man, Adam, was originally a son of God. Doctor Luke painstakingly traced Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to “Enosh, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.” But that father-son relationship was ruined. That is why God has decided to adopt —implying that persons not originally part of God’s family are adopted into it.
As regards the choosing, no one who lived before Jesus was adopted by the Father. How could they have been since the adoption process involves being brought into union with Christ?
Jesus acknowledged as much when he said of John the Baptizer: “Truly I say to you, among those born of women, there has not been raised up anyone greater than John the Baptist, but a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it. For all, the Prophets and the Law, prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is ‘Elijah who is to come.’ Let the one who has ears listen.” —Matthew 11:11-15
John had the privilege of baptizing Jesus and he introduced him to the Jews as the world’s savior. Yet, because he was executed before the anointing began he is lesser than the least in the Kingdom of God —meaning, he was not adopted as a son of God. Notice too, it was only from the time of John that the Kingdom became an accessible goal toward which the Jews could pursue.
Jesus was the first person to be born again. However, Jesus was not adopted. He has always been a son of God —being sinless and perfect in every phase of his extraordinary existence. But since Jesus was a human being and humans —no matter if they are perfect and sinless —have no access to heaven, it was necessary for Jehovah to beget His already perfect human son as a spirit. Hence, the anointing. And upon his death as a man, Jesus was resurrected as a spirit —an indestructible, immortal spirit. Obviously, prior to his death, he was not immortal, otherwise, how could be have died a sacrificial death?
As the first created immortal Jesus became the firstborn of many brothers —his brothers being those who are adopted and brought into spiritual union with him. Paul explained it: “We know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose; because those whom he gave his first recognition he also foreordained to be patterned after the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” — Romans 8:28-29
Beginning with John the Baptizer, originally only Jews were adopted. Then Samaritans were chosen. And finally people of all the nations. In writing to the Romans Paul quoted liberally from the prophecy of Isaiah to explain how the real Israel is actually a spiritual nation. In the ninth chapter of Romans Paul stated: “Moreover, Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Although the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For Jehovah will make an accounting on the earth, concluding it and cutting it short.” Also, just as Isaiah foretold: “Unless Jehovah of armies had left an offspring to us, we should have become just like Sodom, and we should have resembled Gomorrah.”
As already stated, in the first century God originally, exclusively adopted persons of Hebrew ancestry. In that sense, a remnant was saved. But as Paul masterfully proved in numerous letters, the true Israel of God is Christ’s congregation and it is that “Israel” about which Isaiah really prophecies against. Paul was quoting from the 10th chapter of Isaiah, specifically verses 20-22, which read: “In that day those remaining of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer support themselves on the one who struck them; but they will support themselves on Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, with faithfulness. Only a remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. For though your people, O Israel, are as the grains of sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. An extermination has been decided on, and justice will engulf them.”
Various places in prophecy, including Revelation, God depicts the elders and leaders of His people as big trees comprising a virtual forest —an earthly organization, if you please. Keep in mind that the third chapter of Isaiah establishes the setting, saying: “Jehovah will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people.”
So, it is the men of stature, the elders, who are cut down and their office of oversight abolished. The concluding verse of the 10th chapter of Isaiah ominously says: “Look! The true Lord, Jehovah of armies, is chopping off branches with a terrible crash; the tallest trees are being cut down, and the lofty are brought low. He strikes down the thickets of the forest with an iron tool, and Lebanon will fall by a mighty one.”
Now, in that context the opening words of the 11th chapter are more familiar to Jehovah’s Witnesses: “A twig will grow out of the stump of Jesse, and a sprout from his roots will bear fruit.”
After introducing us to the Messiah and his work Isaiah 11:10-12 foretells a regaining of the scattered remnant: “In that day the root of Jesse will stand up as a signal for the peoples. To him the nations will turn for guidance, and his resting-place will become glorious. In that day Jehovah will again offer his hand, a second time, to reclaim the remnant of his people who are left from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. He will raise up a signal for the nations and gather the dispersed ones of Israel, and he will gather together the scattered ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
It should be evident that the repatriation of the dispersed Israelites and Jews was not the result of Christ standing up as a signal. Even though nations such as Elam and Shinar (Babylon), Hamath, etc., no longer exist, the prophecy has to do with the Second Coming of Christ. That is when the scattered sons will be reclaimed from the four corners of the earth. Jesus confirmed this when he alluded to Isaiah, saying: “And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” — Matthew 24:31
Returning to Isaiah 10:21, which says: “Only a remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.”
Isaiah 9:6 already introduced us to the Mighty God —no, not Jehovah God the Almighty, but the child whom Jehovah has given. So, again, the gathering of the remnant has to do with Jesus —the Mighty God. And just as the Jews were already God’s people when they returned from Babylon, the remnant who will return must be anointed Christians who will be scattered during the conclusion, when the trees of the mighty forest come crashing down.