These words were spoken by the Jews to the blind man who was healed by the Lord as recorded in the gospel of John (9:24). In themselves they were good words for indeed glory is due to God for His wonderful works, His judgments, and His holy name; but to suggest that the blind man was not giving God the praise when he was attributing the miracle of healing to Jesus was to err. Their comment that “we know that this man (Jesus) is a sinner”, was plainly wrong for God had granted him the power to perform this astounding act of healing. God was being glorified in these acts performed by His Son.

God’s endorsement of the one who had healed him, was a conviction that the erstwhile blind man was not going to lightly surrender. His tenacity and rebuke of his inquisitors led to his excommunication from the Temple:

“Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.” (John 9:30–34).

But this is not where he was left. He was a remarkable man with a deep conviction. He preferred to be cast out rather than forsake his belief, and for this he was soon to be rewarded. News soon reached Jesus’ ears that he had been so treated by the Jews. His search for him immediately began: and the lost sheep was soon found by the good shepherd (John 10).

Old Testament Forecasts

 It is amazing how the Spirit of God in the prophets forecasts events, some of them of an intriguing nature. For instance the hostile words of the Lord’s murderers were remarkably forecast in Psalm 22:8, “He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him”. Matthew records that they railed on him while on the cross, unconsciously fulfilling the words of their own prophets, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matt 27:43). Earlier the high priest had unwittingly confirmed the words of the prophets in relation to the Messiah when he encouraged his fellows to be rid of Jesus, “Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not…. He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:49–52; refer also to Isaiah 56:8, Gather the outcasts of Israel… I will gather others to him”; see also Acts 13:27). It should make us marvel at the power of God when God is able to use men to fulfil His purpose, and not only men who desire to serve him, but even those adamantly opposed to His will. They are caused to conform to the blue- print of His infallible Word.

John 9 and Isaiah 66 The next verse is the significant one so far as the incident relating to the blind man in John 9 is concerned. Consider this verse:

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.”

Now what events are this passage of Scripture forecasting? Well, it refers to a time of apostasy, in which there appears to be a human edifice, a temple, which is deemed in the eyes of those who worship there, to be God’s dwelling place. He, however, declares He will dwell in an entirely different place, in the hearts of contrite men. This fits perfectly the context and circumstances of John 9. The worship of the Jews had become formal and was corrupted by the traditions of men. It no more gave God pleasure. There was, however, a small minority who trembled at His Word and sought to uphold it, and the blind man was just such a courageous individual. He stood up to those who detracted from the Lord and proclaimed that he must be “of God”. So we have antipathy between an apostate majority and a truth-upholding minority. The interaction between these two classes is what Isaiah 66:5 wonderfully anticipates and prophesies.

The result of this interaction, we are told, is hatred, opposition and excommunication, the very things that befell “the blind man”. “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake…” (John 9:34).

But not only does this verse forecast what the enemies of the truth would do, it tells us their very words—“Let the Lord be glorified” (Heb kabed— praised, honoured)! Unknowingly the blind man’s opponents fulfilled prophecy when they called upon him to “give God the praise” (Gk doxa—glory, honour).

The parallel does not end there. We are also told what the gracious response of the Lord would be: “But he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed”. These words will have their complete fulfilment at the return of Christ. Then he will judge and reward the faithful, but will punish those who knew his will and did not respond, but instead hated and persecuted those who did. But there is a primary application of the words in this incident before us. Little time passed before word reached the Lord that he had been excommunicated. His response was immediate: “When he had found him he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” His work of “healing” was complete, physical and now spiritual. He had found the Son of God, the Light of the World. Truly he had appeared “to his joy”—“and he worshipped him” (John 9:38).

But what of his detractors and persecutors? We read that they were put to shame as Isaiah foretold. Jesus said of the incident: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (v39).

Hearing these words the Pharisees asked him if He was referring to them, “Are we blind also?”

 Jesus’ reply brings shame upon them and this attitude of unbelief: “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth”. They were unaware of their blindness. In refusing the obvious Divine endorsement of Jesus, as evident in the miracle which had no precedent in all human history, they confirmed themselves in a state of spiritual blindness, though physically they could see!

Other References in the New Testament to Isaiah 66:4

 Matthew 5:10–12: Jesus had known long before this incident foretold, on the basis of His Father’s Word, what the reaction of men would be to those who followed Him.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake… Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.” Persecution then would not go unrewarded: the time would come when he would appear “to their joy”.

 Luke 6:22–23: This is a parallel passage, but the connection with Isaiah 66:5 is more evident. “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day…. ”

 Matthew 10:21–22: “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child… And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth unto the end shall be saved.”

 John 15 and 16: In His final words to the disciples, Jesus warned them that the world would hate them as they had hated him (15:18–20). The reason he gives is as follows: “But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (v21). He points out, too, that their persecutors would be utterly deceived, thinking they were doing God a service in so acting. “They shall put you out of the synagogues (ie “cast them out”): yea the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (16:2). They would think they were glorifying God when in fact they were destroying His saints.

Conclusion

 Reviewing what we have seen we can only stand in awe of the power of Yahweh’s Word. How remarkable it is that God was able to make such accurate forecasts 700 years before the Lord was born! But what does this mean to us and how do such contemplations affect us? Our faith is strengthened, as no doubt Jesus’ was when he saw the prophecies fulfilling before his eyes when he hung upon the cross. Seeing God has fulfilled in remarkable ways His prophetic word, even forecasting the exact words which would be found in the mouth of His enemies, we have every reason to believe that the promises held out to us by the same Word will also be fulfilled.