In Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure, ascent to a higher level is preceded by a temporary descent. That descent consists of the test or tests of loyalty that God orchestrates for each individual. It involves a period of suffering and humiliation that serves as a personal trial of one’s faith; however, this is but the prelude to salvation and exaltation. Through such descent, a person learns to acquire God’s attributes until he comes to know God himself. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all who ascend to the highest spiritual levels follow this pattern. Not unexpectedly, the higher the ascent, the lower the descent or more intense the trial of one’s faith.
Trials of faith that test a person’s loyalty to God may take one of two forms. First, a person may suffer covenant curses that are a consequence of his own transgressions. Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure expresses such transgression in terms of rebelling against God and proving disloyal toward him by failing to keep the terms of God’s covenant. The structure’s full spectrum of retributive themes—ruin, punishment, humiliation, suffering, and disinheritance—reflects categories of covenant curses that result from such disloyalty and rebellion. However, when a person repents and ceases to do evil, God forgives him, and he is then guiltless and without sin. Nevertheless, the effects of his transgressions—also called “iniquities”—may still follow him or succeeding generations until those effects, too, are expiated and he succeeds in entirely reversing the curse. Abraham, who came from an idolatrous and dysfunctional background, achieved this. By his faith and obedience to God, he turned a cursed situation around for himself and for succeeding generations.
Second, as with saviors of God’s people on the son/servant level or higher, covenant curses may accrue from the transgressions of those for whom one intercedes. In that case, descent before ascent becomes a voluntary act of love on behalf of those to whom one ministers. But because a deliverer now answers to God for the rebellion and disloyalty of those for whom he intercedes, his descent is lower than before. In other words, he experiences ruin, punishment, humiliation, suffering, and disinheritance more intensely than someone ascending from a lesser level. Nevertheless, when such a proxy savior passes the test and ascends, his rebirth, deliverance, exaltation, salvation, and inheritance are correspondingly greater also. These propitious themes of Isaiah’s structure reflect categories of covenant blessings that increase the higher a person ascends. Thus, as one continues to exercise loyalty toward God and compliance with the terms of his covenant, God’s blessings, likewise, continue to unfold and multiply.
In short, passing God’s test of loyalty involves faithfully submitting to God’s will, as Hezekiah did, amidst the trial of one’s faith. As Hezekiah was born to new life by dying to himself, so may all of God’s children ascend and be reborn on ever higher levels of the ladder. At that point, selfishness plays no part in one’s trial as one suffers for others’ sake, not for oneself. Ascent to the highest levels carries that price tag as one fulfills the role of deliverer to his people. It goes without saying, then, that the further a person ascends, the greater also is his salvation and exaltation, or his final state of blessedness.
(Taken from The End from the Beginning, pp 89–90)