The roles Israel’s God fulfills when redeeming humanity from evil—of Father and Son, Priest and Sacrifice, Savior and Firstborn—all fall in the category of “salvation,” that being a gift from God which we receive on condition we “repent” of sins and “return” to him. Repentance, in turn, is the essence of living the lesser law that prepares us for “rebirth” as Zion/Jerusalem and redeems us from the Fall and its evil effects. When we attain that sinless and innocent state we are “saved”—in the sense that Isaiah and New Testament writers define “salvation.” To that definition, however, Isaiah adds physical “deliverance” from mortal danger, particularly in the “last days.”
Should we die in this sinless state, God will resurrect us on the Zion/Jerusalem level. But if we fall away and return to our sins, we must repeat the repentance process until, by living the lesser law, we can retain our state of innocence. As mentioned, an essential part of ascending to the Zion/Jerusalem level involves passing tests of “loyalty” to God and “compliance” with his will by keeping the terms of his covenant. God’s law and word, not the commandments of men, are the requirements God has stipulated in order for us to receive “salvation.” His blessings are free, but God requires us to do our part or he can’t honor his obligation. It takes both parties to a covenant to make the relationship work.
Even so, getting that far is only the beginning of our spiritual journey. It gets us on the path to heaven but doesn’t qualify us for the unconditional blessings God promises his elect. To inherit those blessings, we must live a higher law by keeping the terms of the individual covenant God makes with those who ascend. In other words, God’s redemption of humanity, through which all may inherit “salvation,” opens the door for some to go higher to “exaltation.” Without that foundation—without God and people meeting the requirements for “salvation”—there can be no attaining “exaltation.” In effect, with our salvation from sin God’s redemptive role is finished and our personal savior roles begin.
As we pass through “ruin” and “rebirth,” “suffering” and “salvation,” and so forth cyclically as we ascend, God continues to deliver us from trials and evils. Only now more is required of us than before because the higher we ascend the more we resemble Jehovah/Jesus in our descent and ascent phases. On his path to “exaltation” Jesus said he did nothing but what he had seen the Father do (John 5:19). And he asks us to follow him and do the kinds of things he has done. As we do so, obtaining deliverance from covenant curses, we may sit on his throne as he sits on his Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21). After fulfilling our earthly ministering roles, we may receive a “crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
Paul informs us that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” for God’s creation “eagerly awaits the materialization of God’s sons” (Romans 8:18–19; emphasis added). From Isaiah’s perspective, as we ascend the ladder we cyclically pass through “suffering” and “humiliation” until God re-creates us and we are born as his “sons” and “daughters.” Just as Jesus suffered before he “entered his glory,” so do we—going “from glory to glory” as we ascend—until we resemble him (Luke 24:26; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Inheriting these promises, we become “partakers of the divine nature” and “heirs of God” (Romans 8:17; 2 Peter 1:4; emphasis added).
New Testament parallels to Isaiah’s theology of ascent to glory or “exaltation” show that while the Son of the Most High God, by serving as Father/Savior, saves his people from their sins, the Most High God exalts those who become “sons” of God in the image of his Son. That accords with Isaiah’s ladder concept, on which higher levels minister to those lower but are themselves ministered to by ones above them (see Figure 129). The Son, however, leads us to the Father, as without the Son—without the ability he affords us to rise higher than the Jacob/Israel level—we can’t know or have access to the Father. In short, on the highest levels of the ladder the Most High God, too, fulfills a role as our Father.
(Taken from Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven, pp 302–304)