Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202) stated that there must be 4 gospels and only 4 because there were 4 corners of the earth. Thus, the Church should have 4 pillars. This indicated that as early as 200, there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the 27 books of the New Testament, including the 4 gospels. However, most of our oldest manuscripts of the New Testament come from the 4th century when Christianity was the recognized religion of the Roman Empire.
“Yahweh will raise a signal for the nations.
He will assemble the outcasts of Israel.
He will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart.
The hostility of Judah shall be cut off.
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah.
Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim.
But they shall swoop down
On the backs of the Philistines
In the west.
Together they shall plunder
The people of the east.
They shall put forth their hand
Against Edom and Moab.
The Ammonites shall obey them.
Yahweh will utterly destroy
The tongue of the sea of Egypt.
He will wave his hand over the River,
With his scorching wind.
He will split it into seven channels.
Thus there will be a way to cross on foot.
There shall be a highway from Assyria
For the remnant that is left of his people,
As there was for Israel
When they came up
From the land of Egypt.”
Isaiah implies that there will be a glorious reunion of Judah and Ephraim, the south and north of Israel, since Yahweh, the Lord, will give a signal to all the nations. The dispersed Israelites were to return from the four corners of the earth. There would no longer be any jealousy or hostility between Judah and Ephraim, north and south. Instead, they would unite to fight against the Philistines in the west and the Edomites and Moabites on the eastern side of Israel. They would have control of the Ammonites, the traditional enemies of Israel, as outlined in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. The reference to the tongue of the sea is to the Red Sea. Of course, the River is the Euphrates River. Yahweh was going to break up these seas so that people could walk through them. He wanted a highway from Assyria to the Promise Land so that all the exiles in Assyria could return, just like the Exodus march from Egypt took place. Obviously, we are talking about the time of the Exile in the 6th and 7th centuries BCE, and how it would end.