Isaiah

Isaiah 49:8-13 The Servant Is A Covenant.

There would be an acceptable time and day of salvation when the Servant Messiah would be preserved “as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages” (v. 8 Cf. 42:6). Paul saw in this verse a promise of grace (II Cor. 6:1-2), and he made clear, in no uncertain terms, that this found fulfillment in his day (v. 3). The Servant, as a covenant for the people, would set the prisoners free, to see the light of day, and to feed from an abundance along the way (v. 9 Cf. 61:1-2a). In his mercy, the Servant would guide his people to shelter from the heat, and springs of water to sustain them (v. 10 Cf. 40:11; 48:17-21; Pss. 23:2; 121:6-8; Rev. 7:16). The way shall be made level and easy, as the people come from afar (vv. 11-12 Cf. 40:4; 43:5-7). In mercy He would comfort his people, and the whole of the created order would sing and rejoice. It must not be missed that this Servant would also “restore the earth” (v. 8 v. 13 Cf. 44:23).

Isaiah

Isaiah 49:1-7 The Servant Of The LORD-Part II

The coastlands are the entrance point for the nations, the peoples from afar, who are called to take heed (v. 1). The servant was called by the LORD from the womb, with his words cutting like a sword (v. 2). In these beginning verses the servant is Israel, through whom the LORD would be glorified (v. 3). They thought that their labour might be in vain, to bring people to the LORD, but their reward was with Him (v. 4). However, the Servant spoken of here was also an individual separate from Israel who would not only bring back Israel, but he would also be “as a light to the Gentiles,” that he should be the LORD’s “salvation to the ends of the earth” (v. 6). This would be the work of the chosen Redeemer, the Holy One whom many would despise, to whom nevertheless the rulers of the nations would arise and worship (v. 7). The “purpose of the Servant is to bring the gospel to the nations (Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47; 26:23). He fulfills the call of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 22:18) and of Israel (Ex. 19:5, 6). Today the ascended Christ brings the gospel to the nations through his body, the church (Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9, 10)” (NGSB. p.1112).

Isaiah

Isaiah 48 Redemption For His People.

Israel is addressed as the LORD’s covenant people who swear by his name “but not in truth or in righteousness” (v. 1). They claim to be citizens of the holy city, but gave no evidence of said holiness (v. 2). The LORD had declared to them his word which gave them an infallible understanding of creation and history (v. 3). Nevertheless, their history proved to be one of obstinacy (v. 4). Declaring, through predictive prophecy, what would come to pass in the future, was intended to keep Israel from thinking that whatever they might have achieved was not because of their idols, but solely due to the sovereign will of the LORD (v. 5). It is the LORD who reveals hidden things-this they should have confessed and declared the word given (v. 6). Instead they claimed that they knew what would come about even as the LORD (v. 7). In other words, they didn’t need to hear from him to know what would come to pass.

Their thinking was that of those who act treacherously in the covenant relationship (v. 8). It was only through the LORD’s mercy that he chose not to cut them off, an expression used for being excommunicated out of the covenant community and being forever subject to its curses (v. 9). For their idolatry or spiritual adultery, the LORD would afflict them for His name’s sake (vv. 10-11). He issued a call to his called, for them to recognize him as the Lord of history-the first and the last, the one who set his plans in motion before he created all things. He had a plan in mind before his work began (vv. 12-13). He would return judgment on Babylon for showing no mercy on his nation (vv. 14-15). If they would listen, they would acknowledge that he has been their Redeemer, the ‘I am’ who also taught them how to profit, leading them in the way they should go (vv. 16-17).

If only they had kept his commandments they would have peace that would flow like a river, and their righteousness would be as the waves of the sea (v. 18). They would have also fulfilled the original dominion mandate to be fruitful and multiply, a mandate which was renewed with every administration of the covenant which followed (v. 19). Now was the time for them to repent and put their faith in the LORD, to leave Babylon with singing, in anticipation of re-entering the promised land-all this because first and foremost he was their Redeemer-it would not come about through their own work or effort (v. 20). This Redeemer was the Rock from which the water of salvation flowed, the promised Messiah (Cf. Ex. 17:6; Nu. 20:10-11; I Cor. 10:4). History, under the LORD’s sovereign control, also gave evidence that, “There is no peace for the wicked” (v. 22).

Isaiah

Isaiah 47 The Humiliation of Babylon.

Babylon, once employed as the LORD’s servant to bring punishment upon an apostate nation, would be the object of his vengeance (vv. 1-3). The remnant’s Redeemer is “the LORD of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel” (v. 4). Babylon would now “sit in silence, and go into darkness” (v. 5). The LORD had given his nation over to Babylon, but they showed them no mercy (v. 6). They were thus subject to a righteous and predictable judgment (v. 7). Those who exalt themselves as God and take comfort in their children and wealth will lose both (vv. 8-9). Their so-called wisdom and knowledge was warped, thinking that no one saw them. They trusted in their wickedness (v. 10). Ironically, they would not know when evil came upon them (v. 11). They trusted in sorcery, astrologers, stargazers and their prognostications  to no avail (vv. 12-13). A fire of judgment will consume them (vv. 14-15).

Isaiah

Isaiah 46 Turning From Idols To The LORD.

The Babylonian gods Bel and Nebo were carried into battle, no doubt with hopes of them giving their owners victory, but they would fall with the nation, even as the beasts carrying the idols found them too heavy to bear (vv. 1-2 Cf. 21:9; Jer. 10:5; 50:2). Through Isaiah the LORD told the remnant to listen, that it was he who had upheld them from their birth, and would continue to uphold them to old age (vv. 3-4 Cf. Dt. 32:11; Ps. 48:14). This was also the activity of “The Angel of His Presence” (63:9). They should have understood that he had no equal (v. 5 Cf. 40:18-25). Pagans worship idols which they cover with silver and gold (v. 6 Cf. 40:19). These idols have to be carried because they are powerless inanimate objects (v. 7 Cf. 45:20; 46:1; Jer. 10:4). The LORD calls upon the people to remember that they were transgressors-particularly their idolatry (v. 8 Cf. 44:19).

His people ought to have also remembered that it was he, the LORD alone, who knows the end from the beginning, whose counsel shall stand, that he would do all his pleasure (vv. 9-10 Cf. 14:24; 25:1; 42:9; 45:5, 21; 48:3; 65:17; Dt. 32:7; Ps. 33:11; Pr. 19:21; Pr. 21:30; Acts 5:39; Heb. 6:17). The LORD would use a leader and nation from the east to effect his judgment (v. 11 Cf. 41:2, 25; 44:28). What the LORD had spoken would come to pass (Cf. Nu. 23:19). His stubborn-hearted people needed to listen, since they were far from righteousness (v. 21). They were obstinate (48:4), and needed to humble themselves (Ps. 76:5; Zech. 7:11-12; Mal. 3:13-15). The righteousness they needed had to be given to them through their salvation-they did not have it within themselves (Cf. 62:11-12; Joel 3:17; Rom. 10:3). There would be no delay.

Isaiah

Isaiah 45 The LORD Redeems His People.

The LORD would raise up Cyrus, the Babylonian king, and the only one outside of Israel to be called the LORD’s ‘anointed’, also referred to as the LORD’s ‘shepherd’, as his instrument to return a remnant to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple (v. 1 Cf. 44:28). The LORD would go before Cyrus to make the way easier for him to subdue nations, and breakdown gates, and gain the treasures of his enemies (vv. 2-3a Cf. 40:4; Ps. 107:16). It was also the will of the LORD that Cyrus might know that the LORD was Israel’s covenant LORD, and they were called by his name, For the sake of Jacob his servant, and Israel his elect (vv. 3b-4a Cf. 44:1). The LORD called Cyrus, even though he had not known the LORD, and would strengthen him for the work ahead (vv. 4b-5 Cf. 44:8, 28; Dt. 4:35; 32:39). “I am the LORD, and there is no other, there is no God besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other” (v. 6 Cf. 37:20; Ps. 102:14; 52:10). The LORD is sovereign over all creation and the activity of humanity, all history-light and darkness (v. 7 Cf. 47:11; Amos 3:6).

All creation is subject to the sovereign will of God, to the benefit of those on whom his favour rests (v. 8 Cf. Ps. 85:11). Woe to those who strive with their maker, for he fashions all men as clay in the hands of a potter (Cf. Jer. 18:6). It would be as absurd as a child interrogating their father or mother as to why they begot them as they are (vv. 9-10 Cf. Rom. 9:20-21). The faithful acknowledge the LORD as their maker, the work of his hands-as Creator and Redeemer (vv. 11-12 Cf. 29:23; 42:5; 60:21; 64:8; Gen. 1:26; 2:1; Neh. 9:6; Jer. 27:5). Cyrus would be raised up by the LORD of hosts for righteousness-the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem through his exiled remnant, whom Cyrus would aid in their return-without price or reward (v. 13 Cf. 41:2; 44:28). This return will cause the nations to yield resources to them, and that there is no god like their God (v. 14 Cf. 14:1; 49:23; 60:9-16). Israel’s Saviour is thus a God who hides himself (v. 15). Idolaters will be ashamed and disgraced (v. 16; 44:11), but Israel would be saved with an everlasting salvation (v. 17 Cf. 29:22; 51:6).

The LORD created the world with the purpose that it would be inhabited. In this respect, he has not spoken in secret, those who seek him will not do so in vain, for he ‘speaks righteousness”- declaring things that are right (vv. 18-19 Cf. 63:1). Those who have rejected idolatry and escaped those nations that have not, are called together and invited to bring their case before the LORD, the one who declares the end from the beginning (vv. 20-21 Cf. 41:22; 43:9; 44:8-9; 46:7; Jer. 10:5). God offers himself as Saviour to “the ends of the earth” (v. 22), for his word will accomplish his purpose-that every knee shall bow before him, an take a vow of covenantal allegiance (vv. 23-24 Cf. 19:18; 65:16; Dt. 6:13; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10-11). “This is the goal of redemptive history (cf. v. 14)” (NGSB p.1106). “All shall be ashamed who are incensed against him” (v. 24 Cf. 41:11; 54:17). “In the LORD all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory” (v. 25 Cf. I Cor. 1:31). It is only through the covenant LORD that his people would be justified.

Isaiah

Isaiah 44 The Covenant LORD Or Idolatry.

Once again there is a promise of help from the LORD, water for the thirsty and floods on the dry ground. He formed His chosen in the womb (vv. 1-3a). What is new is the promise that the LORD would pour out His Spirit on their offspring (v. 3b), and they will thus bear fruit (v. 4). This would fulfill the promise given earlier to the remnant (28:5-6; 32:15; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:38-39). Thus, the giving of the Spirit is both a promise, and the one who confirms the LORD’s promises. At the advent of Christ there was also this connection between water and the Spirit given (Cf. Mk. 1:8-10). They will testify that they are ‘The LORD’s’ (v. 5). “Many will participate in the new age of restoration, as Gentiles and Jews together will confess the name of the Lord (sic) (cf. Ps. 87:4-6)” (NGSB p.1101).

The LORD will be their King, Redeemer, and the LORD of hosts-the first and the last-God alone (v. 6 Cf. 41:4; Rev. 1:8, 17; 22:13). The LORD alone can declare the end from the beginning, and his people are witnesses (vv. 7-8 Cf. 41:4, 22, 26; 43:10, 12; 45:5; Dt. 4:35; 32:39). Idolaters will only have their idols to bear witness-being ashamed that they neither see or know, or are of any profit (vv. 9-11 Cf. 1:29; 41:24, 29; 42:17; Ps. 97:7; Jer. 10:5; Hab. 2:18; Acts 19:26). Even the craftsmen who form the idol get tired and thirsty (v. 12). The idol is fashioned after the likeness of the owner who will look to it for deliverance, yet it will be burned in the fire to cook a meal or to keep people warm (vv. 13-17 Cf. Dt. 4:16). They “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Rom. 1:23).

It is the LORD who has shut the eyes of many so that they would not see or understand (v. 18 Cf. 6:9-10; 45:20; Jer. 10:14). These idolaters don’t take to heart and reflect on the futility of the above activity, instead they deceive themselves so that they cannot understand the truth (vv. 19-20 Cf. 57:11; 59:3). “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened: (Rom. 1:21). God gave them a strong delusion to believe a lie (II Th. 2:11). Prophets and Seers would be taken from them (29:10). Such was the reality of those of apostate Israel when Jesus engaged in his personal earthly ministry (Cf. Mt. 13:14; Mk. 4:12; 6:1-6; Lk. 8:10; Jn. 12:40), and Paul (Cf. Acts 28:28:26; Rom. 10:1-4; 11:8). They resisted the Spirit (Acts 7:51).

The faithful remnant, on the other hand, are formed by the LORD as his living witnesses-to Him and His word and acts in history. He had not forgotten them (v. 21 Cf. 49:15). The only reason that they occupy such a blessed condition and have such a purpose, is that He had blotted out their transgressions and sins – “like a thick cloud” (v. 22). As a result, they were His own possession in the covenant (Cf. 43:1; I Cor. 6:20; I Pet. 1:18-19). This He did for His own sake (Cf. 43:25). The whole of creation would also bear witness with singing, to this redemption of His people in this covenant relationship, all to His glory (v. 23 Cf. 42:10; 49:3, 13; 60:21). Their Redeemer is the Creator (v. 24), frustrating the signs of the babblers and diviners, making their ‘knowledge’ foolishness (v. 25 Cf. 47:13; Job 5:12-14; Jer. 50:36).

There is a great contrast here between pagan approaches to knowledge, revelation, and signs, and the messengers of the LORD (v. 26 Cf. Ps. 33:10-11). This was like Ahithophel’s opposition to David, and his prayer to have his words frustrated (II Sam. 15:31). The prophets die, but the word of the LORD delivered through them lived on to fulfillment (Zech. 1:5-6; Mt. 5:17-18). The LORD alone rules all creation in His providence for His own glory and the benefit of His people, drying up the source of the idolaters water (v. 27 Cf. Jer. 50:38; 51:36). Not only creation, but also history and the players in history, such as Cyrus working as the LORD’s servant, under His sovereign control (v. 28a). Through Cyrus’ edict, the people would return and be given help to rebuild the temple and the city (v. 28b Cf. 45:13; Ezra 1:1).

Isaiah

Isaiah 43:22-28 An Unfaithful Nation.

Even though the LORD committed Himself to His people as their Redeemer, Creator, and King, the vast majority of the nation seems to have not thought to call upon Him, or offer a sacrifice for their sins, or their thanks for the LORD and His acts and word-they regarded it all as useless (vv. 22-23 Cf. Mal. 1:13; 3:14). Therefore, their sins were a burden to the LORD, as were their outward sacrifices, and the ministers of the word had no sustenance (v. 24 Cf. Is. 1:14; Ps. 95:10; Amos 5:25; Mal. 2:17). All this was the case even though the LORD was the great ‘I am’ who blotted out their transgressions for His own sake, so that He remembered their sins no more (v. 25 Cf. 1:18; 44:22; Jer. 31:34; 50:20; Ezek. 36:22). Therefore, the LORD challenged them to present their ‘case’, that they might argue for an acquittal (Cf. Mic. 6:3). Clearly they were guilty of breaking the covenantal bond (v. 26), just as Adam their first father, and all the mediators who followed (v. 27). As a result, the ministers or princes of the sanctuary would be profaned with other duties, as Jacob and Israel experienced the curses of the covenantal bond (v. 28 Cf. Jer. 24:9; Dan. 9:11).

Isaiah

Isaiah 43:1-21 The Remnant’s Redeemer, Creator, and King.

Israel’s creator was also their redeemer, he called them and they were his (v. 1 Cf. 44:6; 45:4), and he would be their covenant LORD (v. 3 Cf. Prov. 11:8). As in their past when departing from Egypt and entering the promised land, he would not let the waters overwhelm them, also symbolic of the nations (v. 16 Cf. 51:10; Ex. 14:16, 21-22; Josh. 3:13; Ps. 77:19). The fire also would not consume them (v. 2 Cf. Dt. 31:6; Ps. 66:12; Jer. 30:11). The LORD set his love on the remnant, and the nations would be used to the advantage of his people (v. 4 Cf. 63:9). The remnant need not fear, for the LORD would be with them, and he would gather them from the four corners of the earth from their captivity (vv. 5-6, 14 Cf. 49:12; 54:7; 41:10; 44:2; Jer. 30:10; 46:27-28). The remnant are those who are called by his name, whom he created for his glory (v. 7 Cf. 29:23; Ps. 100:3).

The blind and deaf of apostate Israel, and the nations gathered together, would bear witness to the LORD acting on behalf of his people (vv. 8-9 Cf. 41:21-22, 26; Ezek. 12:2). His people would also bear witness, but it would be of their covenant LORD, their Savior (vv. 10-11 Cf. 44:8; 45:21; 55:4; Hos. 13:4). With their repudiation of idolatry, they would also bear witness that their covenant LORD alone was God (v. 12 Cf. 44:8; Ps. 81:9-10). The LORD alone is the great ‘I am’, existing from all eternity, also the sovereign Lord of providence (v. 13 Cf. 14:27; 48:16; Job 9:12; Ps. 90:2). The LORD was their Redeemer, Creator, and King (vv. 14-15). Their enemies, with armies and horse and chariot would fall, and they would not remember the former times of defeat, as in Egypt (vv. 17-18 Cf. Ex. 14:4-9, 25; Jer. 16:14).

What the LORD would be doing was “a new thing” (v. 19a Cf. 42:9). Hidden things would then be made known (Cf. 48:6). This would find ultimate fulfillment in the advent of the promised Messiah (II Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5). There would be a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, that is a source of renewal and life (v. 19b). This too would find ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah to come, who was also that rock in the wilderness, from which water flowed (Cf. 35:1, 6; 48:21; Ex. 17:6; Nu. 20:10-11; Dt. 8:15; Ps. 78:16; I Cor. 10:4). Even the creatures drinking of these waters would honour the LORD (v. 20), and his people whom he formed for himself, would declare his praise (v. 21 Cf. 42:12; Ps. 102:18). Again, this would find ultimate fulfillment in the remnant with the Messiah-delivered to serve him (Cf. Lk. 1:74-75; I Pet. 2:9).

Isaiah

Isaiah 42:10-25 He Will Exalt The Law And Make It Honourable.

With the coming of the Messiah all nations will praise the LORD, and he will ultimately defeat the LORD’s enemies (vv. 10-13 Cf. 31:4; Pss. 33:3; 40:3; 98:1; 107:23). The blind will receive their sight and be guided into a straight path (vv. 14-16). Those who trusted in idols shall be ashamed of their gods (v. 17 Cf. 1:29; 44:11; 45:16; Ps. 97:7). The deaf will also hear (v. 18). Israel, who is here the LORD’s servant, has been blind and deaf, seeing but not observing, opening their ears but not hearing-they were rebellious (vv. 19-20 Cf. 43:8; Ezek. 12:2; Jn. 9:39-41; Rom. 2:21). These were people who opposed the law of the LORD, therefore their enemies came and robbed and plundered them (vv. 22-24a Cf. 65:2). “For they would not walk in His ways, nor were they obedient to His law” (v. 24b). However, because of his righteousness “He will exalt the law and make it honourable” (v. 21b). This was the reason for judgment-they had turned away from the law-word of the covenant (v. 25 Cf. 1:2; 5:13; 29:13).