Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Isaiah Post 30 - Returning With Joy (Chapter 51)

Following the servant song of the previous chapter, Chapter 51 is a chapter of great encouragment, comfort, and exhortation to the people of Israel.  Let the first three verses soak in:

“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,
You who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,

(Messiah is the rock)
And to the hole of the pit (quarry) from which you were dug.

Look to Abraham your father,
And to Sarah who bore you;
For I called him alone, 
And blessed him and increased him.”
(This is a reference to the Abrahamic covenant. God gave this promise to one man - Abraham - but made him a father of many nations)

For the LORD will comfort Zion,
(in the same way as Abraham going from barrenness to many)
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Oh my word - is this comforting or what??

The passage continues, telling us that law, justice, salvation, righteousness will reign.  This is millenial kingdom language.  In the last days, scripture tells us, there will be an increase of wickedness, where good is called evil and evil is called good. This passage promises a reversal of that nastiness.

In verses 5-8, we see the expression My Salvation three times, which is Yeshua in Hebrew.  The very name of the Servant, the Messiah of the world.  And as I've said before, when something is stated three times, it is the ultimate emphasis in Hebrew.

Yeshua - Salvation

Verse five tells us, My Salvation will go forth.  We are then twice assured that this Salvation will be forever, from generation to generation.

Verse six emphasizes that even the earth will pass away, the sky will vanish, but My Salvation (Yeshua!) will be forever.

In verses 9-10, Isaiah reminds the people to wake up and remember the mighty things that the arm of the LORD has done from ancient times. He has wounded the serpent (whom someday He will crush), and He has dried up the sea so that the redeemed could cross.

Verse 11 tells us that as it was then, so it will be again. Zion is returning with joy. Sorrow shall flee!  In fact, here it is:
So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness;
Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Returning with joy and singing to Zion

The passage continues with assurance that God is almighty and in charge. The exile WILL end.  The Babylonian Exile and the Worldwide Exile.  Today, the children of Israel are returning to the land with joy from all over the planet.

And just listen to verse 16:
And I have put My words in your mouth;
I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
That I may plant the heavens,
Lay the foundations of the earth,
And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”

Did you catch that?  The very creation of heaven and earth is aligned with the statement, “You are my people, Zion.”

Isaiah continues in verses 17-20 with a reminder of where they have been, and an exhortation:  Wake up, Jerusalem, you who has suffered the fury of the LORD!

Following the exhortation is the promise to His long-afflicted people:  The cup of the Lord’s wrath shall be removed from them, never to drink it again.

However, the scripture tells us; OTHERS will drink it.  The cup of God's wrath will be poured out on those who have afflicted God's people - those who mistreated the Jew, throughout history and now. Sadly, much of this was done by the church and in the name of Jesus. 

Where you stand on Israel and how you treat God's chosen people matters very, very much.

For a trip to the top of the roller coaster in my next post, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Isaiah Post 29 - The Third Servant Song (Chapter 50)

In chapter 50, we read the third Servant Song of Isaiah.

The first three verses liken Israel to an immoral wife.  Ouch.

But Israel was not sent away because God didn’t love her.  No, it was because of her own sin that she was sent away.  Indeed, the first verse of this chapter reads thusly:

“Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce,
Whom I have put away?
Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you?
For your iniquities you have sold yourselves,
And for your transgressions your mother has been put away.

The Servant begins His song in verse 4.

“The LORD God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.

The LORD God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.

We see here a lovely prophecy about the wisdom and obedience of the Messiah.  The gospels don’t show much about His childhood. He was born, escaped to Egypt, returned to Nazareth, spoke to the teachers in the temple around His bar mitzvah age, and then we don’t see Him again until He was 30.

But let's pause and look at the glimpse of His boyhood that we do have.  In Luke 2:41-50  we see the Servant having astonishing wisdom as He spoke with those teachers at the temple.  At age 12, He already knew that He was to be about His Father's business.  It was not common for the Jews to call YHVH father.  Chapter 2 of Luke wraps up with Yeshua growing in wisdom and stature; in favor of both God and man.

Yeshua as a boy, in the temple at Passover

When Isaiah describes the learning of the Servant, it is clear that the wisdom came from the Father - His learning came morning by morning - and Yeshua did not rebel or turn away.  He was obedient.  He knew who He was and that He would suffer.

Verse 6 is fulfilled in the gospels and gives us a preliminary prophecy of how the Servant would suffer:

I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

What follows in verses 7-9 is an assurance that YHVH will be the help for the Messiah.

This short chapter wraps up with a warning in the last two verses.  Fear the LORD and obey His Servant! But those who walk in their own way will lie down in sorrow.

“Who among you fears the LORD?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD
And rely upon his God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment.

Those who “light fires” refer to people who have their own schemes and their own gods. (For example, Aaron’s sons in Leviticus 10:1, when they burned strange fire in the tabernacle).

The Hebrew word used for torment actually means grief or sorrow.  A place of pain.

You want to know this Servant of YHVH!  Without Him, we have no true light.

Yeshua Messiah - Light of the World!
For the next post on Isaiah, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Isaiah Post 28 - The Second Servant Song, to All The World (Chapter 49)

Chapter 49 starts out with the second of four "Servant Songs" in the book of Isaiah.

Here are verses 1-13, with my commentary interspersed throughout the passage. Get ready... this is good stuff!  This is the Messiah speaking:

“Listen, O coastlands, to Me,
And take heed, you peoples from afar!
The LORD has called Me from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.
(For unto us a child is born, a Son is given; from Isaiah 9:6)

And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me,
And made Me a polished shaft;
In His quiver He has hidden Me.”
“And He said to me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’
(This servant is called Israel, but it is not referring the nation. It is a reference to the greatest Israelite of all, which will be confirmed in verse 5.  He is the only one who has ever perfectly kept “Torah,” or the Sinai covenant.   And why was that covenant given at Sinai? To demonstrate to Israel the nation - and the world - how impossible it is not to sin, or fall short.  See Galatians 3:19)

Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord,
And my work with my God.’”
(Has the Servant really labored in vain?  Most of Israel rejected the Messiah when He came the first time.)

“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
( The Servant will bring back Jacob and Israel to Himself.  Israel doesn’t gather itself to itself - that just isn't logical.  This is how we know that the Servant here is the Messiah of Israel.

Some Bible versions- the ones based on the Masoretic text such as the King James Version - actually say NOT GATHERED in this verse.  The Dead Sea Scrolls say gathered.  This is an interesting discrepancy… when Israel rejected Yeshua, they were not gathered but scattered. Today they are being gathered in preparation for receiving Him!)

And now for one of my favorite verses in Isaiah:
 Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Can I get an amen here?  This one should make us all rejoice!  Not just Israel will be redeemed by the Servant, but He will be a light to the nations!  Salvation (Yeshua) to the ends of the earth!  In Acts 10-15, we see the Good News beginning to expand to the nations.  The apostles were confused about this, even though it is plainly foretold here in Isaiah.  Oh, how our culture can blind us sometimes.

Thus says the LORD,
The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
To Him whom man despises,
To Him whom the nation abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise,
Princes also shall worship,
Because of the LORD who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel;
And He has chosen You.”
(We read that the Messiah will be despised by the nation of Israel, but kings and princes from all over the world shall worship Him.)

Thus says the LORD:
“In an acceptable time I have heard You,
And in the day of salvation I have helped You;
I will preserve You and give You
As a covenant to the people,
To restore the earth,
To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;
(YHVH will give the Servant as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth!  This is near/far prophecy.  Israel’s rejection of the new covenant was not permanent.)

That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
“They shall feed along the roads,
And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;
For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.
I will make each of My mountains a road,
And My highways shall be elevated.
(What a beautiful picture of what the Messiah does for us)

Surely these shall come from afar;
Look! Those from the north and the west,
And these from the land of Sinim.”
Israel will return from afar, and there will be great joy!

Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted.

All the earth will rejoice someday! The servant’s work was NOT in vain (from vs 4). The church should be rejoicing at the regathering of His people Israel, but sadly, most of it isn’t.

This is all being played out before our very eyes. The eyes of the world is on Israel and what is happening there. World politics are centered on these events. Jerusalem is a cup of stumbling to an unbelieving world.

This last verse is a throwback to Isaiah 35:10:
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

It makes me wonder: did the apostle Paul have Isaiah 49 in mind when he penned Romans 11? Israel rejects the Messiah, the Good News circles the earth, and then all Israel is saved.

Moving on in Isaiah 49...Zion thinks the Lord has forgotten . Today, they are returning to the land, mostly in unbelief.  Modern Israel began as a secular nation.  But everything happens right in God’s perfect order… see the dry bones in Ezekiel 37.  They are brought together, but have no breath (the word for breath is ruach, which also means spirit) in them at first.  The breath comes later, after the reassembling.

Verses 15-21 give us a glimpse of the heart of the LORD for His people. Here's my paraphrase...  Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Like I could ever forget you!   Here, let me show you something.  My hands! Lift up your eyes, look and see.

What a picture of God’s love for His chosen people.

Isaiah goes on to say the land will even be too small to accommodate them.  And this is so!  Ever since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has been expanding into the biblical heartland.  And Israel gets in trouble with the world every time they build. Jewish settlements built beyond the green line, in desolate, uninhabited areas come under worldwide scrutiny.

The nations of the world don't hate Israel, even though they think they do.  The world actually hates God, so therefore it hates those whom God loves.  I think I finally understand the secular Jews who advocate for Palestine and protest against the state of Israel.  They don't want to acknowledge God.

In verse 21, Zion metaphorically asks, where did all these children come from?  I’ve been barren!  I've been a wasteland!

Get ready for what follows in verses 22-23:

Thus says the LORD God:
“Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
Kings shall be your foster fathers,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
And lick up the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the LORD,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”

The nations will actually help Israel return to the land. Lick the dust from your feet is a metaphor, for respect and also humility. World leaders and kings are used to having people bow down to THEM, and yet here we see the opposite happening.  It won't be all the world, but only those who are able to see the hand of the LORD moving in these last days. Perhaps it is those who take Isaiah 40:1-2 to heart:

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the LORD's hand
Double for all her sins.”

Isaiah 49 continues in chapter 24 is a rhetorical question.  Can the captives be delivered?  Of course they can!

The chapter wraps up with a grim warning to the enemies of Zion.  You don’t want to be on the wrong side… choose wisely.

Why does God do all this?
All flesh shall know
That I, YHVH, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

For the next post in this series, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Isaiah Post 27 - For My Name's Sake (Chapters 47-48)

In chapter 46, we saw the LORD giving a warning to and also pleading with Israel, to forsake their idols and return to Him.

In chapter 47, the LORD now turns to Babylon, warning them in colorful language.  Babylon is likened to a prostitute, uncovering herself and wallowing in her shame.  In Revelation 17:5, this theme continues:


The rebuke to Babylon continues in Isaiah 47.  The LORD explains why He was angry with them.  God used them to judge Israel, but Babylon went overboard in their destructive glee.  

This is more near/far prophecy.  Babylon cursed the people of Israel then, and the religious system of Babylon continues today, cursing the land and the people of Israel.  This is why spiritual Babylon is mentioned in Revelation.  This false religious system, which takes on many forms but is basically sun god/moon goddess worship, will be destroyed once and for all.  If you need a refresher, this post from the current series on Isaiah covers the subject.

In fact, when you read the rest of Isaiah 47, you might think you are actually reading Revelation 17 and 18.

Isaiah changes tone in chapter 48 again, and switches back to the pleading tone of chapter 46.

The chapter begins by addressing those who swear by the name of YHVH, but not in truth or righteousness,  This is applicable today as well - there are many who serve the LORD but do not yet know the Messiah who is the giver of true righteousness.

The chapter continues... The Lord reaffirms His sovereignty, He brings things to pass, but Israel still does not hear or obey Him.

In verses 9-11, the LORD says He will defer His anger and will not cut them off – for His sake.  He will not give His glory to another.  So much for Replacement Theology - the idea that the church is now Israel.  Nope.  Not according to the promises of YHVH.  He made those promises and therefore, He WILL keep them.  It does not matter that Israel was disobedient and hard-hearted.

He is Who He says He is, and He does what He says He will do.

Beginning in verse 12, YHVH pleads again with Israel.  Oh, that they had obeyed His commandments!  So much good would have happened if that were the case.  We can say the same today.  Where would our lives be today if we had faithfully obeyed the LORD every step of the way in our walk with Him?  And yet, He is faithful even when we are not.  Even when we are disobedient and hard-hearted.

Verse 20 gives Israel a warning.  Flee from Babylon!  (Remember, they weren’t even there yet).  Flee from the country and also flee from the Babylonian religious system that is based in paganism.

Again, we could all learn from this command.  That system has worked its way into pretty much every corner of the church.  We are so used to it that we don't even recognize it.  But someday it will all be gone, when the King of kings and Lord of lords returns to Jerusalem and sets up His very Jewish kingdom.

Chapter 48 wraps up with this straightforward statement:
“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”

Who are the wicked?  The Hebrew word is rasha, and is used 263 times in scripture.  It is always used in the context of one who is guilty, morally wrong, and hostile to God.

But God in His mercy will continue to draw His people to Him and will discipline us when needed. We just need to look back at verses 8-11 of this chapter:

Surely you did not hear,
Surely you did not know;
Surely from long ago your ear was not opened.
For I knew that you would deal very treacherously,
And were called a transgressor from the womb.

“For My name’s sake I will defer My anger,
And for My praise I will restrain it from you,
So that I do not cut you off.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it;

For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another.

Oh, what a merciful and faithful God we serve.

For the next post in this series, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Isaiah Post 26 - The LORD Pleads (Chapter 46)

Chapter 46 a short chapter, which summarizes what is written in the previous chapters.  The emphasis is on the futitlity of idols and the mightiness of the LORD.

Verses 1-2 describe the idols in less than flattering terms.  They stoop, they bow down, they cause weariness on the beasts of burden who are forced to haul them around.  Idolatry can still burden us today.  Although we may not bow and scrape before wooden images, there are still plenty of things that we do bow and scrape to, and put above the LORD... materialism/money, sports teams, convenience, self-promotion, celebrities, drugs, sex, political parties, food, etc etc.  (And I am definitely guilty as charged on some of these.  Aren't we all?)

The plea that follows from the LORD to Israel beginning in verse 3, is very strong:

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

The LORD is saying, "Guys!  Pay attention!  I am the One who made you and will sustain you! Not those useless, deaf and dumb wooden idols. I am there for you.... start to finish!"

He continues with His plea in the remainder of this short chapter:

Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
(Prophecy, confirming Who He is!)
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it; I will also do it.
(He has said it and He is faithful to do it!)

“Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted,
Who are far from righteousness:
I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off;
My salvation (teshua, derivitave of Yeshua) shall not linger.
And I will place salvation in Zion,
For Israel My glory.

The LORD wraps up this chapter promising salvation and righteousness to Zion - the soon-to-come Messiah!

The word used in the last verse for glory is tiferet –  which means beauty, splendor, of rank or renown – a jewel. Israel is the LORD's jewel!

The priestly breastplate features 12 jewels, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

The other word translated glory in the scriptures is kavod, and it always describes the LORD Himself or of things pertaining to Him. Kavod is a word that means heavy.   

Fun fact: the Hebrew word for liver is the same word: kavod, because it is the heaviest organ in the body.

Stay tuned!  Click here as Isaiah continues to take us on a prophetic roller coaster ride.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Isaiah Post 25 - Who is In Charge of the Universe? (Chapter 45)

In chapter 44, the LORD introduced us to a guy not even born yet, something no idol could ever do.

In chapter 45, He continues this amazing prophecy, speaking directly to the not-yet-born Cyrus:

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you,
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,

(Isaiah is prophesying about a Gentile, who doesn’t even know the LORD! What is God’s purpose?  Let's look and see...)

That you may know that I, the LORD,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,

I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting,
That there is none besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.’

“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it.

This whole speech to a man yet unborn, one who is a future and powerful Gentile king, leaves me rather speechless.  Why is the LORD doing all this?  So that Cyrus will know Him!  And so that all of us, when we read these writings thousands of years later, can also know Him!

If there remains any doubt that YHVH is absolutely sovereign and in charge of everything, the prophecy continues with a warning.

“Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!

 (A pot among the other pots of the earth)
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?

How often do we do this? Compare ourselves with others? Question why we are who God made us to be? Yes, I do this. So far, I've only done it twice today, but it's still early in the day. Scripture uses the analogy of potter and clay numerous times. Paul reiterates the sovereignty of the LORD in Romans 9:21...

Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 

Yes, God is in complete charge.  Will we yield to Him, or will we become a mis-shapen pot?  The warning continues:

Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’
Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’”
Thus says the Lord, The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
“Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
I have made the earth, And created man on it.
I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, And all their host I have commanded.

(Several times in Isaiah we have heard that God has stretched out the heavens. This seems to answer the scientific question of how the light from the stars reaches earth without needing billions of light years... by the hand of God who stretched them out. Maybe the earth IS the center of everything He created.)

Now the LORD gets really specific regarding the future actions of Cyrus:

I have raised him up in righteousness,
And I will direct all his ways;
He shall build My city,
And let My exiles go free,
Not for price nor reward,” Says the LORD of hosts.

(hosts:  tsavaot – the Hebrew word for armies)
The LORD, the Only Savior

In case you don't know the story, the Jews who had been exiled in Babylon for 70 years were given permission by Cyrus, king of Persia, to return to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. Here is his decree in 2 Chronicles 36:23:

Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!

And indeed, Jews then returned to Jerusalem with joy and eventually rebuilt the temple.

Goodbye, Babylon!

The chapter goes on to describe the sovereignty of the LORD and the futility of idols (in case we haven't taken these things to heart yet).  Here are several highlights from the remaining verses:

But Israel shall be saved by the LORD
With an everlasting salvation;
You shall not be ashamed or disgraced
Forever and ever.

For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens, Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:

(A quick side note:  the LORD created this earth for man.  His purpose has always been to dwell here with us.  Someday, He will return to EARTH, renew it, and reign with us from HERE and not some cloud in the sky.)

“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right....
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth!
(Not just Israel, but those who attach themselves to the Holy One of Israel)

For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.

Paul quotes this last part in both Romans 14:11 and Phillippians 2:10, which link this prophecy to Yeshua our Messiah, confirming that He is YHVH in the flesh.  Someday, every human that ever lived will face Him in person.  Are you ready?

If you are in Him, you are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel; like Ruth, who attached herself to the people of Israel and Israel’s God. “Your people will be my people, AND your God will be my God.”

I know... I mention Ruth often.  By attaching herself to Israel, she was blessed to become King David’s great grandmother, and ultimately in the lineage of the Messiah! What an honor. Are you a friend of God’s chosen people? In attaching to the God of the universe, do you also attach yourself to them?

Ruth clings to Naomi and is blessed.  Orpah departs and is never heard from again.

For the next post in this series, click here,

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Isaiah Post 24 - No Other God Can Do This (Chapter 44)

Chapter 43, filled with promises to Israel, nevertheless ended with a rebuke.  But chapter 44 will blow your mind.  In his usual fashion, Isaiah  begins the chapter with a change of tone following the rebuke, giving us this beautiful promise (with a few of my commentaries thrown in for good measure):

Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, (in spite of that rebuke)
And Israel whom I have chosen.
Thus says the LORD who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:

(We see here a progressive transformation of Jacob/Israel)

‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
(I've lost count.  How many fear nots does this make in the last 2-3 chapters?  About 100?)

And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
(Jeshurun is a symbolic name for Israel, meaning upright one, describing Israel's ideal character)

 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’

(This ancient promise is happening now in Israel. Psalm 63 speaks of water in a dry and thirsty land.  Ezekiel 37 speaks of dry bones coming to life. God is in the restoration business).

One will say, ‘I am the LORD's’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD's,’
And name himself by the name of Israel.

(Historically, there has been shame within the Jewish community for just being Jewish. Many changed their names when immigrating. For example, my brother-in-law's ancestors changed their name from Moscovitz to Moss. But with Israel becoming a nation in 1948, there has been a tremendous reversal to this ancient trend.)

Isaiah continues preaching the Word from the LORD in verses 7-8 with this idol-destroying bombshell:

And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.

Do not fear, nor be afraid; 

Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’”

With these verses, the LORD continues to set up His great announcement which is going to show up at the end of this chapter. He has alluded to it since chapter 40.

Also, a side-note here: I love the reference to the Rock. Who is our Rock? Yeshua the Messiah is our Rock. This scripture shows Yeshua to be God. The idea of Yeshua as our Rock was developed in a previous post, which you can read here if you are in the mood for a rabbit trail.

Rocks are a symbol of eternity. I love how Jewish people put rocks on graves instead of flowers. Flowers are beautiful but they wither and fade away. Rocks stick around!

Moving on, Isaiah reiterates the foolishness of idols in verses 9-20. Check out the craziness and futility of idolatry:

Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
And their precious things shall not profit;
They are their own witnesses;
They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.
Who would form a god or mold an image
That profits him nothing?

Surely all his companions would be ashamed;
And the workmen, they are mere men.
Let them all be gathered together,
Let them stand up;
Yet they shall fear,
They shall be ashamed together.

The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals,
Fashions it with hammers,
And works it with the strength of his arms.
Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails;
He drinks no water and is faint.

The craftsman stretches out his rule,
He marks one out with chalk;
He fashions it with a plane,
He marks it out with the compass,
And makes it like the figure of a man,
According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.

He cuts down cedars for himself,
And takes the cypress and the oak;
He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.
Then it shall be for a man to burn,
For he will take some of it and warm himself;
Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.

He burns half of it in the fire;
With this half he eats meat;
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
He even warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm,
I have seen the fire.”
And the rest of it he makes into a god,
His carved image.
He falls down before it and worships it,
Prays to it and says,
“Deliver me, for you are my god!”

They do not know nor understand;
For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,
And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
And no one considers in his heart,
Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,
“I have burned half of it in the fire,
Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;
I have roasted meat and eaten it;
And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?
Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
He feeds on ashes;
A deceived heart has turned him aside;
And he cannot deliver his soul,
Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Many of our own modern customs come right out of this idolatry. To see how this could be so, check out Jeremiah 10:3-4 (but put on your steel-toed boots in case you get your toes stepped on):

For the customs of the peoples are futile;
For one cuts a tree from the forest,
The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
They fasten it with nails and hammers
So that it will not topple.

Most of America does this very thing every year, whether or not they believe in God.  Even my congregation does it.  Sigh.  Sorry, I digress...

The rest of  chapter 44 is a wonderful promise to Israel:  Israel Is Not Forgotten.

“Remember these, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!
I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!
Shout, you lower parts of the earth;
Break forth into singing, you mountains, 

O forest, and every tree in it (hmm... maybe we should just leave those lovely trees in the forest instead of hacking them down and decorating them?)
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, And glorified Himself in Israel.

(God is GLORIFIED through Israel! Do you see why it is so awesome to be grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel?  Ruth attached herself to Israel and was blessed beyond measure!)

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, 
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the LORD, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
Who frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drives diviners mad;
Who turns wise men backward,
And makes their knowledge foolishness;
Who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers;
Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’
To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’
And I will raise up her waste places;
Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry!
And I will dry up your rivers’;

Can I just pause and say, WOW!  What a mighty God we serve!  Only HE can make things happen.  Only HE can tell us what is to come.

Now moving on to verse 28. Wait for it...

Who says of Cyrus, (wait, what??) 
‘He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’

So, more than 100 years before Cyrus was even born, God names him by name through His prophet Isaiah.  The Judeans had not even been kicked out of the land yet, and Solomon’s glorious temple still stood.  But here is this promise that the holy temple, which had not yet been destroyed, will be someday commissioned by a foreign guy not yet born.

Cyrus, King of Persia 
This happened with utmost precision.  All the previous passages on the futility of idols have led up to this declaration.  Only God!  What proof we have of Who He is!!

Can we trust Him?  Is He sovereign over all?  YES! A thousand times YES!

Chapter 45 is just as exciting!  Are you on the edge of your seat yet?  Click here as the story continues.

If you would like to start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Isaiah Post 23 - Because I Said So (Chapter 43)

Following the LORD's discipline of Israel in chapter 42, Isaiah 43 jumps in with this:


Those two sweet little words tell us that there is more to come for Israel following the discipline.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“FEAR NOT, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

The word used here for created is boray, which means to create from nothing. The word is only used of God, and is first found in Genesis 1:1 when the LORD created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, speaking it into existence.

Man cannot create out of nothing, and neither can the evil one. The devil, the father of lies, can only imitate, and he uses his imitative abilities to deceive the world.

The word for formed, yatsar, is used of both God and man. It means to fashion or transform something out of existing materials.

I am reminded of the joke, where God was challenged by an athiest scientist. The challenge was to create life. When the scientist bent down to pick up some dirt, God told him, "Use your own dirt."

I digress.

Anyway, in this verse we can see that God created Israel, and then He began the process of transforming Israel. The transformational process can be seen when you study the life of Jacob.  Post #19 in this series speaks a little of this process.

And the command, fear not, now appears again for the fourth time in three chapters. I believe the Almighty means business when He tells us not to fear. 

And in this section, God reiterates to Israel, "You are Mine." The everlasting and unconditional Abrahamic covenant makes this so. (Understanding the covenants is foundational to understanding the Bible. If you'd like a review of the seven covenants, click here.)

The passage continues on with more wonderful promises to Israel. Let these verses speak to your heart:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

(There has been hardship and chastisement over the centuries, but they are never permanently forsaken, as the church has unfortunately taught)
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—
Everyone who is called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

In context, this is spoken to Israel. As people of God who have been adopted into the commonwealth of Israel, we too can claim these beautiful promises in addition to (NOT instead of) Israel.

I need to just stop here and ponder the miracle of Israel for a moment. 
Over 300 years ago, King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great Christian philosopher, to give him proof of the existence of God. Pascal answered, “Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!”

So many people and nations have persecuted them over the centuries, trying to wipe them out (of course, the devil is behind it - he hates what God loves).

 The Jews had no country for over 1900 years. They spread to the four corners of the earth after Jerusalem was sacked and the temple destroyed in 70 AD.

By human standards, the nation of Israel should not exist. It’s impossible. Their modern wars were miracles. Israel’s existence today is a huge proof that God is who He says He is, and that He keeps His promises. It's that Abrahamic covenant again.

The regathering of Israel, from the east, west, north, and south… from the very ends of the earth, is going on now.   Prophecy regarding Israel is being fulfilled right under our noses.  Most of historical Christianity did not get to see what we are seeing today.

Jewish Holocaust survivors arriving in the Land of Israel

The Aliyah, or return, continues today from all over the earth

Moving on, verse 8 refers back to the blind and deaf referred to in the previous chapter, now healed. And in verse 10, the LORD calls Israel His witnesses, the servant whom He has chosen. Again, they were never un-chosen, only chastised.

In verses 10-13, the LORD is really reiterating WHO HE IS.  There is no Savior besides Him.  No other nation’s god is the true God.  Israel was privileged to bring knowledge of the One True God to the world.  God is One.  Yeshua is the physical manifestation of YHVH, the Holy One of Israel.

These verses are a stumbling block to orthodox Jews today. They believe Yeshua is a foreign god.  But if Yeshua is not YHVH in the flesh, our faith is futile and idolatrous.  Someday, YHVH will open the eyes of His chosen people and they will see Him.  However, I believe surprises abound for believers as well when we meet Him face to face.  I can hear it now... "Oh my word... He's Jewish???"

Verse 13 declares God to be eternal. Only God is eternal. 

Indeed before the day was, I am He;
And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand;
I work, and who will reverse it?”

Yeshua said in John 8:58, Before Abraham was, I AM. At this point, The Jewish leaders then picked up rocks to stone Him, knowing full well He was claiming to be God.

Also, in John 18:6, Yeshua said, “I am He,” to his arresters, and they drew back and fell to the ground. He was declaring Himself God and there was power in His words, enough to knock the soldiers to the ground! 

I am He, declares Yeshua

In the next several verses, we see reminders from the LORD - a reminder of who He is, and His promise to Israel for redemption. They had already been redeemed from Egypt, and they would soon be redeemed from Babylon.  I love that the reminder comes before they even depart for Babylon.  While in exile, they were able to cling to His promise.

And if those things are not enough, Isaiah continues with a command:  Do not remember former things! New things are coming!  What is coming is going to be so much greater.

It is interesting to note that every time the Jews entered or re-entered the land, there was something new that happened.
  • Under Joshua, Israel conquered the land and eventually built a temple to the Lord. 
  • When they returned from exile in Babylon, Israel built a second temple that was visited by Yeshua, Who then instituted the New Covenant with His blood.
  • Now that the Jews are returning from the four corners of the earth, they will soon rebuild the temple, from which the Messiah will reign on earth.
The third temple WILL be rebuilt - because He said so

What follows in Isaiah is spoken in Millenium language. Animals will glorify Him, there will be rivers in the desert, and His chosen people shall declare His praise.

Isaiah wraps up this chapter with highlights of Israel's transgressions, and how they have wearied the Lord.  However, for His own sake, He will blot out their transgressions and forget their sins.  He has to do it because He said so...  the Abrahamic covenant again.

What comes next?  Wait no more... click here!

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Isaiah Post 22 - Behold My Servant! (Chapter 42)

Today we will look at the first of the four "Servant Songs" of Isaiah. 

The servant Israel is mentioned back in 41:8, in a very broad sense.  And indeed, Israel has been a servant to the world - bringing to us the covenants, the law, the promises, and the very Messiah Himself.  See Romans 9:4.

But now, chapter 42 begins to narrow things down.  Behold My servant who pleases Me!  This is different from Israel as a servant to the world.  This gets more specific.  The first two verses tell us that the LORD's Spirit would be upon Him, He would bring forth justice to the Gentiles, and that He will not cry out or raise His voice.

In Matthew 3:17-18, we see this Spirit descending upon Yeshua at His immersion in the Jordan River.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Isaiah continues in the next verse by saying something we don't really relate to in these modern days:
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.

In ancient times reeds were used for basket-making.  The broken ones were called bruised - they were useless and were thrown away. 

A broken reed, useless for making paper

Also, in regard to smoking flax; well, in our modern culture, sadly, we can relate more to smoking weed.  But smoking flax referred to the wicks in the temple menorah - they were used up:  burned out and useless.

This section is quoted in Matthew 12:18-21. Matthew is letting us know that Yeshua is fulfilling what was foretold about Him.  He is the Servant.   Yeshua was and is for the downtrodden.

It is interesting to note that Matthew stopped at verse 3, even though Isaiah continued in verse 4 with this:
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

Matthew did not include verse 4 because this is an example of near/far prophecy.  He will accomplish part 2 of this prophecy when He returns.  Justice will be established throughout the earth when the Messiah returns to rule here someday soon.

Isaiah continues with verse 5:  Thus says the LORD who created – the word is boray, which means to create something out of nothing - the heavens and the earth. This word is only used of God, never of man, and is first found in Genesis 1:1.

Verses 6 and 7 clearly tell us what the Servant is going to do.  He is righteous, guided by God; He is given as a covenant to the people, a light to the Gentiles, an opener of eyes, bringing freedom for the
prisoners. What a perfect picture of what the Messiah has done for the world!

The very next verse tells us,
I am the LORD, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.

I must pause here and say that "The LORD" is not His name.  The holy name of our Creator is known as the tetragrammaton (4 letters, YHVH in Hebrew).  The Jews of old, and also to this day, revere His name so much that they will not prounounce it.  They will say Adonai (Lord), or Hashem (the Name).  This doctrine has spilled over into our Christian bible translations as well.  Whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters in scripture, it is a substitute for the Hebrew name YHVH.  Because the name has been hidden, there are varying thoughts on it's correct pronunciation... Yahweh, Jehovah, Yehovah, etc.

Biblically, a name isn’t just something one is called; there is meaning to the name.  It’s who they are... their character, their nature, their very being.

Hebrew is unique in that individual letters have meaning.  For example, the yod means a hand.  The vav means a tent peg or nail.  And the hey means look, or behold.  Therefore, one of the meanings of the name of the Almighty is behold the hand, behold the nail.

It is interesting that the statement, My glory I will not give to another, would be tied in with messianic prophecies.  This is another verse that shows the Messiah as divine, because Yeshua is glorified when He comes to earth. 

Note:  Either Yeshua is YHVH in the flesh, or a false idol to the extreme.  He accepted worship from His disciples.  Both humans and angels in scripture rebuke people who try to worship them.  Yeshua did not, because He is worthy of our worship.  YHVH will not give His glory to another, because Yeshua is YHVH in the flesh.

Verse 9 continues with a declaration of new things.  YHVH will declare them before they happen.  Prophecy comes from the LORD and it confirms Who He is.  Jeremiah 31:31 declares that a new covenant is coming soon.

The next section, verses 10-13 are a praise to God because of what He is going to do!  A new song!  Let all the earth give glory to God!  It's going to be big!

In the next section, Isaiah is speaking again about the servant Israel.  God has restrained Himself a long time, but judgment is coming.  This servant, we are told, is blind and deaf, but they will see again see.  Discipline is coming because of their idols and their refusal to walk in the law of YHVH

In verse 25, we see the LORD's fury is being poured out, and Israel is not taking it to heart.

Regarding discipline – the Lord disciplines those He loves. Proverbs 3:12 tells us,
For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

This idea is repeated in Hebrews 12:6 - For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.

The LORD obviously loves His people. 

Therefore, the Servant is to be brought forth from the servant in order to redeem the servant, whom the Servant loves.  Chew on that for awhile!

And when you are done chewing, click here for musings on chapter 43.

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Isaiah Post 21 - God Rules, Idols Drool - (Chapter 41B)

My previous post left off with Isaiah 41:13, with an admonition from the LORD to Israel to fear not.

Today we pick up with the same command, given for a third time in this chapter, in verse 14:

“Fear not, you worm Jacob,
You men of Israel!
I will help you,” says the LORD
And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

I've said before that when something is repeated three times, it is the ultimate emphasis.  The LORD, the Holy One of Israel, is promising His help.

Why is Jacob called a worm?  The Hebrew word for worm used here, tola, deserves its own blog post (and guess what... there is one here if you are in the mood for a rabbit trail).

I'm not totally sure why Jacob is called a worm.  Looking at the context, it seems like Jacob is weak and in need of help.  And help is promised by the LORD.

Isaiah also uses the term Holy one of Israel – again!  The book of Isaiah uses this expression 25 times, 31 in the whole bible.  Here are some more interesting statistics to note:

  • God of Israel – used 201 times in the Bible
  • God of Jacob – used 25 times in the Bible
  • God of the church – used 0 times in the Bible

If we look at Ephesians 2:11-12, we can see that we gentile believers are now part of the commonwealth of Israel.  The Holy One of Israel is our God, too.  Not instead of Israel, but in addition to Israel. We  believers need to humbly know where we stand - redeemed and grateful members of the household of God.  We are wild branches made holy, through the covenants of Israel!  See Romans 11 if you need clarification.

Isaiah continues in verses 15-16 with a followup on God's promise of help:

“Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth;
You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small,
And make the hills like chaff.
You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away,
And the whirlwind shall scatter them;
You shall rejoice in the LORD
And glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The threshing sledge with sharp teeth reminds me of the firepan in the woodpile, in Zechariah 12:6.  I think of the IDF today, as they have been raised up to protect their people. Numerically, it makes no sense that they are able to protect tiny Israel from its surrounding enemies. None of Israel's modern wars make any sense from a human standpoint.  Even West Point will not teach on Israel's modern military strategies because they cannot explain them.

Painting by my friend Udi at the Blue and White Gallery in Jerusalem

The next three verses outline the LORD's promise of changing the desolate places into living water… healing their spiritual thirst with a picture of a blooming land. And the land of Israel is definitely blooming today after being a wilderness for almost 2000 years.  Verse 20 tells us exactly Who has accomplished this - the hand of the LORD.

Isaiah then switches gears and returns to the case he is building against idols. The LORD challenges the idols once again and shows that they are nothing. IDOLS CANNOT PROPHESY OR PREDICT THE FUTURE THE WAY GOD CAN.  Those who choose them are an abomination.  None of the idols or pagan wizards could foretell the future as the LORD did.  Prophecy coming true is one of the ways He shows that He is who He says He is.

Verse 25 speaks of one being raised up from the north and from the rising of the sun (east).  Armies always came against Israel from the north (Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem), but Babylon, Media, Persia are from the east – rising of the sun. Even Abraham, who came from Chaldea in the east, had to go north first to avoid a great wilderness.

The chapter wraps up with these words:
The first time I said to Zion,
‘Look, there they are!’
And I will give to Jerusalem one who brings good tidings.
For I looked, and there was no man;
I looked among them, but there was no counselor,
Who, when I asked of them, could answer a word.
Indeed they are all worthless;
Their works are nothing;
Their molded images are wind and confusion.

We see here a hint of the Messiah to come, who WOULD be a man, who would bring good tidings, and who would send His spirit as counselor, as opposed to the idols who could do simply nothing.

The stage is now set for the first of four servant songs in Isaiah, which will debut in chapter 42.

Click here to continue to the next post.

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Isaiah Post 20 - Do Not Fear, My Servant Israel! (chapter 41A)

Today we continue with Isaiah chapter 41.

Israel is going to be assured of God’s help.  There are many great promises to Israel in this chapter.

Verse 1 begins with a command to the coastlands to keep silent and come near.  Philistia and Phonecia are being called as witnesses to Isaiah’s speech.

Isaiah then mentions one who will be raised up from the east.  Isaiah is laying the foundation for the mention of Cyrus, which comes a little later in Isaiah.  In this section, he is prophesying about Israel’s rescue and return from Babylon – over 100 years before they even were sent there!  Cyrus is a Persian king.  Isaiah is letting us know that Babylon will be taken over by the Medes and Persians at some future point.

Verse 4 asks, Who has done it?  Of course, the LORD is sovereign, and He has ordained it.  Only the LORD God can foretell the future in such a way.

The coastland peoples who were told to listen to this prophecy were afraid, and resorted to their idols in verses 5-7.  The Holy and true God would be too much for them.  What a strange response!  But even the Israelites had resorted to an idol after seeing the great and awesome power of God, when they made the golden calf in the wilderness.  What is it in human nature that makes us do this?  What exactly are we afraid of?

What follows in verses 8-10 is a beautiful affirmation from the LORD regarding Israel (some of my favorite verses in all of scripture):

“But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Jacob (Israel), the descendents of Abraham, God's friend, cannot be unchosen.  (The word used for friend is ahav, which is stronger than our meaning of friend. It means beloved). Israel was the recipient of the everlasting Abrahamic covenant.

Twice in this passage, Israel is called God’s servant, and they were – bringing the Holy One of Israel to the world.  They are still a light to the nations even today, not even knowing the Messiah yet.  Modern Israel has served the world through many inventions and technologies.  Here is just a partial list:
  • The Pillcam
  • Drip irrigation
  • Computer processing chips
  • USB Flash drives
  • ReWalk - helping paraplegics walk
  • Mobile phones
  • Voice mail
  • Ocean desalination technology (turning ocean water into drinking water)
  • The Iron Dome
  • Epilady - the first electric hair remover
  • Babysense breathing monitor - preventing SIDS
  • Cherry tomatoes (one of my personal favorites)
  • Many, many more!
If you have gotten caught up in the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, then first of all, may God have mercy on you (see Genesis 12:3), and second of all, good luck with that.  There is much you will have to give up in order to achieve your boycott.

Anyway, back to the passage.  Verse 9 speaks of Israel being called and taken from the ends of the earth and the farthest regions.  This is near/far prophecy, written just after the dispersion of the northern kingdom and before Judah was sent eastward to Babylon.  The second exile, which happened hundreds of years after Judah's regathering from Babylon, was a worldwide scattering, which is why the regathering will take place from the ends of the earth.

I love the statement, You are My servant, and I HAVE NOT CAST YOU AWAY.  So much for Replacement Theology.  Right in the middle of the worldwide regathering prophecy (which is happening in our current day), we are reminded of this fact.  God is not a liar.

The section continues with a command:  Fear not!  I will be with you, I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND.

Yeshua the Messiah isn’t just AT the right hand of the Father, He IS the right hand of the Father.  He is the action part of the Godhead.

The section continues in verse 11 with a warning to those who contend badly with Israel.  They will perish… come to nothing.  Again, if you are one of those boycotters, you might want to rethink your position.  Also go read Zechariah 12:3-6 if you need further clarification on what happens to those who come against God's chosen people.

The pupil of the eye is called the apple in Hebrew.
Messing with Israel is like poking the LORD in the eye.

In verse 13, the LORD repeats the promise of help and the admonition to fear not.  Remember, repetition happens for emphasis.  The third "fear not" will come in the next post, in part two of chapter 41.

Click here for part two of chapter 41.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.