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.

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