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.

No comments:

Post a Comment