Tonight, we will complete our study on the section of Isaiah that is found in Chapters 40 Ė 48. These Chapters deal with Godís rebuke and challenge to false idols, the downfall of Babylon through the hands of the future king Cyrus, restoration of the Jews, and some prophecies that point to the time of Christ.
Last week in Chapter 46, we learned how useless the
Babylonians gods were and how they would be brought into captivity as well. In
Chapter 47, we are given more details about the destruction of
Isaiah 47:1 "Come
down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of
These are very strong
words that only God could say and make happen.
Instead of being someone great, she would be stripped of her fancy clothes and given a lowly position carried out by slaves. She would be grinding meal and exposed for all the nations to see her nakedness. They would see just how vulnerable she is once God breaks her pride through King Cyrus.
In verse 4, we see praise
for God our great Redeemer. His people would burst out in praise for God
redeeming them from this mighty nation
stressed the fact that such terrible punishments upon
Isaiah 47:6 I was angry with My people; I have profaned My inheritance, And given them into your hand. You showed them no mercy; On the elderly you laid your yoke very heavily.† 7 And you said, 'I shall be a lady forever,' So that you did not take these things to heart, Nor remember the latter end of them.
God was angry with His people because of their rebellion
against the commandments of God. As you read through the Scriptures, you will
find God using an opposing nation to punish His people. In this case, God would
Daniel 4:25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
Next, the various sins of
Isaiah 47:8 " Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, Who dwell securely, Who say in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, Nor shall I know the loss of children';† 9 But these two things shall come to you In a moment, in one day: The loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness Because of the multitude of your sorceries, For the great abundance of your enchantments.† 10 "For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, 'No one sees me'; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one else besides me.'† 11 Therefore evil shall come upon you; You shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; You will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, Which you shall not know.
Notice what they were guilty of:
Their brazen arrogance that they would not be a widow or lose any children would be proven wrong. They thought they could stand against any god or nation because they had not learned what the Psalmist wrote in:
Psalm 127:1 †Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
God indeed caused them to lose children and become widows when they were conquered and wiped out by the Medo-Persian Empire.†
Isaiah 47:12 " Stand now with your enchantments And the multitude of your sorceries, In which you have labored from your youth -- Perhaps you will be able to profit, Perhaps you will prevail.† 13 You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels; Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, And the monthly prognosticators Stand up and save you From what shall come upon you.†
Once again, God challenges these supposed people of power. He calls on their magicians and their sorceries to stand with them. He even tells them to use their people who supposedly predict the future to stand with them as well. The astrologers were those that looked at the stars and made predictions similar to the horoscopes we have today. The stargazers were seers and had supposed visions about the future. The prognosticators were ones who used the moon for omens. Though the Babylonians relied on these people, they would soon find out that they had no power against God Almighty.†††
14 Behold, they shall be as stubble, The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver themselves From the power of the flame; It shall not be a coal to be warmed by, Nor a fire to sit before!† 15 Thus shall they be to you With whom you have labored, Your merchants from your youth; They shall wander each one to his quarter. No one shall save you.
God makes it clear that no one is going to be
able to save
In Chapter 48, Isaiah looks at the reasons the Jews will be in Babylonian captivity and he talks about their deliverance. Isaiah calls on the people to listen carefully to the Word of God. As Edward Young said:
An obedient nation is hearing nation, and a disobedient nation is one that does not hear.
Isaiah 48:1 "Hear this, O house of Jacob, Who are called by the name of Israel, And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah; Who swear by the name of the LORD, And make mention of the God of Israel, But not in truth or in righteousness;† 2 For they call themselves after the holy city, And lean on the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is His name:
These Jews thought they were all that and then some because they were descendants of Jacob, but what we have here is a bunch of hypocrites. Yes, they would speak of God, but their hearts were far from Him. They did not live their lives as if they were children of God.
There are many today that are just like these Jews. They like to say they are Christians and they will make mention of His name, but they do not live according to His Word. They live how they want to. They create their own brand of religion and follow it faithfully, but the problem is that is not according to Godís way. As Jesus said:
Matthew 15:8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.† 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "†
To simply swear by God and mention His name will not get you anywhere. Again, Jesus said:
Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.† 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'† 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'†
Isaiah 48:3 " I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.† 4 Because I knew that you were obstinate, And your neck was an iron sinew, And your brow bronze,† 5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, Lest you should say, 'My idol has done them, And my carved image and my molded image Have commanded them.'†
God had proven Himself over and over again since the beginning of time. He would foretell of an event and make it known to His people and it would happen. Godís predictions never fail. He made these many predictions beforehand, so they could not contribute it to one of their useless idols.
Notice that Isaiah did not hold back the truth when it came to talking about the condition of the heart of his fellow people. He said they were obstinate, which means hard hearted and they were stiff-necked. Yes, there are many different ways you can tell people this, but sometimes the direct statement is the best because there will be no misunderstanding.
We too must be careful today to not lose sight of what God had done for us and how His Word always comes to pass. Let us not rely on man or His wisdom because only God can save us.
Isaiah 48:6 "You have heard; See all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, Even hidden things, and you did not know them.† 7 They are created now and not from the beginning; And before this day you have not heard them, Lest you should say, 'Of course I knew them.'† 8 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.
Godís people heard the prophecies of God and they had seen them come to pass. So, the question is, ďwill you not declare it?Ē It is one thing to know something and another to declare it. I am reminded of some the Jews that believed that Jesus was the Son of God in the first century, but they would not acknowledge it because of their fear of being kicked out the synagogue (Jn. 12:42). However, Jesus clearly states that if we will not confess Him before men that He will not confess before the Father (Mt. 10:32-33).
We should not be like the Jews who knew what God had done, yet would not declare His great works. Instead, we should be willing to tell others about the great love of God and what He has made possible for us all.
God was revealing new things to His people; things they did not know. One reason He did not tell them everything at one time in the past was so they could not say they already knew it. These new things He was revealing could have included these new predictions of their delivery by Cyrus, but they would also include the prophecies about the coming Messiah. When they honestly considered the works of God and what He was sharing with them, it should be enough to get them to open their ears to the truth and turn away from their wickedness.
Isaiah 48:9 "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.† 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.† 11 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.
Godís plan for
man was to save them through His Son. In order for that promise to be kept,
Another reason He did not destroy His people was because the pagan people would have proclaimed that God could not save His people and they would no doubt say that their destruction came about because of their false gods.
48:12 " Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am
the First, I am also the Last.† 13 Indeed My hand has laid the
foundation of the earth, And My right hand has
stretched out the heavens; When I call to them, They stand up
together.† 14 "All of
you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things?
The LORD loves him; He shall do His pleasure on
God declares His Deity and how has always existed and created everything. We
also see Him talking about King Cyrus again and how he was the chosen one who
would prosper and defeat
As Barnes declared:
"None of the astrologers, soothsayers, or diviners of Babylon had been able to foretell the expedition of Cyrus and his capture of Babylon; for, if they had been able to foresee the danger, they might have guarded against it, and the city might have been saved. But God had predicted it a hundred fifty years before it happened, thus demonstrating that he alone is God."
Isaiah 48:16 "Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me."
I have used this verse by itself because there are different opinions of whether or not this ends or begins a new section. Also, there are different thoughts on who this talking about. Some believe it is a confirmation that Isaiah has been sent by the Father and the Spirit. Others believe this is the preincarnate Jesus speaking through Isaiah, which would mean this passage is referring to when Jesus would be sent to the earth. Either of the views are possible, but it is hard to say which is correct because the verse is too ambiguous to know for sure in my opinion, so you decide.
48:17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One
Things would have turned out differently if Godís people had listened to Him and followed His ways. They would have been blessed and flourished, but because of their rebellion they were cut off. Jesus says something similar about them in:
23:37 " O
God wants the best for His people, but He will not bless those who curse Him or rebel against Him. We can learn from this that if we want to be blessed by God then we need to follow His ways and not manís way. God will only bless those the follow after Him.
48:20 Go forth from
Archer's sums it up this way:
"This prophecy was written 150 years beforehand to Jews who would
be captives in the year 539 B.C. not to tarry on the pagan soil of
would not flee the defilements of
Those who would obey God and flee from
As Christian we have also been called to come out from the ways of the world. If we stay in them, we will not have peace with God either. Let us learn from Isaiah to never forget what God has done for us and how He is our only Savior and Redeemer. When we make Him and His kingdom our priority everything else will fall into place.†