Isaiah 44


‘But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the LORD says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel.’ Isaiah 44:1-5

Israel The Chosen

This chapter begins by telling us that the outpouring of God’s blessings contrasted with the barren state of captivity and God’s Spirit is the very zenith of blessings.

The word, ‘Jeshurun’ is used as a diminutive word of endearment, Deuteronomy 32:15. Deuteronomy 33:5 / Deuteronomy 33:26, means ‘upright one’, and here it literally means, ‘dear little Israel’.

God had given His people over for judgment in order to move them to repentance. He now comforts them by reminding them that He will bring them back because of their repentance.

They mustn’t fear because the results would be the bringing forth of fruits, restoration to the land which is but a type of the greater era to come, the Lord’s church, Joel 2:28 / Mark 16:15-16 / Acts 2:16-17 / Acts 2:41. We also read of the willingness of the Gentiles to be proselyted, Matthew 23:15.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The outpouring of the Spirit, Isaiah 44:3, is a glimpse of the new covenant as in Jeremiah 31:31ff / Ezekiel 36:26 / Joel 2:28 / Acts 2. Isaiah 44:5 is a foretaste of Gentile conversion. These verses promise redemption and the reception of the Spirit through the success of the Gospel of Christ. Here God explicitly predicts that future Israel who was to receive the Living Water and the Holy Spirit poured out upon them pre-eminently on Pentecost, Acts 2. Mention of Israel’s ‘seed’ in Isaiah 44:3, refers primarily to Israel after the Spirit, the true ‘Israel of God’, Galatians 6:16.’

The LORD, Not Idols

‘This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come—yes, let them foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 45:6-8

From these verses through to verse 23 we read of the absurdity of idols and the rejoicing of God’s people. God begins by proving that He alone is God. These verses form a new pledge of redemption and a fresh exhortation to trust in Jehovah. God points out the wretchedness of idols and that of their worshippers in contrast with Jehovah, the only God.

Two things which demonstrate His Deity.

1. He rules over nature in history showing that he alone is without equal and is God.

2. His deity is further declared by the fact that he alone can foretell the future.

No other god could answer the challenge, which alone should assure Israel.

‘All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame. The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!” Isaiah 44:9-17

The heathen gods are so far from being a ground of trust that all who trust in them will discover with alarm how they had deceived themselves and will be put to shame. The wretched folly and stupidity of idolatry are seen by its origin.

Isaiah gives us a description of the making of an idol. This description is intended to show the foolishness of putting trust in the product of man’s labours. The image maker grows tired and weary but his ‘god’ cannot give him any comfort.

He also tells us that the existence of the material for the idols depended upon God. The irony of it all is seen in their existence is from the residue of what man did not use for his physical needs. It is folly to bow down to that which man makes with his own hands.

‘They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” Isaiah 44:18-20

Here Isaiah sets forth idolatry as irrational, Exodus 20:4-5, yet idolatry hardens the heart so much that men cannot see or understand what is so obvious, Luke 12:15 / Romans 1:20-28 / Colossians 3:5 / 1 Timothy 6:8-10.

Wooden idols are good only for cooking food and keeping one warm. It appears that God will allow people to believe a lie, but condemn them for their desire to believe the lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Because the deceived had no desire to believe the truth, they will be condemned for their desire to follow after their own deceptions.

‘Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Sing for joy, you heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.’ Isaiah 44:21-23

Here we read that idolatry so deceived the heart that it had turned Israel so far from the truth and salvation that she couldn’t even think of salvation.

He has sept away their offences like a cloud and their sins like the morning mist, in other words, the assurance that God wouldn’t forget His servant is followed with an announcement of an act of love manifested by redemption.

God would not forget His people. There is already good ground to rejoice and the reply of God is, that God has accomplished what He has purposed, the redemption of His people. All those who realise their forgiveness in Jesus, work in thanksgiving and rejoice because of the grace of God, 2 Corinthians 4:15.

Jerusalem To Be Inhabited

‘This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfils the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’ who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,’ who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ Isaiah 44:24-28

From these verses through to chapter 45:25, we read of Cyrus, the anointed one.

The promise of redemption of Israel becomes more specific. God will deliver them from the captivity from which they couldn’t deliver themselves. God first gave existence to Israel, and he refuses to let Israel be completely destroyed.

He would rebuild Jerusalem and use His shepherd to perform it. Against the background of the destruction by Sennacherib, and eventually, by the Babylonians, Jerusalem will be rebuilt.

Just as God dried up the Red Sea in order to free Israel from Egyptian captivity, He will certainly deliver Israel from Assyrian and Babylonian captivity.

This is the first mention of Cyrus by name, Isaiah 45:21, and is about 165 to 170 before Cyrus issued the decree for releasing the Jews, Ezra 1:1-4 / 2 Chronicles 36:22-23.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Cyrus took the city of Babylon after having besieged it a long time in vain, by turning the waters of the river into a vast lake, forty miles square, which had been constructed to carry off the superfluous waters in times of a flood. By doing this, he laid the channel of the Euphrates almost dry, enabling him to enter the city and take it by surprise.’

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