Scripture reading – Isaiah 45; Isaiah 46

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Isaiah prophesied that the LORD would send a great king to conquer the nations and direct the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezra 1). In a stunning announcement and more than a hundred years before his birth, the LORD identified the future king as “Cyrus…my shepherd” (Isaiah 44:28)!

 

Isaiah 45

 

A Heathen King is the LORD’s Anointed? (Isaiah 45:1-4)

 

Isaiah 45 opened with a stunning revelation! The LORD identified Cyrus, the future king of Persia, not only as His “shepherd” (Isaiah 44:28) but also “His anointed” (Isaiah 45:1). To what end was Cyrus the “anointed” of the LORD? The answer to that question is summed up in one word – “Sovereignty.” 

The LORD purposed to empower Cyrus “to subdue nations” (Isaiah 45:1). Before his reign was complete, the armies of Persia would conquer Asia Minor, the Medes, Babylon, Syria, and the occupiers of the land of Israel. The Persian empire extended from the Mediterranean Sea in the east to the Arabian Sea in the west.

The LORD is the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign of creation. No created being is beyond His rule and authority. Every nation, king, dictator, and president is an instrument in the hand of the LORD, and without Him, the most powerful men are nothing.

The LORD purposed to empower Cyrus “to subdue nations” (Isaiah 45:1).

The God of the Scriptures is LORD and Creator (Isaiah 45:5-10)

Isaiah 45:5-8 “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded [bind; encircle] thee [king Cyrus of Persia], though thou hast not known me:
6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil [not sin, but calamity; sorrow]: I the LORD do all these things.”

Leaders might boast, “Look what I have wrought;” however, the most powerful men are nothing without the LORD!  We are frail creatures of clay, and the LORD will have His way with us according to His eternal purposes. Isaiah admonished the foolishness of men who suppose they conduct their lives independently of God, saying, Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds [i.e., broken pieces of pottery] of the earth. Shall the clay say to him [the potter] that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9)

The LORD Promised to Deliver Israel (Isaiah 45:11-18)

Unlike false prophets who cannot tell the future and idols that cannot speak, see, or reason, the LORD challenged Israel, saying, “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, And concerning the work of my hands command ye me?” (Isaiah 45:11).

The LORD who “made the earth, and created man upon it” (Isaiah 45:12), declared He would raise up a ruler “in righteousness, and…direct all his ways” (Isaiah 45:13). That ruler would rebuild Jerusalem and free the Jews (i.e., captives) to return to their land as freemen (i.e., “not for price nor reward,” Isaiah 45:13b).

Though Cyrus would not be righteous, he would accomplish God’s righteous purpose. Unlike all other ancient nations that rose to prominence only to become a footnote in history, Israel was promised that the nation “shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation” (Isaiah 45:17). A marvelous testimony of the LORD’s sovereign faithfulness is the existence of an ancient people who identify themselves as the children of Israel! 

What does Isaiah 45:18 tell us about creation?

What does Isaiah 45:18 tell us about creation? 

Isaiah 45:18 eliminated any possibility of evolution or the co-existence of a Creator and an evolutionary process. Isaiah declared, “The LORD created…the heavens” (the sun, stars, moons, and planets, Isaiah 45:18a).  “God Himself formed the earth and made it” (Isaiah 45:18b). The LORD “established” the earth and “formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18c). He is “the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18d).

The LORD’s Appeal to Gentile Nations (Isaiah 45:19-25)

The God of Creation is the LORD! He revealed that He had not hidden His truth nor spoken in vain. He declared, “I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isaiah 45:19). Though Israel was His chosen people, He also invited all nations to turn from their idols and seek Him. He warned nations that their idols would not save them (Isaiah 45:20). He urged Isaiah to summon the nations to acknowledge the LORD because He is “a just God and a Saviour” (Isaiah 45:21).

The LORD invited “all the ends of the earth” to look to Him and be saved. He declared, “I am God, and there isnone else” (Isaiah 45:22). He warned, “The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear [confess]” (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11).

Isaiah 45 concluded with the acknowledgment that “righteousness and strength” were from the LORD. Any who opposed Him should be ashamed (Isaiah 45:24). Finally, sincere believers are spiritually “the seed of Israel,” and only “in the LORD” are we justified (i.e., declared right and innocent, Isaiah 45:24). He alone is worthy of our praise.

The Disgrace of False Gods

Isaiah 46 – The Disgrace of False Gods

Confronting the heathen culture and its influence upon God’s people, Isaiah returned to a familiar theme—the disgrace and shame of men who worship idols and manmade images.

Isaiah foresaw that the idols of Babylon would not save the city from destruction. With the words, “Bel boweth down, Nebo stopped” (Isaiah 46:1), Isaiah confronted the gods of Babylon (Bel was the sun god, and Nebo washis son). He warned Babylon’s idols would not save the city from destruction (Isaiah 46:2). Isaiah then admonished God’s people (46:3-4). He reminded them how the LORD had given birth to Israel as a nation, and He had cared and carried them from their youth to “old age” (Isaiah 46:4).

Again, Isaiah exposed the powerlessness of idols that men create and worship (Isaiah 46:6-7). He reminded the people that idols cannot save people from their sins and troubles (Isaiah 46:8).

Closing thoughts –

Today’s study concludes with the LORD appealing to idolaters to turn from their gods to Him, saying, “For I amGod, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9). Take comfort knowing that the LORD has declared “the end from the beginning,” and His “counsel shall stand” (Isaiah 46:10a). He is God. He will do that which pleases Him (Isaiah 46:10b).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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