113-144 Isaiah Chapter 44
The Blessings of Israel
Though in chapter 43 God promised judgment He is not taking away His promise of hope and restoration. Israel can still know the goodness of the Lord if they would turn back to Him. God reminds them that He is an active Creator and is responsible for His works. God did not just create Adam and Eve and then let the whole thing take its own course. We see a sense that God has created each of us individually and we have a personal obligation to Him as our Creator.
Jeshurun means “the upright one.” The name is used in contrast to the name Jacob, as Israel is used in contrast to Jacob. “The name Jeshurun appears only three more times in the Old Testament: Deu_32:15; Deu_33:5; Deu_33:26; and in all cases it is used of Israel . . . this word bespeaks a wonder of grace, for He calls His deeply sinful people His beloved, His upright one.” (Bultema)
To a humble returning, Israel God gives a glorious promise. God will not only give them His Spirit but will pour it out upon them. God will pour out His Spirit freely in abundance. “Without the Spirit of God we can do nothing; we are as ships without wind, or chariots without steeds, like branches without sap, we are withered; like coals without fire, we are useless; as an offering without the sacrificial flame, we are unaccepted. I desire both to feel and to confess this fact whenever I attempt to preach. I do not wish to get away from it, or to conceal it, nor can I, for I am often made to feel it to the deep humbling of my spirit.” (Spurgeon) “I believe that, at this present moment, God’s people ought to cry to him day and night that there may be a fresh baptism into the Holy Ghost. There are many things that are desirable for the Church of Christ, but one thing is absolutely needful; and this is the one thing, the power of the Holy Ghost in the midst of his people.” (Spurgeon)
Who will receive this gift? The one who is thirsty for the outpouring of God’s Spirit. Ask and you can receive it on faith. God looks for dry ground to pour His Spirit upon. God not only wants to pour out His Spirit but He wants to pour out His blessing on us and our offspring. The effect of God’s outpouring Spirit is life. Life blossoms where God’s Spirit is poured out.
When the Spirit of God is poured out the person receiving it is identified as belonging to the Lord. The believer is identified as the Lord’s with the seal of His Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13) When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us we want people to know that we take the name of the Lord. We want people to know that we belong to Him. “The Lord’s”: “The text may have another rendering, for, if you notice, the word ‘with’ in the text is in italics, to show that it was inserted by the translators. It might run thus: ‘Another shall subscribe his hand unto the Lord.’ This alludes to the custom which still exists, but which was more common in those days, of a servant being marked or tattooed in the hand with his master’s name . . . Paul alludes to this when he says, ‘Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus;’ as much as to say, ‘I am Christ’s: I have had his name branded upon me.’“ (Spurgeon)
In chapter 41 God proclaimed His glory against the feeble false gods. Idols can never be first as they need someone to craft them and they cannot be last as they wear out and break. The Lord God of Israel is the first and the last, He is unique and there is no other god.
But the Lord GOD of Israel is both the First and the Last; He is completely unique, and besides Him, there is no God. “At first he does not derive his being from any other, but is self-existing; as last he remains supreme at the End.” (Motyer) Jesus also takes the title of the first and the last. (Revelation 1:17; Revelation 22:13) If God and Jesus both claim the same title, then they both are the Lord God.
God lives outside of time and therefore can proclaim events before they happen, He knows the future because He is beyond the future. This shows that God is who He says He is. He watches and directs the whole parade of human and cosmic history as it travels down the appointed path. Knowing who God is, knowing His great wisdom and authority over all things we can have no fear in our lives.
There is no other God besides the Lord God Almighty. This means that God the Father is God Almighty. God the Son, Jesus, is God Almighty. God the Holy Spirit is God Almighty. All three are God Yahweh the Triune God, the one God in three Persons. There are no grades or degrees to a true deity. Since there is no other God He is the only solid rock to build our life upon.
The Folly of Idolatry
The Prophet speaks of the foolishness of those who make idols. He describes how idols are made to clearly point to the foolishness of considering them as a god. The idol makers themselves become witnesses against themselves. The idol makers themselves are only mere men frail and weak. The blacksmith will become hungry and lose his strength. The craftsmen work with wood but it is only wood. Half of the tree is made into an idol that men worship while the rest is burnt upon the fire. God has shut their eyes and their hearts to the stupidity of their idol making labor.
Is God unjust for blinding men to the reality of their foolishness? No, because they first loved the darkness and therefore choose their blindness. It is the same as when God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. (Exodus 4:21) God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that Pharaoh could do that which he wanted to do. God gave Pharaoh over to his desire to sin. (Romans 1:18-32) “The idolater chose a delusion and became deluded.” (Motyer)
The idols crafted from wood are just a warm fire away from becoming ashes. The worship of an idol or any false god is as satisfying as eating ashes or the materials the idol is made of. We can only satisfy our souls by worshipping God. The worship of idols is no more than worshipping a lie. “The idolater picks up the figurine in his hand, holding it, but in reality it holds him. He is in bondage to a lie.” (Motyer) “And such passages as these are added in such cases to give an account of the prodigious madness of sinners herein; because, as they willfully shut their own eyes, and harden their own hearts, so God judicially blinds and hardens them, and gives them up to believe lies, and then it is no wonder if they fall into such dotages.” (Poole)
God Forgives and Redeems
Israel is to remember their foolishness of idol worship and that should inspire them to trust and have confidence in God. When we think of our attentiveness in following the Lord it should make us follow Him more closely. As the Apostle Peter said to Jesus, “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
God gives His people many more reason to trust and love Him. He has formed them, they are His servant, He will not forget them, He has blotted out their transgressions, and He has redeemed them. Anyone of these blessings would be enough to trust and love God but combined they are overwhelming.
The only logical reaction to what the Lord has done for us is to sing praises to His name. If the people of God will not praise Him then His creation will. Creation will rejoice when God redeems His people as the Apostle Paul writes of this theme. “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Romans 8;19-22)
The Lord God makes remarkable claims in this passage. He is their Redeemer, the Creator of each person, the Creator of all things, He is wiser and greater than anyone, He upholds His own, He will bring dead cities back to life, and He has authority over all of creation. Here God proves His wisdom by naming the deliverer of Israel from the Babylonians. This passage was written more than 200 hundred years before Cyrus fulfilled this prophecy. “Cyrus, whom God here designs by his proper name two hundred years before he was born, that this might be an undeniable evidence of the certainty and exactness of God’s foreknowledge, and a convincing argument, and so most fit to conclude this dispute between God and idols.” (Poole) “Josephus in his Antiquities relates that when Cyrus came across his name mentioned in this place in Isaiah 220 years before he lived, he was seized by a holy desire to fulfill what was written of him.” (Bultema)
Cyrus became the shepherd of Israel as God used him to round up His people and return them to the fold of Judah. Cyrus would do the work of God in sending God’s people back to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple which the Babylonians had destroyed. (Ezra 1:2; 2 Chronicles 36:23) “Foundations: interestingly, as Ezra records (Ezr_3:10-13; Ezr_5:16), in the days of Cyrus the rebuilding of the temple did not progress beyond the laying of the foundations.” (Motyer)