In today’s chapter, encouragement for Israel continues. Isaiah’s got some hope to deliver to his countrymen.
Okay, time to write. Salvation is a theme in this chapter. Let’s look at it.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this chapter about the Suffering Servant. So I hope you’ll forgive me that I spent the past hour doing something incredibly silly.
I obviously had a little trouble digging something to share out of Isaiah 49. It’s easy enough to summarize: God will use Israel to bring light and salvation to the whole world, and he hasn’t forgotten his people in their time of suffering and struggle. But you could get that from reading the chapter itself, and if that’s all I’ve got, you might as well read the chapter and skip my blog post. So I considered making a case that it’s a messianic passage. I could argue that the “servant” throughout the passage is an individual fulfilling God’s purposes for Israel, a representative of God’s chosen nation, not the nation itself. But I go looking for commentaries to jump-start my own commentary here, and, prefacing an exegetical outline from David Guzik, I find this quotation from Alan Redpath: “This chapter is full of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the words quoted could not possibly have their complete fulfillment in any other save in our Savior.” Consider your audience, Jackson: how many of ’em do you think are gonna contend that this passage doesn’t refer to Jesus Christ? Besides, we’ve been there already.
In today’s chapter, God himself tells us the purpose of predictive prophecy.
If yesterday was a knock on Babylon’s gods, today is a knock on their rulers.
Reading today’s chapter, you may have questions from the very first verse–heck, from the first word. The passage begins: “Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over” (46:1). Who is Bel? Who is Nebo? Fortunately, we live in a world of information at our fingertips, and with a quick search I found our answer. They’re Babylonian deities.
Now we’re actually ready for Isaiah 45. As happens entirely too often, now that I’ve gotten out my reading shovel and dug into the passage, I’m not sure what to carry back out for the blog post. But when in doubt, ask what the passage teaches you about God. There’s a bit in the beginning about God using King Cyrus of Persia without his knowledge, but the meat of the passage concerns God’s strength and how his provision for Israel will show that strength to the foreign nations, so let’s take a look at that.
What a mess. I’ve got maybe half an hour before I leave for my evening job, I haven’t had lunch yet, I just got back from a Kroger run to pick up today’s chocolate, I read Isaiah 45 and photographed it, and then I realized: I have unfinished business in Isaiah 44. Forget everything you just read, Jackson, because today you gotta backtrack and talk about idolatry in Isaiah 44. Here we go, let’s reread this stuff and say stuff about it.
Yesterday we ended on a cliffhanger. After two chapters of God declaring his favor for Israel, he expresses frustration that they still don’t honor him, and then he drops this bomb on us: “So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, and I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement” (43:28). Where did the favor go? I’m glad to report that in Isaiah 44, the favor is back. God sandwiches this business of polluting the sanctuary’s princes between declarations of forgiveness. He tells his people, “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist” (44:22). The revilement is just a single verse, just a blip of frustration on God’s radar. Today we return to blessing.