In Chapter 44 Isaiah continues his message to Israel. At times a scathing diatribe, at other times a comforting prophecy, Isaiah continues in this fashion while also adding his usual reminders to not be afraid.
Father, thank You for telling us the end from the beginning. Give us understanding as we read your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun [Israel], whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
God told Abraham that in his seed the whole world would be blessed, which was a reference to Christ. (Gal 3:16) I believe that is what Isaiah means here as well, but after it says God will pour his spirit on Israel’s seed (Messiah), it says his blessing will be upon their offspring. Isaiah is assuring the nation of Israel that they have a future prepared for them by God.
5 One shall say, I am the LORD’S; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe [sign] with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
In Revelation 1, Jesus said this to the apostle John: I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: … Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. This is one of the best proofs I know of that Jesus is, in fact, Jehovah. Jesus, God the Son, was crucified (dead) for the sins of all mankind. But then He rose from the dead and lives for evermore.
7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. [In other words, only God can prophesy.]
8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no [other] God; I know not any.
God knew that when He disciplined his children using the heathen idol worshipers as his sword (Ps 17:13), they would wonder why the pagan idolators were able to conquer them. He assures them in advance that their idols have nothing to do with it. An idol is nothing. (1 Cor 8:4); there is only one God. Since idolatry is one of the very reasons God had to discipline them in the first place (Isa 10:10,11), He makes sure this is all crystal clear to them. God wants his people to understand that idols are false gods that bring curses to those who bow before them.
9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.
10 Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?
11 Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.
12 The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.
13 The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
14 He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.
15 Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.
16 He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:
17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.
18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
The Bible says you will become like your god. (Ps 115:8) If you worship a god that has eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear, you will end up like that too. If you worship Jesus you will have foresight and insight into what God is doing. You will have ears that can hear what the Spirit is saying.
19 And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
20 He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, [so] that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
Once the idolater begins to take on the characteristics of his god, having eyes that cannot see, and ears that cannot hear, his heart has no way of perceiving his need for a Saviour. I believe verse 20 contains a reference to the mark of the beast. (Rev 13:16-18) The Bible says that one day all who dwell on planet earth will take a mark in their right hand (or forehead) for buying and selling. This mark will be connected to the false messiah who will deceive the planet with his false promises. His mark will be false too. That is, it will bear the false promise of prosperity, but those who take it will be so deceived they will not know any better.
21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Return was Hosea’s (Isaiah’s contemporary) main message to Israel. That God has repeatedly asked Israel to return means that they are no longer with Him. If they were, He couldn’t ask them to return. Yet, God says He has redeemed them. Blood sacrifice is the way that God has ordained for redemption. God keeps referring to Himself as Israel’s redeemer. Only through faith in Messiah and the blood He shed for us at Calvary can Israel (or anyone else for that matter) be reconciled to God.
23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
25 That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
26 That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
When Isaiah wrote these words the temple was still standing and the city of Jerusalem was still intact. So in effect, you could say Isaiah prophesied both the destruction and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
27 That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Isaiah finishes the chapter by outlining how God will perform his promise to rebuild the city and the temple. He calls Cyrus by name over 150 years before he would conquer Babylon, thereby freeing the Jews from captivity and making it possible for them to rebuild their city and their temple. This was an amazing prophecy, indeed, but what about the times we are living in now? Every day, the headlines bear witness to the fact that we are living in the times of the signs.
Modern Israel is over 71 years old now. The rebirth of Israel is fulfilling prophecy in many different ways. For example, it is another aspect of verse 26 above. Many Bible scholars interpret the prophecy of the fig tree in Luke 21 to mean that Jesus will come back within a generation of the rebirth of Israel. I have always believed this to be a reasonable conclusion. On the other hand, the Greek word for generation, genea, can mean either the period or the persons. Maybe Jesus was saying the Jews themselves shall not pass away, til all be fulfilled. This Sunday at sundown will mark the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that will end Tuesday evening at sundown. Also known as the Feast of Trumpets, many believe that the ‘last trump’ in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is connected to Rosh Hashanah. Again, I have always considered this to be a reasonable conclusion. I am not setting a date, mind you. I believe the touchstone verse of prophecy to be Matthew 24:36: But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. On the other hand, you do not want to be like the foolish virgins who had no oil in their lamps.
Father, thank You for Isaiah. Thank You Holy Spirit for leading and guiding us. Thank You Lord Jesus for things we cannot even comprehend. Your glory defies our human imagination. Thank You in your holy and precious name. Amen.