ISAIAH CHAPTER 45.
The Fact of Israel’s Deliverance a Powerful Appeal to All Nations.
THE DELIVERANCE BY CYRUS A PROOF OF JEHOVAH’S POWER. — V. 1. Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, the king set apart by the Lord’s providence, for His special purpose, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to sustain and strengthen him in the work of his calling, to subdue nations before him, Cyrus being victorious by Jehovah’s strength; and I will loose the loins of kings, taking off the girdle which enabled them to go forth into battle, the Lord’s action thus rendering them defenseless, to open before him the two-leaved gates, those of all cities against which he would make war; and the gates shall not be shut, no city daring to withstand him: v.2. I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight, removing all obstructions and hindrances; I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron, as those of the city of Babylon, for the city was taken in spite of its strong defenses; v. 3. and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, those kept in subterranean vaults, and hidden riches of secret places, where they were stored for safe-keeping, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, namely, to enter His service, am the God of Israel, in whose interest Cyrus was chiefly to be active. V. 4. For Jacob My servant’s sake and Israel, Mine elect, for the purpose of delivering His people, I have even called thee by thy name, for this special work; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me, Long before there was any idea of saving knowledge in the heart of Cyrus, if, indeed, it may be assumed that he was at least temporarily a believer. V. 5. I am the Lord, and there is none else, Jehovah’s absolute deity being stressed once more; there is no (other true) God beside Me. I girded thee, giving him strength for battle and victory, though thou hast not known Me; v. 6. that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the West, throughout the habitable world, that there is none beside Me, the very heathen realizing, with a sort of instinctive feeling, that God himself was directing the campaigns of Cyrus. I am the Lord, and there is none else. V. 7. I form the light, he made it at the beginning of the world, and create darkness, by withdrawing light, which is His creation; I make peace and create evil, both good fortune and misfortune being sent by Him; I, the Lord, do all these things. The Lord Himself has ever guided the events of the world’s history in order to carry out the plans of His loving-kindness and tender mercy.
REBUKING THE REPROBATE PEOPLE. — V. 8. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, in fertilizing rain, and let the skies, the clouds of the firmament, pour down righteousness, the fullness of spiritual salvation. Let the earth open and let them bring forth salvation, that coming down from above being eagerly received by the earth, and let righteousness spring up together, in luxuriant growth; I, the Lord, have created it. The reference is to faith and its fruits as brought forth under the influence of the Word of God’s grace and mercy, especially in Messianic times - the ideal condition in the world. But Israel, full of doubt and mistrust on account of the misery of its captivity, murmured against God in spite of His promise of deliverance. This attitude the Lord takes into account in this section. V. 9. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker, an individual person trying to call the great God of heaven and earth to account! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth, that is, man with his equal. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, arguing with the potter, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? not possessing enough strength and skill to produce something worthwhile. The very idea of such an occurrence is preposterous, but the murmuring of the people against the Lord no less so. The Lord therefore rebukes this presumption in a solemn statement. V. 10. Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? Applied to the Lord, these questions would challenge both His authority and His power. Therefore He now makes a majestic statement concerning His glory arid supremacy. V. 11. Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, He who has chosen and established Israel as His peculiar people, Ask Me of things to come concerning My Sons and concerning the work of My hands command ye me, literally, “The future demand of Me; concerning My Sons and the creatures of My hands command Me!” Will they dare to go to this extent? Has this pass been reached? It is the very strongest condemnation of Israel’s presumption. V. 12. I have made the earth and created man upon it, making him with His own hands; I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, like a great tent, and all their host have I commanded, His omnipotence as well as his wisdom being in evidence everywhere. V. 13. I have raised him, Cyrus, up in righteousness, in accordance with His covenant with Israel, and I will direct all his ways, removing all obstructions which might hinder him; he shall build My city, Jerusalem, and he shall let go My captives, the exiled Jews, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts. When Cyrus issued His decree concerning the return of the Jews to their country, he acted under the impulse of the divine will; for God directs the conduct of men everywhere, so that they act in accordance with His will.
THE GLORIFICATION OF ISRAEL AN APPEAL TO THE WORLD. — V. 14. Thus saith the Lord, in foretelling the overthrow of the Gentiles everywhere, The labor of Egypt, that which the Egyptians had gained by their labor, and merchandise of Ethiopia, what the Ethiopians gathered by their commercial activities, and of the Sabeans, men of stature, the inhabitants of Meroe in Upper Egypt being known far and wide on account of their great size, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine, freely submitting themselves; they shall come after thee, in chains they shall come over, as though bound hand and foot, and they shall fall down unto thee, acknowledging Israel as their superior, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee, and there is none else, there is no (other true) God. Israel is here declared to be the nation of the one true God. V. 15. Verily, thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior, that is, the God of Israel, whom even the heathen must acknowledge as the only God, keeps Himself hidden, His essence is above and beyond human reason. Cp. Rom. 11, 33; 1 Cor. 2. V. 16. They shall be ashamed and also confounded, all of them, the Lord Himself says concerning the makers and worshipers of idols; they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols, heaped with shame and disgrace on account of the foolishness of their actions. Note that throughout this section the heaping of synonymous expressions emphasizes the point which the Lord wishes to make. V. 17. But Israel, as typifying and representing the Church of God, shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, namely, in the spiritual Israel, the kingdom of the Messiah, by the redemption of Christ; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end, be shielded forever from the disgrace which will strike the unbelievers. This assurance is now further substantiated. V. 18. For thus saith the Lord, that created the heavens; God Himself, that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it; He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited, or, with the emphasis of the original tongue: “For thus saith Jehovah, the Creator of the heavens – He is God! The Former of the earth and its Maker – He has prepared it! Not empty He created it, for inhabiting He prepared it.” I am the Lord, and there is none else. The work of creation is a mighty and convincing proof for the deity of Jehovah. But the same holds true of the Word of His revelation. V. 19. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth, as the diviners, the necromancers, and the oracle-mongers of the heathen were wont to do; I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain, on the basis of an empty promise. I, the Lord, speak righteousness, proclaiming the salvation assured by the covenant between Him and Israel; I declare things that are right, unmixed with hypocrisy and wickedness. The Word of God reveals Him with regard to both His essence and His attributes; in it and by it we have free access to the redemption made by Christ Jesus. Therefore the Lord’s challenge to the heathen goes forth once more, bidding them appear before the tribunal of justice: v. 20. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, in an organized body, for a formal hearing, ye that are escaped of the nations, the campaigns of Cyrus being regarded as brought to a close in this connection, and the mass of remaining heathen being addressed. They have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image and pray unto a god that cannot save, they are lacking in understanding, as may be seen from the fact that they carried away their idols in their hasty flight, appealing to gods that could not help them. V. 21. Tell ye and bring them near, show proofs; yea, let them take counsel together, to consider whether they have any evidence to offer which would equal the testimony of Jehovah for His own divinity: Who hath declared this from ancient time? namely, the prophecy of Israel’s elevation above the heathen. Who hath told it from that time? even from the time of the patriarchs, Gen. 12, 18; 22, 17. Have not I, the Lord? And there is no (true) God else beside Me, He has brought abundant proofs for His deity; a just God, faithful to His covenant, and a Savior, the only one in whom all men have salvation; there is none beside Me. On the basis of this clear proof, therefore, the invitation goes forth: v. 22. Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, the turning to the Lord in true repentance being followed by the imparting of salvation, or, more exactly, as His call produces repentance, it also works faith, thereby granting salvation full and free, and His call goes out to all men: For I am God, and there is none else, a declaration which is repeated time and again in order to convince the idolaters, to cause them to accept the true God. V. 23. I have sworn by Myself, the most solemn formula which can be used, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, since it expresses His covenant faithfulness, That unto Me every knee shall bow, in acknowledging His sovereignty, every tongue shall swear, most solemnly affirming the conviction of the heart. Cp. Phil. 2, 10. 11. V. 24. Surely, shall one say, namely, such as turn to the Lord in true repentance and faith, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength, the salvation of the covenant, the Messianic redemption, the strength of the Holy Spirit. Even to Him shall men come, and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed, that is, those who refuse to accept Him in faith will be obliged to acknowledge him as their Judge; those who will not believe shall be damned. V. 25. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel, the spiritual seed, believers from all nations of the earth, be justified, possess the salvation assured by the covenant, and shall glory, giving praise and honor to Cod for His grace and mercy.