ISAIAH CHAPTER 46.
A Reproof of Israel’s Idolatrous Tendency.
THE FALL OF BABYLON’S IDOLS. — V. 1. Bel, the highest deity of Babylon, boweth down, is fallen, Nebo, another Babylonian idol, the tutelary deity of the reigning house of Chaldea, stoopeth, collapsing, or falling prostrate, namely, in the plundering of the city; their idols were upon the beasts and upon the cattle, when the beasts of burden dragged them away as a part of the conqueror’s booty. Your carriages were heavy loaden, they are a burden to the weary beast, that is, the statues of their idols, otherwise carried about by the priests in solemn procession, were seen by the prophet as loaded upon pack-animals, which dragged along, weary with the heavy load. V. 2. They, the idols, stoop, they bow down together, they are entirely collapsed; they could not deliver the burden, they were unable to save the burden of their own statues, they could not bring them to a place of safety, but themselves are gone into captivity, the very gods of the Babylonians captured and led away into exile, a sarcastic thrust at their helplessness. This introduction prepares the way for a sharp reproof of Israel for its idolatrous leanings. V. 3. Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob and all the remnant of the house of Israel, all those whom the Lord has chosen to be his own peculiar people, which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb, sustained and protected by the loving-kindness of the Lord since the time when lie chose them as His people; v.4. and even to your old age I am He, the same faithful, dependable God; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you, to the most advanced age of their history, to the very end of their national existence. I have made, and I will bear, the fact of his having sustained them in the past being their guarantee for the future; even I will carry and will deliver you, this deliverance being the surest proof of his divinity. V. 5. To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we may be like? Cp. chap. 40, 18. 25. The heaping of expressions again stresses the uniqueness of the true God, the fact that He alone merits the designation of God. How is it possible for Israel even to think of placing the true God on a level with the heathen idols after the manifestations of His power and mercy which they have witnessed? To make this thought stand out still more clearly, the vanity of the idolaters is once more described. V. 6. They lavish gold out of the bag, paying it out in large quantities, or producing it in heaps as material for the craftsman, and weigh silver in the balance, cheerfully opening their treasures, and hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it, the precious metal which is delivered to him, a god; they fall down, in foolish adoration of the idol, yea, they worship. V. 7. They bear him, lifting their idol up from the place where he was cast, upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, on the pedestal, in the niche intended for him, and he standeth, a dead thing unable to move; from his place shall he not remove; yea, one shall cry unto him, trusting to obtain help from the idol, yet can be not answer nor save him, the worshiper who places his confidence in him, out of his trouble. Thus the helplessness, nothingness, of the idols is once more set before the people.
A REPROOF OF ISRAEL’S REFUSAL TO BELIEVE THE DIVINE PROMISES. — V. 8. Remember this, keeping in mind what the Lord was now about to proclaim, and show yourselves men, renouncing the childishness of idolatry; bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors, those who were forgetting the covenant and forsaking the true God. V. 9. Remember the former things of old, the miracles of God which happened in the earliest history of Israel, chap. 43, 18; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, this point being made again over against the danger of idolatrous practices, v. 10. declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, the foretelling of future events in the manner in which it was done by Jehovah being one of the chief proofs of His divinity, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure, namely, as now set forth: v. 11. calling a ravenous bird, a falcon, eagle, or bird of prey, from the East, this being Cyrus himself, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country; yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass, actually setting his plan in motion; I have purposed it, I will also do it, so that it will he an accomplished fact. The unquestioned authority of the Lord is combined with his ability to carry out his plans, to realize His projects, something in which He differed most radically from the dead idols. V. 12. Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, those who were willingly hardening their hearts against the influence of the Lord, that are far from righteousness, who have excluded themselves from the salvation promised in the Lord’s covenant. V. 13. I bring near My righteousness, the salvation of Israel; it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not tarry, He would surely bring deliverance to those who believe in Him, to the everlasting disgrace of the reprobates, and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel, My glory. Salvation in Zion, glory and honor in Israel, in the midst of his Church, all of this sets forth the happy condition of the Messianic period.