Wednesday, March 13, 2024

2024.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 47–48

Read Isaiah 47–48

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is going to be humiliated (Isaiah 47:1)? How does Isaiah 47:2 describe their slavery and exile? How do Isaiah 47:3a–b describe their humiliation? What will God do? What won’t He let man do? Who retrieves Israel from such a fate (Isaiah 47:4)? Into what will God send Babylon (Isaiah 47:5)? Why had the Lord given them power (Isaiah 47:6a–c)? But what did Babylon do with it (verse 6d–e)? And what did they think of themselves (Isaiah 47:7-8)? Why was this such a grave error (verse 7b–c, Isaiah 47:9)? In what did they trust (Isaiah 47:10)? How will this end for them (Isaiah 47:11)? To what had Babylon credited their rise (Isaiah 47:12-13)? But how will these things fare toward preventing their fall (Isaiah 47:14)? Who else have they trusted, that will fail them (Isaiah 47:15)? Whom now does Isaiah 48:1a address? What new name had God given them (verse 1b)? What had He established as their new fountain of life (verse 1c)? By what Name had He given them to swear (verse 1d)? And what covenant relationship to identify (verse 1e)? But what was wrong with their religion (verse 1f)? What did that religion look like on the surface (Isaiah 48:2)? When did the Lord declare everything that would happen (Isaiah 48:3a–b)? What does He do in the moment (verse 3c)? What does this fulfillment of prophecy work against (Isaiah 48:4)? What would sinful Israel have credited for their deliverance, if the Lord did not pre-prophesy it (Isaiah 48:5)? Now, what does the Lord insist they do with the knowledge they have of Him (Isaiah 48:6)? Why does the Lord save for Himself some of the details of what He will do (Isaiah 48:7)? What about them required this careful dealing from the Lord (Isaiah 48:8)? Why doesn’t He just destroy them (Isaiah 48:9)? What will He keep doing instead (Isaiah 48:10-11)? What does the Lord call His people in Isaiah 48:12a–b? What does He again announce to them (verse 12c–d)? To what act of His does He again refer (Isaiah 48:13)? And out of what, toward Israel, has He both created the world and planned His actions with regard to Babylon (Isaiah 48:14-15)? Whom else is sent in that same love (Isaiah 48:16)? By Whom? What five things does YHWH say about His relation to Israel in Isaiah 48:17? What did He desire (Isaiah 48:18a)? What would have been the result for His people (verse 18b–Isaiah 48:19)? What new commandment is now given in Isaiah 48:20? To what does He compare His care for their return from Babylon (Isaiah 48:21)? Who can never have this peace (Isaiah 48:22)?

What makes the difference between the fate of sinful Babylon and sinful Israel? Isaiah 47–48 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that for the sake of His Name and praise, which the Lord has invested in them, the Lord delivers Israel. 

Overview. In these two chapters, the Lord addresses first Babylon (chapter 47) and then Israel (chapter 48) in the wake of the fall of Babylon. Both are condemned for their sin, but Babylon are destroyed, while Israel are delivered. What makes the difference between them? In Israel’s case, the Lord has put His Name upon them, and for the sake of His Name and His praise (Isaiah 48:9–11), He restrains His anger. So, they have YHWH Himself as near-kin who takes up their cause (“Redeemer”; Isaiah 47:4, Isaiah 48:17a). But what is true for Israel corporately is only true of individuals if they have life and faith and righteousness from the Lord. There is no peace, says YHWH, for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). Israel’s deliverances from Egypt (Isaiah 48:21) and Babylon (Isaiah 48:20) are invitations to all sinners to trust in the God of Jacob and receive the greater, everlasting deliverance.

Babylon. Babylon were conceited (Isaiah 47:1Isaiah 47:5), so they will be brought low and humiliated (Isaiah 47:2-3). Apparently, they trusted in their political prowess, but that will do them no good against the Lord (Isaiah 47:3c–d). Babylon were cruel (Isaiah 47:6), self-assured (Isaiah 47:7Isaiah 47:8b–e), self-indulgent (verse 8a). So the Lord will suddenly bring them all the way down (Isaiah 47:9a–d). They put a great deal of faith in their scientists, but the Lord calls faith-in-science, apart from Him, “sorcery and enchantment” (Isaiah 47:9Isaiah 47:12Isaiah 47:13). 

Trying to have knowledge without God gives the illusion of no accountability (Isaiah 47:10), and plunges a people into wickedness, as modern man has so skillfully demonstrated! But his knowledge will fail him, when the Lord arises to punish (Isaiah 47:12-14). Not even their trade partners will be able to intervene (Isaiah 47:15).

Israel. In chapter 48 the Lord now addresses Jacob (Isaiah 48:1a), who got that name by being a sinner from the womb (Isaiah 48:8). Though they make a display of true religion, it is just a façade (Isaiah 48:1-2). They are stubborn in their rebellion (Isaiah 48:4) and quicker to credit idols than to credit the Lord (Isaiah 48:5). Even the tellings and timings of the Lord’s deliverance (Isaiah 48:3Isaiah 48:5Isaiah 48:6Isaiah 48:7) were calculated to make it unmistakable that it was He alone Who did it. Now, it is Israel’s duty to give Him the credit (Isaiah 48:6c), but they are so rebellious that they can’t even see it (Isaiah 48:8).

What gave Israel hundreds more years before being exiled, and a reprieve even then? The Lord had invested His Name and His praise in them (Isaiah 48:9Isaiah 48:11)! Even their chastening affliction was for the sake of refining those upon whom He had set His love (Isaiah 48:10). It is in the same sovereignty that He created the heavens and earth (Isaiah 48:12-13) that He takes Cyrus as His chosen one to bring upon Babylon what He has declared (Isaiah 48:14-15). 

But this deliverance by Cyrus gives way to something and someone greater in Isaiah 48:16. Of Cyrus, the Lord had spoken late (Isaiah 48:6d–e). But of this greater Servant to come, He insists that He has been speaking of Him since the beginning (Isaiah 48:16a–b). The Servant Himself takes up the case in verse 16c. He is the One Who is from the beginning, and now the Lord YHWH and His Spirit have sent Him (verse 16d–e). In the wake of Christ’s coming, this verse is clearly teaching that the triune God sends one Person of the Godhead into the world as a man. 

So Isaiah 48:16 is the key to unraveling the mystery of YHWH the Redeemer! The word behind “Redeemer” is much more than a deliverer. Its emphasis is on nearness of kin. He is the One Who steps in when you are without help because He has both the means/ability to do so and the nearness of relationship to claim the role for Himself. But how is it that God has become our near kin? The second Person of the Godhead became man, added humanity to Himself, to be our Redeemer!

Thus far, Israel have gone their own way and reaped the consequences. But the Lord assures them that the obedient one (Isaiah 48:18a), who learns from the God who has saved him (Isaiah 48:17c–e), will enjoy the full blessedness of the covenant God and His promises (Isaiah 48:18-19). So, He urges them to make a new start of it now. Just as they ought to have done after the Exodus (Isaiah 48:21), so now, let them come out of Babylon, declaring to all the nations that their Redeemer is the one, true, and living God (Isaiah 48:20)!

But let them learn the lesson that God’s salvation is not a mere set of words to confess out loud (Isaiah 48:1-2). It is a redemption that brings the person into fellowship with and submission to the Lord. For those righteous by faith in Him and belonging to Him, their peace is like a river (Isaiah 48:18b). But there is no peace for the wicked. Sadly, how many Israelites to this day have not heeded this warning. My dear reader, have you heeded it?

Why is pride so dangerous? In what situations are you most proud? What does the Lord expect you to conclude about all of your deliverances, large and small? What does He expect you to do with this conclusion (hint: Isaiah 48:6c)? With whom do you do so regularly? With whom else will you do so?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for setting Your Name upon us and investing Your praise in redeeming us. And we thank You that God the Son has become man in order to be our Kinsman Redeemer. Forgive us for how we have continued to walk in our own ways. And forgive us for failing to declare that You are our Redeemer, and the only true and living God. Grant that, instead, we would walk with You and find that our peace is like a river and our righteousness like the ocean. For the sake of Your Name and Your Praise, grow us by the grace and knowledge of Christ our Redeemer, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story” 

No comments:

Post a Comment