The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 41 Part 4

Isaiah

Up next is Isaiah 41:21-29

v21: In this verse G-d begins to talk about the problem that has plagued the Jewish people throughout their history – idolatry. G-d, although He knows the answer, is asking the people if they found fault with Him or if they have not found Him faithful. He wants to know if the people went after other gods because they thought He had gone against His Word. 

  • Present your case: The people have a complaint against G-d (about how He treated the Jewish people) and He wants them to vocalise this complaint to Him. 
  • Strong reasons (arguments): G-d wants them to present their best case to Him. 

v22: Bring forth and show Us: G-d (who is the true Desire of the Nations – Haggai 2:7) wants to know what it is about the idols that they find so desirable. 

  • Let them show the former things: G-d wants to know if these idols have been able to tell the people about things that have happened in the past. 
  • Declare to Us things to come: Have these idols been able to declare what is still to come? Have they been able to enlighten the people about anything in the past, present or future? G-d has been able to tell us about things that happened before the very foundation of this world. He has told us things that are happening now, and He has even revealed to us what will happen in the future. He, unlike these idols, has not left us in the dark about His plans and purposes. We can respond to G-d because of what He has revealed to us. The people cannot respond to any revelation from the idols that they worship – because there is nothing to respond to. 
  • Declare: Proclaim. Cause them to be heard. 

Note: In this verse G-d is challenging the idols that His people have gone after. The people’s idolatrous practices and behaviour have led to a desolation in the land. G-d is wanting to change this (not because the people have earned or deserve the glorious change that G-d wants to bring about, but G-d wants to make this change because of who He is – His character, His righteousness, His faithfulness). 

v23: Show the things that are to come: If these idols are truly gods, worthy to be worshipped, they should be able to prophesy. They should be able to reveal what is going to happen and they should be able to give an explanation of what has already happened so that those who worship them might be able to understand. 

  • Do good or do evil: What G-d is pointing out is that idols cannot even do anything either good or bad. Idols have no understanding; they have no power. Idols do not have the ability to hear, to see, to smell, to taste, to speak or to walk. They can do nothing. G-d is challenging them to do something if they truly are gods. 

v24You are nothing: G-d is speaking directly to the idol worshipers and to the idols themselves.

  • Chooses: He chooses idolatry because he does not want to do the things of G-d. He wants to create his own god, his own rules and behaviour so that he can justify his sins, his abominations. 
  • An abomination: Those who practice lawlessness are an abomination to G-d – those who choose to do evil (things that are against G-d’s will) rather than good. 

v25: Isaiah is prophesying here that someone is coming from out of the north, and he is going to call on the name of the L-rd. The Bible does not tell us who this person is. Some say he is Nebuchadnezzar. A common view held though, in both Rabbinical and Christian circles, is that this is referring to Cyrus (could it be referring to Messiah?). 

  • The rising of the sun: This is an idiom for the east. Judgment, Biblically, has a connotation of coming into the land of Israel from out of the east. The L-rd also enters through the east gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3).
  • Princes: Those who have authority, leaders.
  • As though mortar, as the potter treads clay: This one who is coming will not have any problem with these strong leaders. He is going to mold and shape them as he wants. They are not going to be able to stand against him and nor are they going to influence him (just like the clay cannot change the mind of the potter). This one who is coming is going to have absolute authority. 

v26: Who has declared from the beginning: Who made this one known? Who declared from the beginning of time that this one was coming? G-d did (Amos 3:7). 

  • There is no one who shows…who declares…who hears: This is the problem. No one is proclaiming G-d’s Word or causing it to be heard. And if no one proclaims it then no one hears it. G-d is telling us that there is one who is coming, but no one is speaking about this one. No one is paying attention (Roms 10:14-18). 

v27: The first time I said to Zion: G-d is at work. There is going to be someone who is the first to Zion, who is going to be central to Zion. He is going to have pre-eminence (ie the King of the Kingdom). 

  • Brings good tidings: An evangelist.
  • Good tidings: Salvation. 

v28: I looked and there was no man: Someone should have been proclaiming this Word of the L-rd, but no one was (see Isaiah 59:16). None of the idols were revealing what G-d was up to and none of the men were either. No one was proclaiming the promises of G-d concerning this one who was to come – the one who was going to proclaim salvation – and not only proclaim it but make it and carry it out.

  • Who…could answer: None of them could respond to G-d and to what He was doing. Why? Because they were not interested in the things of G-d.

v29: Worthless (literally: wicked): Whatever they say or do is in conflict with the will of G-d. The idols and the idol worshippers were all about injustice. It is only when we are submitted to G-d’s will that we will be concerned about true justice. When we’re doing our will, we’re going to be workers of iniquity, wickedness and injustice. 

  • Wind and confusion: Nothing good comes from doing our own wills. No revelation will be given to us when we live for ourselves and for our own pleasures. Those who do not have revelation cannot speak truth. They are of no more significance than a blowing wind, and in their wake they leave confusion. 

Note: G-d makes it very clear that He’s the one who is the architect of change. Prior to the establishment of His Kingdom, using the Jewish people and the land of Israel, He is going to bring a spiritual transformation to this world. 

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