The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 45 Part 2

Isaiah

Next up is Isaiah 45:9-13

v9: The next few verses speak about those who contend against G-d. Unlike Cyrus (who submitted to G-d), these people make a decision to disobey G-d. 

  • Woe: A word that means how awful it is going to be for these people if they do not repent. 
  • Strive: Contend. To be at odds with. These people are working against G-d. When we do not submit to G-d it means that we are rebelling/contending against Him. 
  • Potsherd: A broken piece of ceramic material. 
  • A potsherd with the (shards) of the earth: It does not accomplish anything (it serves no purpose) to take broken pieces of pottery and try to add them or stick them together with other (different) broken pieces of pottery. This is an idiom to say that to contend with G-d is futile – it serves no purpose and does not produce anything useable. 
  • (literally) Would the clay say to its maker, ‘Why have you done this?: The clay is silent. It cannot give orders or ask to be made in a certain way. It is the potter who makes the decision and who forms the clay according to his will, his purpose, his desire. This question implies a negative answer. 
  • Handiwork: Something that has been created – the product of work that has been done. 
  • He has no hands: Does our work criticize us? No, it cannot criticise us because it does not have the ability to do so. 

Note: These are all examples of how ridiculous it is for human beings to question, argue with and contend against G-d.

v10: Woe: How awful it is going to be.

  • His father…(his mother): Instead of using inanimate objects (clay, handiwork), G-d is now making it more personal. 
  • (literally): Why have you begat me?… Why have you gone through labour?: A newborn cannot be angry with his parents for daring to give him life without first asking his permission. Those who are angry with their parents for giving them life are acting in a way that is dishonourable to his parents.

v11: The first part of this verse is written in the singular, and the second part of this verse is written in the plural. Many see this change in tense as a foreshadowing of the change to come.

  • Maker: G-d created creation. He created Israel. He created Cyrus. He created us. Nothing or no one should argue with G-d or question Him about what He is up to. 
  • (literally): Say concerning the coming things: Do we have a right to challenge and to correct G-d about His plans of what is yet to come? G-d is perfect. His plans are perfect. He does not need correction. 
  • My sons: The people of G-d.
  • (literally): Concerning the work of My hands should you command Me: Clay or pottery cannot give advice to the potter. In the same way, neither should we command or question G-d or His order of things. He is in control and knows what He is doing.

v12: I have made the earth, and created man on it: G-d is assuring us that He is the Creator, and we can trust Him to be in control as He knows, better than us, what He is doing. This world (which G-d has created) has order to it, it has purpose attached to it.

  • Their host: The heavenly host (the angelic beings etc) 
  • All their host I have commanded: We are in NO position to argue with G-d. 

v13: Most scholars believe that this verse is again speaking specifically about Cyrus.

  • I have raised him up: The foundation has been laid, in the verses preceding this one, that G-d is the Creator. He is the One who has perfect plans, and He is the One who should not be questioned or commanded. G-d now lays out His plan regarding Cyrus. No human being has the right to go against or thwart this plan (just like no human being has the right to question G-d’s plans and purposes for Israel etc). Going against G-d’s plans is rebellion. 
  • Raised him up: This is similar to the word for waking someone up from their sleep. When we are asleep, we do not know what is going on around us, but when we wake up, we see things differently. This is the concept being spoken of here. G-d moved in the life of Cyrus while he was (spiritually) fast asleep – he was oblivious to what was going on. But then G-d woke him up in righteousness. 
  • Not for price nor reward: G-d did not pay (or bribe) Cyrus for what Cyrus did for Him, but (as we read earlier) G-d did bless Cyrus for his obedience. Blessing, reward, payment etc are not what motivated Cyrus to obey. Cyrus wanted to submit to G-d. 
  • The L-rd of hosts: This is the name of G-d that reminds us that G-d has authority, He is powerful and Sovereign. G-d can bring about the fulfilment of what He has promised.

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