PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Judah Will Be Restored||The Commission of Cyrus (44:24-45:13)||God, Creator of the World and Lord of History|
|44:24-28 (24-28)||44:24-28 (24-28)||44:24-28 (24-28)||44:24-28 (24-28)||44:24-28 (24-28)|
|God Uses Cyrus||Cyrus, God's Instrument||The Commission of Cyrus (44:24-45:13)||The Lord Appoints Cyrus||Cyrus, the Instrument of God|
|45:1-7 (1-7)||45:1-7 (1-7)||45:1-4 (1-4)||45:1-4 (1-4)||45:1-7 (1-7)|
|God's Supreme Power||45:5-7 (5-7)||45:5-8 (5-8)||Prayer|
|45:8 (8)||45:8 (8)||45:8 (8)||45:8 (8)|
|The Lord of Creation and History||The Supreme Power of Yahweh|
|45:9-10 (9-10)||45:9-10 (9-10)||45:9-13||45:9-13 (9-13)||45:9-13 (9-13)|
|45:11-13 (11-13)||45:11-13 (11-13)|
|The Lord, the Only Savior||The Conversion of the Nations||The Conversion of the Nations|
|45:14-17 (14-17)||45:14 (14)||45:14-17 (14-17)||45:14-17 (14-17)||45:14-19 (14-19)|
|45:18-19 (19)||45:18-19 (18-19)||45:18-19 (18-19)||45:18-19 (18-19)|
|The Lord of the World and Idols of Babylon||God, Lord of the Whole Universe|
|45:20-25 (20-25)||45:20-21 (20-21)||45:20-21 (20-21)||45:20-21 (20-21)||45:20-25 (20-25)|
|45:22-25 (22-25)||45:22-23 (22-23)||45:22-23 (22-23)|
|45:24-25 (24-25)||45:24-25 (24-25)|
READING CYCLE THREE
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO ISAIAH 44:24-45:25
A. This is a very specific prophecy. Cyrus II, also known as Cyrus the Great, is mentioned by name in 44:28 and 45:1. For those who deny the possibility of predictive prophecy (it is the main evidence in 41:22-23; 44:7,26), this is the major impetus for the theory of multiple authorship of Isaiah. I believe that Isaiah is written by only one author and that God not only reveals the future of the Assyrian Empire, but also that of the Babylonians and the Persians through this 8th century b.c. prophet.
B. This particular reference to Cyrus has to do with his decree of 538 b.c. that allowed all of the exiled people to return to their native lands and rebuild their national temples with the help of the Persian treasury. For the specific reference to the Jewish return see Ezra 1:2-4; 6:3-5. Cyrus' primary motivation for this was for each of the nations to pray to their own god on his behalf and his successors (cf. Ezra 6:10; 7:23).
C. I think that Isaiah 45:6 is extremely significant. It shows again not only the purpose of God choosing Israel, but also of God choosing Cyrus. God chose Abraham to choose the world and He chose Cyrus for the same purpose.
D. Notice the number of times the different words for create are used.
1. BDB 427, KB 428 - form, create, 44:24; 45:7,9 (twice), 18 (twice)
2. BDB 793, KB 889 - do, make, 44:24; 45:7,9,11,18
3. BDB 135, KB 153 - create, 45:7 (twice), 8,12,18 (twice)
The theological emphases of this "new age" section are
1. YHWH alone created everything
2. YHWH formed Israel
3. YHWH is alone and unique (monotheism)
4. YHWH proves His existence by
a. predictive prophecy
b. Israel's existence
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 44:24-28
24Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
"I, the Lord, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone,
25Causing the omens of boasters to fail,
Making fools out of diviners,
Causing wise men to draw back
And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
26Confirming the word of His servant
And performing the purpose of His messengers.
It is I who says of Jerusalem, 'She shall be inhabited!'
And of the cities of Judah, 'They shall be built.'
And I will raise up her ruins again.
27It is I who says to the depth of the sea, 'Be dried up!'
And I will make your rivers dry.
28It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd!
And he will perform all My desire.'
And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,'
And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid.'"
44:24-28 This is one sentence in Hebrew. It is a series of relative clauses which are translated by the NIV as "who. . ." It is significant that this is a structured unit because the climax is found in the mention of Cyrus by name in v. 28. It is basically a unit dealing with "the God who can" versus the idols who cannot. YHWH announces beforehand what will occur to prove His existence and power (cf. 41:22-23; 44:7,26).
Notice the list of "who. . ." in NIV (i.e., Qal participles).
1. who formed you in the womb, v. 24
2. who has made all things, v. 24
3. who alone stretched out the heavens, v. 24
4. who spread out the earth by Myself, v. 24
5. who foils the signs of false prophets, v. 25
6. who overthrows the learning of the wise, v. 25
7. who carries out the words of his servants, v. 26
8. who says of Jerusalem, "it shall be inhabited," v. 26
9. who says to the watery deep, "Be dry," v. 27
10. who says of Cyrus, "He is my shepherd," v. 28
44:24 Redeemer" This is the term Go'el, which has the same definition as "ransom" with the added idea of a near kinsman as the agent. It is often a title for God; it is used in this personal sense to reveal God's character. See Special Topic at 41:14.
▣ "the one who formed you from the womb" This primarily refers to the formation of the nation of Israel (cf. v. 2). It is used uniquely of the Exodus experience. This concept of birthing also lends itself to the concept of the people of God as the children of God.
▣ "I, the Lord, am. . ." This is literally the phrase, "I am YHWH," which is a key phrase in the OT. It is a play on the covenant name for God, from the verb "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14). Its basic meaning is "I am the ever-existing, only-existing God." See Special Topic at 40:3.
▣ "maker of all things" This is the emphasis of God as both Creator and Redeemer (cf. 45:12,18).
▣ "Stretching out the heavens by Myself" Here again is God as Creator. This phraseology is used in Isa. 40:22; 42:5; 45:12,18; 51:13.
▣ "spreading out the earth all alone" The English "all alone" (qere, NEB) is literally a rhetorical question, "Who was with Me?" (ketiv, DSS, LXX, NRSV). This is an emphasis, like the phrase above, "by Myself," on God's unique position. He is the one and only Creator God (cf. Job 38:4ff). See SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at 40:14.
▣ "omens. . .diviners. . .wise men" This verse is an exposure of the occult practices of the surrounding nations, particularly Babylon. It is a foil for God to discuss His true prophets in v. 26. Biblically, the way to determine a true prophet is found in Deut. 13:1-3; 18:22. The false prophets and the true prophets are going to be contrasted in order to reveal that God is the only God.
It is possible that the Hebrew word "boasters" can mean
1. liars, vain talkers (BDB 95 III)
2. soothsayers, from an Akkadian root (AB, vol. 20, p. 72), which would make it parallel to "diviners" (line 2). Note how similar the Hebrew words are.
#1 בדים to #2 ברים
The Barim priests of Babylon were known for their predictions (Leupold, p. 133).
44:26 "Confirming the word of His servant" God is in control of history. His forth-telling of future events is one way to prove to all mankind that God is the only Creator, Redeemer God (cf. 41:22-23; 45:7,26). Throughout this section of Isaiah prophecy is used as a means of God demonstrating His ability over against the inability of the occult practices to determine future events.
The words "servant" (BDB 712) and "messenger" (BDB 521) are parallel. The first is singular and the second plural. Is this meant to refer to
1. the Servant
2. the prophets
or are both to be understood as the prophet? Thereby, "servant" would be a way to characterize all prophets.
This verse may be an allusion to Isa. 2:2-4 or Micah 4:1-4.
▣ "It is I who says of Jerusalem, 'she shall be inhabited'" This is a very specific prophecy of not only the restoration of Jerusalem but also of the cities of Judah (cf. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-3).
44:27 There has been much discussion on the meaning of this verse. These are the theories:
1. YHWH controls the waters of chaos (cf. Genesis 1; Psalm 74:12-17; Isa. 51:10).
2. It is a reference to God's splitting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River and, therefore, is a reference to the Exodus.
3. It shows that God can overcome any barrier and is used in the sense of God drying up or overcoming the Euphrates River (i.e., note Isa. 11:15-16) so that Cyrus can defeat Babylon.
4. This is used in some sense that God is the controller of moisture which proves that he is the fertility God and not Ba'al.
44:28 "It is I who says of Cyrus" Cyrus is mentioned by name for the first time in this context. He is also mentioned by name in 45:1. Josephus, in his book, Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5, says that Jewish tradition believes that prophecies were shown to Cyrus and that he allowed the Jews to return to Judah. We also learn that Cyrus was impressed by these prophecies in II Chr. 36:22-23.
▣ "He is My shepherd" This term primarily speaks of a leader or administrator. There are two very strong kingly terms used here, "shepherd" (BDB 944 I) in 44:28 and "anointed one" (BDB 603) in 45:1. Both of these terms show that God will use Cyrus to accomplish His purposes. This does not imply that Cyrus became a believer (cf. v. 5c), but that God uses human instrumentality in order to accomplish His purposes (i.e., Exod. 3:7-10).
▣ "Your foundation will be laid" The fulfillment of this prophecy, related to both the city of Jerusalem and the temple, is found in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:1-7
1Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
2"I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.
3I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places,
So that you may know that it is I,
The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
4For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen one,
I have also called you by your name;
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.
5I am the Lord, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
6That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
7The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the Lord who does all these."
45:1 "anointed" This is a title in the OT used for several kinds of people.
1. for King Saul, I Sam. 12:3; 24:6
2. for the people of God, Hab. 3:13
3. for the Patriarchs, Ps. 105:15
4. for the priests, Lev. 4:3,5,16
5. for "the Coming One," Dan. 9:25; Ps. 2:2
It is used as a Messianic title developed during the inter-biblical period. The term "Messiah" (see Special Topic at 40:14) comes from the Hebrew term "Anointed One." Cyrus being called by this term shows that election in the OT was primarily for service, not salvation.
▣ "by the right hand" See Special Topic at 40:2.
▣ "to loose the loins of kings" This refers to loosening the sash, which either implies a man's garments were free-flowing which made it difficult to move, or the sash may have held weapons and they, therefore, dropped to the ground (cf. v. 5).
NASB"rough places smooth"
NKJV"crooked places straight"
NRSV, TEV"level the mountains"
The NRSV is literal (cf. 49:11). It is also found in the DSS and LXX. Mountain may be a metaphor of problems or fears (cf. 40:4; 41:15; 42:15).
▣ "shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars" These are all metaphors to show that God will cause Cyrus to succeed in his conquest over the walled cities of Mesopotamia and Palestine. It is interesting that the historian, Herodotus, 1:179, mentions that the city of Babylon had over 100 brass gates.
45:3 "treasures of darkness" This is the hidden wealth of the empires of Mesopotamia and the Near East.
45:4 "For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen one" Here we have the first of two reasons why God used Cyrus: (1) the restoration of His chosen people and (2) He wanted the people of Israel to be a light to the world, v. 6. Israel was not a light so God used Cyrus (cf. Ezek. 36:22-38).
▣ "Though you have not known Me" God used Cyrus even though he did not know Him. There is a play on the word "know" in vv. 4,5,6. In Hebrew the term "know" speaks of intimate personal relationship (cf. Gen. 4:1), not only cognitive knowledge. There is no merit on Cyrus' part that God should choose him, but God used him for divine purposes (see Special Topic at 40:15).
45:5 "I am the Lord, and there is no other" This is an affirmation of monotheism (cf. 44:24; 45:6-7,14,18,21,22, see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM at 40:14).
▣ "Besides Me there is no God" This is another way of referring to monotheism (cf. 44:6,8; 43:11).
▣ "I will gird you" This means "arm you." The weapons were worn on the girdle (cf. v. 1). This is the opposite of v. 1d.
45:6 "That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me" Here again is the astonishing prophecy that God chose Cyrus for the same purpose that He chose Israel, which was to reveal Himself to all the world so that all the world might come to know Him.
45:7 This verse has caused much consternation among commentators because it seems to make God the creator of evil. Basically, what is seen here is the denial of a dualism in the universe. This may reflect the Persian influence of Zoroastrianism, but we are uncertain of Cyrus' relationship to this developed dualism. This verse is basically saying that there is only one causality in the universe (cf. Eccl. 7:14; Amos 3:6b). God is in control of all things. He uses evil for His purposes! This is another way of affirming monotheism.
Verse 7 is a series of Qal participles relating to God's creating activities put in contrasting pairs.
1. forming - BDB 427, KB 428
2. creating - BDB 135, KB 153
3. causing - BDB 793, KB 889
4. creating - BDB 135, KB 153
5. doing - BDB 793, KB 889
Be careful of taking one verse out of a poetic context and using it as the basis of a doctrinal statement. Genre and context are crucial in proper interpretation!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:8
8Drip down, O heavens, from above,
And let the clouds pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit,
And righteousness spring up with it.
I, the Lord, have created it."
45:8 The prophet is using the crisis of his own day to foreshadow the future kingdom of God. In context, this verse is influenced by v. 6, which means that this is the idealistic future when all humans will know and worship God, which was the purpose of the original creation (cf. Gen. 3:8).
▣ Verse 8 is a series of commands (i.e., prayers) directed toward God's created order.
1. drip down - BDB 950, KB 1271, Hiphil imperative
2. pour - BDB 633, KB 683, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
3. open - BDB 834, KB 986, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
4. bear fruit - BDB 826, KB 963, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
5. spring up - BDB 855, KB 1033, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
YHWH ends the paragraph/verse with His summary statement of His creating power (BDB 135, KB 153, Qal perfect)! This emphasis on God as creator introduces the rest of the chapter (esp. v. 18). As He created the earth, so too, Israel. Creation has a relational purpose.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:9-10
9"Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker --
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?'
Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'?
10Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?'
Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?'"
45:9 "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker-" We have seen several allusions to the court scene literary model in Isaiah 40-45. Now "woe" identifies another prophetic literary model, "the funeral dirge." It was a "grave" warning to those (Jews or Gentiles) who question YHWH. In context, this strophe would refer to the shock felt by Jews at the inclusion of Gentiles!
This shows the presence of some Jews who reacted negatively to God's way of handling redemption (cf. v. 11). They were upset that God would use an unbelieving ruler such as Cyrus (cf. v. 13). This is very similar to the prophet Habakkuk's incredulous thoughts about God using Babylon.
▣ "Will the clay say to the potter" This concept of humans as clay and God as potter is common in the Bible, probably because
1. humans are made from the dust or clay and will return to dust (cf. Isa. 29:16; Jer. 18:1ff; Rom. 9:20-21)
2. it highlights YHWH's freedom to do with His creation whatever He desires and purposes
NASB, NKJV"He has no hands"
NRSV, JPSOA"Your work has no handles"
REV, REB"you have no skill"
NJB"your work has no hands"
Peshitta"am I not the work of your hands"
NAB"what you are making has no hands"
This can mean
1. the idols have no hands
2. the craftsmen have no skill
3. the vessel has no handles
It is best just to recognize the ambiguity and look to the other lines of v. 9 and v. 10 for a general contextual meaning. That which is the created cannot question the creator!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:11-13
11Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
"Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons,
And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.
12It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands
And I ordained all their host.
13I have aroused him in righteousness
And I will make all his ways smooth;
He will build My city and will let My exiles go free,
Without any payment or reward," says the Lord of hosts.
45:11 This verse starts out with several titles for God.
2. the Holy One of Israel
3. Israel's Maker (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal participle)
It then continues the emphasis on YHWH as the predictor of future events (i.e., Cyrus' conquest).
The UBS Text Project (p. 125) suggests, "questions me about the things to come, (but) as to my sons and the work of my hands, let me take care of them!"
45:12 "And I ordained all their host" Here again YHWH is magnifying His unique place as Creator of heaven and earth. The Babylonians worshiped the stars and planets. This is a strong statement that YHWH commanded (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel perfects) all their hosts (cf. 40:26). This emphasis on YHWH as the creator and controller of the heavenly bodies (i.e., sun, moon, stars, planets, comets) functions like Genesis 1 in showing the folly of astral worship.
In Isa. 24:21-22 the word "host" is used for the angelic powers behind the nations (cf. the LXX of Deut. 32:8 and Daniel 10). Whether it is angelic or planetary, YHWH is in control of all the lesser gods of the universe called elohim. There is no other God but YHWH, but there are other spiritual forces.
45:13 "I have aroused him in righteousness" The NIV translates the "him" as Cyrus. YHWH stirred up Cyrus to do His will. This refers to (1) the rapid and complete conquests by Cyrus and (2) the decree of Cyrus which allowed all the exiled people groups to go home and rebuild their national temples. This decree was given in 538 b.c., one year after the fall of Babylon.
▣ "Without any payment or reward" YHWH will give Cyrus II victory and he in turn will let Israel return to Judah without a bribe or payment (TEV).
The Jewish Study Bible (p. 876) says that v. 14 refers to YHWH's reward to Cyrus.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:14-17
14Thus says the Lord,
"The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush
And the Sabeans, men of stature,
Will come over to you and will be yours;
They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains
And will bow down to you;
They will make supplication to you:
'Surely, God is with you, and there is none else,
No other God.'"
15Truly, You are a God who hides Himself,
O God of Israel, Savior!
16They will be put to shame and even humiliated, all of them;
The manufacturers of idols will go away together in humiliation.
17Israel has been saved by the Lord
With an everlasting salvation;
You will not be put to shame or humiliated
To all eternity.
45:14 It is uncertain if vv. 14-17 comprise a literary unit. It is obvious that vv. 15-17 are referring to Israel. It is possible that v. 14 may refer to Persia (cf. 43:3) and not to Judah. However, these same nations are given as a ransom for God's people in 43:3. All the world was meant to come to God in 45:20-22. Therefore, Judah could be the subject of v. 14. This is very similar to the prophecies that all the nations will stream to a restored Zion (cf. 2:2-4; 60:1ff; Ps. 72:8-11).
The summary line of v. 14, "No other God," carries over to v. 16 (i.e., "they"). Both the idols and their worshipers shall be
1. put to shame - BDB 101, KB 116, Qal perfect
2. humiliated - BDB 487, KB 480, Niphal perfect
But Israel will not (cf. v. 17)!
45:15 Notice the names for God
1. God (El, BDB 42)
2. God (Elh, BDB 43) of Israel
3. Savior (BDB 446)
The Savior of Israel did hide Himself from His people for a period of time because of their sin and rebellion (cf. 1:15; 8:17; 54:8; 57:17; Ps. 44:24; 88:14, also note Job 13:24). But that period of judgment has passed (cf. 40:2) and now the return and restoration has begun through Cyrus.
The AB, vol. 20, p. 82, suggests this hiddenness is because Israel was a small and insignificant nation at this period of time.
45:16 See note at v. 14. Verse 16 is theologically parallel to 44:11.
45:17 This is a wonderful promise but readers need to remember it is conditional on Israel's covenant obedience. Just to read this and forget that Israel was again conquered and destroyed by both Greece and Rome shows the limits of proof-texting.
The problem was not YHWH's love and promises, but Israel's inability to keep His commandments.
The Hebrew terms "everlasting" (BDB 761) and "eternity" (BDB 761) are from a Hebrew root that has a wide range of meaning (semantic field). See Special Topic below.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:18-19
18For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens
(He is the God who formed the earth and made it,
He established it and did not create it a waste place,
But formed it to be inhabited),
I am the Lord, and there is none else.
19I have not spoken in secret,
In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
'Seek Me in a waste place';
I, the Lord, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright."
45:18 "He established it and did not create it a waste place" This is an allusion to Gen. 1:2. It could be translated "without form" (BDB 1062). God always had a purpose for creation. That purpose is that it would be inhabited. There was a development in God's creation. This does not prove some kind of destruction between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (i.e., the Gap Theory).
▣ "But formed it to be inhabited)" This is used by the rabbis to stress that everyone should marry (cf. Gen. 1:28; 9:1,7).
45:19 YHWH has asserted over and over in this section of Isaiah that He is the God who hears and acts; Who knows the future and sets its course! This theological assertion is a primary evidence of His existence! The other evidence is the existence of Israel and her return to the Promised Land.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 45:20-25
20"Gather yourselves and come;
Draw near together, you fugitives of the nations;
They have no knowledge,
Who carry about their wooden idol
And pray to a god who cannot save.
21Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.
22Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.
23I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
24They will say of Me, 'Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.'
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.
25In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
Will be justified and will glory."
45:20 "Gather yourselves and come;
Draw near together, you fugitives of the nations;
They have no knowledge"
Some say this refers to scattered, exiled Israelites returning home (i.e.,"you fugitives of the nations," also note v. 25), while others believe it is another general invitation to the Gentile nations, as in vv. 6,22,23 (cf. Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10). Both are possible in this context.
There is a series of commands in vv. 20-22 related to how humans are to approach YHWH and respond to His offer of availability.
1. gather yourselves - BDB 867, KB 1062, Niphal imperative, v. 20
2. come - BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperative, v. 20
3. draw near - BDB 620, KB 670, Hiphil imperative, v. 20
4. turn to Me - BDB 815, KB 937, Qal imperative, v. 22
5. be saved - BDB 446, KB 448, Niphal imperative, v. 22
The NT uses v. 23 in two quotes that refer to all humans (i.e., Rom. 14:11 and esp. Phil. 2:10)! What a wonderful invitation and fulfillment of Gen. 3:15 and 12:3 (see Special Topic at 40:15).
▣ "Who carry about their wooden idol" This calls on the nations to reject their idols who cannot act, and come to the God of Israel who can act and who will save them.
45:21 This is the imagery of a court scene. It predicts (1) Cyrus and his success and (2) the return of Israel as an evangelistic tool to bring the world to God. Here God is called a "Savior" and in this context implies not of Jews only but of the entire world (cf. v. 22). The obvious implication of monotheism (see Special Topic at 40:14) is that the One God loves all humans created in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27).
45:22 "Turn to Me" This is the Hebrew word that is used for worship (BDB 815, KB 937). As the people turn to God they leave their idolatry and sin (cf. 55:7).
Humans have a choice. They can turn to YHWH and be saved or turn to idols (cf. Lev. 19:4,31; 20:6; Deut. 31:18,20) and have no hope!
▣ "and be saved, all the ends of the earth" This is a reference to the universal salvation offered to all humans who will repent and trust in YHWH because there is no other God (cf. v. 21). This universal offer is so characteristic of Isaiah (cf. 2:2-4; 12:4-5; 25:6-9; 42:6-12; 49:5-6; 51:4-5; 60:1-3; 66:23). This can be translated "save themselves" (Niphal imperative), which would be a play on Gen. 12:3.
45:23 "I have sworn by Myself" There is no higher oath possible!
▣ "The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back"
This is the ancient belief in the power of the spoken word (cf. 24:3; 25:8; 40:8; 55:10-11). God said it; He wants the world to be saved (i.e., John 3:16)!
▣ "That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance" This is used in this context of YHWH. However, in Phil. 2:10 it is used of all conscious creation confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. The context again shows that God wants the whole world to come to Him and later revelation will show it is through His Messiah, Jesus Christ, that this universal offer is accomplished (cf. Mark 10:45; II Cor. 5:21).
The theological issue is very clear. If the NT is revelation, then the OT promises to national Israel have been widened.
45:24 "And all who are angry at Him shall be put to shame" This does show that one day all peoples, whether they believe in YHWH or not, will acknowledge Him as Lord (cf. Philippians 2). Some will have previously acknowledged Him and be saved, but some will acknowledge Him just before judgment and separation (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15).
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. List the characteristics of God mentioned in Isa. 44:24-28. (there are nine relative clauses)
2. Why did God choose Cyrus?
3. What is the significance of the Hebrew word "know" (cf. 45:4-6)?
4. Why is Isa. 45:6 so significant?
5. List the number of times and ways the doctrine of monotheism is mentioned in this passage.
6. Does Isa. 45:8 refer to the return from exile or the Messianic kingdom? Why?
7. What is the significance of Isa. 45:22?
8. How is Isa. 45:23 used in the NT and what significance does it have for this passage?
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