Concerning Babylon: Isaiah 46-48 (1)
Pray Psalm 71.1-3.
In You, O LORD, I put my trust;
Let me never be put to shame.
Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape;
Incline Your ear to me, and save me.
Be my strong refuge,
To which I may resort continually;
You have given the commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.
Read Isaiah 46.1-7.
1. How does God use the idea of “carrying” or “bearing” with respect to idols and Himself?
2. Why is trusting in idols a stupid idea?
In this section (chapters 46-48) God wants to emphasize both the reliability of His Word and His sovereign power to save.
The people of Judah and Jerusalem had been trusting in idols, in particular, those of the nations around them, and the nations they were trying to placate. Bel and Nebo (v. 1) were Babylonian gods, and so the people of God were tempted to trust in these to deliver them. But, as would be clear in due course, these gods – which had to be carried around from place to place (vv. 1, 2, 7) – would be taken captive by a nation greater than Babylon (v. 2).
God doesn’t need to be carried around. Indeed, He has borne His people, upholding and carrying them from the very beginning; and He will carry them through to the very end (vv. 3, 4). Israel did not make God – like pagan nations make their gods. God made them (v. 4), and He will deliver them in His time. There is no God like the God of Israel (v. 5). All other gods are just shiny things and gewgaws crafted by expert smiths, but completely lacking in power to save (vv. 6, 7).
The message to the people of Judah and Jerusalem was simple, and has been repeated now many times: As you see the Babylonians coming – a powerful and pagan nation – do not be tempted to call on their gods to deliver you. God has brought the Babylonians against His people to judge them for their idolatry in the past. They must not make the same mistake again. God will bear them up through the trial of captivity, and He will raise up an anointed servant to return them to their land. And beyond that, another Anointed One– God’s Servant and Messenger, will bring “that day” of salvation and restoration which God has been promising from the beginning.
So trust the Lord. Look to Him. Hold fast to Him. Hear and obey Him, and you will be saved.
1. Believers are often tempted to put their trust and hope in things rather than in God. Why do we do this? What would God say to us?
2. God promises to carry us through to the end (v. 4). How can we use this promise to encourage and comfort one another?
3. How would you counsel a new believer to avoid the temptation to trust in things – false gods – rather than in God?
O Lord our God, under the shadow of your wings let us hope; defend us and support us. You will bear us up when we are little, and even down to our gray hairs you will carry us. For our stability, when it is in you, is stability indeed; but when it is in ourselves, then it is all unstable. Our good lives forever with you, and when we turn from you with aversion, we fall into our own perversion. Let us now, O Lord, return that we be not overturned, because with you our good lives without blemish—for our good is you yourself. Augustine (354-430 AD), Confessions 4.51.31
Bear me up, today, O Lord, lest I stumble and fall! Bear me up so that I may…
Pray Psalm 71.
As you pray, recall the Lord’s many blessings. Praise and thank Him for His goodness, and recommit yourself to serving Him this day.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 71 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
In You, O Lord, I refuge claim; O let me never be ashamed.
In righteousness deliver me; incline Your ear and hear my plea.
Refrain v. 3
A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
My Rock and Fortress ever be!
From wicked hands redeem me, Lord, from all who wrest and break Your Word;
My hope, my confidence from youth, my praise forever reaches You.
While many see in me a sign, I shelter in Your strength will find.
Lord, fill my mouth with endless praise and with Your glory all my days.
Lord, cast me not with age away; as strength decreases, with me stay.
My enemies against me speak; they lie in wait my soul to seek.
O God be not too far from me; my ever-present Helper be!
Consume and shame my enemies; let them reproached and humbled be.
But as for me my voice I raise to sing in hope and constant praise!
With saving grace my voice will swell Your never-ending grace to tell.
O Lord, I praise Your righteousness Who me from youth have taught and blessed.
Forsake me not when I am old, ‘til I Your mercies all have told!
Your righteous deeds are great and true. O God, there is no one like You!
Though many troubles I have seen, You will revive my soul again!
Increase my greatness, comfort me, and unto You shall praises be.
Your truth I will exalt full well, O Holy One of Israel!
My lips with joy and praises ring; to You, Redeemer, praise I bring!
I praise Your goodness all day long; Lord, humble all who do me wrong.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).