Concerning Babylon: Isaiah 46-48 (5)
Pray Psalm 147.1.
Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, andpraise is beautiful.
Read Isaiah 48.12-16.
1. What seems to be God’s purpose in these verses?
2. What does He want His people to do?
God continues through Isaiah to urge His people to trust in Him. He calls them to listen to His words (v. 12), and to remember that He is before all things and all things consist in Him (vv. 12, 13). As He has “called” Israel to be His people, and so they were, so He “calls” the whole creation and it will “stand up together”. All creation obeys God’s Word, even the king of Babylon.
There is power in God’s Word, and God’s Word is coming through Isaiah to comfort and encourage His people in the face of their captivity. After He has satisfied His wrath against His rebellious people, God assures them that the man He loves (Cyrus) will come and do God’s pleasure against Babylon. This will include releasing the captives to return to Jerusalem, and to wait for the coming day of salvation (vv. 14, 15).
Again at the end of this passage, Isaiah calls the people to hear God, Who has spoken to His people from the beginning (cf. Ps. 147.19, 20). This inclusio returns us to the thought of verse 11, and marks this section off as a self-contained unit. God has been with His people from the beginning, and they know that His Word is reliable and sure (v. 16a).
The second part of verse 16 is, I believe, deliberately enigmatic. The NKJV has “And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me.” However, in the Hebrew His Spirit is the last word (one word in Hebrew) of the sentence, and it follows the verb sent, which is singular, not plural, as NKJV suggests. Moreover, the form of the verb is past tense – usage sometimes referred to as “prophetic perfect”, in which a future event is pictured as being so certain that it is treated as if already accomplished. And, while we might expect the Hebrew to add the sign of the direct object (אֶת־) if His Spirit were indeed to be understood as an object of the verb sent, still, a literal reading, following the Hebrew word order, would be more like, “and now the Lord Yahweh has sent Me, and His Spirit.”
Is Isaiah looking forward to the day when the Lord sends His greater Anointed One, and His Spirit, to accomplish all that He has promised His people? This would be in line with what God has been doing throughout this section (chs. 40ff), and would keep the hope of His people focused beyond Babylon and Cyrus to “that Day” yet to come.
1. In what sense are God’s people called by Him? From what? To what? With what in mind?
2. God is sovereign over all of creation and all of history. Why should we find this to be a comforting notion?
3. What does it mean to listen to God and to hear Him? How can you know when you have actually heard God speaking to you?
When all things were made by the Father, he [the Son] was there with him, in whom the Son rejoiced when he said, I am he who always was with the Father and in the Father and never was without the Father, and who now speaks, and due to the weakness of the flesh I assumed, I say that “the Lord has sent me and his Spirit.” In this short verse we are shown the mystery of the Trinity. Jerome (347-420 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 13.16
Teach me Your will, O God, and help me to accept and submit to it, so that I…
Pray Psalm 147.
Give thanks to God for all the ways He is sovereign, and for His giving His Word to you.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 147 (St. Ann: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Praise God, for it is good to sing loud praises to the Lord!
With joy our songs of praise we bring to God and to His Word.
The Lord builds up His Church and He His people gathers in.
The broken hearts He tenderly repairs and heals their sin.
The stars He counts, He knows the name of every chosen soul;
His pow’r is great, and great His fame Who understands us whole.
The humble God exalts above; the wicked He casts down.
Sing thanks to this great God of love; let songs of praise abound.
He brings refreshing rain to earth and feeds the beasts so dear.
He puts in man’s strength naught of worth, but loves those who God fear.
O praise your God, Jerusalem, O Zion, praise the Lord!
He strengthens those who trust in Him with blessings from His Word.
Around us He has spread His peace; our borders are secure.
His bounty daily shall increase; His grace to us is sure!
His Word to earth runs to and fro to carry out His will;
He brings the rain, He sends the snow, and none can keep Him still.
His Word He to His Church bestows – His promises and Law.
No other nation God thus knows: praise Him with songs of awe!
T. M. Moore
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