Isra’el’s Unfaithfulness and Adonai’s Mercy ~ Yesha’yahu 43:14-28

In my last post, we learned about Isra’el’s Only Savior in Yesha’yahu 43:1-13. In this post, we explore Isra’el’s Unfaithfulness and Adonai’s Mercy in 43:14-28.

14 Here is what Adonai, your redeemer, the Holy One of Isra’el, says: “For your sake, I have sent [an army] to Bavel and knocked down the fleeing Kasdim, all of them; their songs of triumph are now lamentations.

This passage is describing the defeat and capture of Bavel by Cyrus. Though not found in other sources, apparently the Kasdim (Chaldeans) unsuccessfully attempted to escape the conquest by traveling in their ships by sailing on the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf.

Kasdim was an Aramaic-speaking tribe of Bavel that rose up in the seventh century BCE to lead the charge against Ashur. The Kasdim tribe’s home base was at the point where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers emptied into what is today called the Persian Gulf. With access to the Persian Gulf, Bavel took pride in her naval capabilities. And yet it would be the Euphrates itself that would provide the Medes and Persians a way into her heavily walled city. [1] Who says Adonai does work all things for the good of His plan?

15 I am Adonai, your Holy One, the Creator of Isra’el, your King.” 16 Here is what Adonai says, who made a way in the sea, a path through the raging waves; 17 who led out chariot and horse, the army in its strength they lay down, never to rise again, snuffed out and quenched like a wick:

Adonai called on His people to remember their great deliverance from the Egyptians at the Red Sea.

18 “Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over times gone by; 19 I am doing something new; it’s springing up can’t you see it? I am making a road in the desert, rivers in the wasteland.

The Exodus poetically described in verses 16-17 is defined as past events, the things of old. But Adonai turns the hearers’ attention to something new, a new Exodus. This time Adonai will create not a way in the sea, but a way in the wastelands. This future deliverance is pictured as a reversal of nature, with rivers in the desert.

20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; because I put water in the desert, rivers in the wasteland, for my chosen people to drink, 21 the people I formed for myself so that they would proclaim my praise.

Because of the new provision of water in the wasteland, the animals that live there will be pleased. In the same way, Adonai’s people who have been oppressed by the Bavlim will find new freedom.

22 But you haven’t called on Me, Ya‘akov; because you have grown weary of Me, Isra’el. 23 You have not brought Me sheep for your burnt offerings; you have not honored Me with your sacrifices. I didn’t burden you by requiring grain offerings or weary you by demanding frankincense. 24 You have not spent money to buy Me sweet cane or filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened Me with your sins and wearied Me with your crimes.

The fat parts of the animal were also to be included in the sacrifice. Neither fat nor blood was to be eaten. Blood was drained and then sprinkled on the altar. The fat was always burned on the altar as part of the essentials of sacrifice.

25 I, yes I, am the one who blots out your offenses for My own sake; I will not remember your sins.

The people sinned, but Adonai forgave. The idea of removal of sin is communicated by the action of sweeping as well as the mental act of forgetting. To remember something is to act on it, and to forget is to hold back from acting.

26 Remind Me when we’re in court together tell your side, make the case that you are right. 27 Your first father sinned, and your spokesmen rebelled against Me. 28 Therefore I repudiated the officials of the sanctuary, delivered Ya‘akov to the curse of destruction, and subjected Isra’el to scorn. ~ Isaiah 43:14-28 (CJB)

Once again, a court setting is introduced. Adonai challenged His people to argue their case against Him. The reference to Isra’el’s first father is likely Ya‘akov, whose name was changed to Isra’el. Ya‘akov was well known for his foolish and sinful ways (Hosea 12:1-6).

In my next post, we learn of Isra’el the Chosen in 44:1-5.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

Isra’el’s Only Savior ~ Yesha’yahu 43:1-13

In my last post, we conclude our examination The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 42:18-25. In this post, we learn of Isra’el’s Only Savior in Yesha’yahu 43:1-13.

1 But now this is what Adonai says, He who created you, Ya‘akov, He who formed you, Isra’el: “Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are Mine.

One of the things I’ve learned in my walk with Adonai is that names are important to Him. Calling a person by his or her name indicates a high level of familiarity. I was named after my uncle, who died before my mother was born. She wanted to honor his struggle with life. I’ve since learned that my name, Donald, means world ruler and overcomer. Although I have held several top management level positions in my previous career, I have never aspired to be a world ruler. But I have taken the overcomer attribute to heart.

Adonai gave Isra’el its name when He changed the name of the patriarch Ya’akov to Isra’el (see Genesis 32:28). The intention of this prophecy is expressed clearly at the start don’t be afraid. Adonai informed His people about their coming deliverance to keep them from caving into fear.

2 When you pass through water, I will be with you; when you pass through rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you will not be scorched – the flame will not burn you.

The waters can be naturally dangerous, just like the fire mentioned in the second half of the verse. However, the waters can stand for the forces of chaos and evil (see Daniel 7:1-9) or personal duress (see Psalm 69:1-3). The promise that Adonai will be with His people is a covenant formula that indicates the close relationship between Adonai and His people.

3 For I am Adonai, your God, the Holy One of Isra’el, your Savior – I have given Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and S’va for you. 4 Because I regard you as valued and honored, and because I love you. For you, I will give people, nations in exchange for your life.

The Persians successfully invaded Egypt and gained control of Cush (Ethiopia) during the reign of Cyrus’s successor, Cambyses. S’va’s location is disputed. [1] Adonai is willing to give much more than these three countries in place of His people.

5 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. I will bring your descendants from the east, and I will gather you from the west; 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Don’t hold them back! Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth,

Adonai will gather His people from all over the world. As we know in our lifetime, He is fulfilling that promise since the establishment of the modern state if Isra’el in 1948.

7 everyone who bears My name, whom I created for My glory – I formed him, yes, I made him.’”

The impending exile would not result in the eradication of Adonai’s special people. After all, He created them. They will preserve their distinct identity and not be merged into foreign populations.

8 Bring forward the people who are blind but have eyes, also the deaf who have ears.

Being blind and deaf is a reference is to spiritual insensitivity.

9 All the nations are gathered together, and the peoples are assembled. Who among them can proclaim this and reveal what happened in the past? Let them bring their witnesses to justify themselves, so that others, on hearing, can say, “That’s true.”

The challenge to find someone among the nations who could tell the significance of past events is another sarcastic comment on the mute, powerless idols of the nations.

10 “You are my witnesses,” says Adonai, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you can know and trust me and understand that I am He – no god was produced before me, nor will any be after Me. 11 I, yes I, am Adonai; besides Me, there is no deliverer.

I’m glad our Father keeps it very simple for people like me who can get confused so easily. There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved! ~ Acts 4:12 (CJB)

12 I have declared, saved, and proclaimed – not some alien god among you. Therefore, you are My witnesses,” says Adonai. “I am God.

Adonai called to the assembled nations to be a witness. He also called on His people, whom He identified as His servant, to be His witnesses. The calling of witnesses associates this passage with the courtroom. Not only is Adonai better than the foreign gods, but those gods do not exist at all. The nations were silent when asked to witness to their gods’ work in their lives. Adonai’s people functioned as Adonai’s witness to the fact that He had saved them in the past.

If you don’t see Adonai, don’t hear from Adonai, don’t know Adonai, could it be because there’s a strange god in your life? Is it because there is some other passion or priority that is keeping you from seeing the true Adonai? Other gods, other preferences will obscure your vision of the true and living Adonai. They will cloud your spiritual perception very definitely.

13 Since days began, I have been He. No one can deliver from My hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” ~ Isaiah 43:1-13 (CJB)

Adonai makes it clear that He is the One we should follow.

In my next post, we learn of Isra’el’s Unfaithfulness and Adonai’s Mercy in Yesha’yahu 43:14-28.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 42:18-25.

In my last post, we began our exploration of The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 42:10-17. In this post, we conclude our examination The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 42:18-25.

Chapter 42 ends with a prophecy that explains why Adonai’s people will experience judgment before they receive the deliverance described in the previous song. In this passage, Yesha’yahu is no longer talking about Adonai’s servant, Yeshua, but His servant, the nation Isra’el.

18 Listen, you deaf! Look, you blind!— so that you will see! 19 Who is as blind as my servant, or as deaf as the messenger I send? Who is as blind as the one I rewarded, as blind as the servant of Adonai?” 20 You see much but don’t pay attention; you open your ears, but you don’t listen.

Isra’el has been given so much, but she’s not seeing. She’s not hearing. Thus, she is indicted for being a people who are blind and deaf.

21 Adonai was pleased, for His righteousness’ sake, to make the Torah great and glorious.

The people’s inability to see and hear Adonai’s instruction was not a failure on Adonai’s part. He magnified His guidance and made it glorious. Only the most spiritually insensitive could miss it. Adonai had even sent the prophets – men like Yesha’yahu and others to make His instruction clearer, but still, they did not obey.

22 But this is a people pillaged and plundered, all trapped in holes and sequestered in prisons. They are there to be plundered, with no one to rescue them; there to be pillaged, and no one says, “Return them!”

When prisons were far off or not available, holes were often used to hold prisoners for a temporary period. Prisons were primarily for detention of individuals awaiting trial or political prisoners, both in Isra’el and Bavel.

23 Which of you will listen to this? Who will hear and give heed in the times to come? 24 Who gave Ya‘akov to be pillaged, Isra’el to the plunderers? Didn’t Adonai, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they refused to walk, He whose Torah they did not obey? 25 This is why He poured on him His blazing anger as well as the fury of battle – it wrapped him in flames, yet he learned nothing; it burned him, yet he did not take it to heart. ~ Isaiah 42:18-25 (CJB)

Like Isra’el, what will Adonai have to do to finally get us to see that we need to obey His Word? If you’re at a place where you’re wondering why you’re in bondage or why things aren’t working out for you, could it be that there is a point of disobedience or stubbornness in your life? As He did with Isra’el, Adonai loves you enough to allow the fire of His chastening to come upon you so that you might return to Him.

We need to be listening to Adonai speaking to us through His Word and the Ruach so that we can trust and obey.

In my next post, we learn of Isra’el’s Only Savior in Yesha’yahu 43:1-13.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 41:16-29

In my last post, we began to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15. In this post, we conclude our exploration of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.

In our last post, we stopped at verse 15 which said: “I will make you into a threshing-sledge, new, with sharp, pointed teeth, to thresh the mountains and crush them to dust, to reduce the hills to chaff.” ~ Isaiah 41:15 (CJB)

16 As you fan them, the wind will carry them off, and the whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in Adonai; you will glory in the Holy One of Isra’el.

The process of winnowing was usually carried out on hilltops, where the wind carried away the chaff and allowed the grain to fall to the ground. The grain was tossed into the air with wooden shovels or fans.

17 “The poor and needy look for water in vain; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, Adonai, will answer them. I, the God of Isra’el, will not leave them. 18 I will open up rivers on the barren hills and wells down in the broad valleys. I will turn the desert into a lake and dry ground into springs.

The phrase the poor and the needy here refers to Adonai’s down-and-out people whom He has punished. But Adonai will restore them, turning their dry land into a watery paradise.

In our travels through Isra’el in 2000, this is precisely what we see – a reclaiming of the desert. Adonai has undoubtedly given the Isra’el the ability to make a little water go a long way, for areas that were once dry and scorched are now beautiful and blossoming.

19 I will plant the desert with cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees; In the ‘Aravah, I will put cypresses together with elm trees and larches.20 Then the people will see and know, together observe and understand that the hand of Adonai has done this, that the Holy One of Isra’el created it.

When the Zionists began to move back to Isra’el, the land seemed to be either desert or swamp. So they immediately initiated a tree-planting program. They planted eucalyptus in the wetlands, which effectively drained the water. They planted pine trees in the rocky, desert areas, whose roots would break up the rocks and produce soil. In the last 100 years, over two-hundred-fifty million trees have been planted in Isra’el.

21 “Present your case,” says Adonai, “Produce your arguments,” says Ya‘akov’s king.

As in verse 1, Adonai used legal language as He challenged the nations and their idols. Ya‘akov’s king is none other than Adonai Himself.

22 Bring out those idols! Have them foretell the future for us, tell us about past events, so that we can reflect on them and understand their consequences. Or tell us about events yet to come, 23 state what will happen in the future, so that we can know you are gods. At least, do something, either good or bad – anything, to make us awestruck and fearful! 24 You can’t! – because you are less than nothing. Whoever chooses you is an abomination!

The idols were ignorant of the future, demonstrating that they were not gods. Indeed, they were nothing.

25 “I roused someone from the north, and he has come from the rising sun; he will call on my name. He will trample on rulers as if they were mud, like a potter treading clay.”

He is King Cyrus of Persia. He is said to be from the east (come from the rising sun) because his homeland was geographically east of Isra’el. On the other hand, he could, at the same time, be from the north because that was the direction from which he attacked Bavel.

This prophecy is one of the most amazing in all of the Bible as we will learn in Chapter 45.

26 Who said this at the start, so we could know, or foretold it, so we could say, “He’s right”? In fact, no one said it; no one foretold it – the fact is, nobody hears what you say. 27 I am the first to declare it to Tziyon, to send Yerushalayim a messenger with good news.

While the idols were ignorant because they did not exist except as wood or stone, Adonai knew the future. Indeed He knew about this from the beginning. The coming of Cyrus was good news to Yerushalayim because his defeat of Bavel would mean that the exiles could come home.

28 But when I look around, there is no one – not a single one can give counsel, who, when I ask, can give an answer. 29 Look at them all! What they do is nothing! Their idols are so much wind and waste. ~ Isaiah 41:16-29 (CJB)

In other words, idols are capable of producing nothing more than hot air. Even that could only be attained by burning them.

In my next post, we conclude our examination of The Servant of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

In my last post, we concluded our exploration of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29. In this post, we begin to examine The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

Several songs in the latter half of Yesha’yahu focus on the Servant of the Lord (see also 50:4-6; 52:13-53:12). The identity of the Servant is much debated, and most modern commentaries give full lists of options. The context of these verses points in the first instance to Isra’el or Y’hudah filling the role of the Servant. After all, 41:8-9 addresses the nation as the Servant. In answer to the objection that this song’s description of the Servant is much too positive to refer to the nation as a whole, it can be conceded that Yesha’yahu spoke of the remnant that would emerge from the purifying fires of judgment. However, even the postexilic survivors did not live up to the hope expressed in these verses. So what or who is the Servant? Let’s see if we can answer that from our text today.

1 “Here is My Servant, whom I support, My chosen one, in whom I take pleasure. I have put My Spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the Goyim.

This is one of the most beautiful prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah. When Yeshua was baptized, the words were thundered from heaven; This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17). The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) anointed Him at that time, empowering Him for ministry, to accomplish great things for the glory of Adonai. We receive power when the Ruach comes upon us.

Such anointing in the Tanakh granted the recipient the ability to perform a divinely given task, in this case, to bring justice to the Goyim (that’s most of us folks). Adonai commissioned Isara’el with this task beginning with the promises to Avraham that included their being a blessing to the Goyim (see Gen 12:1-3), but it is Yeshua who will perform His Father’s will fit perfectly in this regard. Yeshua’s work of justice included bringing judgment on sinners.

2 He will not cry or shout; no one will hear His voice in the streets.

This speaks of Yeshua’s humility and gentleness. Rather than being loud and obnoxious, rather than drawing attention to Himself, Yeshua was so ordinary in the eyes of men that Judas had to identify Him to the Roman soldiers (see Matthew 26:48).

3 He will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. He will bring forth justice according to truth;

The Servant’s work of bringing justice to the world is also characterized by compassion. Like Adonai who would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if just ten righteous people could be found there, so the Servant will not crush anyone, provided there is even a glimmer of hope in them.

4 He will not weaken or be crushed until He has established justice on the earth, and the coastlands wait for His Torah.”

The coastlands refer to the distant nations, so it is a way of identification of all the Goyim. The whole earth will heed Adonai’s instruction, bringing justice to the world.

5 Thus says God, Adonai, who created the heavens and spread them out, who stretched out the earth and all that grows from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk on it:

Adonai is not a part of creation; He is its Creator. He is also not a human being, but the One who created human beings. He gave them breath, starting with Adam.

6 “I, Adonai, called you righteously, I took hold of you by the hand, I shaped you and made you a covenant for the people, to be a light for the Goyim,

Adonai had entered into a covenant with Avraham on behalf not only of future Israel but also of the Goyim. But history shows Isra’el’s miserable failure. Again, Adonai’s purposes were fulfilled in the good news of Yeshua. As the light for the Goyim, Yeshua would indeed be the light for the Goyim.

7 so that you can open blind eyes, free the prisoners from confinement, those living in darkness from the dungeon.

Yeshua came to liberate. He came to deliver humanity from the prison of our sin. Therefore, our sins are forgiven totally for all those who confess and believe that He is the Son of God. In the Word, He has given us all the answers to life practically. We get to know the Creator of the universe personally as we study and meditate on His Word and talk with Him in prayer.

8 I am Adonai; that is My name. I yield My glory to no one else, nor My praise to any idol. 9 See how the former predictions come true, and now new things do I declare – before they sprout I tell you about them.” ~ Isaiah 42:1-9 (CJB)

When Yeshua came on the scene, He was able to do what He taught us we should do. “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16 (CJB) Without exception, every time Yeshua did a miracle, the people glorified Adonai.

It’s so crucial that, as Yeshua begins to increasingly use us in serving Him, we don’t fall into the subtle temptation of touching the glory, of building a name for yourself. It will wipe us out. Perhaps the fastest way we can undo what Adonai desires to do in your life is to start taking credit for it. Give Him all the glory!

In my next post, we continue our examination of The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 42:10-17.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 41:16-29

In my last post, we began to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15. In this post, we conclude our exploration of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.

In our last post, we stopped at verse 15 which said: “I will make you into a threshing-sledge, new, with sharp, pointed teeth, to thresh the mountains and crush them to dust, to reduce the hills to chaff.” ~ Isaiah 41:15 (CJB)

16 As you fan them, the wind will carry them off, and the whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in Adonai; you will glory in the Holy One of Isra’el.

The process of winnowing was usually carried out on hilltops, where the wind carried away the chaff and allowed the grain to fall to the ground. The grain was tossed into the air with wooden shovels or fans.

17 “The poor and needy look for water in vain; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, Adonai, will answer them. I, the God of Isra’el, will not leave them. 18 I will open up rivers on the barren hills and wells down in the broad valleys. I will turn the desert into a lake and dry ground into springs.

The phrase the poor and the needy here refers to Adonai’s down-and-out people whom He has punished. But Adonai will restore them, turning their dry land into a watery paradise.

In our travels through Isra’el in 2000, this is precisely what we see – a reclaiming of the desert. Adonai has undoubtedly given the Isra’el the ability to make a little water go a long way, for areas that were once dry and scorched are now beautiful and blossoming.

19 I will plant the desert with cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees; In the ‘Aravah, I will put cypresses together with elm trees and larches.20 Then the people will see and know, together observe and understand that the hand of Adonai has done this, that the Holy One of Isra’el created it.

When the Zionists began to move back to Isra’el, the land seemed to be either desert or swamp. So they immediately initiated a tree-planting program. They planted eucalyptus in the wetlands, which effectively drained the water. They planted pine trees in the rocky, desert areas, whose roots would break up the rocks and produce soil. In the last 100 years, over two-hundred-fifty million trees have been planted in Isra’el.

21 “Present your case,” says Adonai, “Produce your arguments,” says Ya‘akov’s king.

As in verse 1, Adonai used legal language as He challenged the nations and their idols. Ya‘akov’s king is none other than Adonai Himself.

22 Bring out those idols! Have them foretell the future for us, tell us about past events, so that we can reflect on them and understand their consequences. Or tell us about events yet to come, 23 state what will happen in the future, so that we can know you are gods. At least, do something, either good or bad – anything, to make us awestruck and fearful! 24 You can’t! – because you are less than nothing. Whoever chooses you is an abomination!

The idols were ignorant of the future, demonstrating that they were not gods. Indeed, they were nothing.

25 “I roused someone from the north, and he has come from the rising sun; he will call on my name. He will trample on rulers as if they were mud, like a potter treading clay.”

He is King Cyrus of Persia. He is said to be from the east (come from the rising sun) because his homeland was geographically east of Isra’el. On the other hand, he could, at the same time, be from the north because that was the direction from which he attacked Bavel.

This prophecy is one of the most amazing in all of the Bible as we will learn in Chapter 45.

26 Who said this at the start, so we could know, or foretold it, so we could say, “He’s right”? In fact, no one said it; no one foretold it – the fact is, nobody hears what you say. 27 I am the first to declare it to Tziyon, to send Yerushalayim a messenger with good news.

While the idols were ignorant because they did not exist except as wood or stone, Adonai knew the future. Indeed He knew about this from the beginning. The coming of Cyrus was good news to Yerushalayim because his defeat of Bavel would mean that the exiles could come home.

28 But when I look around, there is no one – not a single one can give counsel, who, when I ask, can give an answer. 29 Look at them all! What they do is nothing! Their idols are so much wind and waste. ~ Isaiah 41:16-29 (CJB)

In other words, idols are capable of producing nothing more than hot air. Even that could only be attained by burning them.

In my next post, we begin to explore The Servant of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 41:1-15

In my last post, we completed our exploration of Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 40:27-31. In this post, we begin to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15.

1 “Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, and let the people renew their strength! Let them come near, then let them speak; Let us come near together for judgment.

Here in chapter 41, it is as if we are looking in on a courtroom scene as Adonai calls worshipers of other gods to state their case. The coastlands refer to far-off lands and thus represent all the nations of the world. The prophets often used the language of the courtroom. Here Adonai will try the nations and their idols. The nations were to keep silence as Adonai presented evidence in support of His case.

2 “Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to His feet? Who gave the nations before Him, And made Him rule over kings? Who gave them as the dust to His sword, as driven stubble to His bow?

The one from the east who subdues kings is a reference to Cyrus, King of Persia (see Isaiah 45:1), whom Adonai used to defeat Bavel in 539 BCE. This brought the exile of Y’hudah to an end.

3 Who pursued them, and passed safely by the way that he had not gone with his feet? 

The conquests of Cyrus were quick, and he remained safe until he had extended Bavel’s boundaries.

4 Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ‘ I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.’ “

Though Cyrus was the human agent behind these predicted events, Adonai took credit because Cyrus succeeded because of His sovereign control. In verses 2-4, Jon Courson believes that the reference is not Cyrus but Yeshua as He is the only true Righteous One, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. [1]

Personally, I don’t have a problem thinking it could easily refer to both at the same time.

5 The coastlands saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were afraid; they drew near and came.

The nations are coming before the throne of Adonai.

6 Everyone helped his neighbor, And said to his brother, “Be of good courage!”

The heathen nations are saying to one another be of good courage as they stand in the presence of Adonai.

7 So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering”; then he fastened it with pegs, that it might not totter.

In this verse, the craftsman is the one who prepares the mold and creates the cast figurine. The goldsmith attaches the plating and inlay. Then the hammer is used to smooth out and shine the overlay. The last step is difficult to translate because it is full of technical terms, but it appears to refer to the fitting of the peg into the hole in the wooden base. [2]

8 “But you, Isra’el, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham, My friend.

While the nations felt the wrath of Adonai at the hands of His agent Cyrus, Adonai again would make Isra’el His friend. By calling Isra’el the descendant of Avraham, Adonai called to mind the promise to the patriarch that his descendants would be a great nation (Genesis 12:2). Based on this ancient covenantal promise, Adonai acted to restore His people Isra’el.

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:

Adonai’s punishment of Y’hudah led to exile in 586 BCE when many of its leading citizens were taken to Bavel and from there scattered throughout the empire. The restoration involved bringing them back from the ends of the earth.

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Adonai’s statement I am with you is a concise way of describing the covenant relationship between Him and His people. Adonai’s right hand is often associated with His military might, thus His ability to protect His people. The only courage the heathen could draw was from each other. Isra’el’s comfort, on the other hand, came from Adonai Himself.

11 “Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. 12 You shall seek them and not find them – those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.

All those who strive against Isra’el shall perish. In the End Times, countries who wage war against Isra’el are on the wrong team because, according to Matthew 25, treatment of the Jewish nation during the Tribulation will determine what nations move into the Millennium following the Tribulation period.

13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ 14 “Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Isra’el! I will help you,” says the LORD And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Isra’el.

Once again, the inability of the nations to contend with Isra’el was because of divine protection and intimacy (I…will hold your right hand). Isra’el did not have the strength or ability to protect itself, but Adonai would sustain them.

15 “Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. ~ Isaiah 41:1-15 (NKJV)

The threshing sledge was a heavy wooden sledge with stone or iron teeth. It was used to separate the grain from the chaff before the winnowing process. The metaphor emphasizes how thoroughly and violently Isra’el would defeat the nations.

In my next post, we conclude our examination of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

[2] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 40:27-31

In my last post, we continued to explore Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 40:12-26. In this post, we continue to explore Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 40:27-31.

27 Why do you complain, Ya‘akov; why do you say, Isra’el, “My way is hidden from Adonai, my rights are ignored by my God”?

When Y’hudah experienced Adonai’s punishment, Isaiah anticipated that the people would ask why Adonai had abandoned them. The following verses summarize the answer given in the first part of the chapter. Adonai wanted to deliver His people, and He was entirely able to do so.

28 Haven’t you known, haven’t you heard that the everlasting God, Adonai, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not grow tired or weary? His understanding cannot be fathomed.

Adonaidoes not grow tired or weary.  In the ancient world, the gods were viewed as having human weaknesses and often were inattentive or merely unaware of events that were taking place. One result of this was that the pantheon of gods were constantly outwitting or tricking each other. The gods were not indefatigable. They were in constant need of food, drink, and shelter. Humans were created to do the hard labor the gods preferred not to do. [1]

Adonai had the power and wisdom to bring about Y’hudah’s deliverance.

29 He invigorates the exhausted; he gives strength to the powerless. 30 Young men may grow tired and weary; even the fittest may stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength, they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings; when they are running they won’t grow weary, when they are walking they won’t get tired. ~ Isaiah 40:27-31 (CJB)

Adonai not only had strength, but He distributed that strength to His people. The criterion for receiving Adonai’s power was not youth but trust. Those who trusted Adonai would have an unlimited source of strength.

Although I generally used the Complete Jewish Bible for my blog, I learned and memorized verse 31 in the New King James Version: Those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

I have been fascinated by Bald Eagles for most of my life. As an American, I am proud that Ben Franklin did not get his way when the Founding Fathers chose the Bald Eagle over Turkey as our national bird. There is just something majestic about the Bald Eagle that lifts my spirit to the heavenlies.


A portion of my eagle collection

I have numerous framed pictures, so many I no longer have wall space to display them. I love eagles! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing eagles around our house when we lived in Florida and on our trip last year to Alaska.

Isaiah 49:31 Tapestry

My favorite is this tapestry that hangs over our bed. You may be asking yourself why? Well, verse 31 got me interested, and in the early 1980’s I attended a conference at USC hosting an Episcopal Renewal weekend where I heard the Reverand Terry Fullam deliver his talk on eagles based on Proverbs 30:18-19. Three things are too wonderful for me, four beyond my knowledge — 19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the open sea, and the way of a man with a girl.

He used the way of an eagle in the sky to describe how we, as Believers in Yeshua, should live out or walk by soaring like an eagle.

Here is the link. It is a tad bit over an hour in length, but I highly recommend it to you.

In my next post, we learn of The Helper of Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 41.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

 

Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 40:12-26

In my last post, we began to explore Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part1 in Yesha’yahu 40:1-11. In this post, we continue to explore Comfort for Adonai’s People in Yesha’yahu 40:12-26.

The series of rhetorical questions that follow in these verses have one intention – to demonstrate the uniqueness of the One True God. This assured Adonai’s people that God not only wanted to deliver them, but He was able to do so.

12 Who has counted the handfuls of water in the sea, measured off the sky with a ruler, gauged how much dust there is on the earth, weighed the mountains on scales, or the hills in a balance?

Adonai is in control and knows everything about His creation, both heavens, and earth. Unlike the gods of the surrounding nations that were identified with aspects of nature (Ba’al was the god of storm, thunder, and lightning), Yeshua is not only a gentle Shepherd but also the powerful Creator. The picture here is one of Him pouring the water of the oceans of the world out of His hand. Three-quarters of our world is water. There is so much water on this planet that if it were flattened out, the entire earth would be under 1.5 miles of water. And yet the Lord measures all of that water with His hand. Adonai holds the heavens with His hand. The fact that it would take millions of light-years to cross our galaxy alone means that Adonai’s ruler is humongous. Thirty thousand cubic tons of cosmic dust fall to our planet each year. And the Lord measures it all. [1]

13 Who has measured the Spirit of Adonai? Who has been His counselor, instructing Him? 14 Whom did He consult, to gain understanding? Who taught Him how to judge, taught Him what He needed to know, showed Him how to discern?

Who counsels this One who measures the seas with His palm, who holds the heavens in His hand, who weighs mountains? Do you ever try to counsel the Lord in your prayer – advising Him about what should happen, how He should work, or what He should do? The best way to pray is to cast our cares upon Him and to share our burdens with Him, but then to say, “Lord, Your will be done because You know best.”

Adonai does not need a teacher. He is inherently wise and advises others (see Job 38:1-42:5).

15 The nations are like a drop in a bucket; they count like a grain of dust on the scales. The islands weigh as little as specks of dust.

The dust of the earth was used to express shame, smallness, and insignificance in the Tanakh. In this passage, the dust of the nations makes no significant difference in the scales.

16 The L’vanon would not suffice for fuel or its animals be enough for burnt offerings.

The Isra’eli considered that the land with magnificent forests and most varied animal life was L’vanon. In addition to supplying lumber for the temple of Shlomo, the cedars of L’vanon provided barges for Egypt and ships for Tzor.

17 Before Him, all the nations are like nothing. He regards them as less than nothing.

Bavel must have seemed invulnerable once Y’hudah suffered defeat by the Bavelim and her leaders were carted off into exile; but no human power, not even Bavel, could compare with Adonai. The message is that Adonai could and would deliver Y’hudah from captivity in Bavel.

18 With whom, then, will you compare God? By what standard will you evaluate Him? 19 An image made by a craftsman, which a goldsmith overlays with gold, for which he then casts silver chains?

Images in the ancient Near East were either cast or carved. Here, the reference is clearly to cast images. These would have been anywhere from four to ten inches high. Thousands of idols throughout the Near East have been uncovered by archaeologists. [2]

20 A man too poor to afford an offering chooses a piece of wood that won’t rot, then seeks out a skilled artisan to prepare an image that won’t fall over.21 Don’t you know? Don’t you hear? Haven’t you been told from the start? Don’t you understand how the earth is set up? 22 He who sits above the circle of the earth – for whom its inhabitants appear like grasshoppers – stretches out the heavens like a curtain, spreads them out like a tent to live in.

The picture of the universe described here is the prevailing view of the cosmos in the ancient Near East. The sky was a dome that arched over the disk of the earth, which sat on top of an ancient ocean. Under the sea was the netherworld, virtually a mirror image of the space above the earth. Thus, the entire universe was an enormous sphere, cut in the center by the earth. Nevertheless, here it is the earth itself that is described as circular. [3]

23 He reduces princes to nothing, the rulers of the earth to emptiness.

Adonai warns us not to put too much stock in leaders and judges. Don’t build your life hoping you’ll find a politician, judge, or Supreme Court nominee who is perfect and flawless. It won’t happen.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely their stem taken root in the ground, when He blows on them, they dry up, and the whirlwind carries them off like straw.

Recapping the previous verses, Adonai is not only superior to the gods of the nations; He is far above the rulers of the countries as well. He is the ultimate ruler. His throne is not on earth, but above the circle of the earth. Those gods are no match for Adonai.

25 “With whom, then, will you compare Me? With whom am I equal?” asks the Holy One. 26 Turn your eyes to the heavens! See who created these things! He brings out the army of them in sequence, summoning each by name. Through His great might and His massive strength, not one of them, is missing. ~ Isaiah 40:12-26 (CJB)

Nothing compares to Adonai. The religions of the ancient Near East believed the stars were gods. Y’hudah’s doctrine asserted that Adonai created the stars. The fact that He knew them by name indicates that they were His creation and they were protected by His power.

In my next post, we conclude our examination of Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 40:27-31.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Statistics taken from Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

[2] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[3] Ibid.

Comfort for God’s People ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 40:1-11

In my last post, we learned about Envoys from Bavel in Yesha’yahu 39:1-8. In this post, we begin to explore Comfort for God’s People in Yesha’yahu 40:1-11.

In chapters 1 through 39, we’ve seen Adonai as sovereign sitting on the throne. In chapters 40 through 66, however, we see Adonai as Savior, hanging on the Execution Stake. In chapters 1 through 39, we saw the law of Adonai pointedly proclaimed. The first section dealt with the judgment from Adonai. The second deals with the joy of Adonai.

1 “Comfort and keep comforting my people,” says your God.

Though the hearer of Adonai’s words are not here specified, it is best to see these words as being directed to the prophet Yesha’yahu, who was commanded to bring words of comfort rather than judgment to Adonai’s people. The words address the prophet as if he were living in the time of the future exile of Y’hudah to Bavel. Adonai anticipated the questions that His people would have as they experienced His judgment.

Many people call this section the Gospel according to Yesha’yahu. It begins with these words, which, in a sense, introduce the Gospel story because we hear Yochanan the Immerser, in introducing Yeshua, quote this particular chapter. After thirty-nine chapters of Adonai convicting His people, He now begins to comfort them.

2 “Tell Yerushalayim to take heart; proclaim to her that she has completed her time of service, that her guilt has been paid off, that she has received at the hand of Adonai double for all her sins.”

How was Yesha’yahu to comfort Adonai’s people? First, he was to tell the nation that she has completed her time of service, that her guilt has been paid off. How are we to comfort others? By telling people that troubles are coming to an end, that life is short, that life goes fast, that Yeshua is coming back.

3 A voice cries out: “Clear a road through the desert for Adonai! Level a highway in the ‘Aravah for our God! 4 Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill lowered, the bumpy places made level and the crags become a plain.

Messengers (A voice cries out) were well known in the ancient Near Eastern world. They played an essential role as the bearers of political and civic news to the inhabitants of a city. Virtually every town had a messenger who announced important news to the inhabitants. Foreign invaders often sent a herald to a town to discuss terms with those remaining in the city.

The roads of the ancient Near East were for the most part unpaved. Although unpaved, those intended for wheeled transport had to be staked out, leveled and consistently maintained. However, very few texts describe the construction and maintenance of these roads. Roads for heavy transport were somewhat rare and were primarily along the trade routes. [1]

This is the essence of ministry for you and me as well. We are not to draw attention to ourselves, but rather we are to prepare the way for Yeshua. We can be like Yochanan. We can share Yeshua, preparing a way for Him.

5 Then the glory of Adonai will be revealed; all humankind together will see it, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken.”

Sin had broken the fellowship between Adonai and His people, but Yesha’yahu looked beyond their punishment to the return of the glory of Adonai.

6 A voice says, “Proclaim!” And I answer, “What should I proclaim?” “All humanity is merely grass, all its kindness like wildflowers: 7 the grass dries up, the flower fades, when a wind from Adonai blows on it. Surely the people are grass! 8 The grass dries up, the flower fades; but the Word of our God will stand forever.”

The awareness of fleeting human mortality is not exclusive to ancient Isra’el. The concept of forever in the ancient Near East connotated continuous and permanent time rather than endless time. In contrast to the withering grass and fading flower, the Word of our God stands forever. His promise that He will never leave you, that He is going to finish the work He began in you, that He’s coming back for you will never change.

9 You who bring good news to Tziyon, get yourself up on a high mountain; you who bring good news to Yerushalayim, cry out at the top of your voice! Don’t be afraid to shout out loud! Say to the cities of Y’hudah, “Here is your God!

If you want a life of purpose and substance, do the work of an evangelist. Lift up your voice and tell people to behold the One who created them, who loves them, who has a plan and a purpose for them. Say to those around you, “Here is your God!

10 Here comes Adonai Elohim with power, and His arm will rule for Him. Look! His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him.11 He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs with his arm, carrying them against his chest, gently leading the mother sheep.” ~ Isaiah 40:1-11 (CJB)

In Scripture and throughout the ancient Near East, the shepherd was a familiar image for a ruler. Y’hudah had been subject to weak and evil shepherds or kings, but the nation would once again have a strong and compassionate shepherd. This speaks, of course, of Yeshua, our Shepherd. I’m so glad it is the weakest of us that He carries closest to His heart and that it is those of us who are bogged down with cares or concerns that He gently leads.

In my next post, we continue to learn about Comfort for God’s People ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 40:12-26.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.