Isaiah 48

 

The present chapter, which terminates the second section of Isaiah’s later

prophecies, consists of a long address by God to His people, partly in the

way of complaint, partly of combined premise and exhortation. The

address is divided into three portions, each commencing with a call on

Israel to pay attention:

 

  • vs. 1-11 - “Hear ye this”

 

  • vs. 12-15 -  “Hearken unto me,”

 

  • vs. 16-22, “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this,”

 

Vers. 1-11. — THE FIRST ADDRESS consists mainly of expostulation

and complaint. Israel has not called on God “in truth and righteousness

(v. 1). They have had “necks of iron” and “brows of brass” (v. 4). God

has given them prophecies of different kinds (vs. 3-7); yet they have

neither heard” nor “known; they have “dealt treacherously” and been

“transgressors from the womb” (v. 8). God might justly have “cut them

off” for their rebellion, but he has “deferred His anger,” and “refrained”

Himself — not, however, for Israel’s sake, but for His own honor.

 

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v. 1b – “Jacob” – a  secular designation – “Israel” - a spiritual

 

The great mass of Jews remained behind and did not

return and they became absorbed into the heathen to

whom they became more and more assimilated.

 

Those who returned to Jerusalem were the sincere

worshippers of Jehovah!

 

"but not in truth, nor in righteousness"

 

The condition of the majority of the exiles - "This

people honoreth me with their lips but their heart

is far from me" - Matt. 15:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

v. 2 - For they call themselves of the holy city” -  It is an indication of

their real want of truth and righteousness, that they lay such stress upon

what is so entirely outward and formal, as the fact of their belonging to”

the holy city,” Jerusalem. Compare the boast of the Jews in our Lord’s

time, “We be Abraham’s seed” (John 8:33)  - “stay themselves upon the

God of Israel” - Not resting upon Him in real faith and true humble

dependence, as those Israelites who are mentioned in Isaiah 10:20. but

trusting to the facts that they were Israel,” and that God was “the God of

Israel,” and therefore bound to protect them. God reminds them that, if he

is “the God of Israel,” He is also “the Lord of hosts”, a term especially

connected with the holiness of God.

 

v. 3 – “I have declared the former things from the beginning” -

(comp. Isaiah 41:26; 43:9, 10; 44:7, 8). “Former things” are here

contrasted with the “new things” of v. 6. Two cycles of prophecy seem

to be intended — one of comparatively ancient date, the other quite fresh

— both equally showing forth the power of God and His infinite superiority

to the idols. It is difficult to determine what the two cycles of prophecy

are. Delitzsch suggests that “the former things are the events experienced

by the people from the very earliest times down to the times of Cyrus,”

while “the new things embrace the redemption of Israel from Babylon, the

glorification of the people in the midst of a world of nations converted to

the God of Israel, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.” Dr.

Kay thinks that the “former things” are those mentioned in the prophecies

concerning Babylon generally, the “new things those about to be

announced in Isaiah 49-56. I did them suddenly; rather, suddenly I

wrought.

 

v. 4 -  the forehead may be hardened for a good or a

        bad purpose - in obstinacy to God or a determination

        to resist evil - here it is defiance and self-will.

 

v. 5 - there was a strong tendency to idolatry among the Jews, not only before,

but during the Captivity. Ezekiel says that those among whom he lived were

“polluted after the manner of their fathers, and committed whoredom after

their abominations; made their sons pass through the fire, and polluted

themselves with all their idols (Ezekiel 20:30, 31); nay, went so far as

to declare boldly, “We will be as the heathen, as the inhabitants of the

countries, to serve wood and stone (Ezekiel 20:32). The “prevailing

tendency,” as Delitzsch remarks, was “to combine the worship of Jehovah

with heathenism, or else to exchange the former altogether for the latter.”

We cannot conclude anything concerning the mass of the community from

the character of those who returned. Those who returned were the sincere

worshippers of Jehovah — the irreligious did not care to return. It is

always to be borne in mind that it was “the great mass even of Judah,” no

less than of Israel, that “remained behind” (Delitzsch); and these “became

absorbed into the heathen, to whom they became more and more

assimilated’’ (ibid.

 

I pray that this is not what is happening to traditional Christianity –

assimilating the world in an effort to become contemporary?  (CY – 2009)

 

v. 6 - the "new things" are those about to be revealed in

      chps. 49-53 - things belonging to the "coming of Christ"

            and the "new creation" which will be the great

            object of Christ's coming!

 

v. 7 – The revelation to man of what has lain secret in God’s counsels

            from all eternity is a sort of creation.  Whatever shadows of

            evangelic truth are discernible in the Law and in the earlier

            psalms, they did not constitute a revelation of the way of

            salvation at all comparable to that contained in Isaiah’s

            later chapters.

           

v. 8 - "thine ear was not opened....I knew that thou

            wouldest deal very treacherously, and was called

            a transgressor from the womb"

 

Again we seem to hear the voice of complaint as in vs. 1,2 and 4.

Israel had not the ears to hear to such things of high

purpose and spiritual truths of the coming section - they

had not profited by what was taught in the Law and the

Psalms concerning Him -

 

Remember Jesus' teaching in Luke 24:44-45

 

v. 9 – “For my Name’s sake will I defer mine anger” -  Israel’s

insincerity (v. 1), obstinacy (v. 4), addiction to idols (v. 5), blindness

(v. 8), and general resistance to God’s will (v. 8), could not but have

provoked God’s “anger.” He will, however, “defer” it, “refrain” Himself,

and not “cut Israel off, for his Names sake.

 

v. 10 - "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" -

            the object of the Captivity

 

At the end times it will be the Great Tribulation and the Time of

Jacob’s Trouble” – (Jeremiah 30:7)

 

v. 11b – “I will not give my glory to another”

 

 

vs. 12-13 - I am the Absolute and Unchangeable One -

            the Alpha and the Omega - the First and the Last -

            "from whom and to whom are all things" - Rom. 11:36

 

God will always be a King and a governor  of innumerable

hosts of happy spirits, created by Himself!

 

As the Maker of heaven and earth, God is entitled to the

attention and obedience of all the dwellers in heaven and

in earth!

 

v. 14 - "the Lord hath loved him"  - God is a God of Love –

He loves all who in an honest and good heart seek His will

and serve Him faithfully!

 

vs. 16-22 - THE THIRD ADDRESS. Israel is reminded of God’s

merciful teaching and leading in the past (vs. 16, 17); expostulated with

on their disobedience (vs. 18, 19); exhorted to go forth boldly and

joyfully from Babylon (vs. 20, 21); and finally warned that God’s

blessings — even such a blessing as deliverance — are no blessings to any

but the righteous (v. 22).

 

vs. 16-19

 

v. 17 - "The Lord....which teacheth thee to profit"

 

God's teachings are for the  profit of those to whom

they are addressed and if received in a proper spirit,

profit them more than ANYTHING else can do!

 

Psalm 19:10-11

 

If Israel had clung to the Lord, then His blessing

would have been poured out upon them "that

there would not have been room enough to receive

it" - Malachi 3:10

 

v. 18 – Compare Psalm 81:10-16

 

The ten tribes  - Lost Tribes of Israel - absorbed into

the heathen among whom they had been scattered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two tribes - Benjamin and Judah - had dwindled

in number until they were scarcely more than a

"handful" - Less than 50,000 returned with Zerubbabel -

Ezra 2:64 - less than 2,000 males with Ezra - Ezra 8:2-20 -

 

Had Israel not been disobedient, the promises made to

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would have been literally

fulfilled and the descendants of Abraham would have

been in the millions upon millions, instead of one or

two hundred thousand!

 

v. 20 -  "Go ye forth of Babylon"

           

Those only availed themselves of the edict of Cyrus

"whose spirit God had raised to go up and build His

house" - Ezra 1:5

 

The wealthier classes, Josephus tells us, remained.

The very poor could not leave - motives of various

kinds detained others.

 

"the Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob"

 

The deliverance of Israel out of Babylon was the prelude of, and

a preparation for, the WORLD’S REDEMPTION!

 

v. 21

 

v. 22 - This warning phrase occurs again at the close of the second section

of this portion of Isaiah’s work (Isaiah 57:20-21).  The third section closes

with a still more solemn warning Isaiah 66:24).

 

ch. 57:20-21 – “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it

            cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  There is

            no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”

 

ch. 66:24 – “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses

            of the men that have transgressed against me:  for their

            worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched;

            and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh”