Isaiah 42:1- 43:13
In chapter 41 Isaiah has shown that God has great purposes for Israel, his servant. That purpose is now declared. It is a purpose of blessing to all nations (42:1-4 and 5-9; cf. Gen. 12:13b). In order to accomplish it, God will redeem his people from their present plight (42:13-16), confounding those that trust in idols (42:17), and calling forth from far and near a paeon of praise to his name (42:10-12). Israel’s present condition, under God’s chastisement for her sins, is indeed pitiable (42:18-25), but God will ransom his people, letting other nations suffer subjection in their stead (43:1-7), and Israel shall then bear witness before the assembled nations to Jehovah’s sovereign might and glory (43:8-13).
- 42:1-4. The prophet, in this picture of God’s ideal Servant, perfectly portrays the Lord Jesus. Cf. Matt. 12:18-21. What is said concerning: (a) his relation to God; (b) his equipment for his task; (c) the purpose and scope of his mission; (d) the qualities that characterize him; (e) the method of his ministry; (f) his endurance; (g) the final fulfillment of his work?
- What does God promise to do for his people Israel in their distress (42:16, 17; 43:1-7)? What witness will Israel, when redeemed, bear to God and his saving power (43:10-13)? Have we a similar testimony to the world around us concerning the reality of God’s work of redemption?
- 42:19. ‘Blind’: i.e., to destiny and mission.
- 43:3, 4. The meaning seems to be that God will give to Cyrus other people to serve him in payment for setting the Jews free.
In making reference to Babylon’s impending downfall (43:14, 15) God answers an unspoken objection that such a thing is incredible. ‘Do you not remember what I did at the Red Sea?’ He asks (43:16, 17). ‘Yet what I am about to do now is greater still’ (43:18-21). He answers, too, a deeper cause of their unbelief, namely, a guilty conscience (43:21-24). ‘I know it all,’ he says, ‘but I will pardon all’ (43:25). ‘My purpose toward you is one of blessing’ (44:1-5).
- What was the new thing that God was about to do, greater even than his deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea? Cf. chapter 35. What application has it to us?
- How does 43:22-28, show that Israel was not justified by works, but only by free grace? Cf. Rom. 3:23, 24. What further gift had God in store for his redeemed people, and what blessings will it bring (44:3-5)? Cf. John 7:37-39.
- What is the effect of idolatry on the mind of the worshipper? See 44:18-20. Have you realized the greatness of our privilege in knowing the true God? See 44:6-8.
- 43:22-24. During the exile, God had not burdened them with demands for sacrifice and offering. But they had burdened him with their sins.
- 43:27, 28. ‘Your first father’: a reference probably to Jacob; cf. 48:1. ‘Dignitaries’ may refer to priest and prophets; cf. Jer. 2:8.
Allusion has already been made to Cyrus, but not by name (41:2, 25). Now he is directly and personally addressed, as one whom God has chosen as an instrument of his purpose of good towards Israel, and the purpose for which he has been raised up is declared (44:24-45:8). Those who object to this view of God’s relation to Cyrus are rebuked (45:9-13), and there follows a remarkable prophecy of universal acknowledge of the God of Israel as the one God, in whom alone is salvation (45:14-25).
- What is said in 44:24 – 45:8 concerning: (a) God’s power in creation and in human history; (b) Cyrus, and what God will do for him and through him? What assurance should such a passage afford us?
- What is the two-fold answer given in 45:9-13 to those who question God’s purposes and ways? Cf. Rom. 9:20. Are you ever guilty of feeling resentment against God?
- In 45:14-25 what are the reasons given for the turning of men of all nations from their idols to the worship of the one true God? How does this anticipate the universal scope of Christ’s redemption? Cf. Rom. 1:16.
- 44:28. ‘Shepherd’: used frequently with the meaning of ‘ruler’.
- 45:13. ‘Not for a price or reward’: this seems to contradict 43:3, 4, but that passage speaks of the reward God gave, this of Cyrus’ motive.
3. 45:14-17. Spoken of Israel. Verses 14b, 15 are the confession of the nations mentioned in verse 14.