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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 48

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Now in chapter 48 God speaks about how that He is going to restore then under the Holy One, Jehovah's servant. And God is going to restore the house of Jacob.

Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel ( Isaiah 48:1 ),

You are called by the name of Israel.

The name of Israel literally means governed by God. Beautiful name. A man governed by God, Israel. It was a name that was given to Jacob by the Lord after Jacob had wrestled all evening and finally surrendered weeping and crying. He said, "Please don't go before You bless me." And He said, "What is your name?" He said, "Heel catcher." He said, "You won't be called heel catcher any more, you're going to be called, 'A man governed by God.'" All his life he had been a supplanter. All of his life he had lived by his wits. All of his life he was conniving, living on the border, crooked, scheming. "You're no longer going to be a schemer, conniver. You're going to be a man governed by God." And so the name Israel is a beautiful name because it means a man governed by God. "And so you've been called," He said, "by the name of Israel."

and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, you have sworn by the name of the LORD, and you make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness ( Isaiah 48:1 ).

You've been called by the name, but not in truth. You've sworn by God, but not in righteousness. You haven't really been governed by God. You've only got the name, but it's not a reality.

This is an unfortunate thing and it exists so prevalently today. There are so many people calling themselves Christians. So many of the Hollywood sect calling themselves Christians. So many of the Washington sects calling themselves Christians. But you read of their activities and it is anything but Christian. So they take the name. You've been called by the name of Israel. You've taken the name "Governed by God" but God isn't governing your lives. You've not submitted your life to God. You take the name of Christian but you're not living as Christ. You're living after the flesh and your moral impurities and in your cesspools and yet you say, "We are Christ-like." It's not Christ-like at all. So God is rebuking them for taking the name, when in reality it isn't taken in righteousness nor in truth.

For they call themselves of the holy city, and they stay themselves on the God of Israel: The LORD of hosts is his name. I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew ( Isaiah 48:2-4 ),

Or your iron muscles in your neck

and your brow is brass ( Isaiah 48:4 );

The hardheaded, stiff-necked bunch of people, God is saying. Can't get anything through your skull. It's like brass. You're so stiff-necked.

I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it you: lest you should say, My little idol did this, and my graven, and my molten image, has wiped them out ( Isaiah 48:5 ).

Now God declared what He was going to do to Babylon and God declared how He was going to bring them from their captivity, lest when this did happen, God told them in advance, lest that when it did happen, they'd hold up their little idol. "Well, my little god, he delivered us. Isn't that wonderful?" And they start giving credit to their idols again. And so God spoke of the whole thing in advance so that they would know that He was the one who had accomplished it by telling them in advance.

Now you have heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have showed you new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when you heard them not; lest you should say, Behold, I knew them ( Isaiah 48:6-7 ).

In other words, I've told you things before they happen. Now they are happening, but I've told you already lest you should go, "I knew it was going to be. Of course, you can figure that out." There's a lot of people that still take this attitude towards the things of God. "Well, it's obvious it's going to happen, you know. Does God really know?"

Yea, you did not hear; yea, you did not know; yea, from that time that your ear was not opened: for I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and you were called a transgressor from the womb ( Isaiah 48:8 ).

I knew you and I knew that this would be.

But for my name's sake will I defer my anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I do not cut you off ( Isaiah 48:9 ).

"Now it's only my own mercy and grace that I don't cut you off." And God could very well say that to each of us. You've been stiff-necked. You've been hardheaded. And yet God has put up with you and only for His name's sake He hasn't cut us off.

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; but I have chosen for thee the furnace of affliction ( Isaiah 48:10 ).

So their refining was to come through great affliction. And so that great affliction that they experienced in Babylon was a part of God's refining process for these people. God chose the furnace of affliction as the refining agent. And tell me, what people of earth have experienced more affliction than the Jews? They are persecuted almost wherever they have gone. They've been persecuted. They've been hated. And God declares that He has chosen the furnace of affliction.

But for my own sake, even for my own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory to another ( Isaiah 48:11 ).

You see, the Bible says, "To whom much is given, much is required." To sin against revealed light is far worse than to sin in total ignorance. "For he who knew the will of God and did it not will suffer many stripes. Yet he who knew not the will of God yet did things worthy of many stripes shall be beaten with few. For unto whom much is given, much is required" ( Luke 12:47-48 ).

Now the greater your knowledge of God, the greater the revelation of God to your life, the greater is the sin if you sin against that knowledge and revelation. And these people have been chosen as God's instrument to bring light to the world; to bring God's truth to the world. They had received the oracles of God. They had received the ordinances of God, the statutes, the law. God had committed unto them all of these things. And yet they turned from the true and the living God and they've began to worship the gods of the Canaanites. They began to worship Baal and Molech and Mammon. They began to make their idols and bow down to them and worship them. And thus their sin was greater. And thus the judgment more severe as God chose the furnace of affliction to purify these people again as a people unto Himself and for His own sake God said, "I will do it, because you polluted My name; and I will not give My glory to another."

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, and the last. My hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together ( Isaiah 48:12-13 ).

Now God is saying, "Hey now look, you've been worshipping these dumb little idols that can't speak. They can't hear. They can't move. You got to carry them around. I am the true and the living God. I have brought the furnace of affliction. I've chosen this as a refining instrument. Now listen to Me, listen to Me, for I am God. I'm the first and I'm the last." In Revelation we read, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end" ( Revelation 1:8 ).

"My hand also laid the foundation of the earth, and again My right hand hath spanned the heavens." What does that mean? That God measured the universe with the span of His right hand.

Now when I was in school, we were taught that the universe was about four billion light years in diameter. By the time I graduated from college, we were taught that the universe was six billion light years in radius. It had increased tremendously in my schooling years. Now there are some scientists who have proclaimed that they have discovered galaxies fifty billion light years away. Now I really don't know how they know that it's that far. But that is what the claim is. Of course, you see, there's a lot of exaggeration and guesswork that is done in the name of science. And just some true fraudulism such as the Piltdown man, the Java man. Absolute frauds. But these things are done in the name of science.

And I was talking with a famous archaeologist and scientist one day about the dating of the age of some of these fragments of skulls and so forth that they had found. And so he said to me, "Well now, Charles," he was my professor and he was a tutor for a while. He took a great interest in me and I gained much from him, Dr. Albrow. He said, "Now, Charles," he said, "if we were, say, digging out here in the area of Sabina Canyon, and as we are digging we come upon a skull." He said, "We are needing money for our further digging and exploration. And so we want this to be an important find. Now they have already found skulls of Indians that they have dated in this area as having been here four thousand years ago. So if we say this skull is two thousand years, it's not news because they know that Indians have been here for four thousand years because the last guy said his skull was four thousand years old. That's where he got his headlines. So in order that we might get notoriety and attention for our find, I examine it carefully, I take fragments and send it to the carbon dating laboratories and I send them to enough until I get the age that I want." And he said, "I make the proclamation, 'We have found a skull that is five thousand years old, proving that Indians were here five thousand years ago.' All of a sudden we've got the oldest skull that was ever discovered and news, everybody wants to know about it and everybody is interested." And he said, "then it's easy to get money for further digging and explorations." He said that's how most of the skulls are dated.

Now the same is true if the scientist would say, "We've discovered a new galaxy. It's six billion lights out." Go away. They've already discovered them twelve billion light-years out there. So some guy really went out on the string the other day. He found one fifty billion. It's going to take something to beat him now. But supposing he is correct. Now from his find, fifty billion light-years, they have developed a whole new theory of the universe. And that is that the universe is continually and constantly expanding clear on out. In other words, the present theory, the Big Bang, everything went out and as it finally reaches the effigy it will start to pull back together and finally, all of the stars and the black hole will be drawn and sucked into this big gravitational black hole that's here in the universe. The reason why it's a black hole, because the gravitational pull is so strong the light can't escape from it. And so everything's going to be gobbled up by this big black hole until the atoms will be compacted so tightly in this gravitational pull. The big black hole, something will go wrong and it'll explode again and the whole thing can start over and out on one little planet under ideal conditions an amoeba may develop in the ooze. And in billions of years a new man may again stand upon a new planet in this whole new universe, you know. And start guessing how old are the fossils that he found.

Now if indeed the man found a galaxy fifty billion light years away, all he did was make God that much bigger. I thought He was big when He could span the universe of twelve billion light-years with His right hand. God said, "I spanned it with my right hand." That is, He measured... How big is God? "Now God, I've got this horrible problem. It's so big. I don't know if even You can work this one out, God. I need to lift this trunk. It's so heavy." Oh, if we'd only realize the greatness of our God. "Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, I am the first, and the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spanned the heavens. When I call, they stand. I say, 'Hey,' and they come to attention." My, it's going to be glorious to be in heaven and watch God order things around.

All of ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans ( Isaiah 48:14 ).

I've loved My people. I will do My pleasure, but I will bring out on the Chaldeans and the Babylonians My judgment.

I, even I, have spoken it; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous ( Isaiah 48:15 ).

Now verse Isaiah 48:16 , one that really jumped out at me.

Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there I am: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me ( Isaiah 48:16 ).

Who is this speaking? It would have to be Jesus. You remember when Jesus was talking with the Pharisees? And they said, "We are Abraham's children." He said, "If you were the children of Abraham then would you believe Me? Because Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it." They said, "What are You talking about? You're not even fifty years old and You say that Abraham saw You?" And Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am" ( John 8:56-58 ). Now you have much the same here. "From the beginning, from the time that it was, I am. There I am. And now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent Me."

Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel ( Isaiah 48:17 );

None other than Jesus Christ.

I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that you should go. O that you would have hearkened to my commandments! then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea ( Isaiah 48:17-18 ):

"If you only had listened," the Lord said. "I'm the One who has taught you to prosper." God has put it in them that uncanny ability to prosper. "I have led you in the way that you should go. Oh, if you'd only have hearkened to My commandments! Then your peace would have been as a river." The people, it is interesting, many of them are angry with God because of that furnace of affliction that they have gone through. But that has only come as the result of their not obeying the commandments of God. Had they only obeyed.

Now, even today, they are seeking to affect before God a righteousness not of the covenant of the law but of their own making, a righteousness of works. As on Yom Kippur they balance their good deeds with their evil and offer their good works unto God for an atonement for their sins. And yet, God's covenant said, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" ( Hebrews 9:22 ). And so God says, "Hey, if you'd only listened, if you'd only obeyed My commandments, your peace would have been as a river."

Thy seed also had been as the sand, and your offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me. Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob. And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out. There is no peace, saith the LORD, for the wicked ( Isaiah 48:19-22 ).

Now if you'd only obeyed the commandments, your peace would have been like a river. But there is no peace for the wicked.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 48". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/isaiah-48.html. 2014.
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