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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 48

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-2

ISAIAH - CHAPTER 48

A REBUKE OF JUDAH’S INFIDELITY

Vs. 1-2: A CALL TO HONESTY

1. Though called "Israel" (meaning "ruled by God"), they are, in reality, the "house of Jacob" - having reverted to the devious ways of their ancient father before his meeting with God at Peniel, (Genesis 32).

2. Specifically, the words are addressed to the captives of Judah - the most highly favored of the twelve tribes, (Genesis 49:8-12; Psalms 60:7; Psalms 76:1; Psalms 78:68; Psalms 114:2; Numbers 2:3; Hebrews 7:14).

3. They professed to serve the God of Israel - Jehovah of Hosts -mentioning His name a great deal; but it was not in truth and righteousness, for they were apostates! (Isaiah 29:13; Zephaniah 1:5-6).

a. They did not view Him as sovereign over their whole beings -to be loved, reverenced, honored and obeyed; their religion was external!

b. They tried to USE God to accomplish their own ends.

4. They could call themselves "of the Holy City" without apparent consciousness of any obligation to BE HOLY!

Verses 3-8

Vs. 3-8: THE PRECAUTION OF DIVINE WISDOM AND FOREKNOWLEDGE

1. God understood well the undeveloped character of Jacob, (vs. 3-4).

a. He was obstinate.

b. His neck was stiff as iron; his forehead as brass!

2. For this reason God foretold, from ancient times, what He would do for His people - which He fulfilled at the proper time, (vs. 5-6a).

a. Otherwise, they would have attributed His works to their idols!

b. They ought to acknowledge their transgression - even from the earliest times.

c. Henceforth, they should declare the wonderful works of Jehovah their Redeemer!

3. God will show them "new things" - emphasizing that it will be something they could not have known, or even anticipated, from the past - lest they should claim to have known it already, (vs. 6b-7).

4. Jacob did not hear (understand, or comprehend) the ancient prophecies because the ears of the nation were dull of hearing, (vs. 8).

a. From the very beginning he dealt treacherously - even with his own family.

b. He was called a "transgressor" from the womb! (Isaiah 44:2; Psalms 51:5; Deuteronomy 31:27-29; Deuteronomy 32:16-18; Deuteronomy 32:28-29).

Verses 9-11

1. For His own name’s sake, and ultimate praise, God has, temporarily, suspended (literally, "muzzled") His judgment of this people - lest they be cut off, (vs. 9; comp. 2 Peter 3:15).

a. They certainly deserved destruction!

b. But, if He cut them off, the worshippers of idols would declare that Judah’s God was not able to save her.

c. The grace and mercy that He shows toward His erring people will ultimately redound to the glory and praise of His name.

2. God has attempted to refine His people, but they are more like dross than sterling, because they have rebelled against His discipline and refused to repent (vs. 10; Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 42:25; Ezekiel 22:18-22; comp. Deuteronomy 4:20; Jeremiah 11:3-4).

a. He has proved (or tested) them in the furnace of affliction, (Psalms 66:10).

b. And God’s "proving" is always to the end that He may APPROVE (vs. 10b; Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 2:12; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

3. Lest His own name (or glory) should be shamefully polluted, God will not utterly abandon His people, (vs. 11).

a. Should He destroy them, their enemies would attribute the defeat of Judah to the supremacy of their lifeless idols!

b. But God will not give His glory to another, (Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12) -nor praise for His work to grave images!

c. He is doing exactly what He declared, from ancient times, that He would do.

Verses 12-16

Vs. 12-16: THE CREATOR OF ALL IS THE RESTORER OF HIS PEOPLE

1. A number of reasons are given as to why Israel should hearken unto the voice of Jehovah.

a. His deity is absolute, eternal and unchangable: "I am he: I Am the first, I also am the last", (comp. Revelation 1:8; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:17; Revelation 22:13); everyone ought to obey God! (Acts 5:29)

b. He is the Creator of Israel, and of all things, (vs. 13; Exodus 20:11; Psalms 102:25; Colossians 1:17; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:10-12; Isaiah 42:5-6; Isaiah 45:12; Isaiah 45:18).

c. By His providential power He directs and controls all things, (vs. 14-15; Isaiah 40:26).

1) He is raising up a Deliverer for Israel - a passage that alludes to Cyrus, who will deliver them from Babylon, (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1; Isaiah 46:10-11; Isaiah 13:1-17; Isaiah 21:2; Daniel 5:31); but, it also looks beyond him to the Christ Who, in His wrath, will destroy "mystery Babylon", (Revelation 17).

2) He (the Christ) will prosper in the accomplishment of all that He has purposed.

d. His power to foretell the future, and bring it to pass, should cause His erring people to hear and obey His voice, (vs. 16a; Acts 15:18; Amos 7:14-15; 2 Peter 1:21).

2. In the latter part of verse 16 the divine trinity is clearly evident: Christ, the speaker, is sent by "the Lord GOD ...and His Spirit", (comp. Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1; Zechariah 2:8-12).

Verses 17-19

Vs. 17-19: ISRAEL SHOULD HEARKEN TO HER GOD

1. In verse 17 the titles of Israel’s God are almost stacked on top of each other; He is: Jehovah, thy Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel and Jehovah thy God.

a. He teaches Israel to profit - the basic purpose of her trials and captivities (vs. 17b; Psalms 32:8) - that she may learn to walk in God’s will and way, (Hebrews 12:10).

b. He has constantly led the covenant-nation in the way they ought to go, (vs. 17c; Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 49:9-10).

2. Had they hearkened unto the voice of the Lord, their future would have been considerably different, (vs. 18-19; Psalms 81:13-16).

a. Their peace would have been as a smoothly-flowing river, (Psalms 119:165; Matthew 23:37; Luke 19:41-42).

b. Their righteousness would have been as the irresistible waves of the sea.

c. Their seed would have been greatly multiplied, (vs. 19a; comp. Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 17:6).

d. Their name would not have been cut off, nor destroyed, from before the Lord, (vs. 19b; Romans 11:19-21).

Verses 20-22

Vs. 20-22: PEACE, FOR THOSE SEPARATED UNTO THEIR GOD

1. Without separation from evil no one may truly know the blessedness of God’s peace, (vs. 20a; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18); this is Isaiah’s final mention of Babylon.

2. Because of her redemption, Israel is to sing the mighty, saving power of God to the ends of the earth! (Psalms 126; Isaiah 42:10; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 63:9).

3. Verse 21 may look both backward and forward.

a. By his faithfullness, God’s grace adequately supplied the needs of His people in their redemption from the land of Egypt, (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11; Psalms 78:15; Psalms 105:41).

b. So will He meet the needs of those who, with faith in Him, flee from Babylon, (Jeremiah 50:13; Jeremiah 50:20; Jeremiah 50:33-34; Jeremiah 50:39; Revelation 18:2).

4. If Israel will REPENT, the peace of God may still be her joyful experience, (Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 13:9; Zechariah 14:3; Zechariah 14:20-21).

5. But, there is NO PLACE for the wicked (the morally loose, Job 15:20-25; Job 15:31-34) - an expression that marks off the three divisions in this final book of Isaiah’s prophecy, (Isaiah 57:21).

6. It is still proper to "PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM!" (Psalms 122:6).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 48". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-48.html. 1985.
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