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A Testimony Concerning the House of Jacob
v. 1. Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, the form of address purposely being cold and distant, which are called by the name of Israel, presuming upon this right, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, being physical descendants of the patriarchs, indeed, but lacking in spirituality and faith, which swear by the name of the Lord, the gracious God of the covenant, and make mention of the God of Israel, who intended to make Israel His true, peculiar people, His children indeed, their attitude, however, being such as to make the prophet add, but not in truth nor in righteousness, that is, not in the faithfulness demanded by the covenant, but with a false and lying heart. This hypocrisy of the people is further characterized:
v. 2. For they call themselves of the Holy City, boasting of their outward connection with Jerusalem, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is His name. They defiantly claimed the assistance of the almighty God for themselves, merely on account of their outward relation to the Lord's people, forgetting that God is also the Holy One and a devouring fire upon all hypocrites. Jehovah Himself now takes up the message:
v. 3. I have declared the former things from the beginning, making known the miracles of His deliverance before they came to pass; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them, brought them about ; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass, so unexpectedly, so entirely at variance with the results of human planning, that men were bound to recognize the hand of God.
v. 4. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, hard of head and of heart, and thy neck is an iron sinew, inflexible, and thy brow brass, insisting upon going forward on its own sinful way, refusing to be guided by the Lord's will,
v. 5. I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee, the argument being that He who can both foretell the future and then bring His prophecy to pass must be divine; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image and my molten image hath commanded them, ascribing to these false gods an interference with the affairs of the world which was excluded by the Lord's proof of prophecy and fulfillment.
v. 6. Thou hast heard, Israel having had plenty of opportunity to investigate. See all this, convincing themselves by personal observation; and will not ye declare it? Are men, in view of the fact that prophecy and fulfillment harmonize so perfectly, not hound to acknowledge the true God? The answer implied is that they certainly ought to agree to this if they would but speak the truth. Not only, however, has Israel sinned in this respect, but they are hardening their hearts also against further proclamations of truth. I have showed thee new things from this time, imparting this information at this time, namely, the revelation concerning the deliverance by Cyrus, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them, for the uncovering of the future is a matter pertaining to the omniscient God alone.
v. 7. They are created now, brought into being, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not, having no information concerning them by themselves, lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them, thus discounting the statements now made as not out of the ordinary.
v. 8. Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened, their ears being as little opened now as ever, their hardness of heart continuing as bad as ever; for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, full of perfidy and iniquity, and wast called a transgressor from the womb, the allusion being to the strategy of Jacob, of which even Esau complained, Genesis 27. The descendants of Jacob had inherited the bad qualities of their ancestor without assuming those attributes which made Jacob the servant of God.
v. 9. For My name's sake will I defer Mine anger, not letting the judgment of wrath descend upon the apostate people, and for My praise, on account of His jealousy for His own honor, will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Because of His promise and covenant Jehovah did not exterminate the disobedient people at this time, but gave them another opportunity for repentance.
v. 10. Behold, I have refined thee, with the heat of tribulation, but not with silver, they had not yet assayed well; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction, proving them out, trying them, to find their worth.
v. 11. For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake, will I do it, lest His name be desecrated; for how should My name be polluted? The heathen would ascribe the extermination of Israel to the inability of their God to protect them. And I will not give My glory unto another, this honor depending upon His deliverance of His people in accordance with His selection and the promises given to the patriarchs.
An Urgent Invitation to Believe the Lord's Word
v. 12. Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called, the form of address once more being in the usual cordial style used by the Lord in speaking to the people of His choice, here identical with His Church; I am He: I am the First, I also am the Last, this fundamental truth being repeated also here, where Jehovah prepares to preach salvation.
v. 13. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens, stretching them out like a tent; Cf. Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:12; Isaiah 45:18; when I call unto them, in the work of creations they stand up together, and this same power is evident in all His works.
v. 14. All ye, assemble yourselves and hear, this challenge going forth to the Lord's adversaries, to the heathen; which among them, among those whom He here calls upon, hath declared these things? Not one of the opponents nor any of their gods could have predicted what the Lord intended to perform through Cyrus. The Lord hath loved him, and therefore chosen Cyrus to carry out His will; He, Jehovah, will do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be on the Chaldeans, to punish them.
v. 15. I, even I, have spoken, the one true God, who has just described Himself once more as the almighty and eternal Creator; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous, being successful in the undertaking which Jehovah bade him perform. The Lord now once more turns directly to Israel:
v. 16. Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this. I have not spoken in secret from the beginning, revealing His will and intention concerning the mission of Cyrus very plainly, without the slightest ambiguity; from the time that it was, when He first determined upon this course, there am I, the only One able to control the destinies of individuals and nations according to His divine will. And now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me, that is, the salvation, the deliverance brought about by Cyrus itself, announces that it is here, ready to be performed and applied. And this salvation, which typifies the final great redemption, is now proclaimed and set before the eyes of all men, being offered in particular, however, to Israel at this time.
v. 17. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the names which Jehovah has applied to Himself throughout this section: I am the Lord, thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, imparting the knowledge of that which is beneficial, truly profitable, spiritual advantages, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go, on paths of salvation, Psalms 32:8.
v. 18. O that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments, willing now to be attentive; then had thy peace, the harmonious relation between the people and the God of salvation, been as a river, carrying blessings in richest measure, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea, the salvation promised in the Lord's covenant overwhelming His people by its greatness and power;
v. 19. thy seed also, the spiritual descendants of Israel, the believers everywhere, had been as the sand and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof, the Messianic idea of the great extent of Jehovah's kingdom being set forth here; His name, that of Israel, should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before Me. On the basis of all this the Lord now issues an invitation to His people to accept and enjoy the redemption prepared for them:
v. 20. Go ye forth of Babylon, leaving the house of bondage, flee ye from the Chaldeans with a voice of singing, over the deliverance which they received; declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth, the expressions being heaped to show the very height of exultant joy; say ye, The Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob, the people thereby being received once more into the original relation toward Jehovah.
v. 21. And they thirsted not when He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them, Exodus 17:6; He clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out, Numbers 20:11, the reference to these miracles of Jehovah in the wilderness being intended to emphasize the deliverance out of Babylon, in both the real and the figurative sense; for all believers are led in a similar manner, receiving the spiritual refreshment prepared by the Lord unto the salvation of their souls. Over against their happiness the unhappy condition of the Lord's enemies stands out all the more glaringly.
v. 22. There is no peace, saith the Lord, in a solemn declaration, unto the wicked. Those who refuse to accept the salvation prepared by Him for all men will never know anything of the peace which passeth all understanding, the joyful assurance of their redemption through the merits of their Savior.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 48". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30