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Isaiah 44:1 Yet listen now, Jacob My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen- The appeal for Jacob to "listen" is asking for the exiles to repent. They had been chosen, but only their repentance would make that calling actual. It's the same with those who hear the Gospel today, having been chosen from the beginning.

It is significant that Paul takes a passage from one of Isaiah’s servant songs here and applies it to us. The servant who suffered and witnessed to the world was evidently the Lord Jesus. And yet Isaiah is also explicit that the servant is the whole seed of Abraham, “Jacob”, the slowly-developing people of God (Is. 41:8; 44:1). There are many connections within Isaiah between the servant songs, and the descriptions of the people of Israel into which the songs are interspersed. The saviour-servant was to bring out the prisoners from the dungeons (Is. 42:7), so was every Israelite “to let the oppressed go free... loose the bonds”, and to “undo the bands of the [heavy] yoke” (Is. 58:6) as Christ did (Mt. 11:28,29); His work of deliverance is to be replicated by each of us in our witness. Whoever is in Him will by this very fact follow Him in this work. In Isaiah’s first context, the suffering servant was King Hezekiah. Yet all Israel were to see themselves as ‘in’ him, as spiritual Israel are to see themselves as in Christ. “He was oppressed”, as Israel at that time were being “oppressed” by Assyria. As they were covered in wounds and spiritual sickness (Is. 1:5,6), so the suffering servant bore their diseases and rose again in salvation victory.

Isaiah 44:2 This is what Yahweh who made you and formed you from the womb, who will save you, says-
Yahweh speaks of the returnees as if they were a new creation, created by Him along with the heavens and earth of the temple which He had stretched out in Zion (Is. 43:7; 44:2). He did not form this new land / heavens of the kingdom and temple of Israel in vain- He created it to be inhabited (Is. 45:18). But the Jews acted like the old creation. And the promise of new creation was deferred until the time of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). Judah for the most part declined to inhabit / dwell in the new heavens and earth [the same word in Isaiah 45:18 is frequently used re. how the returnees dwelt in the cities of Judah].

"Save" is more often translated "help". This Fatherly image of help offered to a nervous child was to encourage the weak minded exiles to return to Zion and accept Yahweh's helping hand, just as His hand had 'helped' Hezekiah against the Assyrians (s.w. 2 Chron. 32:8). At the restoration, Ezra believed this "help" would enable the restoration to the extent that they didn't need any human soldiers to help them (Ezra 8:22 s.w.).

Don’t be afraid, Jacob My servant- The way God showed grace and imputed righteousness to Jacob even before his birth is shown here. From the womb, Jacob was chosen to be God's servant; and yet Jacob coolly said that only if God did what He promised, would he agree to serve Yahweh, and have Him as his master. Earlier in the same servant prophecies, the servant Jacob is described as a useless servant: "Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect (Jacob was a perfect / plain man, Gen. 25:27), and blind as the Lord's servant?" (Is. 42:19). Although the servant is worse than useless (a deaf messenger), he is seen as perfect by his Divine Master. And the servant prophecies are primarily based on Jacob (note, in passing, how often they associate the servant Jacob with idol worship, which seems to have been an earlier characteristic of Jacob). Consider too the allusions to Jacob in Is. 53; a man of sorrow and grief, despised of men, who would see his seed. As Christ felt a worm on the cross (Ps. 22:6), so Jacob is described (Is. 41:14). That even in his weakness, Jacob prefigured the Lord in his time of ultimate spiritual victory, shows in itself the way God imputed righteousness to him at the time. 

And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen- The uncommon title "Jeshurun", 'the upright one', is used for Israel because they were being asked to repent and thereby live up to who they were intended to be; to realize their potential to which they have been chosen or called at the beginning.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and streams on the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your seed, and My blessing on your offspring-
Ez. 20 and Jer. 31 make it clear that the exiles were intended to accept a new covenant, seeing they had broken the old covenant. That new covenant involved the gift of the Spirit, a heart of flesh rather than of stone, the psychological working of God within them. This is symbolized here as water and streams. They were the "dry ground", and out of that dry ground there could have arisen the Messiah figure of Is. 53:1. In the end, they refused the operation of that gift and Zerubbabel, the branch from Babylon (out of the dry ground) let the ball drop. And so these things were applied to the Lord Jesus and the gift of the Spirit in Him (Jn. 7:38,39). "My Spirit" and "My blessing" are parallel. The blessing promised to Abraham was of Yahweh being their God, and not only an eternal inheritance of the land. That "blessing" is understood in Acts 3:25,26 and Gal. 3 as the gift of the Spirit, the transformation of the hearts of the seed of Abraham so that they might become like the singular seed, the Lord Jesus, and thereby be prepared and made appropriate for the blessing of eternal inheritance of the land.

Isaiah 44:4 And they will spring up among the grass, as willows by the watercourses-
LXX "And they shall spring up as grass between brooks, and as willows on the banks of running water". The returned exiles, or [later] all who wished to become part of God's restored Kingdom, would be empowered by the water of the Spirit (see on Is. 44:3) to "spring up" on what had previously been dry ground (Is. 44:4). That Spirit would be articulated partly through the prophetic word (Is. 55:10 s.w. "bud" AV). This will be the restored Eden, where Yahweh had caused the vegetation to "spring up" (s.w. Gen. 2:5). This springing up or growing would be in the fulfilment of the promises to David of the establishment of the Kingdom of his seed (s.w. 2 Sam. 23:5; Ps. 132:17). But the springing up would be of a community of people, the plural seed who were "in" the singular Messianic seed. And this is now experienced through baptism into the Lord Jesus (Gal. 3:27-29). It is "righteousness" which would "spring up" (s.w. Is. 61:11); the work of the Spirit would result in the seed becoming righteous through their spiritual transformation. And yet it will also be on account of their status as "in" the "branch of righteousness" which will "spring up" (Jer. 33:15). The work of the Spirit will be, and is, to transform the plural seed in practice into what they are by status in the Messiah- righteous. And it is this power, this gift, this Divine 'causing' us to be righteous, which every spiritual person so thirsts for.

Isaiah 44:5 One will say, ‘I am Yahweh’s’ and another will be called by the name of Jacob- And another will write with his hand ‘to Yahweh’, and honour the name of Israel-
Although at the time of the restoration not all knew their genealogy, they were accepted in any case, being surnamed with the Name of Jehovah and that of Jacob. And this has been applied to us in that “The Lord knows them that are His” (2 Tim. 2:19). See on Is. 48:1.

It would be thanks to Cyrus that the seed of Abraham would be redefined- Gentiles could become part of the covenant seed by saying “I belong to Yahweh” or writing Yahweh’s Name on their hand (Is. 44:3,5). See on Is. 45:1. This didn’t actually happen- but the prophecy was reapplied to the way that Gentiles became part of Abraham’s seed through baptism into the Name (Gal. 3:27-29). The later servant poems / songs in Isaiah appear irrelevant to Cyrus, but applicable to the nation of Israel as God’s “servant”, or to one particular “servant”. Perhaps this is reflective of the way that Cyrus didn’t live up to his potential, and the ‘servant’ prophecies became capable of other potential fulfillments?  And yet Is. 44:28 states: “Of Cyrus he says, ‘He is my shepherd; he will fulfill all my purpose’”. This is typical of prophecy which is conditional, even though the conditions aren’t stated. It is observable that all the servant songs / poems have language and terms which repeat throughout them- it’s as if one person could have fulfilled them all, they could’ve been relevant to one person, but in reality this didn’t work out.

The Name of Jacob / Israel is here paralleled with Yahweh. Remember how Jacob in his doubt promised God: "If God will be with me... then shall Yahweh be my God" (Gen. 28:20,21); and at the end, Yahweh was Jacob's God. God seems to recognize this by describing Himself as the God of Jacob / Israel so very often. His joy, His sheer delight at Jacob's spiritual achievement is recorded throughout the Bible. The way God describes Himself as "the God of Israel" (201 times) or "the God of Jacob" (25 times) infinitely more times than anyone else's God is proof enough that God saw His relationship with Jacob as very special. "God of Abraham" occurs 17 times; "God of Isaac" 8 times; "God of David" 4 times. Remember that whenever we read "Israel", we are reading of the man Jacob and his children. That God was the God of mixed-up, struggling Jacob is a sure comfort to every one of us. God is not ashamed to be surnamed the God of Jacob (Heb. 11:16 Gk.).

Isaiah 44:6 This is what Yahweh the King of Israel and His Redeemer, Yahweh of Armies, says-
As Hosea ‘redeemed’ Gomer in His attempt to force through His fantasy for her (Hos. 3:1), so Yahweh is repeatedly described in Isaiah as Israel’s go’el , redeemer (Is. 41:14; Is. 43:14; Is. 44:6,24; Is. 47:4; Is. 48:17; Is. 49:7,26; Is. 54:5,8). The redeemer could redeem a close relative from slavery or repurchase property lost during hard times (Lev. 25:25,26, 47-55; Ruth 2:20; Ruth 3:9,12). The redeemer was also the avenger of blood (Num. 35:9-28; Josh. 20:3,9). All these ideas were relevant to Yahweh’s relationship to Judah in captivity. But the promised freedom didn’t come- even under Nehemiah, Judah was still a province within the Persian empire. And those who returned complained: “We are slaves this day in the land you gave…” (Neh. 9:36). The wonderful prophecies of freedom and redemption from slavery weren’t realized in practice, because of the selfishness of the more wealthy Jews. And how often is it that the freedom potentially enabled for those redeemed in Christ is in practice denied them by their autocratic and abusive brethren.

I am the first, and I am the last; and besides Me there is no God- The sense may be as in Is. 41:4: "I Yahweh, the first and with the last, I am He". First and last are terms used by the Lord Jesus of those who shall be in His Kingdom (Mt. 20:16). "The last" would then refer to the last generation of God's people. Yahweh would save the exiles along with the "first" of His people such as Abraham; for at the time of the restoration of that last generation, there would be a resurrection of all God's true people, to form a new people would eternally inherit the reestablished Kingdom.

Isaiah 44:7 Who is like Me? Who will call, and will declare it, and set it in order for Me, since I established the ancient people? Let them declare the things that are coming, and that will happen-
The emphasis and flavour of the words used for "call... declare... set in order" is not upon prediction but rather explanation, of attaching meaning to event. God alone can provide such explanation of both past and future events according to the far reaching narrative found in the prophets. The idol religions explained just a few isolated incidents. This is what is unique about the one true God- that He alone attaches meaning to event, both in personal and collective life, and indeed to all human history. Whether we correctly perceive it is another question, but He alone does this and holds the masterplan.

Isaiah 44:8 Don’t fear, neither be afraid. Haven’t I declared it to you long ago, and shown it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is not. I don’t know any other Rock-
LXX "ye are witnesses if there is a God beside me". The experiences with the Assyrian destruction ought to have demonstrated this. The gods of Assyria couldn't save them, neither could the local deities whom Judah had trusted in at the time. Yahweh alone is the God of salvation. As developed on :9, this is the imagery of the courtroom. Israel are called as witnesses to Yahweh, and the idols are called as witnesses for the idolaters. We note the balance of the equation. Yahweh is not parallel with the idols, with the idolaters. Israel are called as Yahweh's witnesses, and the idols are called as witnesses for the idolaters. Those idolaters were therefore making themselves God, by creating gods (:9).

Isaiah 44:9 Everyone who makes an engraved image is vain. The things that they delight in will not profit. Their own witnesses don’t see nor know, that they may be disappointed-
In the imagery of the court case, Israel are witnesses to Yahweh, and the idols are witnesses to themselves. See on :8.

Isaiah 44:10 Who has fashioned a god or moulds an image that is profitable for nothing?-
The verse runs on from :9; they are disappointed who fashion their own gods. In the context, the idols have been called as witnesses, but they are silent in the witness box. They are not profitable, they can give no helpful testimony to the case. See on :8. Yahweh is continually presented as the former, creator and moulder of His people; and Israel are thereby witnesses to Him and His work (:8). This is the problem with playing God, which is the modern form of idolatry. We set ourselves up as creator, rather than allowing His hand to form and mould us in His image and likeness rather than us creating things in our own likeness.

Isaiah 44:11 Behold, all his fellows will be disappointed; and the workmen are mere men-
 LXX "and all by whom they were made are withered". The reference is to the idol makers of the previous verse. There is an emphasis upon the idol maker having "fellows" and their being shamed "together", twice emphasized. The idea is that idolatry is because people group together, it is a group function; idolatry arises out of groups of people together.


Let them all be gathered together. Let them stand up. They will fear. They will be put to shame together- This continues the courtroom analogy discussed on :8. They are to stand up to receive their judgment, and then go to the shame of condemnation together.

Isaiah 44:12 The blacksmith takes an axe, works in the coals, fashions it with hammers, and works it with his strong arm. He is hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water, and is faint-
"Works" is the same word as "makes [a god]" (:15). In our days, the works of our hands are the equivalent of making gods and idols. The picture is of a man working hard to make, work, mould, shape and plan an idol. Isaiah has used all these ideas about God's formative work with His people. Their strength failed in the work, whereas God's power in working with us is limitless. His strength in working for us doesn't fail.

Isaiah 44:13 The carpenter stretches out a line. He marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes. He marks it out with compasses, and shapes it like the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to reside in a house-
The contrast is with the description of Yahweh as having planned as a workman the entire cosmos, and then made it. See on Is. 40:12. Instead of allowing Him to work on them to make them after His mental image, they were creating gods in their own image and likeness. As they stretched out a line to plan an idol, Yahweh worked on a far grander scale, stretching out His line over the entire cosmos (Job 38:5 s.w.). But the phrase 'stretching out a line' is nearly always used about Yahweh's condemnation of people (2 Kings 21:13; Is. 34:11; Lam. 2:8; Zech. 1:16). As we will also see on :14, the idolaters were in fact measuring out condemnation to themselves.

Isaiah 44:14 He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak-
I noted on :13 that the language of idol construction is also that of condemnation; their behaviour was their own condemnation. And here too, t
he Assyrians had threatened to cut down the cedars of the temple (Is. 37:24; 2:13; 10:34). And the Babylonians actually did this (Is. 14:8). For the Jews now to cut down cedars and make idols from them was therefore acting like the Babylonians, and ignoring the great grace shown in Yahweh's averting of the threatened Assyrian destruction of the temple by cutting down its cedars. See on Is. 48:9.

And strengthens for himself one among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir tree, and the rain nourishes it- Yahweh would strengthen His servant people, in contrast to the idols, which had to be strengthened by their makers (s.w. Is. 41:10). The tree used for idolatry had been nourished by rain from Yahweh.

Isaiah 44:15 Then it will be for a man to burn; and he takes some of it, and warms himself. Yes, he burns it, and bakes bread. Yes, he makes a god, and worships it; he makes it an engraved image, and falls down to it-
This whole account of idolatry seems to be poking fun at the foolishness of the worshipper. But this is all to lead up to the statements in :19,20, that the mind of the idolater refuses to perceive the obvious. And this is because they "did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate (or, undistinguishing) mind" (Rom. 1:28; cp. Is. 29:10). This is in contrast to how the Spirit of God works to give a spiritually perceptive mind; and the promise of that Spirit has been offered earlier in this chapter. Now we are being shown the opposite process; how God works to confirm men in their blindness.

Isaiah 44:16 He burns part of it in the fire. With part of it, he eats meat. He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. Yes, he warms himself and says, Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire-
The idea is that he uses part to make an idol (:17), and of the other part, he uses part of that for firewood for warmth and part for roasting a meal for himself. Or as ESV "Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat". See on Is. 46:6.

Isaiah 44:17 The rest of it he makes into a god, even his engraved image. He bows down to it and worships and prays to it and says, Deliver me; for you are my god!-
See on :16. This is the word used by Rabshakeh in saying that no god could "deliver" from the Assyrians (2 Chron. 32:13). And yet the unfaithful Jews had trusted in those very gods for deliverance. It is therefore Jewish idolaters who are in view here. They were so self deceived that they could not deliver themselves (:20 s.w.) because those who worship idols become like unto them; dumb and unable to engage with the issues of eternity.

Isaiah 44:18 They don’t know neither do they consider: for He has shut their eyes that they can’t see; and their hearts that they can’t understand-
This is the situation in Is. 6:9,10. This is in contrast to how the Spirit of God works to give a spiritually perceptive mind; and the promise of that Spirit has been offered earlier in this chapter. Now we are being shown the opposite process; how God works to confirm men in their blindness. Such people are receiving now the essence of their condemnation, alluding to the Eastern custom of sealing up the eyes of offenders.  

Isaiah 44:19 No one thinks neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire-
We are programmed to shy away from the ultimate realities, in the same way as men hid their faces from the terror and dastardly horror of the crucifixion of God's Son (Is. 53:3), and as "none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding" to realize the idiocy of worshipping a piece of wood as an idol (Is. 44:19).

Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals. I have roasted meat and eaten it. Shall I make the rest of it into an abomination? Shall I bow down to a tree trunk?- The idolater failed to look at himself from outside of himself. This is an important ability to have, and it is the Biblical record which serves as a mirror, that we might see ourselves for who we really are (James 1:23). Yet the majority are so caught up in the narrative of their own lives which they spin in their own minds that they  fail to achieve self-examination and self-awareness before God.

Isaiah 44:20 He feeds on ashes-
From a distance, the visual impression may have been of the man apparently eating the ashes from the coals upon which his bread was baked (:19).

A deceived heart has turned him aside; and he can’t deliver his soul, nor say, Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?- The deceived heart can't recognize that they are self-deceived. That seems to be the idea of "a lie in my right hand". See on :17.

Isaiah 44:21 Remember these things, Jacob and Israel; for you are My servant. I have formed you; you are My servant. Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me-
Because God has not forgotten His people, they should remember Him. The fact He is so consciously aware of us ought to bring Him back to our consciousness in the course of the day. As explained on :19, Jacob was asked to "remember" the picture of the idolater, to see himself from outside of himself. 

There is perhaps a purposeful ambiguity in the Hebrew text of Is. 44:21: “O Israel thou shalt not be forgotten of me” is rendered in the RVmg and LXX: “thou shouldest not forget me”. The fact God never forgets us should be inspiration to not forget Him in the daily round of life. To act as if God doesn’t see all our ways is to effectively deny His existence. Babylon acted as she did because she reasoned that "None seeth me... I am, and there is none else beside me" (Is. 47:10 RV). They appropriated the language of God to themselves, they played God in that they thought their ways were unseen by any higher power. And we all have a terrible, frightening tendency to do this.


Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out as a thick cloud your iniquities, and, as a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you-
God imputed His righteousness to them, because He had unconditionally forgiven them. Instead of calling upon them to mourn, as in first Isaiah, second Isaiah calls upon them to rejoice and accept His grace. They are to repent because God had forgiven them (as in Acts 3:18,19)- not repent so that He might forgive them: “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake [i.e. not for the sake of your repentance or righteousness]… I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud [therefore] return [repent] to me, for I have [already] redeemed you” (Is. 43:25; 44:22). This is God’s grace in its essence. Repentance and not just forgiveness is given by the Spirit (Acts 5:31). As they sat by the rivers of Babylon, even as they later became caught up in the politics and business of Babylon, God’s heart broke for His people. And He announced this utter grace- that He had forgiven them, even though they’d not really repented, and counted them as righteous. And therefore He begged them to “return”, not only to return to Him in repentance in their hearts, but to show this by ‘returning’ to the land. And, so tragically, they preferred to stay in Babylon, for the most part. His grace was poured out to them… and Israel would not. All we can resolve in our hearts is to feel for God in this tragedy, and to realize that these very same prophecies of grace have been applied to us. And it’s for us to respond to them.

It is our knowledge of God's mercy to us which empowers us to confidently seek to share with others our knowledge, our relationship, our experience with God. Forgiveness inspires the preacher; and yet the offer of forgiveness is what inspires the listener to respond. God appeals for Israel to respond by pointing out that in prospect, He has already forgiven them: “I have [already] blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions... [therefore] return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Is. 44:22 AV). Likewise Elijah wanted Israel to know that God had already in prospect turned their hearts back to Him (1 Kings 18:37). We preach the cross of Christ, and that through that forgiveness has been enabled for all men; but they need to respond by repentance in order to access it. Hence the tragedy of human lack of response; so much has been enabled, the world has been reconciled, but all this is in vain if they will not respond.

The prophets appeal for their people to repent to avert God’s judgments; and yet they proclaim a message of grace, that because “I have swept away your transgressions [therefore] Return [repent] to me, for I have redeemed you” (Is. 44:22). The fact of God’s forgiveness leads to repentance- by grace. And yet the prophets also appeal for Israel to repent so that they might be forgiven.

And so Isaiah urged the Jewish exiles to return to the land by saying that God had forgiven them, and on this basis He appealed for them to both ‘repent’ and ‘return’ to the land. The two terms are related. Thus He showed His grace; forgiveness preceded, not followed, repentance. Is. 44:22 is clear about this: “I have swept away your transgressions like clouds [therefore] return to me, for I have [already] redeemed you”. God was angry with their sins, but kept no record of them- hence He could comfort Judah that there was actually no documentary evidence for their divorce (Is. 50:1) and therefore she could return to Him. As Paul put it, the goodness of God leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4). And we are asked to show that same “goodness” of God to others, being “kind [s.w. ‘goodness’] one to another… forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). We too are to show this grace of forgiveness-before-repentance; but perhaps in no other area has formalized, institutionalized Christianity failed worse. If XYZ shows us she’s repented of her divorce, then we’ll forgive her and accept her in fellowship [as if, in any case, we are the ones who need to forgive her]. These are graceless and yet terribly common attitudes. The Greek word translated “goodness” is rendered “gracious” in 1 Pet. 2:3- newly converted babes in Christ taste of this gracious goodness, and it leads to repentance.

Isaiah 44:23 Sing you heavens, for Yahweh has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth! Break out into singing, you mountains, O forest, all of your trees, for Yahweh has redeemed Jacob, and will glorify Himself in Israel-
The same Hebrew words are used about the shout of joy which went up when the foundation of the temple was laid (Ezra 3:11-13). But at that same time, there was a loud sound of weeping from those who realized that what was being built was simply not the temple which Ezekiel had prophesied, and was not even as glorious as Solomon’s. The shout of joy was there, but wasn’t discernible (Ezra 3:13).

As the whole creation would share the joy of Hosea and Gomer’s remarriage (see on Is. 1:26), so Is. 44:23 and Is. 49:13 use similar terms to describe how all creation could have rejoiced in the reuniting of Yahweh with His people on their return from Babylon.

Isaiah 44:24 Thus says Yahweh your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: I am Yahweh who makes all things, who alone stretches out the heavens; who spreads out the earth by Myself-
This is in contrast to how the idol maker stretches out and spreads out his plans and materials to make his idol.
Both as individuals and collectively, the whole biography and even genetic prehistory of God's people has been prepared by God in their formation, so that they might encounter God's salvation at an optimal point for them to give the maximum glory to Him (Is. 43:21). "Formed" is the word for the potter working on clay, used of how God fashions human hearts or psychologies, working on the deeply internal fabric of the human being (Ps. 33:15). The 'forming' in view is not only "in the womb" (Is. 44:2,24) but throughout their whole psychological and genetic formation. It is possible to strive with our former or "maker" (Is. 45:9), to be unresponsive to His touch of us the clay. The Messiah figure, ultimately the Lord Jesus, was the ultimate case of being "formed" by Yahweh's hand (Is. 49:5 s.w.), implying He too was clay, of human and not Divine nature.

Isaiah 44:25 Who frustrates the signs of the liars-
This is s.w. Nehemiah 4:15 about God frustrating the Samaritan opposition. But still the exiles didn't make full use of all this help, in order to reestablish God's Kingdom.


And makes diviners mad; who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish- it is the idolater who has just been portrayed as foolish and mad. But the wise men of the nations of those days were all idolaters.

Isaiah 44:26 Who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; who says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be inhabited;’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They will be built’, and ‘I will raise up its waste places’-
The word of His servant could refer to Isaiah or Jeremiah. Yahweh portrays Himself as open to the counsel or advice of His messengers. Perhaps the malak in view are the Angels, and those they represented. God is open to persuasion from both Angels and even men. Confirming and performing are parallel, as are "the word" and "the counsel". "His servant" (singular) is parallel with the plural "His messengers". The singular servant is equated with His “messengers”, whose “counsel” to others is the word which is Jesus, the true servant. This theme of declaring the word occurs repeatedly in this part of Isaiah. Because “I have declared… and I have shewed… therefore ye are my witnesses” (Is. 43:12). We are to witness / declare / shew, just as the Father has done. Our unity with the Father and Son is thus reflected in our witnessing in the way they witness; and thus their witness is through us. The unity between the preacher and his Lord is therefore wonderful. Truly He is with us in our life of witness, in our obedience to His command to preach world-wide, unto the end of the age.

Or the servant could refer to Cyrus and his will to rebuild Jerusalem. Yahweh “performs the counsel” of rebuilding Jerusalem. But the Samaritan opposition sought to frustrate Judah’s “purpose” / counsel (Ezra 4:5 s.w.), and succeeded. Yahweh allowed Himself to be limited within how His people performed His purpose. His ‘purpose’ is therefore conditional upon those whom He allows to fulfill it. Many passages in the latter half of Isaiah exult how God has fulfilled prophecy in the decree of Cyrus and the return of the Jews (e.g. Is. 44:7,26-28). But this fulfilment of prophecy turned out to be limited by the Jews’ lack of obedience to the prophecies.

Isaiah 44:27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry’, and ‘I will dry up your rivers;’-
The reference is
to the artificial irrigation canals from the Euphrates which were dried up by Cyrus, forming a lake forty miles square, in order for him to take Babylon. The prophets present the fall of Babylon as necessary for the return of the exiles. Babylon fell, but as the book of Esther makes clear, the bulk of the exiles chose to remain in exile. 

Isaiah 44:28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure’, even saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built;’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid’
- See on :5. Ez. 34 had predicted that at the restoration, God Himself would be a shepherd to His scattered flock and through the shepherd He would use, He would "deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day" (Ez. 34:12). The cloudy and dark day was the day of judgment which came upon Judah, and which resulted in them being scattered into Babylon and Persia. The shepherd who was to deliver them and get them to return from the various places of their scattering was intended to be Cyrus. Is. 44:28 is crystal clear about this. God "says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure’, even saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built;’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid’". It was God's intention that Cyrus repent and become a proselyte, and Yahweh would then use him to save His people "out of all places where they have been scattered". The decree of Cyrus was addressed to "Whoever is left [of the Jews], in any place where he lives" (Ezra 1:4). "Cyrus" literally means "sun" and so contrasts with the cloudy and dark day. But Cyrus let the ball drop and didn't carry through the Divine purpose as he might have done and neither did the Jews respond as they should have done. Cyrus was Yahweh's anointed (Is. 45:1), and so the essence of these prophecies is to come true in the last days in the person of the Lord Jesus. We could say that the prophecies are transferred from Cyrus to the Lord Jesus.
LXX "Who bids Cyrus be wise, and he shall perform all my will" suggests Cyrus had a choice; he was commanded, and it seems he partially obeyed, but not enough to the Messiah figure envisaged.