New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Isaiah 45:1 Thus says Yahweh to His anointed, to Cyrus- Is. 45:1-7 concern Cyrus and really should be read as part of Is. 44.

Whose right hand I have held- There is a juxtaposition of impressions here. Holding the right hand of a person suggests they are feeble (Is. 42:6). And so Cyrus for all his might was but a feeble person empowered by Israel's God.

To subdue nations before him, and strip kings of their armour; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut- see on Is. 40:3,4. Isaiah 40-55 is packed full with allusion to the Marduk cult. All that Marduk claimed to do and be, Isaiah explained as actually true, and solely true, of Yahweh God of Israel. The descriptions of Cyrus as having been anointed etc. are allusions to the way Cyrus was held to have been anointed and raised up by Marduk. Yahweh is saying that actually He, and not Marduk, had done this. The Abu-Habba collection in the British museum actually has an inscription that claims Nabonidus dreamt that Marduk raised up Cyrus (See P.A. Beaulieu, The Reign Of Nabonidus King Of Babylon (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989) p. 108). Isaiah’s point is that actually it was the God of Israel who had done this. The references to Yahweh taking Cyrus by the hand, anointing him, pronouncing his name and giving him a throne (Is. 45:1,8) are almost word-for-word what Cyrus claimed about Marduk in his ‘Cyrus Cylinder’.

Cyrus was a potential Messiah figure. Cyrus was the anointed one, the ‘Christ’ of God. Anointing is especially associated with being anointed as a king in the Davidic line (1 Sam. 2:10,35; 2 Sam. 22:51; 2 Sam. 23:1; Ps. 2:2). Could it be that God was willing for Cyrus to become Israel’s King? Whilst the chronology is admittedly difficult, it would appear that Daniel and his group of faithful friends, possibly Ezekiel, maybe Esther, and some other prophets were in close contact with Cyrus. The enigmatic reference to Cyrus making the decision to allow Nehemiah’s mission for the Jews to return with his queen sitting near him may suggest Jewish influence upon him (Neh. 2:6). Could it be that potentially, he was enabled to convert to the God of Israel and fulfill the ‘servant’ prophecies? See on :9; Is. 44:5.

Isaiah 45:2 I will go before you, and make the rough places smooth-
This is the language of Is. 40 concerning the preparation for the coming of the Messianic saviour and reestablishment of the Kingdom in Zion. But Cyrus failed to fulfill this.

I will break the doors of brass in pieces, and cut apart the bars of iron- Herodotus (1.179) claims Babylon had 100 massive gates, 25 on each of the four sides of the city, all, as well as their posts, of brass.

Isaiah 45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, Yahweh, who call you by your name, even the God of Israel-
The location of hidden treasure in conquered cities was typically attributed to magicians and wise men. But here, to Yahweh. God's mention of Cyrus' name 150 years beforehand was intended to be the clear proof to all that His prophetic word would really come true. But :4 seems to see his 'naming' as not so much a case of predicting his name, but giving him a name in the sense of a purpose and intended path of character and behaviour. But he ultimately failed in fulfilling this.

Isaiah 45:4 For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you, though you have not known Me-
LXX suggests that despite all this Divine intention, Cyrus refused relationship with God by refusing to 'know' Him: "For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel mine elect, I will call thee by thy name, and accept thee: but thou hast not known me".

The reason why there are no accusers against us, not even our own sins, is because we are “God’s elect” (Rom. 8:33). The supreme chosen one of God was of course the Lord Jesus, “mine elect / chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Is. 42:1). And yet here later on in the servant songs of Isaiah, “mine elect” or "My chosen" clearly refers to the people of Israel (Is. 45:4; 65:9,22). The true Israel of God are therefore those counted as somehow “in” the elect one, the singular servant of God, Messiah Jesus. Those baptized into Him are therefore His elect. And how do we know we are “God’s elect”? If we are baptized into Christ, “mine elect”, then for sure we are. And further, we have heard the call of the Gospel, we have been called- so, we are God’s elect, His chosen ones. Of course the objection can be raised that the whole idea of calling or election may appear unfair. Indeed, the Greek word for “elect” can carry the idea of ‘the favoured / favourite one’.  There is no ultimate injustice here. The chosen One is the Lord Jesus, beloved for the sake of His righteousness, His spirit of life. Those who respond to the call to be “in Him” are counted likewise. And all this is the way, the method used, in order for God to be the one who counts us as right in the ultimate judgment- for “It is God that justifies”.

Isaiah 45:5 I am Yahweh, and there is none else. Besides Me, there is no God-
The preceding verse has spoken of Cyrus' failure. It could be that this was related to his refusal to jettison his belief in the Persian gods of good and evil, refusing to accept that Yahweh could really be in control of all.

This language (and in :6,12) alludes to the Babylonian god Marduk; the point being that Yahweh and not the god of Babylon is supreme. See on Is. 40:25. The Jews only totally quit idolatry some time later; they liked to think, as we also tend to, that we can serve the gods of our world in the name of Yahweh worship. But Yahweh is presented as supreme, and Marduk as nothing.

I will strengthen you, though you have not known Me- LXX "I strengthened thee, and thou hast not known me" continues the theme of lamenting that Cyrus refused relationship ['knowing'] with God, even though he was Divinely strengthened to do His will in restoring Judah.

Isaiah 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides Me. I am Yahweh, and there is no one else-
See on :5. This was the intended outcome of the restoration which Cyrus was used to effect. But the returned exiles didn't make Yahweh known; instead they mixed with the surrounding nations, as Ezra, Nehemiah and the restoration prophets make clear. And so these things are all reapplied to the final work of the Lord Jesus. As will be developed on :7, Yahweh's existence as the sole God means there is no room for the idea of a personal cosmic Satan being, nor for the equivalent ideas amongst the Persians, which the Jews were accepting. 

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create calamity. I am Yahweh, who does all these things-
Yatzar, to give "form" to previously existing matter, and bara, to "create" from nothing the chaotic darkness, were all from God. Yahweh alone had given light and success to Cyrus, and darkness, "evil" or calamity to Babylon. There seems significant evidence for believing that the idea of a personal devil first entered Judaism through their contact with the Persian religions whilst in captivity there. Rabbinic writings don't mention a personal satan until the Jews were in Babylon, and the references become more frequent as Persian influence upon Judaism deepened. This is why the monumental passages in Isaiah [e.g. Is. 45:5-7], addressed to the captive Jews, point out the error of the Persian idea that there is a good God in tension with an evil god. Classically, the devil is understood to be a being with horns and a pitchfork. If we research why this should be the case, we soon find that the Bible itself is absolutely without any such images of satan or the devil. But we do find these images in pagan mythology- Pan, Dionysius and other pagan gods were depicted as having horns, long tails etc. In the British isles, let alone ancient Rome and Greece, there were traditions of 'horned gods' being the source of evil- e.g. the Cernunnos amongst the Celts, Caerwiden in Wales, etc. In so many ways, apostate Christianity adopted pagan ideas and brought them into its theology. These horned gods, with forks and long tails, became adopted into a false Christianity as 'the devil'. But the Bible itself is absolutely silent about this- nowhere is there any indication that satan or the devil is a personal being with horns etc.

Isaiah’s statement that Yahweh creates both good and evil / disaster, light and darkness, is not only aimed at criticizing the Babylonian dualistic view of the cosmos. It also has relevance to the false ideas which were developing amongst the Jews in Babylon, which would later come to term in the false view of Satan which most of Christendom later adopted. According to the Jewish Apocryphal writing The Visions of Amram, human beings choose to live under the control of one of two angels. Amram has a vision of the two opposing angels who have been given control over humanity (4Q544 frg. 1, col. 2.10–14 [Visions of Amram-b] = 4Q547 frgs. 1–2, col. 3.9–13). The good angel supposedly has power “over all the light”, whereas the evil angel has authority “over all the darkness”. Thus the idea of dualism – which is so attractive to all people – was alive and well amongst the Jews; and thus Is. 45:5–7 was also aimed at the developing Jewish belief in Babylon in a dualistic cosmos.

Of especially significant influence upon Judaism were the Persian views of Zoroastrianism. This was a philosophy which began in Persia about 600 B.C., and was growing in popularity when Judah went to Babylon / Persia in captivity. This philosophy posited that there was a good god of light (Mazda) and an evil god of darkness (Ahriman). The well known passage in Is. 45:5–7 is a clear warning to the Jews in captivity not to buy into this – Israel’s God alone made the light and the darkness, the good and the “evil”. He alone had the power to give “the treasures of darkness” to a man (Is. 45:3), even though such “treasures” were thought to be under the control of the supposed ‘Lord of darkness’. But Isaiah is in fact full of other allusions to Zoroastrian ideas, seeking to teach Judah the true position on these things. See on Is. 9:6.

Apart from seeking to justify themselves, the uninspired Jewish authors were struggling with the issue we all do- how can a good and kind God do negative things? But they took the easy way out, presuming to rewrite His word in order to pass blame into a Satan figure of their own imaginations. These uninspired Jewish writings from between the Testaments repeatedly seek to rewrite Biblical history and statements in order to accommodate the Persian ideas. Is. 45:5-7 is clear: "I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things". But 4 Ezra 2:14 changes this to: "I have left out evil and created good, because I live, says the Lord". We have a stark choice- the inspired text of the Bible, or uninspired Jewish interpretations seeking to justify the adoption of pagan myths about Satan.

Isaiah 45:8 Distil, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness. Let the earth open, that it may bring forth salvation, and let it cause righteousness to spring up with it. I, Yahweh, have created it-
Is. 45:1-7 concern Cyrus and really should be read as part of Is. 44. Because of the decree of Cyrus, the land of Israel could have opened and brought forth the Lord Jesus (“Yah's salvation”). The LXX gives the picture of cosmic joy meeting the joy of the earth beneath, resulting in the gift of the Spirit, part of the new covenant offered to the exiles in Jer. 31 and Ez. 20, resulting in righteousness and spirituality within the people left on the earth / land of Israel: "Let the heaven rejoice from above, and let the clouds rain righteousness: let the earth bring forth, and blossom with mercy, and bring forth righteousness likewise: I am the Lord that created thee". The new creation envisioned was to be of spiritual characteristics. Judah refused all this, and it has been applied to those in Christ today (2 Cor. 5:17).

Isaiah 45:9 Woe to him who strives with his Maker- a clay pot among the clay pots of the earth! Shall the clay ask Him who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’ or your work, ‘He has no hands?’-
The Jews of Isaiah’s day would have had big problems with the idea of a pagan king like Cyrus becoming  the King of Israel and being Yahweh’s special “servant” and even Messiah; see on Is. 45:1. Folk have the same problem and resistance to the idea today. But passages like Is. 45:9-13, Is. 48:14-16 and much of the material that follows the servant songs, are in fact seeking to answer objections to this- e.g. by saying that God is the potter and men are mere clay, and He will raise up precisely whom He wishes- even pagan Cyrus- to be His man, the arm of His salvation, at least potentially. We all struggle with God's hand in our lives, seeking ways to escape this or that touch of the Divine potter. But we are but striving with our maker. He wishes our salvation, and every touch of His hand is directed toward that glorious end. On one hand we are "a pot that is like all the others" (GNB); our appearances, life experiences and path can appear more or less identical to those of the unbeliever next door. But for us, there is meaning attached to event; even if those events are not dissimilar to those of our unbelieving neighbours.

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). And this was potentially true for Cyrus. "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 45:10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What have you become the father of?’ or to a mother, ‘To what have you given birth?’-
We note how God likens Himself to both father and mother. I noted on :9 that the context here is the Jewish objection to God raising up a 'son' like Gentile Cyrus to be the deliverer. And this challenge echoes down to our day, where we may have a gut level dislike to those clearly raised up to be Yahweh's servants. It is not for us to thus speak to God about His children and servants.

Isaiah 45:11 Thus says Yahweh the Maker and Holy One of Israel: You can ask Me about the things that are to come, concerning My sons, and you command Me concerning the work of My hands!-
In the context of God lowering Himself to plead with a proud and apostate Israel, God invites them to "command Me": "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel... concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded" (Is. 45:11,12 AV). Note the two uses of "command" and "hands". God commands the stars, His hands created them; but command ye me concerning my works, and I will answer you. We can command God and His hands will answer. The humility of the creator shows He is the creator. But we can perhaps more easily interpret this in the context of :10 along with GNB: "he LORD, the holy God of Israel, the one who shapes the future, says: "You have no right to question me about my children or to tell me what I ought to do!".

Isaiah 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man on it. I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens; and I have commanded all their army-
See on :5,11. The creation of the earth / land in view is specifically the new creation of His Kingdom restored in the land of Israel, the eretz promised to Abraham. He had created that land and had returned "man", His people, upon it. The same power which commands the stars (LXX) commanded each of the exiles to return. They were moved around from captivity to Judah just as the stars are moved. We see here again how "stars" represent Israel, a theme seen early on in Joseph's dreams.

Isaiah 45:13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways-
LXX suggests this was more of a command, which he failed to obey fully: " I have raised him up to be a king with righteousness". He was to be the king of righteousness but wasn't. And it was a prophecy reapplied to the Lord Jesus. For the picture of ways being made straight is that of Is. 40 about the preparation of Messiah's path to the restored Zion.

He shall build My city, and he shall let My exiles go free, not for price nor reward, says Yahweh of Armies- For no human benefit at all to Cyrus.  This is as clear a prophecy as any could wish. God categorically stated that Cyrus would be raised up by Him in order to release the captives in Babylon, and to enable the building of Jerusalem (Is. 45:12); all because God had formed the land [AV “earth”] of Israel to be inhabited and not to be left without His people dwelling upon it. And this happened; the captives were released (although most preferred to stay put in Babylon), and the building of Jerusalem was enabled (although the work was not done very enthusiastically by Judah, and they preferred to build their own houses rather than Yahweh’s).

Cyrus operated "not for price nor reward", for no personal advantage. This helps explain Is. 52:3: "You were sold for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money". They were "sold for nothing" in that God had no personal benefit from the exile of His people; He did this to them for their spiritual benefit, not for any gain for Himself. Their redemption likewise would be according to His grace, and not because of any transaction between God and man. This was reflected in the way Cyrus commanded the Jews to return and provided all that was materially required to rebuild the temple, but "not for reward", for no personal benefit.


Isaiah 45:14 Thus says Yahweh: The labour of Egypt, and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours. They will go after you. They shall come over in chains and they will bow down to you. They will make supplication to you: ‘Surely God is in you; and there is none else. There is no other god-
But the Egyptians and Ethiopians didn’t come and fall down before Judah, as the Queen of Sheba had before Solomon. Nor did they accept Yahweh as the only God, and ditch their idols. The idea was that the Jewish exiles in the lands of the South would return, and their captors would come with them, wishing to invert what had happened by showing themselves to now be servile to the Jews and their God. But instead, the returned Jews worshipped the idols of Egypt, and married their women (Ezra 9:1). And thus Israel were ashamed and confounded in the future (cp. :17). So the essence of these things is reapplied to the conversion of the Gentiles in the last day.


Isaiah 45:15 Most certainly You are a God who has hidden Yourself, God of Israel, the Saviour’-
Is. 30:20 describes the reestablished Kingdom as a time when Judah's repentant eyes would "see" the God who had taught them through the sufferings of defeat and exile (see note there). Their eyes would no longer be blinded, they would see and perceive the 'hidden' God who had tried to teach them through all their afflictions. Meaning will finally be attached to event, and the problem of evil resolved finally. God had as it were 'hidden' Himself during the exile (Is. 45:15; Mic. 3:4); but now He would be revealed to them. Just as Cain was exiled to the east of Eden (which I have suggested was the eretz promised to Abraham) and been hidden from God's eyes in his exile (Gen. 4:14; Dt. 31:17,18; 32:20 s.w.), so with Judah. The hidden things belong to God and only some are now revealed to us, but in the day of exile's end, all those things, the meaning attached to the events, will at last be revealed (Dt. 29:29 s.w.). Then there will be no need for Jeremiah's Lamentations and struggles about the exile, all developed in the story of the suffering Job, who felt God hidden from him (s.w. Job 3:23; 13:24) just as God was to hide His face from Zion at the time of the Babylonian invasion (Jer. 33:5) and exile (Ez. 39:23,24). Therefore all human attempts to see the hidden God were doomed to failure, as Job was finally taught (Job 34:29 s.w.). But the glorious truth of Is. 30:20 is that finally, the Divine teacher will not be hidden any more and our eyes shall see Him and His ways, as Job did at the end (Job 42:5). And yet Isaiah and his family / school of prophets did look or see the hand of the God who was hiding Himself from Judah (s.w. Is. 8:17). At the restoration, there was to be no need for Judah to feel that their way was "hid from Yahweh" (Is. 40:27 s.w.) any more, as it had been during the exile "for a little moment" when God hid His face (Is. 54:8). Their eyes would see / perceive. But tragically, the exiles didn't; God reflected that "I hid me... and he went on proudly in the way of his heart" (Is. 57:17). Their sins continued to hide His face from them (Is. 59:2; 64:7). See on :19.


Isaiah 45:16 They will be disappointed, yes, confounded, all of them. Those who are makers of idols will go into confusion together-
LXX "All that are opposed to him shall be ashamed and confounded, and shall walk in shame: ye isles, keep a feast to me". This walking in shame is applied to the rejection at the last day of those who have refused the things of the Lord Jesus and trusted in the equivalent of "idols" in their generation (Rev. 16:15). It was to be the makers of idols who were "confounded" (s.w. Is. 41:11; 45:16) and only the true Israel would not be "confounded" (Is. 45:17; 54:4). The sinners in Israel had refused to be confounded or ashamed of their sins (Jer. 3:3 s.w.) and so they would be shamed in condemnation. Repentance involves an imagination of ourselves coming to judgment day and being condemned, and feeling shame for that; that is how we shall not be ashamed. And it is the servant alone who shall not be ashamed / confounded because of His righteousness (Is. 50:7). Our identity with Him removes that shame. If we condemn ourselves, we shall not be condemned (1 Cor. 11:31). The enemies of Israel would perish alongside the apostate within Israel, in the same judgment. See on :14.

Isaiah 45:17 Israel will be saved by Yahweh with an everlasting salvation-
The "eternal age" of the Kingdom of peace could have come at that time, with the Messianic son of Isaiah as the father of that eternal age (see on Is. 9:6). But it didn't. An eternal Messianic kingdom could then have been established; Judah were urged to repent and allow it to happen in Is. 26:4. And the same potential was there for the exiles who returned from Babylon (Is. 45:17; 65:18). And the "father" of that could have been a Messianic figure who arose in Jerusalem. But these potentials have been reapplied and rescheduled to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus to be established in Zion in the last days.

You will not be disappointed nor confounded to ages everlasting- Or, "ashamed". See on :14,16. Yahweh had promised support for them if they returned to the land; He would preserve them on the way. Consider Is. 50:10: “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice [s.w. Ezra 1:1 re the proclamation of Cyrus] of his servant [i.e. Cyrus, Is. 45:1], that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God”. Yet Ezra was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers to guard them on the journey only because he had earlier told the king that Yahweh would be with them (Ezra 8:22), as if he really did want the support but was ashamed to ask for it. He disallowed Isaiah’s prophesy that the restored Israel would never be ashamed [s.w. Ezra 8:22; 9:6] nor confounded (Is. 45:17; 49:23; 54:4). Nehemiah accepted such support when he came up from Babylon (Neh. 2:9).

The same Hebrew words for “ashamed [and] confounded” in :16,17 occur in Ezra 9:6, where as a result of Ezra realizing that Judah had married the local women and broken covenant with Yahweh, he admits: “I am ashamed and blush [s.w. ‘confounded’] to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased....”. The words of Is. 45 could have had their fulfilment in the time of Cyrus; the surrounding nations could have come and worshipped before Judah, and the whole earth quit their idols and look unto Yahweh as a just God and a saviour. But Judah would not. Judah in the new temple would not “defile” Yahweh’s Name any more (Ez. 43:7,8); but they were lazy to keep the uncleanness laws, they did defile Yahweh by touching dead bodied and then offering the sacrifices (Hag. 2:13,14 s.w.), just as Israel previously had been defiled by touching the dead bodies of their kings and then offering sacrifices (Ez. 43:7); but now, Judah thought they were above God’s law, and therefore did exactly the same things which had caused the temple to be destroyed in the first place. The promise that Yahweh would dwell in the new temple was conditional on them not touching dead bodies (Ez. 43:9); but Hag. 2:13 makes it apparent that they did this very thing at the time of the restoration. 

Isaiah 45:18 For thus says Yahweh who created the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, who established it and didn’t create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh; and there is no other-
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 Is. 45:18 is frequently used re. how the returnees dwelt in the cities of Judah]. And we too can take the simple encouragement- that God has created His Kingdom, with all the careful planning involved, so that it should be inhabited. He is not playing hard to get, nor indifferent to the progress of His plans. He wants us to be there.

If "the earth" is 'the land' of Israel and "the Heavens" refer to the temple (see 1 Kings 8:30; 2 Chron. 30:27; Ps. 20:2,6; 11:4; Heb. 7:26; 2 Sam. 15:15 etc.) then God is saying that if the temple and land remained uninhabited, His creation of them would be in vain- hence His plan of restoration. The references in Isaiah's prophecies of the restoration to God being the creator of Heaven and earth would therefore be reminders that it was equally in His power to create the new Heavens and earth of the people of Israel/the temple.

Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a place of the land of darkness. I didn’t say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’. I, Yahweh, speak righteousness. I declare things that are right-
The idea of the first sentence may be that He had not spoken this word to the exiles in "the land of darkness", Babylon or ruined Judah, just for the sake of it. It was not "in vain", the prospect of the Kingdom was attainable. Perhaps this is God's response to the complaint in :15 that He was hiding Himself. He is urging the exiles as He urges us- that His promise of eternal salvation is for real, He has promised it to us in "truth" ["right"] and for all our sin and dysfunction and separation from His ultimate perfection of holiness, His righteousness is not impugned by His wonderful offer to us.

Isaiah 45:20 Assemble yourselves and come. Draw near together, you who have escaped from the nations-
The 'bringing / assembling' and 'drawing near / gathering' of the exiles (s.w. Is. 43:5) would have been primarily fulfilled at the restoration (same words in Neh. 1:9). But most of the exiles remained in the lands of their captivity, just as people resist the Gospel's call today. They had to themselves bring and gather themselves (Is. 45:20; 49:18; 60:4), so that God would confirm this by bringing and gathering them (Is. 43:5; Jer. 31:8; Ez. 34:13; 36:24; 37:21; Zech. 10:10). And so today with all who wish to be in God's Kingdom; our desire to be there and first moves towards it will be confirmed many times over by God's work through His Spirit. The LXX and GNB suggest that the group in view are the minority of the peoples of the Babylonian empire who were to repent and turn to Yahweh: "people of the nations, all who survive the fall of the empire" (GNB). They were intended to join the repentant exiles in a restored, multiethnic Kingdom of God in Judah. This possibility of course didn't happen, human impenitence was to such an extent, and so it looks forward to the final establishment of the Kingdom in the last days.

Those have no knowledge who carry the wood of their engraved image, and pray to a god that can’t save- Again idols are characterized by being unable to save; Yahweh's ultimate salvation of man from death is what makes Him God.

Isaiah 45:21 Declare and present it. Yes, let them take counsel together-
This is legal language, inviting any opposed to God's purpose with Jacob to present their hard evidence in court. But Isaiah’s lengthy prophecies of the restoration must be compared against the sad reality of what actually happened. The prophecies exude a wonderfully positive and joyful spirit, which contrasts with the defeatism of the returnees. And one cannot help but wonder whether we as individuals and therefore as a community have really lived the life of joy which the NT promises for those who truly believe. Is. 45:20-21 is an example: “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations [i.e. Babylon and all the 127 provinces of Persia]...Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together”. These are the very words used to describe how the local opposition ‘took counsel together’ to frustrate the work of the Jews (Neh. 6:7). Yahweh is exultantly saying: ‘Let them do it... let them get on with it, nothing can prosper against you and your work!’. But instead, the Jews took the opposition so seriously.


Who has shown this from ancient time? Who has declared it of old? Haven’t I, Yahweh? There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Saviour; There is no one besides Me- Justice and salvation were not part of the idol worship systems or theologies. And those idols had no histories of prophetic statements and intentions.  

Isaiah 45:22 Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other-
LXX "ye that come from the end of the earth", as if referring to the exiles returning from the boundaries of the eretz promised to Abraham. They were to look to Yahweh in repentance, "turn to Me" (LXX) in repentance; and if they looked, then the blindness of their eyes would be removed by God's Spirit acting in their hearts, according to the promise of the new covenant. But they continued to look / turn to other gods, and so Yahweh's face remained hidden from them because they were not looking to Him (s.w. Dt. 31:18), turning or 'looking' to Yahweh the back and not the face, so that He would remain hidden from them (:15; Jer. 32:33 s.w.).

The altar "Jehovah-Nissi" connected Yahweh personally with the pole / standard / ensign of Israel (Ex. 17:15). Yet nissi is the Hebrew word used for the pole on which the brass serpent was lifted up, and for the standard pole which would lift up Christ. Somehow Yahweh Himself was essentially connected with the cross of Christ. “There is no God else beside; a just God and a Saviour (Jesus)... look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Is. 45:21,22) is evident allusion to the snake on the pole to which all Israel were bidden look and be saved. And yet that saving symbol of the crucified Jesus is in fact God Himself held up to all men.

Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and will not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath-
The Divine hope was that the repentant exiles would enter the new covenant, and take an oath to Him. But they didn't, and so these things are reinterpreted with reference to the work of the Lord Jesus, and believers bowing before Him. Rom. 14 quotes these words about how the new Israel will come from all nations to the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus at the last day. There's one thing which the sheer height of the Lord's exaltation leads us to. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him... that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord... wherefore... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:9-12). These words are alluding to Is. 45:23,24: "...unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength". We all find humility difficult. But before the height of His exaltation, a height which came as a result of the depth of the degradation of the cross, we should bow our knees in an unfeigned humility and realization of our sinfulness, and thankful recognition of the fact that through Him we are counted righteous. We will be prostrated in the day of judgment before Him, and yet will be made to stand. We therefore ought not to judge our brother who will likewise be made to stand in that day- to his Master he stands or falls, not to us.

In Phil. 2:10, the Lord Jesus is said to have been given power over all beings in heaven, earth and the nether-world. The Romans understood the world to be divided into these three spheres of the cosmos. But this passage is based upon Is. 45:23, which says that God has total supremacy (see on :5-7)- and this has been granted to His Son. As I understand it, Paul is reasoning that if God is all powerful, and if that power has been given to the Lord Jesus, then whatever cosmology there is around, e.g. belief in a nether-world, well, in that case, Jesus has all power over that as well. The same argument applies to demons. If they exist, well the essence is that they are well and truly under the Lord’s control and aren’t essentially powerful. Paul doesn’t so much ridicule the idea of a nether-world, rather he takes the view, as Jesus did in His dealings with the demon issue, that God’s power is so great that their existence is effectively not an issue.

Isaiah 45:24 They will say of Me, ‘There is righteousness and strength only in Yahweh’. Even to Him shall men come-
These will be the thoughts of us each as we are bow before the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus, which is in view in :24. Then we shall appreciate as never before the meaning of imputed righteousness.

And all those who were incensed against Him shall be disappointed- The Samaritans could have provided a fulfilment of all this, just as the prideful Assyrians were before. And yet Sanballat, Tobiah, the Ammonites and Ashdodites were “wroth” [s.w. ‘incensed’] against Judah (Neh. 4:1,7). But they didn’t come to nothing, nor to shame, in that those very groups were the ones who married into Jewry, to the extent that Tobiah even shifted the tithes out of one of the chambers of the temple and set up his office there. But at the last day, all the Lord's enemies shall be ashamed ["disappointed"] in the shame of condemnation.

Isaiah 45:25 In Yahweh shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory-
Is. 45:20-25 calls for the Jews to return from Babylon and come unto Him in Zion; but the majority remained in Babylon, and so these words were delayed in fulfilment; Rom. 14 quotes them about how the new Israel will come from all nations to the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus at the last day. But had Jewry returned from Babylon as they had been asked, they would have come to their Messiah there and then. "All the seed of Israel" suggests the ten tribes also were intended to return; but they too preferred their exile to restoring the Kingdom in Zion.