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The Past is Behind You (Isaiah 48)

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CHAPTER 48 Jun. 23 
The Lord's Patience with Israel
Hear this, house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel, and have come forth out of the waters of Judah; who swear by the name of Yahweh, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth nor in righteousness 2(for they call themselves of the holy city, and rest themselves on the God of Israel; Yahweh of Armies is His name): 3I have declared the former things from of old; yes, they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them: suddenly I did them, and they happened. 4Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow brass, 5therefore I have declared it in advance to you from of old; before it came to pass I showed it to you; lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, and my engraved image, and my molten image, has commanded them’. 6You have heard it; see all this; and you, will you not declare it? I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, which you have not known. 7They are created now, and not from of old; and before this day you didn’t hear them; lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them’. 8Yes, you didn’t hear; yes, you didn’t know; yes, from of old your ear was not opened: for I knew that you dealt very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb. 9For My name’s sake will I defer My anger, and for the sake of My praise will I refrain for you, that I not cut you off. 10Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction. 11For My own sake, for My own sake, will I do it; for how should My name be profaned? I will not give My glory to another. 12Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel My called: I am He; I am the first, I also am the last. 13Yes, My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has spread out the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together. 14Assemble yourselves all of you, and hear; who among them has declared these things? He whom Yahweh loves shall perform His will on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. 15I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. 16Come near to Me and hear this: ‘From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I’. Now the Lord Yahweh has sent me, with His Spirit.

The Lord's Plan
17Thus says Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. 18Oh that you had listened to My commandments! then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea: 19your seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of your body like its grains: his name would not be cut off nor destroyed from before Me. 20Go forth from Babylon, flee from the Chaldeans; with a voice of singing declare, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth: say, ‘Yahweh has redeemed His servant Jacob’. 21They didn’t thirst when He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock also, and the waters gushed out. 22There is no peace, says Yahweh, for the wicked.


48:3 Suddenly I did them, and they happened- Another of Isaiah’s allusions to creation. All that happens in our lives is a creation from God’s word of command; even the bad things in our experience have ultimately a creative, positive intent from God.
48:6 And you, will you not declare it?-  God is the One who ‘declared’ things in advance (:5), and we in our turn are to declare to the world what He has declared. In our work of witness there is a mutuality between God and us.
48:18 The fact God knows all possible futures must make His experience with us His people so tragic. For sorrow is largely related to our awareness of what could have been; and God knows that so much could have been. The promises to Abraham and the coming of the Messianic seed of Abraham could have been fulfilled; but because Israel chose to be wicked, there was no such peace to them (:22). For all their wealth in Babylon, they had no peace with God.
48:20 Flee from the Chaldeans- Judah were comfortable and prosperous in Babylon, as the conclusion to the book of Esther shows. Jews were senior in commerce and politics (as witness the book of Daniel). Yet they were to “flee” from this situation because of its huge spiritual danger. Generally they didn’t perceive the spiritual danger of the world in which they lived, and most Jews remained in Babylon, to their spiritual destruction.