VERSE OF THE DAY
This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
The Lord, the Savior, the Holy One of Israel, says,
I am the Lord your God I teach you for your own good. I lead you in the way you should go.the way which is Righteous.
17 Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which aleadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
Isaiah Chapter 48
Isaiah 48 – Chastening and Mercy for Judah
A. The LORD clearly sees the hard hearts of His people.
1. (1-2) The LORD sees the hypocrisy of Judah.
“Hear this, O house of Jacob,
Who are called by the name of Israel,
And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah;
Who swear by the name of the LORD,
And make mention of the God of Israel,
But not in truth or in righteousness;
For they call themselves after the holy city,
And lean on the God of Israel;
The LORD of hosts is His name:
a. House of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel: Judah should take notice of this opening statement. God identified His people as the house of Jacob – the name Jacob essentially meaning “deceiver, cheater” – and said they only have the name of Israel, not the character of Israel, which means “governed by God.”
b. And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah: The second statement of Isaiah 48 isn’t any more complimentary to the southern kingdom of Judah. God reminded them of their tribal ancestor, Judah, who was noted for his cruelty (Genesis 37:26-27) and immorality (Genesis 38). The LORD spoke to His people and said, “You come from your father Judah.” It was not a compliment.
c. Who swear by the name of the LORD…but not in truth or in righteousness: God exposed the sin of His people. They took His name, identified with the holy city, and gave the appearance that they did lean on the God of Israel. Yet it was only image, not reality, and God saw through the image to the reality.
i. Look at all Judah has: “An honoured name, an impeccable pedigree, a true religious allegiance, a privileged citizenship and a mighty God to rely on – but it is all unreal. There is no genuineness (truth) in it, nor does it satisfy the standards of God (righteousness).” (Motyer)
2. (3-5) The LORD sees that Judah has no excuse.
“I have declared the former things from the beginning;
They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it.
Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
Because I knew that you were obstinate,
And your neck was an iron sinew,
And your brow bronze,
Even from the beginning I have declared it to you;
Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you,
Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them,
And my carved image and my molded image
Have commanded them.’
a. I have declared the former things from the beginning…. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass: The LORD has shown Israel His power to declare the future in predictive prophecy. He did this because I knew that you were obstinate, knowing Israel’s love of idolatry, He gave them irrefutable evidence.
b. Lest you should say: This means that Judah was without excuse. They knew the greatness and power of God, yet they still lived with only a religious image, without a spiritual reality.
3. (6-8) The LORD sees how deep the sinfulness of Judah is.
“You have heard;
See all this.
And will you not declare it?
I have made you hear new things from this time,
Even hidden things, and you did not know them.
They are created now and not from the beginning;
And before this day you have not heard them,
Lest you should say, ‘Of course I knew them.’
Surely you did not hear,
Surely you did not know;
Surely from long ago your ear was not opened.
For I knew that you would deal very treacherously,
And were called a transgressor from the womb.
a. You have heard; see all this. And will you not declare it? It was as if the LORD was amazed that His people had seen all of His great power and glory, yet they still stood in stubborn rebellion against Him.
b. For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb: The LORD stated the reason why His people were so deeply sinful. They were sinners from the womb, so their sinfulness was deeply rooted.
i. It is a difficult concept for our individualistic ears, but the Bible teaches that we are sinners from the womb, and that we inherited a sin nature because we descend from Adam and sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12). It isn’t our individual acts of sin that make us sinners; it is our descent from Adam. Our individual acts of sin merely prove that each of us is a transgressor from the womb.
B. The LORD’s mercy to His undeserving people.
1. (9-13) The reason for the LORD’s mercy to His people.
For My name’s sake I will defer My anger,
And for My praise I will restrain it from you,
So that I do not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it;
For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another.
Listen to Me, O Jacob,
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them,
They stand up together.
a. For My name’s sake I will defer My anger: Knowing how deeply sinful His people are, why would the LORD ever show mercy to His people? He does it for His name’s sake. It isn’t because Israel deserves mercy; indeed, mercy can never be deserved. God gives it to glorify Himself and to further His eternal purpose.
b. I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it: Why had a disobedient Israel felt refining fires from the LORD? Again, it was for the sake and honor and glory of the LORD.
i. Does it bother us to know that God allows trials and His refining fires in our lives for His own sake? We should remember that we are not at the center of the universe, but God is. Everything He does and allows furthers His eternal purpose.
c. I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last…. My right hand has stretched out the heavens: To answer any resentment among His people, God reminded them why He allowed things for His glory and to further His praise. He can do it because of who He is – the only True God, the God of all glory, the God of all eternity, the God of all Creation.
2. (14-19) The unfulfilled potential of God’s disobedient people.
All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear!
Who among them has declared these things?
The LORD loves him;
He shall do His pleasure on Babylon,
And His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
I, even I, have spoken; yes,
I have called him,
I have brought him, and his way will prosper.
Come near to Me, hear this:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit
Have sent Me.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.”
a. The LORD loves him: Though the LORD is the God of all glory and power, He is not some kind of narcissist. God is motivated by love for His people.
i. It is the LORD’s love for us that makes Him want us to obey and praise Him. Love desires, quite properly, that things work according to their design and purpose. We were designed and purposed to obey and praise our Creator. God can call us to submit to Him, and honor Him, for our good, not to satisfy some need in God.
ii. So, just as much as it is the love of the LORD for His people that shall do His pleasure on Babylon – punishing this nation that set itself against His people – so it is the love of the LORD that allows the refining fires to touch His people.
b. Come near to Me, hear this…. now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me: This is the Servant of the LORD, the Messiah Himself speaking. Only He was from the beginning. The Messiah is pleading with His people.
i. “Finally (v. 16) another speaker mysteriously enters the prophecy. This verse has a number of features that have mystified commentators, who have been puzzled particularly by its final couplet. Young, Kidner, and other conservative commentators have argued that the new speaker introduced here (or in the whole verse) is in fact God’s Servant, the Servant of the songs…. Perhaps he is introduced here because Cyrus’ work is in fact simply a harbinger of the much greater deliverance he would bring to God’s people.” (Grogan)
c. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments: In light of His power and love for Israel, God laments their unfulfilled potential, unfulfilled because of their disobedience.
i. If they had only obeyed, then your peace would have been like a river. Peace as flowing, bountiful, and life-giving as a river.
ii. If they had only obeyed, then your righteousness would have been like the waves of the sea. Righteousness as certain, as unending, as reliable as the sea.
iii. If they had only obeyed, then your descendants would have been like the sand. Descendants as numerous and as dense in population as the sand.
iv. It is sobering to think what unfulfilled potential we have, and what disobedience or unbelief keeps us from everything God has for us. “Yes, I am deeply impressed with the simplicity of the road to revival. Just twenty-four hours’ obedience in our lives, and we would be living in such a flood tide of Holy Spirit blessing that there would not be room enough to contain it!” (Redpath)
3. (20-22) Praise for the LORD’s redemption – and a warning.
Go forth from Babylon!
Flee from the Chaldeans!
With a voice of singing,
Declare, proclaim this,
Utter it to the end of the earth;
Say, “The LORD has redeemed
His servant Jacob!”
And they did not thirst
When He led them through the deserts;
He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them;
He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.
“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
a. Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans! With a voice of singing: Despite Israel’s disobedience and unfulfilled potential, the LORD still loves them and will still free them from their captivity in Babylon. When they leave Babylon, they will go forth with a voice of singing.
b. Declare, proclaim this, utter it to the end of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob”: God tells His people to declare His praises to the end of the earth. The whole world should know how great and merciful God is.
c. “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked”: Hand in hand with praise for the greatness of the LORD is a contrast – the destined misery for the wicked.
i. Often, it seems that the way of the wicked is peaceful. This was how it seemed to the Psalmist in Psalm 73; yet when he saw the end of the wicked, and gained perspective in the house of the LORD, he knew that ultimately, there is no peace…for the wicked.
ii. “Verse 22 is a refrain that occurs again in 57:21, and both times it comes at the end of a nine-chapter section.” (Wolf)
iii. The broad section of Isaiah 40 through 48 focused on the promise of God’s deliverance of His people from their captivity in Babylon, and the specific prediction of the Gentile king who would deliver them, Cyrus. Through the section, God shows that His desire to deliver His people proves His love, His ability to deliver His people proves His power, and His prophetic knowledge of the deliverer proves His uniqueness among all gods. Starting with Isaiah chapter 49, there is no longer a mention of Cyrus, now the focus is on the ultimate deliverer, the Messiah. Though there is still reference to the deliverance from Babylon’s captivity, the real focus is on the ultimate deliverance the Messiah will bring.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
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What Does Isaiah 48:17 Mean? ►
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.
The Lord, the Holy One of Israel, Who rescued His people from enslavement in Egypt, is the same Almighty God Who graciously redeemed us from the slave-market of sin, when we first believed. “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.'”
He is the One Who promised to teach Israel those things that would benefit them, both in this life, and in the world to come. And He is the same Lord Who has promised to guide us into the way of truth, direct us through deep valleys of darkness and uphold us with His righteous right hand, as we climb the hills of difficulty that pepper our earthly path. “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit. I am the One Who leads you in the way you should go.'”
The same Spirit of God Who led the people of Israel through the desert, rained down manna from heaven and opened the Jordan so they could enter the promised land, is the same Holy Spirit Who teaches and trains us in the way we should go. He guards and guides us during our sojourn on earth.
The Holy Spirit Who guided the children of Israel through the desert is the same Spirit of God Who guides us along the path that is best for each one of us – even if it is sometimes uncomfortable or difficult. “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.'”
The Spirit-inspired words of Isaiah were an encouragement to the people of Israel, who were suffering affliction during their Babylonian captivity, and it is the same Holy Spirit that speaks to us and gently leads the body of Christ through the peaks and pitfalls of this worldly system.
The One Who convicts of sin is the same Holy Spirit Who saves and sanctifies our souls, guiding us along the path of duty, pointing out the road of righteousness, instructing us on the highway of holiness and bearing us up on eagle’s wings through times of exhaustion. He is the One Who protects us in the way of affliction, by pointing us to Christ as He plants our feet on the expressway to heaven.
He guides us into all truth, by speaking to us through the inspired Holy Scriptures, and He is the One that unveils the gracious character of God, teaching us to live a life that’s pleasing to Him, by directing us along the most beneficial way, through His wise and gentle child-training.
He is the One who points us to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith Who died and rose again so that we might live and be raised into life immortal, and He is the one that bestows on us gifts of the spirit and spiritual graces.
The believer that has a teachable spirit is the one that the Lord can lead and guide into the way of truth. When God speaks should we not listen to His voice? “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.'”