Journey Through Isaiah: 48:12-22
12 “Listen to Me, O Jacob,
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
13 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.
14 “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.
15 I, even I, have spoken;
Yes, I have called him,
I have brought him, and his way will prosper.
16 “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.”
17 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.
18 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.
19 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.”
20 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!”
21 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.
22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
God chose and called Israel. Israel did nothing to warrant God choosing her. Her history is one of continuous rebellion and failure. But God demonstrates His grace and mercy in choosing Israel. The Lord says I am He, referring to Himself as the first and the last. This is Almighty God that is addressing Israel and not some false idol or false god. He is the one who controls all things and holds all things in His hands. He holds all things together by His mighty power. Over and over again the Lord calls to Israel because His simple desire is that they would fully turn their hearts to Him.
The Lord is the creator of all things. He has laid the foundations and stretched out the Heavens. By His spoken word all things were created. The Lord says “I call to them, they stand up together”. When we reflect and meditate on the awesomeness of God it is truly foolish to not trust in Him. When we compare any circumstance we are indeed facing against who God is, it puts things in the right perspective. What always amazes me about God is that He is continually pursuing us. We fail and fall short in so many ways, but He never gives up on us. His love for us is far greater than we understand.
The Lord calls Israel and the nations to assemble and listen. It is God who has chosen Cyrus. The Lord says “the Lord loves Him”. God chosen Cyrus not because Cyrus deserved it, but because it was part of God’s sovereign plan. It was His will to use Cyrus to set the people free. For Cyrus would perform the pleasure or the plans of the Lord against Babylon. Through Cyrus the arm of the Lord would be against the Babylonians. Every nation on the face of the earth is under the rule and reign of Almighty God. God is the one who raises up kings and tears them down. We must remember that His ways are higher and different than our own.
It is God who has called Cyrus and because He has called Cyrus and anointed Him, the Lord would make His way prosper. It baffled the people of Isaiah’s day that God would choose a pagan king to save Israel from the bondage of Babylon. But this is how God works in the course of history. His ways are so much higher and greater than our own.
In verse sixteen we see that a servant has stepped forward. He is sent by the sovereign Lord and He is empowered by the Holy Spirit. He has not spoken in secret from the beginning. From the time that it was, He was there. This is none other than Jesus Christ. Jesus throughout history has been speaking through the prophets of old in the Old Covenant and speaking through the apostles under the New Covenant. All that we have in the word of God is His word to us. He controls all things and holds all things together by His mighty power. There is nothing that takes place in all of history and creation that is not under His control. Though we may not fully understand all that God is doing, we know that we can trust Him. For He has shown Himself faithful time and again through His word.
Verse seventeen the Lord refers to Himself as the Lord, your Redeemer. It was God who chose Israel, it was God who rescued Israel from not only Egyptian bondage but who would also rescue Israel from the bondage of Babylon. It is Jesus Christ who redeems us from the curse of sin and death. The Lord is the Holy One of Israel because He is Israel’s covenant God and there is no one else like Him or who compares to Him. He is set apart from creation. He has created all things. He exists outside of time and holds all things in His hands. He is the one who leads and guides us. He shows us the way we should go. Why Israel struggled throughout their history and often faced defeat was a continual cycle of rebellion and disobedience to the word of God.
The Lord says if only you would have heeded His commands. Experiencing the peace of God is only found in abiding in Him and walking according to His word. The Lord says your righteousness like the waves of the sea. The waves of the sea or ocean are not only powerful, they are consistent. If our desire is to experience all that God has for us and be an effective witness on this earth for Him, we must live and walk according to His word. God’s word has not been given to us as merely a suggestion. It has been given because it reveals who He is and also His commands for our lives. Without God we are simply lost sheep without a shepherd wandering every day towards destruction. But with God leading us, we are not only protected but we are provided for.
In verse nineteen the Lord shows that blessing and prosperity are connected to obedience and living according to the word of God. God says that if they had heeded the word and followed the Lord that their descendants would have been like the sand, and their offspring of their bodies like the grains of sand. This reminds us of the promise made to Abraham during His life. The promises of God are conditional upon the obedience of those in relationship to Him. God is sovereign and fully in control. But He has also given man freewill and therefore man is responsible for every decision he makes. We are accountable for our actions. If we will live according to God’s word, the Lord will move according to His purposes and plans in our lives. It always comes down to our willingness to surrender.
In verse twenty the Lord says go forth from Babylon. It is God who is going to bring deliverance and it is by following the command of God that freedom will be found. Through Cyrus the Lord would bring redemption and deliverance. They would go forth with singing and would proclaim that the Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob. Often we may examine circumstances and believe that they are impossible to change. That we are stuck here in this cycle of discouragement and depression. But God is the one who redeems and brings deliverance. But we must trust Him at His word and know that He is always faithful.
Verse twenty-one the Lord points to the original exodus from Egypt. It was during their time in the wilderness that the people did not thirst, God led them through the desert, and He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them. Supernaturally the Lord split the rock, and waters gushed out. No matter how difficult and long the journey was from Babylon back to the promised land, the Lord would provide. Often when God calls us and we begin to follow, we can feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face. But this is the importance of trusting the Lord at His word. Following Him each step of the way. Not looking beyond today, but knowing that no matter what we face, God is faithful.
But those who reject the Lord and fail to follow His word and His ways, will be without peace. The Lord says “there is no peace for the wicked”. The wicked are those who reject the grace, mercy, and love of God and instead desire to live and act according to their own ways. God has revealed Himself through His word and through His creation. Every person has been given a conscience and is without excuse. Those who suppress the truth of who God is, live in wickedness and darkness. The wrath of God is reserved for them. But thankfully the Lord has provided salvation through His Son Jesus. Thankful our salvation is not based upon works or performance, but faith alone in Jesus Christ.