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Lowell Brueckner

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Israel's Only Salvation


40. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 43

What the Spirit says now

We see in the book of Revelation that Jesus gave different messages to each of the seven churches. He concluded each message with the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Although every Christian should be occupied with a systematic study of the entire scope of revelation, there is a more specific word, which the Spirit of God applies in different places and in different times. We must be attentive to that which the Spirit says to the church now.

I want to keep reminding you to have your Bible open to read along, as we go through the chapters. I assume that you will do that, as I make comments. You will notice that verse 1 begins with the words “but now”. The preacher of Ecclesiastes claims that there is a time for everything (Ecc.3:1-7) and the preacher of the gospel must be sensitive to the Spirit in order to know specifically what He wants the people to hear at any given time. There is a time for rebuke and there is a time for comfort. The prophet Isaiah knows how and when to do both.

“But now”, after the warning of judgment delivered at the end of chapter 42, it is time for God to comfort Israel. There is no comforter like the Holy Spirit. He inspires Isaiah to begin with Israel’s creation. The Lord continues to create; He creates individuals in the wombs of their mothers and He creates whole nations. Comfort begins with the knowledge that we are created beings and therefore we have purpose and care from our Creator.

Comfort from fear

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (v.1) Fear is a very real enemy of mankind and there is no one, who is not attacked by one form of fear or another. I shudder to think of the fear that comes to one, who realizes he is alone in this world, without hope, without Christ, and without a Creator. What a great thing it is to know that you belong to God! You are His!

This is the teaching of Jesus Christ in the eternal gospel for all nations who trust in Him. It is about Emmanuel, His presence in the midst of problems: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (v.2) There will be waters, rivers and fire; there is no promise that excludes dangers and tests. David wrote of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but he was assured of the Lord’s presence there.

In the first three verses, we see that the Holy One of Israel is Creator, Redeemer, Companion and Savior. There is no denying that those chosen of God are marked for His special attention, above all others on earth. That is the theme of these verses. “I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, people in exchange for your life” (v.3,4).  It is wonderful comfort for His people, while it poses a threat to those who are not.

The reassuring words, “fear not” are repeated in verse 5 and I am thinking about the many times they are uttered throughout Scripture. They were spoken on various occasions to Abraham, God speaks them to Moses and through Moses to the people. In the conquest of the Promised Land, God gives them to Joshua and Booz passes these words to Ruth, the Moabite. They were spoken to the judge, Gideon, to David, and many times by the prophets, but most frequently by Jesus to His disciples.

Fear not for your future, Israel; fear not extinction. After worldwide dispersion, God will gather you from the north, south, east and west into the millennial kingdom of His Son. You have to like poetic lines that speak music into the hearts of the reader: “I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth” (v.6). It is happening, as we study these verses, and we have the thrill to witness fulfilled prophecy. After World War II, He spoke to England and England released its hold on His land. He has spoken more recently to Russia and thousands of Jews have returned from the north. They have come from all the continents on earth.

Israel’s future literally foretold

In our times, God receives glory as these ancient prophecies come to pass. Who, but the Lord, can be doing this? Can we see it or are we blind to what happens before our eyes in the 21st Century? C. H. Spurgeon, towards the end of the 19th Century, recognized the literality of the return of the Jews to their homeland, and before him, J. C. Ryle did, as well. In the distant past, God created, formed and called this race of people by His name; that is, they are linked to His name and to His character and through them, He demonstrates His person (v.7). In this 21st Century, give Him glory for He is bringing His sons and daughters from afar.

In this prophetic sense, we see the opposite of what was prophesied concerning the time of Christ’s first coming, when the people had eyes and ears, but couldn’t see or hear. Here, the exact opposite takes place. The blind and deaf have potential to see and hear. They are to be restored! (v.8) This is consistent with Ezequiel’s prophecy in chapter 37.

The Bible is the living Word of God, and one of the foremost reasons for claiming it to be so is because it calls future things, as though they had already taken place. This is the argument of God Himself concerning the fulfillment of past prophecies. Nowhere among the nations, with all their accumulated and combined knowledge, is there a guide to future events. The United Nations was formed in an attempt to usher in world peace, but they have no manual to prove that it will happen. Among them, there is no witness to bring testimony of wisdom or truth. The represented nations stab in the dark and the best that they can do is unwittingly confirm what an all-knowing God has already predicted will take place (v.9).

The nation of Israel stands among the nations of the world to give witness to the personal existence of the Lord and of His personal involvement in the affairs of the world. “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen” (v.10). The difficulty is in getting Israel to know, believe and understand this fact. The problem always lies in getting human beings to agree with God and to see things, as He sees them. The second difficulty is for them to give Him exclusive credit for who He is and what He does: “I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior” (v.11)

Precedence and a changeless God

“I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you”. It is amazing in our Bible study that we can go back to the source of all things. Here is divine principle. In the courts of the land, that which takes precedent is upheld as right. A good lawyer will always try to find a precedent to the ruling which he or she is seeking. What precedes all else is absolute truth and whatever contradicts original truth, is perversion and falsehood. The Creator, who existed before the beginning of time, determines what is true and what is right. His people are to be witnesses of His declarations, salvation and proclamations. They are to stand firm upon His word in a deceived society (v.12).

Ultimately, there is no changing, what God has established. Deception can be accepted and popularized, but it can bring no real change. No man has produced life. Science proves that there has never been, nor can there be, evolution into new species. No man has enjoyed any success, futilely working against the laws of nature, which were put in play in the beginning: “I work, and who can turn it back?” (v.13)

Once again, Isaiah places before us the title, the Holy One of Israel, and another frequent title, your Redeemer, in verse 14. To redeem, in the Old Testament sense, means to buy back, as was the duty of a near relative towards one, who had lost property. Israel was redeemed from Egypt, because they had lost their human rights and had become slaves. God would redeem them from Babylon, because they had lost their land. He would deliver them from their captors by defeating them at the hands of the Persians and the Babylonians would seek escape in ships by the Euphrates, down to the Persian Gulf. Throughout this book, we will see that God will do all these things through and for His holiness.

“I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King (v.15). These are titles that the subjects of the kingdom must recognize in their King. They must submit to His sovereign lordship and they must be a holy people. However, when we are dealing with a Creator, we have someone, who is more than a leader, a ruler, or a commander. We have one who is responsible for our very existence and therefore holds a right over us, beyond all other titles. For this reason, the Scriptures refer sometimes to the potter/clay relationship. “Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay?” (Ro.9:20,21). Perhaps you can understand better, then, why the Theory of Evolution is almost universally accepted by a mutinous race. By it, they attempt to become independent, ridding themselves of a Creator.

Having the Lord as a Creator makes us subjects of His perpetual care. He is the One, who does what no other can do: He “makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters” (v.16). Israel had this great miracle in their history, something they could always look back upon. God made a path through the Red Sea and when the Egyptians hoped to overtake them, they were drowned, as the text states, “quenched like a wick” (v.17). The Lord, who delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh, the mightiest ruler of that day, would also free them from the Babylonian Empire and from whatever other power that would threaten them in the future.

The blessings of God come to His people in an ever-increasing manner. You can refer to the past for encouragement, but you should not limit God to what He has done before. You can look to Him for the future and to what His unlimited power will perform in the days ahead.

Perception and prayer

“Do you not perceive it?” (v.18-19). Paul told the Thessalonians that they were to walk in light, while the world lies in deception. “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day” (1 Th.5:4,5). That statement from the apostle went beyond the day, in which he lived. It was true for the Thessalonians, but the Holy Spirit meant it especially for His last-day people. The day of the Lord would not come to them, as a thief in the night, but they would be perceptive to the times, in which they lived. 

All of nature awaits the manifestation of the sons of God and will rejoice in the day of the Lord’s reign. Nature has always been faithful in honoring God and we rely on His natural laws to function perfectly. The birds and the beasts respond to His gifts, which are done chiefly on behalf of His people, in order that they would praise Him (v.20-21). Oh, the irony in the fact that the highest creation on earth, formed for fellowship in intimate love and relationship, are the ones, who grow weary of him. Israel, the most privileged people in the days of Isaiah, have become bored with the Almighty!

It is a sign of the low state of the church, as well as Israel, that the prayer meeting has become antiquated. We continue with mid-week services, but where are the nights dedicated to prayer? I feel convicted, as I write, about how much more time could be spent in prayer: God help me! “Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel!” (v.22) Israel was negligent in their service and sacrifices. Hear the warning by the writer of Hebrews: “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it… How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (He.2:1,3).

Who grows weary of the beauty of the sunset or the glory of the rainbow? Who becomes bored at the massive display of lightning in the thunderstorm or the flashing of the northern lights across the heavens? How can we tire, then, of the greater beauty of their Creator and neglect to approach the sapphire throne of our heavenly Father? Forgive us, Lord, for becoming weary in the highest Christian service of prayer.

Hopeless sinfulness

What will move in to fill the vacuum caused by the carelessness in service to God, whether it be in Israel’s case or our own? “You have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities” (v.23-24). Jesus warned His disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt.26:41). Prayerlessness is the first step towards falling into sin.

Notice the chief purpose for the remission of sins: “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (v.25). In the last lesson we looked ahead to chapter 53 to find that the One, who brought about the death of Christ, was the Father. In this verse, it is confirmed. He blotted out our sins for His own sake. We are the benefactors, but His anger was placated, when justice was served and the sentence was applied against our sin.

We see the source of the civilized world’s justice system; it was borrowed from the court of heaven. There the defense is allowed to present his case, books must be opened, evidence must be presented, and at least two or three witnesses must testify. The accused must be proven guilty, before the sentence is pronounced and applied. This is all biblical principle (v.26).

The Jews in Christ’s day argued that they had Abraham as their father, but there was no salvation in that fact. Joshua showed that Abraham and his ancestors walked in idolatry, before he was called out of Ur (Josh.24:14). Isaac was to be offered up in sacrifice, because of his sin (Ge.22:2), and certainly Jacob proved the accurate application of the name given to him from birth. The priests, Israel’s intermediaries and those who tended the service of the sanctuary, had to make sacrifices for their own sins. Israel was stained with sin from its very beginning and was profaned at every level of its society. It is guilty and there is nowhere to look for a remedy in their history, in their society, or in their religion.  “The Lord is Salvation”, that is the title of this book, but the first essential step towards salvation, is a recognition of the hopelessness in finding justification in any source, outside of the cross of Christ (v.27-28). 


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