A study in the Word – Isaiah 46: 1-13

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By David Moore

If the idols of all the nations had Yahweh’s attention, those of the future Babylon would attract special attention since the exiles of Judah would be surrounded by them. Bel is also called Marduk, the highest god. Nebo was the Babylonian god of knowledge and literature. He announced the fates of the coming year (46: 1a). Rather than people bowing down to idols, Isaiah represents them and the beasts that carry them, bowing down and not arriving where they are honored. It is something like exile in reverse (46: 2).

Unlike the idols which must be carried by beasts of burden (46: 1b), Yahweh has carried all the faithful people of Israel since he trusted in him (46: 3). He promises them that he will not change; He is their Savior whenever they need Him (46: 4). Rather than demanding to be served, the true God is marked by grace. There is nothing to compare to Him (46: 5). Those who worship the work of their hands must bear the weight of their idols, set them up and speak for them, for idols cannot respond (46: 6-7). God and idols are opposing mirrors in their dealings with their worshipers.

No idol can prophesy the liberation of a people, and no idol can call its worshipers to rebuke their sins. Yahweh can, however; He will hold transgressors accountable because He has made His will and purpose known from the beginning (46: 8-9). What he has commanded in the past days will “be established” and fulfilled (46:10). His purpose will be fulfilled by “Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of my purpose from a far country”, referring to Cyrus the Persian (46: 11; 44: 28-45: 1-7) . Idol worshipers can speak for themselves and prophesy all kinds of things to come, but only God can plan an action AND make it happen. So who should Israel trust?

Yet there will be many in Israel (“you”) who will doubt God and thus show themselves “stubborn” (46:12). In a positive sense, this word can mean mighty or valiant, but here this quality is turned in the wrong direction to become harsh or stubborn. That they are stubbornly rebellious is noted as being “far from justice”. Grace is grace, and is not limited by stubbornness, so God will bring his righteousness to Israel. His character of grace prevails over Israel’s character of rebellion (46:13). And still does.

Dr David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online Bible and theology instructor for Taylor University and the University of the Nations. Email: [email protected].


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