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Written and edited by Glenn Pease
As in all my commentaries I here quote many others, and sometimes I do not have the author's name. If you know the author of any quotes please let me know and I will give credit. If anyone who is quoted does not wish their material to be included in this work, they can let me know and I will delete it. You can contact me at email@example.com Some of the quotes have technical language that I have eliminated because it is poorly copied and has no value having lost all of it original format.
1. The reason I have chosen to comment on this particular chapter is because it is very unusual. It reveals God to be sovereign over all people, and that he is able to use a pagan man to illustrate the love and mercy of his own Son who would come and liberate his people. Cyrus is a pagan, but he is an example of the Messiah. He was a liberator of God's people. He made a major difference in history because he was chosen by God to do so. We tend to think that God only works through those who are his chosen people, but here we see God declaring that this man did not even acknowledge Him, and yet God chose him to do good and mighty things. We can never again, after reading this chapter, assume that a person is not God's chosen tool to be providentially used for his purpose in history just because they are not Christians. on-Christian leaders are doing things all the time that can be rightly seen as godly and beneficial acts that fulfill the will of God in their time. In the light of this chapter it is folly to limit God's working to believers only. The world is filled with pagan leaders who are a positive force in the world for good, and we are blind if we do not see this common grace of God in his universal providence to bless a needy world. People are not saved by being used of God, but they can be the means of saving others, just as Cyrus saved the people of God. 2. Henry, “Cyrus was nominated, in the foregoing chapter, to be God's shepherd; more is said to him and more of him in this chapter, not only because he was to be instrumental in the release of the Jews out of their captivity, but because he was to be therein a type of the great Redeemer, and that release was to be typical of the great redemption from sin and death; for that was the salvation of which all the prophets witnessed. We have here, I. The great things which God would do for Cyrus, that he might be put into a capacity to release God's people, ver. 1-4. II. The proof God would hereby give of his eternal power and godhead, and his universal, incontestable, sovereignty, ver. 5-7. III. A prayer for the hastening of this deliverance, ver. 8. IV. A check to the unbelieving Jews, who quarreled with God for the lengthening out of their captivity, ver. 9, 10. V. Encouragement given to the believing Jews, who trusted in God and continued instant in prayer, assuring them that God would in due time accomplish this work by the hand of Cyrus, ver. 11-15. VI. A challenge given to the worshipers of idols and their doom read, and satisfaction given to the worshipers of the true God and their comfort secured, with an eye to the Mediator, who is made
of God to us both righteousness and sanctification, ver. 16-25. And here, as in many other parts of this prophecy, there is much of Christ and of gospel grace.” 3. Cyrus the Great was not just great in the eyes of man, but also in the eyes of God, and the result is, he was the most famous pagan in the Bible for his role in doing the will of God out of a positive willing spirit. It is amazing how many times Cyrus is mentioned in the Bible as being God's servant. Below is a list of some of the most positive text where he is mentioned beside those of Isa. 45. Most of them have to do with his role in building the temple in Jerusalem. 2CH 36:22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: 2CH 36:23 "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you--may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.'" EZR 1:1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: EZR 1:2 "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. EZR 1:3 Anyone of his people among you--may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. EZR 1:4 And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'" EZR 1:5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites--everyone whose heart God had moved--prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. EZR 1:6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. EZR 1:7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which ebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.
EZR 1:8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. EZR 1:9 This was the inventory: gold dishes 30 silver dishes 1,000 silver pans 29 EZR 1:10 gold bowls 30 matching silver bowls 410 other articles 1,000 EZR 1:11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along when the exiles came up from Babylon to Jerusalem. EZR 3:7 Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia. EZR 4:3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us." EZR 5:13 "However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. EZR 5:14 He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which ebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon. "Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, EZR 6:3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be ninety feet high and ninety feet wide, ISA 44:28 who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid."' 4. Max A Forsythe, “Our passage may be divided into four sections for our consideration today. The first section of eight verses is devoted to prophesying an event a century and a half in the future. The second section, in verses nine to thirteen, challenges the unbelief of those in every age who doubt the prophecies of the prophets. The third section, in verses fourteen to nineteen, opens up a promise of the gentiles coming unto the Father with an invitation to Israel. The last section, from verse twenty to twenty-five, ends with an invitation to all people in every age to turn to God and be saved.
In our first section, Isaiah develops the revelation that he introduced earlier. One day there will come a conqueror by the name of Cyrus. Here Isaiah reveals that the Lord has appointed this Cyrus to subdue the nations within the plan and providence of the Almighty. God promises that He will go before Cyrus and make his way possible. The wealth conveyed to Cyrus ought to teach him of the power of the Hebrew God. Further, God would have it known that even this heathen king will do what the Lord has planned for the benefit of His own people. Cyrus, if he heard this passage from Daniel, may be addressed directly through Isaiah’s revelation in verse four. Centuries before he was born, Cyrus’s name is revealed through Isaiah and his specific purpose by the prophet Jeremiah. That purpose is returning God’s people to their mountain, their city and their Temple so that a greater Son of David might be revealed in the fullness of time. Isaiah and Jeremiah are to reveal these facts years before hand so that everyone might know that God is indeed greater than, and separate from, the mere gods and goddesses made in the image and idea of mortal man.” 5. Harry A. Ironside, “THIS is the passage preeminently given by unbelieving critics as proof that the Isaiah who wrote the first part of the book could not have written these words. But as we have already said, that is simply discounting the whole question of inspiration. If we believe, as every Christian should, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of GOD, that the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but that holy men of GOD spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, there is no more difficulty in understanding that GOD could foretell the rise of King Cyrus and what he would do for His people than it was to foretell the coming of the Lord JESUS into the world, and the redemption that He would accomplish; His first coming and His second coming and the effects, both of His rejection and of His final acceptance by the people of Israel.” 6. J. Lewis Johnson Jr. “ otice the 28th verse of chapter 44. That saith of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure,” and then chapter 45 and verse 1. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, that word anointed of course is the word for Christ. And so Cyrus is called the Lord's shepherd and he is called the Lord's Christ. These are two terms that are two of the most important of the terms that are used to refer to the Lord Jesus himself. This noble Persian becomes a type of Christ then.” 6B. Clearly, no other pagan in history has has such noble names attached to him by God himself. This makes Cyrus the greatest pagan in the Bible. There are other pagans God has used and blest, but none can match this Messiah king who was the savior of God's people. It was just a secular and temporal salvation that could not match the eternal salvation that Jesus brought to his people, but it was the best that could be at the time.
1. "This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
1. Here is a case where God has chosen a pagan who is outside of his chosen people to play a major role in the release of his people. God used people other than his chosen to achieve his purpose in history. Good things can come through those who do not belong to the family of God. Just because a leader is not a believer does not mean they cannot be used of God to do his will. Unbelievers can be motivated to do the right thing that is beneficial for the people of God. The information below shows that Cyrus was not only a blessing to the Jews, but to all people. He was kind and merciful to all peoples that he conquered, and he was gracious in allowing all to worship according to their chosen creeds and gods. He is one of history's great examples of a good man who could have great power and use it for good rather than evil. 1B. Rich Cathers, “Isaiah is writing about 700 BC. In 586 BC, ebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, would conquer the city of Jerusalem and take the Jews with him back to Babylon. Cyrus was born about 599 BC. According to the best histories Cyrus’ grandfather, Astyages, king of Media, had a dream that Cyrus would one day succeed him as king before the reigning monarch’s death. Astyages ordered Cyrus put to death, but the officer in charge of the execution instead carried the boy into the hills to be raised by a shepherd. It’s interesting that God calls Cyrus "my shepherd". Cyrus was the one who would eventually conquer Babylon in 538 BC. In Israel, priests and kings were anointed by having a special perfumed oil poured over them. This was like a badge that showed that they had been chosen by God for their job. God calls Cyrus His anointed because He has chosen him and put him into his position. He has a special task from God. He will be the one who would send the Jews in Babylon home to rebuild their temple. The historians Herodotus and Xenophon tell us that Cyrus' army, under the command of Ugbaru diverted the waters of the great river and entered into the city under the walls. When the army got to the bars in the river, they had been left open and because of Belshazzar’s great feast, the guards were all drunk. The inhabitants of the city were also drunk and the city fell without a fight. Sixteen days later Cyrus himself entered the city with much public rejoicing. 1B2, J. Lewis Johnson Jr. “As soon as Cyrus came into the city, according to ancient tradition he looked up Daniel and he asked Daniel for some advice. And apparently during the course of the advice that was given to King Cyrus, Daniel took an opportunity to read to Cyrus from the word of God. In fact Daniel, according to Josephus, read to Cyrus a section of the Book of Ezra, which long before Cyrus' coming had announced that Cyrus would be the one who would allow the Jews to go back to rebuild the city. and so far as we know this tradition is true. He read for him these words, in Ezra chapter 1 verses 1 through 4, we have reference to it, " ow in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, so, that the word of Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and put it also in writing saying "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia, The Lord, God of heaven, had given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has charged me to build him one house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and build a house of the Lord God of Israel. He is the God, which is in Jerusalem. And whoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the freewill-offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” And so apparently Daniel, was the intermediary and brought to Cyrus this information that it
was God who had brought him to power -- the Jehovah, the God of Israel -- and it was this Jehovah that had given him that victory and therefore it was He who was to give permission for the Israelites to leave the city of Babylon and go back and rebuild the ancient city of Jerusalem. I have no doubt in my own mind that Daniel read from the Prophecy of Isaiah, too. And he probably said, "Look here Cyrus, you are mentioned in the word of God, generations before you have come into existence". And he pointed him to Isaiah chapter 44 and verse 28, who saith of Cyrus. You see, Cyrus, there you are in the word of God. And chapter 45 and verse 1. "Thus saith Cyrus the Lord to his anointed to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him, and I will lose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut." You see that's Babylon. “I will go before Thee, and make the crooked places straight, I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and notice the third verse. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness (that's Croesus perhaps) and the hidden riches of secret places that, thou mayest know that I am the Lord who call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” Josephus of course says that all of this really happened. We cannot prove it. It certainly seems that it could have happened. So, Cyrus is an important figure in the history of Israel.” 1C. Constable, “Yahweh shockingly referred to Cyrus as His anointed (Heb. mashiah), a title normally reserved for Israel's prophets, priests, and kings.568 It also refers to the Messiah. The Israelites thought of their anointed leaders as those whom God uniquely raised up to accomplish His purposes. By calling Cyrus His anointed, the Lord was teaching them that He was the Lord of all the earth, not just Israel. He could and would use whomever he chose to deliver His people.” He quotes Wiersbe, “"Sometimes we forget that God can use even unconverted world leaders for the good of His people and the progress of His work." Constable adds, “People do not have to be believers in Him for God to use them and bless them. The choice is His; He is sovereign.” 1C2. Barnes, “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed - This is a direct apostrophe to Cyrus, though it was uttered not less than one hundred and fifty years before Babylon was taken by him. The word ' anointed' is that which is usually rendered "Messiah" ( ׁ◌ mâshı̂ yach ), and here is rendered by the Septuagint, ͂ͅ ͂ͅ ́ͅ Tō christō mou Kurō - ' To Cyrus, my Christ,' i. e, my anointed. It properly means "the anointed," and was a title which was commonly given to the kings of Israel, because they were set apart to their office by the ceremony of anointing, who hence were called ̀ ́ hoi christoi Kuriou - ' The anointed of the Lord' I Samuel 2:10, I Samuel 2:35; I Samuel 12:3, I Samuel 12:5; I Samuel 16:6; I Samuel 24:7, I Samuel 24:11; I Samuel 26:9, I Samuel 26:11, I Samuel 26:23; II Samuel 1:14, II Samuel 1:16; II Samuel 19:22-23. There is no evidence that the Persian kings were inaugurated or consecrated by oil, but this is an appellation which was common among the Jews, and is applied to Cyrus in accordance with their usual mode of designating kings. It means here that God had solemnly set apart Cyrus to perform an important public service in his cause. It does not mean that Cyrus was a man of piety, or a worshiper of the true God, of which there is no certain evidence, but that his appointment as king was owing to the arrangement of God' s providence, and that he was to be employed in accomplishing his purposes. The title does not designate holiness of character, but appointment to an office.
1D. A. Martin, "Cyrus is the only Gentile king who is called God's 'anointed.' Since this is the translation of the Hebrew word which we spell in English as Messiah, Cyrus is in a sense a type of
the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . The only intended resemblance is in the fact that Cyrus was the anointed one who delivered the people of Israel from their captivity. As such he points us to the greater Anointed One who saves His people from their sins." 1E. "There is precedent for the divine anointing of a non-Israelite king, though in one passage only (1 Kings 19:15-16). Although the living God normally employed Israelites for such purposes, he is sovereign and may use whom he will." (Grogan) 1F. David Guzik, “Whose right hand I have held: Like many of us, Cyrus could look back on his life and career and see how the LORD held his hand the entire time. To subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings: Cyrus had a remarkable military career." “To his appointed and enabled one, to subdue many nations. Xenophon, in his first book . . . gives us a list of them. Cyrus subdued, saith he, the Syrians, Assyrians, Arabians, Cappodcians, Phrygians, the Lydians, Carians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, the Bactrians, Indians, Cilicians, Sacians, Paphloagonians, Maryandines, and many other nations. He also had a dominion over the Asiatics, Greeks, Cyprians, Egyptians . . . He vanquished, saith Herodotus, whatever country soever he invaded." (Trapp) To open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut . . . I will break in pieces the gates of bronze: The armies of the Medes and Persians, under Cyrus, conquered the city of Babylon in a remarkable raid described in Daniel 5. According to the ancient historian Herodotus, while King Belshazzar of Babylon held a reckless party, Cyrus conquered the city by diverting the flow of the Euphrates into a nearby swamp; thus lowering the level of the river so his troops could march through the water and under the river-gates. But they still would not have been able to enter, had not the bronze gates of the inner walls been left inexplicably unlocked. God opened the gates of the city of Babylon for Cyrus, and put it in writing 200 years before it happened! 1G. "In October 539 BC, Cyrus advanced into lower Mesopotamia and, leaving Babylon till last, conquered and occupied the surrounding territory. Seeing which way the wind was blowing, abonidus of Babylon deserted his city, leaving it in the charge of his son Belshazzar . . . the taking of Babylon was as bloodless and effortless as Daniel 6 implies." (Motyer) 1H. Joseph Alexander, “All interpreters admit that while this clause, in its most general sense, is perfectly appropriate to all the fortified places which were attacked by Cyrus, it is specifically and remarkably appropriate to the taking of Babylon. It can scarcely be considered a fortuitous coincidence, that Herodotus speaks of the gates which led to the river as having been left open on the night of the attack ; and Xenophon says the doors of the palace itself having been non-guardedly opened, the invaders took possession of it almost without resistance. These apparent allusions to particular circumstances and events, couched under general predictions, are far more striking and conclusive proofs of inspiration than the most explicit and detailed prediction of the particular event alone could be.” 2. Calvin says it is strange that a heathen like Cyrus should be called the messiah, and, thus, be an example of what Jesus Christ came into the world to do, and that was to redeem his people. He wrote, "Yet it might be thought strange that he calls Cyrus his Anointed; for this is the
designation which was given to the kings of Israel and Judah, because they represented the person of Christ, who alone, strictly speaking, is "the Lord's Anointed." "The Lord went forth with his Anointed," says Habakkuk, "for the salvation of his people." (Habakkuk 3:13.) In the person of David a kingdom had been set up, which professed to be an image and figure of Christ; and hence also the prophets in many passages call him "David," and "the Son of David." (Ezekiel 37:24, 25.) It was indeed a special anointing, intended to distinguish that priestly kingdom from all heathen kingdoms. Since therefore this title belonged to none but the kings of Judea, it might be thought strange that it is here bestowed on a heathen king and a worshiper of idols; for although he was instructed by Daniel, yet we do not read that he changed his religion. True, he regarded with reverence the God of Israel, and considered him to be the Highest; but he was not prompted by a sincere affection of the heart to worship him, and did not advance so far as to forsake superstitions and idolatries. Thus God deigns to call him his "Anointed," not by a perpetual title, but because he discharged for a time the office of Redeemer; for he both avenged the Church of God and delivered it from the Assyrians, who were its enemies. This office belongs peculiarly to Christ; and this ordinary appellation of kings ought to be limited to this circumstance, that he restored the people of God to the enjoyment of liberty. This should lead us to observe how highly God values the salvation of the Church, because, for the sake of this single benefit, Cyrus, a heathen man, is called "the Messiah," or "the Anointed.”
3. Calvin goes on, "Whose right hand I have taken hold of. By this mode of expression, he means that Cyrus shall prosper in all his undertakings, for he shall carry on war under God's direction; and therefore Isaiah declares that, for the sake of the Church, in order that he may deliver her, God will grant to him prosperity in all things; while he again commends the providence of God, that the Jews may fully believe, amidst changes and troubles, that God on high governs all things in such a manner as to promote the benefit of his elect. ow, since it was not easy for Cyrus to penetrate as far as Babylon, because the whole of Asia had leagued together in order to frustrate his designs, the Prophet testifies that God will dissolve all the strength which men can bring against him. 4. Calvin continues, "I will loose the loins of kings. Because the whole strength lies in the reins, the Hebrew writers use the phrase "opening," or "loosing the loins," to denote "being deprived of strength." We might also view it somewhat differently, that is, that the Lord will "make bare," or "loose their loins," according to the customary manner of Scripture, by which kings are said to be ungirded of the belt, namely, of the badge of royalty, when they are deprived of authority. Job (Job 12:18) employs this mode of expression, and Isaiah will afterward employ it: 3 "I will gird thee." (Ver. 5.) On this account I more readily adopt this sense, that the force of the contrast may be more evident. This shews clearly that kings have just as much strength and power as the Lord bestows on them for the preservation of each nation; for when he determines to convey their authority to others, they cannot defend their condition by any weapons or swords. To open the gates before him. By this expression he means that no fortresses can resist God, which indeed is acknowledged by all, but yet they do not cease to place foolish confidences in bulwarks and fortresses; for, where cities are well surrounded by walls, and the gates are shut, men think that there they are safe. On the other hand the Prophet shews that all defenses are useless, and that it serves no purpose to block up every entrance, when the Lord wishes to open up a way for the enemies. Although it is certain that the gates were shut and securely barred, yet, because Cyrus pushed his way as swiftly as if all the cities had been thrown open, the Prophet justly affirms that nothing shall be closed against him."
5. Clarke wrote, "Xenophon gives the following list of the nations conquered by Cyrus: the Syrians, Assyrians, Arabians, Cappadocians, both the Phrygians, Lydians, Carians, Phoenicians, Babylonians. He moreover reigned over the Bactrians, Indians, Cilicians, the Sacae Paphlagones, and ldariandyni. All these kingdoms he acknowledges, in his decree for the restoration of the Jews, to have been given to him by JEHOVAH, the God of heaven. Ezra i. 2. To open before him the two leaved gates, &c. "That I may open before him the valves; and the gates shall not be shut"] The gates of Babylon within the city leading from the streets to the river, were providentially left open, when Cyrus's forces entered the city in the night through the channel of the river, in the general disorder occasioned by the great feast which was then celebrated; otherwise, says Herodotus, i. 191, the Persians would have been shut up in the bed of the river, and taken as in a net, and all destroyed. And the gates of the palace were opened imprudently by the king's orders, to inquire what was the cause of the tumult without; when the two parties under Gobrias and Gadatas rushed in, got possession of the palace, and slew the king. XE OPH., Cyrop. vii. p. 528. 6. Henry wrote, "Cyrus was a Mede, descended (as some say) from Astyages king of Media. The pagan writers are not agreed in their accounts of his origin. Some tell us that in his infancy he was an outcast, left exposed, and was saved from perishing by a herdsman's wife. However, it is agreed that, being a man of an active genius, he soon made himself very considerable, especially when Crœsus king of Lydia made a descent upon his country, which he not only repulsed, but revenged, prosecuting the advantages he had gained against Crœsus with such vigor that in a little time he took Sardis and made himself master of the rich kingdom of Lydia and the many provinces that then belonged to it. This made him very great (for Crœsus was rich to a proverb) and enabled him to pursue his victories in many countries; but it was nearly ten years afterward that, in conjunction with his uncle Darius and with the forces of Persia, he made this famous attack upon Babylon, which is here foretold, and which we have the history of Dan. 5. Babylon had now grown exorbitantly rich and strong. It was forty-five miles in compass (some say more): the walls were thirty-two feet thick and 100 cubits high. Some say, They were so thick that six chariots might drive abreast upon them; others say, They were fifty cubits thick and 200 high. Cyrus seems to have had a great ambition to make himself master of this place, and to have projected it long; and at last he performed it. 7. Henry continues, " ow here, 210 years before it came to pass, we are told, what great things God would do for him, that he might put it into his power to release his people. In order to this he shall be a mighty conqueror and a wealthy monarch and nations shall become tributaries to him and help him both with men and money. ow that which God here promised to do for Cyrus he could have done for Zerubbabel, or some of the Jews themselves; but the wealth and power of this world God has seldom seen fit to entrust his own people with much of, so many are the snares and temptations that attend them; but if here has been occasion, for the god of the church, to make use of them, God has been pleased rather to put them into the hands of others, to be employed for them, than to venture them in their own hands. Cyrus is here called God's anointed, because he was both designed and qualified for this great service by the counsel of God, and was to be herein a type of the Messiah. God engages to hold his right hand, not only to strengthen and sustain him, but to direct his motions and intentions, as Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands when he was to shoot his arrow against Syria, 2 Kings xiii. 16." 8. Henry goes on,"Great cities shall surrender themselves into his hands, without giving him or themselves any trouble. God will incline the keepers of the city to open before him the two-leaved
gates, not treacherously nor timorously, but from a full conviction that it is to no purpose to contend with him; and therefore the gates shall not be shut to keep him out as an enemy, but thrown open to admit him as a friend. (4.) The longest and most dangerous marches shall be made easy and ready to him: I will go before thee, to clear the way, and to conduct thee in it, and then the crooked places, shall be made straight; or, as some read it, the hilly places shall be leveled and made even. Those will find a ready road that have God going before them. (5.) o opposition shall stand before him. He that gives him his commission will break in pieces the gates of brass that are shut against him, and cut asunder the bars of iron wherewith they are fastened. This was fulfilled in the letter, if that be true which Herodotus reports, that the city of Babylon had 100 gates all of brass, with posts and hooks of the same metal." 9. An unknown source gives us this information: "Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated. Upon his victory over the Medes, he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. The conquest of Asia Minor completed, he led his armies to the eastern frontiers. The victories to the east led him again to the west and sounded the hour for attack on Babylon and Egypt. When he conquered Babylon, he did so to cheers from the Jewish Community, who welcomed him as a liberator- he allowed the Jews to return to the promised Land. He showed great forbearance and respect towards the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of other races. These qualities earned him the respect and homage of all the people over whom he ruled. After victory over Babylonia, Cyrus The Great presented himself not as a conqueror, but a liberator and the legitimate successor to the crown. He took the title of "King of Babylon and King of the Land". Cyrus had no thought of forcing conquered people into a single mould, and had the wisdom to leave unchanged the institution of each kingdom he attached to the Persian Crown. In 537 BC he allowed more than 40,000 Jews to leave Babylon and return to Palestine.” 9B. Barnes, “To open before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut - The folding gates of a city, or a palace. It so happened in the scene of revelry which prevailed in Babylon when Cyrus took it, that the gates within the city which led from the streets to the river were left open. The city was not only enclosed with walls, but there were walls within the city on each side of the river Euphrates with gates, by which the inhabitants had access to the water of the river. Had not these gates been left open on that occasion, contrary to the usual custom, the Persians would have been shut up in the bed of the river, and could all have been destroyed. It also happened in the revelry of that night, that the gates of the palace were left open, so that there was access to every part of the city. Herodotus (i. 191) says, ' If the besieged had been aware of the designs of Cyrus, or had discovered the project before its actual accomplishment, they might have effected the total destruction of these troops. They had only to secure the little gates which led to the river, and to have manned the embankments on either side, and they might have enclosed the Persians in a net from which they could never have escaped; as it happened they were taken by surprise; and such is the extent of that city, that, as the inhabitants themselves affirm, they who lived in the extremities were made prisoners before the alarm was communicated to the center of the palace.' one but an omniscient Being could have predicted, a hundred and fifty years before it occurred, that such an event would take place; and this is one of the many prophecies which demonstrate in the most particular manner that Isaiah was inspired.”
10. "He also declared the first Charter of Human Rights known to mankind, which is written on a clay cylinder:"I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and abu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasures. When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I established the seat of government in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk, the great God, caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon to...me. I sought daily to worship him. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon. I did not allow any to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being. The citizens of Babylon... I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes. 11. "At my deeds Marduk, the great Lord, rejoiced, and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshiped, and to Cambyses, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops, he graciously gave his blessing, and in good spirit is before him we/glorified/ exceedingly his high divinity. All the kings who sat in the throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper to the Lower Sea, those who dwelt in ... all the kings of the West Country who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From ... to the cities of Ashur and Susa, Agade, Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der, as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the Gods whose abode is in the midst of them. I returned to the places and housed them in lasting abodes. I gathered together all their inhabitants and restored to them their dwellings. The Gods of Sumer and Akkad whom abonidus had, to the anger of the Lord of the Gods, brought into Babylon, I at the bidding of Marduk, the great Lord made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes. May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and abu, that my days may long, and may they say to Marduk my Lord, May Cyrus the King who reveres thee, and Cambyses his son ..." 12. Cyrus issued a decree citing his policies and aims, which became known as the Charter of the Rights of ations. This charter was the first declaration of Human Rights and is displayed at the British Museum. A replica of the charter is on display at the United ations in ew York. In portions of the charter, Cyrus wrote:“When my soldiers in great numbers peacefully entered Babylon…I did not allow anyone to terrorize the people…I kept in view the needs of people and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being..Freed all the slaves. I put an end to their misfortune and slavery.” 13. Wayne Jackson wrote, "Cyrus is mentioned some 23 times in the literature of the Old Testament. Isaiah refers to Cyrus as Jehovah’s “shepherd,” the Lord’s “anointed,” who was providentially appointed to facilitate the divine plan. God would lead this monarch to “subdue nations” and “open doors” (an allusion to the Jews’ release from Babylonian captivity). He would make “rough places smooth,” i.e., accommodate the Hebrews’ return to their Palestinean homeland. He would ultimately be responsible for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the temple. The fulfillment of these plain and specific predictions is set forth in 2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra
1:1-4,7,8; 3:7; 4:3). The Encyclopedia Britannica, an unlikely source, acknowledges that “in 538 [B.C.] Cyrus granted to the Jews, whom ebuchadressar had transported to Babylonia, the return to Palestine and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its temple” (Vol. 6, 1958, p. 940). H.G. Wells, in his book, The Outline of History, concedes that the Jews “returned to their city, Jerusalem” and “rebuilt their temple there under the auspices of Cyrus,” the Persian monarch (1931, p. 253). What many people do not realize in reading Isaiah 44:28ff is that this heathen ruler was named by the prophet long before the monarch was even born. Isaiah prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1). His ministry thus occurred in the latter portion of the 8th century B.C. (ca. 740-701 B.C.). This was some one hundred fifty years before Cyrus came to the throne! Finally, as an interesting sidelight, we note that Josephus, the Jewish historian, states that the Jews in Babylonian captivity showed Cyrus the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures which contain his name and described his role in the scheme of God. The historian says that it was this circumstance that motivated the ruler “to fulfill what was written” (Antiquities 11.1.2), and thus to issue his edict permitting Israel’s return to her homeland. Excavations at Babylon (1879-82) led to the discovery of a clay barrel, known as the Cyrus Cylinder, which contained a marvelous historical confirmation of the biblical narrative. It portrays the benevolent policies of Cyrus in the following fashion: “All of their peoples I gathered together and restored to their dwelling-places” (see: Ira M. Price, The Monuments and the Old Testament, 1899-1907, p. 234). Predictive prophecy is a compelling evidence for the divine origin of the Holy Scriptures." 13. One biographer wrote, "Cyrus had the reputation of a good leader (he is the one praised in the Bible from having freed the Jews lead captives to Babylon by ebuchadnezzar), even among the Greeks. In his Histories, when comparing Darius to his predecessors, Herodotus says : "it is because of this fixing of tribute [by Darius] and other similar ordinances that the Persians called Darius the merchant, Cambyses the master and Cyrus the father ; for Darius made petty profit out of everything, Cambyses was harsh and arrogant, Cyrus was merciful and always worked for their well-being" (Histories, III, 89). The story of Cyrus is told by Herodotus in the second part of book I of his Histories (I, 95-216). In the Alcibiades, Plato has Socrates, reading young Alcibiades' mind, suggests that Cyrus is probably the only leader he would accept to take as a model." 14. In the 19th century, an archeologist by the name of Hormuzd Rassam uncovered "The Cyrus Cylinder" an old Persian document in which Cyrus mentions his edict; the very one about which Isaiah had prophesied generations before Cyrus. In it, in addition to describing the fall of the city of Babylon to him (which, again, coincides with the Biblical account), Cyrus tells of his edict this way; "I returned to sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries which had been in ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein, and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitation. After Cyrus' death, his successors continued his policies toward Jerusalem. Artaxerxes I and Darius issued decrees specifically about rebuilding Jerusalem's walls and the temple, thus continuing the work that Cyrus had begun. Probably unknown to all three of these pagan kings was the fact that they were tools in the hand of God paving the way for the coming of the Savior and Redeemer of all nations; that five centuries later a baby will be presented at the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, and that baby will become the King of an eternal, spiritual kingdom made
up of those who live by faith." 15. The picture below is where Cyrus is buried.
" O, man, whoever thou art and whensoever thou comest, for I know that thou wilt come, I am Cryus, and I won for the Persians their empire. Do not, therefore, begrudge me this little earth which covers my body. " 16. When the conqueror Cyrus the Great rode into Babylon, the city's vanquished erupted in cheers. Yes, they'd have to bend to his rule. But Cyrus (580-530? B.C.) made sure that wouldn't be difficult. In contrast to other rulers of his day, he was just. In fact, his style of government was a critical factor in his becoming the greatest ruler of his time. Cyrus' Persian Empire, which extended from India to the Mediterranean Sea, was the most powerful state in the world until its conquest two centuries later by Alexander the Great. 17. "Cyrus showed great respect for conquered peoples' religious and cultural beliefs. At that time, every tribe or kingdom had its own gods and rites. While it was customary for conquerors to deface the idols and religious statues of those they defeated, Cyrus forbade that practice. When it did occur, he quickly remedied it. "Large numbers of foreign captive divinities gave further opportunity for royal benevolence," Olmstead wrote. That earned him the respect and homage of the races over whom he ruled. Cyrus' biggest conquest was Babylonia, a wildly rich and powerful kingdom in the fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was, however, in decline. Babylonian king abu-naid was unpopular with many segments of his population. He had alienated the high priests and captured and enslaved ten of thousands of Jews. Cyrus took Babylon, the greatest city of the ancient world, in 539 B.C. He did so to the cheers of its citizens, who welcomed him as ruler because of word of his just treatment. He lived up to that reputation, freeing more than 40,000 enslaved Jews and allowing them to return to Palestine. He is mentioned 22 times in the Bible for these and similar deeds.
18. Cyrus always took pains to convey that he was not a foreign king and conqueror, but a liberator and, therefore, a legitimate holder of the crown. For example, after conquering Babylon, he immediately addressed its citizens in their own language and added "King of Babylon" to the top of his long list of titles. It was an unheard of gesture of respect. "In the eyes of his Babylonian subjects, Cyrus was never an alien king," Olmstead wrote. "The proclamation of Cyrus to the Babylonians, issued in their own language, was a model of persuasive propaganda." He also left in place most of the existing government and allowed most midlevel officials to retain their positions. Cyrus was a great learner. He observed the customs and traditions of the cultures he conquered and made sure the best elements were put to use for all of Persia's benefit. Cyrus invented, or appropriated and improved upon, the idea of the postal system, according to the Greek historian Xenophon. Figuring out how far a horse could travel in one day, Cyrus built a series of posting stations, each one day's ride apart, across his empire. The system ensured the efficient flow of information between him and his satraps." 19. Harry Ironside, “One reason why Cyrus and the Persians befriended the people of Israel was that the Persians like the Israelites were monotheists. They did not believe in idolatry. They did not worship idols, but abhorred them. They worshiped GOD under the symbol of the sun, and also believed in a great power they called Ahriman. Ormazd was their name for GOD. Ahriman was the name for the power of darkness. Some people think of them as dualists as though they believed in two great gods, the god of light and the god of darkness. But it seems more likely that they really believed in one true and living GOD, but with a great Adversary seeking to impede the carrying out of GOD's counsels. A people believing in one GOD, symbolized by the sun (they did not actually worship it) would look with favor upon Israel, when they found that they did not worship idols. It was because of idolatry that Israel were carried captives to Babylon, its source, but this cured them of idolatry. Soon after their arrival they found that death was the punishment there of refusal to worship an image (Daniel 3:14, 15). Undoubtedly, here and there, there have been Jews who have been idolaters because of ignorance, but the nation itself learned to abhor idolatry from what they saw in Babylon. There they suffered for seventy years until its fall under the awful conditions of that idolatrous kingdom. ever again have they been an idolatrous people.
To this day, they abhor idols of any description. That is one reason why the Roman Catholic, the Greek Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, and other branches of the Catholic Church, have had difficulty in impressing the Jews, because if a Jew looks inside one of their churches, to him it is just a heathen temple. Here are all kinds of icons and images, and people burning incense and candles and bowing down to them. To the Jew that is abhorrent. He hates and detests it.”
20. There is no consensus on the eternal state of Cyrus. Some argue that he was never saved, but died a pagan worshiping his false gods. Some argue like Don Fortner who wrote, “Though he was raised as a pagan, a base idolater, he was anointed of God to be the deliverer of his people. There is considerable debate as to whether Cyrus was ever converted. So far as I am concerned, the issue is settled by Cyrus himself in Ezra 1:1-4. • He renounced the gods of his fathers. • He declared Jehovah alone to be God. • He acknowledged God’s sovereign providence.
• He established again the worship of God. I like Fortner's thinking, for why not give the man a benefit of the doubt. After all, he was anointed by God to be the savior of his people. All agree that he was a type of Christ. It seems inconsistent to think that God did not love him enough to make sure that he died a believer. Those who doubt his salvation are a lot like the Jews who did not want this gentile to be their savior, and they argued with God about it, and questioned his thinking in choosing a gentile to be their savior. Maybe pagan prejudice is still alive today. I stand with those who hope to see Cyrus in heaven. 21. J. Vernon McGee in his Thru the Bible radio program had the same conviction about seeing Cyrus in heaven. He wrote, “When we get to heaven I believe there will be two things that will be a surprise to all of us; (1) the folk who will be there whom we didn’t expect to make it—and I think Cyrus is going to be one of them, and (2) the folk whom we expected to be there who won’t be there. And, my friend, the reason any of us will be there is because Christ is our Savior.........Cyrus came out of the East, from Persia . The ruins of his tomb have been found in Pasargadae , Iran , and you cannot read the inscription without recognizing that he was a humble man who trusted God. Most of the great rulers of the past were braggarts and most of them were liars. Everything they said you have to take with a grain of salt. The records they left magnified their greatness (sort of like the ones left by modern politicans) and cannot be trusted. But Cyrus was different. He made no great claims; he did not boast, and yet, he conquered the world!.......God chose Cyrus before he knew the Lord. It is reasonable to conclude that Cyrus came to know the living and true God.
2. I will go before you and will level the mountains. I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
1. God was his John the Baptist who went before him to prepare the way. He took over the world with less violence than most any ruler, for he did not destroy cities and kill the inhabitants. The result was that the conquered peoples loved him. His conquest of the world was easy in comparison to others because God prepared the way. God could choose to do this because he knew he was a merciful ruler. 2. This poetical language simply says that the path to victory will be made easy for Cyrus because God will go before and see that all obstacles to his progress will be eliminated. And so it was, and Cyrus took over control of nation after nation with ease, and the many brass gates of Babylon were no obstacle to his taking that greatest of all cities. He could shout with Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
3. “The purpose of God's calling Cyrus was to "subdue all nations"--as an empire builder Cyrus would put down all rebellious states and unify the Fertile Crescent. The language here says that the LORD will subdue the nations, strip the kings, and open the doors--all these then being metonymies of cause, for the LORD would enable Cyrus to do it. In addition, each of these
activities as metonymies represents more than what they merely express. "Stripping kings of armor" would be the effect of defeating them. "Opening doors" would be the effect of surrendering army. Thus, according to the message of the prophet, the LORD--Yahweh--of Israel did all this. Archaeology turned up the cylinder seal of Cyrus which gives a parallel account (see the additional page in this section). In that Cyrus claims Marduk called him by name and took him by the hand to subdue nations. Some critics claim that (Deutero-)Isaiah used this text and simply corrected the theology, that it was Yahweh who did it. Other scholars argue that Cyrus or members of his court changed the Hebrew oracle to read about Marduk. Marduk was the god of Babylon, not Cyrus' god. But to use Marduk would have appealed to the conquered people, namely, that their god brought Cyrus. Josephus records that it was the reading of Isaiah that prompted Cyrus to favor the Jews. He had the policy of restoring people to their lands; this might have hastened it, and added the financial support for the rebuilding. The point can be stressed all along the way that God raises up pagan kings and powers to serve His purpose. The hymn of Daniel (in Daniel 2) declares that God sets up kings and removes kings--they are at His beckon call. Deuteronomy 32 said that God arranged the boundaries of all the nations with the number of the tribes of Israel in mind. To Pharaoh the word was, "For this cause I raised you up." So throughout the Bible God uses pagan nations for divine purposes. Believers need not fear when they hear the international news, for God is sovereign over them all. Cyrus was empowered by Yahweh to do what was to be done. The language of verses 2 and 3a is figurative and needs explanation. I would take "mountains" to be an implied comparison (hypocatastasis) with obstacles or opposition. It will be military (I doubt that God was going to flatten the earth in his pathway; in fact, it was already pretty flat). "Breaking down the gates" and "cutting bars" would be metonymical, the cause being put for the effect (given in verse 1) or the adjunct being put for the thing. God would bring down any opposition that Cyrus might meet. The iron gates would be actual gates of iron--there were 100 such gates leading into Babylon; the LORD opened the way for Cyrus to parade into the city without even a fight.” author unknown 4. Barnes, “I will break in pieces the gates of brass - Ancient cities were surrounded by walls, and secured by strong gates, which were not unfrequently made of brass. To Babylon there were one hundred gates, twenty-five on each side of the city, which, with their posts, were made of brass. ' In the circumference of the walls,' says Herodotus (i. 179), ' at different distances, were a hundred massy gates of brass, whose hinges and frames were of the same metal.' It was to this, doubtless, that the passage before us refers. The bars of iron - With which the gates of the city were fastened. ' One method of securing the gates of fortified places among the ancients, was to cover them with thick plates of iron - a custom which is still used in the East, and seems to be of great antiquity. We learn from Pitts, that Algiers has five gates, and some of these have two, some three other gates within them, and some of them plated all over with iron. Pococke, speaking of a bridge near Antioch, called the iron bridge, says, that there are two towers belonging to it, the gates of which are covered with iron plates. Some of these gates are plated over with brass; such are the enormous gates of the principal mosque at Damascus, formerly the church of John the Baptist' (Paxton). The general idea in these passages is, that Cyrus would owe his success to divine interposition; and that that interposition would be
so striking that it would be manifest that he owed his success to the favor of heaven. This was so clear in the history of Cyrus, that it is recognized by himself, and was also recognized even by the pagan who witnessed the success of his arms. Thus Cyrus says Ezra 1:2, ' Jehovah, God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth.' Thus Herodotus (i. 124) records the fact that Harpagus said in a letter to Cyrus, ' Son of Cambyses, heaven evidently favors you, or you could never have thus risen superior to fortune.' So Herodotus (i. 205) says that Cyrus regarded himself as endowed with powers more than human:, ' When he considered the special circumstances of his birth, he believed himself more than human. He reflected also on the prosperity of his arms, and that wherever he had extended his excursions, he had been followed by success and victory.'” 5. God is determined to make sure that nothing will be able to prevent Cyrus from success in acquiring the power and resources to achieve the purpose God had for him to achieve. It was just as he was determined that his Son, the Lord Jesus would have what it took to go all the way to the cross, and achieve paying the price for all men to have the chance for forgiveness and eternal life. God was going to make sure that no force on earth could stop this man from being the savior of his people, and getting them back into the Promised Land. There were godly Jewish men in Babylon that God could have used, but none of them had the power and position of Cyrus. God chose the most likely person to be able to achieve the goal, and that was king Cyrus.
3. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD , the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
1. The ancient world was full of riches, for kings loved to store up gold and other precious metals and jewels, and so there were treasures in every palace on the planet. There were no banks, and so each king and leader had to hide his horde of wealth in some secret place. God knew where all of this wealth was stashed, and he led Cyrus to find it, and thereby have the resources to keep paying his army, and keep on moving on until he took the greatest riches of all by taking Babylon. It appears that God was going to be so good to Cyrus that he would be overwhelmed with gratitude, and to whom would he express that gratitude, but to the God who so blessed him with riches beyond compare. God blesses many with riches and success, but they do not respond like Cyrus, but use their riches only for self pleasure, and not at all for the good of God's kingdom on earth as he did. 1B. Joseph Alexander,”It is thought by some eminent writers that no conquests have ever been attended with such acquisition of wealth as those of Cyrus. Pliny's account of what he obtained from Croesus makes it, according to Brerewood's computation, more than 126,000,000 pounds sterling. The last clause gives a reason why this circumstance is mentioned, namely, in order that Cyrus might be able to identify the being who brought it to pass with the being who foretold it.” 2. Clarke wrote, "I will gave thee the treasures of darkness] Sardes and Babylon, when taken by Cyrus, were the wealthiest cities in the world. Croesus, celebrated beyond all the kings of that age
for his riches, gave up his treasures to Cyrus, with an exact account in writing of the whole, containing the particulars with which each wagon was loaded when they were carried away; and they were delivered to Cyrus at the palace of Babylon. - Xenoph. "When Cyrus conquered Asia, he found thirty-four thousand pounds weight of gold, besides golden vessels and articles in gold; and leaves, (folia, perhaps solia, bathing vessels, Hol.,) a plane, and vine tree, (of gold.) By which victory he carried away fifteen thousand talents of silver; and the cup of Semiramis, the weight of which was fifteen tatents. The Egyptian talent, according to Varro, was eighty pounds. " This cup was the crater, or large vessel, out of which they filled the drinking cups at great entertainments. Evidently it could not be a drinking vessel, which, according to what Varro and Pliny say, must have weighed 1, 200 pounds! The gold and silver estimated by weight in this account, being converted into pounds sterling, amount to one hundred and twenty-six millions two hwndred and twenty-four thousand pounds. - Brerewood, De Ponderibus, cap. x. Treasures of darkness may refer to the custom of burying their jewels and money under the ground in their house floors, fearing robbers." 3. Henry wrote, "The riches of many nations had been brought to Babylon, and Cyrus seized all together. The hidden riches of secret places, which belonged either to the crown or to private persons, shall all be a prey to Cyrus. Thus God, designing him to do a piece of service to his church, paid him richly for it beforehand; and Cyrus very honestly owned God's goodness to him, and, in consideration of that, released the captives. Ezra i. 2, God has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and thereby has obliged me to build him a house at Jerusalem. We are here told what God designed in doing all this for Cyrus. What Cyrus aimed at in undertaking his wars we may easily guess; but what God aimed at in giving him such wonderful success in his wars we are here told. It was that the God of Israel might be glorified: "That thou mayest know by all this that I the Lord am the God of Israel; for I have called thee by thy name long before thou wast born." When Cyrus should have this prophecy of Isaiah shown to him, and should there find his own name and his own achievements particularly described so long before, he should thereby be brought to acknowledge that the God of Israel was the Lord, Jehovah, the only living and true God, and that he continued to own his Israel though now in captivity. It is well when thus men's prosperity brings them to the knowledge of God, for too often it makes them forget him." 4. Around 400 B.C. Xenophon wrote about this very thing in his Cyropaedia (7.2), including an encounter between Cyrus and Croesus, who was reported to be the wealthiest king in Asia: “And when Croesus saw Cyrus, he said: "I salute you, my sovereign lord; for fortune grants that henceforth you should bear this title and I address you by it." "Listen, then, Croesus," said he. "I observe that my soldiers have gone through many toils and dangers and now are thinking that they are in possession of the richest city in Asia, next to Babylon; and I think that they deserve some reward. For I know that if they do not reap some fruit of their labours, I shall not be able to keep them in obedience very long. ow, I do not wish to abandon the city to them to plunder; for I believe that then the city would be destroyed, and I am sure that in the pillaging the worst men would get the largest share." "Well," said Croesus on hearing these words, "permit me to say to any Lydians that I meet that I have secured from you the promise not to permit any pillaging nor to allow the women and children to be carried off, and that I, in return for that, have given you my solemn promise that you should get from the Lydians of their own free will everything there is of beauty or value in Sardis." 5. Rick Duncan wrote, "I love how God fulfilled this promise. One of the kings in Babylon before Cyrus was ebuchadnezzar. He had gathered the riches of the world for himself. Jewish rabbis say that when he drew near his death, he thought about to whom he should leave his wealth. He
was unwilling to leave it to the next king. So, he ordered containers of brass to be built and filled them with gold and jewels. He dug a place near the Euphrates River and rerouted the river to cover over the containers. The Jewish rabbis said that the day that Cyrus ordered the temple to be rebuilt, on that very day Cyrus discovered the location of those wealth-filled containers. God wanted Cyrus to serve His people. So, God provided the resources. In a sense, God paid Cyrus for doing His work in blessing His people." 6. Allen Ross, “the central core of this section, certainly stresses the sovereignty of God. ote the verbs as you read it through: I go before. I anoint. I hold the right hand. I level, break, cut. I give. I call by name. I call by name. I bestow honor. I strengthen. I create. I form. I make peace. I create evil (*). Over fourteen times in this passage the LORD declares His acts. And the sum of it is the oft-repeated “I AM YAHWEH.” 7. Barnes, “That thou mayest know - That from these signal successes, and these favors of heaven, you may learn that Yahweh is the true God. This he would learn because he would see that he owed it to heaven (see the note at Isaiah 45:2); and because the prediction which God had made of his success would convince him that he was the true and only God. That it had this effect on Cyrus is apparent from his own proclamation (see Ezra 1:2). God took this method of making himself known to the monarch of the most mighty kingdom of the earth, in order, as he repeatedly declares, that through his dealings with kingdoms and people he may be acknowledged. Which call thee by thy name - (See the notes at Isaiah 43:1). That thou mayest know that I, who so long before designated thee by name, am the true God. The argument is, that none but God could have foretold the name of him who should be the deliverer of his people. Am the God of Israel - That the God of Israel was the true and only God. The point to be made known was not that he was the God of Israel, but that the God of Israel was Yahweh the true God.”
4. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.
1. God acknowledges that Cyrus does not acknowledge him. He was an unbeliever, and yet God recognizes his greatness and goodness, and he bestows on him a title of honor. God honors a man who is not a believer, and by so doing God acknowledges that an unbeliever can be worthy of honor, and so an unredeemed man can have a goodness of character that is pleasing to God. Here was a pagan man who had a heart that was what God wanted to see in every man, and God honored him for who he was. God was doing wondrous things on his behalf, but he was doing it because he was the kind of man that God wanted to bless. This is shocking because traditional thinking of Christians is that unredeemed man can have no goodness, for man is sinful to the core and nothing he can do can be pleasing to God, for even his goodness is corrupted by his sinful nature.
2. God says he was chosen for the sake of his chosen people. He was the chosen for the Chosen. God's people needed help for their survival, and God chose Cyrus to be that help. All he did, he did by the help of God, but God gives him some of the credit by giving him a title of honor. If it was all a mere matter of God's doing with no goodness of will and intent on the part of Cyrus there would be no reason for bestowing a title of honor on him. By honoring him God acknowledges that there was goodness in him worthy of honor. This challenges our idea of the depravity of man, for here is a pagan worthy of God's honor. This contradicts normal theology, and so this passage is one of theological controversy. Is man totally depraved, or is pagan man still with the potential of righteousness? 2B. David Guzik, “For Jacob My servant's sake: Cyrus would like to think that God picked him because he was the smartest or most talented or strongest man available. Really, God's focus was on His people. It wasn't Cyrus that moved God to act, but the condition and cry of His people. It was for their sake. i. "That all these victories were for the sake of little Israel is one of the ironies of God's control of history." (Grogan) ii. "Cyrus is preferred in order that Israel might be released. Cyrus shall have a kingdom, but only in order that God's people may have their liberty. The Lord raises up one, and He puts down another. Behind all the drama of human events today there is a God who is planning for His church - through affliction and persecution, chastening and tribulation - to be perfected and prepared to inherit the Kingdom of God." (Redpath) 2C. Guzik adds, “I have named you, though you have not known Me . . . I will gird you, though you have not known Me: Cyrus didn't even know the LORD, yet God could anoint him, guide him, bless him, and use him. How much more should God be able to do through those who have at least a mustard seed's worth of faith in Him! i. Proverbs 21:2 says, The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. God can work in and through others in very unexpected ways. That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me: This was wonderfully fulfilled in Ezra 1:1-3. That passage shows how when Cyrus made his proclamation allowing the people of God to return to the Promised Land, that he acknowledged to the whole world the greatness and uniqueness of the LORD God of Israel.”
3. Calvin wrote, "But although this is limited to the history of Cyrus, still we may draw from it a general doctrine. When various changes happen in the world, God secures at the same time the salvation of his people, and in the midst of storms wonderfully preserves his Church. We are indeed blind and stupid as to the works of God, yet we ought firmly to believe that, even when everything appears to be driven about at random, and to be tossed up and down, God never forgets his Church, whose salvation, on the contrary, he promotes by hidden methods, so that it is at length seen that he is her guardian and defender.” 4. Henry wrote, "Having been trained up in the worship of idols, the true God was to him an unknown God. But, though he knew not God, God not only knew him when he came into being, but foreknew him, and bespoke him for his shepherd. He called him by his name, Cyrus, nay,
which was yet great honor, he surnamed him and called him his anointed. And why did God do all this for Cyrus? ot for his own sake, be it known to him; whether he was a man of virtue or no is questioned. Xenophon indeed, when he would describe the heroic virtues of an excellent prince, made use of Cyrus's name, and many of the particulars of his story, in his Cyropædia; but other historians represent him as haughty, cruel, and bloodthirsty. The reason why God preferred him was for Jacob his servant's sake. ote, (1.) In all the revolutions of states and kingdoms, the sudden falls of the great and strong, and the surprising advancements of the weak and obscure, God is designing the good of his church. (2.) It is therefore the wisdom of those to whom God has given wealth and power to use them for his glory, by showing kindness to his people. Cyrus is preferred that Israel may be released. He shall have a kingdom, only that God's people may have their liberty; for their kingdom is not of this world, it is yet to come. In all this Cyrus was a type of Christ, who was made victorious over principalities and powers, and entrusted with unsearchable riches, for the use and benefit of God's servants, his elect. When he ascended on high he led captivity captive, took those captives that had taken others captives, and opened the prison to those that were bound." 5. This text is clear that the goal of God was the freedom of his own people, but we need to face the reality that many other people benefited by the kindness of Cyrus. It was not just the Jews that he treated with mercy and kindness. He gave freedom and blessings to many pagan peoples as well, and so God's providence in his life in giving him victory, power and wealth was a benefit to the pagan world as well as the people of God. There was a universal benefit because of the unique nature of this chosen servant of God. He was a type of Christ who came into the world to benefit all people, and not just the Jews. We see the common grace of God at work in this man. 6. Mark Bartels wrote, "Cyrus and his army, the Persians, marched against the Babylonian city. Do you think the people in that city were terrified, as two kingdoms were about to clash with one another? What would that have been like to be in that city? And yet, the Children of Israel who were in that city, (if they knew the words of Isaiah that were spoken almost 150 years earlier), should have known this is the man the LORD has promised would come. "This is the man! His name is Cyrus. The LORD has promised that we would be delivered from our captivity, through the hand of this unbeliever!" 7. Cyrus was their messiah and deliverer, and unfortunately this was the type of Messiah and deliverer that people were looking for again in the days of Jesus. He was so totally different that they rejected him, for he did not fit the picture we see Cyrus. The lesson we need to learn is that God does not always have to work the same way that he has worked in the past. The Jewish leaders of Jesus's day were locked into one concept of the Messiah, and they missed God's upgraded version in Jesus. He came with a higher purpose to deliver men from sin and their spiritual enemies rather than their physical enemies. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but that does not mean that his ways of doing things never change. It is his nature that does not change, for a perfect nature can only become less perfect by any change, but his methods can and do change with the changing times of history. The truth never changes, but the ways of communicating it change every generation, and today by means of the internet the Gospel goes into all the world in a way it never could before. Don't lock God into the past as the Pharisees did, for God is as contemporary as the daily news.
5. I am the LORD , and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,
1. We see here that it is the sovereign choice of God to give Cyrus the strength he needed to conquer the world and to have the power to release God's people from their captivity. Cyrus was praying to false gods for power and guidance, and he praised them when he gained the victory, and yet God honors this man who was an idol worshiper. It is so strange and unusual, but it shows that God is not limited to working through those who acknowledge him as the only true God. 2. Calvin wrote, "Although Cyrus did not profit by this admonition to such an extent as to leave his idols and devote himself to the true God, yet it made so deep an impression on his heart that he acknowledged Jehovah to be God and to possess the highest authority. At the same time, it was proper that they who were members of the Church should embrace this doctrine, that they might boldly despise all pretended gods." 3. Henry wrote, "God here asserts his sole and sovereign dominion, as that which he designed to prove and manifest to the world in all the great things he did for Cyrus and by him. Observe, how this doctrine is here laid down concerning the sovereignty of the great Jehovah, in two things:-- 1. That he is God alone, and there is no God besides him. This is here inculcated as a fundamental truth, which, if it were firmly believed, would abolish idolatry out of the world. With what an awful, commanding, air of majesty and authority, bidding defiance, as it were, to all pretenders, does the great God here proclaim it to the world: I am the Lord, I the Lord, Jehovah, and there is none else, there is no God besides me, no other self-existent, self-sufficient, being, none infinite and eternal. By this it appears that the God of Israel is the only true God, that he manages and makes what use he pleases even of those that are strangers to him and pay their homage to other gods. 2. It is published to all the world by the word of God, by his providence, and by the testimony of the suffering Jews in Babylon, that all may know from the east and from the west, sunrise and sun-set, that the Lord is God and there is none else. The wonderful deliverance of the Israel of God proclaimed to all the world that there is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, that rides on the heavens for their help." 4. ate Wilson wrote,"Here’s the crazy thing – God actually takes credit for raising up this ruthless conqueror who worshiped Marduk! “I... anointed [you for this job]... I strengthened your hand [held your hand through it]... I go before you [to make it easy for you to conquer the world]... I give you the treasures... I name you... I help/equip/strengthen you [as opposed to ungirding the other kings]... I do all of this... I created it all.” "Another remarkable thing to keep in mind is that although this prophecy was written before Isaiah’s death around 700 B.C., it was fulfilled in detail in the 530’s B.C. – almost two hundred years later!" 5. Don Fortner gives us some great insights in his simple outline: "Cyrus was a Median king (King of Persia) whom God raised up specifically for the purpose of delivering the Jews out of
Babylon. Cyrus was an instrument in the hands of God by whom God accomplished his righteous purposes. Though he was raised as a pagan, a base idolater, he was anointed of God to be the deliverer of his people. There is considerable debate as to whether Cyrus was ever converted. So far as I am concerned, the issue is settled by Cyrus himself in Ezra 1:1-4. * He renounced the gods of his fathers. * He declared Jehovah alone to be God. * He acknowledged God’s sovereign providence. * He established again the worship of God. At any rate this prophecy was written by Isaiah more than 200 years before Cyrus conquered Babylon and freed God’s chosen people from their captivity. The purpose of God in giving this word of prophecy by Isaiah was threefold. 1. That Cyrus himself might know that the Lord is God (v.3). 2. That Israel might be delivered by him (v. 17). 3. That all the world might know that he is God (v. 6). 1. In verses 1-4, The Lord God declares the Wondrous Mystery of Providence. Actually, there are two things in these four verses that we need to see. 1. Cyrus is here presented to us as A Type of Christ (vv. 1-3). 1. He was God’s anointed. 2. The Lord God strengthened him for his work. 3. He was raised up to deliver God’s Elect from bondage- (Matt. 1:21). 4. He was assured of success – o obstacle could hinder him. o foe could resist him. o power could keep him from his work. 5. The Lord God gave every thing into Cyrus’ hands for the accomplishment of his purpose. * All the Kingdoms of the World! * All the Treasures of the World! * All Power over His Foes! ote: othing kept Christ from Redeeming his people. And nothing can keep him from: Saving Them! Keeping Them! and Glorifying Them!" 6. Rick Duncan has a different perspective and wrote, "Did Cyrus come to know God? It doesn’t appear that Cyrus totally left his pagan idolatry. One historian says that when Cyrus found that his end was near, he offered sacrifices to Jupiter and to the sun and to other gods. He thanked them for how they had taken care of him. And then he prayed to them to grant happiness to his wife, children, friends, and country. When I read that, I thought, “How sad.” God was so actively working for him and through him, yet he never came to know God personally. He’s not alone… One day, some will stand before God – even those who have had God at work for them and through them and hear, “Depart from Me for I never knew you” (Matthew 7 23). Knowing God is vital for a abundant life in the now and eternal life in the future." The fact is, his conversion is an unknown, but I like to think that Fortner is right above in the evidence he gives to believe he was converted.
7. Horace Bushnell, “So beautiful is the character and history of Cyrus, the person here addressed, that many have doubted whether the sketch given by Xenophon was not intended as an idealizing, or merely romantic picture. And yet, there have been examples of as great beauty unfolded, here and there, in all the darkest recesses of the heathen world, and it accords entirely with the hypothesis of historic verity in the account given us of this remarkable man, that he is designated and named by our prophet, even before he is born, as a chosen foster-son of God. "I have surnamed thee," he declares, "I have girded thee, though thou hast not known me." And what should he be but a model of all princely beauty, of bravery, of justice, of impartial honor to the lowly, of greatness and true magnanimity in every form, when God has girded him, unseen, to be the minister of his own great and sovereign purposes to the nations of his time.”
6. so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD , and there is no other.
1. Cyrus had a universal victory, and his empire covered all the world of nations and peoples. The testimony of God's grace in his life would also be universal, and so by means of Cyrus the God of Israel was known from the rising to the setting of the sun across his vast empire. 1B. David Linden, “We see more clearly now. God did not return Israel to its former national state. His people became those who learned to live in the world under Gentile powers, preparing the way for how the church now exists all over the world. His kingdom is beyond the boundaries of Israel, and now it is from the rising of the sun to the place it goes down,.........In the ew Testament the church is a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9), yet the church is not a nation with boundaries, nor a nation of one language or location. This is what was about to happen in the return from Babylon; the people of God would lose being an independent nation. The break with the past was in place; hereafter they would live under Gentile domination. They would still be His covenant people but their distinct political entity would disappear. They would lack a nationally recognized son of David to sit on a throne in Jerusalem, even though the genealogy would be consciously kept, (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-37). Israel would be more and more a nation located throughout the world, composed of all who turn to the Lord to be saved – an invitation extended to the ends of the earth (45:22). (See Galatians 3:26-29; and Romans 11:1132 where Gentile branches are grafted into Israel). It would be a kingdom of God on earth existing in all other kingdoms.” 1C. Barnes, “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west - This phrase is evidently used here to designate the whole world. Kimchi says, that the reason why the north and the south are not mentioned here is, that the earth from the east to the west is perfectly inhabitable, but not so from the north to the south. That this was accomplished, see Ezra 1:1 ff Cyrus made public proclamation that Yahweh had given him all the kingdoms of the earth, and had commanded him to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The purpose of all this arrangement
was, to secure the acknowledgment of the truth that Yahweh was the only true God, as extensively as possible. othing could be better adapted to this than the actual course of events. For, 1. The conquest of Jerusalem by ebuchadnezzar was an event which would be extensively known throughout all nations. 2. Babylon was then the magnificent capital of the pagan world, and the kingdom of which it was the center was the most mighty kingdom of the earth. 3. The fact of the conquest of Babylon, and the manner in which it was done, would be known all over that empire, and would attract universal attention. othing had ever occurred more remarkable; nothing more fitted to excite the wonder of mankind. 4. The hand of Yahweh was so manifest in this, and the prophecies which had been uttered were so distinctly fulfilled, that Cyrus himself acknowledged that it was of Yahweh. The existence, the name, and the truth of Yahweh became known as far as the name and exploits of Cyrus; and there was a public recognition of the true God by him who had conquered the most mighty capital of the world, and whose opinions and laws were to enter into the constitution of the MedoPersian empire that was to succeed.” 2. Calvin, “Therefore they shall know. He means that this favor shall be so remarkable as to be acknowledged and admired by all nations. This was not indeed immediately fulfilled; for, although the fame of that victory was spread far and wide, yet few understood that the God of Israel was the author of it; but it was immediately made known to the neighbors, and was communicated by one nation to another, till the report of it was spread throughout the whole world. He does not predict what shall happen immediately, but what shall happen afterward, though these things were long concealed. God therefore did not permit the remembrance of this transaction to fade away, but determined that it should be handed down in permanent records, that it might be celebrated in all ages, and by the most distant nations, to the very end of the world. We must therefore remember what I formerly remarked, that the Prophet interweaves earlier and later events, because the return of the people was the prelude to a future redemption, and that he thus speaks of a perfect restoration of the Church. Besides, when it happens that the illustrious works of God are buried by the ingratitude and malice of men, still it does not cease to be true, that they shall be visible to the whole world; for they shine openly and brightly, though the blind do not see them. 3. Henry, “And again (v. 6), There is none besides me; all that are set up in competition with me are counterfeits; they are all vanity and a lie, for I am the Lord, and there is none else. This is here said to Cyrus, not only to cure him of the sin of his ancestors, which was the worshiping of idols, but to prevent his falling into the sin of some of his predecessors in victory and universal monarchy, which was the setting up of themselves for gods and being idolized, to which some attribute much of the origin of idolatry. Let Cyrus, when he becomes thus rich and great, remember that still he is but a man, and there is no God but one.”
7. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD , do all these things.
1. Henry, “That he is Lord of all, and there is nothing done without him (v. 7): I form the light, which is grateful and pleasing, and I create darkness, which is grievous and unpleasing. I make peace (put here for all good) and I create evil, not the evil of sin (God is not the author of that), but the evil of punishment. I the Lord order, and direct, and do all these things. Observe, (1.) The very different events that befall the children of men. Light and darkness are opposite to each other, and yet, in the course of providence, they are sometimes intermixed, like the morning and evening twilight, neither day nor night, Zech. xiv. 6. There is a mixture of joys and sorrows in the same cup, allays to each other. Sometimes they are counter changed, as noonday light and midnight darkness. In the revolution of every day each takes its turn, and there are short transitions from the one to the other, witness Job's case. (2.) The self-same cause of both, and that is he that is the first Cause of all: I the Lord, the fountain of all being, am the fountain of all power. He who formed the natural light (Gen. i. 3) still forms the providential light. He who at first made peace among the jarring seeds and principles of nature makes peace in the affairs of men. He who allowed the natural darkness, which was a mere privation, creates the providential darkness; for concerning troubles and afflictions he gives positive orders. ote, The wise God has the ordering and disposing of all our comforts, and all our crosses, in this world.” 1B. Henry's last note is an absolute, and does not fit reality or Scripture. He goes too far. God does all these things, but the text does not say he does all of them, as if God is the author of all sin, and the disasters that they lead to, such as the murder of millions by madman leaders such as Hitler. His statement makes all determined by God, and makes Christian belief the same as that of Mohamed where all is fatalistic, and there is no need of Satan's reality, for God is the author of all the bad things of life. Beware of reading absolutes into texts not designed to give that impression. If you are going to keep the Bible different from the Koran, you need to avoid making specific references to have universal application. If God orders all our crosses, then we are never to blame for the foolish and stupid choices we make, and no evil people are accountable for their wicked actions that bring suffering into the world, for all is of God's ordering. We, and all men are off the hook, and have no responsibility for suffering, for it is all God's chosen will. This is just the opposite message Jesus brought into the world as a compassionate healer and Savior. He taught that evil men bring about judgment on themselves and others, and that it is not God's will. He wept over the folly of men facing disaster that was their own stubborn will, and from which he would have gathered them as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but they would not. God did not order their judgment. They brought it on themselves by not receiving the grace he did order. When you sin and suffer for it, it is not God's ordering, but your own folly that brings it into your life. Don't blame God for all the things that go wrong in life, for his goal is that by wisdom you avoid suffering as much as possible. 1C. Harry Ironside, “That is very striking in connection with the Persian beliefs. In their sacred writings, the Zend-Avesta for instance, they gave the primary place to Ormazd, the god of light, the one true living GOD. And Ahriman occupies a very large place as the supernatural foe of GOD, in constant conflict with Him. One is the GOD of light, the other is the evil spirit of darkness. One is the GOD of peace and the other the spirit of war. One is the GOD of goodness and the other the spirit of evil. So here in answer to this, GOD, as though addressing King Cyrus, says "I am the one true and living God . . . beside Me there is no other. I create peace and I create evil. I create light and I create darkness. There is no other power that can share omnipotence with Me."
1D. God is saying simply that I bless and I judge. I reward the good and punish the evil. It is disaster to be punished for evil, but it is not God doing evil as some versions have it. It is good to be just and punish evil. Don Fortner put it, “When he says, "I create evil," the Lord God is declaring that all afflictions, adversities and calamities, the providential punishment of sin, are the works of his hands (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6).” 2. Calvin, “Making peace, and creating evil. By the words "light" and "darkness" he describes metaphorically not only peace and war; but adverse and prosperous events of any kind; and he extends the word peace, according to the custom of Hebrew writers, to all success and prosperity. This is made abundantly clear by the contrast; for he contrasts "peace" not only with war, but with adverse events of every sort. Fanatics torture this word evil, as if God were the author of evil, that is, of sin; but it is very obvious how ridiculously they abuse this passage of the Prophet. This is sufficiently explained by the contrast, the parts of which must agree with each other; for he contrasts "peace" with "evil," that is, with afflictions, wars, and other adverse occurrences. If he contrasted "righteousness" with "evil," there would be some plausibility in their reasoning, but this is a manifest contrast of things that are opposite to each other. Consequently, we ought not to reject the ordinary distinction, that God is the author of the "evil" of punishment, but not of the "evil" of guilt.” 2B. Calvin, like Henry, has the view that all is God's sovereign choice, and he wrote, “But the Sophists are wrong in their exposition; for, while they acknowledge that famine, barrenness, war, pestilence, and other scourges, come from God, they deny that God is the author of calamities, when they befall us through the agency of men. This is false and altogether contrary to the present doctrine; for the Lord raises up wicked men to chastise us by their hand, as is evident from various passages of Scripture. (1 Kings 11:14, 23.) The Lord does not indeed inspire them with malice, but he uses it for the purpose of chastising us, and exercises the office of a judge, in the same manner as he made use of the malice of Pharaoh and others, in order to punish his people. (Exodus 1:11 and 2:23.) We ought therefore to hold this doctrine, that God alone is the author of all events; that is, that adverse and prosperous events are sent by him, even though he makes use of the agency of men, that none may attribute it to fortune, or to any other cause.” 2C. Calvin admits that God is not the author of the of the malice in the hearts of men that cause calamities, and since that is the basic cause of the evil of their choices, it is man who is the source of evil and not God. God uses evil men for his purposes, but that does not mean that all evil actions are a part of God's plan. Madmen murder little children and innocent young women for their own wicked ends, and it is folly to think that this is all a part of God's plan. Proverbs 6:1619 makes it clear that God hates many things that are done by evil men, and it cannot be that he has ordained the very things that he hates, and there are many more things God hates in Scripture. Some have come up with a list of 43. These seven are enough to make the point. “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” God in his providence may use some of these things he hates from time to time to see his will accomplished, but most of the time they are just evil that leads to no good, for they are out of his will and condemned. They are not things that he wills or ordains as some would have us believe. This would make God rather than the devil the cause of so much evil in the world, and it would
make him a dual personality like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When God creates disaster it is because he is bringing just punishment on sinful people. It is not evil, but just punishment. It is evil to those who have to suffer it, but it is the righteousness and justice of God in action. This does not mean that every plane crash, or train crash, or car accident is all a part of God's plan. Most all of these things are due to human error and folly, and to hold God responsible for them is just another folly. There is a sense in which God is the cause of all evil in that none of it would exist if God had not given man the freedom to do evil. God made it possible by creation, but we need to make a distinction between sources and causes. The power company is the source of all the power that comes into your home, but they are not the cause of you using that power to do evil. You can use it to create counterfeit money, or pornography, or weapons by which to murder and do all manner of evil. Is the power company responsible for the way you use what they provide to do evil? ot at all. You make that choice, and you are the one held accountable for the evil. They made evil possible, but you made it real. So it is with God and man. God makes evil possible, but man makes it real, and who then is the real cause of it, and who is guilty and deserving of judgment? It is not God, but man. The evil that God causes directly is the necessary evil of judgment due to the fact that man has chosen to use his God given power to do evil. God's evil is a valid response to the invalid evil of man. God's evil is good, because if he did not bring evil on those who do evil, the kingdom of evil would win the battle of good and evil. 3. This text provides some with a perfect cop out of human responsibility. One pastor wrote, "But, I want to ask you this. Who bears the responsibility for this situation we are in now? Is it the republicans? Is it the democrats? I will tell you who it is. Look at the last verse of today's scripture reading."I am the LORD and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and I create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things." Well there you have it. At last a confession of responsibility for the mess we are in. It is all God's fault.” If you apply these words absolutely to all things, then you have to blame God for all that is evil and wrong in the world. Satan is no longer needed, for God is the author of all. When you see where this reasoning is going, you might want to back up and see another way of interpreting these words 3B. Another thing that so many commentators say here is a strange way of thinking. For example, “There is an obvious allusion here to the ancient pagan philosophy of Zoroastrianism, which taught that there are two powerful forces, or principles, good and evil, light and darkness, and that these two great forces are constantly at war. When the principles of good prevail good things happen. When the principle of evil prevails, evil things happen. God says, " ot so!" He alone rules the world!” This same thing is said over and over as if there is no awareness that Christians believe Satan is the god of this world, and that he has power to bring about many things that are not God's will. Those who are so keen on exalting the sovereignty of God tend to go so far as to eliminate Satan, and make God the author of everything. This might be good Islamic theology, but it is not Biblical theology. There is an evil force in this world in conflict with the will and purpose of God. Why else would God work so hard to make sure that Cyrus had the power and resources to overcome all obstacles to save his people? If God's sovereignty means that there is no other force in the world but his, then God is on both sides of the battle of good and evil, and this does not make sense. There is a force for evil in the world, and it is not God, but an anti-God power. So God cannot be the author of both all the good and all the evil in the world. If God is good, then there has to be another power of evil that seeks to hinder the force for good. The point being that we are not so much different than the ancients after all. We just don't make
the powers equal as they did. Without revelation they did figure out the reality of an evil force creating darkness in the world, and there is no point in thinking they were ignorant, for they were closer to the truth than many other pagans. 4. An unknown author has a series of comments on this verse that are among the best I have discovered. They make it clear that when it comes to God's plan of salvation for his people, he is always in control to work out all things for his purpose. This is not the same thing as saying that God controls all that happens in life, for the disobedience that led his people to be destroyed and taken into exile was not his will or doing, but the folly and rebellion of his people. The world is filled with what is not God's will, and that is why we need to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” for it is not being done. Sin and evil are everywhere, an it leads to all kinds of events that are not God's will. God, however, is always working in spite of all the folly and evil to bring about his plan of salvation. o amount of what is not his will can ever defeat his plan to fulfill his will. 4LB. Here are those excellent comments from an unknown author. “God says I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Sometimes God creates darkness and disaster for his own purposes. Let’s review some Bible history and this will become very evident. God brought literal darkness on Egypt. He brought the disaster of ten plagues on them as a judgment for enslaving and mistreating Israel and because Pharaoh refused to listen to the word of God through Moses and let His people go. When God called Abraham and gave him the wonderful promises that he would make him a great nation, give him the land of Palestine, and bless all nations through him by having the Savior be one of his descendants, he made it clear that he and his descendants would not receive the land until about 400 years later. God explained that the iniquity of the people living in Palestine was not yet full. But 400 years later, under Joshua, God’s patience with those nations came to an end. Through Joshua he brought darkness and destruction on them, commanding Israel to completely wipe them out because of their idolatry, immorality, and the sacrificing of their children to their false Gods. God also brought darkness and disaster on Israel and Judah. He used the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon to bring judgment on his own chosen people because they turned away from him to worship idols, and because they practiced violence and social injustice. And it could be said that God used Islam, the Ottoman Turks, to bring judgment on Eastern Christians, churches founded by the Apostle Paul, who, as Jesus warned in Revelation, had forsaken their first love. The point is clear. God will bring darkness and disaster on those who get in the way of his Plan of Salvation. He will bring darkness and disaster on any nation, even those who are supposed to be his own people, if they practice idolatry, immorally, violence and social injustice. This fact ought to wake us up. Our own country is filled with immorality, violence, idolatry—we have even legalized the sacrifice of our unborn on the altar of convenience. Many of our cities are little different than Sodom and Gomorrah. The name of the true God is being blasphemed because of us, especially among the Muslim nations, where people are often more moral than in so called Christian nations. Part of their hatred toward us is because of the filth and immorality we export. The Bible shows that God uses things like drought and natural disasters and attacks from enemies to wake people up and call them to repentance. Jesus made that clear when he was asked about a tower that had fallen and killed 18 people. Were they being punished because they were worse sinners than others? o, but, he said, unless you repent, you too will all perish. When God
brings darkness and disaster it’s time for each and every one of us to do some soul searching, it’s a call to repentance. God not only creates darkness and disaster, he also brings light and prosperity. The word for prosperity is a Hebrew word you might know. It’s shalom, often translated peace, but it has the idea of total well-being. Only God can provide shalom. Look again at history and you will see that the Lord brings light and prosperity to people and nations. Consider little Israel. Humanly speaking there is no way that Israel should have been able to conquer Palestine. Ten of the twelve spies were convinced of that. There were walled cities and strong, powerful armies, men who were giants—they described themselves as grasshoppers in comparison. But God knocked down the walls of Jericho and gave his people victory after victory. There was no way, humanly speaking that this little nation, wedged between the world’s superpowers of Egypt and the great kingdoms of the East, should have had the power and prosperity it enjoyed under David and Solomon. Everyone recognized that Israel under David and Solomon was a nation extraordinarily blessed by God. But God’s power was not just limited to the nation of Israel. God brought light and prosperity to Babylon and especially to king ebuchadnezzar. He even made ebuchadnezzar become like an animal, until he acknowledged that God was the one who had granted him power and prosperity. And God predicts through Isaiah that he would do the same for Cyrus and the Medo-Persian Empire. He says of Cyrus, over 100 years before he was born, his right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron(probably a reference to Babylon). I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. And God brought light and prosperity to the Romans so that through what historians call the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, the stage was set for the savior to be born and the good news of salvation to spread easily and quickly through most of the civilized world, from Egypt to England, from Spain to India. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. But notice that whatever it is that God does, he always does it in connection with his plan of salvation. God made ebuchadnezzar powerful and prosperous and sent him to conquer Judah so that a remnant of believers would be preserved and so that the line of the Savior would be preserved. He made Cyrus powerful and prosperous so that he could defeat the Babylonians and issue the decree that any of the Jewish believers who wanted to do so could return to Judah, rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, even helping to pay for it from his own treasury. And the stones that this remnant of believers laid were some of the same stones on which Jesus himself walked 500 years later. Each Christmas we are reminded that God used the decree of Caesar Augustus to make sure that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem when it was time for Jesus to be born. I the Lord do all these things, God says. He orchestrates the events of the nations so that they serve his will and, whether they acknowledge it our not, support his plan of salvation. What a gracious and powerful God we have! othing can get in the way of his plan of salvation. He rules everything, from the smallest atom to the most powerful nations on earth, to make sure his promises are kept. He made sure that everything was just right for Jesus to be born as had been foretold. He made sure that Jesus was born at a time when he could live, and then die as David foretold in the Psalm, with his hands and feet being pierced by nails as he was fastened to the cross. That same Psalm even predicts the soldiers casting lots for his clothing. Everything has happened just as God planned, just as he foretold through his prophets in the Scriptures. A remnant was
preserved. Cyrus provided a way for them to return to Israel. Jesus was born from the line of David. He lived. He died. He rose again. He accomplished what he came to earth to do. He crushed the serpent’s head. He won forgiveness and eternal salvation for all so that it can be offered to us for free. He paid for the times when we doubt, when we fail to trust that he is in control of everything.” 4. J. Lewis Johnson deals with the issue of God doing evil and disaster. “ ow notice the context of this begins with verse 1, remember, thus saith the Lord this is the second movement in the prophecy and it says, thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nation before him. ow you see right at the beginning God says that, Cyrus is his messiah, his anointed one, and that God is going to subdue nations before him. Cyrus is going to be a great conqueror. He is going to conquer Babylon. He is going to conquer Lydia. He is going to conquer the Persian. He is going to conquer the Elamites. He is going to unite all of that world. He is going to be a great and good conqueror. He is going to be responsible for a lot of catastrophe in the lands of evil men. And that's what the Bible means when it says in this verse, I make peace, I create catastrophe or calamity, evil. I am the one, Cyrus, who is responsible for the great victories that you are going to win. I shall subdue nations and when Babylon that wicked city is over thrown as they drink out of the sacred goblets from the temple in Jerusalem, it is I who am responsible for that calamity in that city. That they may know that my hand has been upon them in divine judgment, that's what that text means.”
8. "You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD , have created it.
1. This verse is a focus on what God really wants in this world, and that is showers of righteousness that produce a crop of salvation. That is why God made the world. He wants it to be a place where good reigns and not evil. He wants the crop of righteousness to spring up everywhere, and to be ever growing so that mankind experiences temporal salvation even in this fallen world. He wants even pagans like Cyrus to be tools of good and justice in the world. Judgment is always designed to achieve this goal, and that is why all the disaster that God brings in this world is for the end of bringing men back to him and to the principles of righteousness. All the evil that God may cause in the world has only two purposes, and one is to judge unrighteousness, and the other is to promote righteousness. Justice demands that evil come upon those who are destroying righteousness, and so God has to be a judge who punishes, but his ultimate goal is to rain down righteousness for the good of all men. 1B. David Linden, “ This prayer of expectation must be read in light of the context. The matter of Cyrus is a reason for thanksgiving because God in the heavens has acted righteously. Then let the
earth open her mouth in appropriate response to receive. In this way, righteousness will grow in this earth (and not just sin!), coming from the righteousness of God in heaven. God’s righteousness included bringing Cyrus and all his terror to the nations he subdued. Or, better to say that God subdued nations before Cyrus, (v.1). The Lord answers the prayer saying He has created the salvation the earth needs. While all power and right is God’s, here He encourages the supplication of His people where we may pray about the response to His deeds on earth. This shows that the sovereignty of God does not promote passivity in men. The prayer, “Your will be done” – is said by men who then work to do His will, (Matthew 6:10).”
2. “This prayer of expectation must be read in light of the context. The matter of Cyrus is a reason for thanksgiving because God in the heavens has acted righteously. Then let the earth open her mouth in appropriate response to receive. In this way, righteousness will grow in this earth (and not just sin!), coming from the righteousness of God in heaven. God’s righteousness included bringing Cyrus and all his terror to the nations he subdued. Or, better to say that God subdued nations before Cyrus, (v.1). The Lord answers the prayer saying He has created the salvation the earth needs. While all power and right is God’s, here He encourages the supplication of His people where we may pray about the response to His deeds on earth. This shows that the sovereignty of God does not promote passivity in men. The prayer, “Your will be done” – is said by men who then work to do His will, (Matthew 6:10).” Author unknown 3. Calvin, “Drop down dew from above. Some think that a form of prayer is here added, which it was the duty of believers to use while they were waiting for the redemption which is here described; and they connect this verse with the preceding in the following manner, "The Lord will not so speedily deliver you, but still it is your duty to be diligently employed in prayer." But I interpret it differently in this manner. The Prophet always speaks in the name of God, who, in the exercise of his authority, calls on heaven and earth to lend their services to the restoration of the Church. This verse is fitted very powerfully to confirm the godly in the hope of future redemption; for the people, wherever they looked, saw nothing but despair. If they turned their eyes towards heaven, there they beheld the wrath of God; if towards the earth, there also were beheld afflictions and chastisements; and therefore nothing fitted to lead them to entertain favorable hope was visible. On this account the Prophet confirms them, and enjoins heaven and earth, which held out nothing but threatening and terrors, to bring forth salvation and "righteousness." This is more emphatic than if he promised that it shall be, when all the elements, which are ready to yield obedience to God, receive orders as to what he wishes them to do. And thus the stream of the discourse will flow on continuously, which otherwise will be abruptly broken off, if we understand this passage to be a prayer. By the word righteousness he means nothing else than the fidelity with which the Lord defends and preserves his people. The Lord thus "drops down from heaven righteousness," that is, well established order, of which salvation is the fruit; for he speaks of the deliverance of the people from Babylon, in which the Lord shews that he will be their protector. Yet while we understand the natural meaning of the Prophet, we must come down to the kingdom of Christ, to which these words undoubtedly bear a spiritual import; for God does not limit these promises to a few years, but continues his favors down to the coming of Christ, in whom all these things were abundantly fulfilled. There can be no doubt, therefore, that he likewise celebrates that eternal righteousness and salvation which is brought to us by Christ; but we ought first to observe that simple interpretation about the return from the captivity in Babylon”.
4. Clarke, “Drop down, ye heavens] The eighty-fifth psalm is a very elegant ode on the same subject with this part of Isaiah's prophecies, the restoration of Judah from captivity; and is, in the most beautiful part of it, a manifest imitation of this passage of the prophet:- "Verily his salvation is nigh unto them that fear him, That glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring from the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. Even JEHOVAH: will give that which is good, And our land shall yield her produce. Righteousness shall go before him, And shall direct his footsteps in the way." Psa. lxxxv. 10-14. These images of the dew and the rain descending from heaven and making the earth fruitful, employed by the prophet, and some of those nearly of the same kind which are used by the psalmist, may perhaps be primarily understood as designed to set forth in a splendid manner the happy state of God's people restored to their country, and flourishing in peace and plenty, in piety and virtue; but justice and salvation, mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, and glory dwelling in the land, cannot with any sort of propriety, in the one or the other, be interpreted as the consequences of that event; they must mean the blessings of the great redemption by Messiah.” 5. Henry, “For the comfort of those that earnestly longed, and yet quietly waited, for the redemption of Israel (v. 8): Drop down, you heavens, from above. Some take this as the saints' prayer for the deliverance. I rather take it as God's precept concerning it; for he is said to command deliverances, Ps. xliv. 4. ow the precept is directed to heaven and earth, and all the hosts of both, as royal precepts commonly run--To all officers, civil and military. All the creatures shall be made in their places to contribute to the carrying on of this great work, when God will have it done. If men will not be aiding and assisting, God will produce it without them, as he does the dews of heaven and the grass of the earth, which tarry not for man, nor wait for the sons of men, Mic. v. 7. Observe, (1.) The method of this great deliverance that is to be wrought for Israel. Righteousness must first be wrought in them; they must be brought to repent of their sins, to renounce their idolatries, to return to God, and reform their lives, and then the salvation shall be wrought for them, and not till then. We must not expect salvation without righteousness, for they spring up together and together the Lord hath created them; what he has joined together, let not us therefore put asunder. See Ps. lxxxv. 9-11. Christ died to save us from our sins, not in our sins, and is made redemption to us by being made to us righteousness and sanctification. (2.) The means of this great deliverance. Rather than it shall fail, when the set time for it shall come, the heavens shall drop down righteousness, and the earth shall open to bring forth salvation, and both concur to the reformation, and so to the restoration, of God's Israel. It is from heaven, from above the skies, that righteousness drops down, for every grace and good gift is from above; nay, since the more plentiful effusion of the Spirit it is now poured down, and, if our hearts be open to receive it, the product will be the fruits of righteousness and the great salvation.” 6. “The prophet uses very poetic imagery to make this broad principle. It is as if the heavens were to open and pour out righteousness. This image shows the source of the salvation and the effect of it--it will produce salvation. Just as rain produces crops, so righteousness (i.e., divine intervention) will bring salvation.” author unknown 6B. Barnes, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above - That is, as a result of the benefits that shall follow from the rescue of the people from their captivity and exile. The mind of the prophet is carried forward to future times, and he sees effects from that interposition, as striking as if the heavens should distil righteousness; and sees the prevalence of piety and happiness as if they
should string out of the earth. It may be designed primarily to denote the happy results of their return to their own land, and the peace and prosperity which would ensue. But there is a beauty and elevation in the language which is better applicable to the remote and distant consequences of their return - the coming and reign of the Messiah. The figure is that of the rain and dew descending from heaven, and watering, the earth, and producing fertility and beauty; and the idea is, that piety and peace would prevail in a manner resembling the verdure of the fields under such rains and dews. A figure remarkably similar to this is employed by the Psalmist Psalms 85:11-12 : Truth shall spring out of the earth; And righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good And our land shall yield her increase. The phrase, ' drop down, ye heavens, from above,' means, pour forth, or distil, as the clouds distil, or drop down the rain or dew Psalms 45:12-13. It is appropriately applied to rain or dew, and here means that righteousness would be as abundant as if poured down like dews or showers from heaven. The Septuagint however, render it, ' Let the heavens above be glad,' but evidently erroneously.” 6C. Barnes goes on, “Pour down righteousness - The result of the deliverance from the captivity shall be, that righteousness shall be abundant. During the captivity they had been far away from their native land; the temple was destroyed; the fire had ceased to burn on the altars; the praises of God had ceased to be celebrated in his courts; and all the means by which piety had been nourished had been withdrawn. This state of things was strikingly similar to the earth when the rain is withheld, and all verdure droops and dies. But after the return from the exile, righteousness would abound under the re-establishment of the temple service and the means of grace. or can there be any doubt, I think, that the mind of the prophet was also fixed on the prevalence of religion which would yet take place under the Messiah, whose coming, though remotely, would be one of the results of the return from the exile, and of whose advent, that return would be so strikingly emblematic. Let the earth open - As it does when the showers descend and render it mellow, and when it brings forth grass and plants and fruits. And let them bring forth salvation - The Chaldee renders this, ' Let the earth open, and the dead revive, and righteousness be revealed at the same time.' The idea is, let the earth and the heavens produce righteousness, or become fruitful in producing salvation. Salvation shall abound as if it descended like showers and dews, and as if the fertile earth everywhere produced it. Vitringa supposes that it means that the hearts of people would be opened and prepared for repentance and the reception of the truth by the Holy Spirit, as the earth is made mellow and adapted to the reception of seed by the rain and dew. And let righteousness spring up together - Let it at the same time germinate as a plant does. It shall spring forth like green grass, and like flowers and plants in the well-watered earth. The language in the verse is figurative, and very beautiful. The idea is, that peace, prosperity, and
righteousness start up like the fruits of the earth when it is well watered with the dews anti rains of heaven; that the land and world would be clothed in moral loveliness; and that the fruits of salvation would be abundant everywhere. That there was a partial fulfillment of this on the return to the land of Canaan, there can be no doubt. The Jews were, for a time at least, much more distinguished for piety than they had been before. Idolatry ceased; the temple was rebuilt; the worship of God was re-established; and the nation enjoyed unaccustomed prosperity. But there is a richness and fullness in the language which is not met by anything that occurred in the return from the exile; and it doubtless receives its entire fulfillment only under that more important deliverance of which the return from Babylon was but the emblem. As referred to the Messiah, and to his reign, may we not regard it as descriptive of the following things? 1. The prevalence and diffusion of the knowledge of salvation under his own preaching and that of the apostles. Religion was revived throughout Judea, and spread with vast rapidity throughout almost the whole of the known world. It seemed as if the very heavens shed down righteousness on all lands, and the earth, so long barren and sterile, brought forth the fruits of salvation. Every country partook of the benefits of the descending showers of grace, and the moral world put on a new aspect - like the earth after descending dews and rains. 2. It is beautifully descriptive of a revival of religion like that on the day of Pentecost. In such scenes, it seems as if the very heavens ' poured down' righteousness. A church smiles under its influence like parched and barren fields under rains and dews, and society puts on an aspect of loveliness like the earth after copious showers. Salvation seems to start forth with the beauty of the green grass, or of the unfolding buds, producing leaves and flowers and abundant fruits. There cannot be found anywhere a more beautiful description of a genuine revival of pure religion than in this verse. 3. It is descriptive, doubtless, of what is yet to take place in the better days which are to succeed the present, when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth. All the earth shall be blessed, as if descending showers should produce universal fertility, and every land, now desolate, barren, sterile, and horrid by sin, shall become ' like a well-watered garden' in reference to salvation.” 7. “In the rest of the chapter the prophet will describe the sovereign work of the LORD in bringing nations into submission to His plan. After an initial key summary statement of His plan for righteousness and salvation to fill the earth (45:8), the prophet announces woes on the critics who reject the Creator and His choice of Cyrus (9-13). This LORD will bring the Gentile powers to bow down to Israel in humiliation and to worship with them in Jerusalem (14-19). Consequently, the nations should pay attention to these oracles and be saved (20-25). I see three developments of ideas in this passage that unfold the message. First, there are the claims of the LORD, namely, that He controls history through His control of Cyrus; secondly, the purpose of this is that all might know Yahweh, the God of Israel, to be the sovereign Lord God; and third, the explanation of all this is that He alone is sovereign over all creation, and if He can control all creation He can surely control Cyrus for His purpose for Israel. Clearly, the themes of the prophecies were most significant for Paul's argument that God sent His people into exile for sin, that a remnant of believers was preserved, that the nation received good news, that most of the people were hesitant to believe the good news, and that the restoration of the land was a sign of the ultimate salvation of Israel. It is difficult to sort out how many were true believers and what kind of redemption was intended. It would be safe to say that Isaiah has
in mind deliverance from bondage in exile as the primary meaning; but that cannot be separated from spiritual deliverance--it was salvation because sins were forgiven, punishment completed, and God was delivering. But some rescued from exile were already believers; some came to faith at that time; and some came home without fully believing. But the fulfillment, the final restoration when all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11) will be both a physical deliverance and spiritual. Likewise, when the true Church is rescued from this world at the end of the age, only true believers will be included.” author unknown
9. "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?
1. “The news of Cyrus as Gentile liberator is jarring news. The Jews wanted to be a sovereign nation again. Isaiah’s message implies that they will live under Gentile domination. Thus God’s plan to use Cyrus is not fully welcome. God’s people feel they could improve on God’s plan, a plan that did not appear wise in their eyes. These verses address specifically the issue of God’s sovereignty. Clay cannot complain to the potter about what He is doing, and Israel is the clay. The potter does what He wants. They need to learn that and accept it. Children should not complain to their parents (v.10). They would be complaining over “things to come” – things related to Cyrus and his victories. Israel would prefer that all the Gentile nations just fall at their feet, and they could just go home and be left alone. This is a sinful challenge to the sovereign right of God to act as God. Sin in us always reacts against the rights of God and claims rights we do not have. Every challenge against divine sovereignty is from a lust for His throne. We see more clearly now. God did not return Israel to its former national state. His people became those who learned to live in the world under Gentile powers, preparing the way for how the church now exists all over the world. His kingdom is beyond the boundaries of Israel, and now it is from the rising of the sun to the place it goes down, (v.6). God knows what He is doing and will not yield His right to act as the God He is, (Romans 11:33-36).” author unknown 1B. “The idea is quite commonly held that the Jews murmured about God's decree that a heathen would deliver them, and that these words are a rebuke." (Butlema) 1C. J. Lewis Johnson Jr. “What to do you think Israel will say, when Isaiah says, Cyrus is the messiah of Jehovah? What do you think a Jew would say who didn't believe, a Jew in a backsliden condition, an Israelite who has gone away from God, what do you think he would say, when the prophet stood up and said, my shepherd does saith the Lord is Cyrus. My anointed one saith the Lord is Cyrus, what do you think he would do? Object! That's right, he surely will object. What do you mean Isaiah that God is going to use a heathen man. That he is going to be God's messiah. That he is going to be God's shepherd, but don't you know Isaiah that all the prophets have spoken of messiah, who is to be an Israelite. And of course they could speak about Micah.
Messiah should be born in Bethlehem. Everyone knows that. And so they object. The Apostle Paul makes great use of this in the Epistle to the Romans when he talks about God's election. He said, “Shall not the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Why God is the great power, he can take up one vessel and make it a vessel unto honor, he can take up the other vessel and make it a vessel unto dishonor. And the vessel unto dishonor cannot say, why shall he made me thus. One of our modern theologians says "Ah, but that's just were we will object". We are not pots! [Laughter] I think it makes good sense, doesn't it? We are not pots. But after all we are pots. The matter of fact, we have been pots from the beginning. Out of what was Adam made? Out of dust, dirt, out of what our pots made? Dirt, clay; that is right. We are pots; that's really what we are. So let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the claysay to him that fashioneth, what makest thou or the work, He hath no hands -- imagine something that is made by the individual saying the person who made me doesn't have any hand.”
2. Calvin, “Woe to him that striveth with his Maker! This passage is explained in various ways. Some think that it refers to King Belshazzar, who, as is evident from Daniel, haughtily defied God, when he profaned the vessels of the Temple. (Daniel 5:3.) But that is too forced an exposition. The second might appear to be more probable, that the Lord grants far more to his children than a man would grant to his sons, or an artisan to his work; for they suppose that a comparison of this kind is made. "If the son rise up against the father, and debate with him, he will not be listened to. The father will choose to retain his power, and deservedly will restrain his son; and in like manner, if the clay rise up against the workman. But the Lord permits questions to be put to him, and kindly offers to satisfy the people; nay, even bids them put questions to him." And thus they join together the 10th and 11th verses, and think that God's forbearance is manifested by treating us with greater kindness, and condescending to greater familiarity, than men usually exhibit towards their sons. The latter exposition is indeed more plausible, but both are at variance with the Prophet's meaning; and therefore a more simple view appears to me to be, to understand that the Prophet restrains the complaints of men, who in adversity murmur and strive with God. This was a seasonable warning, that the Jews, by patiently and calmly bearing the cross, might receive the consolation which was offered to them; for whenever God holds us in suspense, the flesh prompts us to grumble, "Why does he not do more quickly what he intends to do? Of what benefit is it to him to torture us by his delay?" The Prophet, therefore, in order to chastise this insolence, says, "Does the potsherd dispute with the potter? Do sons debate with their fathers? Has not God a right to treat us as he thinks fit? What remains but that we shall bear patiently the punishments which he inflicts on us? We must therefore allow God to do what belongs to him, and must not take anything from his power and authority." "Shall the clay say to its maker? A potter is allowed to make any vessel of what form he pleases, a father is allowed to command his sons; will you not admit that God possesses a higher right?" Thus he reproves those who in adversity remonstrate with God, and cannot patiently endure afflictions. We ought therefore to listen to the warning given by Peter, when he bids us learn to submit to God, and to "humble ourselves under his mighty hand," (1 Peter 5:6,) so as to yield to his authority, and not to strive with him, if he sometimes tries us by various afflictions; because we ought to acknowledge his just right to govern us according to his pleasure. If we must come to
debate, he will have such strong and decisive arguments as shall constrain us, being convicted, to be dumb. And when he restrains the insolence of men, it is not because he is destitute of argument, but because it is right and proper that we should yield and surrender ourselves to be wholly governed according to his pleasure; but at the same time he justly claims this right, that his own creatures should not call him to render an account. What can be more detestable than not to approve of his judgments, if they do not please men?” 3. Clarke, “The prophet answers or prevents the objections and cavils of the unbelieving Jews, disposed to murmur against God, and to arraign the wisdom and justice of his dispensations in regard to them; in permitting them to be oppressed by their enemies, and in promising them deliverance instead of preventing their captivity. St. Paul has borrowed the image, and has applied it to the like purpose with equal force and elegance: " ay, but, O man! who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, out of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor?" Rom. ix. 20, 21. This is spoken says Kimchi, against the king of Babylon, who insulted the Most High, bringing forth the sacred vessels, drinking out of them, and magnifying himself against God.” 3B. What we see here is that even though God is sovereign over all, he does not control the free will of people who can question and resist his will. He warns of the folly of doing so, but he does not by sheer power force people to just shut up and trust him. They are free to doubt his wisdom and argue that there is a better way. “Don't do it”, is God's advice, but he does not force them to not do it. He knows they want to argue with him, and that is why he gives this warning, for he knows his people never cease to complain about his ways of doing things. 4. Henry, “For reproof to those of the church's enemies that opposed this salvation, or those of her friends that despaired of it (v. 9): Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! God is the Maker of all things, and therefore our Maker, which is a reason why we should always submit to him and never contend with him. (1.) Let not the proud oppressors, in the elevation of their spirits, oppose God's designs concerning the deliverance of his people, nor think to detain them any longer when the time shall come for their release. Woe to the insulting Babylonians that set God at defiance, as Pharaoh did, and will not let his people go! (2.) Let not the poor oppressed, in the dejection of their spirits, murmur and quarrel with God for the prolonging of their captivity, as if he dealt unjustly or unkindly with them, or think to force their way out before God's time shall come. ote, Those will find themselves in a woeful condition that strive with their Maker; for none ever hardened his heart against God and prospered. Sinful man is indeed a quarrelsome creature; but let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth. Men are but earthen pots, nay, they are broken potsherds, and are made so very much by their mutual contentions. They are dashed in pieces one against another; and, if they are disposed to strive, let them strive with one another, let them meddle with their match; but let them not dare to contend with him that is infinitely above them, which is as senseless and absurd as, [1.] For the clay to find fault with the potter: Shall the clay say to him that forms it, "What makest thou? Why dost thou make me of this shape and not that?" ay, it is as if the clay should be in such a heat and passion with the potter as to tell him that he has no hands, or that he works as awkwardly as if he had none. "Shall the clay pretend to be wiser than the potter and therefore to advise him, or mightier than the potter and therefore to control him?" He that gave us being, that gave us this being, may design concerning us, and dispose of us, as he pleases; and it is impudent presumption for us to prescribe to him. Shall we impeach God's wisdom, or question his power, who are ourselves so
curiously, so wonderfully, made? Shall we say, He has no hands, whose hands made us and in whose hands we are? The doctrine of God's sovereignty has enough in it to silence all our discontents and objections against the methods of his providence and grace, Rom. ix. 20, 21. [2.] It is as unnatural as for the child to find fault with the parents, to say to the father, What begettest thou? or to the mother, "What hast thou brought forth? Why was I not begotten and born an angel, exempt from the infirmities of human nature and the calamities of human life?" Must not those who are children of men expect to share in the common lot and to fare as others fare? If God is our Father, where is the honor we owe to him by submitting to his will?” 5. Barnes, “Shall the clay ... - It would be absurd for the clay to complain to him that moulds it, of the form which he chooses to give it. ot less absurd is it for man, made of clay, and moulded by the hand of God, to complain of the fashion in which he has made him; of the rank which he has assigned him in the scale of being; and of the purposes which he designs to accomplish by him.” 6. "Keep silence, all created things, And wait you Maker’s nod; My soul stands trembling while she sings The honors of her God. Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown, Hang on His firm decree; He sits on no precarious throne, or borrows leave to be. Chained to His throne a volume lies With all the fates of men, With every angel’s form and size Drawn by the eternal pen. His providence unfolds the book, And makes His counsels shine; Each opening leaf and every stroke Fulfills some bright design. Here He exalts neglected worms
To sceptres and a crown; And then the following page He turns, And treads the monarch down. ot Gabriel asks the reason why, or God the reason gives’ or dares the favorite angel pry Between the folded leaves. My God, I would not long to see My fate with curious eyes, What gloomy lines are wait for me, Or what bright scenes may rise. In Thy fair gook of life and grace May I but find my name, Recorded in some humble place Beneath my Lord the Lamb!" unknown authorized
10. Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?'
1. We do not always like the way God works, but it is folly to argue with him and question his choices. If he wants to use a pagan to do his will, what is that to you. Just accept God's choice and be thankful. Arguing with God is like arguing with your parents about their choice to have you. “Dad, why did you have me so long after my older brother? If you would have had me sooner I could have had a chance in a fight with him. It is all your fault I lose every time.” “Mom, why didn't you have me when you were a missionary in China? Then I could have been bi-lingual. ow I have a hard time learning another language, and it is all your fault.” You can see how stupid these arguments are, and so it is with those who argue with God about who he uses to be
their deliverer. 2. Constable, “In view of the Exodus, this announcement of a second exodus from Babylon would have been good news to Isaiah's audience. But that God would reveal Himself to a pagan and use him to lead them out, rather than another Moses, must have come as an almost unbelievable shock. Truly God would do a new thing (cf. 43:19; 48:6). Some of the Israelites would not believe that God would do such a thing. Thus the following section sought to convince them to believe God's promises concerning Cyrus. The Creator can do anything He wishes that is consistent with His own character and stated purposes.”
11. "This is what the LORD says- the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?
1. C.S. Lewis well has said, "To argue with God is to argue with the very power that makes it possible to argue at all." How foolish man is to attempt that!" When we do not like things the way they are going we tend to want to complain and resist, and God's people have always been good at this. They complained soon after being delivered from slavery in Egypt, and they have complained about the way God is working in their lives ever since, and now, we in the ew Israel are not much, if any, improved in our spirit. We just don't like the way God does things. He is too slow for one thing, and he uses the wrong people for his success in the world. He should be using me, and my group or denomination, and not those other strange groups. Questioning God will never cease it would seem, for his children are just naturally hard to please. Some want him to send his Son back into the world before the tribulation, and others demand that he do it after the tribulation. Others prefer it in the middle, and so it goes with so much theology and eschatology. Endless are the ways that God's people question what he is going to do in the future. If we had the power we would all order God to do it our way. 2. Calvin, “I have already said, that I do not agree with those who connect this verse with the preceding, as if God, abandoning his just right, gave permission to the Jews to put questions more than is allowed among men. There is another meaning not much different, that the Israelites are miserable, because they know not, and do not even wish to know the will of the Lord; that they do not seek and even do not accept of consolation; and, in short, that the deep sorrow with which they are oppressed arises from the fault of the people, that is, because they do not ask at the mouth of the Lord. If we adopt this exposition, we must arrive at the conclusion that this passage treats of a different kind of inquiry; for as it is unlawful to thrust ourselves into the secret decrees of God, so he graciously condescends to make known to his people, as far as is necessary, what he intends to do; and, when he opens his sacred mouth, he justly commands us to open our ears to him, and to hear attentively whatever he declares. ow, we also know by experience that which Isaiah brings as a reproach against the ancient people. But it is more reasonable to view this statement as depending on the preceding, so as to be an
application of the metaphor in this sense: "A son will not be allowed to enter into a dispute with his father, and the clay will not be permitted to strive with its potter; how much more intolerable is this liberty which men take, when they prescribe to God in what manner he ought to treat his sons?" For otherwise this sentence would be broken and imperfect, but those two clauses agree beautifully with each other. "The potter will make clay of any shape according to his pleasure, the son of a mortal man will not venture to expostulate with his father; and will you refuse to me, who am the supreme Father and Maker of all things, to have equal power over my sons and my creatures?" If the former meaning be preferred, the Prophet reproaches men with their slothfulness, in not deigning to put questions to God, and to learn from his mouth those things which related to their consolation; for they might have learned from the prophecies that God took care of them, and might have known the conclusion of their distresses. And indeed there is no better remedy in adversity than to ask at the mouth of God, so as not to fix our eyes on the present condition of things, but to embrace with the heart that future salvation which the Lord promises. Command ye me. This must not be understood as denoting authority; for it does not belong to us to "command" God, or to press upon him unseasonably; and it will not be possible for any person to profit by the word of God, who does not bring an humble heart. 11 But God presents himself to us, that we may ask from him what is of importance to us to know; as if he had said, "Order me; I am ready to reveal those things which are of the highest importance for you to know, that you may derive consolation from them." But as that would be an unnatural mode of expression, I consider that the complaint which I have stated is more simple, that God is robbed of a father's right, if he do not retain the absolute and uncontrolled government of his Church. Thus, in the clause, Ask me of things to come, the word ask is taken in a bad sense, when men, forgetting modesty, do not hesitate to summon God to their bar, and to demand a reason for anything that he has done. This is still more evident from the word command; as if he had said, "It will belong to you, forsooth, to prescribe what shape I ought to give to my work!" In a word, the Prophet's design is to exhort men to moderation and patience; for, as soon as they begin to dispute with him, they endeavor to drag him from his heavenly throne. ow, he does not address the Jews alone, for he needed to restrain the blasphemies which even at that time were current among infidels. It is as if God, wishing to maintain his right, thus refuted the slanders of the whole world: "How far shall your insolence carry its excesses, that you will not allow me to be master in my own workshop, or to govern my family as I think fit?"
3. Henry sees this from the perspective of God encouraging questions rather than just excluding them. “The people of God in captivity, who reconciled themselves to the will of God in their affliction and were content to wait his time for their deliverance, are here assured that they should not wait in vain. I. They are invited to enquire concerning the issue of their troubles, v. 11. The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, though he does not allow them to strive with him, yet encourages them, 1. To consult his word: "Ask of me things to come; have recourse to the prophets and their prophecies, and see what they say concerning these things. Ask the watchmen, What of the night? Ask them, How long?" Things to come, as far as they are revealed, belong to us and to our children, and we must not be strangers to them. 2. To seek unto him by prayer: "Concerning my sons and concerning the work of my hands, which as becomes them submit to the will of their Father, the will of their potter, command you me, not by way of prescription, but by way of petition. Be
earnest in your requests, and confident in your expectations, as far as both are guided by and grounded upon the promise." We may not strive with our Maker by passionate complaints, but we may wrestle with him by faithful and fervent prayer. My sons, and the work of my hands, commend to me (so some read it), bring them to me and leave them with me. See the power of prayer, and its prevalence with God: Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am; what would you that I should do unto you? Some read it with an interrogation, as carrying on the reproof (v. 9, 10): Do you question me concerning things to come? and am I bound to give you an account? And concerning my children, even concerning the work of my hands, will you command me, or prescribe to me? Dare you do so? Shall any teach God knowledge, or give law to him? Those that complain of God do in effect assume an authority over him.”
4. Barnes, “Ask me of things to come - I alone can direct and order future events; and it is your duty and privilege to make inquiry respecting those events. Lowth renders this as a question, ' Do ye question me concerning my children?' But the more correct rendering is doubtless that in our translations, where it is represented as a duty to make inquiry respecting future events from God. The idea is: 1. That God alone could direct future events, and give information respecting them. 2. That instead of complaining of his allotments, they should humbly inquire of him in regard to their design, and the proper manner of meeting them; and 3. That if they were made the subject of humble, fervent, believing prayer, he would order them so as to promote their welfare, and would furnish them grace to meet them in a proper manner. Concerning my sons - Those who are my adopted children. It is implied that God loved them as his children, and that they had the privilege of pleading for his favor and regard, with the assurance that he would be propitious to their cry, and would order events so as to promote their welfare. And concerning the work of my hands - In regard to what I do. This is also read as a question by Lowth; ' And do ye give me directions concerning the work of my hands?' According to this interpretation, God would reprove them for presuming to give him direction about what he should do, in accordance with the sentiment in Isaiah 45:9-10. This interpretation also is adopted by Vitringa, Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and some others. Grotius renders it, ' Hinder, if you can, my doing what I will with them. Thus you will show what you can do, and what I can do.' Rosenmuller supposes it to mean, ' Commit my sons, and the work of my hands to me: suffer me to do with my own what I will.' It seems to me, however, that the word ' command' is here to be taken rather as indicating the privilege of his people to present their desires in the language of fervent and respectful petition; and that God here indicates that he would, so to speak, allow them to direct him; that he would hear their prayers, and would conform the events of his administration to their wishes and their welfare. This is the most obvious interpretation; and this will perhaps suit the connection as well as any other. Instead of complaining, and opposing his administration Isaiah 45:9-10, it was their privilege to come before him and spread out their needs, and even to give direction in regard to future events, so far as the events of his administration would bear on them, and he would meet their desires. Thus interpreted, it accords with the numerous passages of the Bible which command us to pray; and with the promises of
God that he will lend a listening ear to our cries.”
12. It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
1. Calvin, “I made the earth. He appears merely to maintain the power of God, as be had formerly done; so that there is an indirect contrast between God and idols, which superstitious persons worship. Foolish men ask counsel of idols, as if the world were governed at their pleasure. On the contrary, God calls us back to himself, when he says that he"made the earth, and placed man upon it, and that his hands stretched out the heavens." (Genesis 1:1, 6,26.) But it will be more appropriate, in my opinion, to apply the whole of this discourse to the nature of the present subject. "Can anything be more foolish than that men shall uphold their own rank, and shall haughtily interrogate, and treat as a criminal, God, whose majesty is above the heavens?" Thus he indirectly censures the madness of men, who do not scruple to exalt themselves above the very heavens. Yet at the same time he reminds them that, if it must come to a strict examination, God will not want arguments to defend his cause; for, if he governs the whole world, he undoubtedly takes a peculiar care about his own people, and does not care for strangers, so as to allow the members of his family to be scattered and wander. Thus, then, I understand this verse. "Shall I, whose vast and inconceivable wisdom and power shine brightly in heaven and earth, not only be bound by human laws, but be degraded below the ordinary lot of men? And if there be any doubts of my justice, shall not I, who rule and govern all things by my hand, be careful of those whom I have adopted into my family? Shall I not watch over their salvation?" Thus it is an argument from the less to the greater, and this meaning is agreeable to Scripture. We know that we have been adopted by God, in such a manner that, having been received under his protection, we are guarded by his hand; and none can hurt us, but by his permission. If "a sparrow," as Christ tells us, "does not fall to the ground without his permission," (Matthew 10:29,) shall we whom he values more than the sparrows be exposed by him at hazard to the rage and cruelty of enemies? And, therefore, since God upholds all the creatures by his providence, he cannot disregard the Church, which he prefers to the whole world. We must, therefore, betake ourselves to this providence, even in the most desperate affairs, and must not give way to any temptations by which Satan attacks us in various ways.” 2. Henry, “They are encouraged to depend upon the power of God when they are brought very low and are utterly incapable of helping themselves, v. 12. Their help stands in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth, which he mentions here, not only for his own glory, but for their comfort. The heavens and earth shall contribute, if he please, to the deliverance of the church (v. 8), for he created both, and therefore has both at command. 1. He made the earth, and created man upon it, for it was intended to be a habitation for man, Ps. cxv. 16. He has therefore not only authority, but wisdom and power sufficient to govern man here on this earth and to make what use he pleases of him. 2. His hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their hosts he commanded into being at first, and therefore still governs all their motions and influences. It is
good news to God's Israel that their God is the creator and governor of the world. They are particularly told what God would do for them, that they might know what to depend upon; and this shall lead them to expect a more glorious Redeemer and redemption, of whom, and of which, Cyrus and their deliverance by him were types and figures.” 3. These verses may be understood better if we imagine someone saying to the Lord, “Who do you think you are and where did you get the right to do this?” His reply is that if He is the Creator of the hosts above, (and even the Creator of those who complain!), He has full rights over His own work. God then simply repeats what He is going to do. He says, “I will …” and no one can do anything about it. It is sad that Israel was slow to accept His explanation that God was raising up Cyrus for the sake of Israel, (v.4). Cyrus not only set the exiles free, he would do it without the motive of some gain for himself, (v.13) so said the Lord Almighty Who controlled Cyrus’ actions, words and motivation concerning Israel.” author unknown
4. J. Vernon McGee, “It is interesting that God says He “stretched out the heavens.” This is no accident. It was Sir James Jeans, a Christian astronomer in Great Britain , who advanced a theory that today most astronomers follow. I notice here in Pasadena that some of the men connected with Cal Tech, who work in the field of astronomy, take the position that you and I live in a universe which Sir James Jeans called an expanding universe. It gets bigger every minute. The planets and worlds and galactic systems are all moving out away from each other. God says, “I stretched out the heavens.” That is the way He did it, although He hasn’t told us exactly how He did it—or how He could take nothing and make something out of it. Regardless of what theory you adopt, you have to move back to the place where there is nothing and then there is something. If you can tell me how nothing becomes something, then I will listen to you. Until you can answer that you can talk about tadpoles and monkeys all you want and I’ll just sit and smile at you. I’m a skeptic; I don’t believe you. Only God has a reasonable answer. God says, “I created it.” By His fiat word He brought the universe into existence. Do you have a more intelligent answer than what God has given to us in His Word?”
13. I will raise up Cyrus  in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty."
1. Calvin, “I have raised him up. He now continues the subject on which he had entered in the beginning of the chapter; for, having undertaken to soothe their affliction, which was exceedingly sharp and severe, Isaiah holds out the hope of deliverance, and stretches out his hand to them, that they may look for an absolutely certain redemption. Though you think that you are ruined, yet the Lord will protect you against destruction. Why the reproof which we have seen was intermingled with it, may be easily gathered from the event itself; for, if Isaiah had not abruptly
made this digression, the Jews, in their vehement impatience, would have been hurried into despair. In righteousness. This means "justly and truly," and must be understood relatively; for it assigns the reason why God determined to raise up Cyrus, that is, because he is a faithful guardian of his Church, and does not disappoint his worshipers. Some explain it, "in justice," that is, in order that he may punish the Babylonians; and others, "that he may reign justly;" but the Prophet meant nothing of this sort. But in the Scriptures, "righteousness" often signifies fidelity, (Psalm 5:8; 22:31), because the Lord manifests his "righteousness" by fulfilling his promises and defending his servants. The "righteousness" of God shines brightly in giving a display of exalted and perfect rectitude by saving his people; for, although there is no work of God on which a mark of righteousness is not engraven, yet a much more clear and striking proof is seen in the salvation of the Church. The meaning therefore is, that he "raised up" Cyrus, in order to manifest his "righteousness" in him, whom he has appointed to lead and conduct in bringing back his people. He shall build my city. Jerusalem is meant, which he calls "his city," because he wished that there the remembrance of his name should be preserved, and because he had consecrated it in a peculiar manner to himself. In like manner God himself had declared, "Wherever I shall cause my name to be recorded, I will come to thee, and will bless thee." (Exodus. 20:24.) ow, there was no other city which he had appointed for sacrifices and vows, and for calling on his name; and, therefore, also it is called (Psalm 46: 4, 5) "The city of God, the holy tabernacle of the Most High, for God is in the midst of her;" and in another place it is said, "This is my rest for ever and ever." (Psalm 132:14.) ow, Cyrus did not build this city with his own hand, but by royal edicts forbade any one to hinder the rebuilding of it, and likewise supplied the people with provisions and money. (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2; 6:3.) And shall release my captivity, not for a price, that is, "for nothing." This was uncommon; for, if captives are released by a conqueror, either a price is demanded, or harsh conditions are imposed on them; but Cyrus did nothing of that kind. Hence it follows that this deliverance took place by the will of God, and not by the will of man. The word "captivity" is here used as a collective noun, denoting "captives." 2. Henry, “Liberty shall be proclaimed to them, v. 13. Cyrus is the man that shall proclaim it; and, in order hereunto, God will put power into his hands: I have raised him up in righteousness, that is, in pursuance and performance of my promises and to plead my people's just but injured cause. He will give him success in all his enterprises, particularly that against Babylon: I will direct all his ways; and then it follows that he will prosper him, for those must needs speed well that are under a divine direction. God will make plain the way of those whom he designs to employ for him. Two things Cyrus must do for God:-- (1.) Jerusalem is God's city, but it is now in ruins, and he must rebuild it, that is, he must give orders for the rebuilding of it, and give wherewithal to do it. (2.) Israel is God's people, but they are now captives, and he must release them freely and generously, not demanding any ransom, nor compounding with them for price or reward. And Christ is anointed to do that for poor captive souls which Cyrus was to do for the captive Jews, to proclaim the opening of the prison to those that were bound (ch. lxi. 1), enlargement from a worse bondage than that in Babylon.”
3. Barnes, “He shall build my city - Jerusalem. See Ezra 1:2, where, in his proclamation, Cyrus says, ' Jehovah, God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.' It is very probable that Cyrus was made acquainted with these predictions of Isaiah. othing would be more natural than that the Jews in Babylon, when he should become master of the city, knowing that he was the monarch to whom Isaiah referred, and that he had been raised up for their deliverance, should acquaint him with these remarkable prophecies, and show him that God bad long before designated aim to accomplish this great work. ot for price - They shall not be purchased of him as slaves, nor shall they be required to purchase their own freedom. They shall be sent away as freemen, and no price shall be exacted for their ransom (compare Isaiah 52:3). The Jews in Babylon were regarded as captives in war, and therefore as slaves. or for reward - The Hebrew word used here ( ? shochad ) denotes properly that which is given to conciliate the favor of others, and hence, often a bribe. Here it means, that nothing should be given to Cyrus for their purchase, or to induce him to set them at liberty. He should do it of his own accord. It was a fact that he not only released them, but that he endowed them with rich arid valuable gifts, to enable them to restore their temple and city Ezra 1:7-11.”
14. This is what the LORD says: "The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush,  and those tall Sabeansthey will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains. They will bow down before you and plead with you, saying, 'Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.' "
1. “45:14-25: This section combines revelation about Israel and the nations. The nations come to Israel in submission, recognizing that Israel’s God is true and that the other gods are false. The Lord is with Israel, therefore these believing Gentiles, in order to come to God, must come to the people of God and join them, (v.14,20,22,23). This is related to the new kind of existence for Israel after the Babylonian Captivity. God was keeping His promise to Abraham that all peoples would be blessed through him. In the ew Testament the church is a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9), yet the church is not a nation with boundaries, nor a nation of one language or location. This is what was about to happen in the return from Babylon; the people of God would lose being an independent nation. The break with the past was in place; hereafter they would live under Gentile domination. They would still be His covenant people but their distinct political entity would disappear. They
would lack a nationally recognized son of David to sit on a throne in Jerusalem, even though the genealogy would be consciously kept, (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-37). Israel would be more and more a nation located throughout the world, composed of all who turn to the Lord to be saved – an invitation extended to the ends of the earth (45:22). (See Galatians 3:26-29; and Romans 11:11-32 where Gentile branches are grafted into Israel). It would be a kingdom of God on earth existing in all other kingdoms. Two parallel paragraphs begin with “This is what the Lord says” and end with the salvation of Israel. In both paragraphs, Gentiles join in with Israel in confessing one God, the God of Israel.” author unknown 2. Calvin, “Thus saith Jehovah. He still speaks of the restoration which was afterward effected under the conduct of Cyrus; but we must keep in remembrance what we formerly remarked, that those promises must be extended farther; for it includes the whole time which followed, down to the coming of Christ. Whoever shall duly consider and weigh this Prophet's ordinary style will find in his words nothing extravagant, and will not look upon his language as exaggerated. The labor of Egypt, the merchandise of Ethiopia. The Prophet alludes to the expenses which Cyrus contributed for building and adorning the temple. (Ezra 6:8) At that time was fulfilled what he says, that "the labor of Egypt" and "the merchandise of Ethiopia" came to the Jews; for "Egypt and Ethiopia" were tributaries and subjects of the king of Persia. From those tributes the temple of Jerusalem was rebuilt. But as that restoration was only the prelude to that which was accomplished by Christ, so likewise the homage which foreign nations rendered to the people of God was only the beginning of that homage which various nations rendered to the Church of God, after Christ had been revealed to the world. ow, under the name of "Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Sabeans," who flourished at that time, he includes also the rest of the nations. It is as if he had said, "You are now oppressed by the tyranny of foreign nations, but the time shall one day come when they shall be subject to you." This was not immediately fulfilled, but only at the time when Christ, by his coming, subdued their flinty and hitherto untameable hearts, so that they mildly submitted to the yoke that was laid upon them. But the Lord redeemed his people from Babylon, in order that he might preserve some Church till the coming of Christ, to whose authority all nations should be subject; and therefore we need not wonder, if the Prophet, when speaking of the return of the people, directs his discourse at the same time to God's end and design, and makes it to be one redemption. In chains they shall pass over. When he says that the Israelites shall be victorious over all the nations, this depends on the mutual relation between the Head and the members. Because the Only-begotten Son of God unites to himself those who believe in him, so that they are one with him, it frequently happens that what belongs to him is attributed to "the Church, which is his body and fullness." (Ephesians 1:23.) In this sense also government is ascribed to the Church, not so as to obscure by haughty rule the glory of her Head, or even to claim the authority which belongs to him, or, in a word, so as to have anything separate from her Head; but because the preaching of the gospel, which is committed to her, is the spiritual scepter of Christ, by which he displays his power. In this respect no man can bow down submissively before Christ, without also obeying the Church, so far as the obedience of faith is joined to the ministry of doctrine, yet so that Christ their Head alone reigns, and alone exercises his authority. Surely God is in thee. He relates what will be said by those who shall make respectful entrearies to the Church. They will acknowledge that "God is in her." Some translate Ka (ach) only, which I do not object to, and even acknowledge to be well adapted to
express the Prophet's meaning; yet it will not be inappropriate to explain it affirmatively, Surely God is in thee. And there is none besides God. He explains the manner in which foreign nations shall be subject to the Jews; that is, by acknowledging that there is no other God than He whom the Jews worshiped. If it be objected, that this has nothing to do with the Jews, who are now alienated from the Church, I reply, The gospel nevertheless proceeded from them, and was diffused throughout the whole world; and thus we acknowledge Jerusalem to be the fountain from which pure doctrine flowed. (Psalm 76:2; Luke 24:47.) In ancient times there undoubtedly were none but the Jews who understood who is God, and what is the proper manner of worshiping him; the rest were devoted to trifles and delusions, and worshiped their own inventions. Hence also Christ, addressing the Samaritan woman, says, "We know what we worship." (John 4:22.) Justly, therefore, is it here said, "God is in thee," because other nations were ignorant of God. Yet as there is an implied contrast, I cheerfully admit the adverb only, so as to be a testimony of the repentance of the Gentiles, when they are satisfied with the one God and forsake their idols. The meaning may be thus summed up, "They who formerly were haughty, and with lofty brow despised the Church, shall submit to her, when it shall be known that she is the sanctuary of the true God," for, as we have said, when God extols his Church, he does not relinquish his own authority. And this is a Sign of true conversion, that we do not worship a God whom we have imagined, but him who is acknowledged in the Church. We ought also to observe this encomium pronounced on the Church, "God is in thee;" for, as we formerly quoted, "God is in the midst of her," because he hath chosen her to be his habitation. (Psalm 46:5.) If we are the people of God, and are subject to his doctrine which bringeth salvation, it follows that he will assist, us; because he does not wish to forsake his people; for this promise is perpetual, and ought not to be viewed as referring solely to that time.” 3. Clarke, “The labour of Egypt "The wealth of Egypt"] This seems to relate to the future admission of the Gentiles into the Church of God. Compare Psa lxviii. 32; lxxii. 10; chap. lx. 6-9. And perhaps these particular nations may be named, by a metonymy common in all poetry, for powerful and wealthy nations in general. The Sabeans, men of stature "The Sabeans, tall of stature"] That the Sabeans were of a more majestic appearance than common, is particularly remarked by Agatharchides, an ancient Greek historian quoted by Bochart. So also the Septuagint understand it, rendering it "tall men. "And the same phrase is used for persons of extraordinary stature, um. xiii. 32, and 1 Chron. xx. 6. They shall make supplication unto thee "They shall in suppliant guise address thee" 4. Henry, “Provision shall be made for them. They went out poor, and unable to bear the expenses of their return and re-establishment; and therefore it is promised that the labor of Egypt and other nations should come over to them and be theirs, v. 14. Cyrus, having conquered those countries, out of their spoils provided for the returning Jews; and he ordered his subjects to furnish them with necessaries (Ezra i. 4), so that they did not go out empty from Babylon any more than from Egypt. Those that are redeemed by Christ shall be not only provided for, but enriched. Those whose spirits God stirs up to go to the heavenly Zion may depend upon him to bear their charges. The world is theirs as far as is good for them. Proselytes shall be brought over to them: Men of stature shall come after thee in chains; they shall fall down to thee, saying, Surely God is in thee. This was in part fulfilled when many of the people of the land became Jews (Esther viii. 17), and said, We will go with you, humbly begging leave to do so, for we have heard that God is with you, Zech. viii. 23.
The restoration would be a means of the conviction of many and the conversion of some. Perhaps many of the Chaldeans who were now themselves conquered by Cyrus, when they saw the Jews going back in triumph, came and begged pardon for the affronts and abuses they had given them, owned that God was among them and that he was God alone, and therefore desired to join themselves to them. But this promise was to have its full accomplishment in the gospel church,-when the Gentiles shall become obedient by word and deed to the faith of Christ (Rom. xv. 18), as willing captives to the church (Ps. cx. 3), glad to wear her chains,--when an infidel, beholding the public worship of Christians, shall own himself convinced that God is with them of a truth (1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25) and shall assay to join himself to them,--and when those that had been of the synagogue of Satan shall come and worship before the church's feet, and be made to know that God has loved her (Rev. iii. 9), and the kings of the earth and the nations shall bring their glory into the gospel Jerusalem, Rev. xxi. 24. ote, It is good to be with those, though it be in chains, that have God with them.” 5. David Linden, “These Gentiles coming to the Lord come to Israel. They bring their wealth they are so committed to their new allegiance. They bind themselves and follow Israelites. They have learned and they confess (note vv.23,24) the God of Israel is the only God. It is as if they say, “Your God is the only one and we know it; please let us in too.” Their conversion is sincere, fervent and unforced by Israel. God subdued nations under Israel, so that they “assemble as the people of the God of Abraham,” (Psalm 47:3,9). 6. “The apostle Paul quotes this text from Isaiah: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11) In Isaiah it was the Lord (Yahweh) saying all would bow before Him. Paul says they will bow before Jesus, thus He reveals that he believed Jesus to be Yahweh, the Lord God of Israel. He was an apostle writing under the Holy Spirit, and what he affirmed of Christ in this way is true. The ew Testament does more to show us that Jesus is Lord than it does to say that He is God. o higher proof can be found of the deity of Christ than that the Bible uses of Him the divine ame.” Author unknown 7. Jim Bomkamp, “The Lord declares that the products of Egypt, the merchandise of Cush (Ethiopia), and the Sabeans (the people of Seba in S. Africa and perhaps synonymous with the people of Sheba) will come over to Cyrus and his armies, and on that day the Lord will be magnified. In these verses, the Lord is again declaring the total domination that would occur at the hands of this man Cyrus the Persian, whom the Lord has foretold would also deliver the captive Judeans from Babylon.The people of Seba will then be taken captive by Cyrus and his armies.These peoples of Seba will even recognize that the Lord, the God of Israel, is with Cyrus as he conquers. They will declare on that day that victory could not have come by anyone but the God of Israel Himself, and though He hides Himself, that is He is invisible and His works are not always clearly seen in what appears many times to be an ambiguous creation, the God of Israel is the One who saves men. Perhaps when they see themselves taken as captives while Judea is being set free to return to their homeland and rebuild the house of their God, they will realize that it is the God of Israel who has orchestrated all of these things to occur.”
8. Barnes has extensive comments on this verse. “Thus saith the Lord - This verse is designed to denote the favors which in subsequent times would be conferred on Jerusalem, the city which Isaiah 45:13 was to be rebuilt. It bas reference, according to Lowth, to the conversion of the Gentiles, and their admission into the church of God. Grotius, however, understands it as addressed to Cyrus, and as meaning that, because he had released the Jews without reward, therefore God would give him the wealth of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sabaea, and that those nations should be subject to him. But in this opinion probably he stands alone, and the objections to it are so obvious that they need not be specified. Some of the Jewish interpreters suppose that it refers to the same events as those recorded in Isaiah 43:3, and that it relates to the fact that God had formerly given those nations for the deliverance and protection of his people. They suppose that particular reference is had to the slaughter and destruction of the army of Sennacherib. Vitringa regards it as referring to the fact that proselytes should be made from all these nations to the true religion, and finds, as he supposes, a fulfillment of it in the times of the Savior and the apostles. In regard to the true meaning of the passage; we may observe: 1. That it refers to the times that would succeed their return from their exile; and not to events that were then past. This is apparent on the face of the passage. 2. It relates to Jerusalem, or to the people of God, and not to Cyrus. This is evident, because it was not true that these nations became subject to Cyrus after his taking Babylon, for it was not Cyrus, but his son Cambyses that invaded and subdued Egypt, and because the whole phraseology has reference to a conversion to religion, and not to the subjection involved in the conquests of war. 3. It appropriately relates to a conversion to the true God, and an embracing of the true religion. This is implied in the language in the close of the verse, ' saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.' 4. The passage, therefore, means, that subsequent to their return from Babylon, there would be the conversion of those nations; or that they - perhaps mentioned here as the representatives of great and mighty nations in general - would be converted to the true faith, and that their wealth and power would be consecrated to the cause of Yahweh. The time when this was to be, is not fixed in the prophecy itself. It is only determined that it was to be subsequent to the return from the exile, and to be one of the consequences of that return. The fulfillment, therefore, may be sought either under the first preaching of the gospel, or in times still more remote. A more full explanation will occur in the examination of the different parts of the verse. The labor of Egypt - That is, the fruit, or result of the labor of Egypt; the wealth of Egypt (see the word thus used in Job 10:3; Psalms 78:46; Isaiah 55:2; Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 20:5; Ezekiel 23:9). The idea is, that Egypt would be converted to the true religion, and its wealth consecrated to the service of the true God. The conversion of Egypt is not infrequently foretold Psalms 68:31 : Princes shall come out of Egypt. Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God. See the notes at Isaiah 19:18-22 - where the conversion of Egypt is introduced and discussed at length.
And merchandise of Ethiopia - On the situation of Ethiopia, see the notes at Isaiah 18:1. The word ' merchandise' here means the same as wealth, since their wealth consisted in their traffic. That Cush or Ethiopia would be converted to the true religion and be united to the people of God, is declared in the passage above quoted from Psalms 68:31; and also in various other places. Thus in Psalms 67:4 : ' Behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there;' Zephaniah 3:10 : ' From beyond the ruins of Ethiopia, my suppliants, even the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.' And of the Sabeans, men of stature - ( se ba^'i^ym ). The inhabitants of Seba ( seba^' , not ? she ba^' ). Sheba and the Sabeans of that name were a country and people of Arabia Felix comprising a considerable part of the country now known as Yemen, lying in the southwest part of Arabia Joel 3:8; Job 1:15. That country abounded in frankincense, myrrh, spices, gold, and precious stones I Kings 10:1; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20. Seba, here referred to, was a different country. It was inhabited by a descendant of Cush Genesis 10:7, and was probably the same as Meroe in Upper Egypt (see the notes at Isaiah 43:3). That this people was distinguished for height of stature is expressly affirmed by Herodotus (iii. 20), who says of the Ethiopians, among whom the Sabeans are to be reckoned, that they were ' the tallest of men' ( ´ ?? ´ ?´ legontai einai megistoi anthro¯po¯n ); and Solinus affirms that the Ethiopians are ' twelve feet high.' Agatharchides, an ancient Greek poet, quoted by Bochart (Phaleg. ii. 26), says of the Sabeans, ` ´´ ? ? ´ ? ta so¯mata esti to¯n katoikounto¯n achiologo¯tera - ' the bodies of those who dwell there are worthy of special remark.' This shows at least a coincidence between the accounts of Scripture and of profane writers. This country is alluded to by Solomon in Psalms 72:10 : The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. They are connected here with the Egyptians, and with the inhabitants of Ethiopia or Cush; and their conversion to the true religion would occur probably about the same time. Doubtless the Christian religion was early introduced into these countries, for among those converted on the day of Pentecost, were foreigners from Egypt, and the adjacent countries Acts 2:10-11, who would carry the gospel with them on their return. See also the ease of the eunuch of Ethiopia Acts 8:26-39, by whom, undoubtedly, the gospel was conveyed to that region The first bishop of Ethiopia was Frumentius, who was made bishop of that country about 330 a.d. There is a current tradition among the Ethiopians that the Queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon, was called Maqueda , and that she was not from Arabia, but was a queen of their own country. They say that she adopted the Jewish religion, and introduced it among her people; and the eunuch, who was treasurer under Queen Candace, was probably a Jew by religion if not by birth. Yet there will be in future times a more signal fulfillment of this prophecy, when the inhabitants of these countries, and the people of all other nations, shall be converted to the true religion, and shall give themselves to God (compare the notes at Isaiah 60:3-14). That prophecy has a remarkable similarity to this, and indeed is little more than a beautiful expansion of it. Shall come over unto thee - To thy religion; or shall be united to thee in the worship of the true God. It denotes a change not of place, but of character, and of religion. And they shall be thine - A part of thy people; united to thee. The whole language of this description, however, is taken from the custom in the conquests of war, where one nation is made subject to another, and is led along in chains. It is here figurative, denoting that the true religion
would make rapid and extensive conquests among the pagan; that is, that the true religion would everywhere triumph over all others. The phrase ' shall come over,' denotes that their subjection would be voluntary, and that they should freely abandon their own systems; while the phrases ' shall be thine,' ' in chains,' denote the triumphant and mighty power of the truth. They shall come after thee - You shall precede them in the honor of having conveyed to them the true religion, and in that priority of rank which always belongs to those who are first blessed with intelligence, and with the revelation of God. In chains shall they come over - Language taken from conquests, when subjugated nations are led along as captives; and here denoting the power of that truth which would subdue their false systems, and bring them into complete and entire subjection to the true religion. This does not mean that it would be against their will, or that they could not have resisted it; but merely that they would be in fact as entirely subject to the true religion as are prisoners of war, in chains, to the will of their conquerors (see the notes at Isaiah 14:1-2). And they shall fall down unto thee - Recognizing thee as having the knowledge of the true God. To fall down is indicative of reverence; and it means here that Jerusalem would be honored as being the source from where the true religion should emanate (compare Luke 24:47). An expression similar to that used here occurs in Isaiah 49:23 : ' And kings - and queens - shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.' They shall make supplication unto thee - Lowth renders this, ' And in suppliant guise address thee.' The Hebrew properly means, they shall pray unto thee; but the idea is, that they should come as suppliants to Jerusalem, confessing that there was the knowledge of the only true God, and praying her inhabitants to impart to them an acquaintance with the true religion (see the notes at Isaiah 2:3). The idea indicated by this is, that there would be a condition of anxious solicitude among pagan nations on the subject of the true religion, and that they would seek counsel and direction from those who were in possession of it. Such a state has already existed to some extent among the pagan; and the Scriptures, I think, lead us to suppose that the final spread and triumph of the gospel will be preceded by such an inquiry prevailing extensively in the pagan world. God will show them the folly of idolatry; he will raise up reformers among themselves; the extension of commercial contact will acquaint them with the comparative happiness and prosperity of Christian nations; and the growing consciousness of their own inferiority will lead them to desire that which has conferred so extensive benefits on other lands, and lead them to come as suppliants, and ask that teachers and the ministers of religious may be sent to them. One of the most remarkable characteristics of the present time is, that pagan nations are becoming increasingly sensible of their ignorance and comparative degradation; that they welcome the ministers and teachers sent out from Christian lands; and the increased commerce of the world is thus preparing the world for the final spread of the gospel. God is in thee - In Jerusalem; or thou art in possession of the only true system of religion, and art the worshiper of the only true God (see Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 60:14).” 9. Alexander, “Enough has now been said to show that the most natural interpretation of the passage is the common one which makes it a prophecy of moral and spiritual conquests, to be wrought by the church over the nations, and, as one illustrious example, by the Jews religion over the heathenism of many countries, not
excepting the literal Ethiopia, as we learn from Acts 8 : 27.”
15. Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.
1. 45:15-17 “In one sense God had hidden Himself, (v.15) because His plan to include Gentiles was not transparent to His own people; it was a surprise to them. The two groups responding to God’s salvation are: 1) those who continue to worship idols, even though many Gentiles are leaving them and “coming over” to Israel, v.14. 2) The other is Israel saved with an everlasting salvation. The two groups end up being either ashamed or saved. But there are only two groups – those with idols, or those now called Israel. Israel here cannot refer to a group that excludes the Gentiles who have come to them. The salvation is said to be everlasting; it looks into the future and says that whosoever believes in the Lord shall never be put to shame, (28:16; Romans 10:11). All those “saved by the Lord” shall certainly be saved, without exception, because this salvation falls on Christ Who is able to fulfill it, (John 6:39).” author unknown 1B. Scott Grant, "In verse 15, Isaiah himself reacts to the Lord’s words in verse 14, proclaiming to the Lord, "Truly, you are a God who hides himself." In saying that God hides himself, Isaiah is saying, strangely enough, that the Lord reveals himself. He has plans that are hidden from humanity, only to be revealed in his perfect timing. He hides himself only until he speaks (verse 19). Isaiah is flabbergasted by the revelation that the nations will come over to Israel in this way. It’s an amazing turnaround, an amazing plan that transcends current thinking—Israel will one day be the focus of such a pilgrimage and that the Jews and the Gentiles will share such fellowship. In this context, Isaiah calls the Lord the "God of Israel, Savior." Israel is already being defined as something beyond ethnicity, and the Lord is being defined as savior not just of ethnic Israel but of people of other ethnicities who attach themselves to Israel." 1C. Alexander Maclaren, “The former of these verses expresses the thoughts of the prophet in contemplating the close of a great work of God’s power which issues in the heathen’s coming to Israel and acknowledging God. He adores the depth of the divine counsels which, by devious ways and after long ages, have led to this bright result. And as he thinks of all the long-stretching preparations, all the apparently hostile forces which have been truly subsidiary, all the generations during which these Egyptian and Ethiopian tribes have been the enemies and oppressors of that Israel whom they at last acknowledge for the dwelling-place of God, and enemies of that Jehovah before whom they finally bow down, he feels that he has no measuringline to fathom the divine purposes, and bows his face to the ground in reverent contemplation with that word upon his lips: ‘Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.’ It is a parallel to the apostolic words, ‘O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.’ 1D. Maclaren gives some examples of how God is hidden and revealed. I. After all revelation, God is hidden.
There is revelation of His ame in all His works. His action must be all self-manifestation. But after all it is obscure and hidden. 1. ature hides while it reveals. ature’s revelation is unobtrusive. God is concealed behind second causes. God is concealed behind regular modes of working (laws). ature’s revelation is partial, disclosing only a fragment of the name. ature’s revelation is ambiguous. Dark shadows of death and pain in the sensitive world, of ruin and convulsions, of shivered stars, seem to contradict the faith that all is very good; so that it has been possible for men to drop their plummet in the deep and say, ‘I find no God,’ and for others to fall into Manichaeism or some form or other of dualism. 2. Providence hides while it reveals. That is the sphere in which men are most familiar with the idea of mystery. There is much of which we do not see the issue. The process is not completed, and so the end is not visible. Even when we believe that ‘to Him’ and ‘for good’ are ‘all things,’ we cannot tell how all will come circling round. We are like men looking only at one small segment of an ellipse which is very eccentric. There is much of which we do not see the consistency with the divine character. We are confronted with stumbling-blocks in the allotment of earthly conditions; in the long ages and many tribes which are without knowledge of God; in the sore sorrows, national and individual. We can array a formidable host. But it is to be remembered that revelation actually increases these. It is just because we know so much of God that we feel them so keenly. I suppose the mysteries of the divine government trouble others outside the sphere of revelation but little. The darkness is made visible by the light. 3. Even in ‘grace’ God is hidden while revealed. The Infinite and Eternal cannot be grasped by man. The conception of infinity and eternity is given us by revelation, but it is not comprehended so that its contents are fully known. The words are known, but their full meaning is not, and no revelation can make them, known to finite intelligences. God dwells in light inaccessible, which is darkness. Revelation opens abysses down which we cannot look. It raises and leaves unsettled as many questions as it solves. The telescope resolves many nebulae, but only to bring more unresolvable ones into the field of vision. II. otwithstanding all obscurity, God has amply revealed Himself. Though God hides Himself, still there comes from heaven the voice—‘I have not spoken in
secret,’ ow these words contain these thoughts— 1. That whatever darkness there may be, there is none due to the manner of the revelation. God has not spoken in secret, in a corner. There are no arbitrary difficulties made or unnecessary darkness left in His revelation. We have no right to say that He has left difficulties to test our faith. He Himself has never said so. He deals with us in good faith, doing all that can be done to enlighten, regard being had to still loftier considerations, to the freedom of the human will, to the laws which He has Himself imposed on our nature, and the purposes for which we are here. It is very important to grasp this. We have been told as much as can be told. Contrast with such a revelation the cave-muttered oracles of heathenism and their paltering double sense. Be sure that when God speaks, He speaks clearly and to all, and that in Christianity there is no esoteric teaching for a few initiated only, while the multitude are put off with shows. 2. That whatever obscurity there may be, there is none which hides the divine invitation or Him from those who obey it. ‘I have never said . . . seek ye Me in vain.’ Much is obscure if speculative completeness is looked for, but the moral relations of God and man are not obscure. All which the heart needs is made known. His revelation is clearly His seeking us, and His revelation is His gracious call to us to seek Him. He is ever found by those who seek. They have not to press through obscurities to find Him, but the desire to possess must precede possession in spiritual matters. He is no hidden God, lurking in obscurity and only to be found by painful search. They who ‘seek’ Him know where to find Him, and seek because they know. 3. That whatever may be obscure, the Revelation of righteousness is clear. We have to face speculative difficulties in plenty, but the great fact remains that in Revelation steady light is focussed on the moral qualities of the divine ature and especially on His righteousness. And the revelation of the divine righteousness reaches its greatest brightness, as that of all the divine ature does, in the Person and work of Jesus. Very significantly the idea of God’s righteousness is fully developed in the immediately subsequent context. There we find that attribute linked in close and harmonious conjunction with what shallower thought is apt to regard as being in antagonism to it. He declares Himself to be ‘a just (righteous) God and a Saviour.’ So then, if we would rightly conceive of His righteousness, we must give it a wider extension than that of retributive justice or cold, inflexible aloofness from sinners. It impels God to be man’s saviour. And with similar enlarging of popular conceptions there follows: ‘In the Lord is righteousness and strength,’ and therefore, ‘In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified (declared and made righteous) and shall glory’—then, the divine Righteousness is communicative. All these thoughts, germinal in the prophet’s words, are set in fullest light, and certified by the most heart-moving facts, in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He ‘declares at this time His righteousness, that He might Himself be righteous and the maker righteous of them that have faith in Jesus.’ Whatever is dark, this is clear, that ‘Jehovah our Righteousness’ has come to us in His Son, in whom seeking Him we shall never seek in vain, but ‘be found in Him, not having a righteousness of our own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.’ If the great purpose of revelation is to make us know that God loves us, and has given us His Son that in Him we may know Him and possess His Righteousness, difficulties and obscurities in its
form or in its substance take a very different aspect. What need we more than that knowledge and possession? Be not robbed of them. Many things are not written in the book of the divine Revelation, whether it be that of ature, of human history, or of our own spirits, or even of the Gospel, but these are written that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and believing, may have life in His name.”
2. Calvin, “Truly thou art a God that hidest thyself. Isaiah now exclaims, that there is need of long exercise of patience, that we may enjoy the promises of God; for the people might have been prompted to despair, when the wicked had everything to their wish, and when everything adverse befell themselves. I am aware that some expound it differently. The Jewish writers commonly interpret it to mean, that the Lord will hide himself from the Gentiles, but will reveal himself to his people. Christian interpreters bring forward a different sense, but too far-fetched. There is ingenuity, indeed, in what they say, that Christ is a hidden God, because his divinity lies concealed under the infirmity of the flesh. But it does not agree with the Prophet's meaning; for he calls himself "a hidden God," because he appears to withdraw, 14 and, in some measure, to conceal himself, when he permits his people to be afflicted and oppressed by various calamities; and, therefore, our hearts ought to be encouraged by hope. ow, as Paul says, (Romans 8:24,) "hope is not directed to those things which are seen;" and in this sense Isaiah calls him "a hidden God," because those things which he promised are not immediately visible to our eyes. Thus he intended that we should withdraw our minds from present objects, and raise them above the heavens, which we must do, 15 if we wish to receive and accept of his aid. There is "need of patience," (Hebrews 10:36,) therefore, that we may continue to direct our desires towards him, when he delays the execution of his promises. He had said, a little before, that unbelievers, though at that time they were blind and stupid, would feel the presence of God; but, because the time of manifestation was not yet at hand, this exclamation is appropriately introduced, that God, before he displays his glory, conceals his power in order to try our faith. God the Savior of Israel. That the Prophet does not speak of the essence of God, but of his assistance, may be easily inferred from the epithet which is now added, when he calls God "the Savior." He explains that God "hides himself" in the method which he takes for saving his Church, because he conceals his hand for a time in such a manner as if he had intended totally to abandon them. He wishes that our salvation should remain, as it were, hidden in darkness, that, if we desire to enjoy it, we may know that we must go out of this world, for it will not all at once present itself to us, or become visible to our eyes. We ought, therefore, to look for it with unshaken steadfastness; for it is highly advantageous that in this manner God should try and prove our faith, that, when we shall be oppressed by various afflictions on every hand, we may nevertheless rely on God and on his promises.” 3. Henry, “They are taught to trust God further than they can see him. The prophet puts this word into their mouths, and goes before them in saying it (v. 15): Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself. 1. God hid himself when he brought them into the trouble, hid himself and was wroth, ch. lvii. 17. ote, Though God be his people's God and Savior, yet sometimes, when they provoke him, he hides himself from them in displeasure, suspends his favors, and lays them under his frowns: but let them wait upon the Lord that hides his face, ch. viii. 17. 2. He hid himself when he
was bringing them out of the trouble. ote, When God is acting as Israel's God and Savior commonly his way is in the sea, Ps. lxxvii. 19. The salvation of the church is carried on in a mysterious way, by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts working on men's spirits (Zech. iv. 6), by weak and unlikely instruments, small and accidental occurrences, and not wrought till the last extremity; but this is our comfort, though God hide himself, we are sure he is the God of Israel, the Savior. See Job xxxv. 14.”
4. Joseph Alexander, “The abrupt transition here has much perplexed interpreters. Vitringa effects nothing by his favorite and far-fetched supposition of a responsive choir or chorus. Ewald and Luzzatto suppose the words of the Egyptian captives to be still continued. It is far more natural to take the verse as an apostrophe, expressive of the Prophet s own strong feelings in contrasting what God had done and would yet do, the darkness of the present with the brightness of the future. If these things are to be hereafter, then oh thou Savior of thy people, thou art indeed a God that hides himself, that is to say, conceals his purposes of mercy under the darkness of his present dispensations. Let it be observed, however, that the same words, which furnish a vehicle of personal emotion to the Prophet, are in fact a formula of wider import, and contain the statement of a general truth.” 5. Barnes, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself - That is, that hidest thy counsels and plans. The idea is, that the ways of God seems to be dark until the distant event discloses his purpose; that a long series of mysterious events seem to succeed each other, trying to the faith of his people, and where the reason of his doings cannot be seen. The remark here seems to be made by the prophet, in view of the fact, that the dealings of God with his people in their long and painful exile would be to them inscrutable, but that a future glorious manifestation would disclose the nature of his designs, and make his purposes known (see Isaiah 55:8-9): ' My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways' (compare Psalms 44:24; the notes at Isaiah 8:17). The Saviour - Still the Saviour of his people, though his ways are mysterious and the reasons of his dealings are unknown. The Septuagint renders this, ' For thou art God, though we did not know it, O God of Israel the Saviour.' This verse teaches us that we should not repine or complain under the mysterious allotments of Providence. They may be dark now. But in due time they will be disclosed, and we shall be permitted to see his design, and to witness results so glorious, as shall satisfy us that his ways are all just, and his dealings right.”
16. All the makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced; they will go off into disgrace together.
1. Clarke, “They shall be ashamed "They are ashamed"] The reader cannot but observe the sudden transition from the solemn adoration of the secret and mysterious nature of God's counsels in regard to his people, to the spirited denunciation of the confusion of idolaters, and the
final destruction of idolatry; contrasted with the salvation of Israel, not from temporal captivity, but the eternal salvation by the Messiah, strongly marked by the repetition and augmentation of the phrase, to the ages of eternity. But there is not only a sudden change in the sentiment, the change is equally observable in the construction of the sentences; which from the usual short measure, runs out at once into two distichs of the longer sort of verse.” 2. Calvin, “16. and 17. They shall all be put to shame. Here the Prophet compares the Jews with the Gentiles, in order to meet a grievous and dangerous temptation, by which they might be assailed, when they saw the Gentiles enjoying prosperity; 17 for, amidst so great troubles, they might have suspected that God was favorable to the Gentiles, or that he had cast away the care of his people, or that everything was governed by the blind impulse of fortune. The Prophet, therefore, assures them that, although for a time the Gentiles flourish and appear to be exalted to heaven, 18 yet the result must be, that they shall perish and Israel shall be saved. In a word, he exhorts them not to judge of the power of God from the present condition of things, not to have their minds fixed on temporary happiness, but to raise them to eternal salvation, and, when struck by the hand of God, patiently to bear their condition, and, on the other hand, not to envy the prosperity of the wicked, which shall be followed by a mournful reverse, as it is excellently described by the Psalmist. (Psalm 37:1,2.) This statement is added to the preceding; for whoever shall know that God, when he is a "Savior," is "hidden," will not wonder that wicked men enjoy prosperity, and that good men are poor, and despised, and tried by various afflictions. Thus the Lord makes trial of our faith and patience, and yet no part of our eternal salvation is lost; but they who now appear to be a thousand times safe and happy shall at length perish, and all the wealth which they possess shall plunge them in deeper ruin; because they abuse God's benefits, and, like robbers, seize on what belongs to other men, even though they appear to possess all of them by a just title. Whenever, therefore, this thought arises in our minds, "Wicked men are at ease, and therefore God favors them, and the promises on which we rely are unworthy of credit;" let us betake ourselves to this declaration of the Prophet as the surest anchor, and let us fortify ourselves by it, "The Lord will not disappoint our expectation, but we shall at length be delivered, even though we be now exposed to the reproaches, slanders, mocking, and cruelty of the wicked." 3. Henry, “They are instructed to triumph over idolaters and all the worshipers of other gods (v. 16): Those who are makers of idols, not only who frame them, but who make gods of them by praying to them, shall be ashamed and confounded, when they shall be convinced of their mistakes and shall be forced to acknowledged that the God of Israel is the only true God, and when they shall be disappointed in their expectations from their idols, under whose protection they had put themselves. They shall go to confusion when they shall find that they can neither excuse the sin nor escape the punishment of it, Ps. xcvii. 7. It is not here and there one more timorous than the rest that shall thus shrink, and give up the cause, but all of them; nay, though they appear in a body, though hand join in hand, and they do all they can to keep one another in countenance, yet they shall go to confusion together. Bind them in bundles, to burn them.”
4. Constable, “The idols would humiliate their makers when it became clear that they have no power to save. But God's ability to save His people forever will
not result in His being put to shame. Yahweh's deliverance of Israel to continued existence would impress the Gentiles after Cyrus' decree (vv.14-15). But God would provide an eternal salvation for His people that only Gentiles after the coming of Christ could appreciate (cf. Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6).” 5. Joseph Alexander, “Unless we assume, without necessity or warrant, an abrupt and perfectly capricious change of subject, this verse must contain the conclusion of the process described in the foregoing context. We might therefore expect to find Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba, introduced again by name ; but instead of these, the sentence closes with a general expression, which has already been referred to as a proof that the war in question is a spiritual war, and that the enemies to be subdued are not certain nations, in themselves considered, but the heathen world, the vast mixed multitude who worship idols. These are described as the carvers or artificers of images, which strengthens the conclusion before drawn, that the smith and carpenter and cook and baker and cultivator of 44 : 12-16. are one and the same person, viz. the idolatrous devotee himself.”
17. But Israel will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.
1. Henry, “They are assured that those who trust in God shall never be made ashamed of their confidence in him, v. 17. ow that God was about to deliver them out of Babylon he directed them by his prophet, 1. To look up to him as the author of their salvation: Israel shall be saved in the Lord. ot only their salvation shall be wrought out by his power, but it shall be treasured up for them in his grace and promise, and so secured to them. They shall be saved in him; for his name shall be their strong tower, into which they shall run, and in which they shall be safe. 2. To look beyond this temporal deliverance to that which is spiritual and has reference to another world, to think of that salvation by the Messiah which is an everlasting salvation, the salvation of the soul, a rescue from everlasting misery and a restoration to everlasting bliss. "Give diligence to make that sure, for it may be made sure, so sure that you shall not be ashamed nor confounded world with out end. You shall not only be delivered from the everlasting shame and contempt which will be the portion of idolaters (Dan. xii. 2), but you shall have everlasting honor and glory." There is a world without end; and it will be well or ill with us according as it will be with us in that world. [2.] Those who are saved with the everlasting salvation shall never be ashamed of what they did or suffered in the hopes of it; for it will so far outdo their expectations as to be a more abundant reimbursement. The returning captives owned that to them did belong confusion of face (Dan. ix. 7, 8); yet God tells them that they shall not be confounded, but shall have assurance for ever. Those who are confounded as penitents for their own sin shall not be confounded as believers in God's promise and power.They are engaged for ever to cleave to God, and never to desert him, never to distrust him. What had been often inculcated before is here again repeated, for the encouragement of his people to continue faithful to him, and to hope that
he would be so to them: I am the Lord, and there is none else. That the Lord we serve and trust in is God alone appears by the two great lights, that of nature and that of revelation.” 2. Jim Bomkamp, “VS 45:17-18 - “Israel has been saved by the Lord With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity. 18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, But formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else.” - Isaiah tells Israel that they have been saved by the Lord for an everlasting salvation and they will not be put to shame or humiliated for all eternity. For all of God’s people for all time, this verse should be an encouragement. Though we may be greatly persecuted and ridiculed by the people of this wicked world, we will have eternity to be glad that we have chosen the Lord to be our Savior. Those who have chosen to persecute and ridicule God’s people will have eternity to regret the salvation and blessings that they could have had if they had been willing to commit their way to the Lord. The Lord reassures His people in verse 18 that when the Lord created the heavens and formed the earth that it was not to no purpose, but rather He had a plan in mind, it was to be inhabited by man. God has His plans which He is executing and will execute concerning His people and mankind. These plans encompass not only this life and the things of this life, but they reach all the way into eternity.” 3. F. B. Hole, “Men may act to achieve their own purposes without any thought of God and yet God may be behind their doings, overruling them to serve His own ends. Israel is to know God as Saviour and be delivered from their idols. This was in part accomplished when by the decree of Cyrus a remnant returned to their own land; for after that deliverance the demon of idolatry was cast put of them, and outwardly they served the God of their fathers. But the everlasting salvation mentioned in verse 17 is not yet theirs. Each "salvation" as yet granted to them has only lasted for a time. When it does come by the advent of Christ, it will abide "world without end," or, "to the ages of ages." 4. Don Fortner, “Our text declares, with absolute certainty, that there are some people in this world who must and shall be saved- "But Israel shall be saved in the Lord!" Those words declare the salvation of a specific people and give assurance of the certainty of their salvation. The Apostle Paul uses similar language in Romans 11:26- "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob."Who Are These People Called "Israel"? This much is certain- Our text does not speak of Abraham’s physical seed, his natural descendants. It is not talking about the salvation of the whole nation of Israel. We know this for two reasons: • If this text promises salvation to men and women on the basis of their ancestry, their race, their natural birth, then it completely contradicts the whole word of God (John 1:11-13). • Many of the Jews, the natural seed of Israel have already perished under the wrath of God- "They are not all Israel which are of Israel!" (Rom. 9:6). Who then are these Israelites? "Israel" in this text speaks of spiritual Israel, "the Israel of God," The spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Rom. 2:28-29); Gal. 6:16). 5. Joseph Alexander, “The general form of this solemn declaration, and the eternity again and again predicated of the salvation promised, seem to show that the Israel of this text and of others like it, is not the Jewish people, considered simply as an
ancient nation, but the Jewish people considered as the church of God, a body which has never ceased and never will cease to exist and claim the promises.” 6. Barnes, “But Israel shall be saved - Referring primarily to the Jews in Babylon, but affirming the universal truth that the true Israel (compare Romans 2:28-29), that is, the people of God, shall be saved from all their trials, and shall be brought to his everlasting kingdom.............It shall be done by the power of Yahweh, and shall be traced to him alone. o more human power could have saved them from their captivity in Babylon; no human power can save the soul from hell. With an everlasting salvation - It shall not be a temporary deliverance; but it shall be perpetual. In heaven his people shall meet no more foes; they shall suffer no more calamity: they shall be driven into no exile; they shall never die. Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded - This means: 1. That they should never find God to fail, that is, to be either unable or unwilling to befriend and rescue them Psalms 46:1. 2. That they should never be ashamed, that is, have cause to regret that they had put their trust in him. The idea is, that they who become his friends never regret it; never are ashamed of it. The time never can come, when anyone who has become a true friend of God will regret it. In prosperity or adversity; in sickness or health; at home or abroad; in safety or in danger; in life or in death: there will be no situation in which they will be ashamed that they gave their hearts to God. There never have been any true Christians who regretted that they became the friends of the Redeemer. Their religion may have exposed them to persecution; their names may have been east out as evil; they may have been stripped of their property; they may have been thrown into dungeons, laid on the rack, or led to the stake; but they have not regretted that they became the friends of God. or will they ever regret it. o man on a dying bed regrets that he is a friend of God. o man at the judgment bar will be ashamed to be a Christian. And in all the interminable duration of the world to come, the period never will, never can arrive, when anyone will ever be ashamed that he gave his heart early, and entirely to the Redeemer. Why then should not all become his friends? Why will not people pursue that course which they know they never can regret, rather than the ways of sin and folly, which they know must cover them with shame and confusion hereafter?
18. For this is what the LORD says- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited- he says: "I am the LORD , and there is no other.
1. “45:18 In Isaiah 38-55 God’s role as Creator is repeatedly connected with His ongoing work of salvation. The divine initiative is still at work on His projects. God cannot conceive of a world He made for His glory that does not know Him. His involvement in His creation as Redeemer of it fits His claim on it as His possession. (Compare Psalm 24:1 and Psalm 96.)” author unknown 2. Calvin, “For thus saith Jehovah. This verse tends to confirm the preceding; for the Prophet means that the Jews are fully convinced that the Lord will at length deliver them, though they are oppressed by wretched bondage. God the maker of the earth. Some think that by "the earth" is here meant Judea, but I consider it to be an argument from the less to the greater, as we said formerly on the twelfth verse, that, since the providence of God extends universally to the creatures, much more does it relate to those whom he has adopted to be his sons; for of them he has a special care. In short, the Prophet's argument is this. "Since God created the earth, that men might have an abode and habitation in it, much more did he create it, that there might be a residence for his Church; for he takes a deeper concern about his Church than about all the rest." If, therefore, he founded the earth, if he gave to it a shape and a fixed use, that men might be nourished by the fruits which it should produce, he has undoubtedly assigned to his children the first place and the highest rank of honor. This is not always visible to our eyes, and therefore our hearts ought to be encouraged and upheld by hope, that we may stand unmoved against all temptations. In a word, as long as the earth shall endure, so long shall the Church of God exist; so long as the sun and moon shall last, it shall not fail. Afterward the Prophet will use a still stronger argument. "If the covenant which God made with oah, as to the settled order of this world, is stable, much more the covenant which he hath made concerning the Church must be stable. (Isaiah 54:9; Genesis 9:9.) The world is fading and corruptible; but the Church, that is, the kingdom of Christ, shall be eternal; and therefore it is reasonable to believe that the promises which relate to the Church shall undoubtedly be more stable and permanent than all the rest. He did not create it empty. As it is the principal ornament of the earth that it is the abode of inhabitants, he adds, that it was not created in order that, by being empty, it might be waste and desolate. If it be objected, on the other hand, that the earth was "empty and void" when it was created, as appears from that passage in which Moses employs the same word that is here used by the Prophet, wht, (tohu,) which means "shapeless and empty," the answer is easy. The Prophet does not speak of the commencement of the creation, but of God's purpose by which the earth was set apart for the use and habitation of men; and therefore, there is nothing here that is contrary to what is said by Moses, for Isaiah contemplates the end and use. He formed it to be inhabited. This statement indeed extends to all mankind, because the earth was appointed to all, that they might dwell in it; for how comes it that God nourishes us and supplies us with everything that is necessary, and even supports wicked men, but because he intended that his decree should stand, by which he gave the earth to be inhabited by men? In any other point of view, it is strange that he bears with so many sins and crimes, and does not entirely destroy mankind; but he has regard to his own purpose, and not to our merit. Hence kingdoms and commonwealths are sustained, and hence ranks of society and forms of government are preserved even amidst barbarians and infidels; for, although God often reduces some countries to desolation on account of the sins of men, and sprinkles them, as it were, with "saltness," (Psalm 107:34, 19) that they may become barren, and may never again be able to support their inhabitants, yet he always adds this alleviation, "that the earth may be inhabited;" for this is his
inviolable decree. Yet we must bear in remembrance what I have already said, that, so long as the earth shall be inhabited, it is impossible that God shall not support his worshipers who call upon him. Besides, from this passage all good men ought to derive the highest consolation, that, although they are despised by the world and are few and feeble, and although, on the other hand, wicked men surpass them in numbers, and power, and influence, while they are despised so as to be reckoned of less value than "the off scouring of the world," (1 Corinthians 4:13,) yet they are precious in the sight of God, because he reckons them in the number of his children, and will never suffer them to perish. I am Jehovah. When he repeats that he is God, this is not intended merely to assert his essence, but to distinguish him from all idols, and to keep the Jews in the pure faith; for even superstitious men acknowledge that there is one God, but conceive of him according to their fancy; and therefore we must acknowledge God, who revealed himself to the fathers, and who spoke by Moses. Thus, he does not speak merely of God's eternal essence, as some think, but of all the offices which belong to him alone, that no part of them may be ascribed to creatures.” 3. Henry, “It appears by the light of nature; for he made the world, and therefore may justly demand its homage (v. 18): "Thus saith the Lord, that created the heavens and formed the earth, I am the Lord, the sovereign Lord of all, and there is none else." The gods of the heathen did not do this, nay, they did not pretend to do it. He here mentions the creation of the heavens, but enlarges more upon that of the earth, because that is the part of the creation which we have the nearest view of and are most conversant with. It is here observed, (1.) That he formed it. It is not a rude and indigested chaos, but cast into the most proper shape and size by Infinite Wisdom. (2.) That he fixed it. When he had made it he established it, founded it on the seas, (Ps. xxiv. 2), hung it on nothing (Job xxvi. 7) as at first he made it of nothing, and yet made it substantial an hung it fast, ponderibus librata suis--poised by its own weight. (3.) That he fitted it for use, and for the service of man, to whom he designed to give it. He created it not in vain, merely to be a proof of his power; but he formed it to be inhabited by the children of men, and for that end he drew the waters off from it, with which it was at first covered, and made the dry land appear, Ps. civ. 6, 7. Be it observed here, to the honor of God's wisdom, that he made nothing in vain, but intended every thing for some end and fitted it to answer the intention. If any man prove to have been made in vain, it is his own fault. It should also be observed, to the honour of God's goodness and his favour to man, that he reckoned that not made in vain which serves for his use and benefit, to be a habitation and maintenance for him.” 4. Scott Grant, “Although a stunned Isaiah earlier declared that the Lord "hides himself," the Lord himself says, "I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land." What he has spoken about, what he has spoken about from the time of Abraham, the first Israelite, is his plan for all the peoples who inhabit the earth he created (Genesis 12:1-3). His plan was to bless the entire world through a particular people, Israel. That plan was his reason for calling Abraham, and it was revealed to Abraham when he was called by the Lord, and it was revealed to Israel with increasing vividness as the Lord spoke to his people. In verse 18, the Lord said he didn’t create the earth to be a waste place; in verse 19 he says he didn’t command Israel, the "offspring of Jacob," to seek him in a "waste place." Again, the Lord is saying that the revelation of his plan for the Gentiles has been evident. In declaring the plan, the Lord speaks "righteousness"—he speaks the truth. And he declares things that are upright— he expresses the truth of the plan in a plain and straightforward manner.
In that the Lord spoke openly about this plan, it should not catch Israel by surprise when it is more fully revealed. Yet ethnic Israel never could embrace the plan. To Israel, it was as if the Lord spoke about the plan in secret or in some dark land or waste place. The truth is, Israel was blinded by national pride and could not see the beauty of the Lord’s plan, though he laid it out for Israel.” 5. Barnes, “He hath established it - That is, the earth. The language here is derived from the supposition that the earth is laid upon a foundation, and is made firm. The Septuagint renders this, ' God who displayed the earth to view, and who, having made it, divided it, that is, parcelled it out to be inhabited. This accords well with the scope of the passage. He created it not in vain He did not form it to remain a vast desert without inhabitants. He formed it to be inhabited - By man, and the various tribes of animals. He makes it a convenient habitation for them; adapts its climates, its soil, and its productions, to their nature; and makes it yield abundance for their support. The main idea, I think, in the statement of this general truth, is, that God designed that the earth at large should be inhabited; and that, therefore, he intended that Judea - thru lying waste while the captives were in Babylon - should be re-populated, and again become the happy abode of the returning exiles. So Grotius interprets it. The Jews, from this passage, infer, that the earth shall be inhabited after the resurrection - an idea which has every probability, since there will not be fewer reasons why the earth shall be inhabited then than there are now; nor can there be any reasons why the earth should then exist in vain anymore than now.”
19. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD , speak the truth; I declare what is right.
1. “God has spoken plainly, reliably and truthfully. o promise of His deceives. His word once given is in the open. Today no book is more widespread and spreading in all the earth than the Bible. o book is more ignored and resisted that the written word of God. The events of the gospel did not happen “in a corner” (Acts 26:26), and the message is in print all over the world. Some day all men will learn, some too late that there is a God and only one, and then they shall have to bow when they wish they did not have to do so.” Author unknown 2. Calvin, “ ot in secret have I spoken. He now recalls the people to the doctrine of the Law, because God cannot be comprehended by human faculties; but as he is concealed from carnal reason, so he abundantly reveals himself, and affords the remedy, by his word, which supplies what was wanting, that we may not desire anything more. If this had not been granted, we should have had no hope, and should have lost all courage. ow, he solemnly declares that he does not invite us in vain, though he delay his assistance; for what he has promised is most certain, and, as he plainly shewed to whom we ought to betake ourselves, and on whom we ought to rely, so he
will give practical demonstration that the hope of those who relied on his word was not vain, or without foundation. This enables us to see clearly how wicked are the speeches of those who say that no certainty can be obtained from the word, and who pretend that it is a nose of wax, in order to deter others from reading it; for thus do wicked men blaspheme, because the mere doctrine of the word exposes and refutes their errors. But we reply with David, "Thy word, O Lord, is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our paths." (Psalm 119:105.) We reply with Isaiah and the rest of the prophets, that the Lord has taught nothing that is obscure, or ambiguous, or false. We reply also with Peter, that "the prophetic word is more sure, and you do well if you take heed to it, as to a lamp burning in a dark place, till the day dawn, and the morning-star arise in our hearts." (2 Peter 1:19.) If these things were said concerning the Law and the prophets, what shall we say of the Gospel, by which the clearest light has been revealed to us? Shall we not say with Paul, "If the Gospel is dark, it is dark to those who are lost, whom Satan, the prince of this world, hath blinded?" (2 Corinthians 4:3,4.) Let blind and weak-sighted men therefore accuse themselves, when they cannot endure this brightness of the word; but, whatever may be the darkness by which they shall endeavor to clothe it, let us adhere firmly and steadfastly to this heavenly light. Besides, the Prophet appears to allude to the predictions which were uttered out of the groves and tripods of the idols. 20 They are uncertain and deceitful, but nothing of this kind can be found in God's answers; for he speaks openly, and utters nothing that is deceitful or ambiguous. But experience tells us that Scripture is somewhat dark and hard to be understood. This is indeed true, but ought to be ascribed to the dulness and slowness of our apprehension, and not to the Scripture; for blind or weak-sighted men have no right to accuse the sun, because they cannot look at him. I have not said in vain to the seed of Jacob, Seek me. This continues to be a fixed principle, that they who shew themselves to be submissive and obedient, do not spend their labor in vain; because God faithfully performs the office of a teacher towards poor and little ones. ow, though all do not rise in the highest degree, yet the labor of those who shall sincerely seek God will never be unprofitable. By this expression, Seek me, Isaiah points out the principal end and use of the Law, to invite men to God; and, indeed, their true happiness lies in being united to God, 21 and the sacred bond of union is faith and sincere piety. In this second clause he not only asserts that he has spoken clearly and without ambiguity, but declares the certainty and steadfastness of his word; as if he had said, that he does not promise largely with an intention to deceive, or amuse hungry men by words, but actually performs what he has promised. This demonstrates the ingratitude of those who, when they are called, do not answer; since God has no other design than to make us partakers of all blessings, of which we are otherwise empty and destitute. I Jehovah speaking righteousness. This is added for the sake of explanation; as if he had said that the word by which he draws his elect to himself, is not soiled by any stain of fraud, but contains the most perfect holiness. "The words of the Lord," as David says, "are clean, like silver purified in an earthen furnace, seven times refined." (Psalm 12:6.) Thus, in the word of God we have bright righteousness, which instantly shines into our hearts, when the darkness has been removed.” 3. Clarke, “I have not spoken tn secret, in a dark place of the earth] In opposition to the manner in which the heathen oracles gave their answers, which were generally delivered from some deep and obscure cavern. "A cave cut in the side of a huge rock." Such was that of the famous oracle
at Delphi; of which, says Strabo, "The oracle is said to be a hollow cavern of considerable depth, with an opening not very wide. " And Diodourus, giving an account of the origin of this oracle, says "that there was in that place a great chasm or cleft in the earth; in which very place is now situated what is called the Adytum of the temple. "Adytum means a cavern, or the hidden part of the temple." I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right "I am JEHOVAH, who speak truth, who give direct answers."] This also is said in opposition to the false and ambiguous answers given by the heathen oracles, of which there are many noted examples; none more so than that of the answer given to Croesus when he marched against Cyrus, which piece of history has some connection with this part of Isaiah's prophecies. Mountainous countries, and those which abounded in chasms, caves, and grottos, were the places in which oracles were most frequent. The horror and gloom inspired by such places were useful to the lying priests in their system of deception. The terms in which those oracles were conceived, (they were always ambiguous, or equivocal, or false, or illusory,) sometimes the turn of a phrase, or a peculiarity in idiom or construction which might be turned pro or con, contained the essence of the oracular declaration. Sometimes, in the multitude of guesses, one turned out to be true; at other times, so equivocal was the oracle, that, however the thing fell out, the declaration could be interpreted in that way, as in the above to Croesus, from the oracle at Delphi, which was: If Croeses march against Cyrus, he shall overthrow a great empire: he, supposing that this promised him success, fought, and lost his own, while he expected to destroy that of his enemy. Here the quack demon took refuge in his designed ambiguity. He predicted the destruction of a great empire, but did not say which it was; and therefore he was safe, howsoever the case fell out. ot one of the predictions of God's prophets is conceived in this way.” 4. Don Fortner, “Many timid souls have been vexed by the imagination that there may be something in God’s secret decree, that there may be something in the book of Divine predestination that shuts against them the door of hope. They imagine that if they did seek the Lord he would not be found of them. My text this morning is a complete refutation of that idea. God says, "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain1" Many false prophets, in an attempt to discredit God’s truth in an effort to deny God’s sovereignty in election, predestination and grace, tell sinners that if predestination is true then there is no need for them to seek the Lord. Our text completely refutes that lie. The decrees of God were spoken in the secret counsel chambers of eternity. They are written, as it were, "in a dark place of the earth." Yet, in our text God himself declares that he has said nothing, even in his external decree of predestination, which can be interpreted to mean "Seek ye me in vain!" At the very outset of this message, I want everyone here to be fully persuaded of these three facts: 1. God almighty commands you to seek him- "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isa. 55:6). That makes you responsible to seek him! 2. o one will ever be saved who does not seek the Lord. I know that you will never seek the Lord until he has sought you out; but if God calls you will seek him. And if you do not seek him, you will die in your sins (Pro. 1:24-26). 3. Every sinner who seeks the Lord, who seeks God through Jesus Christ, will be saved- God himself declares, "Ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you" (Jer. 29:12-14). It is an absolute impossibility for any sinner to seek the Lord in vain.”
Reach out and touch the Lord As He passes by! You’ll find He’s not to busy To hear your heart’s cry. He’s passing by this moment Your needs to supply, So reach out and touch the Lord As He goes by!
5. Henry, “It appears by the light of revelation. As the works of God abundantly prove that he is God alone, so does his word, and the discovery he has made of himself and of his mind and will by it. His oracles far exceed those of the Pagan deities, as well as his operations, v. 19. The preference is here placed in three things:--All that God has said is plain, satisfactory, and just. (1.) In the manner of the delivery of it it is plain and open: I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth. The Pagan deities delivered their oracles out of dens and caverns, with a low and hollow voice, and in ambiguous expressions; those that had familiar spirits whispered and muttered (ch. viii. 19); but God delivered his law from the top of Mount Sinai before all the thousands of Israel, in distinct, audible, and intelligible sounds. Wisdom cries in the chief places of concourse, Prov. i. 20, 21; viii. 1-3. The vision is written, and made plain, so that he who runs may read it; if he be obscure to any, they may thank themselves. Christ pleaded in his own defense what God says here, In secret have I said nothing, John xviii. 20. (2.) In the use and benefit of it it was highly satisfactory: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, who consulted these oracles and governed themselves by them, Seek you me in vain, as the false gods did to their worshipers, who sought for the living to the dead, ch. viii. 19. This includes all the gracious answers that God gave both to those who consulted him (his word is to them a faithful guide) and to those that prayed to him. The seed of Jacob are a praying people; it is the generation of those that seek him, Ps. xxiv. 6. And, as he has in his word invited them to seek him, so he never denied their believing prayers nor disappointed their believing expectations. He said not to them, to any of them, Seek you me in vain; for, if he did not think fit to give them the particular thing they prayed for, yet he gave them such a sufficiency of grace and such comfort and satisfaction of soul as were equivalent. What we say of winter is true of prayer, It never rots in the skies. God not only gives a gracious answer to those that diligently seek him, but will be their bountiful rewarder. (3.) In the matter of it it was incontestably just, and there was no iniquity in it: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right, and consonant to the eternal rules and reasons of good and evil. The heathen deities dictated those things to their worshipers which were the reproach of human nature and tended to the extirpation of virtue; but God speaks righteousness, dictates that which is right in itself and tends to make men righteous; and therefore he is God, and there is none else.” 6. Barnes, “In the language here, there is a remarkable resemblance to what the Savior said of himself, and it is not improbable that he had this passage in his mind: ' I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing' John 18:20. A similar declaration occurs in Deuteronomy 30:11 : ' This
commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.' Seek ye me in vain - The phrase, ' seek ye,' may refer to worship in general; or more properly to their calling upon him in times of calamity and trial. The sense is, that it had not been a vain or useless thing for them to serve him; that he had been their protector, and their friend; and that they had not gone to him, and spread out their needs for nothing. It is still true, that God does not command his people to seek him in vain (compare Deuteronomy 32:47). His service is always attended with a rich blessing to them; and they are his witnesses that he confers on them inexpressibly great and valuable rewards. It follows from this - first, that his people have abundant encouragement to go to him in all times of trial, persecution, and affliction; secondly, that they have encouragement to go to him in a low state of religion, to confess their sins, to supplicate his mercy, and to pray for the influences of his Holy Spirit, and the revival of his work; and, thirdly, that the service of God is always attended with rich reward. Idols do not benefit those wire serve them. The pursuit of pleasure, gain, and ambition, is often attended with no reward, and is never attended with any benefits that satisfy the needs of the undying mind; but the service of God meets all the needs of the soul; fills all its desires, and confers permanent and eternal rewards. I the Lord speak righteousness - This stands in opposition to the pagan oracles, which often gave false, delusive, and unjust responses. But not so with God. He had not spoken, as they did, from deep and dark plates - fit emblems of the obscurity of their answers; he had not, as they had, commanded a service that was unprofitable and vain; and he had not, as they had, uttered oracles which were untrue and fitted to delude. I declare things that are right - Lowth renders this, ' Who give direct answers;' and supposes it refers to the fact, that the pagan oracles often give ambiguous and deceitful responses. God never deceived. His responses were always true and unambiguous.” 7. Spurgeon, “We may gain much solace by considering what God has not said. What He has said is inexpressibly full of comfort and delight; what He has not said is scarcely less rich in consolation. It was one of these "said nots" which preserved the kingdom of Israel in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, for "the Lord said not that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven." 2 Kings 14:27. In our text we have an assurance that God will answer prayer, because He hath "not said unto the seed of Israel, Seek ye Me in vain." You who write bitter things against yourselves should remember that, let your doubts and fears say what they will, if God has not cut you off from mercy, there is no room for despair: even the voice of conscience is of little weight if it be not seconded by the voice of God. What God has said, tremble at! But suffer not your vain imaginings to overwhelm you with despondency and sinful despair. Many timid persons have been vexed by the suspicion that there may be something in God's decree which shuts them out from hope, but here is a complete refutation to that troublesome fear, for no true seeker can be decreed to wrath. "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I have not said," even in the secret of my unsearchable decree, "Seek ye Me in vain." God has clearly revealed that He will hear the prayer of those who call upon Him, and that declaration cannot be contravened. He has so firmly, so truthfully, so righteously spoken, that there can be no room for doubt. He does not reveal His mind in unintelligible words, but He speaks plainly and positively, "Ask, and ye shall receive." Believe, O trembler, this sure truth--that prayer must and shall be heard, and that never, even in the secrets of eternity, has the Lord said unto any living soul, "Seek ye Me in vain."
20. "Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save.
1. “The fugitives are those who left their former religions and came as fugitives in a journey to Israel to be rescued. In coming, they leave behind idols that cannot save. It is God who says, ‘Gather’, ‘come’ ‘assemble’. This assembling is to the Lord who calls them to come to Him and to the people they join. Worship of the God of Israel cannot be individualistic.” author unknown 1B. Joseph Alexander, “The challenge or summons at the beginning is precisely similar to that in ch. 41 : 21 and 43 : 9. Escaped of the nations has been variously explained to mean the Jews who had escaped from the oppression of the gentiles, and the gentiles who had escaped from the dominion of idolatry. But these last would scarcely have been summoned to a contest. On the whole, it seems most natural to understand the nations who survived the judgments sent by God upon them. The Hebrew phrase is in itself ambiguous, the noun added sometimes denoting the whole body out of which a remnant has escaped, sometimes the power from which they are delivered. (Compare Judg. 12 : 4. Ez. 6 : 9. 7 : 16. Ob. 11, with Jer. 45 : 28. Ez. 6 : 8.) The predominant usage and the context here decide in favor of the first interpretation. Gesenius and Luzzatto both apply the phrase to the conquests of Cyrus, but in contrary senses. The first regards it as describing those whom he should spare, the other those whom he should conquer, and who are exhibited as fleeing with their idols on their shoulders. But the explanation which agrees best with the whole connection is the one that supposes the idolaters still left (i. e. neither converted nor destroyed) to be the object of address. If there are any still absurd enough to carry about a wooden god and pray to one who cannot save, let them assemble and draw near. They do not ~know is commonly explained to mean they have no knowledge ; but it is more accordant with the usage of the language to supply a specific object. They do not know it, or, they do not know what they are doing, they are not conscious of their own impiety and folly. The verse contains two indirect reflections on the idols, first, that they are wooden, then, that they are lifeless and dependent on their worshipers for locomotion.” 2. Jim Bomkamp, “As we have seen already, this generation of Judeans living 100+ years after Isaiah’s writing will have never lived in their land, never sacrificed in their temple, never lived under their Law as a people, and they will need a great amount of encouragement to take the dangerous trek that would take them at least 4 months over 500-900 miles to return to their homeland. The Lord encourages the captive Judeans to have the courage to return saying that the idols that the nations trust in and pray to cannot save them, but the Lord He is God and He can perform anything by His might and power. In these verses, I believe that the Lord is also encouraging His people also that He has good plans for them. Even though their fathers and mothers had sinned, and they had backslidden away from following the Lord, He still knew them by their names and had called them for His purposes and to be His people. We have seen several times in our study of Isaiah that the Lord disciplines His people but only so that He can then later
restore them after they have learned their lessons.” 3. Calvin, “Assemble yourselves, He challenges all superstitious persons, and, as it were, appoints a day that they may submit to a righteous judgment, as we have formerly seen in expounding other passages, in order to shew that they can plead nothing which shall not be speedily overturned. ow, indeed, they delight in their superstitions; but all their smoke shall be dispelled, when they come to plead their cause, and without any difficulty they shall be convicted. Let them then "assemble" in crowds, let them conspire and make every effort by fraud, and threatening, and terrors; the truth shall at length be victorious. This confirmation was highly necessary for the Jews, because in every nation and in every place they beheld the spread of wicked errors which buried the worship of the true God. He shews how great is the madness which seizes idolaters, who worship images, which they bear on their shoulders and carry round on wagons. Or we may take Myysn (nesum) as denoting "to place on a lofty and elevated spot," as it was a crafty device of Satan to erect statues on pillars and lofty places, in order to excite the admiration of men, and to lead men to pay honor and reverence by merely looking at them. But we may interpret it simply as denoting all worship that is rendered to images, so as to convict them of vanity and madness. Superstitious persons know that idols need the aid and assistance of men, instead of men needing the aid and assistance of idols, which cannot even be made to stand upright without the agency of men. And this is the meaning of what next follows, to pray to a god that cannot save; for what can be more foolish than to address vows and prayers to wood and stone? and yet infidels run about to dead statues, for the purpose of seeking salvation from them.”
4. Henry, “For the conviction of idolaters, to show them their folly in worshiping gods that cannot help them, and neglecting a God that can. Let all that have escaped of the nations, not only the people of the Jews, but those of other nations that were by Cyrus released out of captivity in Babylon, let them come, and hear what is to be said against the worshiping of idols, that they may be cured of it as well as the Jews, that Babylon, which had of old been the womb of idolatry, might now become the grave of it. Let the refugees assemble themselves and come together; God has something to say to them for their own good, and it is this, that idolatry is a foolish sottish thing. It is setting up a refuge of lies for themselves: They set up the wood of their graven image; for that is the substratum. Though they overlay it with gold, deck it with ornaments, and make a god of it, yet still it is but wood. They pray to a god that cannot save; for he cannot hear, he cannot help, he can do nothing. How do those disparage themselves who give honor to that as a god which cannot, as a god, give good to them! How do those deceive themselves who pray for relief to that which is in no capacity at all to relieve them! Certainly those have no knowledge, or are brutish in their knowledge, who take so much pains, and do so much penance, in seeking the favor of a god that has no power.” 5. Barnes, “Ye that are escaped of the nations - This phrase has been very variously interpreted. Kimchi supposes that it means those who were distinguished among the nations, their chiefs, and rulers; Aben Ezra, that the Babylonians are meant especially; Vitringa, that the phrase denotes proselytes, as those who have escaped from the idolatry of the pagan, and have embraced the true religion; Grotius, that it denotes those who survived the slaughter which Cyrus inflicted on the nations. Rosenmuller coincides in opinion with Vitringa. The word used here ( pa^li^yt? ) denotes properly one who has escaped by flight from battle, danger, or slaughter Genesis 14:13;
Joshua 8:32. It is not used anywhere in the sense of a proselyte; and the idea here is, I think, that those who escaped from the slaughter which Gyrus would bring on the nations, were invited to come and declare what benefit they had derived from trusting in idol-gods. In Isaiah 45:16, God had said they should all be ashamed and confounded who thus put their trust in idols; and he here calls on them as living witnesses that it was so. Those who had put their confidence in idols, and who had seen Cyrus carry his arms over nations notwithstanding their vain confidence, could now testify that no reliance was to be placed on them, and could be adduced as witnesses to show the importance of putting their trust in Yahweh.”
21. Declare what is to be, present it- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD ? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
1. “The familiar court challenge is “Who foretold this?” The events in this context being foretold are the emergence of Cyrus whose decisions relate to a string of events that follow, such as Israel back in their land with more and more from outside coming to join them, (14:1). It is a major surprise that the people of God who so often worshiped the false gods of their neighbors, now find their neighbors coming to believe in the true God. The flood of Gentiles to the God of Israel came after the coming of Christ, but Who foretold all this? It was the Lord, the Savior.” 1B. Joseph Alexander, “Turn unto me and be saved all ye ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none besides. From the preceding declarations it might seem to follow that the gentile world had nothing to expect but the perdition threatened in v. 15. But now the Prophet brings to view a gracious alternative, inviting them to choose between destruction and submission, and showing that the drift of the foregoing argument was not to drive the heathen to despair, but to shut them up to the necessity of seeking safety in the favor of the one true God, whose exclusive deity is expressly made the ground of the exhortation. 13B does not correspond exactly to the English look, but denotes the act of turning round in order to look in a different direction. The text therefore bears a strong analogy to those in which the heathen when enlightened are described as turning from their idols unto God. (See 1 Thess. i : 9. Acts 14 : 15. 15 : 19.) The ends of the earth is a phrase inclusive of all nations, and is frequently employed in reference to the conversion of the gentiles. (See Ps. 22 : 28. 72 : 8. Zech. 9 : 10.) De Wette's version, let yourselves be saved, appears to be a needless refinement on the simple meaning of the passive. The question whether Christ is to be regarded as the speaker in this passage, is of little exegetical importance. To us, who know that it is only through him that the Father saves, this supposition appears altogether natural ; but it does not follow that any such impression would be made or was intended to be made upon an ancient reader.”
2. Calvin, “He again challenges all those who might have annoyed the Jews and shaken their faith by their taunts; for he always keeps this object in view, to fortify the faith of the people against all the assaults of the Gentiles. Amidst temptations so numerous and so severe, there was danger lest the Jews should sink under their terrible afflictions, if there had not been powerful arguments on the other side to induce them still to worship and trust the true God; and therefore he permits heathens to produce and bring forward everything that they can find in support of their cause. Let them also take counsel together. These words are added, in order to inspire greater confidence; for the Prophet means, as we have already said, that they will gain nothing, though they "take counsel" among themselves and enter into a conspiracy. Yet, perhaps, he intended also to make it evident that there is nothing but groundless pretense and falsehood in all that infidels contrive for excusing their errors. Whatever then may be the gaudy ostentation with which they plume themselves on their inventions, the Prophet shews that the word of God will be abundantly strong to support the faith of believers. He challenges them to a strict examination, in order to compare with the Law and the prophets all that infidels boast of as having been foretold by their idols. I cheerfully admit what is generally believed, that the Prophet speaks of the redemption of the people; but as the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy was likewise connected with it, I think that it is also included. Who hath proclaimed this from the beginning? Because there is a repetition of the same statement, Mdqm (mikkedem) and zam (meaz) mean the same thing; as if he had said, "from the beginning," or, "from of old;" for this prophecy was published long before the event happened. Hence believers might with certainty conclude that God had spoken. And a savior. To foreknowledge he adds power, as in a former passage. Yet he likewise describes for what purposes he exerts his power, that is, for "saving" his people.” 3. Henry, “It is setting up a rival with God, the only living and true God (v. 21): "Summon them all; tell them that the great cause shall again be tried, though once adjudged, between God and Baal. Bring them near, and let them take counsel together what to say in defense of themselves and their idols. It shall, as before, be put upon this issue: let them show when any of their gods did with any certainty foretell future events, as the God of Israel has done, and it shall be acknowledged that they have some color for their pretensions. But one of them ever did; their prophets were lying prophets; but I the Lord have told it from that time, long before it came to pass; therefore you must own there is no other God besides me." (1.) one besides is fit to rule. He is a just God, and rules in justice, and will execute justice for those that are oppressed. (2.) one besides is able to help. As he is a just God, so he is the Savior, who can save without the assistance of any, but without whom none can save. Those therefore have no sense of truth and falsehood, good and evil, no, nor of their own interest, that set up any in competition with him.” 4. Barnes, “Who hath declared this from ancient time? - Who has clearly announced the events respecting Cyrus, and the conquest of Babylon, and the deliverance from the captivity? The argument is an appeal to the fact that God had clearly foretold these events long before, and that therefore he was the true God. To this argument he often appeals in proof that he alone is God (see the note at Isaiah 41:22-23). And there is no God else beside me - (See Isaiah 45:5). A just God - A God whose attribute it is always to do right; whose word is true; whose promises are fulfilled; whose threatening are executed; and who always does that which, under the
circumstances of the case, ought to be done. This does not refer particularly to the fact that he will punish the guilty, but, in the connection here, rather seems to mean that his course would be one of equity. And a Savior - Saving his people. It was a characteristic of him, that he saved or preserved his people; and his equity, or truth, or justice, was seen in his doing that. His being ' a just God' and ' a Savior' are not set here in contrast or contradiction, as if there was any incongruity in them, or as if they needed to be reconciled; but they refer to the same thing, and mean that he was just and true in saving his people; it was a characteristic of him that be was so true to his promises, and so equitable in his government, that he would save them. There is here no unique and special reference to the work of the atonement. But the language is such as will accurately express the great leading fact in regard to the salvation of sinners. It is in the cross of the Redeemer that God has shown himself eminently to be just, and yet a Savior; true, and merciful; expressing his abhorrence of sin, and yet pardoning it; maintaining the honor of his violated law, and yet remitting its penalty and forgiving the offender. It is here, in the beautiful language of the Psalmist Psalms 85:10, that Mercy and truth are met together, Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The same idea is expressed in Romans 3:26 : ' That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.' It is the glory of the character of God that he can be thus just and merciful at the same time; that he can maintain the honor of his law, secure the stability of his government, and yet extend pardon to any extent. o human administration can do this. Pardon under a human government always does much to weaken the authority of the government, and to set aside the majesty of the law. If never exercised, indeed, government assumes the form of tyranny; if often, the law loses its terrors, and crime will walk fearless through the earth. But in the divine administration, through the atonement, pardon may be extended to any extent, and yet the honor of the law be maintained, for the substituted sufferings of the innocent in the place of the guilty, will in fact do more to restrain from transgression than where the guilty themselves suffer. Of no human administration can it be said that it is at the same time just, and yet forgiving; evincing hatred of the violation of the law, and yet extending mercy to any extent to the violators of the laws. The blending together of these apparently inconsistent attributes belongs only to God, and is manifested only in the plan of salvation through the atonement.”
22. "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
1. Constable, “Since Yahweh alone saves, people and nations around the world should turn to Him for salvation (cf. um. 21:8-9). In so doing they could experience the same salvation that Israel would enjoy. Yahweh is the saving God of the whole earth, not just Israel, so salvation is available to all, not just Israel.”
1B. F. B. Hole, “In our chapter, not only are justice and salvation brought together but faith is also indicated, though not mentioned, for the way in which the salvation is to become effective is stated as, "Look unto Me." o works of law are demanded but the look of faith, for beyond all contradiction in an emergency we look to someone in whom we believe, and hence in whom we trust. And again, the call goes out far beyond the bounds of Israel, for any to "the ends of the earth" may look and be saved. In Romans 3: 21, this righteousness of God apart from the law is said to be "witnessed by the law and the prophets," and the verses we are considering are certainly one item of witness furnished by the prophets.” 1C. Amelia Hull There is life for a look at the Crucified One, There is life at this moment for thee; Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved, Unto Him Who was nailed to the tree. Refrain Look! look! look and live! There is life for a look at the Crucified One, There is life at this moment for thee. Oh, why was He there as the Bearer of sin, If on Jesus thy guilt was not laid? Oh, why from His side flowed the sin-cleansing blood, If His dying thy debt has not paid? Refrain It is not thy tears of repentance or prayers, But the blood, that atones for the soul; On Him, then, who shed it, thou mayest at once Thy weight of iniquities roll. Refrain Then doubt not thy welcome, since God has declared There remaineth no more to be done; That once in the end of the world He appeared, And completed the work He begun. Refrain Then take with rejoicing from Jesus at once The life everlasting He gives; And know with assurance thou never canst die, Since Jesus, thy righteousness, lives. 1D. Spurgeon, “This is a promise of promises. It lies at the foundation of our spiritual I life. Salvation comes through a look at Him who is "a just God and a Saviour." How simple is the direction! "Look unto me." How reasonable is the requirement! Surely the creature should look to the Creator. We have looked elsewhere long enough; it is time that we look alone to Him who invites our expectation and promises to give us His salvation. Only a look! Will we not look at once? We are to bring nothing in ourselves but to look outward and upward to our LORD on His
throne, whither He has gone up from the cross. A look requires no preparation, no violent effort: it needs neither wit nor wisdom, wealth nor strength. All that we need is in the LORD our God, and if we look to Him for everything, that everything shall be ours, and we shall be saved. Come, far-off ones, look hither! Ye ends of the earth, turn your eyes this way! As from the furthest regions men may see the sun and enjoy his light, so you who lie in death's borders at the very gates of hell may by a look receive the light of God, the life of heaven, the salvation of the LORD Jesus Christ, who is God and therefore able to save.” 2. Redpath, “It shows the simplicity of salvation: all we must do is look. "One can read may books on theology which expound all kinds of things in an attempt to show how man can reach God, but these theories are far from the truth. The Holy Spirit needs exactly four letters, two of them the same, to tell us what to do: l-o-o-k. That is all. It is the simplest, basic thing any person can do, yet the most difficult to do in daily living. It shows the focus of salvation: we must look to God, and never to ourselves or to anything else of man. "Look unto ME, is His Word, which means looking away from the church because that will save nobody; away from the preacher because he can disappoint and disillusion you; away from all outward form and ceremony. You must look off from all this to the throne and there, in your heart, see the risen, reigning Lord Jesus Christ." 3. David Guzik, “Look to Me: In umbers 21, the people of Israel were stricken by deadly snake bites, and Moses lifted up the image of a bronze serpent, raised on a pole, and the people who looked to it lived. The people were saved not by doing anything, but by simply looking to the bronze serpent. They had to trust that something as seemingly foolish as looking at such a thing would be sufficient to save them, and surely, some perished because they thought it too foolish to do such a thing! i. So it says here in Isaiah: Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! We might be willing to do a hundred things to earn our salvation, but God commands us to only trust in Him to look to Him! ii. "Wherever I am, however far off, it just says 'Look!' It does not say I am to see; it only says 'Look!' If we look on a thing in the dark we cannot see it, but we have done what we were told. So if a sinner only looks to Jesus, he will save him; for Jesus in the dark is as good as Jesus in the light, and Jesus when you cannot see him is as good as Jesus when you can. It is only 'look!' 'Ah!' says one, 'I have been trying to see Jesus this year, but I have not seen him.' It does not say see him, but 'look unto him!'" (Spurgeon) 3B. John ewton As the serpent raised by Moses Healed the burning serpent’s bite; Jesus thus Himself discloses To the wounded sinner’s sight: Hear His gracious invitation, “I have life and peace to give, I have wrought out full salvation, Sinner, look to Me and live. “Pore upon your sins no longer, Well I know their mighty guilt; But My love than death is stronger,
I My blood have freely spilt: Though your heart has long been hardened, Look on me—it soft shall grow; Past transgressions shall be pardoned, And I’ll wash you white as snow. “I have seen what you were doing, Though you little thought of me; You were madly bent on ruin, But I said—It shall not be: You had been for ever wretched, Had I not espoused your part; ow behold My arms outstretchèd To receive you to My heart. “Well may shame, and joy, and wonder, All your inward passions move; I could crush thee with My thunder, But I speak to thee in love: See! your sins are all forgiven, I have paid the countless sum! ow My death has opened Heaven, Thither you shall shortly come.” Dearest Savior, we adore Thee For Thy precious life and death; Melt each stubborn heart before Thee, Give us all the eye of faith: From the law’s condemning sentence, To Thy mercy we appeal; Thou alone canst give repentance, Thou alone our souls canst heal. 4. Spurgeon preached on this text many times, for it was the text that brought him to Christ. David Guzik gives us this testimony from Spurgeon. “On Sunday, January 6, 1850, a young man not quite sixteen years of age was walked through a village street in a little town some fifty miles from London, England. On the bitterly cold day the snow fell heavily; but he was more concerned to find a church, because he was deeply conscious of his need of God, and of the breakdown, sin, and failure of his life even at that young age. As he made his way through the street with the snow falling, he felt it was too far to go to the church which he had intended to visit, so he walked down a back lane and entered a little Methodist chapel. He sat down on a seat near the back, and it was as cold inside as it was out! There were only about thirteen people there. Five minutes after the service was due to begin at eleven o'clock, the regular preacher for the morning hadn't come. He had been delayed by the weather. So one of the deacons came to the rescue and began conducting the service, and after a little while announced his text: 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.' The deacon didn't know much, so he only spoke for about ten minutes.
4B. Charles Spurgeon himself tells what happened: "I had been wandering about, seeking rest, and finding none, till a plain, unlettered, lay preacher among the Primitive Methodists stood up in the pulpit, and gave out this passage as his text: 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.' He had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed - by me, at any rate, - except his text. I remember how he said, 'It is Christ that speaks. "I am in the garden in an agony, pouring out my soul unto death; I am on the tree, dying for sinners; look unto me! Look unto me!" That is all you have to do. A child can look. One who is almost an idiot can look. However weak, or however poor, a man may be, he can look; and if he looks, the promise is that he shall live.' Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, 'That young man there looks very miserable.' I expect I did, for that is how I felt. Then he said, 'There is no hope for you, young man, or any chance of getting rid of your sin, but by looking to Jesus;' and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, 'Look! Look, young man! Look now!' And I did look; and when they sang a hallelujah before they went home, in their own earnest way, I am sure I joined in it. It happened to be a day when the snow was lying deep and more was falling; so, as I went home, those words of David kept ringing through my heart, 'Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow;' and it seemed as if all nature was in accord with that blessed deliverance from sin which I had found in a single moment by looking to Jesus Christ." Somehow in a very strange and amazing way that young man looked from the depths of his soul into the very heart of God. He went out from the church, and he tells that as he walked through the streets, his burden had been lifted, never to return again. He walked with a new spring in his step, a new joy in his face, a new sense of peace in his heart. He had looked and lived.” 5. Calvin, “Look unto me. Hitherto he addressed the Jews alone, as if to them alone salvation belonged, but now he extends his discourse farther. He invites the whole world to the hope of salvation, and at the same time brings a charge of ingratitude against all the nations, who, being devoted to their errors, purposely avoided, as it were, the light of life; for what could be more base than to reject deliberately their own salvation? He therefore commands all "to look to him," and to the precept adds a promise, which gives it greater weight, and confirms it more than if he had made use of a bare command. And ye shall be saved. Thus we have a striking proof of the calling of the Gentiles; because the Lord, after having broken down "the partition-wall" (Ephesians 2:14) which separated the Jews from the Gentiles, invites all without exception to come to him. Besides, we are here reminded also what is the true method of obtaining salvation; that is, when we "look to God," and tum to him with our whole heart. ow, we must "look to him" with the eye of faith, so as to embrace the salvation which is exhibited to all through Christ; for "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish." (John 3:16.) For I am God. When he exhorts all the ends of the earth, he at the same time shews that all men have hitherto wandered, and have not "looked to" the true God; for where infidelity exists, there cannot be a distinct looking towards God, so as to distinguish him from empty masks. In a word, he declares that the ruin of all has been occasioned by their being driven about by their wicked inventions, and thus revolting from the true God, from the knowledge of whom certain and eternal salvation flows. The Lord therefore stretches out his hand, in order to rescue all and point out the method of obtaining salvation. This makes it evident that it was not at random that the doctrine of the Gospel was preached to
all nations, but by the decree of God, by whom it had been long ago ordained. Yet, as I remarked a little before, he accuses the Gentiles of stupidity, in allowing their senses to be turned and whirled about in all directions, wherever their fancy led them. Though by nature they could not approach to God, and though they even sucked in with their milk the superstitions by which they were blinded, yet God might have justly reproached them with wicked contempt of his grace; for ignorance always implies hypocrisy, when men choose rather to be deceived by empty flatteries than to go straight to God.”
6. Clarke, “This verse and the following contain a plain prediction of the universal spread of the knowledge of God through Christ; and so the Targum appears to have understood it; see Rom. xiv. 11; Phil. ii. 10. 7. Henry, “For the comfort and encouragement of all God's faithful worshipers, whoever they are, v. 22. Those that worship idols pray to gods that cannot save; but the God of Israel says it to all the ends of the earth, to his people, though they are scattered into the utmost corners of the world and seem to be lost and forgotten in their dispersion, "Let them but look to me by faith and prayer, look above instruments and second causes, look off from all pretenders, and look up to me, and they shall be saved." It seems to refer further to the conversion of the Gentiles that live in the ends of the earth, the most distant nations, when the standard of the gospel is set up. To it shall the Gentiles seek. When Christ is lifted up from the earth, as the brazen serpent upon the pole, he shall draw the eyes of all men to him. They shall all be invited to look unto him, as the stung Israelites did to the brazen serpent; and so strong is the eye of faith that by divine grace it will reach the Saviour and fetch in salvation by him even from the ends of the earth; for he is God, and the is none else. Two things are here promised, for the abundant satisfaction of all that by faith look to the Savior.” 8. W. A. Criswell, “In verse twenty-two is one of the tremendous texts in all the Word of God. This is it—Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” This is the Lord’s tremendous and significant word to mankind. This is the message of the prophets, of the sages, of the seers, of the Psalmist through all the centuries. And this is the message to which when a man answers it determines his condition and his character, his salvation, his destiny forever. Will you notice how plain and how simple is that plan of deliverance and salvation? Look unto Me. Anybody can look. It does not require an education to look. A man need not have prestige or status or political power to look. It does not even demand moral excellence or righteousness. Even the vilest and lowest and most wretched of sinners can look. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” And therein do we stumble and hesitate and falter and fall. How could it be that in so simple a thing as look I can be forgiven my sin—that I could be regenerated and saved by it. Look. There must be, we say, there must be something else. Something further and something beside. Surely, surely there are deep and mysterious ceremonies and rites and rituals that are required. Surely there must be cabalistic and incomprehensible words that must be said. Surely, surely there must be great and mighty deeds to be done for one to be delivered and be saved. But to look—just to look. ot by my brilliance or not by my wealth, not by my station, status or political power, prestige or fame, I am saved by a look at the crucified one. There is life for a look at the crucified one. There is life at this moment for thee that look. He said, “Look unto Him and be saved—unto Him who was nailed to the tree. How humbling that is for us, for us all. For the rich man is
saved in the same way as his butler or his maid or his cook. The erudite seminarian is saved in the same way as a common day laborer who never went to school a day in his life. The man of great prestige and power is saved in the same way as a ragged urchin who roams the streets. The righteous and the morally good are saved in the same way as a harlot or a prostitute or a common drunkard. And the Jew is saved as the same way as a Gentile dog for God has concluded us all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon us all. It is that we look and live.” 9. Barnes, “Look unto me, and be ye saved - This is said in view of the declaration made in the previous verse, that he is a just God and a Saviour. It is because he sustains this character that all are invited to look to him; and the doctrine is, that the fact that God is at the same time just and yet a Saviour, or can save consistently with his justice, is an argument why they should took to him, and confide in him. If he is at the same time just - true to his promises; righteous in his dealings; maintaining the honor of his law and government, and showing his hatred of sin; and also merciful, kind, and forgiving, it is a ground of confidence in him, and we should rejoice in the privilege of looking to him for salvation. The phrase ' look unto me' means the same as, direct the attention to as we do to one from whom we expect aid. It denotes a conviction on our part of helplessness - as when a man is drowning, he casts an imploring eye to one on the shore who can help him; or when a man is dying, he casts an imploring eye on a physician for assistance. Thus the direction to look to God for salvation implies a deep conviction of helplessness and of sin; and a deep conviction that he only can save. At the same time it shows the ease of salvation. What is more easy than to look to one for help? What more easy than to cast the eyes toward God the Saviour? What more reasonable than that he should require us to do it? And what more just than that God, if people will not look to him in order that they may be saved, should cast them off forever? Assuredly, if a dying, ruined, and helpless sinner will not do so simple a thing as to look to God for salvation, he ought to be excluded from heaven, and the universe will acquiesce in the decision which consigns him to despair. All the ends of the earth - For the meaning of this phrase, see the note at Isaiah 40:28. The invitation here proves: 1. That the offers of the gospel are universal. one are excluded. The ends of the earth, the remotest parts of the world, are invited to embrace salvation, and all those portions of the world might, under this invitation, come and accept the offers of life. 2. That God is willing to save all; since he would not give an invitation at all unless he was willing to save them. 3. That there is ample provision for their salvation; since God could not invite them to accept of what was not provided for them, nor could he ask them to partake of salvation which had no existence. 4. That it is his serious and settled purpose that all the ends of the earth shall be invited to embrace the offers of life. The invitation has gone from his lips, and the command has gone forth that it should be carried to every creature Mark 16:15, and now it pertains to his church to bear the glad news of salvation around the world. God intends that it shall be done, and on his church rests the responsibility of seeing it speedily executed.
For I am God - This is a reason why they should look to him to be saved. It is clear that none but the true God can save the soul. o one else but he can pronounce sin forgiven; no one but he can rescue from a deserved hell. o idol, no man, no angel can save; and if, therefore, the sinner is saved, he must come to the true God, and depend on him. That he may thus come, whatever may have been his character, is abundantly proved by this passage. This verse contains truth enough, if properly understood and applied, to save the world; and on the ground of this, all people, of all ages, nations, climes, ranks, and character, might come and obtain eternal salvation.”
23. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.
1. Constable, “God Himself swore (cf. Gen. 22:16) that everyone will eventually bow to His authority (some as condemned sinners and others as pardoned worshipers) and appeal to Him (cf. Rom. 14:10-12; Phil 2:9-11). In view of this, it is only reasonable to call on Him for salvation now. This word from God, confirmed with His oath, is as sure as His promises to Abraham and His words predicting Cyrus' activities.” 2. Calvin has an unusually long comment on this verse. “I have sworn by myself. He adds a clearer confirmation of the preceding statement; for, in consequence of this calling being unusual and marvelous, he adds an oath, as is usually done in what is new and hard to be believed. The Jews might have objected, that they alone were called by the name of the elect people; but, when he confirms it by an oath, this removes all debate. The Prophet still, indeed, aims at the same object, namely, that the glory of God shall be so visible in the restoration of the Church as to arouse the whole world to the admiration of it from the rising to the setting of the sun, or, to express it more briefly, that this demonstration of the power of God shall be so splendid and illustrious as to strike all nations with fear. Yet from these words we may justly infer what I have remarked, that the Gentiles shall be admitted to an equality with the Jews, so that God shall be the common Father of all, and shall be worshiped in every country. ow, God "swears by himself," because he cannot have another equally competent witness of the truth; for he alone is the truth. "Men," as the Apostle says, "swear by a greater than themselves; but God, because he had no greater, hath sworn by himself." (Hebrews 6:16.) We ought to observe the reason why he "swears." It is because he intended to aid the weakness of his people, that they might not be tossed about in uncertainty. This certainly is wonderful condescension, that, in order to remedy the fault of our distrust, he does not scruple to bring forward his own name as holding the place of a pledge; and the more base and disgraceful must be our unbelief, if even an oath does not satisfy us. Besides, since God claims for himself all confirmation of the truth, we ought to be exceedingly careful, when we appeal to him by an oath, not to mingle any other names either of saints or of any creature, but, by using his name with all becoming reverence, to preserve the honor due to him entire and unabated.
The word hath gone out of my mouth in righteousness. He means that all that he has commanded to be published by his Prophet is firm and lasting, as if he had said that this commandment did not proceed "out of his mouth" rashly or unadvisedly. And in this sense the word righteousness is often used in Scripture, that is, for a word that is not deceitful, which shall clearly appear to be perfectly true; and thus he says that the decree cannot be revoked. And shall not return. This is another mode of expression conveying the same idea. It means that the word of God shall continue to make progress, till the actual result shall make manifest that it has proceeded from a just and true and almighty God. A person is said to return, when some obstacle hinders him from proceeding farther; but, because nothing can prevent God from executing what he has decreed, the Prophet justly infers that nothing can interrupt or retard the course of this word. The particle yk, (ki,) that, must be viewed as introducing an explanatory clause; as much as to say, "This is the word," That to me every knee shall bow. By this mode of expression he means that all the Gentiles shall be suppliants to God, because the astonishing deliverance of the Church shall strike terror upon all. Yet hence also it follows, that his worship shall be spread among all nations; for we cannot truly "bend the knee" before God till he hath been made known to us. To an unknown God, indeed, men may render some kind of worship; but it is false and unprofitable. But here he speaks of a true profession, which proceeds from a knowledge of God deeply seated in our hearts; for, where there is no faith, there can be no worship of God, and faith is not directed to a thing unknown or uncertain. Accordingly, he has made use of the sign to express the thing itself, as is frequently done. Hence it ought to be observed, that God demands also external worship; for the Prophet does not separate an external profession of religion from the inward feelings of the heart. In vain, therefore, do fanatics boast that in some manner they worship God and do homage to him, while they bow down before idols. In vain, I say, do they pretend that their heart is upright towards God; for the worship of the heart cannot be separated from an external profession. In like manner the soul cannot be dedicated and consecrated to God, while the body is consecrated to the devil; for both ought to be consecrated to God, and thus the worship of the heart ought also to be accompanied by an external profession. "With the heart we believe to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Romans 10:10) Hence also the Lord, approving of the piety and uprightness of his people, says, "that they have not bowed a knee before Baal." (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4.) Paul applies this passage of Isaiah to the last judgment, when he says (Romans 14:10, 11) that "we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ;" although the subject here treated of is, the redemption of the people, the publication of the gospel, and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. But he takes for granted (what all ought to know) that those statements which relate to the kingdom of Christ must not be limited to any part of it, but extend to the whole of its course, till it arrive at full perfection. The knee is bent to Christ, when his doctrine is obeyed, and when the preaching of the gospel is accepted. But many still oppose and boldly despise him; Satan contrives many schemes and incessantly carries on war with him; and therefore we are at a great distance from the full accomplishment of this prophecy. Then shall every knee be truly bent to Christ, when he shall triumph over vanquished and utterly ruined adversaries, and shall render visible to all men his majesty, which Satan and wicked men now oppose. Thus Paul teaches that, when Christ shall ascend his judgment-seat to judge the world, then shall be fully accomplished that which began to be done at the commencement of the gospel, and which we still see done from day to day.
Every tongue shall swear. By a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, the word swear is put for worship, reverence, or subjection. "Swearing" is one department of the honor which is due to God; for by it we confess and acknowledge that he is the Author and Father and lawful defender of the truth, and that "all things are naked and open to him." (Hebrews 4:13.) Whenever therefore this honor is bestowed on idols, the majesty of God is dishonored by abominable sacrilege; and consequently they who worship him purely swear exclusively by his name. But on this subject we have spoken 25 in the exposition of another passage. (Isaiah 19:18.) 3. Henry, “That the glory of the God they serve shall be greatly advanced; and this will be good news to all the Lord's people, that, how much soever they and their names are depressed, God will be exalted, v. 23. This is confirmed by an oath, that we might have strong consolation: I have sworn by myself (and God can swear by no greater, Heb. vi. 13); the word has gone out of my mouth, and shall neither be recalled nor return empty; it has gone forth in righteousness, for it is the most reasonable equitable thing in the world that he who made all should be Lord of all, that, since all beings are derived from him, they should all be devoted to him. He has said it, and it shall be made good, I will be exalted, Ps. xlvi. 10. He has assured us, (1.) That he will be universally submitted to, that the kingdoms of the world shall become his kingdom. They shall do him homage--Unto me every knee shall bow; and they shall bind themselves by an oath of allegiance to him--Unto me every tongue shall swear. This is applied to the dominion of our Lord Jesus, Rom. xiv. 10, 11. We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ and give account to him, for it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God; and it seems to be referred to, Ps. ii. 9, 10. If the heart be brought into obedience to Christ, and made willing in the day of his power, the knee will bow to him in humble adorations and addresses, and in cheerful obedience to his commands, submission to his disposals, and compliance with his will in both; and the tongue will swear to him, will lay a bond upon the soul to engage it for ever to him; for he that bears an honest mind never startles at assurances. (2.) That he will be universally sought unto, and application shall be made to him from all parts of the world: Unto him shall men of distant countries come, to implore his favour. Unto thee shall all flesh come with their request, Ps. lxv. 2. And, when Christ was lifted up from the earth, he drew all men to him. (3.) That it will be to no purpose to make opposition to him. All that are incensed against him, that rage at his bonds and cords--the nations that are angry because he has taken to himself his great power and has reigned, that have been incensed at the strictness of his laws, the success of his gospel, and the spiritual nature of his kingdom--they shall be ashamed; some shall be brought to a penitential shame for it, others to a remediless ruin. One way or other, sooner or later, all that are uneasy at Christ's government and victories will be made ashamed of their folly and obstinacy. Blessed be God for the assurance here given us that, whatever becomes of us and our interests, the Lord will reign for ever! 2. That the welfare of the souls they are concerned for shall be effectually secured: Surely shall one say, and another shall learn by his example to say the same, so that all the seed of Israel, according to the Spirit, shall say, and stand to it, (1.) That God has a sufficiency for them and that in Christ there is enough to supply all their needs: In the Lord is all righteousness and strength (so the margin reads it); he is himself righteous and strong. He can do every thing, and yet will do nothing but what is unquestionably just and equitable. He has also wherewithal to supply the needs of those that seek to him and depend upon him, upon the equity of his providence and the treasures of his grace; nay, we may say, not only "He has it," but, "In him we have it," because he has said that he will be to us a God. In the Lord the captive Jews had righteousness (that is, grace both to sanctify their afflictions to them and to qualify them for deliverance) and strength for their support and escape. In the Lord Jesus we have righteousness to recommend us to the good-will of God towards us, and strength to begin and carry on the good
work of God in us. He is the fountain of both, and on him we must depend for both, must go forth in his strength, and make mention of his righteousness, Ps. lxxi. 16. (2.) That they shall have an abundant bliss and satisfaction in this. [1.] The people of the Jews shall in the Lord be justified before men and openly glory in their God. The oppressors reproached them, loaded them with calumny, and boasted even of a right to oppress them, as abandoned by their God; but, when God shall work out their deliverance, that shall be their justification from these hard censures, and therefore they shall glory in it. [2.] All true Christians, that depend upon Christ for strength and righteousness, in him shall be justified and shall glory in that. Observe, First, All believers are the seed of Israel, an upright praying seed. Secondly, The great privilege they enjoy by Jesus Christ is that in him, and for his sake, they are justified before God, Christ being made of God to them righteousness. All that are justified will own it is in Christ that they are justified, nor could they be justified by any other; and those who are justified shall be glorified. And therefore, Thirdly, The great duty believers owe to Christ is to glory in him, and to make their boast of him. Therefore he is made all in all to us, that whose glories may glory in the Lord; and let us comply with this intention.” 4. Scott Grant, “The Lord now takes an oath, demonstrating the seriousness of what he is promising. Because there is no greater name by which he can take an oath (Genesis 22:16, Hebrews 6:13), he swears by himself. The Lord paints a picture of this promise going forth from his mouth in righteousness without turning back, like an emissary commissioned to complete his task. The word is this: "That to me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance." All people will one day acknowledge the universal sovereignty of the Lord—some willingly, some unwillingly. But the emphasis here, at least through the first line of verse 24, is on those who willingly worship and confess their allegiance because they have discovered that the Lord is the only God. ot only will they recognize that the Lord is the only God, they will recognize that "only in the Lord are righteousness and strength"—dependable character and the power to bring about that which he promises. Those who are forced to acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty, but who nevertheless cling to their idols, will be angry with the Lord, because he is not the God they wanted, and they, once again, will be put to shame. On the other hand, all the offspring of Israel, both Jews and Gentiles, will be "justified"—vindicated for their worship of the Lord. They will also "glory"—worship the Lord with great joy.” 5. Barnes, “I have sworn by myself - This verse contains a fuller statement of the truth intimated in the previous verse, that the benefits of salvation should yet be extended to all the world. It is the expression of God' s solemn purpose that all nations should yet be brought to acknowledge him, and partake of the benefits of the true religion. The expression, ' I have sworn by myself,' denotes a purpose formed in the most solemn manner, and ratified in the most sacred form. God could swear by no greater Hebrews 6:13, Hebrews 6:16; and this, therefore, is the most solemn assurance that could be possibly given that the purpose which he had formed should be executed. To swear by himself is the same as to swear by his life, or to affirm solemnly that the event shall as certainly occur as that he exists. The same idea is often expressed by the phrase, ' as I live.' See a parallel declaration in umbers 14:21 : ' But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord' (compare umbers 14:28; Isaiah 49:18; Jeremiah 22:24; Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 14:16, Ezekiel 14:18, Ezekiel 14:20; Zephaniah 2:9; Romans 14:11). This passage is quoted by Paul in Romans 14:11, where the phrase, ' I have sworn by myself' is rendered, ' as I live, saith the Lord,' showing that they are equivalent expressions.
The word is gone out of my mouth - The Septuagint renders this, ' Righteousness shall proceed from my mouth, my words shall not return.' Lowth renders it, ' Truth is gone forth from my mouth; the word, and it shall not be revoked.' Jerome, ' The word of righteousness has gone forth from my mouth, and shall not return.' Rosenmuller accords with the interpretation a of Lowth. Probably the correct translation is ' righteousness' (that is, the righteous sentence, or purpose, where the word tse da^qa^h is used in the sense of truth, see Isaiah 45:19), has gone out of my mouth, the word (that is, the promise), and it shall not return.' In this construction the ( y ) before lo' has the force of a relative pronoun, and is to be referred to da^ba^r , ' the word.' The sense is, that God had spoken it, and that all which he has spoken shall certainly be fulfilled. The fact that the declaration has once passed his lips, is full proof that the purpose shall be accomplished. This is not to be understood of any promise which he had made before, but it is a solemn declaration which he now makes by the prophet. That unto me every knee shall bow - To bow or bend the knee, is indicative of homage or adoration; and the idea is, that all should yet acknowledge him to be God (see the note at Romans 14:11). The ancient mode of offering adoration, or of paying homage, was to place the knee on the ground, and then slowly to incline the body until the head touched the earth. This is practiced now in eastern countries (compare Genesis 41:43; I Kings 19:18; II Chronicles 6:13; Matthew 27:29; Romans 11:4; Philippians 2:10; Ephesians 3:14). The obvious and proper signification of this is, that the time would come when God would be everywhere acknowledged as the true God. It refers therefore to the future period of glory on the earth, when all people shall have embraced the true religion, and when idolatry shall have come to an end. Every tongue shall swear - This expression is evidently taken from the practice of taking an oath of allegiance to a sovereign, and here means that all would solemnly acknowledge him to be the true God, and submit themselves to his government and will. See the phrase explained in the the note at Isaiah 19:18. That this refers to the Messiah and his times, is apparent from the fact that it is twice referred to by the apostle Paul, and applied by him to the Lord Jesus and his religion Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10. It is a glorious promise which remains yet to be fulfilled, and there is no promise in the Bible more certain than that this earth shall yet be filled with the knowledge of the true God.”
24. They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.' " All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.
1. Calvin,”Surely in Jehovah. He shews what is the nature of true faith and of the true worship of God; that is, when we not only acknowledge, or perceive by the understanding, that there is a God, but likewise feel what he wishes to be towards us. Whoever shall be satisfied with a bare knowledge departs very widely from faith, which must invite us to God in such a manner that we shall feel him to be in us. In like manner Paul wishes that "Christ should dwell in the hearts of believers through faith." (Ephesians 3:17.) He who imagines that God sits unemployed in heaven either will not humble himself sincerely before him, or will not make an open and sincere
profession. Righteousness and strength. As these are the two principal parts of our salvation, when believers acknowledge that they receive both of them from God, they ascribe to him the undivided praise of a happy life, and testify that by nature they do not possess that which they acknowledge that they owe to his grace. Thus they own that in themselves they have nothing either of "righteousness" or of "strength," but seek them in God alone, that he may not be defrauded of his right. To him shall he come. Here commentators differ; but, for my own part, I take a simple view of this passage as relating to believers who submit themselves to God, so as to enable us to perceive the nature of the contrast between them and rebels, who do not cease obstinately to resist God. I explain it thus: "They who shall confess that their righteousness is placed in God will approach to him." He means that we obtain access to God through faith, so that they who perceive that their righteousness is placed in him, feel that he is present; and indeed no man, if he be not reconciled to God, will ever approach to him willingly, but, on the contrary, all who dread his majesty will fly to the greatest possible distance from him. Thus the Prophet applauds the very delightful result of grace, because it will unite to God those men who were formerly driven away from him by their wickedness; and to this corresponds what is said by the Psalmist, "Thou art the God that heareth prayer; to thee shall all flesh come." (Psalm 65:2.) But all who defy him shall be ashamed. After having testified that God wishes to gather strangers from their dispersion, that he may bring them into a state of intimate friendship with himself, he threatens vengeance against despisers, who, being without God, and despising God, give the reins to their wicked passions, and wallow in the enjoyments of the world. As it is only by faith that we obey God, so it is by unbelief alone that Isaiah declares his anger to be provoked; while he distinguishes all unbelievers by this mark, that they are disobedient to God, and even challenge him to a contest. Although they now use the language of triumph, the Prophet declares that they shall be clothed with shame and disgrace.” 2. “The section ends with two sets of people. Some left idols and turned to the God of Israel. The others reject him and even raged against Him. They will appear before Him for judgment, (Revelation 20:11-15; John 5:22,23). Again the choice is just two: one group will be put to shame; the other group are identified as descendents of Israel, evidence of the expansion of the nation when Gentiles come in, (55:4,5). In the Lord they will be found righteous. To be in Christ is to receive the righteousness that comes from God, (Philippians 3:7-9) and to have joy in the Lord.” author unknown 3. Barnes, “Surely, shall one say - Margin, ' He shall say of me, In the Lord is all righteousness and strength.' The design of the verse is, to set forth more fully the effect of the prevalence of the true religion; and the main thought is, that there shall be an universal acknowledgment that salvation and strength were in Yahweh alone. Idols and people could not save; and salvation was to be traced to Yahweh only. A literal translation of the passage would be, ' Truly in Jehovah, he said unto me,' or it is said unto me, that is, I heard it said, ' is righteousness and strength,' that is, this would be everywhere the prevailing sentiment that righteousness and strength were to be found in Yahweh alone. The sense is, first, that it was by him alone that they could be pardoned and justified; and, secondly, that it was by him alone that they could obtain strength to meet their enemies, to overcome their sins, to discharge their duties, to encounter temptations, to hear afflictions, and to support them in death. These two things, righteousness and strength, are all
that man needs. The whole of religion consists essentially in the feeling that righteousness and strength are to be found in God our Saviour. The Septuagint renders this, ' Every tongue shall swear to God, saying, Righteousness and glory shall come unto him, and all those who make distinctions among them shall be ashamed.' Even to him shall men come - For the purpose of being saved (see the notes at Isaiah 2:3). And all that are incensed against him - All that are opposed to his government and laws. Shall be ashamed - (See the note at Isaiah 45:16). The enemies of God shall see their own feebleness and folly; and they shall be ashamed that they have endeavored to oppose one so mighty and so glorious as the living God. The multitudes that have in various ways resisted him shall see the folly of their course, and be overwhelmed with shame that they have dared to lift the hand against the God that made the heavens. Jarchi renders this, ' All who have opposed themselves to God, shall come to him, led by penitence on account of the things which they have done, and shall be ashamed.'
25. But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.
1. Calvin, “In Jehovah shall be justified. He now makes a brief reply to an objection which might be urged, that it appeared absurd to say, that the Lord called the Gentiles, who had always been alienated from him. "Is it in vain that the Lord hath chosen the seed of Abraham? Is his promise void, which he so frequently repeated?" (Genesis 15:5, and 17:7.) In order to remove this doubt, he declares that the Lord will nevertheless stand by his promises; that, though he choose the Gentiles, yet the covenant which he made with the fathers shall not fall to the ground, because the elect people shall enjoy the privileges of their rank. or does he in this passage, as in many others, speak of the rejection of that nation; but the Prophet simply shews that the grace of God, which shall be diffused throughout the whole world, shall flow from that fountain. As to the greater number having been rejected by God, still this did not set aside God's covenant; because the remnant of adoption were always the true and lawful Israel; and although they were few in number, yet they were the first-born in the Church. Besides, all those among the Gentiles who had been en-grafted into that body began also, as we have formerly seen, to be accounted children of Abraham. "One shall say, I belong to Jacob; another shall subscribe with his band, I am a descendant of Israel." (Isaiah 44 5.) And on this ground we are now reckoned the genuine Israel of God, though we are not the descendants of Israel. The Prophet therefore added this, both that the Jews might not think that the Lord's covenant had failed, and that they might not boast of their birth and despise the Gentiles. All the seed of Israel. He extends this seed farther, that they may not suppose that it ought to be limited to the family of Abraham; for the Lord gathers his people without distinction from among Jews and Gentiles, and here he speaks universally of the whole human race. Shall be justified and shall glory. It ought to be observed that the Prophet says that we "are justified and
glory in the Lord," for in none else ought we to seek "righteousness" or "glory." He has joined to it "glory," which depends on"righteousness," and is added to it. Hence also Paul says, "Where is thy glorying? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? o, but by the law of faith." (Romans 3:27.) And, again, "If Abraham was justified by works, he hath glory, but not before God." (Romans 4:2.) It follows, therefore, that they alone deservedly glory who seek their righteousness in God, and acknowledge that in themselves they have no ground for glorying.” 2. Joseph Alexander, “This closing promise is restricted by Jarchi, in the genuine spirit of rabbinism, to the literal or natural descendants of Jacob ; but this is less surprising when we know that he actually violates the syntax of the preceding verse in order to bring T(5< and "^ together in the sense of only to me, the speaker being Israel ! So far is this from being the correct interpretation of the verse, that it is really intended to wind up the previous addresses to the gentiles with a solemn declaration of their true relation to the chosen people, as composed of those who really believed and feared God, whether Jews or gentiles. This principle was recognized in every admission of a proselyte to the communion of the ancient church, and at the change of dispensations it is clearly and repeatedly asserted as a fundamental law of Christ s kingdom under every variety of form. (See Rom. 10 : 12. Gal. 3 : 28, 29. Col. 3:11.)” 3. Barnes, “In the Lord - It shall be only in Yahweh that they shall find justification, and this must mean, that it is by his mercy and grace. The entire passage here, I suppose, has reference to the times of the Redeemer (see the notes at Isaiah 45:21-24). If so, it means that justification can be obtained only by the mercy of God through a Redeemer. The great truth is, therefore, here brought into view, which constitutes the sum of the ew Testament, that people are not justified by their own works, but by the mercy and grace of God. All the seed of Israel - All the spiritual seed or descendants of Jacob. It cannot mean that every individual shall be justified and saved, for the Bible abundantly teaches the contrary (see Matthew 8:11-12; Rom. 11) But it must mean that all who have a character resembling that of Israel, or Jacob; all who are the true children and friends of God (see Romans 2:28-29; Romans 4:9-13). Be justified - Be regarded and treated as righteous. Their sins shall be pardoned, and they shall be acknowledged and treated as the children of God (see the notes at Romans 3:24-25). To justify, here, is not to pronounce them innocent, or to regard them as deserving of his favor; but it is to receive them into favor, and to resolve to treat them as if they had not sinned; that is, to treat them as if they were righteous. All this is by the mere mercy and grace of God, and is through the merits of thc Redeemer, who died in their place. And shall glory - Or rather, shall praise and celebrate his goodness. The word used here ( cha^lal ) means, in the Piel, "to sing, to chant, to celebrate the praises of anyone" I Chronicles 16:36; Psalms 44:9; Psalms 117:1; Psalms 145:2, and is the word of which the word "hallelujah" is in part composed. Here it means, that the effect of their being justified by Yahweh would be, that they would be filled with joy, and would celebrate the goodness of God. This effect of being justified, is more fully stated in Romans 5:1-5. It is a result which always follows; and a disposition to praise and magnify the name of God in view of his boundless mercy in providing a way by which sinners may be justified, is one of the first promptings of a renewed heart, and one of the evidences that a soul is born again.”
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