Isaiah 45:14-49:4

Isaiah 45‑49  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Listen from:
The power of God, that, by the raising up of Cyrus, would accomplish His purpose to release those whom He calls “My captives”, would only be perceived by faith. Therefore the prophet exclaims, “Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself”. A servant of God has very truly and aptly remarked, “God’s ways are behind the scenes, but He moves all the scenes which He is behind” {J.N.Darby}.
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 out 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”.
As Creator He had formed the earth for mankind to inhabit it. He did not create it “in vain”, or “as waste”; an allusion doubtless to Genesis 1:22And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2), where the earth was found in a condition described as “without form”, or, “as waste”; the same expression being used there as here. When the earth, subsequent to its original creation, had become waste, He reduced it to form and order for the use of man. He who had done this now guaranteed salvation for Israel. He promised openly and in righteousness. This made it certain that the salvation when it arrived would be accomplished in a righteous way; just as the righteousness in which every believer now stands before God is brought to pass on a righteous basis.
So the call of God to the seed of Jacob had not been in vain. But not only Israel is in view but Gentiles also, as verse 20 shows. The call is to those that are “escaped of the nations”, which shows that judgment will fall on the nations, and only those that escape it will enter into the blessing that is promised, just as it is only the remnant of Israel that will be saved. The nations had been full of idolatry, praying to “a god that cannot save”, so they are called, that they may know a God who can save.
Verses 21-25 furnish a remarkable forecast of the Gospel, as it is unfolded in Romans 3. Against the dark background of idolatry the Lord presents Himself as “a just God and a Saviour”. The law had revealed Him to Israel as a just God who judges all their ways. Only in the Gospel is He declared to be God who saves in righteousness. Christ has been “set forth... a propitiation through faith in His blood... to declare... at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-2625Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:25‑26)).
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”. No 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 3:22Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. (Romans 3:2)1 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.
Verse 22 Then conveys an invitation to faith, but verse 23 shows that God in His majesty must be acknowledged by all, though many may not have answered the invitation in faith. And how is this bowing of the knee and the swearing of the tongue to come to pass? Philippians 2:10-1110That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10‑11) answers the question conclusively. The Person of the Godhead, to whom the obeisance and confession will be universally made, is no other than the Lord Jesus, who accomplished the righteousness by His obedience unto death. Righteousness and strength are found only in Him, and as the last verse says, it is “the seed of Israel” who will glory in Him as a justified people. Many who are “seed of Jacob” according to the flesh, are not “seed of Israel” according to God.
Before leaving this chapter notice how in the latter part of it the exclusive claim of Jehovah is emphasized again and again. Beside Him there is “none else”. The faith of Christ, and the Gospel which proclaims it, have today just this exclusive claim, as witnessed in such scriptures as John 6:68;14:668Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
; Acts 4:1212Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12); Galatians 1:8-98But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8‑9). There are today men who would go to the Buddhist or Confucian acknowledging their religions as ways to God and only claiming that “Christianity” offers them a rather superior way. In so doing they bring themselves near to, if not actually under, the apostolic curse of Galatians 1:88But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8), while they avoid the reproach that the Gospel brings. It is this exclusive claim, inherent in the Gospel, which provokes the opposition.