Thursday, April 23, 2015

God Pleads With Israel

Isaiah 43:14-44:5

“Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.  I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.  Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” (Isaiah 43:14-18)

God has promised to restore Israel at the end of time.   The Assyrians were the world power in Isaiah’s day but the Chaldeans were starting to gain power in Babylon and would eventually conquer the Assyrians and take Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar.  Babylon would be conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire, which would in turn be taken over by the Greek Empire.  After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek empire broke up and Babylon declined in importance but continued as an active city until British Archaeologists relocated some ten thousand people in order to excavate the ancient ruins.  When Saddam Hussein seized power in Iraq, he rebuilt the city, and after his death, the United Nations agreed to maintain it. 

Revelation 17 and 18 describe Babylon as the religious center of the Antichrist’s kingdom and as a major trading center of the world.   Because of the city’s role in the promotion of false religion and killing God’s people it will be utterly destroyed near the end of the Tribulation period.  Babylon’s destruction will have serious consequences for the world economy and the shipping industry.  It is God who will cause all this to happen.   

Though it seemed impossible for these things to happen in Isaiah’s day, God has power to do the seemingly impossible.  He is the God who provided a way for Israel to cross the Red Sea on dry land while drowning the Egyptian army with all their horses and chariots.  As a result, Egypt was conquered by the Hyksos and did not regain her independence for about a hundred years.   Israel and Judah should not worry about the power other nations have had in the past. 

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.  The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.  This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” (Isaiah 43:19-21)

God will make things completely new at the proper time and they will see what he has done.  There will be rivers in what is now desert and roadways through the wilderness areas.  Because He makes water readily available for the people he has chosen, the desert animals, such as owls and lizards will flourish as well.   The Jews will demonstrate God’s power and glory in that day. 

“But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.  Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense.  Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” (Isaiah 43:22-24)

Though God wants to do these things for them, the Israelites have not called out to Him for help.  Instead, they have complained about how hard it is to meet His demands.  They have refused to give the various offerings and God has not forced them to do so.  They haven’t bothered to even give Him a token of an offering of sweet cane or the fat of their sacrifices.  Instead they have done what he has forbidden and claimed to be doing it at his command and have frustrated him with their deliberate disobedience.

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.  Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.  Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me.  Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.” (Isaiah 43:25-28)

God has chosen to forgive their sin for his own reasons, not remembering those sins anymore.  He asks them to acknowledge his righteousness and blessings so they can be made right with him.  Unless those who are forgiven repent and change their ways, the forgiveness does not restore their relationship.  their ancestors, and their teachers have consistently gone against God, resulting in his bringing them to a point of degradation and shame. 

“Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” (Isaiah 44:1-5)

If the people of Israel will hear, the same God who made them into a great nation will help them because he loves them.  He will supply water when they are thirsty, and flood the ground that is too dry to grow anything.  He will give his spirit to their children, and his blessing to their descendants, so that they flourish like grass along the edges of a brook or canal.  They will glory in being God’s children like members of a highly respected family glorying in their family’s reputation.    

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