Our time today overlaps some of the Scripture from my last post. Between Isaiah 44 and 46, the prophet made several references to Yahweh being God and the fact that there isn’t any God besides Him. In between each of these declarations is a message for Israel. These will comprise the focus of my post today.
In Isaiah 44:8, Yahweh refers to Himself as “no other Rock” – no other “God besides me.” He describes the process of how man goes through the motions of creating idols for worship. He says that those who create idols eventually worship them and pray, “Save me…for you are my god!” The creators of idols fail to see or understand that their creation is not a god. The reason for this is because a deceived heart has led them astray. They can’t seem to grasp the fact that what they hold in their hands is a fraud! This is a painful thing for some people to come to grips with.
People should worship the Creator, not that which they have created! The Creator is always greater and worthy of more honor than creation. Yahweh compares Himself with the idols made by man and points out to them that He’s the real and only God.
Israel is encouraged to keep these matters in mind and to return to the Lord. Yahweh pleads with His people not to forget Him and He reminds His people to come back to Him because it was Yahweh who redeemed them. Before repeating the fact that the Lord has redeemed Jacob, Isaiah 44:23 says, “Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it.” The literary structure of these verses, with verse 23 in the center, emphasizes the Lord should be praised because He redeemed His people.
By this time in history, the cities of Judah were in ruins but the Lord said they would be rebuilt; the prophet also said the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt. These two statements are two bookends that point to the one who will make this happen—Cyrus, the Lord’s shepherd. Isaiah 44:26 indicates that the Lord will make streams run dry. This appears to be a reference to the method by which Cyrus diverted the water in the moats surrounding Babylon so his men could enter and takeover Babylon.
Note that the Lord called Cyrus, “My shepherd” and referred him as “His anointed.” These are terms also used to describe Jesus. The Lord leveled the paths to prepare the way for Cyrus. In a similar fashion, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. The Lord anointed Cyrus and Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit as He came up out of the waters of baptism. The Lord said Cyrus would do everything He wanted. The gospels tell us that Jesus always did what His Father wanted. Yahweh called Cyrus by name and gave him a title even though Cyrus didn’t have a clue who the Lord was. Jesus’ name is “the Word of God” and His title is “King of kings and Lord of lords.”[i] Jesus was fully aware of who His heavenly Father was. The Lord armed Cyrus so that even though he didn’t know the Lord, those from the east and west would know that there is no God besides Yahweh. When Jesus returns, those all over the world will know that there is no God besides Him.
As we just mentioned, the Lord introduced Himself as Yahweh and said there is no other God besides Him. Long before Cyrus was born, the Lord said “I am arming you, although you don’t know me, so that those from the east and those from the west will know that there is none besides me—I am the Lord; there is no other.” It’s quite possible that even though these words were written long before Cyrus entered Babylon, the prophet Daniel may have shown this prophecy to Cyrus so he would know who enabled him to be so powerful. Today, these verses point to the fact that Yahweh controls the rise and fall of nations.
As Isaiah 45 advances, the Lord continues to reveal Himself; He re-identifies Himself as Creator of light, darkness, well-being, and woe. The Lord sends justice as well as salvation. In Isaiah 45:8, the Lord says, “Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.” Normally, righteousness is associated with that which is pure and holy—a result of obedience. It’s associated with blessing but also associated with justice. Since that is the case, it can also allude to the judgment of the seals, trumpets, and plagues mentioned in Revelation. When the last plague comes, Israel will be saved by the Lord with eternal salvation. Note, the Hebrew word for salvation here is yeshua. Jesus is the Greek name for Yeshua. Surely, this is no coincidence; yeshua (salvation) is accomplished by Yeshua (Jesus). When the end comes, righteousness (obedience to the law) which has been suppressed will be able to spring up and be practiced in the open.
Before He closes this section by identifying Himself as Creator/Maker, the Lord says “woe” to those who dare to question Him concerning His creation. We aren’t supposed to argue with the Lord or tell Him what to do. He chooses to do what He does.
The Lord chose to stir up Cyrus to righteousness (to cause him to do what’s right) and to make his paths smooth. Note the change in the Lord’s title—Yahweh Tzva’ot. The “Lord of heaven’s armies” chose Cyrus to rebuild the city, free the exiles in Babylon without taking a bribe or ransom. Cyrus got the message. Second Chronicles 36:23 says, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!” Cyrus gave orders and money for what was needed to carry out this task. He also had the vessels that belonged in the temple of God to be brought out of the temple of his gods; he gave them to the captives who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. By doing these things, Cyrus did the opposite of what he had been doing—subduing nations, tearing down gates, and stripping kings of their robes. He did what pleased the Lord concerning Judah.
One day, Jesus will lead the armies of heaven to wage war on Israel’s enemies. At that time, Israel will experience His salvation. The next thing that will happen is the same as what took place when Cyrus allowed the captives in Babylon to assemble together to return to Israel– God’s people will be gathered from the four corners of the earth and will be brought to Israel. Although many Jews are making aliyah now, the ultimate return to Israel is in the future.
The Lord said that every knee would bow and every tongue would swear about Him that only in the Lord are justice and strength. This is reminiscent of Philippians 2:9-11 which says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Isaiah 45:14 describes some events that may have future implication; we’ve seen this kind of prophetic shifting in the prophetic text before. The Lord said, “The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush And of the Sabeans, men of stature, Shall come over to you, and they shall be yours; They shall walk behind you, They shall come over in chains; And they shall bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying, ‘Surely God is in you, And there is no other; There is no other God.” Cyrus did not conquer Egypt or Ethiopia so this cannot be applied to him. It must have future implications.
The Hebrew word, yitpallalu is often translated into the English phrase “they shall make supplication.” What follows this phrase is not really a prayer. It’s more of a judgment call or a conclusion; this is probably a better translation because the root word, palal means to entreat, judge, pray, or make supplication. The people will decide and declare, ‘Surely God is in you, And there is no other; There is no other God.”
This is basically when Philippians 2:10-11 will be fulfilled. It says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This is reminiscent of the battle of sacrifices on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah in 1 Kings 18. Both groups killed a bull. The prophets of Baal called on their god, Baal, to consume their bull with fire but nothing happened because Baal is a false god. When Elijah’s turn came, he called on the Lord and immediately fire came down and consumed Elijah’s bull. When the people saw what happened, they responded by saying, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
Think of this story in a different way to see what it represents. The bull that was in the possession of the prophets of Baal represents Jesus. The religious leaders could kill Jesus’ physical body but since His body did not decay, He was not consumed. The religious leaders (and their god of traditions) had no power over Jesus; His heavenly Father did. The bull that was in the possession of Elijah represents Satan, the coming beast, and/or false prophet. The beast, false prophet, and Satan (Adversary) will be killed and their bodies will be consumed in the lake of fire.[ii] The people who remain will realize and declare that Jesus is Lord, He is God!
Before that day comes, people will continue to sin because they are in bondage to the desires of their flesh. They must decide what is true concerning the Bible and what it reveals concerning the Messiah. They need to return to Torah and declare Jesus is Lord of their life. They can only do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the time of the end, the Lord’s people will be those who obey God’s commands and bear witness to Jesus.
Many will not do this; they prefer to reject truth. They are angry with those who believe but they are also angry with the Lord. They just don’t know it. Isaiah continues; the Lord said that all who rage against Him will come to Him ashamed and disgraced. The descendants of Israel will find justice and glory in the Lord; they will never be ashamed or disgraced. Who will rage against the Lord? They are idolaters; they worship the gods of this world who come in various forms, and they give in to their fleshly desires. They are Israel’s enemies.
The Lord tells them to come together. He calls them refugees from the nations and ignorant idolaters. Refugees are people who are fleeing from some kind of danger or persecution. They are fleeing from the Lord who wants them to come to Him and to take counsel together; He’s willing to give them a chance to present their case. Again, He reminds them that He is God and there is no other God besides Him. Before repeating this yet again, He emphasizes what’s most important, “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth!” Whether they did so in the past or not, the Lord said one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that justice and strength are only found in the Lord.
The Babylonians worshipped Bel and Nebo. These idols had to be carried by animals and people. Opposite of this is the way Yahweh carries His people. He will never have difficulty doing this. He will carry His people forever. He will not only carry them but save them. Idolatry is completely opposite; idols must be carried and they have no power to save anyone. Obviously, Yahweh is nothing like idols or false gods. Yahweh is God, there is no other. No one and nothing is like Him.
As we look to the future, we must remember the past. From beginning to end, Yahweh is God. There is no other.