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Lowell Brueckner
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Rebels since Conception

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44. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 48

I am more convinced every day that Christians need to come under the influence of expository teaching of the Bible. Once again, I invite anyone, who chances to read this article, to join us in this verse-by-verse study of the book of Isaiah. I am learning and I am sure that you will learn, as well.

Jacob and Israel

One thing that we must do in an expository study is to define the terms that are used. Generally, the people in Bible times understood these terms, but often, we might look in a very different way than that, which was intended by the inspired writers. We dare not interpret them in “our way”! For example, Isaiah in verse 1 addresses the house of Jacob. Early in the book, in chapter seven, we read about the house of David and saw that this phrase referred to the descendants of David. Simply then, the house of Jacob refers, in a natural and general sense, to the descendants of Jacob.

However, when Isaiah writes, “who are called by the name of Israel”, he is being more specific and spiritual. This clause reminds us of a crisis experience in Jacob’s life, when God worked a transformation in him and called him by a new name, which meant prince of God. His name is included in Israel’s. God expects that Jacob’s descendants be a transformed and spiritual people, representing His own nature. There is another term that requires an explanation… who came from the waters of Judah. This is more specific yet and denotes a fountain, as a source from which waters flow.

The southern kingdom took its name from Judah to distinguish itself from the northern tribes. Their people intended to be more loyal and faithful to Jehovah, the ones “who swear by the name of the Lord and confess the God of Israel.” It is the ministry of Isaiah to uncover superficial claims and discover the heart. Their confession, he writes, is “not in truth or right”. These two necessary qualities… truth and righteousness… must be present in order for a claim to be genuine.

Bel and Nebo Fall

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43. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 46-47

Chapter 46

A good portion of the earlier chapters of Isaiah had to do with Assyrian history and prophecy. Several of the last chapters project into the future and concern Babylon and its downfall at the hand of Cyrus of Persia. Babylon’s idolatrous religion had an effect upon the world of its day and some of its aspects live on to our day. The Romans associated Bel to Jupiter and Nebo to Mercury.  

Bel and Nebo are Babylonian gods. Bel is an alternate spelling of Baal and we know the part that Baal played among the Israelites. Baal-worship reached into Phoenicia and we studied about its influence upon Queen Jezebel, wife of Ahab, the king of northern Israel. Nebo is found in the root of some of the names of Babylon’s kings, including Nebuchadnezzar. Bel is also: Bel-shazzar, the king, but also Nebuchadnezzar named Daniel after the name of his god… Bel-teshazzar (Dn.4:8).

A point that is made in the first verse is that the images of these gods are a burden to the people and to the beasts that have to carry them. They cannot defend the city and they do not escape the invasion of Persia, but the idols are carried away, along with the people, who worshipped them (v.1-2). The defeat of Babylon was a defeat of its gods. They did not bear the people, but are carried on the backs of beasts of burden. I noticed this comment in Wikipedia, concerning a superstitious action by the father of Bel-shazzar: Nabonidus had ordered cult statues from outlying Babylonian cities to be brought into the capital.”

Sovereign Lord Over All

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42. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 45

Cyrus the Great
Isaiah’s ministry, by a powerful inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has given to readers for 2,700 years, around the globe, clear insights into the nature of God. From the day of his divine calling, he came to know the Holy One of Israel and that has been his emphasis throughout the book. He also powerfully portrays Him as Sovereign Lord over all the earth.

Cyrus and sovereign choice

I repeat what we learned in the last chapter; God named Cyrus over 150 years before he was born. If you are a child of God, you probably are aware of the fact that God had His hand upon your life before you knew Him. Did you know that He has worked in past generations to bring you into being? Ah, the Bible teaches us that “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” (Eph.1:4). No wonder Jesus knew the little man’s name, when He saw him in the tree. “Zacchaeus,” He called. He even knew the name of another little man… the rabid, hate-inspired Pharisee on his way to Damascus to wreak havoc with the church. He shouted to him from the blazing glory of His presence, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” A few verses later, we see that Christ had chosen him: “He is a chosen instrument of mine” Jesus taught us that He calls His own sheep by name.

God Creator or Gods Formed

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41. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 44

Chosen

Have you considered the many things in your life over which you have had no control? The family into which you were born, the time and place of your birth, your name, and your physical features are all things, which were decided for you. You had no choice in the matter. In the earliest stage of your life, you were totally dependent on others for care and sustenance. You were left in their hands to be moved, fed and put to sleep. They did your thinking for you.

As children, we yearned for freedom and independence, for the day that we could leave our parents’ house and be on our own. So we got a job and lived in our own place. Soon we found that we were not as free, as we thought we should be. There were bills to pay and our employer thought that we ought to obey his wishes. Then we married and found that our area of freedom was smaller, because now we had to share our existence with another. Then children came and chipped away even more at our little independent world.

Israel's Only Salvation

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40. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 43

What the Spirit says now

We see in the book of Revelation that Jesus gave different messages to each of the seven churches. He concluded each message with the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Although every Christian should be occupied with a systematic study of the entire scope of revelation, there is a more specific word, which the Spirit of God applies in different places and in different times. We must be attentive to that which the Spirit says to the church now.

I want to keep reminding you to have your Bible open to read along, as we go through the chapters. I assume that you will do that, as I make comments. You will notice that verse 1 begins with the words “but now”. The preacher of Ecclesiastes claims that there is a time for everything (Ecc.3:1-7) and the preacher of the gospel must be sensitive to the Spirit in order to know specifically what He wants the people to hear at any given time. There is a time for rebuke and there is a time for comfort. The prophet Isaiah knows how and when to do both.

“But now”, after the warning of judgment delivered at the end of chapter 42, it is time for God to comfort Israel. There is no comforter like the Holy Spirit. He inspires Isaiah to begin with Israel’s creation. The Lord continues to create; He creates individuals in the wombs of their mothers and He creates whole nations. Comfort begins with the knowledge that we are created beings and therefore we have purpose and care from our Creator.