The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 44

Isa 44:2

WHO FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB: God nourished and brought up children -- ie Israel (Isa 1:2).

JESHURUN: Sig "straight, upright" -- "the Righteous One". Jeshurun is a poetic name for Israel; it occurs here and in Deu 32:15; 33:5,26.

Isa 44:3

THE THIRSTY LAND: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Mat 5:6).

Isa 44:4

SPRING UP: Heb "tzamach" -- related to the Messiah, the Branch (tzamach) in Isa 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12.

LIKE GRASS IN A MEADOW: Like new growth after rain, springing up among the dry, dead old grass. A renewal of life.

LIKE POPLAR TREES BY FLOWING STREAMS: Ref to the captives, set free from the poplars (sw) by the water courses of Babylon (Psa 137:1,2), to come thankfully home to God and His servant in Jerusalem.

Isa 44:5

WILL WRITE ON HIS HAND: The sign of a slave tied to his master (as in Rev 13:16). Paul rejoiced that he bore in his body the marks of Jesus: Gal 6:17. But, extraordinarily, the "master" becomes the "slave" in Isa 49:16.

Isa 44:6

THE LORD: Heb "Yahweh". Notice the //s between this v and Rev 1:8 -- all the names are reproduced or alluded to. And "Yahweh" is interpreted there as "who is, and who was, and who is to come"!

KING: Yahweh is the true king in Jerusalem: Hezekiah is only His representative!

REDEEMER: Heb "goel", near-kinsman.

THE LORD ALMIGHTY: Yahweh Tzvaoth: the God of the army of angels, who overthrew Sennacherib's army!

I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST: That is, the One who foretells the future (cp v 7 here as well as Rev 1:1; 22:6: "what must soon take place"), and the One who brings it to pass!

"Men may accept the proposition that God exists in the same way that they believe that things equal to the same thing are equal to one another, or that the circumference of a circle is approximately three times its diameter; but such cold assent will bring no yearning for His name to be hallowed. Worse still, 'God' may mean for men no more than a personification of their own ideas of right and good will. In that case 'God' is for them the dream of an ideal. They retain the dream because life would be rather more drab if it faded, just as life would be duller without the occasional beauty of a sunset; yet doubtless they could live well enough if they had to in a climate where no sunset was ever seen. Such a God is really subordinate to themselves. And if God depends on men, they may violate every principle of goodness He is supposed to embody in order to defend their ideal" (TM 183).

Isa 44:7

Another 'court room' appeal: cp Isa 41:1,21-29; 43:8-13; 45:20-25.

LET HIM FORETELL WHAT WILL COME: "No other religion makes this challenge, or responds to it. Today's fashionable enthusiasm for Islam and Buddhism and what-not is so much hot air, for none of these cults, hoary though they may be, can point to unmistakable divine vindication in past history, and none of them can offer a single prophecy, either fulfilled or for the future" (WIsa 391).

Isa 44:8

DO NOT TREMBLE, DO NOT BE AFRAID: "With the God of their fathers behind them, Israel may face every test of faith with relaxed confidence... All such exhortations in Isaiah have the same point. In those days there was no terror to compare with the paralysing dread of invasion by cruel pitiless Assyrians (cp Isa 10;24; 31:4; 37:6; 41:10-14; 43:1,5; 51:7,12)" (WIsa 391).


IS THERE A GOD BESIDES ME?: The only instance of "Eloah" in Isaiah -- as if to contrast with the Sennacherib's boast in 2Ch 32:15: "No god [Eloah] of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!"

Isa 44:12

HUNGRY... FAINT: Is he required by his religion to fast while doing this work? Or is simply so eager to finish that he neglects his food and drink? Obvious question: if the one who makes such a god has such evidently failing powers, what of that which he "creates"? (What a ct with Isa 40:28,29!)

Isa 44:16

'First a batch of bread... then (v 17) a batch of gods!'

Isa 44:18

THEIR EYES... THEY CANNOT SEE: Cp words of Jesus in Joh 9:39. Also see 2Th 2:11; Isa 6:9,10 -- judicial blindness.

Isa 44:21

REMEMBER THESE THINGS: That is, the long drawn-out castigation of idolatry (vv 6-20).

Isa 44:22

LIKE A CLOUD: See Lev 16:13: Day of Atonement language. Quoted by Peter in Act 3:19: "repent... and then... your sins will be BLOTTED OUT."

The sins of God's people: "Covered" (Psa 32:1), "Removed" (Psa 103:12), "Cast behind God's back" (Isa 38:17), "Blotted out" (Psa 51:1; Isa 44:22), "Washed away" (Psa 51:2,7), "Remembered no more" (Jer 31:34), "Sought for but not found" (Jer 50:20), "Cast into the depths of the sea" (Mic 7:19).

Isa 44:26

OF JERUSALEM, 'IT SHALL BE INHABITED': In ct to the threats of Sennacherib: ISA 36:16,17.

OF THEIR RUINS, 'I WILL RESTORE THEM': The 46 fenced cities of Judah, decimated by Sennacherib (Isa 36:1).

Isa 44:28

"Cyrus" is Elamite for "shepherd". His orig name was Agrodates. But Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd... all that came before me were thieves" (Joh 10:11,8), incl Cyrus!

Use of name of "Cyrus": How? (1) Misguided rabbinical comment which has crept into text; (2) Misreading of Heb for "God's workman", suggested by JWT; (3) Deliberately inserted by Jews to influence the real Cyrus; and/or (4) "To Cyrus", by slight change = "to thee, the heir". See Isaiah's "Cyrus".

AND WILL ACCOMPLISH ALL THAT I PLEASE: Quoted (from LXX) by Paul with ref to DAVID (Act 13:22), a detail entirely in harmony with OT usage. But if this phrase really belonged to Cyrus, what right did Paul have to appropriate it to bolster up his argument about David?

LET ITS FOUNDATION BE LAID: Not necessarily about the rebuilding of the whole temple, in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. What is referred here is, specifically, the altar of burnt offering, removed by Ahaz (2Ki 16:10-16), but replaced by Hezekiah. Cp Isa 28:16. Furthermore, there may well have been damage left over from the devastating earthquake in the days of Uzziah (Amo 1:1; 3:14,15; 9:1-6,14; 8:8; Zec 14:4,5; Isa 2:10-22; 64:1) -- which would need to be repairs and rebuilt (cp Isa 22:9,10; 2Ch 32:5).

See Lesson, Isaiah's "Cyrus"

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