Isaiah 48 – No Rest for the Wicked
Link Isaiah 44-47 to Deuteronomy 18. There is a longstanding connection between occult practices, idolatry, and the downfall of Israel. The protection against these things is a prophet. When can a prophet be trusted? When the things the Lord says through him come true. Isaiah was given near, intermediate, far, and extremely far prophecy. The reason for the near prophecy was to establish him as a true prophet. This means that all of the prophecy coming through him can be trusted. The most important forth-telling of Isaiah is that there is only one God and that there is no idol that can compare with the living God.
Vs. 1-8 Gives more confirmation that Isaiah is a prophet of the Lord and his word can be trusted. There is an interesting nuance in vs 1 and 2 that they are descendants of Jacob who are called by the name of Israel. In other words, you call yourselves Israel, but you act more like Jacob. The idea is that they are religious outwardly, but inwardly they don’t trust the Lord.
In vs 3 and 4 God reminds them that he told them things from ages past that came true. He has always done this. Even from the garden God prophesied the coming of Jesus. When He cut covenant with Abraham he foretold the Egyptian slavery and His deliverance of them. No idol gave them these prophecies. They are God’s witnesses and they are obliged to admit it.
God will reveal new things now. Vs. 7 and 8 are important. God will reveal new things. Why? So they can’t say they already new it or ever heard it. The comparison to Jacob is their wildness from birth. Their tendency is to give credit for God’s work to idols. He won’t have that, so now God gives them something totally new so they can’t say they got the word before from an idol.
Vs. 9-11 So, if Israel has been so hard hearted and stiff-necked, if they have rebelled and dishonored God, why does He keep them around? One might say, “If God can love the children of Jacob He can love anyone.” But, vs 9-11 tell us why, specifically. God says, “For my name’s sake I delay my wrath.” I refer to my sermon on Pentecost Sunday along with the reminder that God’s name tells us all about His love and plans for us to be with Him forever. This word of prophecy is very far reaching. Israel will be refined through the furnace of affliction. Think of how Israel has suffered in the last 100 years alone. The goal of the Nazis was to completely destroy all Jews. They killed one third of them, but they couldn’t kill them all. As the “Day of the Lord” comes near Israel will be refined more. If you read Revelation carefully it will be Israel who has the last word on earth about the greatness of God in Jesus Christ. As they are refined in affliction they will go from an idol praising people to those who give their lives for Jesus Christ.
Vs. 12-16 What does God’s name say about who He is? God tells us. “Listen to me” both Jacob and Israel – “I am he.” This is Yahweh without saying Yahweh. The word is Ani – it is the equivalent of “ego eimi” in Greek, but it is impossible to hear God say it and not think of Yahweh. There is another reference to the first and the last here. Rishon Acheron is the Hebrew equivalent of Alpha and Omega. He is the God of eternity. He is the God of creation. He is the God whose plans cannot be altered. Vs. 16 the speaker changes, but who is speaking? It is still God. He is now the one who is sent. He is the one who is endowed with the Holy Spirit. Who of the three persons of God could be speaking? The Lord (Adonai) has sent me with His Holy Spirit. This is the Trinity revealed by God.
Vs. 17-22 If Israel had obeyed God they would have had peace like a river. But because they didn’t they can’t have peace. They have to be refined by affliction and come to love God through trials. God will continue to protect His remnant.