‘’Foreseeing the great influx of the Gentiles, these verses leap far beyond the liberation. Chs.60-62 will take up the theme more fully. Here it is expressed first in an address to Israel (14-19) and then in an appeal to mankind to acknowledge its Lord, as one day it must, and thereby find salvation in company with the nation it once despised (20-25).’’ Derek Kidner: The ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.659
The words in (14) are similar to Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25. In fact, Paul may have had Isaiah in mind when he wrote that letter. God was speaking through the prophet about a more distant day when Israel’s former enemies will be gathered into the Messianic kingdom (see Isaiah 14:2). These people will submit to the rule of Israel’s God. They will come ‘’in chains’’; but they will come willingly. Because they know that ‘’there is no other god.’’ We are seeing this worked out now in the global extension of the kingdom of God. When people come into Christian gatherings and they fall down in worship, and say, ‘’God is really among you!’’ this prophetic word is still coming to pass. (See also 20 and 23-25 for this global vision).
The opening of (15) reads like this in The Message: ‘’Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes…’’ Someone said that God moves behind the scenes and He moves all the scenes He is behind. Verses 15-17 contrast the destinies of those who make (and, by inference, trust) in idols, and those people of Israel who will trust in God.
There is a paradox in this chapter. In one sense, God ‘’hides’’ Himself. As we saw yesterday, His ways can be mysterious, and He doesn’t owe us any explanations. But He is also the God who reveals Himself (19). He shows us what He wants us to know. There are secret things that are only known to Him, but there are also many revealed truths that we can enter into by the Holy Spirit’s illumination. One of those is that God’s people will never seek Him in vain (19b). This truth has helped and sustained me through many years. I know there are mysteries to God’s ways; nevertheless I also know He answers prayer. He is ‘’the Lord’’ (18): the Creator of all things. We are not ‘’praying for help to a dead stick’’ The Message (20b).
In (20, 21) God tells the world’s unbelieving nations that because He has predicted future events accurately (such as the role played by Cyrus in freeing the Jews) He has established His claim to be the one and only God and Saviour (see Isaiah 43:8-13; 44:6-8). Because of who He is; His uniqueness, God issues this heartfelt appeal to all people everywhere, to ‘’turn’’ to Him ‘’and be saved’’ (22-25). The words in (23b) are picked up in the New Testament by the apostle Paul and applied to the Lord Jesus (Phil.2:10, 11; Romans 14:9, 11). Take time to reflect on this and allow its significance to sink in.
‘’The concluding verses are remarkable for their picture of world-wide and heart-felt conversions, and secondly for the bold use the NT was to make of vs 23-24, applying them directly to Christ in Phil.2:10-11 (and indirectly in Rom.14:9, 11).
Prayer: Lord Jesus you are truly wonderful – the only God and Saviour, and Lord of all. Help me to know you more, and love you more, and serve you more.