Isaiah 46:5-13

Here are some common themes from the later chapters of Isaiah. We are becoming familiar with them as they are hammered into our hearts by repetition:

  1. The folly of idolatry (5-7): If you are alive you can move; if you are living you can answer when someone talks to you; if you have the breath of life in you can help those who ask for it. The pagan gods could do none of these things. They were dependent on people to create them and (effectively) control them. How stupidly blind can you be to worship such a hand-crafted deity? The Message captures a sense of the absurdity of it all. It is just ludicrous to bow down to idols: ‘’People with a lot of money hire craftsmen to make them gods. The artisan delivers the god, and they kneel and worship it! They carry it around in holy parades, then take it home and put it on a shelf. And there it sits, day in and day out, a dependable god, always right where you put it. Say anything you want to it, it never talks back. Of course, it never does anything either!’’
  2. God’s knowledge of the future as a point of contrast with idolatry (8-10): An idol cannot speak about the future (or anything else!), but the Lord has an impeccable track record in terms of forecasting tomorrow: ‘’I am GOD, the only God you’ve had or ever will have –incomparable, irreplaceable – From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul, I’ll do exactly what I set out to do.’….’’ The Message.
  3. Cyrus as an example of God’s foreknowledge (11): ‘’…Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east, from a far country the man I chose to help me. I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it. I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done.’’ The Message. ‘’The theme of prediction, a constant ingredient in these passages (cf.e.g. 41:23), receives its classic statement in v 10a; and the twin realities of the conqueror’s career-as both predatory and predestined-are set side by side in v 11a (cf.41:2, 25; 44:28; 45:1-7).’’ Derek Kidner: ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.660

The chapter concludes with a further appeal to turn to this unique, one and only God (12, 13; see 45:22ff) and take hold of a salvation ‘’near’’ at hand. But God is speaking through Isaiah to ‘’rebels’’ (8); addressing ‘’stubborn-hearted’’ people ‘’who are far from righteousness’’ (12). Will they respond? Even more pertinently, will we?

What idols do we cling to? If our trust is in anything other than the Lord God Himself, we cannot expect any help from that quarter (7b). We are looking for life among the dead.

‘’So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable? Can you picture me without reducing me?’’ (5) The Message. This remains a challenge for us.

Prayer: How grateful I am Lord, that when I call you answer, so long as I do not cherish sin in my heart.