Isaiah 41:1-20 “The Lord Has Chosen His Servant”
-see previous Isaiah II post for 41:1-10.
41:11-12 Israel only had to wait, and they would see Assyria and then the great Babylonian Empire all quickly become nothing. How are these words fulfilled for all believers? (Compare with Malachi 4:1-3)
- Arrogant and wicked Kings of Israel were taken in 722 by the Assyrians
- Assyria crumbled at the battle of Carchemish 605 BC.
- Arrogant unbelieving kings of Judah were taken in 586 BC.
- Babylon fell suddenly from its great height at the coming of the Persian King Cyrus 539 BC.
- Ultimately judgment day will come. Those who trust in Christ will never be put to shame.
41:13 What comfort do you find in this picture?
- God himself is our Savior.
41:14 Why is the title “worm” not such a bad thing here?
- EHV note* you insect, Israel. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah reads you dead ones of Israel. It seemed that little Israel could be squashed as easily as a bug, but the LORD would protect them.
- It only emphasizes the helplessness of Israel and the need to rely on God. Faith in him alone saves. He calls himself the “Redeemer” of the lowly “little worm” Israel.
- Notice he says “I myself” the comfort is in him doing it all.
41:15-16 God assures Israel that like a threshing sled they will plow over the chaff of the nations, and they will be blown away. Compare with Matthew 3:12 to see how this is ultimately fulfilled in the “Holy One of Israel” (41:16b)
- John the Baptizer, (cf 40: 4-11) said of Jesus: “His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
41:16 Compare these different translations below and restate the basic meaning of the phrase. Explain how the Church has done this throughout history.
- “You will glory in the Holy One of Israel” (NIV, ESV, ~ KJV)
- “In the Holy One of Israel you will be confident.” (EHV)
- “You will boast in the Holy One of Israel” (CSB)
- בִּקְד֥וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תִּתְהַלָּֽל׃
- הָלַל -boast, praise. Hitpael, impf, 2 ms sing. –“boast confidently”
- Jeremiah 9:24 ~ 1 Cor 1:31 & 2 Cor 10:17 “Let those who boast boast about this: that they have understanding, and that they know me. They know that I am the LORD, who shows mercy, justice, and righteousness on earth, for I delight in these things, declares the LORD
- Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
41:17-20 List as least three other times in Scripture God uses the picture of water in the wilderness to picture his gracious working.
- Is 12:3 Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
- Ps 42 “My soul thirsts for the living God”
- Is 55:10 “as the rain and snow… so my word”
- John 4, John 7 “Let the one who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me… living waters, AS THE SCRIPTURE HAS SAID”
- Rev 21:6 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To anyone who is thirsty, I will give freely from the spring of the water of life.
Why is it important to remember that God chose us instead of boasting that we choose him?
- This is for his glory and a display of his grace. We are saved because he in grace chose us from eternity to be saved, not because we did anything worthy or invited him into our lives.
- Jesus reminded his disciples “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”
- Paul writes “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
- Luther rightly says that we cannot by our own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus or come to him. The Holy Spirit calls us by the gospel.
- Someone spoke good tidings to us and brought us to God through the gospel.
Give at least three reasons why we should not feel dismayed or overwhelmed.
- Confer especially verse 10
Find at least four pictures that describe the person and work of Christ in this section.
- 41:4 “I am the first and at the very end I will be there” / “I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.” Rev 21:6
- 41:9 “you are my servant, I have chosen you”
- 41:14 “your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel”
- 41:15-16 Judgment as prophesied by John the Baptist pointing to the Messiah
- 41:18 “pour out water” Jesus: “Come to me and drink!”
Isaiah 41:21-29 “No Other Could Foretell His Plans”
41:21-23 Here we are returning to the call for a courtroom assembly (see start of chapter). Who now is called to the witness stand? Where is their shortcoming very evident?
- They cannot rightly speak of what will take place in the future –which the LORD can do.
41:24 What does this chapter say about things like horoscopes and things which people turn to for knowing their future?
- Those who turn to them are “detestable” to God.
- Meanwhile God boasts in his truthful prophecy of what he would do for Israel. He alone is always right about the future, never wrong.
41:25-29 After God presents his challenge in the courtroom for the witnesses, he presents his own evidence. He spoke of the coming of Cyrus long beforehand. Only he was able to foretell such a change in history.
41:28 The idols would not respond because they cannot. God is mocking their inability to give a single word. Explain why people are so lost that they would look for truth from something which cannot even respond with a single word of truth.
- This is the sad reality of our condition by nature. We desperately fashion our own idols and desperately search for answers apart from the Lord. That is why so many today turn to so many places besides Scripture even though God has proven right and fulfilled his prophecies over and over.
Apply: List some of the times when God foretold something in his Word and it was fulfilled many years later.
- Various answers. Here it is the downfall of nations such as Assyria and Babylon. Those events point to the certain fulfilment of the work of the “Holy One of Israel” Jesus.
- Additional examples: book of Daniel, Jesus’ death and resurrection (Is 53) Jesus’ foretelling destruction of temple, all of God’s plans in Scripture!
How would you respond to the wavering Christian who says that the horoscopes and using celestial signs aren’t really that harmful?
- They are not just nothing, they are detestable to God
Review Isaiah 41
What might be a good summary or theme for chapter 41?
- Let all false gods be silent!
- Only the Lord knows the future.
- Don’t fear, God will help you, Israel, trust in him alone.
Share some of the pictures or truths you found to offer good “comfort, comfort” as you meditated on these words.
- Many possible answers. God’s strength, his gifts, his promise, his plans, his titles for us, his titles for himself, his assurance he will not fail, …
Identify some of the types of idols worshipped today and compare them with what God says in this chapter.
Share one picture or illustration from this chapter that you especially can understand because of your own experiences.
Find in this chapter the following:
- Pictures of the work of Christ.
- The universal nature of Isaiah’s message.
- At least four comforting truths for ancient Israel and all God’s Church today.