Isaiah 44:21-28 “Remember: God Won’t Forget his Promises.”
“Things will get worse before they get better” -Batman (The Batman 2022) Is that quote comforting or discomforting to you? What about God’s plans for his people? God had just promised Jerusalem that her numbers would increase, and she would grow. That would be hard to hold onto when the city and the temple were later completely destroyed. But in this section God affirms that he will do what he promised. He will rebuild and restore Jerusalem.
44:21-22 Another picture of forgiveness is given. How is this fulfilled in the Redeemer Jesus? Why is this picture so comforting?
- Israel, once again called God’s servant had sinned. God says he will wash away those sins and sweep them away as the morning dew disappears. Jesus washed our sins away so that they are completely vanished from before us.
- Consider the comfort found in the hymn “Morning Breaks Upon the Tomb”
- Morning breaks upon the tomb; Jesus scatters all its gloom. Day of triumph through the skies, See the glorious Savior rise.
- You who are of death afraid, Triumph in the scattered shade. Drive your anxious cares away; See the place where Jesus lay.
- Christian, dry your flowing tears; Chase your unbelieving fears. Look on his deserted grave; Doubt no more his pow’r to save.
44:21-22 Search ahead one chapter (45:22) to see why we can be sure this call to return is also an invitation to all.
- Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, because I am God, and there is no other. (Is 45:22)
44:23-24 What does the title “your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb” say to you about your God?
- unborn life is precious to him
- he has always loved us
- he knows our life and has a plan for us
44:24-28 List some important truths about God in verses 24ff after he says “I am the Lord”
- There are nine relative clauses “who…”
- These tie in with the surrounding contrast and make him stand out from the idols
- He does more than carry out his plans; he thwarts the plans of all those who oppose him.
- “carries out the word of his servants” he is the powerful one behind the prophecy of Scripture. When he speaks, he fulfills.
44:28 Cyrus is mentioned now by name. Isaiah wrote 740-680BC. Cyrus made this decree in 539BC. Explain how this could have been written by Isaiah. What is especially comforting about the fact that prophecy can be so specific?
- Look at the context! God fulfills prophecy. This was written as Isaiah was carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- We will soon see some very specific details about the Christ, which God also fulfilled for us!
44:28 This is the first time that Isaiah clearly indicates that the temple would be destroyed and then be rebuilt. Good news and bad news came all at once. Breakdown the following verses to see how they include both law and gospel at the same time. Gen 3:15; John 3:16; Rom 6:23
Review Isaiah 44
Summarize the line of thought presented in Isaiah 44. Share how he accomplished it all and continues to fulfill his Word.
- 1-5 God promises to send his Spirit and increase his Church.
- 6-8 God alone can do what he promised.
- 9-20 All the idol worshippers are blind and foolish.
- 21-28 When false prophets speak it fails. When the Lord speaks it happens, -including building his Church.
The picture of Jerusalem being restored by Cyrus is a specific prophecy which God used to show he is greater than idols. It also gave great comfort to Israel when they trusted in his promise. What are some definitive and clear-cut promises in Isaiah which also comfort you?
- Isaiah gave detailed prophecy which is important and comforting for us too. He prophesied the virgin birth of Jesus, Jesus passion, Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation, and the glory and rest of heaven which is soon to be ours. He not only prophesied the restoration of Jerusalem, but the expansion of God’s church to all nations as Jesus, the glory of Israel would go out from Israel to all the world.
Choose which of those specific prophesies shared above are the most significant and comforting to you right now.
44:21 “Remember these things,” namely the specific promise God gave that he would cause Israel to increase and a man names Cyrus to decree that the temple and Jerusalem be rebuilt. What things specific must we remember are foretold as we live in the end times?
- There will be false teachers, many will abandon the faith, the gospel will spread, the Church will stand
- Jesus lives and rules over all for his Church
- Jesus will return
- All the dead will rise on the last day
- There will be a restoration with a new heaven and new earth, our eternal home
Isaiah 45:1-7 “God Addresses Cyrus as His Chosen”
45:1-4 The Lord once again lists Cyrus by name as the one who will conquer and liberate the people of Israel so that they can rebuild. What does he say he will do for Cyrus? Why did God give Cyrus success?
- God says he will do everything for Cyrus “I will strengthen you.. I will give you treasures… I will break down gates …”
- Cyrus did make a decree to the Lord’s credit: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up” (2 Chronicles 36:23) Nonetheless Cyrus didn’t acknowledge the Lord as the only true God. God did all this for the sake of Israel, not for Cyrus’ sake or because Cyrus worshipped him.
45:1 Explain why God would call Cyrus his “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”
- Cryus Cylinder (dsc. 1879) indicates clearly that Cyrus was not a believer. He said he was divinely sent, but by false God. He did not know the LORD.
- Cyrus was a king and all those in authority are God’s servants (Ro 13:1-7)
45:1 Review the following historical account and compare with what we read in this verse.
—”In the revelry in Babylon on the night of its capture, the inner gates, leading from the streets to the river, were left open; for there were walls along each side of the Euphrates with gates, which, had they been kept shut, would have hemmed the invading hosts in the bed of the river, where the Babylonians could have easily destroyed them. Also, the gates of the palace were left open, so that there was access to every part of the city; and such was its extent, that they who lived in the extremities were taken prisoners before the alarm reached the center of the palace“. -Herodotus, 1.191. Greek historian circa 425 BC
- gates of brass —Herodotus (1.179) says, Babylon had a hundred massive gates, twenty-five on each of the four sides of the city, all, as well as their posts, of brass.
45:3 “I will give you hidden treasures.” Discuss what most often motivates ungodly governments. Appraise what seems to motivate governing authorities today.
- Though the government may at times operate on greed and not the interest of the people, God still carries out his purpose for his own people.
- We may think and understand that the government motivated by greed, however, we still pay taxes, honor, etc. to the government with full confidence that in the end God will accomplish his purposes for us through his appointed authorities.
45:4 Did Cyrus know the Lord? Differentiate between knowing the Lord in faith and knowing about the Lord.
- Cyrus did not repent and turn to God in faith as the LORD. It was the same for Pharaoh and his magicians who said “This is the finger of God.” (Exodus 8:15) yet did not know the LORD as their Savior God. They only hardened their hearts in unbelief.
- He knew about the LORD, but he didn’t know the LORD as the one true Savior God, as his own God. hence: “you do not know me”
- 2 Ch 36:22-23 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.’”
45:7 “I bring prosperity and create disaster.” Do people rightly recognize who exactly is responsible for the bad things that happen in this world?
- God has the authority behind it. Bad things are the result of sin and its consequence in the world. We don’t hold God accountable for the death and calamity that exists. But he ultimately holds all authority –a reason to fear and honor him, not blame him.
- “do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? Is 45:11
- Consider the lesson of the book of Job.
- (James 1:13) (Lam 3:33,3:38)
45:1-7 Cyrus will accomplish extraordinary feats with almost ridiculous ease. Note the emphasis on the Lord saying, “I will (do this).” What comfort does that offer God’s people?
- Emphasis on “I” not on Cyrus and his doing
- This would have been a great comfort for the people of Israel. Their restoration after Babylon would destroy Jerusalem would come, yet it would not depend on any world power. It would be done because God would be working behind the one he choose to bring this about.
- We can take comfort that all of God’s good purposes will be carried out. We don’t’ depend on any would power to do this, but God and his promises give full assurance of this.
- Therefore, when God says he will build his church, we don’t rely on government leaders for “good economics” so that we can afford a new building. God will make his church grow. When God says he will cause his name to be known “from the rising of the sun, to its setting” we don’t’ have to count on governments in the land of the rising sun to allow full and free mission work. God will accomplish his purposes regardless of the purposes of the governments and authorities around us.