Review Isaiah 45:15-25
There are at least six sections since chapter 40 which focus on the Lord alone as the one and only true God. (See Isaiah 40:25; 41:29; 42:8; 43:11-12; 44:6; 45:20-21). Why did God need to underscore this truth in Isaiah’s time? Why is it still an important truth to impress on people?
- Isaiah 40:25, “To whom will you compare me?”
- 41:29 “See, they are all false!”
- 42:8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” 43:11, 12 “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you”
- 44:6 “the Lord Almighty” had said, “I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God”
- He stresses his sovereignty as the only God because he is the only one who can save us from our sins! He alone is our Redeemer.
- It is important to stress today because of the growing ecumenical and universal teachings in Christian churches. There is no other way, no other theology, no other Word that gives forgiveness and life eternal.
Read John 1:18 and discuss how the hidden God made himself fully known.
- No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is close to the Father’s side, has made him known -Jn 1:18.
Summarize what is meant by the “Natural Knowledge of God” and “Revealed Knowledge of God.” Explain the scope and function of each to show us the “hidden God.”
- Natural knowledge is what we know about God form creation and conscience. He is wise, powerful, just etc. It is for all people but lacks what we need to know about the one true God.
- Revealed knowledge contains both law and gospel. It tells us who the one true God is and what he is like and what he has done to save sinners. The Revealed Knowledge (Divine Revelation) has the full and clear law that is unclouded by sin and our erring conscience. It has the gospel which is only found in the revealed knowledge, namely, God’s love in Christ.
Explain how you might use both the natural knowledge and revealed knowledge of God when making the hidden God known to someone for the first time.
Evaluate Martin Luther’s statement: “All creatures are merely veils under which God hides himself and deals with us.”
Review Isaiah 45
Cyrus is called the Lord’s “anointed.”45:1 And yet people would question why God would choose to use an unbelieving king to set the exiles free and restore Jerusalem. How might you use this prophecy about Cyrus to help someone who is questioning if God’s really working everything for their good?
God directed world affairs for Cyrus and for the sake of his people. Discuss how much we can apply his working to other countries. Although we have no specific promise that God gave George Washington and the newly formed United States success, what can we say about those events?
- God is in charge of the events of history. He knew it would happen. His plans are not changed. He isn’t responsible for the deaths or the rebellion against authority, or the abuse of authority that led to rebellion. But he allowed it to happen so that the United States could remain a strong refuge for those fleeing religious persecution from all other nations of the world.
Isaiah 46:1-13 Idols Must be Carried; But the Lord Carries Out His Plan
Have you ever been backcountry hiking, carrying all your supplies on your back? A lot of backcountry hikers have adopted a practice called “ultra-light” hiking. They count every ounce of weight they carry. People consider you an ultra-light backpacker if the base weight of your pack is under ten pounds. (Base weight is the total pack weight minus things you consume such as food, water etc.) To get under ten pounds, people go to extreme measures to limit every ounce they carry. Yet, even ultra-light backpackers will sometimes put up with a lot of weight if it is something they don’t want to part with such as bringing a chair, a favorite camera, or a luxury item. But they will only bring extra weight if it is useful or important to them. What would be the first thing you would be willing to get rid of to shed weight off your pack? God points out that idols are useless burdens. And we really carry nothing. The Lord promises to carry his people -even if they don’t deserve it.
46:1-4 Note the play on words for who is a burden and who carries a burden. What does God say he does for Israel?
- Bel –the god of the Babylonians and Nebo the son of Bel (see name in “Nebuchadnezzar”) The picture at the start of the chapter is clearly the defeat of the false gods as they are carted off by a conqueror.
- Recall that Israel was ransacked by Assyria and would be exiled by the Babylonians. God is giving the promise that he will still continue to be with the people as he promised. Both the unbelieving Israel and believing Israel would go to exile. This promise is that God is faithful and will bring back Israel. Only believers find joy God’s promise and trust his Word regarding their future.
46:3-4 When hard times come in our life, what comfort does this section give us?
- Even from our conception to our old age God always is the one who truly carries and upholds us.
- We may not be carted off to exile, but we know that God has promised to always carry us through all life’s troubles.
46:1-4 Compare this with what Jesus said about burdens. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30) Discuss what his hearers were weary and burdened from and what it means to take Jesus’ burden on yourself.
- Work-righteous demands of the religious rulers were a burden that was absent of forgiveness and mercy.
- Jesus first of all, offers not a burden, but rest for the weary.
- What Jesus does have us carry is “light.” It is serving the Lord with a new heart of faith and a spirit of thankfulness. It does not operate on fear and is not based on earning salvation. It is done in willing and cheerful love for the one who bore our burden of sin and set us free.
46:5-6 People will empty their pockets for idols. How is this done in the world around you?
- This is now the fourth section speaking about how idols are made (40:19; 41:7; 44:9–20)
- False teachers, superstitious fortune tellers, mediums, are all interested in obtaining money and power.
- Secret idolatry (sports, hobbies, entertainment…) often demand heavy payments from people.
- From People’s bible Commentary: “Luther suggests that superstition is the mistress of money, and that, while many are all too willing to pay for expensive idols, Christ and the gospel go poor.”
46:6-8 Review some of the things shared so far that make idol worship so miserable (Is 40:19-20; 41:7; 41:21-24; 44:9-20) What does this chapter add to the pitiful picture of idol worship?
- 40:19-20; an overlaid façade, rotting wood, need support so it doesn’t fall over
- 41:7; it is created and must be made, fastened with nails
- 41:21-24 cannot predict or announce the future or anything at all
- 44:9-20 provide no benefit, see nothing, know nothing, man-made by weak men, made of wood -same wood used in fire, it’s a fraud
- 46:1-2 they are heavy burdens, people bow under them along with the animals that must bow to carry them
- 46:6-8 come at a price, immobile, must be carried, mute, cannot act to save.
- In contrast to idols God invites his people to remember how he carries them.
46:8-13 There have been several references so far to God’s ability to predict the future. Here God specifically addresses the unbelieving portion of Israel. Though he says, “listen” and “remember,” the unbelieving heart still denies he can predict the future. What has God told us in his Word is yet to come which unbelievers still reject?
- Here God once again speaks of Cyrus, the “bird of prey” from the east who he will summon to fulfill his purposes.
- He predicted the coming of the Christ (see the last verse “my righteousness near… my salvation”) which unbelievers also deny.
- Unbelievers deny that the same Christ will also come to judge the world.