Isaiah 42:18 – 43:21
H. Linden University Presbyterian Church, Las Cruces,
Earlier in chapter 42 the blind are Gentiles who do not know the God
of Israel. The Gentiles now see how blind God’s people are!
God’s people had received God’s Word, yet had ignored it. They had the
riches of God’s law and divine revelation. If heeded, that law would have brought
them great understanding (Deuteronomy 4:5-8) and made them as His holy people
an attraction to the nations. The Lord was the glory of
The situation they were in was easy to observe, but why were they in it,
when they had such a heritage? People once delivered from
adds “in time to come” – words that show he was writing from an earlier
day. Only in time to come, i.e., a later
day, would they pay attention to what God would say about their exile and
rescue. (A second Isaiah in
42:24,25 The explanation is very personal. It was His ways and His law violated, and His anger against them. They were covenant breakers who actively refused the authority of their God, the one they had promised to obey. In rejecting His Word, they were unable to understand the punishments their own Scriptures foretold as early as the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 28 & 31:14-18). With the flames of God’s judgment burning against them, they did not understand what was happening and did not repent. It is a very serious thing to have the Word of God and disobey it. The Bible does not teach that people repent simply when sinners experience the consequences of sin. Repentance is a very kind gift of God whenever He chooses to bestow it (Acts 11:18); it comes not by punishment but by grace.
Isaiah includes himself when he said, “We have sinned” (v.24) but he refers to “them” when he tells what happened to them (v.25), another indication he wrote all this early, but was not living when the Babylonian captivity occurred.
43:1-7 Isaiah just said what God did to chasten His wayward people; now what has God done for them?
telling them of His preserving activity, He reminds them of Who He is, a very
important emphasis in this book. He is the creator of
43:2 Passing through water and fire does not describe a return home under His provision. The waters are waters of affliction and the fire is the fire of judgment imposed upon them by the Lord Himself. The Lord speaks here of mercy while exercising wrath (Habakkuk 3:2). The consuming fire did not wipe out the nation; a remnant would return (Isaiah 10:20-22). The same early texts in the Books of Moses that foretell exile, speak of God’s restoration (Leviticus 26:40-45). God fulfilled His covenant warnings and kept His covenant promises. Thus the fire would envelope them according to 42:25, but would not destroy them according to 43:2.
For those who would presume upon such grace, let them be warned that it was only the remnant that returned, not the entire nation. A multitude perished under God’s wrath in the wilderness in Psalm 95. Covenant-breakers will be dealt with severely; “The Lord will judge His people. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).
The Lord gives a reason for his continuing care of a people blind, deaf
and unresponsive to Him (42:19). God does not change in His character or His
commitments. Using the language of redemption
V.3 speaks of the past, so it is better to translate this
verse as “I gave” rather than “I give”. In setting
It is a serious error to look on redemption as only
liberation. It means to set free by payment of a price, and so in this verse
the ransom is what is paid. It was a large price; God paid
looked into their past. V.4 speaks of their present. God will give men in
exchange for them. That is, God will do what is necessary, including the
destruction of the Babylonian empire, to loosen its grip and set His people
free. This is an example of giving over opponents so
In v.2, Isaiah was looking ahead to the coming exile, and gave the
Lord’s I will be with them. Now
in v.5, the present tense indicates that He is with them in what is currently
unfolding. God is with them in the
return from exile. The Lord of the Exodus from
43:8-13 The Lord again uses a courtroom scene. He calls His blind and deaf people to come as witnesses. The gods of the nations are summoned also. None of them could foretell the former things (i.e., the Exodus), and they have no witnesses to show that they did. The Lord then turns to His witnesses, but people without understanding (42:25) do not make good witnesses. So the Lord speaks for Himself, even though they were supposed to be His witnesses. Before witnesses can speak for the Lord, they must first know, believe and understand. (In our day, some suggest knowing the truth of God is not very important. This text teaches the opposite of such bad advice.)
The court scene reveals that there is no other god, no god
to tell of the former things, and there will be no god to reveal anything
future. Everyone reading Isaiah should
see how much emphasis the Lord puts on making and fulfilling prediction as
evidence of the genuineness of His assertion of being God (vv.11-13). In v.11,
the Lord uses I AM language (Exodus 3:14). When people read the I AM’s of Jesus
in the Gospel of John, they should see that such language from Jesus’ lips is
related to God as Savior (v.11). The Lord Jesus with the Father and the Spirit,
is the Lord God of
Of course, no foreign god can determine history. V.13 stresses the acts of God, so sovereign and decisive that all He decides is what will happen, and nothing else can happen. No one can stop Him; no one can reverse His decision. God is God.
The Names of the Lord are again tied to His action, so that we never
forget Who acts for His people and not merely what He says. The word ‘King’ is
added to other names. As King, He is Father of His people (9:6,7). The throne of David would appear to be in
great jeopardy, but the coming Son of David is the Lord watching over His
people even before His birth in
V.14 is the first mention of
Lord reminds them yet again of the Exodus, with
salvation of men has a personal goal.