Bible Study: Isaiah 48:1-22
In today's lesson, God is grieved that Israel will not acknowledge and testify of the truth that they have seen.
Lessons from the text
God's Grace to the Hard-Hearted
Verse eight says that God knew Israel would be disobedient and betray him. Why, then, would He continue to deal with him?
God's grace is such that He will call to repentance those who He knows will not respond to Him. He loves us so much that even when we neglect Him He tries to save us.
Consider the parable of the sower. God sows the seed along the wayside. He didn't just go and plant it on fertile ground, but he planted it by wayside, the rocks, and everywhere He could. Our God is so bountiful with grace that He extends Himself and His offer to whosoever will listen. (Mt 13:3-23)
So, why do we have to go visit the hardhearted who God knows will not repent? Because God loves that person so much that He wants that person to hear the truth anyway.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-8 God has a serious complaint against his people. Although they use His name, they do not use it in righteousness, meaning that they use him as a curse word or a by word. Blasphemy is to take that which is holy and to make it ordinary; using the Lord's name as an ordinary word instead of only when addressing Him is a form of blasphemy.
Additionally, Israel claims that they are a holy people belonging to the Lord of Hosts yet they do not testify of Him. Jesus said that if you are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of you (Lk 9:26). Despite all of the works and the prophecies that God has performed in the eyes of His people, they refuse to acknowledge Him. They give Him lip service only by saying that they belong to God but then fail to perform the things which a faithful servant of God would actually do: to proclaim the wondrous works of God.
From the beginning, God has shown through prophecy that He knows the future and therefore that it is Him who is bringing things to pass and not some other god, yet these people are too stubborn to give Him praise. One must be very careful to serve God in spirit and in truth, giving Him praise and honor when it is due Him. Otherwise, One may find oneself outwardly serving God with one’s lips, but inwardly being full of dead men's bones (Mt 23:27).
9 Even though God knew that these people would reject Him, He still went ahead and performed all the works in front of them. God gives everyone an opportunity to see and acknowledge Him. This display of grace brings Him great honor. Also, the fact that He keeps His promises even when the people do not obey Him demonstrates God's faithfulness.
10 God answers the rebellion of His people by refining them through affliction. God uses troubles and trials to purge one of sin and issues in one's life. That is, the hidden character of a person, good or bad, is revealed when one endures hardships.
11 Because God has claimed Israel as His people and said that He is the God Israel, if Israel is destroyed and belittled then He, too, is belittled in the eyes of man. The world knows that He has entered into a covenant relationship with Israel. For Him to back out of the covenant would mean that He is unfaithful to fill His promises. Therefore, no matter how far into sin is Israel goes, God will deal with them and afflict them until they repent. Through Israel, God will prove to the world that He keeps His promises.
12-13 God requests that His people listen to Him based on the fact that He is the Sovereign God. He could force humanity to obedience, but instead He pleads with man. He wants one to acknowledge Him as Creator and choose to listen to Him.
14 God pleads with man asking him to consider which of all the gods has accurately predicted the future. The Lord is the only one who has been able to perform His will throughout history.
15 As witness to His sovereign power, God is saying before it happens that He will bring Babylon into prosperity, allowing Babylon to conquer as it will.
16 God does not hide His word. His prophecies, laws, and ideals are no secret. Just consider how many copies of the Bible are in the world today. Above that, God even sends people to speak on His behalf. Today, God uses preachers. In this verse, Isaiah is the one speaking God’s words to the world.
17 God pleads for His people to hear Him, this time on the basis that He holds all knowledge. Through Him, one can gain wisdom in righteousness as well as in trade. That is, God gives humans the ability not only to discern right from wrong but also how to build a car, fix a circuit breaker, play music, etc.
18-19 If Israel had just believed God, they could have been the greatest nation in all of history. God would have blessed them beyond measure, but they did not believe!
20-22 In light of verses nine through eleven, God promises to redeem Israel from the Babylonian captivity not for Israel’s sake but for His own. God is fulfilling His promise to the Jews to always leave a remnant (Amos 9:8-10). The Jews are called out of Babylon because of God’s promise and not for any good that they Jews have done. On the contrary, God closes with the declaration that there is no peace for the wicked.
Despite God having called the Jews out of Egypt, miraculously providing for them in the desert, refining them through affliction, and redeeming them from Babylon, there is still wickedness in His people. This serves as a warning to Christians of today to not look past God’s grace and return to sin. It is possible to see all the works of God, experience His redemption, and still reject God for wickedness (II Pet 2:20-22).
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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