Isaiah 45

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

45:1.  “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;”


The “anointed” here means the one who had been appointed by God, but as noted in 44:28, it does not imply that he was a believer: he wasn’t; and God’s holding his right hand means only that he was being divinely endowed with the ability to do what God commanded, i.e., to destroy Babylon, the 100 two-leaved gates of which he would smash open, and pass through to raze the city.


45:2.  “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:”


To make “the crooked places straight” is literally to smooth the rough road surfaces, but metaphorically, to make it easy for Cyrus to execute God’s commands.


45:3.  “And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”


The “treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places” refers to the treasures that the Babylonians had thought to preserve, by hiding them from the invaders. 


While promising Cyrus riches, God nevertheless reminded him that the Israelites were His special chosen people - an indirect warning perhaps to Cyrus not to interfere with those of whom He has declared, “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you (Israel) toucheth the apple of his eye,”   Zechariah 2:8.


45:4.  “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou had not known me.”


Since the spiritual significance of the names Jacob (which is associated with the flesh), and Israel (which is associated with the spirit), has already been discussed, there is no need to repeat it here.


Long before Cyrus was born, God had named him, thereby demonstrating His own omniscience.


45:5. “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded (strengthened, armed) thee, though thou hast not known me.”


God has neither equal nor superior.


Cyrus was not a believer when God used him, nor is their any evidence to indicate that he ever became one, thus confirming that God uses believers and unbelievers alike to accomplish His purposes.


45:6.  “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me.  I am the Lord, and there is none else.”


The repetition from verse 5 of the phrase “and there is none else” emphasizes God’s uniqueness.


45:7.  “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil (disaster).  I the Lord do all these things.”


In the present instance, to “form” is to change the shape of something: to “create” is produce what has not previously existed.  Relative to God, it is written that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all,” 1 John 1:5.  The light therefore, has always existed, and is simply a manifestation of God himself.


Darkness, on the other hand, did not always exist, for it is associated with sin which began with Lucifer’s evil aspiration to exalt himself above God, which resulted in his becoming Satan, the prince of darkness, see Isaiah 14:12-14, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”


Relative to God’s creating evil, we must note that “evil” is literally misfortune: calamity: woe: trouble, i.e., it is what results from rebellion against His “good, and acceptable, and perfect” will, Romans 12:2.


45:8.  “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.”


Here God commands the heavens to pour down the righteousness and concomitant blessing that are synonymous with salvation, just as rain fructifies the earth.  Salvation and righteous living ought to be spiritual Siamese twins, but that condition will predominate only on the millennial earth.


45:9.  “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!  Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth.  Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? Or thy work, He hath no hands?”


Woe means grievous distress, affliction, trouble: ills that will befall the man who dares to strive, i.e., is wrangle, contend, debate with God.


“Potsherd” is used here as a synonym for “mere man,” and the warning relates to the absurdity of his daring to contend with his Creator, such audacity being the equivalent of a clay pot’s questioning the potter’s authority, and disparaging his ability.


45:10.  “Woe unto him that saith unto is father, What begettest thou? or to the woman (his mother), What hast thou bought forth?”


The inanity of the offence continues to be illustrated by a newborn’s questioning his father’s right to have begotten him, and his mother’s right to have borne him.


45:11.  “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”


As other translations make clear, this is not an invitation to inquire of God, but rather an angry rebuke of the temerity that would dare to question His prerogative, e.g., “Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands?” RSV; “Would you dare question me concerning my children, or instruct me in my handiwork?” NEB.


See also Romans 9:20-21, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?”


45:12.  “I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I, even my hands,  have stretched out the heavens, and all their hosts have I commanded.”


This asserts His authority as Creator of all things: the planets, whose movements He commands; and the earth and all its creatures (beginning with man), as it is written, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork,” Ps 19:1, man being His masterpiece, made in His own image, “... in the likeness of God made He him,” Genesis 5:1.


45:13.  “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.”


“... righteousness” here doesn’t mean that Cyrus was righteous as a believer - as noted already he wasn’t - but that he was the instrument God used to do His righteous work, which included bringing the Israelites back from Babylonian captivity, and rebuilding Jerusalem.  Nor did Cyrus do this for monetary gain, but because God put it in is his heart to do so.


45:14.  “Thus saith the Lord, The labor of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.”


Taylor translates this verse, “The Lord says: The Egyptians, Ethiopians and Sabeans shall be subject to you.  They shall come to you with all their merchandise and it shall all be yours.  They shall follow you as prisoners in chains.”


This points to what will be in the Millennium when God will make Israel chief of the nations.  The Church however, will then occupy an even more honorable position: she, as His royal bride, will reign with Christ.


45:15.  “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”


Again, Taylor’s translation is clearer, “Truly, O God of Israel, Savior, you work in strange mysterious ways.”


45:16.  “They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go in confusion together that are makers of idols.”


The NEB translation reads, “Those who defy him are confounded and brought to shame, those who make idols perish in confusion.”


In Christendom today believers and mere professors alike would be indignant were they to be accused of idolatry, not realizing that while they would never worship a literal idol, they incur guilt by their worship of wealth, education, pleasure, art, music, and a host of other things that stand between them and God, these being the equivalent of the idols of heathendom.


45:17.  “But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.”


From the terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation, into the enjoyment of Millennial blessings, a converted Israel will emerge; but the children born to them in that thousand-year era will be unbelievers needing a new spiritual birth to fit them for heaven in the eternal state.  Some of those children, those referred to here, will experience that new birth, while the others will remain rebelliously unrepentant, so that the world population will gradually become again what it has always been: a mixture of believers and unbelievers. 


45:18.  “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth, and made it, he hath established it, He created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.”


The declaration of verse 17 is that of the Creator, and verse 18 refutes the theory of evolution, for there is a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, vain here (45:18) meaning ruin, vacancy, vanity.  For further details on this, see my commentary on Genesis chapter 1, also available on this web site.


45:19.  “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”


Another translation is, “... I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner so that no one knows what I mean,” Taylor.


God’s Word in the gospel is so simple that the unconverted can understand it; but only obedient believers can understand the deeper truths woven into the fabric of the Bible’s literal language, that enlightenment being given by the ungrieved and unquenched Holy Spirit who withholds it from the believer who is deliberately disobedient.


45:20.  “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.”


“... escaped of the nations” is also rendered, “survivors of the nations,” NEB, “... fugitives from among the gentiles,” NAB, “... you nations that escape from Cyrus’ hand,” TAYLOR.  The latter part of the verse declares the deep spiritual ignorance of idolaters.


The “escaped of the nations” may also be a type of believers, i.e., those who separate themselves from Divine condemnation by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and obeying Him as Lord.


The latter half of the sentence continues to condemn the inanity of idolaters.


45:21.  “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.”


Here God adduces fulfilled prophecy as proof of His omniscience, similar encouragement being given us in 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place ....”


45:22.  “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”


“Look” here means “turn.”  The offer is worldwide.  All who will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, are saved from hell and fitted for heaven.


45:23.  “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear (loyalty).”


All will yet be made to acknowledge God’s omnipotence: believers, in loving worship; unbelievers, by Divine compulsion, as it is also written relative to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9-11. 


Submission to Christ as Savior and Lord is the epitome of wisdom; rebellion, the depth of madness.


45:24.  “Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed (angry) against him shall be ashamed.”


The first part of the sentence declares the wisdom of the believer; the second part, the utter folly of the unbeliever, for unbelief is the evidence of anger and rebellion against God.


To “be ashamed” is to be mortified, not simply in the sense of being embarrassed; but of being killed.  The unbeliever will die the second death, i.e., he will be cast into eternal torment in the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14-15, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” 


The names of believers only are inscribed in the book of life.


45:25.  “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”


Note again that the name Israel - the name associated with faith - is used to describe the justified, i.e., believers.  To be justified is to be fully vindicated.  Faith in Christ brings absolution from every charge of guilt, see Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified,” and again, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” Romans 8:1.

[Isaiah 46]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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