Isaiah 46

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

46:1.  “Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast.”


Bel, or Marduk, was another name for Baal, Babylonian god of the sun, and his worshipers didn’t see the absurdity of having to move their idol in a cart because he was inert.  How could such a god do anything for anyone!


Idolaters have to carry their gods, but Jehovah carries His people.


46:2.  “They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.”


Taylor’s translation reads, “But look.  The beasts are stumbling! The cart is turning over!  The gods are falling out onto the ground! Is that the best that they can do?  If they cannot even save themselves from such a fall, how can they save their worshipers from Cyrus!”


46:3.  “Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:”


The tragic irony was that they had been graciously carried and cared for through life by Jehovah, whom they had rejected in favor of an immobile idol which they had to carry from place to place.


46:4.  “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”


Their care for their idols was but a faint reflection of His care for idolatrous Israel whom He longed to deliver from the consequences of their folly, as He does every son of Adam, having given His own beloved Son to redeem their souls from eternal torment in the lake of fire.


46:5.  “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?”


Again we are indebted to Taylor for a clearer translation, “With what in all heaven and earth do I compare?  Whom can you find who equals me?”


Jehovah is unique.


46:6.  “They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.”


They spared no expense in the construction of their gods of gold and silver, imagining that the more costly the idol the more worthy it was of their veneration.  Their generous giving rebukes the niggardliness and disobedience of professed Christians who do not even give God the minimum tenth which is His due; nor should we forget what is written in regard to giving, “... God loveth a cheerful giver,” 2 Corinthians 9:7.


46:7.  “They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.”


The incongruity of expecting help from what is inert never occurs to the idolater: he is so satanically blinded as to be incapable of coherent thought.


46:8.  “Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.”


The idolater is here commanded to ponder his conduct, for such thoughtful consideration must inevitably expose his folly; and in the present context, to “show yourselves men” means simply to think rationally.


46:9.  “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,”


Taylor’s translation reads, “And don’t forget the many times I clearly told you what was going to happen in the future.  For I am God - I only - and there is no other like Me.”


46:10.  “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”


The NEB translation of this verse reads, “I reveal the end from the beginning, from ancient times I reveal what is to be ... My purpose shall take effect, I will accomplish all that I please.” Nothing can thwart God’s purposes.


As noted already, fulfilled prophecy is an irrefutable proof of God’s omniscience; and relative to prophecy we are reminded, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye to dwell that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts,” 2 Peter 1:19.


46:11.  “Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”


The “ravenous bird” was Cyrus whom God would make His instrument to deliver Israel from the Chaldeans


46:12.  “Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:”


Here “stouthearted” means “stubborn” rather than “brave”; and “far from righteousness” means “evil.”  Some versions translate it “fainthearted”; but “stubborn” seems the preferable translation.  The exhortation includes unbelievers of every dispensation.


46:13. “I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off (delayed), and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion (Jerusalem) for Israel my glory.”


“... salvation” here means “deliverance,” as in the NEB translation, “I will grant deliverance in Zion, and give my glory to Israel.”

[Isaiah 47]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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