Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 126

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 126

The Lord has been calling His unfaithful servants deaf and blind, not because He hasn't given them ears and eyes, but because they chose not to use them. Now He asks them to prove that any of their gods has ever foretold things to come, "Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, 'It is true.'" (Isaiah 43:8-9) 

For about a week now Isaiah has been using the imagery of a courtroom, with the Lord seated as Judge and the idols as the defendants. The idols have not been able to do or say anything in their defense, just as they have never been able to do or say anything to help mankind. But it can never be said that the Lord didn't give them their day in court. He asks them to call in witnesses on their behalf but none are found who can testify that the idols have ever done anything. 

The Lord now calls His own witnesses, "'You are My witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me.'" (Isaiah 43:10) Throughout the centuries, God has proven Himself to His people. Time after time He rescued them. They should be eagerly lining up to testify on His behalf, to testify of His goodness and love. 

Bible scholar Barry G. Webb turns this scene around to reveal to us that it is really God who is on trial. The idols may be at the defendant's table, but ultimately it is God's word and His proclamation of who He is that is being challenged. "The Lord Himself is on trial. He claims that He alone is God, but is accused of lying. His rivals, the pagan gods, have as their witnesses the many people who worship them. The Lord has only the blind and deaf captives. As they are led in to take the witness stand a hush falls over the courtroom. Surely the Lord's case is lost. But no; these feeble witnesses produce incontrovertible evidence of the truth of the Lord's claim: He alone foretold the things now taking place, especially the rise of Cyrus. Immediately the whole atmosphere of the courtroom changes. The opposition is reduced to silence and the Lord's case is carried. And something else happens. The witnesses themselves are transformed. Their own blindness and deafness are swallowed up by a new assurance, and they leave the court with a firm tread and heads held high." (from The Message of Isaiah, pg 175-176)

There is noting that makes our faith stronger today than looking back at all the things God has already done for us. How many times did He fix a problem? How many times did He come through when a bill needed to be paid? How many times has He healed us and our loved ones? How many broken marriages has He saved and how many wayward children has He brought home? Would He lead us this far down the road just to leave us here? Would Christ die for us and then say, "You're on your own til you get to heaven?" Isn't He a personal, active, every day and every circumstance kind of God? Well then, we are His witnesses. We are His chosen servants. It is His full intention that we know Him and believe Him and understand what He's saying to us. There is no other Savior. The one who saved our souls from death is able to handle our problems in this life.

"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. You are My witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am He. No one can deliver out of My hand. When I act, who can reverse it?" (Isaiah 43:11-13) God tells mankind what He is going to do and then He does it. What idol is capable of this? What idol is able to undo anything God has done? 

"This is what the Lord says---your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride. I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King." (Isaiah 43:14-15) Isaiah has been preaching a coming captivity and also a coming deliverance. What idol predicted that Babylon would rise and conquer the current enemy Assyria, that Babylon would conquer Judah and take her people captive? And what idol predicted that God would raise up a man named Cyrus to set the captives free? When these things take place, the people will recall that the Lord told them about them beforehand. They will recognize that these things are His doing.

It may seem an odd method to cure idolatry by putting His people smack-dab in the middle of a highly idolatrous nation like Babylon, but the Lord knows what He's doing. His power and glory will shine so brightly in that dark country that, by contrast, His people will see the idols for what they really are: less than nothing. 

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