Isaiah 44: Do Not Be Afraid, O Jacob, My Servant

(28 verses, 4:05 to read)

READ | LISTEN

What I am about to READ

God shows the Israelites the foolishness of idols and tells them why they should trust in Him alone.

MARK and LEARN

1-5: These verses were fulfilled by the Jewish people who came to faith in the years after God brought them back from captivity. This pointed the people to when Jesus would come to earth, especially when He would pour out the Spirit at Pentecost.

2: “Jeshurun”— occurs four times in the Old Testament, three in Deuteronomy (32:15; 33:5, 26). It seems to mean “my upright one, my righteous one.”

6-8: The LORD challenges all other gods to do what He does. Then He calls on His people, who have heard the prophecies and have seen them fulfilled, to bear witness that no one is like the Lord.

9-20: A scathing rebuke of idols and idol worshipers. Isaiah points out how foolish it is to worship an idol. Idols are a lie. How sad! The worshipers use part of the tree to cook their food and another part of it to make their idols.

21-23: Although spoken in the past tense (because it’s as good as done) the prophet looks ahead to what God would do for Israel. He had made Israel His servant to proclaim His glory, and He would continue to bless it. He would forgive the Israelites, and as we learn in the next section, He would bring them back to Jerusalem from Babylon.

24-28: “Cyrus”— In chapter 41 God spoke of stirring one up from the north and the east. Now God names him. Cyrus became a world ruler almost two hundred years after Isaiah’s time. He ruled Persia, defeated Babylon, and allowed the Israelites to return to Judah and Jerusalem. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther tell this story. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were God’s spokesmen to his people then. Cyrus would allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and he would give them permission to rebuild the temple.

MEDITATE

From Luther’s Large Catechism:

“You are to have no other gods.”

That is, you are to regard me alone as your God. What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What does “to have a god” mean, or what is God?

Answer: A “god” is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. As I have often said, it is the trust and faith of the heart alone that make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true one. Conversely, where your trust is false and wrong, there you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. Anything on which your heart relies and depends, I say, that is really your God.

—Martin Luther, Large Catechism, “[The First Part: The Ten Commandments],”The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert; trans. Charles Arand, et al.; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 386.

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