One God, One Ruler, One Savior-Isaiah 45-46

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"Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other" (Isa 45:22).   Theme: God is the only Savior. What is God like? Check out the exchange between Aslam the Lion (the Christ figure) and Jill, a very thirsty girl:

“Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
"I am dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
"May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
"Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion.” From C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

The sovereignty of God: "We can never overemphasize or over-exalt the sovereignty of God. Isaiah depicts him as in full, operational charge of his world and of its every circumstance. This is our security; it is the pillow on which we lay our heads; ... for, as the Bible reveals the Creator (Ps 121:2), he not only originates everything but also sustains and controls everything, and directs everything to his appointed goal: a God who is God indeed!" Alec Motyer, Isaiah by the Day.

Idolatry (False Salvation and True Salvation-Isaiah 44): "Self-righteousness.—This is the largest idol of the human heart—the idol which man loves most and God hates most."Robert Murray M'Cheyne.

The Only God, the only Creator, the Only King, the Only Savior:

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God...there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things" (Isa 45:5-7).

  1. God rules history (44:24-45:8): He anoints Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and deliver Israel from Babylonian exile.
  2. Sinners do not like it (45:9-13): His people do not like God's way of comforting them and delivering them from exile.
  3. God saves sinners (45:14-25): Despite man's arrogance, God invites them (us) in order to save them (us).
  4. Idols can never save you (46:1-13): Our idols burden us for they need to be carried, while God carries his people and unburdens them.

Charles Spurgeon is one of God’s most powerful and prolific preachers of all times. Born on June 19, 1834, many have declared him to be the greatest preacher since the apostle Paul. He died on January 31, 1892 at the age of 59. During his lifetime, he preached enough sermons to fill 63 volumes. The sermons’ 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

Isaiah 45:22 is the text used by God in his conversion in a winterstorm many years ago. In 1850, at age 15 or 16, Spurgeon experienced salvation on a snowy day in England. The snow was so bad that the young Spurgeon could not make it to the church he had planned to attend that day. So he turned into a small Primitive Methodist chapel. The minister was snowed in and couldn’t make it there, but that day a lay member of the congregation took as his text Isaiah 45:22 and read, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” This is Spurgeon's account of that fateful day in his own words:

“At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach … He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was, ‘Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’ He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: ‘My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says Look. Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just Look. Well, a man needn’t go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, Look unto Me. Ay,’ said he, in broad Essex, ‘many of ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it is no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, Look unto Me. Some of ye say, “We must wait for the Spirit’s working.” You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, Look unto Me.’ Then the good man followed up his text in this way: ‘Look unto Me, I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!’ When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, ‘Young man, you look very miserable.’ Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made on my personal appearance from the pulpit before. However, it was a good blow struck. He continued: ‘And you will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.’ Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, ‘Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.’ I saw at once the way of salvation … Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do 50 things. But when I heard that word “Look,” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant and sung, with the most enthusiastic of them, of the Precious Blood of Christ and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.”

Questions:

  1. (44:24–28) What does Yahweh want to emphatically declare (24)? What is Yahweh alone able to do (25‒27)? What is the climax of this revelation (28)? ["Shepherd" is used as a royal title in the OT (2 Sam 5:2; Jer 23:2). Cyrus in Elamite is "shepherd".] Might Cyrus have known what Isaiah had prophesied about him (2 Chron 36:23; Ezra 1:2)?
  2. (45:1–8) Cyrus is God's anointed (messiah, christos) (1a). How did Isaiah's readers feel about this (9)? How were doors opened for him (1b)? Why did Yahweh give Cyrus success (1–3a; 3b,4,6)? Why is this important (7-8)?
    • "There is precedent for the divine anointing of a non-Israelite king, though in one passage only (1 Kings 19:15-16). Although the living God normally employed Israelites for such purposes, he is sovereign and may use whom he will." Geoffrey Grogan, Isaiah.

    • "In Oct 539 BC, Cyrus advanced into lower Mesopotamia and, leaving Babylon till last, conquered and occupied the surrounding territory. Nabonidus of Babylon deserted his city, leaving it in the charge of his son Belshazzar … the taking of Babylon was as bloodless and effortless as Dan 5:30 implies." Alec Motyer.

  3. (45:9–13) Why might 44:24–45:8 distress some readers? What is Yahweh’s response to their concern, which Paul quotes (Rom 9:20-22)?
    • "In the OT the Creator is not only the One who began everything, but also the One who maintains everything in existence, controls and guides everything." Alec Motyer.
  4. (45:14–19) What is Yahweh’s response (45:18–19) to the statement of the nations (and Israel), that he is a God who hides himself (45:15)? Since the world is in darkness, could he not have revealed himself more fully to the world?
  5. (45:20–46:13) Note the verbs for carrying and lifting. What is the difference between the idols and Yahweh? Review the points for another statement of the case against the gods (45:20–21). What basis is there for the repeated claim that Yahweh is the only Savior (45:21–22). How is one saved? What are we to remember and what are we to forget (46:8-13; 43:16–19)? Review the “I Am” statements of Yahweh in chs. 42–46 in the light of the summary here in 46:9a–11.
    • "Look unto ME, is His Word, which means looking away from the church because that will save nobody; away from the preacher because he can disappoint and disillusion you; away from all outward form and ceremony. You must look off from all this to the throne and there, in your heart, see the risen, reigning Lord Jesus Christ." (Redpath)

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