Read Isaiah 48
48 “Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob,
you who are called by the name of Israel
and come from the line of Judah,
you who take oaths in the name of the Lord
and invoke the God of Israel—
but not in truth or righteousness—
2 you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city
and claim to rely on the God of Israel—
the Lord Almighty is his name:
3 I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them and I made them known;
then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.
4 For I knew how stubborn you were;
your neck muscles were iron,
your forehead was bronze.
5 Therefore I told you these things long ago;
before they happened I announced them to you
so that you could not say,
‘My images brought them about;
my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’
6 You have heard these things; look at them all.
Will you not admit them?
“From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.
7 They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
‘Yes, I knew of them.’
8 You have neither heard nor understood;
from of old your ears have not been open.
Well do I know how treacherous you are;
you were called a rebel from birth.
9 For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;
for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
so as not to destroy you completely.
10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.
12 “Listen to me, Jacob,
Israel, whom I have called:
I am he;
I am the first and I am the last.
13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
they all stand up together.
14 “Come together, all of you, and listen:
Which of the idols has foretold these things?
The Lord’s chosen ally
will carry out his purpose against Babylon;
his arm will be against the Babylonians.
15 I, even I, have spoken;
yes, I have called him.
I will bring him,
and he will succeed in his mission.
16 “Come near me and listen to this:
“From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret;
at the time it happens, I am there.”
And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me,
endowed with his Spirit.
17 This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
18 If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your well-being like the waves of the sea.
19 Your descendants would have been like the sand,
your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be blotted out
nor destroyed from before me.”
20 Leave Babylon,
flee from the Babylonians!
Announce this with shouts of joy
and proclaim it.
Send it out to the ends of the earth;
say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.”
21 They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock
and water gushed out.
22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
This chapter further highlights the sins of Israel, including their hypocrisy, idolatry, and disregard for God’s commands. We see this from the first few verses in which the Lord ultimately says that they are Israel by name only, not by character. The Israelites had a special call on their lives to be set apart from the world, yet they allowed their hearts to wander and pursued worldly pleasures. As children of God, we bear His name and the responsibility to reflect His character to the world.
The Lord goes on to say that they are without excuse for continuing to choose false gods, as He has given them substantial proof that He is God alone. He gave them irrefutable evidence about how He foretold things and then they happened, yet Israel remained hard hearted. When the Lord said, “You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them?” (v. 6), it is as if He was amazed that the people had seen His power and glory yet still stood in rebellion. Arguably, we have more evidence of the kind of God we serve now than the Israelites had, as we have God’s complete Word in print. We can read how Isaiah ends and see the abundance of fulfilled prophecies. Why is it that we still struggle to believe God and take Him at His word?
The good news is that we serve a merciful God. Despite their sinfulness and rebellion, God is still merciful to them and delivers them from the Babylonians. The end of the chapter declares that they are free from Babylonian captivity, but not without the Lord lamenting over the unfulfilled potential of His people due to their disobedience. These verses truly show the heart of God. He doesn’t want His people to follow His commands because He craves attention or power, but rather He wants His people to obey His commands so that their “peace could be like a river” and their “well-being would be like waves of the sea” (v. 18). We serve a God who is truly for us and for our good. Let us not grieve His heart by walking in disobedience.
- Knowing that you carry the name of the Lord, how should that affect your daily activities?
- In what ways has the Lord shown you mercy?
- Is there an area in your life that you are avoiding in which the Lord is calling you to be obedient?
Isaiah 48 reveals to us aspects of God’s character, such as His mercy and His steadfast love. If you are wanting to study the heart of God further, check out this article from GotQuestions.org that provides more defining characteristics to help us know and love Him even more.
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