In Isaiah 46, God spoke to the house of Jacob saying, “Listen to Me.” Chapter 47 was addressed to Babylon and now, once again, in Isaiah 48, God is addressing the house of Jacob. This house or people group is also called by the name of Israel and God is specifically talking to Judah.
We should wonder why the prophet says, “Hear this, O house of Jacob.” I suspect God is using the name Jacob instead of Israel because they were living “in the flesh” instead of walking “in the Spirit.” Note the house of Jacob swore by the name of the Lord and made mention of the God of Israel but something was wrong. They were not doing this in truth or in righteousness. They were living lives of lawlessness.
The writer says they called themselves after the holy city and they leaned on the God of Israel whose name is YHVH of armies (hosts). What does the phrase “calling themselves after the holy city” mean? The holy city is Jerusalem. Strong’s concordance says Jerusalem means “founded peaceful.” The name comes from two Hebrew words: yarah and shalom. Yarah means to flow as water; like rain. It can also mean to lay or throw like an arrow; figuratively, it means to point out or teach. Shalom means peace or friendly. It’s as if Jerusalem is supposed to mean “the city that teaches others to be friendly or peaceful to one other.” If people were living deceptive lives similar to Jacob’s example from his younger days, how could their living example ever be one of peace? I believe this was God’s intended purpose; this could’ve been accomplished if they had been living according to the law the Lord had given them.
Although the Jews thought of themselves as friendly or peaceful and relied on YHVH of hosts, they didn’t recognize their true condition. YHVH knew their true condition and disciplined them in Babylon.
Today, many people believe they are in a right relationship with God. They do not realize their mentality of tolerance has led them away from the One they say they love. Yes, God is a god of love; but, according to His law, He does not tolerate abominations and neither should we. Will YHVH, whom the Jews supposedly rely on, give them a sudden wake-up call? Will YHVH allow invaders to take over the land? What would it take to return the Jews to Torah observance? For that matter, what will it take for Christians to read Romans 3:31 and return to Torah observance?
Since the beginning, the Lord has declared prophecy. He wanted His people to know what to expect and thereby know that He was God. Much prophecy has already come to pass while more is yet to be fulfilled. These were warnings of discipline that were designed to lead people to repent. Although the Lord was patient, He caused other people to conquer the Jews because they had been obstinate or cruel. Their necks were described as iron sinew and their brow as bronze; this indicates they were rebellious. The writer repeats the idea that prophecy was declared in advance so the Jews couldn’t give credit to their idols for what took place.
The Jews were still in a state of denial. They would not admit their sin. The Lord chose to announce new things to them, things not declared from the past so they couldn’t say they already knew about them. He did this because of their rebelliousness.
Here are people who deserved the anger of the Lord yet because God did not want to ruin His reputation, He deferred His anger. He was patient for the sake of His praise even though in His anger, He could have simply cut them off. Instead, He showed them mercy by purifying them – but NOT as silver (in the fire). Did you catch that? It was actually merciful to test them in the furnace of affliction! He did this so His reputation wouldn’t be ruined.
Again, God tells the house of Jacob to listen to Him. He says, “I am the beginning and the end.” Who is the alpha and omega; the aleph and tav; the first and the last; the beginning and the end? Is it not the “Word of YHVH” mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament and in John 1:1? Is it not Yeshua (Jesus) who is mentioned in Revelation 1:17-18 and 22:13?
He foretold that YHVH’s friend would do His will against Babylon. It seems as if He is now referring to Cyrus –if you recall, history tells us of the fall of the Babylonians to the Medes and the Persians.
Our speaker then said, something unusual in Isaiah 48:16: “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit Have sent Me.” This has got to be pre-incarnate Yeshua (Jesus). This same concept of being since the beginning and being sent is seen in the New Testament (Brit Hadashah):
- John 1:1-2: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.”
- Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
- John 5:24-25: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
What does He have to say?
Isaiah 48:17-19: “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go. 18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea. 19 Your descendants also would have been like the sand, And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; His name would not have been cut off Nor destroyed from before Me.”
We are brought back to the meaning of Jerusalem and how it is accomplished! Look at verse 18. If they had obeyed His commandments, their peace would have been like a river. Their righteousness would have been like the waves of the sea rippling out to those around them. The effects of their righteousness would have been felt by the surrounding nations. Their descendants would be innumerable but unfortunately, many had been destroyed because of disobedience.
The Babylonian captivity was coming to an end. The Lord would soon be sending His friend Cyrus to deliver them and send them back to Jerusalem singing. The Lord told them to declare to the end of the earth that “the Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob!” Verse 21 tells us “they did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them; He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.” This shares similarities with the exodus from Egypt.
Over the centuries, there have been times of terrible captivity and awesome deliverance. The kinds of things that have taken place in the past, will take place again in the future.
Verse 22 is also true of the past and future: “there is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” Fortunately, one day there will be peace for the righteous in Jerusalem.