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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 48: A New Word for Israel – get out of Babylon!


v.1,2 God addresses Israel

v.3-5 Looking to the Past

v.6,7 A New Message

v.8-11 Israel's failure, the Lord's activity and why

v.12-13 The Almighty One

v.14-15 He comes to discipline Babylon

v.16-20 The Lord, Israel, and their failings

v.20-22 The Call to leave Babylon


[Preliminary notes: In this prophecy the Lord addresses Israel [v.1,2] n an ironic tone, confirmed by the language of verse 4a and references to idols in v.5. He confronts them with their past [v.6a] comes to this wayward people with a new message [v.6b,7]. They had failed Him [v.8] but He had held back [v.9] from destroying them completely, merely disciplining them [v.10] so His name would not be maligned [v.11]. He calls them to realise that He, the One who had called them into being [v.12] was the Creator of the world [v.13]. He comes, He says, although your idols didn't tell you this [v.14a more irony], to deal with the Babylonians [v.14b,15]. The prophet reinforces the power of this message by reaffirming that he has been sent by God [v.16]. [An alternative understanding of this verse is that it could be as if the invader was conforming his role]. The Lord comes to His people as their teacher [v.17] and if they had listened to Him over the years, they would have known constant peace [v.18] and future generations would have survived [v.19] but now He is setting this prophecy as a marker in history as a call to them to leave Babylon [v.20] and He will lead and provide for them as He had done in the past [v.21], reminding them that He deals with the righteous, not the wicked [v.22] – a low-key reminder-warning.]



v.1,2 God addresses Israel


v.1 His hearers identified by background

v.1   ‘Listen to this, you [i] descendants of Jacob,
    you who are
[ii] called by the name of Israel
[iii] come from the line of Judah,


v.1b,2 His hearers identified by what they do

you who [i] take oaths in the name of the Lord
[ii] invoke the God of Israel –
    but not in truth or righteousness –
v.2   you who [iii] call yourselves citizens of the holy city
[iv] claim to rely on the God of Israel –
    the Lord Almighty is his name:


v.3-5 Looking to the Past


v.3,4 What the Lord had done and why

v.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.
v.4   For I knew how stubborn you were;
    your neck muscles were iron,
    your forehead was bronze.

v.5 Again what He had done and why

v.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.”


v.6,7 A New Message


v.6 Face them but now see the new thing's He's saying

v.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.


v.7 What He is saying is brand-new

v.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.”


v.8-11 Israel's failure, the Lord's activity and why


v.8 In the past they failed to listen to Him

v.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.

v.9 He has held back from destroying them completely

v.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.

v.10 He's given them affliction to purify them

v.10   See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

v.11 He's done this for the sake of His name in the world

v.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.



v.12-13 The Almighty One


v.12 Realise who He is – beginning and end

v.12   ‘Listen to me, Jacob,
    Israel, whom I have called:
I am he;
    I am the first and I am the last.

v.13 He is the one who created the world and upholds it

v.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.



v.14-15 He comes to discipline Babylon


v.14 Your idols didn't see this coming but Babylon is about to be disciplined

v.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.


v.15 The one bringing discipline is coming at my call

v.15   I, even I, have spoken;
    yes, I have called him.
I will bring him,
    and he will succeed in his mission.



v.16-20 The Lord, Israel, and their failings


v.16 God has sent me by His Spirit

v.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.


v.17 I, the Lord, teach and guide you

v.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.

v.18 If you had obeyed from the outset your lives would have been onflowing peace

v.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.

v.19 Your generations would have survived

v.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.'



v.20-22 The Call to leave Babylon


v.20 So now, leave Babylon for I'm redeeming you

v.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.'

v.21 Your forefathers ‘missed it' when I first led them out of Egypt

v.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.


v.22 This peace only comes to the righteous

v.22  ‘There is no peace,' says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.'



[Additional Note: What is remarkable about this prophecy is that it was spoken about events many decades in the future and so there is a twofold sense to it. First, that God is declaring what WILL happen in the years to come in respect of Babylon which has now yet risen to ascendancy and, second, it will be there in the archives for future generations to act as both a warning but also a reassuring hope that when Israel do end up being taken into exile in Babylon, that will NOT be the end of them.]



Continue to Chapter 49