There are three themes in this chapter:
a) The heathen nations inability to refute Yahweh’s sovereign control
Yahweh’s promise to deliver
Yahweh’s plan to use a man of outstanding
character to be
This is the image of a courtroom scene.
Vs. 1 a call to judgment
Vs. 2-4 God’s case is presented (his acts in history)
Vs. 5-7 frightened response of Gentile nations
God calls the nations to a court case.
Ironically, He tells them to “renew their strength!”
a) This could be a reference to go to their idol worship and false philosophies to get organized and empowered to stand before the judge of the universe.
b) But, probably this is an invitation to the nations to respond as Isaiah wrote in 40:31 that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”
These Gentiles could be heirs of the promises of God along with God’s chosen people if they responded. (Isaiah 19:24-25; 27:13)
God is asking who among the nations can call on a conqueror to defeat all the nations.
Who is going to give Cyrus the nations? The Lord is.
The fact that God tells them ahead of time that he is going to overrun them with Cyrus (later called by name in44:28 and 45:1)
a) nations are handed to him
b) kings subdued by him
c) with sword and bow Cyrus turns them to dust and chaff
d) Cyrus moves unharmed
e) Cyrus goes places he has never seen
Who can control history like this? Only Yahweh.
Who can manipulate kings, generals, nations and empires in his divine plan and strategy?
The nations hear and they know it is God.
They approach him but not to submit.
They encourage each other in their rebellion saying, “Be strong!”
The source of their hope and strength is their idols and false philosophies.
These verses give us a description of the labor, the planning, the cooperation and teamwork to create an idol. Finally, the inspector comes and declares it “good”.
Would it not be easier to trust God? Isn’t organizing and leading a revolt a lot of work?
This rebellion of the nations is summed up in Psalm 2.
God speaks to
He will deal differently with
The nations need to fear, but
a) “I took you”
b) “I called you”
c) “You are My servant.”
d) “I have chosen you”
e) “I have not rejected you.”
Their identity is all based on God, his will, his actions, his plan.
They need not be afraid.
Because verse 41:9 is true and God is not going to change,
then the statements in verse 41:10 are also true for
a) “I am with you. . .do not be afraid.”
b) “I am your God. . . do not be dismayed.”
c) “I will strengthen you.”
d) “I will help you.”
e) “I will uphold you”
Never before had an exiled nations been brought back to their homeland to start over.
The promises to
Disgrace and shame to those who rage against
b) Opponents are as nothing and will vanish
c) Enemies can not be found
Those who wage war against
Of course, these promises were fulfilled in Cyrus’s day.
But, the principles of God’s dealing with
God says he will defend
Worm is used to describe Jacob’s condition and inability to help themselves.
Worm is obviously NOT a term used to ascribe
The worm has a relative, a next of kin called “go’el” in Hebrew and translated “redeemer”.
This is the first of 13 appearances of the word this book.
The “go’el” or “redeemer” was the next of kin in Hebrew culture that was responsible for their well being.
Used in Exodus 6:6 and Exodus 15:13 of God relation with
In the OT it is used as both a positive and a negative.
It is positive towards the person being delivered, but negative towards the person doing the oppressing:
a) of a relative who delivers a poor person from losing the family inheritance and slavery (Lev. 25:25; Ruth 4:1-8)
b) of a person who avenges the blood of a murdered person by killing the murderer (Num. 35:21-27; Deut. 19:6; Josh. 20:5)
In its 13 uses in Isaiah it is used along with:
“the Holy One of
b) “Lord of Hosts (3x)
c) “the Mighty One of Jacob” (2x)
e) “First and Last” (1x)
f) “Formed you from the Womb” (1x)
g) “Made Everything” (1x)
h) “God of the whole earth” (1x)
i) “Our Father” (1x)
These descriptions and titles show that God is well able to
Who could stop him?
He will deliver
Here he is the unhindered Holy One who can do what is right every time and no one can stop him.
Here the worm, the tiller of the soil in 41:14 has become the threshing sledge of the mountains and hills.
sledge is used to tread the sheaves.
The sledge is drawn by cows or mules.
Its underside is set with flakes strips of band-saw shaped iron.
Two types of threshing sledges:
1) frame of heavy timbers with sharp stones and metal
2) one or two heavy rollers with stones and metal driven in.
Anything that stood in their way to return from
All of this was going to be threshed and blown out of the way in 538 BC.
See Ezra 1:1-4
“Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion,
like a woman in labor,
for now you must leave the city
to camp in the open field.
You will go to
there you will be rescued.
There the LORD will redeem you
out of the hand of your enemies.
11 But now many nations
are gathered against you.
They say, "Let her be defiled,
let our eyes gloat over
12 But they do not know
the thoughts of the LORD;
they do not understand his plan,
he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 "Rise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion,
for I will give you horns of iron;
I will give you hoofs of bronze
and you will break to pieces many nations."
You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD,
their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.”
This is still God’s plan.
He will again thresh with
Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenian Emperor. He founded
Upon his victory over the
Medes, he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating both Median
and Persian nobles as civilian officials. The conquest of
As Prof. Richard Frye of Harvard said (in The Heritage of Persia, p10-151):
The victory over
Cyrus was upright, a great leader of men, generous and benelovent. The Hellenes, whom he conquered regarded him as 'Law-giver' and the Jews as 'the annointed of the Lord'.
Prior to his death, he founded
a new capital city at Pasargade in
His doctrines were adopted by
the future emperors of the Achaemenian dynasty. Darius I
(521-486 BC) brought together skills and craftsmen from all over the empire
in building the city of
This is the third portion of this chapter.
1. The first was 1-7 calling the nations to come to God for renewed strength.
2. God speaks to
3. In 17-20 God uses descriptive, poetic language to restate verses 8-16
God will provide
The poor and needy
here represent the powerless
The water represents much more than physical water
God will provide in places that there is no provision
a) rivers flowing on hilltops
b) more water in the valleys
c) pools in the desert
d) parched ground a springs
e) trees in the desert
f) pines in the wasteland (seven total trees are mentioned)
So people will know it was an act of God.
These verses describe the Servant (Cyrus and Jesus)
41:21-29 Yahweh makes it clear he is the one to trust because he can control and so predict the future. This is his argument in these verses.
The court case
resumes after the verse of encouraging
The idols are asked to demonstrate their power, control and foresight of the future.
The verdict is in: They are proved worthless compared to the creator who unleashes on them his plans for the future.
God proves he is better than the idols
Yahweh predicts Cyrus.
Cyrus came from the
East but took
Cyrus called on God for example in Ezra 1:2-4 where he says, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. . .”
The idols didn’t even know he was coming
God did and he was the first.
God made these predictions 160 years in advance.
Cyrus would take
Isaiah is writing after 701, probably in the year 698 BC
None of the idols said anything
The difference here than in 41:24 is that instead of judging the idols God judges the idolaters.
The idols words and philosophies are wind and confusion
Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
Ephesians 4:14, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”