This section of Isaiah is truly transcendent. These are words from our Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, who will definitely deal with and defeat ALL of our enemies. I hope that encourages you. We need not fear!
The LORD, our Creator and King would defeat Babylon (Isaiah 43:14-15). This prophecy of Babylon’s fall – is given even BEFORE their rise! God would make a way for His people, and crush opposing armies, chariots and all (Isaiah 43:17).
This would be a new thing for Israel – speaking not merely of the military victories, but of a relationship with Him to give His people waters in the wilderness and a life of praise and gratitude for God. There’s no need to look back as we go forward in life.
Isaiah 43:18–19 (NKJV) “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
What a beautiful promise from God – let’s enter in with all of our hearts.
This was something Israel did not do. I’m fascinated (and a little frustrated) with the way Israel burdened God with their sins, they wearied Him with their iniquities (Isaiah 43:24). We all should examine our lives. Is this something I’m guilty of?
And then…we discover His amazing grace! Do you know how God is?
Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV) “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”
I have a question for you – do you have any fears? It’s kind of funny, because the one thing we might most easily succumb to is fear for our children. Will they serve the Lord? Will they be “successful.” But then the promise of God shows up:
Isaiah 44:3 (NKJV) “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”
Hold tight to that one my friends who have children.
These promises and all the others in the Bible come from the one and only God. There’s no god before Him, nor shall there be one after Him (Isaiah 44:6). The one and only God is on our side – so, “Do not fear, nor be afraid.” (Isaiah 44:8)
The world trusts in their myriads of idols. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Isaiah elaborates on how they cut down a tree, and part of the tree is used to burn and cook, while the other part of the tree is used to make an idol (a god) before which they pray and bow down. Can such idols deliver them? (Isaiah 44:17).
Isaiah 44:19b (NKJV) “Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
Idols cannot deliver anyone in any way. My soul is grieved when I see statues of saints, or Mary, or even Jesus. Do people honestly believe that bowing down and praying to them makes a difference? It’s actually sin, a violation of the 2nd commandment, that even harms parents and their children.
Exodus 20:4-5 (NKJV) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,”
Sometimes I’ll go in to various restaurants and see little idols and even their offerings to these idols. My heart is grieved – it’s nothing but the invitation of demonic spirits.
Isaiah writes about the one true and living God, our Maker and Maintainer who redeems us and interestingly wants us to always remember…that He will never forget us.
Isaiah 44:21 (NKJV) “Remember these, O Jacob…My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!”
Isaiah goes on to prophecy about the day a king named Cyrus would do His bidding and allow the Jews to rebuild their temple. This prophecy was written approximately 200 years before it came to pass, when the Medo-Persians conquered Babylon, and the Jews were allowed to return to the land.
What other God knows the end from the beginning? What other God is detailed in thousands of prophecies – proving He is God? (see Isaiah 46:9-10) There is no other God (Isaiah 43:6). And this one God is with us (Immanuel), so friend, wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, “Do not fear nor be afraid.”
Paulwas not simply a prisoner of Rome, he was a prisoner of Christ FOR the Gentiles. God had called him to preach the Gospel to everyone, but his ministry would be most effective with the Gentiles (non-Jews). God had graciously opened Paul’s eyes and revealed to him a mystery – that the Gentiles would be grafted in to the Olive Tree of Israel (Romans 11:17). This truth was, to a very large degree, implicit in the Old Testament, but the Jews never saw it, it was hidden from their eyes. Paul was chosen to preach this truth explicitly, “…that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ…” (Ephesians 3:6).
Paul had been chosen as the Apostle who would reveal many of God’s mysteries to the world, but it’s fascinating how he was never puffed up by this. On the contrary, it seems like the longer he served the Lord and the more he accomplished, the greater he grew in humility. As a younger man he compared himself to the Apostles and said he wasn’t worthy to be called an Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9). Here in Ephesians he considers himself to be less than the least of all the saints (Ephesians 3:8). But a few years later, he grew even more in humility, calling himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). God help us to grow in this way as well, to grow in humility.
I love what Paul writes concerning his responsibility as a preacher, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Part of our calling is to tell the people the blessings available to them, blessings beyond our wildest imagination. It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to know what God has done through Christ for both rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, all men and women, the criminal and moral, the gang member, the family member, the vicious, the religious – doesn’t matter, God has done a work for all to see. Even angels and demons see God’s work – principalities and powers, according to Ephesians 3:10. It’s wonderful what God has accomplished in Christ – His forgiveness has flung heaven’s door wide open so that those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus have full-on confident access to Him anytime (see also Hebrews 4:16).
This prayer of Paul’s in Ephesians 3:14-19 provide a ton of truth that we can also pray for each other; four things stand out:
1. For inner strength by the Spirit.
2. For Christ to feel at home in our hearts (our lives).
3. That we’d be established through a better understanding and deeper experience of God’s love.
4. That we’d be filled with the fulness of God.
Do you believe God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think? According to Paul, God IS able. This can refer to the work through us – for the truth is, any of you may be called to be the next Billy Graham, but I have a hunch (when you consider the context) it refers more to the work in us. God is able to strengthen us, to touch our hearts, to make His love real to us, so that our cups would overflow.
Before this Psalm begins, my Bible has the heading, “The Glory of God in His Goodness to Israel.”
And just as God protected, defended, led, redeemed, had mercy and grace upon the children of Israel in all their wanderings and wars, so God does for us.
He will defeat our enemies, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against demons that are too strong for us. God will bless the widow and fatherless. God will rain blessings upon us, even in the middle of the wilderness. We will be weary at times (Psalm 68:9) but God will encourage us through personal and Divine intervention; often He uses His Word.
The mountains of Bashan refer to the Hermon mountain range, only a few miles north of Bashan. The Psalmist depicts these great mountains as being envious, for the LORD did not pick them, but went from Mt. Sinai straight to Mt. Zion – this is the mountain which God desires to dwell in, forever (Psalm 68:15-16).
God’s angelic chariots fight for His people (Psalm 68:17). Thank You Lord!
Psalm 68:18 is quoted in Ephesians 4:8 in reference to Jesus’ ultimate victory on behalf of His people, in that He ascended into heaven after His cross and resurrection, and gave gifted people to the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
It’s good for us to know that our God NEVER loses!
Oh the Glory of God in His Goodness to His people! I hope you enjoy Him.
Proverbs 24:1-2 (NKJV) “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; 2 For their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking.”
Why would anyone ever be envious of evil men? Well…evil men often possess power, position, money, and the things that money can buy; they might even “get the girls,’ if you know what I mean, and in our foolishness, our flesh wants that.
They have the good car, the good house, the good money. And yet here we are (as “good” guys) just trying to make ends meet, living on leftovers.
It might be tempting to envy evil men.
But God in His wisdom says, “Don’t envy them. Don’t desire to be with them.”
If you look deeper you’ll see so much chaos. Physical, emotional, and spiritual violence within their hearts, not just times of trouble, but tons of trouble.
Let’s double-check the desires of our hearts.
Let’s be careful who we want to hang with.
That’s why David prayed in:
Psalm 26:9 (NKJV) “Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men.”
Psalm 28:3 (NKJV) “Do not take me away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.”
The NLT puts Proverbs 24:2 this way, “For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble.” Double-trouble.
So many of these people end up dead, in jail, or just wasting their lives. It’s nothing to envy.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.