This is a Bible study on Isaiah 45:1-19.

7 pages.

Isaiah 45:1-19 - Place Your Confidence in the LORD

Read Isaiah 45:1-19

Introduction🔗

Perhaps you are among those who have struggled to comprehend a particular heartache or trial, and God’s reason for allowing it. A thousand unanswered questions have been recycling through your mind, most of them beginning with the word, “Why?” Deep inside, you are being held captive by a sense of betrayal and abandonment. The LORD obviously permitted your difficulties to occur. Why did He not prevent them from happening? And why has He not explained them to you?

For some, your sorrow may be traced directly to the death of a loved one. For someone else, there will never be anything as painful as the rejection you were dealt by an ex-husband or wife. For others, it may require having to go through life thus far without a mate, feeling an acute sense of loneliness. Yet for others, the trial or heartache may be altogether different.

But in each case there is one similarity: When we cannot comprehend the ways of God, we have the tendency to become unjustly fearful, angry and critical. Such was the case with the children of Israel.

They would find themselves held captive by the mighty Babylonian empire, then their captors themselves would be conquered by a fierce king named Cyrus—and they wondered, “What will become of us now? What is God doing?”

The message the LORD has for His people, contained in this present passage of Scripture, and prepared approx. 150 years in advance, is this: Place your confidence in the LORD, because the LORD our God is both righteous and all-powerful.

Place Your Confidence in the LORD, Even When You Don’t Understand🔗

Verses 9-10 contain a word of caution, a word of warning, to those who would criticize God and forget with whom they are dealing:

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker!—he that is [nothing more than] a potsherd among the potsherds scattered on the ground! Will the clay say to the one who forms it, 'What are you making?' or will the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'? 10Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or who says to his mother, 'To what have you given birth?' Isa. 45:9-10

Given a glimpse into that distant future, Isaiah is made to see that the children of Israel would become fearful and confused, they would not understand what God was doing and they would not like what was happening to them. In their hearts and with their voices they would express their objections and their criticisms.

In verse eleven the LORD introduces Himself as “the Holy One of Israel” and Israel’s “Maker.” That is to say, He is the One who is righteous in all His ways and who has sovereign rights over His creation and His people. Having made that clear, the LORD goes on to invite His people to inquire about “the things that are yet to happen;” He invites them to ask about their present trials and the ultimate purpose God has for them.

The Bible assures us that we may draw near to God, pouring out our hearts unto Him, note Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.” We may ask the questions that plague our minds. Moses was bold to lay before the LORD the burden of his heart, questioning why the LORD had not as yet fulfilled His promise to deliver His people from Egypt by the hand of His appointed servant,

Moses returned to the LORD and said, 'O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.'Ex. 5:22-23

But we must never lose sight of the fact that He is God, and we are but men. Consider the lessons God taught Job with regard to this matter. The LORD confronted Job with his ignorance and human frailty,

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2'Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.' Job 38:1-4

The LORD asserts that Job was seeking to unjustly condemn the acts of God and justify himself,

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm: 7'Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 8Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?' Job 40:6-8

Let us note carefully Job’s response when he is given a direct and personal audience with the LORD:

Then Job replied to the LORD, 2'I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3Who is this that obscures deliberation with his lack of knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, matters that are too wonderful for me to know. 4Listen now and I will speak; I will inquire and may you instruct me. 5My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. 6Consequently, I abhor my words and recant in dust and ashes.' Job 42:1-6

In verse thirteen of Isaiah 45, the LORD assures Israel that this new conqueror, Cyrus, is under His sovereign control and He shall use him to accomplish His good purposes: “By my righteousness I have raised up [Cyrus], and I will make all his ways smooth. He will build my city and he shall release my exiles, for neither fee nor reward, declares the LORD of hosts.”

With this regard, note the confident testimony of the Apostle Paul: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, those who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Let us place our confidence in the LORD, especially at those times when we don’t understand what is happening in our lives and what God is doing. Consider the counsel offered in Ecclesiastes 5:2, “Do not be quick with your mouth; do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on the earth, so let your words be few.”

Consider the instruction offered in Proverbs 9:10a, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Consider the warning given in Job 9:4, “[The LORD’s] wisdom is profound, his power is vast; who can defy him and succeed?” Consider the promise given in 1 Peter 5:5b-7, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, (so that he may exalt you at the appointed time), 7by casting all your cares upon him, because he cares for you.”

Place Your Confidence in the LORD, Because He will Amaze You🔗

When Isaiah is permitted a look into the future and is given a glimpse of the final outcome of things (vs.14), he exclaims, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, our Savior!” (vs. 15) That is to say, the LORD is a God who is mysterious, wonderful, and awesome.

What did Isaiah see that caused him to make such an exclamation?

  • He is made to see that the LORD’s people shall inherit the wealth of the world: “This is what the LORD says, ‘The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia will be given to you’” (vs. 14a).
     
  • It is revealed to him that the LORD’s people shall share in the LORD’s dominion; expressed in Old Testament pictorial terms, “the tall Sabeans will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains” (vs. 14b). This is in keeping with the divine promise expressed by our Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
     
  • Furthermore, Isaiah is made to see that the LORD’s people shall witness the nations acknowledging that the LORD is God: “They will bow down before you and plead with you for mercy, confessing, 'Surely God is with you, and there is none other; there is no other God’” (vs. 14c).

Note: In this passage there is revealed to Isaiah the situation that will prevail in the final and eternal state when Jesus the Messiah returns in glory and the kingdom of God is manifested in all of its fullness. Isaiah is describing this future state using terms that were relevant to Old Testament Israel and illustrative of that final state.

Verse fifteen contains an expression of amazement, adoring the mysterious marvel of God and His ways: “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, our Savior.” The situation described in Isaiah 42:22 shall finally be transformed into that foretold in Isaiah 45:14. These two passages describe a complete reversal of the situation that prevailed for the people of God,

...this is a people who have been robbed and plundered; all of them are trapped in caves or hidden away in prisons. They have become a prey, and there is none to rescue them. They have become a spoil, and there is no one to demand, Give them back! Isa. 42:22

This is what the LORD says, The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia will be given to you, and the tall Sabeans will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains. They will bow down before you and plead with you for mercy, confessing, 'Surely God is with you, and there is none other; there is no other God.'Isa. 45:14

Surely, the ways and the works of the LORD our God are incomprehensible; this is the meaning of the expression used here, He is “a God who hides himself.”

In verses 16-17 the final state of things, as they will exist when the LORD reveals Himself at the consummation of His work, is now presented:

They will be put to shame, all of them will be humiliated; all those who are the makers of idols will depart together in disgrace. 17[But] Israel will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation. You will never be put to shame nor humiliated for all eternity!

The idolatrous peoples of the world shall be put to shame; their gods shall prove unable to deliver them (vs. 16). But the people of God shall not be put to shame; the LORD will save us with an everlasting salvation—a salvation that will have no end (vs. 17).

Let us place our confidence in the LORD, because He will truly amaze us. Consider the testimony of the Apostle Paul presented in 1 Corinthians 2:9,

...in accordance with what has been written, Things that the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and that have not entered into the heart of man, these are the things God has prepared for those who love him.

Place Your Confidence in the LORD, Because He is Trustworthy🔗

The LORD declares, “I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness. I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, Seek me in a desert” (vs. 19a). That is to say, the LORD will not lead us into a desert or wilderness to die. On the contrary, the LORD’s desire is to lead us into a land flowing with milk and honey, although the road may pass through a wilderness. The words of the hymn writer, Katharina von Schlegel, are appropriate:

Be still, my soul: the LORD is on
thy side; Bear patiently the cross
of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to
order and provide; In every
change he faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy best, thy
heavenly Friend, Through thorny
ways leads to a joyful end.

The LORD goes on to proclaim, “I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare things that are right” (vs. 19b). The LORD is the God of integrity; He is faithful to fulfill His Word. Note Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” The answer to these rhetorical questions is an emphatic “No!” In the Epistle to Titus, God is defined as the God “who cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).

Let us place our confidence in the LORD, because He is wholly trustworthy. Consider the personal testimony of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 2 Timothy 1:12, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” Paul’s testimony is that, following his initial act of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he has come to know Christ, and by experience has come to realize that Christ Jesus is completely reliable and worthy of our full confidence. Once again, we may note the words of yet another hymn writer, Frances R. Havergal, when she sings in praise of the LORD:

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love.
We may trust Him fully all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Place Your Confidence in the LORD, Because He has a Good Purpose for You🔗

In verse one of Isaiah 45 the LORD addresses His servant, Cyrus, the Persian king. He pledges to him His own all-powerful support and pledges to make him a victorious conqueror.

In verses 2-3, speaking directly to Cyrus, the LORD declares, “I will go before you and will level the mountains;” the LORD will remove all obstacles that stand in the way of the Persian’s conquests. “I will give you the treasures hidden in darkness;” the LORD will grant Cyrus to take for himself the closely guarded treasures of the nations.

The LORD will do these things so that Cyrus may know that it is the LORD, the God of Israel, who has called him. The point being made is that the nature of Cyrus’s conquests and the great spoil he will take will impress upon him that all this was due not to his own might, but is rather the work of God, the God of Israel. According to Hebrew tradition, these prophecies of Isaiah were shown to Cyrus, making a deep impression upon him. Note Ezra 1:1-2,

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: 2This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.

The LORD now announces to Cyrus that He, the LORD, has raised him up for the sake of His people, Israel! “For my servant Jacob’s sake and [for the sake of] Israel my chosen one, I have summoned you by name; I have bestowed upon you a title of honor, even though you do not know me” (vs. 4). Although Cyrus was not consciously acting as the LORD’s servant at the time of his conquests, the LORD had in fact called him to be His servant in order to accomplish His divine purpose of bringing about the release of His people Israel from their Babylonian captivity.

A further reason given for the LORD’s appointment of Cyrus is that all the earth may know that there is no other God beside the LORD (vs. 6a). The Exodus out of Egypt had proven to be a profound revelation of the LORD to the nations; note Rahab’s testimony to the Hebrew spies whom she harbored in her house at the time of Israel’s conquest of Jericho,

We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Josh. 2:10-11

In the same way, the conquest of Babylon by the LORD’s servant, Cyrus, would serve to have the same effect; note, again, Cyrus’s own testimony recorded in Ezra 1:1-2, printed above.

It was through the work of Cyrus that the people of Israel were restored to the Promised Land of Canaan. From that restored remnant of His people the LORD would raise up the promised Messiah. Following His resurrection and ascension, the gospel would go forth into all the world, calling men out of spiritual darkness into the knowledge of the living God, in anticipation of the last great day when He will reveal Himself in power and great glory.

At this point it appears that Isaiah himself raises his voice: “You heavens above, rain down [righteousness], and let the clouds pour down righteousness. Let the earth open wide, so that salvation may spring up, and let righteousness grow with it” (vs. 8a). Isaiah poetically calls upon the heavens to rain down righteousness, and the earth to open itself up wide in order to receive the righteousness of heaven as refreshing spiritual rain and so produce the fruit of salvation, which fruit is righteousness in the lives of God’s children, a righteousness that shall permeate all of His creation. Isaiah here is looking beyond the work of Cyrus who would bring about the restoration of Israel to the Promised Land of Canaan. Isaiah is looking to the final consummation, anticipating the promise spoken of by the Apostle Peter, “according to his promise, we are watching for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness resides” (2 Pet. 3:13).

Isaiah now receives the assurance from the LORD Himself that He shall, indeed, fulfill His promise: “I, the LORD, have created it.” The LORD speaks of this new creation in the past tense as an already accomplished fact; He does so in order to emphasize the certainty that He shall surely fulfill His word in His appointed time.

Let us place our confidence in the LORD, because He has a good purpose for us as His children in Christ. Consider the testimony of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Conclusion🔗

When we cannot comprehend the ways of God, we have the tendency to become unjustly fearful, angry and critical. That would be the case with the children of Israel: they would find themselves held captive by the mighty Babylonian empire, then their captors themselves would be conquered by a fierce king named Cyrus—and they would wonder, “What will become of us now? What is God doing?”

The message the LORD has for His people, contained in this present passage of Scripture, and prepared approx. 150 years in advance, is this: Place your confidence in the LORD, because the LORD our God is both righteous and all-powerful.

Discussion Questions🔗

  1. How does the LORD identify Cyrus in Isaiah 45:1a? What will the LORD do for Cyrus, what does this imagery suggest? See Isa. 45:2. What greater obstacle did God the Father overcome, and what greater victory did He give to Christ Jesus? Acts 2:23-24. What does this mean for us as Christians? See 1 Cor. 15:20, 23, 55-57,

This is what the LORD says to his anointed one, to Cyrus, (the one whose right hand I hold in order to subdue nations before him; indeed, I will strip kings of their armor and open doors before him; indeed, the gates shall not be shut): 2I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Isa. 45:1-2

Speaking to the people of Israel on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter declares,

[Jesus]...you have taken by lawless hands [a reference to the pagan Roman government], have crucified, and have put to death; 24whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by [death]. Acts 2:23-24

But now [the fact is] Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]...23... the first fruits, [which is] Christ; then those who belong to Christ when he appears [in glory]... 55Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? 56The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:20, 23, 55-57

  1. How does Isaiah respond to the news that the LORD has appointed Cyrus to be a great conqueror? See Isa. 45:8a. Why does Isaiah exult in this news with the anticipation of eschatological blessing; what does he recognize about Cyrus? See Isa. 45:4a. As a Christian, do you recognize the LORD’s good purpose in what He does? Do you accept His will with confidence, even though it may lead you through an unexpected route to the ultimate good He intends for you?

Isaiah exults,

'You heavens above, rain down [righteousness], and let the clouds pour down righteousness. Let the earth open wide, so that salvation may spring up, and let righteousness grow with it!' The LORD affirms that what Isaiah anticipates He has surely ordained to occur: 'I, the LORD, have created it.'Isa. 45:8

The LORD declares,

For my servant Jacob’s sake, indeed, [for the sake of] Israel my chosen one, I have summoned you by name; I have bestowed upon you a title of honor, even though you do not know me.Isa. 45:4

...the LORD is speaking about Cyrus.

  1. How does the majority of the covenant people respond to the news that the LORD has appointed Cyrus to be a great conqueror? See Isa. 45:9. Why are they troubled by the report and find fault with God? See Isa. 45:1-2. How does the LORD react to such insolent behavior? See Isa. 45:9. Do you ever react to God-ordained situations or events in the same God-insulting way; if so, what should you do? Note Job 42:3b, 6,

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker!—he that is [nothing more than] a potsherd among the potsherds scattered on the ground! Will the clay say to [the potter], 'What are you making?' or will the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'? Isa. 45:9

This is what the LORD says to his anointed one, to Cyrus, (the one whose right hand I hold in order to subdue nations before him; indeed, I will strip kings of their armor and open doors before him; indeed, the gates shall not be shut): 2I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Isa. 45:1-2

Then Job replied to the LORD... 3...Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, matters that are too wonderful for me to know... 5My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. 6Consequently, I abhor [my words] and recant in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6

  1. What does the LORD invite these insolent people to do, and how does He identify Himself? See Isa. 45:11. Do you truly appreciate the fact that the LORD is all-knowing? Rom. 11:33. Do you acknowledge the fact that the LORD is perfectly righteous? Deut. 32:4. Do you acknowledge the fact that the LORD God is your Creator and has the right to direct your life as He sees fit? Isa. 64:8,

This is what the LORD, the Holy One of Israel and his Maker, says: Ask me about things that are yet to happen, things concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands; command me to tell you. Isa. 45:11

Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways beyond finding out! Rom. 11:33

He is the rock, his work is faultless; for all his ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is he. Deut. 32:4

O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are our Potter—all of us are the work made by your hand. Isa. 64:8

  1. What assurance does the LORD give to His people? See Isa. 45:13. What should give them confidence that the LORD can accomplish His promise? See Isa. 45:12. What assurance has the Lord Jesus given you, as one has put his trust in Him and committed himself to Him? See Jn. 14:2­ 3, 18; Heb.13:5b,

I have made the earth and created man [to live] upon it. I stretched out the heavens with my [own] hands; and I have appointed all their starry hosts. 13By my righteousness I have raised up [Cyrus], and I will make all his ways smooth. He will build my city and he shall release my exiles, for neither fee nor reward, declares the LORD of hosts. Isa. 45:12-13

Do not let your heart be troubled; trust in God, trust in me also. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going to prepare a place for you. 3And if Igo and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me; so that where I am, you may be also... 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Jn. 14:1-3, 18

He himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' Heb. 13:5b

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