This article on Isaiah 45:14 is about the church and the presence of God.

Source: Clarion, 1987. 2 pages.

Isaiah 45:14 – Only You!

… they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying: ‘God is with you only, and there is no other, no god besides Him’.

Isaiah 45:14b

The remarkable feature of God's word of promise given through His servant Isaiah to the exiles in Babylon is how much the promise contrasted with their actual situation. Lost in exile, they were the least of the peoples, of no account in the world, and servants of the servants in the land of captivity. The loss of their national identity as well as their temple and holy city made them a reproach among the other captives in the land. But Isaiah speaks of a day when all this will be reversed, and Israel will again become the wealthiest and the highest of the peoples, so that men of stature will bow down to her and confess, “God is with you only, and there is no other, no god besides Him.”

And the reversal did come, even in the lifetime of many of the exiles. The wonder of the absolute strangeness of the promise was matched only by the wonder of the speed in its coming into reality. The LORD raises a king and redeemer who does not know Him, Cyrus the Persian, who decrees liberty for Israel and a return for the Israelites to their own land. And, as the books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell us, the temple and holy city were able to be rebuilt again with wealth taken from the royal treasury of kings in the line of Cyrus. The wealth of the nations was placed before the feet of Israel, and even Cyrus acknowledged,

The LORD the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.2 Chronicles 36:23

Yet Isaiah's prophesy extends far beyond the day of Cyrus and reaches ahead even to our own day. The anointing of Cyrus models what the LORD is going to do, yet the new and coming work will be much deeper and richer. For Cyrus did not know the LORD. Having as it were exhausted His possibilities among the line of the kings of Israel and Judah, the LORD reaches outside of the borders of Israel to raise up a Redeemer-King for Israel. But this step of necessity in Cyrus' time foreshadows a greater and more glorious new beginning further in history, in which the LORD will raise up a Redeemer-King out of Israel itself – one out of Israel, and yet not from Israel, but from beyond Israel's spiritual borders. In Him, David's house will be rebuilt! He will be the Messiah, the Christ who would fulfill the promises given to Israel.

In Christ Jesus, the Saviour born from above, and yet born in David's line according to the flesh, this prophesy comes to richer and deeper fulfillment. For in Him the gospel goes out to all the world, and the rich treasures of the gospel are proclaimed to the nations. And from Ethiopia, Africa and Asia they came, bearing gifts and praising God for His work of salvation. It began with three men of the East who brought their gifts and bowed down before the great King as He lay with His mother. But it continued in power and glory as the gospel was proclaimed in all the known world. Philip was called to baptize the Ethiopian, a high court official, Acts 8:38. Later in the church's history kings and princes came to the gospel, and confessed to the gathering of believers: “God is with you only and there is no other, no god besides Him!”

Indeed, to this very day this confession remains the heart of the covenant, and the heart of the faith of the church. And the text does not focus on a remote and unspecified body of believers totally withdrawn from this world, or invisible to the eyes of men. The exiles were addressed in their pitiful condition! So, too, the text refers to the concrete gathering of the church today, as the Lord gathers it daily through His Word and Spirit. Still today there are those who do and will say: “God is with you only and there is no other, no god besides Him.”

One may counter that he hardly hears words like this today. Indeed, they seem as unreal to us as they did to the exiles who first heard them. Somehow the words do not accord with the situation, and seem so remote that they cannot be true. But true faith appropriates them, and acts accordingly! If we only live in humility and faith to the LORD, trusting in Him, we will see His blessings. Is the LORD's hand shortened, that He cannot do wonders?

And true faith and humility does not begin with selfish boasting, but with the recognition of the marvellous grace of God's ways. Real faith and humility begins with living in faithfulness to God's covenantal commands. In Christ and in Him alone, we may be exalted above the nations!

And if faith and humility mark our daily walk of life, then in God's time, we may hear and will hear others saying this of the church today: “God is with you only, and there is no other, no god besides Him.” In fact, that message will be addressed to us just at the moment when we hardly believed it was possible ever to hear it. When faith grows dim, the LORD surprises His own, with a swift and sudden gift. The nations come and bow down to the Christ and to His own in fear and trembling.

And long after the cry of false ecumenicity and universal brotherhood has faded from this world, this message will reign in the heavens. Even hell will go on proclaiming it to all eternity. For this is a truth for the church that never comes to an end: “God is with you only, and there is no other, no god besides Him.”

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