Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 9 2019 - Isaiah 44:1-23 – Incomparable God

Two days ago, when looking at the first of the four Servant Songs in these chapters of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-9), we noted that Isaiah speaks of "the servant of the Lord" throughout chapters 40-55. Sometimes the servant is a specific person from within Israel, distinct from the rest of the nation and called to act on God's behalf for the salvation of Israel and of the wider world (think particularly of Isaiah 53). Elsewhere it is a title used of God's people as a whole – as is the case in this chapter.

The Lord addresses Jacob (whom he renamed Israel and who was the father of the Children of Israel) as his chosen servant. The nation was chosen in the person of their ancestor. God determined to bless Jacob the trickster and through him to fulfil his covenant promise to Abraham that through his descendants all peoples on earth would be blessed. Israel had been chosen to act as God's servant in fulfilling this promise.

But before this rebellious people can become a blessing they must first experience the riches of God's blessing for themselves. So God declares:

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants. (v. 3)

God will rescue his people from captivity in Babylon and so demonstrate that he is the living God and that there is no other god like him. He is the God who hears the cry of his people and responds to their call. He is the God who comes to save. And because of his saving activity he enables his people to act as witnesses to him:

You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
    No, there is no other Rock; I know not one. (v. 8)

This is then followed by a lengthy mockery of idols which are of no use to those who make and worship them until they are burned to provide warmth or to cook their food (vv. 12-20).

The living God, however, has acted to save his people and he promises never to forget them or neglect them (v. 21). He has forgiven the sins of his people so that they melt away from his remembrance like the morning mist disappears in the light and warmth of the sun (v. 22). In the light of these things, the Lord calls on his people to turn away from their rebellion and return to him.

All of creation shall rejoice together when the Lord saves his people (v. 23). This is more than extravagant poetic language. We know that God's promise to Abraham find's its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus; he is the seed/descendant of Abraham through whom all nations will be blessed – he is the Saviour of the world. His death marks the end of the reign of sin and death. His resurrection is the beginning of the new creation – a world in which all things are put to rights. At Jesus' return, that work of new creation will be completed in us when we are raised with bodies like his glorious body – no longer subject to sickness, pain, decay and death. Nor will this affect humanity alone, for the whole of the created world is in bondage to decay and groans as it waits to be brought into the freedom of the children of God on that great resurrection day (see Romans 8:19-22). On that day heaven and earth shall sing for joy and mountains, forests, trees and all the animal kingdom will burst into songs of joy.

We do not need to wait for that day; we should be filled with songs of joy now. Our joyful praise of our saving creator God is part of our witness to a world that is growing tired of its useless idols.

Father God, may our songs of praise for all that you have done for us in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, make the very foundations of the earth shake and lift the rafters of heaven. May our praise act as a powerful witness to those around us who feel the weight of their mortality and the burden of life's undoing. Empower our witness to the hope of a world made new.

Peter Misselbrook