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|Publication Type||Book Chapter|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Authors||Parry, Donald W.|
|Book Title||Old Testament Minute: Isaiah|
|Publisher||Book of Mormon Central|
|Keywords||Bible; Isaiah (Book); Isaiah (Prophet); Old Testament|
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Isaiah 44:1–8 God Instructs His Covenant People—“You Are My Witnesses”
Of all the families of the earth, the Lord chose the family of Israel to be His “servant” and His “chosen” people (44:1) (although, we know, that during the course of history, God made covenants with many other people, such as the early prophets and patriarchs, the Jaredites, and many others). Additionally, He directed this family, “You are My witnesses,” meaning that we who are of Israel are to witness to the rest of the world that Jehovah is our God, Redeemer and Savior. We are witnesses when we bear testimony to others during testimony meeting, as missionaries, and in scores of other settings.
hear, O Jacob, My servant/Israel, whom I have chosen. In a poetic parallelism, the Lord commands us, the house of Israel, to hear Him. He calls us “My servant” and “chosen” (for emphasis, “servant” and “chosen” are repeated in verse 2).
Thus says the Lord, your Maker. It is Jehovah who is speaking to covenant Israel. Our Fashioner from the womb. Before the nation of Israel was born, the Lord covenanted with Abraham that his seed would be a great nation and a chosen people (Abraham 2:8–11). Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. God has chosen Jeshurun (a poetic name for Israel, which literally means “Upright One” or “Righteous”) to be His covenant people. For emphasis, the words “whom I have chosen” are stated twice (see verses 1–2).
I will pour water/streams/flowing streams. Water is both literal (for one’s temporal well-being) and spiritual, representing Jehovah the living waters and His Spirit (12:3; 55:1; John 4:7–14). The Holy Ghost is crucial to God’s covenant people as they establish Zion and spread the gospel among the nations. Note the Lord’s carefully selected language—“I will pour water. . . . I will pour My Spirit”—showing how generous He is with His blessings; He does not give us sips, He pours water and His Spirit upon us. The Lord also promises His “blessing” to Israel’s offspring.
They will sprout among grass, like willows. Employing a simile, the Lord compares Israel to willows growing “beside flowing streams of water.” Just as willows grow quickly when they have sufficient water, Israel will grow quickly in the latter days when it has the Holy Ghost.
I am the Lord’s. Those who are covenant Israel belong to Jehovah and are part of His spiritual family. write on his hand, ‘the Lord’s.’ Writing the Lord’s name on one’s hand is not literal but symbolic, pointing to sacred ordinances, in which we pledge with the hand. he will be called by the name “Israel.” Those who receive the gospel and the gift of the Holy Ghost become members of the house of Israel.
Lord/King of Israel/Redeemer/Lord of Hosts/First . . . Last. These are descriptive titles that describe Jehovah’s relationship with His covenant people, Israel. Lord of Hosts. Generally refers to the Lord’s hosts of angels.
The Lord poses four rhetorical questions in verses 6–8; questioning is an important way to teach gospel truths.
Who has made known from of old the tokens? False gods and false religious traditions cannot reveal tokens; only Jehovah has made them known to His covenant people.
you are My witnesses. See also 43:10, where Jehovah tells His people, “You are My witnesses.” We are to testify that Jehovah is our God, our Redeemer and Savior. Is there a God besides Me? The Lord asks a rhetorical question and then responds, “There is no Rock! I know not any.” Jehovah, or Christ, is the Rock (see also Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 28:1; 1 Corinthians 10:1–4), representing permanence, stability, and eternality.
Isaiah 44:9–20 The Foolishness of Idolatry
Employing expressive language in a series of ironic parallelisms, the Lord (or, possibly Isaiah) sets forth the foolishness of idolatry. For instance, the idolater uses wood from the same tree to cook food, to warm himself, and to fashion an idol—then the idolater bows down to the idol, worships it, and prays to it (44:14–17). We consider also that a human creates the idol; the idol does not create a human! It is like bowing down and worshipping firewood or praying to the coals in an oven. For these reasons, idolaters are “chaos,” “they cannot see” spiritually, “they cannot understand” things of God, and in the end they “will be put to shame” (44:9, 11, 18). Although the Lord is the main voice in this section, He sets forth four utterances from an idolater (see verses 16–17, 19–20).
they are but humans. Idol makers can fashion wood or metal into images of gods, but they cannot give life to the images because the idol makers are merely humans. put to shame. Three times this section states, “They will be put to shame (44:9, 11).
ironsmith. Ironically, the ironsmith grows weak, hungry, and thirsty as he works to create the idol. And in the end, the idol is still lifeless.
The carpenter burns wood from a tree as fuel and to bake bread, and the remaining portion of the wood he creates into an idol. And then he says to the idol, “Save me, for you are my god.” But how can a god, created by the hands of a human, save the human who made it?
they do not know/understand/knowledge/understanding. Isaiah makes four statements to emphasize the extreme ignorance of idolaters; in doing so, he presents two grammatical inflections (same root letters)—“know”/“knowledge,” followed by two other inflections “understand”/“understanding.” Then, Isaiah employs the body parts “eyes” and “hearts” to express that idolaters “cannot see” spiritually, or understand these matters with their heart.
He feeds on ashes. “Feeds” (from the Hebrew r‘h, also meaning “to graze,” as sheep or cattle graze) is a powerful image; the idolater uses one half of a block of wood to create an idol and the other half to burn the wood in order to bake bread—and then, strangely, he eats the ashes rather than the bread! Just as ashes cannot satiate a hungry person, an idol cannot satisfy one’s spiritual needs. he cannot save his soul. Isaiah concludes that an idolater is “deceived” and making and worshipping idols “cannot save his soul.”
Isaiah 44:21–23 The Lord Has Redeemed Israel
In a mere handful of words, the Lord makes several wonderful declarations to His covenant people, the children of Israel (44:21–22). Twice He reminds them that they are His servant, that He has “fashioned” them, that He will not forget them, that He has “wiped out [their] transgressions” and their sins, and that He has redeemed them.
like a thick cloud/like a cloud. As the rain from a cloud cleanses the earth, the Lord has wiped clean our transgressions through His Atonement. Return to Me. Return (Hebrew shuv) is one way of saying, “repent” in the Hebrew language. Our sins remove us from God’s presence, but repentance brings us back to Him.
sing gladly/shout/break forth into singing. Because the “Lord has redeemed Jacob,” Isaiah commands the Lord’s creations—the heavens, earth, mountains, and forest—to break forth into song (see also Doctrine and Covenants 128:23).
Isaiah 44:24–28; 45:1–6 Cyrus, the Lord’s Anointed
The Lord is all-powerful—He created the heavens and the earth (44:24), He frustrates mortals who think they are wise (44:25), He knows the future (44:26), He has power over the elements (44:27), and He prophesies of the future (44:28). Additionally, more than a century before Cyrus, the king of Persia, was born, the Lord knew Cyrus’s name, spoke to him (via Isaiah’s prophecy), and appointed him to serve as a deliverer of captive Israel (45:1–5).
the Lord, your Redeemer. Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ, is our Redeemer. I am the Lord, who made all things. Jehovah, our God, is the creator of all things, including the heavens and the earth.
Who confirms the word of His servant/messengers. God fulfills every prophecy made by Isaiah and all of His prophets and apostles (Luke 24:44; 2 Nephi 10:17; Doctrine and Covenants 1:38). Jerusalem, ‘It will be inhabited’/cities of Judah, ‘They will be rebuilt.’ This prophecy was fulfilled at least twice: once when Cyrus permitted the exiled Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem and Judea, and again in the last days.
Who says to the deep, ‘Dry up. Jehovah has all power, even to dry up the earth’s mighty oceans by simply uttering the command.
Cyrus, ‘My shepherd.’ Jehovah revealed Cyrus’s name long before he was born. King Cyrus would be God’s shepherd, to gather God’s people from Babylon back to their homeland. The Lord would also appoint Cyrus to “subdue nations” and to permit the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple.
His anointed, to Cyrus. This language suggests that Cyrus was an ancient type of Jesus Christ, who was also called “anointed.” to subdue nations before him. This prophecy was fulfilled when Cyrus subdued many nations, including Babylonia, Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, and much of the Iranian plateau. He would truly “open double doors” and “gates.”
I will go before you. God empowered Cyrus to subdue nations; Cyrus did not do it with his own power or his own armies. Similar language (“go before you”) is used with regard to the exodus of Egypt (Exodus 23:20; 32:34) and the return to Zion in the last days (Doctrine and Covenants 103:17–20). level the mountainous land; I will smash the doors of bronze. Several symbolic phrases in 45:2–3 demonstrate God’s power to enable Cyrus to conquer nations; but in the end, Cyrus must know that the Lord is “the God of Israel” (45:3).
For the sake of My servant, Jacob. God gave Cyrus power to conquer nations for the sake of God’s covenant people, Israel.
they may know . . . there is none besides Me. God empowered Cyrus so that the entire earth—“from the rising of the sun and from the west”—would know that He is “the Lord, and there is no other.”
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