4/05/2015

How God Helps His People (Isaiah 41)

Isaiah 41:1-29; 14

"'Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isa 41:14, NIV).

The fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC tested Israel's faith more profoundly than any other single event in the entire OT. Isaiah knew that it would happen (Isa 39:5-7). He never regarded this as calling God's sovereignty into question. Babylon, like Assyria before her, had a part to play in the drama of history, but it was the Lord, not they, who wrote the script.

In Isaiah 41, God presents himself as the helper of his people. What can we learn about how God helps his people Israel?

  1. God confronts you (the world) with Himself as the Sovereign Ruler of history (1-7).
  2. God chooses you (his people) by his grace (8-9). My servant (Isa 41:8-9)--the great keyword of ch. 40-55--makes its first appearance. These verses tell us that:
    • Israel came to be the Lord's servant by divine choice (Isa 41:8b, 9b; Eph 1:4).
    • The relationship began with Abraham, God's friend (2 Chr 20:7; Jas 2:23), which is literally God's loving one, or the one who loved me.
    • The extension of the covenant promise to Abraham's descendants sill stands.
    • In his choice and calling of Abraham the Lord showed that his power extends to the ends of the earth, to its farthest corners (Isa 41:9).
  3. God encourages you to not be afraid (10-14).
  4. God strengthens and empowers you (14-16). How (Isa 41:14)?
    • By personal divine action (I myself).
    • By the affirmed word of divine promise (declares).
    • The Lord (YHWH) who proposes to act has already proved both his willingness and power to do so through the exodus (Ex 3:15).
    • By undertaking whatever we need as Redeemer (Isa 35:10), the Next-of-Kin who takes upon himself his people's needs as if they were his own.
    • God being on the side of his people in the fullness of the divine nature, the Holy One of Israel (Isa 1:4). This title holds two ideas together: he possesses the divine nature to the full (holy); he has pledged himself to his people (of Israel).
  5. God provides for you (17-20).
  6. God charges you with idolatry (21-29).
References:
  1. Fear Not, For I Am Your God (Isaiah 41). My daily bread Dec 2010.
  2. Webb, Barry G. The Message of Isaiah. 165-180.
    • God, his people, and the nations (41:1-29): The nations on trial (1-7, 21-29). Israel, God's servant (8-20).
    • God's perfect servant (42:1-9).
    • Praise the Lord! (42:10-17).
    • Sinful Israel, the blind and deaf servant (42:18-25).
  3. ESV Study Bible.
    • Isa. 41:1–20 The One True God Moving History for His People. God reassures his people that he alone is guiding all events in human history, for his glory and their benefit.
    • Isa. 41:21–29 Set forth your case. God renews his challenge from v. 1, that the nations of the earth, with the help of their gods, demonstrate the truth of their beliefs. This is a recurring theme in this part of Isaiah: the Lord is superior to all other "gods," whether Canaanite (who tempted Isaiah's audience) or Mesopotamian (who confronted the exiles).