Persians coming to Israel's rescue
Israel pretends to worship God1
Listen to me, descendants of Jacob.
I’m talking to you people of Israel,
Descended from Judah’s tribe.
You make promises in the LORD’s name
You invoke the name of God.
But you’re not honest in how you do it.
You don’t mean it. You don’t care.
And you trust Israel’s God.
His name is LORD of All.
3 I told you what was going to happen.
I spelled it out for you.
Then when the time was right,
I brought my words to life.
4 I’ve told you about it ahead of time
Because you’re stubborn,
Rigid, and boneheaded.
5 I told you about it then
So you couldn’t get away with saying,
“Don’t blame me.
My idols made me do it.
Those metal-coated wooden figures
Gave orders I had to obey.”
God reveals his secrets6
You’ve heard what I said.
You saw what I did.
Isn’t it time to admit it, now?
I’ll tell you want time it is.
Time for me to tell you something you didn’t know.
These are secrets I’ve guarded for a long time.
It’s happening now.
You’re not going to say,
“I already knew that.”
8 You didn’t know it.
You never heard it.
You wouldn’t have heard it if I had said it.
You’ve been a rebel child from the day you were born.
God pulls his punches9
I’m going to hold back my anger
Because it’s the right thing to do.
People will see that, and they’ll praise me for it.
I choose to be patient with you
Instead of destroying you.
Like a head of sludge off melted silver.
I’ll have to put you in a furnace
And turn up the heat.
11 I’m saving you because it’s who I am.
My name is tied to you, my pride and joy.
So I won’t let anyone take you from me
Or drag my name through the mud.
I am the only God12
Listen to me, Jacob’s children,
My chosen people of Israel.
I am God. The only one.
The first one. The last one.
They spread the sky above.
Earth and sky obey me.
They do whatever I say.
God’s man heads to Babylon14
Come close and listen.
Did anyone predict what I just told you?
The LORD has chosen one man he loves.
That man will deal with Babylon.
Then I called him for this mission.
I brought him this far.
I’ll see him finish what he started.
16 Come closer. Don’t miss this.
I’ve never spoken to you in secret code,
Hiding behind riddles and babble.
I’ve always been here, from the beginning.
17 This message is from the LORD.
He’s your Savior and Israel’s Holy God:
I am the LORD your God.
I teach you how to live your lives
And point you down the right path.
18 If only you had paid attention.
Goodness, you would have been so successful.
Prosperity overflowing like flooding rivers
And rising seas with walloping waves.
19 You would have had kids like a beach has sand.
The name of Israel would have survived.
It would not have been erased.
Run like crazy from Babylon20
Get out of Babylon.
Run, don’t walk. Get gone.
Spread the word everywhere. Scream it.
Tell everyone, “The LORD saved Israel.”
When he led them through the desert.
He made the rocks bleed water.
He split them open and water gushed out.
22 The LORD says, “For wicked people,
There’s no place of safety, no hope of peace.”
This identifies the southern Jewish nation of Judah, not the northern nation, which took the name of Israel. The split came when the northern tribes seceded from the united nation of Israel, ruled by King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon. He threatened higher taxes and promised to continue drafting people for government work—and to do it even more than his dad had done. So, the 10 northern tribes broke away.
Jerusalem, also known as the Holy City and Zion.
Moses predicted the Jewish people would break their agreement with God, and that God would kick them out of the Promised Land and deport them to another country (Deuteronomy 28:36).
Isaiah 45 reveals that this ruler is Cyrus (reigned 559-530 BC), king of the Persian Empire that crushed the Babylonians of Iraq. Cyrus ruled from what is now Iran. The writer mentions him by name in Isaiah 44:28 and in Isaiah 45. He says God will use him to free the Jews and rebuild Jerusalem and the foundation of a new Temple. Cyrus freed Babylon’s political captives. That included the Jews whom Babylon deported in 586 BC and earlier, in smaller groups of deportations. Isaiah lived two centuries before Cyrus.
Many scholars interpret this to mean that God says he doesn’t keep secrets. But in 48:6 he admits keeping a secret. Some scholars say God may be comparing himself to idol cults and oracles that deliver vexing messages that don’t seem to say much of anything, and sound more like a riddle than an answer.
When Babylonian invaders destroyed the main cities of Judah, leveling Jerusalem and then deporting most of the survivors, the Jewish nation died. Israel in the north and Judah in the south were erased from the political map.
Exodus 17:1-17; Numbers 20:1-14.
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