Friday 29 November 2013

Bible Book:

"Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob." (v. 21)

Isaiah 41:18-29 Friday 29 November 2013

Isaiah 41:17 takes us back to the wildernesswhere the previous chapter first began (Isaiah40:3). This continues to link the current exile period with theprevious experience of 40 years travelling in the desert from Egyptto Canaan. Then the people complained of thirst and Moses struck arock from which water gushed (Exodus17:1-6). In the future God will provide rivers and fountains,pools of water and springs (verse 18). There will be so much waterthat trees will grow and transform the wilderness in to a beautifulplace. It will be a new creation and will be a sign of the power ofthe "Holy One of Israel" (v. 20).

The prophet contrasts the undoubted power of God with thepowerlessness of the idols created by human hand. It is almost asif he is putting the idols that were all around them in Babylon ontrial. He invites the people to bring evidence that the idols haveany power at all, whether for good or evil (verse 23) but theycannot. They are nothing, they don't exist and anyone who believesso must be made or delusional. This is a verdict repeated again andagain not only in verses 24 and 29 but also indirectly in theverses in between as none of the false gods predicted the rise ofCyrus. It was only the God of Israel who did this (verse 27).

It is possible that the power of the Babylonian empire was alreadyon the wane with the emergence of Cyrus, "the one from the north"(v. 25) and so it would be increasingly evident to the Jews thatthe idols and foreign gods, who they once feared, actually had nopower at all. In fact it is now clear to any sane person that theydon't exist at all. There is only one God who is on their side.

To Ponder

  • What are the idols that are worshipped in our society? Howshould we challenge or overcome them?]
  • Isaiah looks for proof of the existence of false gods but findsnone, but to what extent is it possible to prove the existence ofGod? Why (or how)?
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