Thursday 12 January 2012

Bible Book:

I the God is Israel will not forsake them." (v. 17)

Isaiah 41:17-29 Thursday 12 January 2012


Verse 17 takes us back to the wilderness where the previouschapter 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 theirside.

To Ponder

What are the idols that are worshipped in oursociety? How should we challenge or overcome them?

In a world where many people have to contend withlong periods of drought, how do you interpret the promise made inverse 17?

Isaiah looks for proof of the existence of falsegods but finds none, but to what extent is it possible to prove theexistence of God? Why (or how)?

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