Wednesday 11 January 2012

Bible Book:

it is I who say to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'" (v. 13)

Isaiah 41:1-16 Wednesday 11 January 2012


The kingdoms of Israel and Judah existed in an almost constantstate of war with their neighbours, as well at times with eachother. Assyria finally overcame the northern kingdom of Israel andremained a constant problem for Judah. But ultimately Assyria beganto weaken and their place as regional superpower was taken by theBabylonians who defeated Judah and took the leading members of thatsociety back to Babylon, leaving only the poorest Jewsbehind.

In 550 BC Cyrus, the ruler of a small Persian kingdom, attacked anddethroned the king of the Medes. Very quickly he moved west andwithin a few years the empire of Cyrus the Great covered the knownworld, from the far east to the "coastlands" of Asia Minor (v.1).

The exiled Jews could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.They had been subjected to empires that had taken them from theirhomes. If the ends of the earth tremble (verse 5), what wouldhappen to them under this new and more powerful ruler? HoweverIsaiah makes it clear that Cyrus has only achieved his successbecause God was using him (verses 2-4). It would not have beenpossible for anyone to move so quickly and achieve so much withoutthe help of God. Those that make false idols (verse 7) might try tocomfort each other but the Jewish people should not fear.

Verses 8-10 and 14-16 are examples of 'salvation oracles', thethree typical features of which include:

  • an encouragement not to be frightened
  • a statement of the power of God
  • a promise of hope for the future.

Even though they do not deserve it (verse 14) God will bewith them, holding their hand and protecting them from alladversity with the final result being that they shall rejoice inthe Lord.


To Ponder

Do you see God at work in the leaders of ourworld? Pray for those with positions of power and influence.

War and conflict continue to plague the people ofthe Middle East. Reflect on recent news stories and pray for peaceand justice.

Meditate on the words "I, the Lord, am first andwill be the last" (v. 4).

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