Thursday, October 12, 2017

Israel the Servant (Part III)

"Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow." (Isaiah 43:14-17)

At this point in Isaiah's ministry, Assyria and not Babylon was the world power; yet, God uses the past tense to describe what He was going to do to the Babylonians through Cyrus the Persian. Israel's deliverance from the seventy years of captivity in Babylon was so certain that Isaiah spoke of it as if it were passed already. The Chaldeans are presented as being in ships. This is likely because Babylon was located on the Euphrates River which was used for the transport of commerce coming from the Persian Gulf.

Israel's Holy One and King reminds them of what He did to Pharaoh. He alone destroyed the monarch and his army but not before making Israel a path through the Red Sea.

And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses (Exodus 14:28-31).

As Egypt's power was quenched that day by the sea, even so would Babylon's power be quenched by God's hand through Persia.

"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise." (Isaiah 43:18-21)

Israel is commanded not to live in the past. God had used the nations to punish her, and He would use the future power of Babylon for the same purpose, but deliverance would and will come. Even though the exile into Babylon had been fraught with many heartaches, Israel would return to her homeland with joy. Isaiah's gaze seems to lift somewhat to the millennial redemption of Israel as he describes the fruitful transformation of the landscape. The joys of Israel's redemption in the kingdom of Christ will be a new thing. The new covenant which has been sealed by the blood of Christ has made this new thing possible. The Messiah's quenching of Israel's spiritual thirst will be complimented by the quenching of Israel's physical thirst when streams and pools occupy the now barren desert sands.

The praise of God will be the result of Israel's redemption as well as that of the world's nations. Salvation should result in praise. God redeemed Israel for the purpose of showing His praise to all. They failed in this mission, but in the kingdom, they will faithfully execute it.

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