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Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.
Category - Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 45:8 says,
8 Drip down, O heavens, from above. And let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it. I, the Lord, have created it. [i.e., It is God’s plan for creation.]
The prophet, speaking only what he has heard from his heavenly Father, compares the rain from heaven to the righteousness that God is bringing to the earth by His Spirit. The source of righteousness is God in heaven. Without such heavenly “rain,” it is impossible to “bear fruit” unto salvation. Thus, God claims to “have created it.” The Holy Spirit descends from heaven and does not originate on earth. Whatever comes from heaven is sent by the will of God, not of men.
God takes full credit for the origin of righteousness, while men normally think it begins with their own will in earth. We need to think in terms of the earth responding to heaven. If we are called by God, our will responds to God, even as the earth’s vegetation responds to the rain from heaven. It is not that our will has been set aside, but rather that it has come into the created order.
It is only when God speaks that faith is possible, for “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). But it is the mercy and kindness of God (i.e., His will) that leads men to repent (Rom. 2:4). Without God’s decision, we remain in darkness and blindness, differing little from brute beasts. We are helpless to bring forth fruit without the rain from heaven.
Isaiah 45:9 says,
9 Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?” Or the thing you are making say, “He has no hands”?
Adam was made of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). He was a vessel of earth, formed by the great Potter into the shape of a man. Neither Adam nor his descendants can form themselves into a vessel fit for the Kingdom. The Creator has the right to make whatever He chooses by the power of His own will. Paul affirms in Rom. 9:18-21,
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires [thelema, “wills”], and He hardens whom He desires [“wills”]. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will [boulema, “plan”]? 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God. The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
Paul’s viewpoint was taken directly from Isaiah 45:9. He compares God to a Potter and man to the clay. It is the will of God that shapes clay, and the will of the clay is not relevant except afterward, when it is being used according to its purpose and calling. God enjoys the right of a Creator which we do not have. This is a natural right that only God possesses, Our own rights are based on our own labor as we form or shape what God has created into a useful vessel. This is a basic law of labor rights. We own the labor that we expend in shaping something.
Hence also, it is absurd for the clay to question a potter or to insult the potter saying, “He is handicapped,” i.e., “He does not know what he is doing.” Isaiah understood well that carnal men tend to think that God is incompetent and has failed in His creation project.
In fact, that is the core belief of Luciferianism, which believes that the great angelic rebellion is a just cause against an incompetent and evil God. This is how they justify their decision to follow “Lucifer,” thinking that they can win the war against God Himself. It is only when they encounter the power of God and see His goodness—usually through one of the sons of God—that they are enlightened.
Unfortunately, only a few Christians are able to demonstrate the power and love of God to them. I pray that more sons of God will come to know who they really are so that they may exercise the authority that they have been given.
Just as the clay cannot disagree with the Potter, so also a baby cannot decide whether to be a boy or a girl or if the child should have red hair, black hair, or no hair at all. Isaiah 45:10 says,
10 Woe to him who says to a father, “What are you begetting?” Or to a woman, “To what are you giving birth?”
In the context of the sovereignty of God, a baby is conceived without his or her consent and born into a nation, race, or culture apart from his or her will. In the case of Jacob and Esau, Paul tells us in Rom. 9:11 that God chose Jacob and rejected Esau while the twins were yet in the womb, “so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls.”
In other words, God chooses people purely by His own will, not merely because He knows ahead of time who will be good and who will be evil. Men’s deeds—even future deeds—do not influence God’s choices; God’s choice determines the behavior of those He chooses. He is the One who forms the children even as a Potter forms the clay.
A baby is not devoid of a will, but his will is not consulted for at least a few years. All of the circumstances of his birth, along with parental nurturing and teaching, shape his personality and influence his religious views and moral behavior in life.
For this reason, it would be unjust for God to burn people in hell forever just because they were unfortunate enough to be born in a country that had never heard the name of Jesus. In fact, the main purpose of resurrection at the Great White Throne is to reveal His glory (love) to them, so that they too may bow their knees and profess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. Such is the justice of God toward the vast majority of men throughout history who lacked opportunity to know the love of God.
The same justice and mercy will be shown to those that God blinded during their lifetime. At the resurrection, their blindness will be healed, and the veil will be lifted from their eyes. They will then see the true nature of God and know His love, so that they may be birthed into the Kingdom and trained by the overcomers as they grow to spiritual maturity in the age to come. In the end, all will be mature and will have the mind of Christ at the Creation Jubilee.
In Isaiah 45:11 God questions those who try to tell Him how to run the universe. Unfortunately, many translations fail to see this as a question, because they do not understand the reason God asks the question. The Concordant Version gets it right:
11 Thus says Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, and its Former, “Of the things arriving, ask Me; yet concerning My children and concerning the deeds of My hands, shall you instruct Me?”
In other words, you are welcome to ask Me about “things arriving” (i.e., the future); but you are “My children,” and children do not have the right to question their parents: “I should have been born in a different country!” “You should have chosen me to hear of Jesus!” “I had no opportunity to be saved. You were quite incompetent!” “Why was I born to a Hindu family in India a thousand years before Christ, where I would never hear of His love?”
Those who would question God’s choices and methods are trying to tell God how to run the universe. Those who believe that God’s New Covenant vows have failed in the case of 98 percent of humanity simply do not understand the power of His sovereignty. They fail to understand how He is driven by the passion of His love for creation. Not knowing that He will save all mankind and reconcile the entire creation, they question the wisdom of His plan.
God’s rebuke is found in the next verse. Isaiah 45:12 says,
12 “It is I who made the earth and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, and I ordained all their host.”
“Who do you think you are?” God asks. “Who are you that you should command me? Could you come up with a better plan? Would your plan actually succeed in saving the world? I am the One with the power to create the heavens and the earth and all men. Get back in line and stop showing your stupidity. My plan will work just fine.”
Isaiah 45:13 says,
13 “I have aroused him [the messiah] in righteousness, and I will make all his ways smooth. He will build My city and will let My exiles go free without any payment or reward, says the Lord of hosts.”
This applied first to Cyrus, the prophetic type of messiah, and later in a greater way to Jesus Christ, the only true Messiah. Cyrus was “aroused” (raised up) by God, who made his path “smooth.” That is, God removed the hindrances and blockages so that Cyrus would not fail in his divine calling to “build My city” and “let My exiles go free.”
So history tells us that Cyrus did not require any of the captives to pay a ransom for their freedom, nor did He demand any “reward” (i.e., bribe) to issue the Edict of Cyrus. In this small way, the Persian king was like Jesus Christ, who freely gave His life to ransom sinners in bondage to sin. No one bribed Jesus to go to the cross.
Even as Cyrus was called to “build My city” (earthly Jerusalem), so also was Jesus called to build the heavenly city that Abraham had sought during his sojourn in Canaan (Heb. 11:16). Further, Cyrus set free only a few of the exiles of Judah. Only 49,000 of them actually returned to the old land (Ezra 2), leaving Babylon as the main center of Judaism for centuries to come. Jesus will bring all to His city.
Meanwhile, the Israelites in Assyria did not return, for God had put up a “hedge” and a “wall” to prevent their return (Hosea 2:6). Neither could they return lawfully, because God had divorced Israel and had sent her out of His house (Jer. 3:8). And the remarriage under the New Covenant could not take place prior to Christ’s death on the cross.
Isaiah 45:14 says,
14 Thus says the Lord, “The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush and the Sabeans, men of stature, will come over to you and will be yours; they will walk behind you, they will come over in chains and will bow down to you; they will make supplication to you: ‘Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, no other God’.”
Carnally-minded men, who remain veiled by the Old Covenant, usually interpret this verse to mean that these other nations will be enslaved by Israel. But the New Covenant shows clearly that the work of the Messiah was to bless all nations and set them free. The Apostle Paul himself was the apostle to the nations, and he was quick to chide the Jews (and Peter himself) for thinking that non-Jewish converts to Christ were to be second-class citizens of the Kingdom.
Paul fought this many times on behalf of non-Jewish believers, telling us in Eph. 2:14-16,
14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh, the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances [men’s traditions, which had caused the Jews to build a dividing wall in the court of the temple to separate Jewish men from women and from non-Jewish converts], so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
The dividing wall was not commanded by God anywhere in Scripture. Jesus broke down that wall in order to make all ethnic groups equal in “one body” without divisions. Faith is the evidence of being begotten by God, and all true believers have the same heavenly Father. To be a son of God is to give up one’s fleshly identity from Adam, Abraham, Israel, and any tribe of Israel in favor of a new identity of the “new man” (Eph. 4:24, KJV) or “new self” (NASB).
Therefore, when we approach Isaiah 45:14 with the veil removed from our eyes, we should interpret this to mean that the various nations “will be yours,” not to be oppressed as slaves but to be responsible to teach them the ways of God and bring them to spiritual maturity. This is how God views slavery.
It is the same slavery that Paul asserted when he called himself “a bond-servant of Christ Jesus” (Rom. 1:1). To be a bond-servant of Christ is not to be oppressed, but to be set “free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2). He is our great Example, showing us how to exercise authority in the way that God intended.
Authority is not a permanent part of life; it was instituted so that the few would have the calling to bless the many. Authority was to be exercised in love, serving others, not with self-interest or carnal indulgence to benefit oneself.
When the idolatrous nations see the folly of following man-made gods, they will turn to the God of Israel. Then they will require teaching and training in the ways of God, so that they can get to know Jesus in the same way that we do. Isaiah 45:15, 16 reads in The Concordant Version,
15 “Surely You are El, concealing Yourself, O Elohim of Israel, Saviour. 16 They are ashamed [buwsh] and also mortified [kalam, “humiliated, shamed, hurt, injured”], all of them together, and they walk in mortification [buwsh], these craftsmen of forms.”
El and Elohim means “God,” in this case, the God of Israel, who saves. The prophet seems to complain that the God of Israel has hidden Himself so that few can find Him. But the day is coming when God will reveal Himself in a greater way so that the nations will want to know Him. Recall Isaiah 2:3, which says,
3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
When God reveals Himself to idolaters, they will then understand the folly of their carnal ways and be ashamed of their ignorance and foolishness.
The Concordant Version in verse 16 above says that they will be “mortified.” The translators use this word to convey two ideas at once. First, to be mortified means that they will be appalled, ashamed or embarrassed at their former ignorance. Second, to be mortified means they will feel “hurt” or “injured.” Kalam literally means “to wound.”
“Mortification” is an English word that conveys both concepts in a single word. More than that, to mortify also means “to die.” This teaches the great principle of justification, which is about putting to death the old man so that we might be raised in newness of life.
So the Apostle Paul tells us in Rom. 6:7 (in The Emphatic Diaglott),
7 for he who died has been justified from sin.
Hence, mortification is the key element in our justification. The old man must be crucified with Christ. The nations in Isaiah 45:14 are a sampling of those who are to be justified through the mortification of the flesh after repenting of their idolatry. Further, Isaiah 45:17 says,
17 Israel has been saved by the Lord with an everlasting [olam, “hidden”] salvation; you will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity [olam].
God works in the hearts of men, which is not readily apparent to the public. Hence, God’s way of salvation was hidden to most people—especially to those blinded by the veil of the Old Covenant (2 Cor. 3:14, 15). Most of the Israelites were thus blinded, and for this reason they were sent into exile. But the true Israelites, the remnant of grace, were not blinded, as Paul says in Rom. 11:7, KJV, for they had faith in the promise of God and not in their own promises to God.
These overcomers, the true Israelites, “will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity.” The prophet uses a play on words here. The salvation plan was “hidden” to the world at large and revealed only to the overcomers, so that they would not be “humiliated to all eternity” (or “mortified for future eons,” CV).
All who repent are “mortified,” for they have died to the flesh for their justification. Thus, they are not required to undergo the second death after the Great White Throne judgment, which is called “a river of fire” (Dan. 7:10) and “the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14, 15). Moses called it “a fiery law” (Deut. 33:2, KJV).