Isaiah 48 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
Like the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, Isaiah is dealing with a people who are very dull of hearing and who do not seek the Lord in truth, even though they continually claim that they are. They boast in their heritage and in their lineage but do not really trust the Lord. In the second half of the book of Isaiah, the prophet is showing them some events far into the future even after the Babylonian captivity so that when these events unfold they will not be able to credit them to the work of their idols but acknowledge the glory of the Lord.
Of course, the Lord doesn’t have to reveal any of this to his stubborn people. He could just wipe them out for their great sin and rebellion, but he tells them in vv.9-11 that he defers and restrains his anger against them for a greater purpose. It is not because he is required to love them and to show them mercy. They are subjects of the law of God and rightly deserve its curse and God’s wrath, but for the sake of His own name he doesn’t condemn them. For the sake of his own praise he doesn’t destroy them. For the sake of his own glory he continues to show them mercy, both warning them of many dangers to come as well as comforting them with great words of hope. Indeed he does all these things for the good of his people, but that is not his chief end, as the Westminster divines have suggested. His great purpose in all of this is for the honor and reverence and glory of his name throughout the world that all the nations might see the wonder of God’s works and add their voices in adoration to the one true God. He does all these things so that the mouths of the idolaters will be shut, that those who look to idols and boast in idolatry will come to their senses, turn away from their vain worship and empty nothings, and worship the Lord in knowledge and in truth looking to him for their profit, providence and pleasure. In the end, Isaiah sees the nations shouting with joyful adoration that the Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob. In the midst of the valley of death, the Lord has brought water and life to his people providing for their every need.
This is the vision that Isaiah shares with the Jews to lead them towards repentance, and once again, he reasons with them in vv.18-19 showing them all that could have been if they had simply trusted the Lord and looked to him by faith. These verses remind me of the one verse in the hymn What a Friend we Have in Jesus, when the author says, “O, what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” In a similar manner Isaiah is showing the Jews that if they would have just trusted the Lord and loved his law then all this devastation would never have occurred. Sin is so destructive; doubt is so disturbing, and idolatry is so dulling that we can’t see the goodness of the Lord; we can’t enjoy the peace of the Lord and we lose all assurance of God’s love and salvation. For God’s own sake and for our own, may the Lord show us mercy by giving us more of his Spirit that we might believe the promises of God, rest in His good providence, and enjoy more of his fellowship and friendship as we walk with the Lord by faith.