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                          "THE BOOK OF ISAIAH"

                 The One True God Versus Idols (40-48)

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS SECTION

1) To see how God used Isaiah to comfort to a generation of Israel long
   after his own death

2) To consider the challenge made to the nations of men and their idols
   proves the existence and identity of the One True God

3) To note the prophetic references that were fulfilled with the coming
   of Jesus Christ

SUMMARY

We now begin a new section that continues through the rest of the book
of Isaiah.  Chapters 40-66  contain prophecies and proclamations that
were designed to comfort God's people when they found themselves in
Babylonian captivity.  Though Isaiah himself did not live during the
period of Babylonian captivity, as a prophet he was able to speak words
of comfort to those who would experience that difficult time of Israel's
history.  In chapters 40-48, a recurring theme is the challenge that the
God of Israel makes to idols and those who worship them:  to prove their
existence by proclaiming what shall happen and then bring it to pass.

Chapter 40 serves as a prologue offering comfort and assurance, not only
in view of the coming deliverance (ultimately fulfilled with the coming
of Christ, 40:3-5), but in light of the incomparable greatness of God,
who supports and strengthens all who place their trust in Him.

In chapter 41, God's greatness is illustrated by His challenge to the
nations.  He challenges those who trust in idols to do as He did in
announcing His plans and bringing them to pass.  He also challenges
Israel to not fear, for He will not forsake them.  Chapters 42-43
describe God's care for Israel, especially through His coming Servant
(Christ, 42:1-4), and His superiority over the nations including
Babylon.  Chapters 44-45 reassure the people of Israel as God's chosen,
as the Lord promises to deliver them through Cyrus of Persia.  Such
deliverance will cause many others to turn to God.

Chapters 46-48 reveal God's coming judgment on Babylon and His plans for
Israel.  The idols of Babylon are nothing, and certainly unable to do as
God has done in announcing His plans beforehand and then bringing them
to pass.  God's judgment will humiliate Babylon, and then He will redeem
Israel, having refined her for His glory.

These chapters (40-48) contain one of most powerful arguments for the
existence of God.  Through prophecies uttered by His servants hundreds
of years before they are fulfilled, we find evidence that God exists,
and that He is the God of Israel!

OUTLINE

I. PROLOGUE OFFERING COMFORT AND ASSURANCE (40:1-31)

   A. TAKE COMFORT IN THE COMING OF THE LORD...
      1. A charge to comfort God's people - 40:1-2
      2. The voice of one preparing people for the coming of the Lord
         - 40:3-8
      3. Zion (Jerusalem) to announce the coming of the Lord God
         - 40:9-11

   B. THE INCOMPARABLE GREATNESS OF GOD...
      1. He is beyond human measure and counsel - 40:12-14
      2. Before Him the nations are nothing - 40:15-17
      3. Men try to make images in His likeness - 40:18-20
      4. God is too great, for no likeness can be equal to Him
         - 40:21-26
      5. Lack of trust in God rebuked, for He provides strength to the
         weary - 40:27-31

II. THE LORD'S CHALLENGE (41:1-29)

   A. CHALLENGING THE NATIONS...
      1. It is He Who raised up one from the east (Cyrus of Persia?)
         - 41:1-4
      2. While the nations seek comfort in their idols - 41:5-7

   B. CHALLENGING ISRAEL...
      1. To fear not, for as God's servant He will help them - 41:8-13
      2. To fear not, for He will not forsake them - 41:14-20

   C. CHALLENGING THOSE WHO SERVE IDOLS...
      1. To prove their case by declaring what will come and bringing it
         to pass - 41:21-24
      2. Even as He has raised up one from the north (Cyrus of Persia?)
         - 41:25
      3. Who among idolatrous men has declared things from the
         beginning? - 41:26-29

III. THE LORD'S CARE FOR ISRAEL (42:1-43:28)

   A. THROUGH HIS SERVANT...
      1. His Elect One (the Messiah?), through Whom He will bring
         justice to the Gentiles - 42:1-9
      2. Let all praise the Lord and give Him glory - 42:10-12

   B. THROUGH HIS REDEMPTION...
      1. While those who trust in idols will be turned back - 42:13-17
      2. Though Israel has been slow to learn - 42:18-25
      3. For He has ransomed Israel - 43:1-7

   C. THROUGH HIS SUPERIORITY...
      1. Over the nations, challenged to declare and deliver as He has
         done - 43:8-13
      2. Over Babylon, which He has purposed to destroy - 43:14-17
      3. Doing a new thing, making a road in the wilderness and rivers
         in the desert - 43:18-21

   D. THROUGH HIS PLEADING...
      1. To Israel, for her unfaithfulness to Him - 43:22-24
      2. Whom He will forgive, though her sins had led to her reproach
         - 43:25-28

IV. THE LORD'S DELIVERANCE OF ISRAEL (44:1-45:25)

   A. ISRAEL SHOULD NOT FEAR...
      1. For Israel is God's Chosen, and He will pour His Spirit on
         their descendants - 44:1-5
      2. The Lord, their King and Redeemer, is the only true God
         - 44:6-28
         a. Only He can declare events that are to come - 44:6-8
         b. Idols are made by men who are blind and foolish - 44:9-20
         c. The Lord has redeemed and will restore Israel through Cyrus
            - 44:21-28

   B. THE LORD PROMISES TO DELIVER ISRAEL...
      1. He, the only True God, has anointed Cyrus to be their deliverer
         - 45:1-13
      2. Israel's deliverance will cause many to turn to God - 45:14-25
         a. The effect of Israel's redemption upon the Gentiles - 45:
            14-17
         b. The Creator calls upon all, especially Israel, to come to
            Him - 45:18-25

V. THE LORD'S JUDGMENT ON BABYLON (46:1-47:15)

   A. THE LORD OF ISRAEL VERSUS THE GODS OF BABYLON...
      1. Babylon must carry their gods - 46:1-2
      2. Israel is upheld by the Lord - 46:3-4
      3. The idols made by men cannot answer nor do they save - 46:5-7
      4. The Lord declares the end from the beginning, and brings His
         salvation to pass - 46:8-13

   B. THE LORD'S JUDGMENT PRONOUNCED ON BABYLON...
      1. The Lord will humiliate Babylon - 47:1-7
         a. Upon her He will take vengeance - 47:1-3
         b. For she showed no mercy when He used her to judge His people
            - 47:4-7
      2. Babylon will not escape her judgment - 47:8-15
         a. Because of the arrogance of her sorceries, wickedness, and
            knowledge - 47:8-11
         b. Her sorceries and counselors will be unable to save her
            - 47:12-15

VI. THE LORD'S REDEMPTION OF ISRAEL (48:1-22)

   A. ISRAEL WILL BE REFINED FOR GOD'S GLORY...
      1. Israel has not leaned on the Lord in truth and righteousness
         - 48:1-2
      2. To cure their hardness and idolatry, God told them in advance
         what He would do - 48:3-8
      3. For His Name's sake He will not cut Israel off, but refine her
         - 48:9-11

   B. ISRAEL WILL BE REDEEMED AS GOD FORETOLD...
      1. Israel called to heed, as God will do His pleasure on Babylon
         - 48:12-15
      2. God had not spoken in secret; if only Israel had heeded!
         - 48:16-19
      3. Even so, Israel will go forth from Babylon, redeemed by the
         Lord! - 48:20-22

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THIS SECTION

1) What is suggested in the Introduction as the theme of Isaiah chapters
   40-66?
   - Hope For Troubled Times

2) According to the Introduction, what period of Israel's history do
   chapters 40-66 relate to?
   - The Babylonian captivity (ca. 690-620 B.C.)

3) How was Isaiah able to speak such words of comfort to people who
   lived after he died?
   - Through inspiration by the Holy Spirit

4) What is suggested in this study as the theme of Isaiah chapters
   40-48?
   - The One True God Versus Idols

5) What are the six main divisions of this section as outlined above?
   - Prologue Offering Comfort And Assurance (40)
   - The Lord's Challenge (41)
   - The Lord's Care For Israel (42-43)
   - The Lord's Deliverance Of Israel (44-45)
   - The Lord's Judgment On Babylon (46-47)
   - The Lord's Redemption Of Israel (48)

6) In what would Israel be able to take comfort? (40:1-9)
   - Her sins will be forgiven and warfare ended
   - The Lord is coming and His glory will be revealed

7) What two qualities are noted regarding the Lord when He comes? (40:
   10-11)
   - He will rule with judgment
   - He will care for His flock

8) How does Isaiah describe the incomparable greatness of God? (40:
   12-17)
   - He is beyond human measure and counsel
   - Before Him the nations are as nothing

9) Why was it folly to make images in His likeness? (40:18-26)
   - God is too great in His judgment and creative power

10) Why is lack of trust in God rebuked? (40:27-31)
   - Because He who neither faints nor is weary provides strength to the
     weary

11) What claim did God make in challenging the nations?  Who was He
    talking about? (41:1-4)
   - He raised one from the east to rule the nations
   - Cyrus of Persia

12) How would the nations try to find comfort? (41:5-7)
   - By encouraging one another with their idols

13) Why should Israel not fear? (41:8-20)
   - As their Redeemer, He will help them
   - As their God, He will not forsake them

14) What challenge does God make to those who serve idols? (41:21-24)
   - To declare what will come, and bring it to pass

15) Who was able to declare from the beginning what would happen? (41:
    25-29)
   - Other than God, no one

16) How does the Lord show His care for Israel? (42:1)
   - By foretelling the coming of His Servant (Jesus)

17) Who else would the Servant bless? (42:1,6)
   - The Gentiles

18) How did Jesus fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah 42:2-3?
   - Through the nature of His earthly ministry (cf. Mt 12:15-21)

19) What does God say about His glory? What does this say about Jesus?
    (42:8; cf. Jn 17:5)
   - My glory I will not give to another
   - Jesus must have been Deity to pray as He did

20) What response is called for by those among the nations? (42:10-13)
   - Let them sing to Lord, give Him glory and declare His praise

21) What does the Lord promise to do for those who were spiritually
    blind and deaf? (42:14-16
   - After judgment, restoration

22) For those who trust in idols, what will happen? (42:17)
   - They shall be turned back and greatly ashamed

23) Why had Israel as God's servant been robbed and plundered? (42:
    18-25)
   - Their spiritual deafness and blindness necessitated God's judgment

24) What did God promise to do for Israel following her judgment? (43:
    1-7)
   - To redeem and gather her from the nations where she had been
     scattered

25) What challenge to the nations is once against extended? (43:8-9)
   - To declare what is to come, to present witnesses of such ability

26) Who were God's witnesses of His ability to deliver what He has
    declared? (43:10-13)
   - The Israelites

27) What did God promise regarding Babylon? (43:14-17)
   - To make her people fugitives and destroy her army

28) While Israel had been unfaithful, what did God promise? (43:22-28)
   - To blot out her transgressions, though her sins will bring reproach
     upon her

29) Why is Israel, God's Chosen, told not to fear? (44:1-3)
   - For God will pour His Spirit and His blessing on their descendants

30) What evidence proves that the Lord, the King of Israel, is the only
    true God? (44:6-8)
   - Only He can appoint and proclaim things to come

31) What is said of those who make idols? (44:18-20)
   - They are foolish, their eyes and hearts shut by God

32) Through whom does God promise to restore Jerusalem and the temple?
    (44:28)
   - Cyrus (cf. 2Ch 36:22-23)

33) Through whom does God promise to deliver Israel from exile? (45:
    1,13)
   - Cyrus (cf. Ezr 1:1-11)

34) What effect will Israel's deliverance have among the Gentiles? (45:
    14-17)
   - It will cause many to turn to the God of Israel

35) Whom does God call to come to Him and be saved? (45:22-23)
   - All the ends of the earth

36) In whom shall the descendants of Israel be justified? (45:25)
   - In the Lord

37) What two things illustrated the weakness of the gods of Babylon?
    (46:1-2)
   - They had to be carried on beasts; they could not prevent their own
     captivity

38) Who had upheld Israel from birth to old age? (46:3-4)
   - The Lord

39) What were idols made out of gold or silver unable to do? (46:5-7)
   - Answer man's cries, nor save him out of his trouble

40) What distinguished the Lord God from all other gods? (46:8-11)
   - Declaring the end from the beginning, and fulfilling what He
     purposed

41) What did the Lord promise to Israel? (46:12-13)
   - To place His salvation and glory in Zion

42) What did the Lord promise to do to Babylon? (47:1-3)
   - To take vengeance on her, humiliating her

43) Why was God angry with Babylon? (47:4-7)
   - For showing no mercy when He used her to judge His people

44) Why would Babylon not escape her judgment? (47:8-11)
   - Because of the arrogance of her sorceries, wickedness, and
     knowledge

45) What would be unable to save Babylon? (47:12-15)
   - Her sorceries and counselors

46) How had Israel failed in their leaning on the Lord? (48:1-2)
   - By not doing so in truth and righteousness

47) How would God cure their hardness and idolatry? (48:3-8)
   - By telling them in advance would He would do

48) Why would God not totally cut Israel off, but instead refine her?
    (48:9-11)
   - For His own Name's sake

49) As Israel is called to pay heed, what did God promise to do? (48:
    12-15)
   - To do His pleasure on Babylon, with His arm against the Chaldeans

50) What passage strongly implies three distinct personalities in the
    Godhead?
   - Isa 48:16 ("the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me")

51) What plaintive cry by God is made? (48:17-19)
   - If only Israel had heeded, for God had not spoken in secret

52) Despite His judgment on Israel, what wonderful assurance was given
    by God? (48:20-21)
   - Israel would go forth from Babylon, redeemed by the Lord!

53) What ominous warning is given? (48:22)
   - There is no peace for the wicked
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