Isaiah 41

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 2, 2000


Paul tells us,

(1 Cor 14:3 KJV) But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Isaiah 40 began a new section that is prophetic in this purest sense. God is speaking to His people to build them up, encourage them, and comfort them. Chapter 41 really picks up where chapter 40 stopped.

:1-9 The Almighty plans for a deliverer

:1 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength

islands'iy – coast, island, shore. God is speaking to all the distant places of the earth.

renewchalaph – the same word that was used in Is. 40:31; change for better, renew

We ended last week with –

(Isa 40:31 KJV) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

God is calling the people of the world to come and listen to His reasoning. He’s going to challenge them to think about just who God is. He’s also challenging them to do what He’s promised in Isaiah 40:31, that if they learn to wait upon Him, then He would renew their strength.

:2 Who raised up the righteous man from the east,

God is the one who will raise up this special person from the east.

God is talking about the Persian King, Cyrus, who will conquer the Babylonians and send the Jewish people back to their homeland, allowing them to rebuild their temple.

:2 called him to his foot

God called Cyrus to kneel in obedience at His, God’s, feet.

:3 even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.

Cyrus hadn’t personally been west of the Euphrates River until he started on his conquests, but eventually conquering all the way to Egypt.

:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?

Isaiah will later get even more specific about this man, Cyrus –

(Isa 44:24a, 28 – 45:1 KJV) Thus saith the LORD… {28} That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. {1} Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

Keep in mind that Isaiah is writing somewhere around 700 BC, and Cyrus won’t even be born until 599 BC! He would become king of Persia in 559 BC, and would conquer Babylon in 538 BC.

The writer of Chronicles records,

(2 Chr 36:22-23 KJV) Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, {23} Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.

The ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, gives us a reason why Cyrus would make such a decree. He records (Antiquities, 11:1:3-7) that Cyrus found out about Isaiah’s ancient prophecies about him, and that God had even called him by name. Because of this, Cyrus was moved to not only send the Jews home, but even to pay for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

It is no big deal for God to tell us about the future. He lives there.

We see time from our own limited perspective, like those sitting alongside Colorado Blvd. watching the Rose Parade. They see one float come by at a time. But God lives outside of our dimension, and can see all of time at once. God’s perspective is like the blimp that carries the aerial shot of the parade, showing the whole thing at once.

:5 The isles saw it, and feared

isles – the same places mentioned in verse 1, the ones that God is trying to reckon with, will see Cyrus coming and be afraid of him.

:7 So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith …

These people would be afraid of Cyrus, and their solution to their fears isn’t in turning to God for help, it’s in making more idols. Maybe a few more idols and they’ll be safe?

:10-20 Comfort to the needy

:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

dismayedsha`ah – to gaze at; to look in dismay or anxiety.

strengthen'amats – to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, bold, solid; make firm, assure

help`azar – to help, succour, support

upholdtamak – to grasp, hold, support, lay hold of, hold fast; to hold up

right hand of my righteousness – JFB: "My right hand prepared in accordance with My righteousness (faithfulness to My promises) to uphold thee"

God is going to hold them up because it’s the right thing to do.


God’s promise of help

If God is with you, you don’t need to be afraid.

He will give you strength. Perhaps not always the strength of eagles’ wings, but He’ll give you at least the strength to walk (Is. 40:31).

:12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them

(Isa 41:12 NASB) "You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent.

:13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand …

right hand – The right hand is typically the strong hand.


He’s holding you.

Some of my children scare me. If I were to let them get out of the car and walk through the parking lot of the grocery store, they’d surely get run over. They haven’t quite got the knack of looking out for cars, or much of anything. So, when we get out of the car, I’ll grab their hands. I know they’ll be safe then if I have a firm grip on their hand. They may want to lag behind, but they can’t if I’m holding them. They may want to jump out in front of a car, but they can’t because I’m holding them. They may not be sure where we’re heading, but that’s okay because I do and I’m the one holding them. They may be tired at times and not want to walk much further, but if I have to, I’ll carry them, because I’m the one holding them.

There are times when I’m not particularly scared of what my children are going to do, but we’ll hold hands anyway. That’s because I love them. I love to hold their hands.

:14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob … I will help thee

wormtowla– worm, maggot, a worm they used to make a red dye from.

There are some who have a hard time with this concept. They think that it is not good for our self-image for God to be calling us, or Israel, a worm. And so you will find people trying to explain it away, as if there were something nice about being a "worm".

David doesn’t seem to have any trouble getting to the point in prophesying of what Jesus would be thinking while on the cross when he writes,

(Psa 22:6 KJV) But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

There’s nothing nice about being a worm. It is a place of reproach.


God’s help does not depend on us deserving it.

He doesn’t say to them, "Fear not you most valuable and important people who the world just can’t live without, I won’t let you down!"

No. He calls them a "worm". And keep in mind, He knows what it’s like to be a worm (Ps. 22:6).

Your value does not depend upon what you’ve done or what people think of you. There are many ways in which it is too true that we’re simply a "worm".

Your value depends on who values you.


Baseball cards – There is nothing of value intrinsic to a baseball card. It’s simply a piece of cardboard with some colored ink on it. But there are some cards out there that are valued at hundreds of dollars, some in the thousands! (1998 Upper Deck, Ken Griffey Jr., $3,000!)

These cards aren’t valuable because they’re made of expensive stuff. They’re valuable because someone is silly enough to pay a high price for them.

And God was "silly enough" to pay an incredibly high price for you.

He had His Son put to death in your place.

God’s value of you is enough. We need to find that place where we realize that God’s esteem of us is enough. It’s all we need.

:15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument

(Isa 41:15 NLT) You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear all your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains.

:17 When the poor and needy seek water …

This might be talking about the Babylonian exiles returning and depending on God, but the ultimate fulfillment is in Jesus.

(John 7:37-39 KJV) In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)


If you want God to work, you need to be thirsty!

If you don’t really think you have a very great need for God to work in your life, then He probably won’t. If you are satisfied with the way things are in your life now, then you probably won’t see much more of God at work.

Some of us have been quite unsatisfied with what we see God doing in our own personal lives. That may not be such a bad thing. In fact, it means we’re only a step away from the gushing rivers. That step comes when we come to Jesus and drink. We don’t come to others and drink, we come to Jesus.

:18 I will open rivers in high places … in the midst of the valleys

high places … valleys – God is able to refresh us in the "highs" and the "lows" of life.

:19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar …

shittah – acacia tree / box tree – a type of cedar

This may be a prophecy of how God would be restoring the land of Israel, as it is being done today. Ultimately it will be fulfilled when Jesus returns and brings restoration to planet earth.

:20 That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this


Your fruitfulness points to the Lord.

When people see the kinds of things that God’s Living Water is doing in your life, they will recognize that God is at work in you.

(John 15:8 NASB) "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

:21-29 Challenge to idolaters

:21 Produce your cause …

God is now going to lay out a challenge to those who are following after idols.

:22 Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen…

Can any of the world’s idols speak? Can they talk about the past or predict the future?

:23 that we may know that ye are gods

God is challenging these idols. Are they real or not?

:25 I have raised up one from the north

north – Cyrus is said to come from the East (vs.2), because Persia is east of Babylon; but from the north, in reference to Media.

:26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous?

righteoustsaddiyq – just, lawful, righteous; right, correct, lawful. Fulfilled prophecy shows that God is right.


Want to know the future?

What about the predictions each year in the supermarket tabloids? Have you ever stopped to look at what these people predicted and what has happened?


Failed Psychic Predictions 1999

Skeptical Inquirer Magazine Releases, by Gene Emery

December 1999

AMHERST, N.Y.—Remember the ‘90s? It was the decade when scientists discovered an anti-aging drug that stretched the normal life span to 150 years, Madonna gave birth to quintuplets, earthquakes transformed both San Diego and Los Angeles into islands, and a Super Bowl had to be canceled because so many players were suspended for drug use, that both coaches couldn’t field a team…

… The psychics said 1999 would be the year that:

A pollution cloud forced New York City to be quarantined;

Wynonna Judd quit country music to become a women’s wrestler;

Marijuana replaced petroleum as the nation’s chief source of energy;

The cast of 60 Minutes II was replaced by Candice Bergen, Mary Tyler Moore and Margot Kidder;

The Statue of Liberty lost both arms in a terrorist blast;

…Anthony Carr, billed as "the world’s most documented psychic" by the National Examiner, is documented as predicting that Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy would give birth to healthy twins.

…Sanjiv Mishra of India, described by the tabloid Sun as one of the ten "greatest psychics on Earth," made the not-so-great forecast that JFK Jr. would fly "on a space shuttle mission in August," with John Glenn as his co-pilot…

Don’t be going to any of these places for advice!

:27 …I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings.

(Isa 41:27 NLT) I was the first to tell Jerusalem, 'Look! Help is on the way!'

:29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing


The strength of fulfilled prophecy.

Our Scriptures are like no other "religious writings". Nothing can be compared with them. God has clearly shown us that He speaks in the Scriptures because they give detailed pictures of the future and then are fulfilled. There are hundreds of prophecies dealing with hundreds of topics.

One of the greatest topics is that of the coming of a Savior. Over three hundred specific prophecies were given concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ. There are about five hundred more that are concerned with His Second Coming.

In all there are over 300 prophecies that detailed the first coming of Jesus to the earth.

God went into great detail so there would be no mistake about who the Messiah would be.

The prophecies contained such things as:

His deity. (Ps.2:7; Is.7:14) His lineage. (Gen.22:8; 21:12; Num.24:17; Gen.49:10; Is.11:1) His birthplace. (Mic.5:2) The miracles. (Is.35:5) His teachings. (Ps.78:2) His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. (Ps. 118:25) The very DAY of His arrival. (Dan.9:24-27) His betrayal by a close friend. (Ps.41:9) The price of His betrayal. (Zech.11:12) Explicit details of His death. (Ps.22) His resurrection. (Ps.16:10)

What are the odds of someone fulfilling these prophecies?

If just eight of the prophecies are taken, mathematicians have figured that the odds would be 1 in 1017 (That’s a "10" with 17 zeroes after it).

What's that like?

Peter Stoner writes, "we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir up the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom."

If we take 48 of the prophecies, the odds increase to 1 in 10157 (That’s a "10" with 157 zeroes after it).

What's that like?

Stoner writes, "We must select a smaller object. The electron is about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will take 2.5 times 1015 of them laid side by side to make a line, single file, one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one inch long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it would take us 19 million years to count just the one inch line of electrons. If we had a cubic inch of these electrons and we tried to count them it would take us, counting steadily 250 each minute, 19 million times 19 million times 19 million years, or 6.9 times 1021 years".

"With this introduction, let us go back to our chance of 1 in 10157. Let us suppose that we are taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? What kind of pile will this number of electrons make? They make an inconceivably large volume"

And this is only the chance of one man fulfilling 48 prophecies.

There were over 300 prophecies of Jesus!

:26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous?

Are you looking for proof of God’s existence? Are you looking to find out if He’s really "real" or not? What more could you ask for?