Isaiah 44

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 23, 2000

Introduction

The last chapter ended with God reminding the Jews that they had grown tired of God (Is. 43:22) and had stopped bringing offerings to Him (Is. 43:23-24). He had been the one who had forgiven them (43:25), but they were still rebelling against Him. God continues with His reassurance of His love for Israel.

Isaiah 44

:1 O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:

The Jews are Godís chosen people (Is. 41:8). Even now, though we are in a period of time that we refer to as the "times of the Gentiles", there will be a day when God will once more bring full spiritual restoration to Israel (Rom. 11:25-26).

:2 the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb

Lesson

Protecting the unborn.

God considered you a person before you are born.

When Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, she was visited by Mary, who was already carrying the baby Jesus in her womb. They were at least six months apart in the conception of their children (Luke 1:26), meaning that even if Elizabeth was about to deliver, Jesus was no more than 12 weeks in the womb.

(Luke 1:41-44 KJV) And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: {42} And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. {43} And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? {44} For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Why did Elizabeth and her baby react this way? Because of the mass of tissue in Mary? No, because there was a child inside her, the Lord. He was recognizable even by the baby inside Elizabeth!

Unborn children are people.

I found an interesting news article a few weeks back:

U.S. abortions fall to record low ó LISA KOONIN

MSNBC NEWS SERVICES Jan. 6 ó The number of legal abortions performed in the United States declined in 1997 to the lowest level in about two decades, federal health officials said Thursday.

ĎSince 1990, the year in which the number of abortions was highest, the annual number of legal induced abortions in the United States has steadily declined.í

THE CENTERS for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 20 of every 1,000 women of reproductive age (15 to 44) had abortions in 1997, the same rate as the previous two years and the lowest since 1975.

The number of abortions for every 1,000 live births dropped from 314 in 1996 to 305 in 1997 ó also a 25-year low, the CDC saidÖ

There were 1,429,577 legal abortions reported in 1990.

Donít be lulled into thinking that our nation is on the right track with these figures. Weíre still talking about one million babies being killed each year. For every four pregnancies in 1997, one of the children was killed. For every three babies that come out of the Newborn Nursery in the hospital, one was killed. Perhaps this sounds unpleasant. Itís simply the ugly truth.

The article was very careful to point out that 88% of the abortions occurred before the 12th week of pregnancy, as if that makes it okay. You didnít become a person after the 12th week of pregnancy. The Bible says you became a person at conception.

I have a hard time with the politicians who say they would like to simply lower the number of abortions in America. If abortion is morally acceptable, why bother to lower the number of them? If abortion is not morally acceptable, then why do we allow it at all? People talk about protecting the rights of women, but who is protecting the rights of the children?

Letís imagine that you come to the church office this week to talk with me. But when you get to the office, I tell you that I donít have time to meet with you, that itís really not a convenient time, and so I take out a revolver and shoot you. Bang! Youíre dead.

What we are doing with our unborn babies is nothing different. Itís not convenient to be having children, so we kill them. Itís just that we do it in a way where we donít see their faces. We are sacrificing our children on the altar of our own convenience.

Godís mercy Ė Itís possible that there are some here this morning who have had an abortion. There are some gals who have had abortions. There are some men here who have encouraged their wife or girlfriend to have an abortion.

Donít run from the fact of what youíve done.

Abortion is horrible, but it is just like all other sins. The pathway to Godís forgiveness comes through repentance.

You can experience Godís forgiveness if you will come to the place where you stop making excuses for your actions, and admit that what you did was wrong. The Bible says,

(1 John 1:9 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:2 and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.

Jesurun Ė [email protected] Ė a term or affection, meaning "upright one"

:3 I will pour water upon him that is thirsty Ö I will pour my spirit

Isaiah has already spoken about God giving water to the thirsty (Isa. 41:18; 43:19).

But now God clarifies that the water He is talking about is the Holy Spirit. The prophet Joel also told of this event as well:

(Joel 2:28-32 KJV) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: {29} And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. {30} And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. {31} The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. {32} And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church, Peter said that the prophecy of Joel 2 was being fulfilled (Acts 2:16f)

Joel 2 is a prophecy that also has another fulfillment, one which will be fulfilled when the Holy Spirit is poured out on Israel during the Tribulation (Joel 2:30-32).

Ezekiel also tells of an outpouring of Godís Spirit on Israel in the last days:

(Ezek 36:27 KJV) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (also Eze. 39:29)

Lesson

The Spirit is for now.

This isnít just for the past or for the future, but for us now as well. Jesus has made us a promise:

(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.)

Jesus promises this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but there are three requirements for you to be able to experience the flood of the Holy Spirit:

1. You must be thirsty. If you donít have a need for the Lord to be working in your life, then He wonít. Thirst isnít just a mental awareness, itís an inner craving.

2. You must come to Jesus. You wonít get it just from having somebody you admire pray for you. Itís good to have people pray for you, but you must be coming to Jesus.

3. You receive the Spirit by faith (drink Öbelieveth). God promises to fill you. You need to trust Him to do it. You trust Him to fill you not because youíve experienced some emotional thrill (though that may happen), but because Heís promised, and youíve believed. Itís an act of your will. Itís your choice to open your heart to Him.

Sometimes just the act of taking a deep breath is a physical way that you can respond by saying to the Lord, "Iím willingly receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit into my life!"

:5 I am the Lord's Ö surname himself by the name of Israel.

(Isa 44:5 NLT) Some will proudly claim, 'I belong to the LORD.' Others will say, 'I am a descendant of Jacob.' Some will write the Lord's name on their hands and will take the honored name of Israel as their own.

For now, the Jews are a much hated race of people. Whenever you come across a bigoted person, among their list of people they hate will be the Jews. Iím sure the Jews arenít totally innocent in this either. As we heard on Wednesday night from Samy Tanagho, they have done their share of things to make it easier for others to hate them.

But keep one thing in mind. God doesnít hate the Jews. They are His people. Even when they are under His discipline, He still has chosen them and loves them. Thatís been the whole theme through the last couple of chapters of Isaiah (Isa. 43:1,4).

But there will be a day when God will once more pour out His Spirit on Israel, and as a result, the Jews will suddenly become very popular. Everyone will want to be like the Jews.

(Zec 8:23 KJV) Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Lesson

Do people want to be like you?

Illustration

A young girl became a Christian in an exciting revival at her church and was baptized the closing Sunday morning. That afternoon she ran through the house singing and dancing. Her sour grandfather rebuked her with these words, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Just joined the church and singing and dancing on the Lordís Day!" Crushed by her grandfatherís attitude, the little girl went out to the barn, climbed up on the corral fence, and observed an old mule standing there with a sad, droopy face, and bleary eyes. As she reached over and patted the mule sympathetically, she said, "Donít cry, ole mule, I guess youíve just got the same kind of religion that grandpa has!"

The Bible says,

(Psa 34:8 KJV) O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

If the Lord is at work in us, then when people get close enough for a taste, what they should taste should be sweet. This too comes from the Holy Spirit.

:6-20 God versus idols

:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it

There is no other God like ours who knows and speaks of the future.

:8 Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any

Lesson

There are no other gods.

The Greeks, as many cultures, had the idea that there are many gods living at some Mount Olympus, like a community. Each god had his own responsibilities, and the various gods had various abilities and powers.

The truth is, there is only ONE divine being in the universe.

(1 Cor 8:4-6 KJV) As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. {5} For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) {6} But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

There are other spiritual beings that have power.

The demonic world is the real power behind the other "gods" that the world may worship. But demons arenít divine, they are created, angelic beings that rebelled against Godís leadership.

(1 Cor 10:19-20 KJV) What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? {20} But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

Satan himself is a fallen angel. Be careful you donít fall into the incorrect idea of thinking that Satan is the opposite of God, a being of equal strength. Satan is nothing like God in ability or power. He is at war with God, and though he may be far more powerful than us humans, he is infinitely inferior to God.

:9 they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know

People who worship other "gods" know deep down inside that it doesnít work.

I think thatís one reason why sharing with people what Jesus has done in your life can be so powerful.

:10 a graven image that is profitable for nothing

The sarcasm is that people will trust in something that ultimately wonít help them.

Illustration

"The Race Track"

Charlie was a regular visitor at the racetrack. One afternoon he noticed an unusual sight. Right before the first race, a Catholic priest visited one of the horses in the stable area and gave it a blessing. Charlie watched the horse race very carefully, and sure enough the blessed horse came in first! Charlie followed the priest before the next race, and again he went to the stables and performed a similar procedure. Charlie played hunch and put a couple of dollars on the blessed horse. Sure enough the blessed horse came in by two lengths and Charlie won close to fifty bucks! The priest continued the same procedure through the next few races and Charlie won each time. He was now ahead $1000, so between races Charlie left the track and went to the bank and withdraw his lifeís savings $20,000. The biggest race of the day was the last one. Charlie followed the priest and watched carefully which horse he blessed. He then went to the betting window and put his whole $21,000 bundle of cash on that horse to win. Then Charlie went out to watch the horses race. Down the stretch they came, and as they crossed the finish line, the horse Charlieís fortune was bet on was dead last! Charlie was crushed. He located the priest and told him that he had been watching him bless the horses all day, and they all became winners except the last horse on which he had bet his life savings. Charlie then asked, "What happened to the last horse which you blessed? Why didnít it win like the others?" "Thatís the trouble with you Protestants," sighed the priest. "You can never tell the difference between a blessing and the Last Rites."

:18 he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see

shut their eyes Ė tuwach Ė to spread over, overlay, plaster; NAS Ė "smeared over their eyes". It is an Eastern custom in some cases to seal up the eyes of offenders.

Lesson

Lies lead to blindness

There will be a special kind of blindness upon peopleís hearts in the last days when the antichrist is revealed.

(2 Th 2:7-12 KJV) For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. {8} And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: {9} Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, {10} And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: {12} That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

God will help the people during the tribulation period to believe lies because they did not "love the truth".

For some of you, youíve heard a lot about Jesus, but youíd rather not become another one of those "Jesus freaks". Youíd rather just do your own thing. But what your "own thing" means is not loving the truth about God. Instead youíre running. You are a prime candidate for blindness. Listen to the truth.

:19 I have burned part of it in the fire

The irony is that they are worshipping part of the tree, but burning the other part.

:13-20 maketh it after the figure of a man

Man often makes his idols in his own image. But God made us in His image.

Lesson

Are you shaping God, or is He shaping you?

Sometimes we can find ourselves picking and choosing the things we will decide to believe about God.

There are people who refuse to believe that there is a place called hell.

There are others who refuse to think that God would allow sickness or suffering in a believerís life.

Itís much better though when we choose to keep things in the correct perspective. God is our Maker. He is the one who should be shaping us, not we shaping Him.

(Luke 8:18 KJV) Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

If we pay attention to the things that God has been saying to us, and we allow them to shape us, we will be finding God doing more and more in our lives. Donít pick and choose what youíll allow God to tell you. Listen and obey.

:21-28 Godís unchanging relationship with Israel

:27 That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:

I believe God may be referring to the stopping of the Euphrates river, one of the tactics used by Cyrus to conquer the city of Babylon. But weíll look more at that in Isaiah 45.

:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd

Isaiah is writing about 700 BC. In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, would conquer the city of Jerusalem and take the Jews with him back to Babylon.

Cyrus was the king of Persia who would eventually conquer Babylon in 538 BC.

Josephus tells us that when Cyrus conquered Babylon, he found out about Isaiahís ancient prophecies about him, even calling him by name, and responded by making a decree that the Jews could return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. (Antiquities, 11:1:3-7) Weíll see more about Cyrus next week (Is. 45).

:22 return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

redeemed Ė ga'al Ė to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, ransom

Though God purchased Israel by the great things He did to take them out of slavery in Egypt, ultimately all of us have been purchased by God through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

(1 Pet 1:18-19 KJV) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; {19} But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Lesson

Redemption requires returning.

Note the order. We donít return to the Lord so that Heíll redeem us. We return to the Lord because He has redeemed us.

He has paid such a great price for you. He wants you back.

(1 Cor 6:18-20 KJV) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. {19} What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? {20} For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.