The God who speaks
God is the only true God who speaks to accomplish His purposes
Published April 11th, 2019
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Expositional notes // These are notes from studying the text, not part of the teaching but I included anyway so you can understand my thought process. The text has a number of progressions, almost everything that is said, is said at least twice. The point is made an then re-emphisesed. It creates the effect ensuring that every point is made to stand strong and cemented. V10 and 1 have three verbs in the present tense, declaring, saying and calling. Firstly, God is constantly doing all of them, they are not things that He did once or will one day do, rather it is a part of who He is. That is what He does and who He is. The way God identifies Himself is by what He declares, says and does I think that these three words play the following role Declaring: He makes things happen Saying: how He declares things to happen. The manner is that He speaks. He declares His will by speaking, His Word is that powerful. Calling: This is the example of how He does stuff. I think that those 3 words describe what makes God Himself. Those are the characteristics that He describes Himself by. That is what makes Him God. In the context, it is also what separates Him from other "gods". I think that the last arc is an inference from the fact that God is God alone and there is no other. Because He is God (as He has defined Himself to be), He has spoken and He will act, and accomplish His purposes. This text is part of God showing that He is supreme (above other God's) and that Israel should turn and fear Him. The transgressors that He refers to is referring to Israel. Israel has turned away from God and God is calling them back to Himself. In this set of chapters God shows how serving idols is futile and the He is better than them. Simply put, it is like God is making a case for Himself. With regards to the arc itself, I am not fully sure on the relationship between the sections, 9b starts with "for" indicating that the reason for remembering the former things of old is coming Teaching This passage teaches us who God is. The context is God showing that He is better and supreme over other God's. He is telling Israel how futile their idols are and making a case for Himself. I think that one can imagine this as a kind of showdown from a superhero movie and there is one clear winner - The only true God. Israel has turned away from serving God and through these prophecies, God (through Isaiah) is calling His people back to Himself. The call The passage starts out by a call to the hearer to take note of what is going to be said. We see this in the words, "remember" which is mentioned twice and "recall it to mind". It is clear that the author wants the hearer to think and remember and think about what is to be said. The words "stand firm" tell us that the result of the message which is coming is steadfastness, that we will stand firm. We can be encouraged that as we learn about God and His power the result is that we can stand firm and not be shaken by life. It is also worth noting that this text is aimed not at people following God but at "transgressors" - people who have turned away from following God. God is calling back people who have deserted Him. The call is to remember the former things of old which the author goes on to unpack. Firstly he gives the reason (v10-11b) we should remember the "former things", then he goes on to explain what the "former things" are (v11c-11f). Given Israels history of God delivering them from Egypt and constantly helping them and giving them victory, it is clear that the call is a message to come back to where they were. This isn't a new message but rather a call to return to how they used to follow God when God delivered and saved them. The reason The author starts by saying that the reason for following God is that His is God and there is no other. The author is very clear. God is the only true God and there is non like Him. The text says "there is no other" and "there is non like me". The author makes it clear that God alone is God. One might ask, what does it mean for God to be God? or how does that affect anything. The author goes on to explain how God distinguishes Himself from other Gods and what makes Him better. The text uses three verbs to define what makes God who He is and why there is none like Him. 1) Declaring To declare means to announce or proclaim something with a tone of seriousness. The first was that God differentiates and defines Himself is that He is the one who separates the end from the beginning and announces what is to come. Throughout this section of Isaiah, God regularly reminds the people that He is the only one who knows what is to come and can make claims about the future. Isaiah 45:21 God boasts about He is the only one who told them what would happen. Isaiah 44:7 God challenges anyone else to predict the future proving that He is the only one who can. Isaiah 43:9 teaches that no one else apart from God is able to show what will happen. This whole section of Isaiah is littered with God showing how His ability to declare future events separates Him from other Gods. This text along with several others say that the reason that God can know what is to come is that He is the one who has ordained/decreed what will happen in every situation. In chapter 45, the author explains how even the most evil force of the time (Cyrus) was fully in God's control and used as an instrument to carry out God's plan. We see in chapters like Romans 9 that God's Word will not fail and He will save His elect. Daniel 4:35 teaches that there is no one who can steady God's hand, ie make Him do what He doesn't want to do. Even in this text in v11 we see that God will accomplish all of His purposes. He holds the destiny of the world in the palm of His hands. He will bring His Word to pass no matter what. 2) Saying The verb "saying" is the manner in which God declares the end from the beginning. Throughout the whole of Scripture from creation (Genesis 1) to salvation (James 1:18) we see that God accomplishes His purposes by His Word. He spoke and the world was created. Hebrews 1:3 teaches the same thing, God upholds the universe (exercises divine sovereignty) by the power of His Word. God's word is the means that God uses to keep the universe as it is. What God says is that His counsel shall stand and that He will accomplish all His purposes. To rephrase that, God is saying that what He wants to happen will come to pass. There is nothing and nobody that can stop God from accomplishing His purposes. 3) Calling The author then goes on to give an example God being different from other gods. God calls a bird of prey from the east and it comes. This shows that God is sovereign over animals and nature. The second example is that God calls a "man of my counsel" from a far country and that he comes. God is sovereign over human choice. There is no human who can resist Gods decreed call. The former things The author now sums up the Israelites former way of knowing and worshiping and understanding God. God has spoken and He will bring it pass, He has purposed and He will do it. When Israel was serving God, they knew that God was in control of everything that happened. However, they have fallen into sin and forgotten that. Here God through Isaiah reminds Israel that He will accomplish His purposes. Summary To summarize here are three key truths that this passage teaches: There are no other Gods beside the Lord. He alone is God and nothing compares to Him. God is sovereign over all of creation and accomplishes all of His purposes. He is sovereign over nature and sovereign over mans will. The way that God accomplishes His purposes is through His Word. He speaks and things happen
Isaiah 46:8-11
“Remember this
and stand firm,
recall it to mind, x you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God,
and there is no other;
I am God,
and there is none like me,
y declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, z ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
a calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
b I have spoken,
and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed,
and I will do it.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.