Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 61
ISAIAH 42:8 – 45:3
Again, we welcome you to an informal Bible study. For those of you that are brand new, you’ve probably just caught us in the last week or two, we have gone all the way from Genesis up through the Old Testament and New Testament and pretty much hit all the highlights. Now, we’re coming back and picking up some of the things we skimmed over. The book of Isaiah is one of them, and we’ll probably do a few others like this. Now, let’s pick up at the beginning of chapter 44.
“Yet now hear, O Jacob (This is the Lord speaking, and again He refers to them as:) my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:” Now, you’ve got to remember God uses those two terms interchangeably and sometimes together. We have to be careful that we don’t lose sight of the fact that the Ten Tribes to the north were called Israel and the Two Tribes to the south were called Judah. But, nevertheless, we use the terms Jacob and Israel pretty much in unison.
“Thus said the LORD that made thee, (Well, what does that make Him? The Creator!) and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun (That’s just another title for Israel – the upright ones.) whom I have chosen.” Now, you want to remember (I won’t take you back and show you the verses) that the Lord said to Israel, “I have not chosen you because you are the greatest.” He didn’t choose them because they were the most powerful nation on earth. He didn’t choose them for any reason whatsoever “but by His grace.” By His Grace He chose them and set them aside to be the chosen or the covenant people. All right, reading on, verse 5:
“One shall say, I am the LORD’s and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. (See how synonymous they are?) 6. Thus saith the LORD the (What again?) King of Israel,…” Now, I want you to see these things, this constant reference to the Lord, Jehovah, God the Son as Israel’s King. Oh, He’s not ruling over them, yet, but this is future that one day He’s going to be their King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
“…and his redeemer (See how the two go hand in hand?) the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last;…” What does that remind you of? Revelation, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” the first letter of the alphabet and the last letter of the alphabet. I am the beginning and the end, all through Scripture.
“…and beside me there is no God. 7. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? And the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them.” He is the God of the future!
“Fear not, neither be afraid: have I not told you from that time and declared it? You are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God, I know not any.” All right, I was reminded of the name Ingersoll, the great famous agnostic, or atheist? This is sort of, I’m paraphrasing, I can’t quote it exactly, but this is what the man said, “The God of the Bible is proud and arrogant. Who does He think He is?” Isn’t that something? Well, nobody but an atheist could say something like that.
God has every right to be anything He wants to be. He can be arrogant if He wants to be. He can be totally absolute because He is the God over everything. He’s Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants to do. It’s His universe. If He wants to wipe it out tomorrow – that’s His prerogative. The only reason He won’t is because He’s promised a better future than that for the believer, but He could if He wanted to. He’s Sovereign. I’ve been stressing that in all the years I’ve been on television, the God of this Bible is Sovereign. Nobody can argue with Him. Nobody can debate Him. He can do whatever He wants. All right, verse 9, now we come back to the idolatry again.
“They that make a graven image are all vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not,…” In other words, Israel with the background that they had and their history and with their Scriptures should have known better. How could they fall into the worship of wood and stone and metal, as we’re going to see here in just a minute?
“…nor know; that they may be ashamed.” My, they should have been embarrassed to tears to have their neighbors step in the door and see that idol up on the mantle. That’s what they should have been, but they weren’t. Now verse 10.
“Who hath formed a god, (small ‘g’, so it’s an idol) or molten a graven image that is profitable for (How much?) nothing? (Those idols can’t accomplish anything.) 11. Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.” Who? These makers of idols.
Now, here they come, and remember this is 700 BC. Every time I read this, I’m immediately taken back to my days when I was in high school and shortly after in the ‘40’s’ and so forth, and you’d go to the village blacksmith and what did every blacksmith have? He had a forge. Come on, you older people know that. What was the forge? Well, it was that place where they had the pile of coals and something to blow the air up from underneath them, whether it was hand run bellows or, later on, an electric motor. They would blow that wind up through that coal until it would get what? White hot. They would lay that metal in there. I remember watching that old blacksmith more than once lay that piece of steel in there until it got white-hot. Then what would he do? He’d take his tongs and carry it over to the anvil and start beating on it with his hammer. It’s right out of the Book! Now, look at it.
“The smith (the blacksmith) with the tongs (with which he picked up the hot steel) both worketh in the coals, (They’re not just ordinary coals. They are forged coals with the air blowing through it to make them hotter.) and he fashioned it with (what?) hammers,…” Oh, I love this! They weren’t cavemen. My, they had all kinds of expertise. They were experts at it. They could mold this metal and with it they would make what? Idols. That’s what they’re doing. They’re using their expertise to make idols.
“…fashioneth it with hammers, worketh it with the strength of his arms;…” You know, have you ever seen a caricature of a blacksmith? What has he got? He’s got biceps like most pro-football players would dream of because he was using his arms constantly to either lift the heavy steel or to beat it with the hammer. All right, reading on:
“…and with it the strength of his arms; yea, he is hungry, his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.” Why? Because that idol couldn’t do him any good. Now, let’s go to the other guy. He doesn’t work in steel; he’s going to work with wood.
“The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; (same thing that they do today) he fitteth it with planes, (Now, you all know what a plane is. You plane your wood and get it smooth.) he marketh it out with a compass, (if he’s going to draw a circle) and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.” As an (what?) idol. Unbelievable! This is Israel! This is Israel, not Babylon, not Egypt. God’s chosen people!
“He heweth him down cedars and taketh the cypress and the oak, (He goes out into the forest and picks out a beautiful tree.) which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, (for whatever use he’s going to need) and the rain doth nourish it.” Who gives the rain? God does.
“Then shall it be for a man to burn: (Now, you want to remember that fire was intrinsic for cooking, or warmth, or forging the metal. It had its uses.) for he will take thereof, and warm himself; (by the fire, in the fireplace or wherever) yea, he kindleth it, baketh his bread; yea, he maketh a god,…” All out of what? The same tree! You get the picture? He goes out and he cuts down this beautiful tree, and he’s going to use part of it for firewood. But, he’s going to use most of it to make an idol. Unbelievable! All right, so he makes a god.
“…and worships it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.” I can’t comprehend it, and I don’t think you can either that these are Israelites, the chosen people, with the Temple there in Jerusalem, with the sacrifices going on every day. The priests, the prophets, preaching up and down the land and yet the rank and file of Israel are steeped in idolatry.
So, does it make any difference to have a church on every corner? Not really. That doesn’t make the difference, but it’s what happens in the heart. We were just talking at break time, now we can’t judge because we can’t look on the heart, God is the final judge, but my goodness, we can be fruit inspectors. What kind of a life do they live when they’re not sitting in their pew? Do they have any love for the Word of God? Do they spend time in prayer every day? Do they share the Word with others when they have the chance? Now, I’m not one that feels you must make a fool of yourself and constantly preach at people at work or wherever else. But, be ready. The Scripture says that when you have an opportunity to share the Gospel, you do.
But see, Israel was steeped in their religion. They didn’t miss a feast day. But in their every day life, what were they? Idolaters. Depending on idols. Okay, read on, our time’s going fast. Verse 16, and we’re still going back to the tree that he cut down in the forest.
“He burneth part thereof in the fire; (for his wood, for his baking, his cooking) and with part thereof he eateth flesh; (cooking. He’s roasting.) he roasteth a roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and says, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire.” Then, he turns right around and with the rest of the tree he does what? Makes a god! It’s laughable if it wasn’t so pitiful.
“And the residue thereof he maketh a god:… 18. They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; (that is spiritually) and their hearts, that they cannot understand.” All right, I’m going to take you up to show you how Paul puts it. Leave Isaiah a minute, come up to I Corinthians, because whether it’s 700 BC or whether it’s 60 AD, when Paul probably wrote Corinthians, or whether it’s 2004 AD, it doesn’t make any difference. Not a bit. The human race has not changed one iota.
Oh, we may wear a little different clothes. We may have cell phones, and we may have all the other good things of life besides the basic everyday things of life, but, no, the human race hasn’t changed. You know, I’ve always made the analogy, I think I used it Saturday in our all-day seminar. Up until 1860 you could have taken a family from almost any place on earth, uprooted them and set them down someplace else. They could have kept right on living in the community because everybody still carried their water. They still cooked with fire and there were no modern conveniences. They still homespun their clothes.
But then, all of a sudden, in about the middle 1800’s things started changing. Of course, getting the world ready for the end time. But, you see, for thousands of years they lived no differently. Now, a lot of you are old enough to remember when at least your parents or your grandparents lived this kind of a lifestyle. They cooked with fireplaces. Our pioneers, you all know they cooked over open fire. They had to carry their water. They had to homespun their clothes. So the human race hasn’t changed.
All right, now the same way when it comes to spiritual things. I didn’t give you the verse yet did I? I Corinthians chapter 2 and I’m going to start all the way up at verse 9. But, the point I want to make is that the unbelieving world is just as ignorant today as Israel was back in Isaiah’s time. It hasn’t changed one whit. Here Paul writes to these Gentiles at Corinth and to us today:
I Corinthians 2:9
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Now, what class of people are we talking about? The believers. We’re talking about the believer.
I Corinthians 2:10-11
“But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: (that in-dwelling Holy Spirit that is part and parcel of the believer’s life) yea, the deep things of God. 11. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? (In other words, we’re human. We’re just like anybody else) even so the things of God knoweth no man, but by the Spirit of God.” Only the believer. The unbeliever can’t have this.
I Corinthians 2:10:12
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Now, are you getting the picture? Who alone can know this? The believer. The unbelieving world can’t put this together. They haven’t got a clue, is the word that I hear over and over. They haven’t got a clue, but we, the believer, do.
I Corinthians 2:13a
“Which things also (Paul says) we speak,…” He is revealing to us the things of the Spirit of God, which the unbelieving world can’t get a hold on. All right and it’s going to come to us.
I Corinthians 2:13b
“…not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches (How does the Holy Spirit teach?) comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” That’s exactly why I like to use various references to compare what the Word says here with what it says over there. I think it’s God’s way of enlightening us. All right, so “we compare spiritual things with spiritual things” and we can comprehend it. We can learn from it. But, now read the next verse.
I Corinthians 2:14
“But, the natural man (the unbeliever, the person who has never come into a salvation relationship) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: they are (what?) foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” God doesn’t expect him to understand. Why? “Because they are spiritually discerned.” Who gives us the discernment? The indwelling Holy Spirit, Who the unbeliever doesn’t have. So, he’s out in the dark, but that’s not his fault. He doesn’t have to stay there. What does John’s Gospel tell them? “Come in out of the dark, come to the Light.” But they don’t want to. As Jesus said it, John said it, “they love their darkness better than light.”
All right, back to Isaiah and coming back to where we left off in chapter 44. Verse 18 again, that’s where I got the idea of going to I Corinthians. It’s never been any different.
“They have not known nor understood: (Now, of course, we’re talking about Israel.) for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.” It was a providential judgment call because they were rebellious. How does Romans put it? “God gave them up.” It was a judicial thing.
“And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; (Now, we come back to that tree again. Don’t lose that tree.) yea, I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; (I’ve used it to heat the ovens.) I have roasted flesh, (I have cooked my meal with it.) and eaten it; and I shall make the residue thereof an abomination? (Yes, because what’s he going to do?) shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?” Well what’s he referring to? The idol that he made out of it.
Now, get the picture? He uses part of the tree for his household needs, the fire to cook, to bake, but he’s going to use the rest of the log for making an idol. Then, when he’s got it made, what’s he going to do? Fall down and worship it.
Isn’t that ridiculous? Oh, the absurdity of it. But, listen, people are just as absurd today. Don’t blame the Israelites, they’re no different. My, when you see the stuff that people send me; what people are falling for today, it’s unbelievable. You wonder, how can intelligent people fall for something that is so false? But, it’s human nature.
“He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (God comes back and speaks again to the Nation.) 21. Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: (God hasn’t given up on them. Anybody else would have, but the God of Grace doesn’t. He continues pleading with them and dealing with them.) I have formed thee; thou are my servant: Oh Israel, thou shall not be forgotten of me. 22. I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions,…” What does that tell you? Oh, now come back with me to Exodus. I’ve got time, and I think it’s chapter 33. Let’s drop down to verse 19, the last half of the verse. Remember that this is just shortly after they worshipped the golden calf at the base of Mount Sinai while Moses was up in the mountain. You know the story. In spite of all that, look what God reminds Moses in the last half of verse 19.
“…I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; (and I’m going to put the pronoun in) and I will be gracious, to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” What is that? That’s the Sovereign God. Even though Israel deserved judgment and chastisement, He’s not going to give up on them. And it’s no different today.
You know the most rebellious sinner, how does Paul put it? Oh, I’ve got time here, let’s jump again all the way up to Romans. God hasn’t changed. I think I want chapter 5, I want you to see God hasn’t changed. Really, the human race hasn’t changed. So, we’re under the same set of circumstances and that’s why we can proclaim these things from the pen of Paul that are just as valid for us today as what Isaiah was telling Israel. The same God. Oh, we’re under a whole different economy, but look what God says now through the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 5, let’s start at verse 19. This is before Israel. This is Adam.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many (all, really) were made sinners, so that by the obedience of one (Jesus the Christ and the work of the cross) shall many be made righteous.” Remember that we’re now made righteous by believing in our hearts that Jesus died for your sins and mine, and rose from the dead, plus nothing else.” We find that in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10 and many other places in Paul’s writings.
“Moreover the law entered, (Now, you want to remember the Law came in 2500 years after Adam.) that the offence might abound. (That sin might be seen for what it is, and so the Law shows man’s sin. But now, here’s the part I wanted.) But where sin abounded; grace did much more abound:” Why? Because the Sovereign God says, “I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” So, the whole concept is that there is no sin so great but that the Grace of God can lift them out of it. What a message – What a God!