48:1 “Hear this, O house of Jacob,
Who are called by the name of Israel,
And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah;
Who swear by the name of the Lord,
And make mention of the God of Israel,
But not in truth or in righteousness;
2 For they call themselves after the holy city,
And lean on the God of Israel;
The Lord of hosts is His name:
3 “I have declared the former things from the beginning;
They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it.
Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
4 Because I knew that you were obstinate,
And your neck was an iron sinew,
And your brow bronze,
5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you;
Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you,
Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them,
And my carved image and my molded image
Have commanded them.’
6 “You have heard; See all this.
And will you not declare it?
I have made you hear new things from this time,
Even hidden things, and you did not know them.
7 They are created now and not from the beginning;
And before this day you have not heard them,
Lest you should say, ‘Of course I knew them.’
8 Surely you did not hear,
Surely you did not know;
Surely from long ago your ear was not opened.
For I knew that you would deal very treacherously,
And were called a transgressor from the womb.
9 “For My name’s sake I will defer My anger,
And for My praise I will restrain it from you,
So that I do not cut you off.
10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it;
For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another.
This is a dark and painful passage yet even here there is hope and good news. After declaring the future end of Babylon, God turns back to Judah with a solemn message. He calls them out as taking His name but being stiff necked and hard headed. He reveals why He made the future from the beginning because if he hadn't, they would have given the credit to their idols. When God called Abraham and set in motion the events that would build his future family into a nation, He did it in stunning detail. He foretold the move to Egypt, the enslavement they would suffer, the escape, the wealth, and put it on a timeline right down to the day. Core to that entire prophecy was that through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would come the Seed first promised to Adam and Eve.
Here in Isaiah that Seed has not yet come. The Promised One is still to come. Before He arrives, Babylon will both rise higher and then crash at the hands of Cyrus, who will open the way for Judah to return home and rebuild.
As good as that news is for Judah it comes under a cloud. God isn't doing it as a reward for their faithfulness. He is going to do it despite their evil because of His faithfulness.
Here is the good news even in this dark passage: God is good independent of us. Unlike the pagan "gods" who supposedly reward good behaviour and send curses and punishment for bad behaviour, God faithfully carried out all His promises no matter what we do. The only part we have is to decide if we are for Him or against Him. Will we embrace Him, and benefit from His faithfulness in all its fullness, or will we reject Him and miss out?
The glory God is talking about at the end that He won't give to another is the glory He will give to Jesus as our Hero, our Rescuer, our Saviour. Baal will get no credit, neither will Molech, Dagon, or any other being, real or imagined. They can't. None of them and no "hero" now has ever laid out the future in advance and faithfully kept all their promises.
Tomorrow we'll go deeper into chapter 48 and discover a truth that is increasingly under attack today. For those of you who want to dig deeper, I encourage you to compare the last verses of chapter 47 with Revelation 17, and 18. I think you will find the parallels remarkable. What Isaiah wrote was more for us than it was for his own time...