Isaiah 46 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
III. Salvation (poetry), ch. 40-66
A. Peace assured through knowing the LORD God... (The God of Peace), ch. 40-48
6. Who judges Babylon's crimes and false gods, 46:1-47:15
1. Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth,
their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle:
your carriages [were] heavy loaden;
[they are] a burden to the weary [beast].
2 They stoop, they bow down together;
they could not deliver the burden,
but themselves are gone into captivity.
Bel... Nebo...- These are the Babylonian names of common heathen gods.
Bel was also known as Baal (to the Canaanites), Zeus (to the Greeks), and Jupiter (to the Romans). Nebo, known as Hermes (to the Greeks) and Mercury (to the Romans), was the god of learning, and therefore the spokesman for Bel (cp. Acts 14:12). Loyalty to these gods is reflected in the names of the kings of Babylon, eg., Nebuchadnezzar {'Nebo protect the crown'} and Belshazzar {'Bel protect the king'}.
Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth...- They fall before One who is superior to them. cp. 1Sam 5:3,4
their idols were upon the beasts...- ie., being carried away by the army that conquered Babylon.
Unable to deliver their adherents from conquest by their enemies, the false gods are carried away by those enemies as spoil. This prophecy, in foreview of the fall of Babylon, was given about 100 years before Jerusalem was taken captive by Babylon.
3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob,
and all the remnant of the house of Israel,
which are borne [by me] from the belly,
which are carried from the womb:
4 And [even] to [your] old age I [am] he;
and [even] to hoar hairs will I carry [you]:
I have made, and I will bear;
even I will carry, and will deliver [you].
5. To whom will ye liken me, and make [me] equal,
and compare me, that we may be like?
Again the LORD confronts His people with His sufficiency, in contrast to the worthless man-made idols, which had captured their attention.
     The nations fabricate their lifeless idols, maintain them, and pray to them in vain.
     But Israel's God, fashions His worshippers, carries them from birth to old age, delivers them from their enemies, and glorifies them in the end (v.13).
6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance,
[and] hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god:
they fall down, yea, they worship.
7 They bear him upon the shoulder,
they carry him, and set him in his place,
and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove:
yea, [one] shall cry unto him,
yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.
8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men
{ie., stand firm for the truth}:
bring [it] again to mind, O ye transgressors.
Remember this, and shew yourselves men...-
The LORD called Israel to hear {HB=shama, v.3,12; cp. Deu 6:4,5} and to remember {HB=zakar, call to mind} the obvious truth: that He is the only God (eg., Isa 45:5,21-23), and then to stand firm in that truth, from which they had transgressed {HB=pasha, stepped away, rebelled}.
9 Remember the former things of old:
for I [am] God, and [there is] none else;
[I am] God, and [there is] none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done,
saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east,
the man that executeth my counsel from a far country:
yea, I have spoken [it], I will also bring it to pass;
I have purposed [it], I will also do it.
12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted,
that [are] far from righteousness:
{cp. Jer 2:5}
13 I bring near my righteousness;
it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry:
and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
...for I am God and there is none else... (v.9-12) -
This truth should be evident to them, if they would consider:
  • [the emptiness of man-made gods, v.1-2,6-8]
  • the former things of old...-
    The LORD's historic work in behalf of Israel (eg., calling Abraham out of idolatry, making of him a great nation, delivering His people from Egypt, etc.).
    (ie., Remember how I have carried you from the beginning. v.3,4)
  • [that He is the only God]...declaring the end from the beginning...-
    The LORD's prophetic Word, both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled (cp. Isa 41:22-24).
    (ie., Consider that my Word has been confirmed by the things that have come to pass, and is certain concerning the future.)
  • [that He is the only God]...calling a ravenous bird from the east...-
    The LORD's causitive Word which would direct a heathen king (Cyrus) to accomplish His purpose (v.11; cp. Isa 44:24,28).
    (ie., Observe what I will do in the near future.)
hearken unto me, ye that are stouthearted {ie., high hearted, stubborn hearted}...-
Cyrus, a self-centered ungodly tyrant, would respond to God's Word.
But Israel, as a nation, had stopped their ears. Rather than standing for the truth (v.8,9), they were stubbornly standing their ground to defend the lies which they preferred (cp. Isa 48:4; Zech 7:11,12; Acts 7:51).
Yet, in spite of their hard hearts, the LORD graciously continues to plead with them.
ye... that are far from righteousness... I bring near my righteousness...- (cp. Isa 1:18-20)
All men are hopelessly separated from God, because by nature we are sinful. But, the LORD, in His grace, brings His righteousness within reach of the sinner. To lay hold of this righteousness, there is nothing for a man to do, except to hear (v.3,12) and believe God's Word. cp. Rom 3:21-26; 10:3-15; Eph 2:13
my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place {HB= natan, give, place, establish} salvation in Zion...-
When Isaiah wrote, this prophecy was entirely future. Its fulfillment is in two parts:
  1. Since then, God's Son was given, as the Lamb of God, to save His people from their sin.
    Thus, His salvation was established in Jerusalem, on the day, when the Lord Jesus Christ, offered Himself as the one sufficient sacrifice for sin. Heb 10:14-18
  2. Now, the promise looks forward to the completion of God's work of salvation,
    when Christ returns to judge Israel's enemies, and to establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem.
    cp. Psa 14:7; 46:1,6; Hab 2:3; Heb 10:37; Isa 28:16; 1Pet 2:6
...for Israel my glory {HB=tiph'arah, splendour, boasting}.-
In that day, Israel will glory in the LORD (Isa 45:25), and He will glory in them. The LORD's honor will be magnified because of the people which He has sanctified and made honorable for Himself. Isa 43:7; 44:23; 61:3; Joh 17:10; Eph 1:6; 2The 1:10-12
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