[Isa 48:1] Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah; who swear by the name of Jehovah, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness
[Isa 48:2] (for they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; Jehovah of hosts is his name):
[Isa 48:3] I have declared the former things from of old; yea, they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them: suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
[Isa 48:4] Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;
[Isa 48:5] therefore I have declared it to thee from of old; before it came to pass I showed it thee; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
[Isa 48:6] Thou hast heard it; behold all this; and ye, will ye not declare it? I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, which thou hast not known.
[Isa 48:7] They are created now, and not from of old; and before this day thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
[Isa 48:8] Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from of old thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou didst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
[Isa 48:9] For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
[Isa 48:10] Behold, I have refined thee, but not as silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
[Isa 48:11] For mine own sake, for mine own sake, will I do it; for how should [my name] be profaned? and my glory will I not give to another.
[Isa 48:12] Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
[Isa 48:13] Yea, my hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spread out the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
[Isa 48:14] Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear; who among them hath declared these things? He whom Jehovah loveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm [shall be on] the Chaldeans.
[Isa 48:15] I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.
[Isa 48:16] Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; from the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me, and his Spirit.
[Isa 48:17] Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am Jehovah thy God, who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
[Isa 48:18] Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
[Isa 48:19] thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the grains thereof: his name would not be cut off nor destroyed from before me.
[Isa 48:20] Go ye forth from Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans; with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth: say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
[Isa 48:21] And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
[Isa 48:22] There is no peace, saith Jehovah, to the wicked.
THE APPEARANCE OF KING MESSIAH AS ISRAEL'S REDEEMER AND DELIVERER
THE prophets frequently impersonated either Jehovah the Father or Jehovah the Son. In the first sixteen verses of this chapter Isaiah impersonated the Son at His first coming. The reason for this interpretation is that, though he used the personal pronouns, I, me, mine, and my, neither he, nor any other man, could do what is here affirmed. A further examination of the passage shows that what is related is that which is accomplished by Messiah at His first coming. These facts may be seen by a careful study of the passage.
In verse one Messiah addresses the people of Israel who are come forth out of the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of Jehovah ... but not in truth. The lives of people must correspond to their profession.
According to verse three the Messiah spoke through the prophets of old and, when the time for the fulfillment of any specific prediction arrived, performed it suddenly. That the spirit of Christ spoke through the prophets is seen from I Peter 1:10-12.
Messiah has always known the condition of Israel's heart--that she has been rebellious (Isa. 48:4, 5), as Moses declared (Deut. 29:2-4). Knowing that the people would make false claims in regard to idols and their ability to foretell the future, the Messiah, through the prophets, made known the principal events of history so that there would be no excuse for any Israelite's saying that his idol had shown these truths.
In verse six we have this language: "Thou hast heard it; behold all this; and ye, will ye not declare it?" Israel has heard the messages of the prophets. Messiah calls her attention to this fact and asks her will she not declare or confess it, that is, admit that He has spoken truthfully and correctly through the prophets. The last statement of verse six reads as follows: "I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, which thou hast not known." The marginal reading of "I have showed" is "I show thee ..." The trend of thought demands our acceptance of the footnote rather than the text rendering. This fact is evident when one sees that Messiah, looking backward and having told what He had said in the past, now proposes to make new disclosures. He volunteers to tell them things that have never been known--things hidden from the foundation of the world. The church and the Christian Dispensation were clearly revealed by the prophets, but the details of the present spiritual and political setup were indeed withheld from them. In other words, the new setup under the present reign of King Messiah was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets; but when Messiah comes in fulfillment of this prophecy, He makes new disclosures regarding it.
When He appears, He creates something new: "They are created now, and not from of old." When anyone reads this verse in the light of its fulfillment, he comes to the conclusion that this new thing is none other than the spiritual kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church.
In verse eight Messiah reverts to the theme which He mentions in verses four and five, namely, that Israel from the beginning has not had a heart receptive to truth. "Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from of old thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou didst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb." Men can harden their hearts. They can also take an attitude favorable to truth and desire to know the will of God (John 7:17). "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching ..." When Israel refuses to hear Messiah, He has just cause to blot her out of existence. But He refuses to do so, "for my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off" (vs. 9). He holds on to her and makes her pass through the furnace of affliction to refine her as silver: "Behold, I have refined thee, but not as silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (vs. 10). In the past God has refined the nation, but has never subjected her to the purging process comparable to that of re-fining silver. He does declare however that He will yet do this in the future. The furnace of affliction, where she will be refined, is none other than the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer. 30:7), the Tribulation.
The speaker declares, "I am he; I am the first, I also am the last," (vs. 12). Thus this one claims to be divine, God himself. In fact, He declares "I am he." He is the absolute, unchangeable One. (See Deut. 32:39.) According to verse thirteen Messiah laid the foundation of the earth and spread abroad the heavens. When He finished creation, He did not turn from it; rather He retains His control over the entire universe. He therefore declares, "When I call unto them they stand up together." In this sentence the various constellations and planets are thought of as soldiers. Messiah assumes the position of Generalissimo over them. Thus when He issues orders, everything stands at attention.
He, verse 14, calls for an ideal assembly of the peoples of earth and asks, "Who among them hath declared these things?" No one can take up the challenge. Continuing He declares, "He whom Jehovah loveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans." He is the one whom Jehovah in heaven loves, and who will perform His pleasure on Babylon.
Verse fifteen is difficult: "I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous." Who speaks in this verse? The most probable interpretation is this: In the midst of Messiah's declaring that He is performing the pleasure of the Almighty against the Chaldeans, God the Father speaks from heaven, showing His sanction and approval of all that Messiah does and says. Such a dramatic interruption in this speech may be illustrated by the baptismal scene of the Lord Jesus. After He was baptized and was coming up out of the water, the heavens were opened and a voice from God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:13-17). To understand that Isaiah 48:15 is a similar case is to unlock the prophecy. When Messiah says that He has appeared to perform the Almighty's pleasure against Babylon, the voice from heaven chimes in, "I, even I have spoken ..." The I therefore is none other than God the Father, who assures the world that He has brought the Messiah forth, and that He, Messiah, will make His own way prosperous--under the blessing and guidance of the Father.
The prophet closes his impersonation thus: "... hear ye this: ... from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me, and his Spirit" (Isa. 48:16). Messiah therefore, when He comes in fulfillment of this prediction, tells the people that God the Father has sent Him, the Son, and also the Holy Spirit. Here is the clear, plain teaching concerning the Holy Trinity. There is but one Divine Being or Essence, which is God, but there are three personalities subsisting in this one divine essence.
A MESSAGE TO ISRAEL FROM HER REJECTED MESSIAH
With verse sixteen the prophet ceased his impersonation. His doing this is to be interpreted as a prophecy that, when Messiah comes in fulfillment of this prediction, He will disappear from the scene of action. When anyone studies the whole case in the light of its fulfillment, he sees that, when Messiah came and accomplished His life's work, He disappeared from earth, ascending to the right hand of the Father on high.
Following this impersonation the prophet changed his form of address and presented himself to his audience as an ambassador of the rejected Messiah, who had disappeared. Then speaking for Him, he declared, "I am Jehovah thy God, who teacheth thee to profit ... Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river ..." As the representative of the rejected Messiah, the prophet, continuing His quotation from the Messiah, said, "Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! ..." --an expression of regret that Israel had not accepted Him. If she had done so, her peace would have flowed like a river and her righteousness would have been like the waves of the sea. In short, the history of the Jewish nation would have been entirely different, had she accepted her Messiah when He first appeared.
CALL TO ISRAEL TO LEAVE BABYLON
Babylon, rebuilt, stands as the world metropolis in the end time. Many Jews will reside in this commercial center. He sends His message to them to leave, the doomed city, obeying the injunction, "... with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth: say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed his servant Jacob" (vs. 20). Thus the Jews of Babylon are summoned to leave it and to tell their brethren, as well as the world, that the time has come for Jehovah to redeem His servant Jacob, the Jews. In the literal desert the Lord will provide streams of water for His fleeing people who start their long trek back to the land of their fathers.