Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 48

I know a little something about being stubborn. It may take me awhile to make up my mind about something, but once I do, it is very hard for me to change my mind. Chapter 48 of Isaiah deals with that stubbornness as it pertains to the nation of Israel. In this chapter, the prophet Isaiah points out to the people of Israel that they are being warned in advance of what is coming. If you remember our discussion on the timeframe of these late chapters, you will see that this warning against the Babylonian exile was given well in advance as it was happening. The opening verses of this chapter deal with this warning.

1 "Listen to this, O house of Jacob,
       you who are called by the name of Israel
       and come from the line of Judah,
       you who take oaths in the name of the LORD
       and invoke the God of Israel—
       but not in truth or righteousness-

 2 you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city
       and rely on the God of Israel—
       the LORD Almighty is his name:

 3 I foretold the former things long ago,
       my mouth announced them and I made them known;
       then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.

 4 For I knew how stubborn you were;
       the sinews of your neck were iron,
       your forehead was bronze.

 5 Therefore I told you these things long ago;
       before they happened I announced them to you
       so that you could not say,
       'My idols did them;
       my wooden image and metal god ordained them.' – Isaiah 48:1-5

Basically, Isaiah is saying here that the people of Israel had no excuse for their actions. God told them in advance what was going to happen, not only when it comes to the Exile, but to other things. By the time these things would actually happen, God made it clear he had told them in advance so they could not attribute those actions to someone or something else. This left the people of Israel little doubt that God was in control of all things. It is important to remember here that we are dealing with a very detailed prophesy of the Babylonian exile centuries before it actually happened. By the time it happened, the people of Israel would have little doubt God "called His shot" so to speak, and even King Hezekiah recognized this prophesy back in chapter 39.

It is our human nature to be stubborn, and this warning against being stubborn can carry over to us as believers. There have been numerous times in my life where I have been warned about my actions, but I have continued along that path even though I knew there would be consequences in the future. This is a case of me being "stubborn with a forehead made of bronze," and I have run that bronze forehead directly into a wall before I got the point.

9 For my own name's sake I delay my wrath;
       for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
       so as not to cut you off.

 10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
       I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
       How can I let myself be defamed?
       I will not yield my glory to another. – Isaiah 48:9-11

This is a beautiful passage because it points out the basis for all this testing and affliction. God does not want us to worship Him as mindless drones who worship Him simply because we have not. Instead, He has us face trials so that we can see the glory in His actions. It is a test we must pass that makes us stronger spiritually. God does this so that we see His glory, not our own. Verse 11 here even states that God cannot let His name be defamed, and He will not yield that glory to another. This includes claiming His glory for ourselves. We remember that we are refined and glorified through Christ and Christ alone, who is God in His own right.


  1. How do you combat your own stubborn nature?
  2. What tests do you face as you are refined?
  3. Why would Israel still be stubborn in the face of these words?

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