February 26, 2016

Isaiah 41:17-29

This passage begins with continued promises and predictions for the fate of the exiles. Not only would they easily defeat their enemies with the Lord’s help, but they would also embark on a second exodus and return home to Jerusalem / Judah. Echoing the language of the previous chapter where the way is prepared for the Lord, 41:17-20 describe the Lord preparing the way for the exiles to return home through the desert. He would provide the water and shade they would need, and all the peoples around them would see the Lord had rescued them.

When Cyrus rose up in power and took over the surrounding kingdoms and empires, including Babylon, he gave credit to his god, Marduk. His records of the conquest show Marduk arranging his rise to power and his victories. However, Isaiah predicted the rise of Cyrus to power before it happened and credits YHWH (the Lord) with orchestrating the political situation in the region. No one else expected that Cyrus of Persia would become the most powerful leader of the time or that the exiles would be released. Isaiah mocked the very idea that an idol made by human hands could wield such power. He contrasted the inaction of the idols to the Lord’s active work bringing Cyrus to power and foretelling the events that would take place.

What idols do we have in our lives today? Are there inanimate objects in our lives we give credit to for the Lord’s work? Technology is a particular temptation in this area. We may not bow down and call them gods, but if we give them a higher place in our lives than the Most High God, we have made them idols above him. We must remember God works through objects as well as people and circumstances. We should be careful not to overlook God’s work in our lives by attributing it to man-made objects.