I have recently been reading the prophecy of Isaiah, and have found it to be both enjoyable and challenging. There are several themes which run through the length of the book, and one of them is the focus on the Lord as the only true God. Over and over the prophet states, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that there is only one living and true God, who “appointed the ancient people” and “the things that are coming and shall come. (44:7)” He forms the light and creates darkness, making both peace and calamity (45:7), and he pours out righteousness and salvation like the rain (v.8). With his own hand, he has made the earth and formed mankind to live on it, all the while spreading out the heavens and leading out its starry host (v.12). The point is driven home by verses such as 45:18, “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.'”
But in the midst of these chapters, there is something especially striking. After declaring his uniqueness and the foolishness of idolatry in 44:6-20, the Lord assures both Israel and Judah of his unending love for them and his commitment to redeem and restore his people in 44:21-28. And it is in v.28 that we find something unexpected and incredible: God names the king whose decree will restore Judah from her captivity. Now this might not seem to be very significant until we recognize that Isaiah wrote this prophecy nearly 200 years before Cyrus ever became king. In fact, at the time Isaiah wrote, Judah was still intact and relatively independent. Part of his prophecy involved a prediction of the judgment that God would bring on Judah at the hand of the Babylonian empire, which included the destruction of the entire city of Jerusalem and the temple. Yet here in 44:28 we read about God’s plan to rebuild the holy city through the decree of king Cyrus, “Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’” Which of the idols that men worship has ever made such a declaration? Not even the most insightful mystic can predict by name the king of a foreign empire, not yet in existence, and describe in detail what he will do, centuries ahead of time, yet that is exactly what God did.
The question I am interested in today is, “How have men typically responded to Isaiah’s bold prophecy?” It would seem that the Holy Spirit’s intention in this text is to forcefully demonstrate the truth about the Lord’s uniqueness as God, yet the response of modern Biblical scholarship has been to call into question the authenticity of the book of Isaiah. Rather than receive the true message of Scripture, we challenge the validity of such predictions, claiming that at least part of the prophecy of Isaiah was written by a second author after the predicted events had passed into history, but this response is really nothing more than a form of idolatry that exalts the wisdom of man over the word of God. But instead of such a foolish and rebellious response, let us heed the words of the Lord in 45:22, “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”