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43. Israel's Only Savior
1But now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. 2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3For I am Jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I have given Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead. 4Since thou hast been precious in my sight, and honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men in thy stead, and peoples instead of thy life. 5Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth; 7every one that is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yea, whom I have made. 8Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. 9Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the peoples be assembled: who among them can declare this, and show us former things? let them bring their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear, and say, It is truth. 10Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour. 12I have declared, and I have saved, and I have showed; and there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and I am God. 13Yea, since the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who can hinder it? 14Thus saith Jehovah, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and I will bring down all of them as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships of their rejoicing. 15I am Jehovah, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. 16Thus saith Jehovah, who maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; 17who bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the mighty man (they lie down together, they shall not rise; they are extinct, they are quenched as a wick): 18Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20The beasts of the field shall honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21the people which I formed for myself, that they might set forth my praise. 22Yet thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. 23Thou hast not brought me of thy sheep for burnt-offerings; neither hast thou honored me with thy sacrifices. I have not burdened thee with offerings, nor wearied thee with frankincense. 24Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; but thou hast burdened me with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. 25I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake; and I will not remember thy sins. 26Put me in remembrance; let us plead together: set thou forth thy cause, that thou mayest be justified. 27Thy first father sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me. 28Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary; and I will make Jacob a curse, and Israel a reviling.
14. Thus saith Jehovah. The Prophet shews that Cyrus will be but a hired soldier, to render his services to the Lord for delivering his people. He does not indeed name Cyrus, but speaks of the army which he has under his command for subduing the Babylonians. ‘We know that this was accomplished by Cyrus and Darius, and that under the direction of God, who had foretold it long before. And not only does he speak to those who beheld the accomplishment of these things, but to all others whom the Lord wished to comfort by this hope of deliverance, of which they could not have formed the smallest conception. He addresses captives, who, having been oppressed by the cruel tyranny of the Babylonians, appeared to be beyond all hope of obtaining deliverance, and who might be apt to regard those promises as absurd, because in the opinion of men there was no visible hope of redemption. But we should yield this honor to the word, to believe what is otherwise incredible, that we may be encouraged to “hope against hope.” (Romans 4:18.) Such is the power of faith, that it must not be limited to the view of external objects, but rise above the heavens, and reach even to God himself.
For your sake I have sent to Babylon. This is highly emphatic; for, while Cyrus was instigated by ambition and by an insatiable desire of power, and while there were many causes of the war, nothing was further from being generally believed, than that the destruction of that monarchy would shake the world, so that the Jews who were at that time most despicable in the eyes of men, would return to their native land. But God testifies that he will grant easy victories to the Persians, so that they shall subdue the East, because he will be reconciled to his Church.
For the same reason he begins by saying, that he is the Redeemer of his people, and the Holy One, to shew more clearly that he holds dear and precious those whom he has chosen to be his peculiar people. (Exodus 19:6.) But this appears to be inconsistent with what we have formerly seen,
“We to thee who plunderest, for thou shalt be exposed to plunder,” (Isaiah 33:1;)
for the Lord declared that he would punish the cruelty of the Babylonians, and repay to them what they had deserved; but now he affirms that he sends the Persians to deliver his people. But these statements may easily be reconciled. Though the Lord punished the Babylonians, yet he had also a care of his people; for, as the providence of God extends throughout the whole world, so he takes a peculiar care of his Church, and, as the elect are the object of his special love, so he directs all things for their salvation. It is not without good reason, therefore, that he says that he sent, and that he was induced by undeserved favor to send, because he wished to be the Savior of his people.
And I made them come down. For the same reason as before, he now adds that they shall come down at his command, because, although the Persians and Medes will have another object in view, yet their march shall be guided by heavenly impulse; and in this manner he wished to give an early testimony of his grace to the elect people, that they might not faint under many very distressing calamities. This promise ought therefore to have brought vast consolation to believers, that, although they were despised, and hated, and even abhorred by all, still they were dear to God; because he would at length assist them, and on their account would destroy the kingdom of the Babylonians.
They are all fugitives. 169169 “All their nobles, (Heb., bars.)” — Eng. Ver. “From the earliest times ברחים (barichim) has received a twofold explanation, namely, that of Fugitives, as in the Septuagint, and that of Bars, as in the Vulgate. The same question arises in the exposition of chap. 15:5.” — Alexander. By saying that “they shall be fugitives,” he shews that he will give to Cyrus such success, that the Babylonians shall tremble at his arrival, and in terror shall throw down their arms, and betake themselves to flight. It often happens that a very powerful prince, abundantly supplied with military preparations, undertakes a war, but conducts it unsuccessfully; and therefore it was not enough that Cyrus should be sent with a powerful army, if he were not also crowned with success.
And a cry of the Babylonians in the ships. To describe more fully the sudden flight, he adds that there shall be “a cry or noise in the ships;” for they were unable to escape by land. They had, indeed, a very convenient river, the Euphrates, which united with the river Tigris, by which they might easily have escaped. Yet even in this respect their expectation was disappointed on account of the bed of the river being dried up.