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45. The Lord, Not Idols
1Thus saith Jehovah to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him, and I will loose the loins of kings; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut: 2I will go before thee, and make the rough places smooth; I will break in pieces the doors of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; 3and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that it is I, Jehovah, who call thee by thy name, even the God of Israel. 4For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel my chosen, I have called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. 5I am Jehovah, and there is none else; besides me there is no God. I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me; 6that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me: I am Jehovah, and there is none else. 7I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things. 8Distil, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, that it may bring forth salvation, and let it cause righteousness to spring up together; I, Jehovah, have created it. 9Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! a potsherd among the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? 10Woe unto him that saith unto a father, What begettest thou? or to a woman, With what travailest thou? 11Thus saith Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: Ask me of the things that are to come; concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me. 12I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens; and all their host have I commanded. 13I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let my exiles go free, not for price nor reward, saith Jehovah of hosts. 14Thus saith Jehovah, The labor of Egypt, and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall go after thee, in chains they shall come over; and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. 15Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. 16They shall be put to shame, yea, confounded, all of them; they shall go into confusion together that are makers of idols. 17But Israel shall be saved by Jehovah with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be put to shame nor confounded world without end. 18For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else. 19I have not spoken in secret, in a place of the land of darkness; I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I, Jehovah, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. 20Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that carry the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. 21Declare ye, and bring it forth; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath showed this from ancient time? who hath declared it of old? have not I, Jehovah? and there is no God else besides me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none besides me. 22Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. 23By myself have I sworn, the word is gone forth from my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24Only in Jehovah, it is said of me, is righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come; and all they that were incensed against him shall be put to shame. 25In Jehovah shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
7. Forming light. As if he had said, that they who formerly were wont to ascribe everything either to fortune or to idols shall acknowledge the true God, so as to ascribe power and the government and glory of all things, to him alone. He does not speak of perfect knowledge, though this intelligence is requisite for the attainment of it. But since the Prophet says that it shall be manifest even to heathens, that everything is directed and governed by the will of God, they who bear the Christian name ought to be ashamed, when they strip him of his power, and bestow it on various governors, whom they have formed according to their fancy, as we see done in Popery; for God is not acknowledged when a bare and empty name is given to him, but when we ascribe to him full authority.
Making peace, and creating evil. By the words “light” and “darkness” he describes metaphorically not only peace and war; but adverse and prosperous events of any kind; and he extends the word peace, according to the custom of Hebrew writers, to all success and prosperity. This is made abundantly clear by the contrast; for he contrasts “peace” not only with war, but with adverse events of every sort. Fanatics torture this word evil, as if God were the author of evil, that is, of sin; but it is very obvious how ridiculously they abuse this passage of the Prophet. This is sufficiently explained by the contrast, the parts of which must agree with each other; for he contrasts “peace” with “evil,” that is, with afflictions, wars, and other adverse occurrences. If he contrasted “righteousness” with “evil,” there would be some plausibility in their reasonings, but this is a manifest contrast of things that are opposite to each other. Consequently, we ought not to reject the ordinary distinction, that God is the author of the “evil” of punishment, but not of the “evil” of guilt.
But the Sophists are wrong in their exposition; for, while they acknowledge that famine, barrenness, war, pestilence, and other scourges, come from God, they deny that God is the author of calamities, when they befall us through the agency of men. This is false and altogether contrary to the present doctrine; for the Lord raises up wicked men to chastise us by their hand, as is evident from various passages of Scripture. (1 Kings 11:14, 23.) The Lord does not indeed inspire them with malice, but he uses it for the purpose of chastising us, and exercises the office of a judge, in the same manner as he made use of the malice of Pharaoh and others, in order to punish his people. (Exodus 1:11 and 2:23.) We ought therefore to hold this doctrine, that God alone is the author of all events; that is, that adverse and prosperous events are sent by him, even though he makes use of the agency of men, that none may attribute it to fortune, or to any other cause.