God’s Word of Joy
Isaiah 48:1-22: The Israelites are reminded of the consequences they experienced because they failed to obey God. But God has rescued them from their captivity in Babylon and they are now free to return home. Today’s reading once again references the Persian leader Cyrus who was chosen by God to carry out God’s will (verses 14-15).
God Is Lord of the Future
1Listen to this, people of Israel,
you that are descended from Judah:
You swear by the name of the Lord
and claim to worship the God of Israel—
but you don’t mean a word you say.
2And yet you are proud to say
that you are citizens of the holy city
and that you depend on Israel’s God,
whose name is the Lord Almighty.
3The Lord says to Israel,
“Long ago I predicted what would take place;
then suddenly I made it happen.
4I knew that you would prove to be stubborn,
as rigid as iron and unyielding as bronze.
5And so I predicted your future long ago,
announcing events before they took place,
to keep you from claiming
that your idols and images made them happen.
6“All I foretold has now taken place;
you have to admit my predictions were right.
Now I will tell you of new things to come,
events that I did not reveal before.
7Only now am I making them happen;
nothing like this took place in the past.
If it had, you would claim that you knew all about it.
8I knew that you couldn’t be trusted,
that you have always been known as a rebel.
That is why you never heard of this at all,
why no word of it ever came to your ears.
9“In order that people will praise my name,
I am holding my anger in check;
I am keeping it back and will not destroy you.
10I have tested you in the fire of suffering,
as silver is refined in a furnace.
But I have found that you are worthless.
11What I do is done for my own sake—
I will not let my name be dishonored
or let anyone else share the glory
that should be mine and mine alone.”
Cyrus, the Lord‘s Chosen Leader
12 The Lord says,
“Listen to me, Israel, the people I have called!
I am God, the first, the last, the only God!
13My hands made the earth’s foundations
and spread the heavens out.
When I summon earth and sky,
they come at once and present themselves.
14“Assemble and listen, all of you!
None of the gods could predict
that the man I have chosen would attack Babylon;
he will do what I want him to do.
15I am the one who spoke and called him;
I led him out and gave him success.
16“Now come close to me and hear what I say.
From the beginning I have spoken openly
and have always made my words come true.”
(Now the Sovereign Lord has given me his power and sent me.)
The Lord‘s Plan for His People
17The holy God of Israel,
the Lord who saves you, says:
“I am the Lord your God,
the one who wants to teach you for your own good
and direct you in the way you should go.
18“If only you had listened to my commands!
Then blessings would have flowed for you
like a stream that never goes dry.
Victory would have come to you
like the waves that roll on the shore.
19Your descendants would be as numerous as grains of sand,
and I would have made sure they were never destroyed.”
20 Go out from Babylon, go free!
Shout the news gladly; make it known everywhere:
“The Lord has saved his servant Israel!”
21When the Lord led his people through a hot, dry desert,
they did not suffer from thirst.
He made water come from a rock for them;
he split the rock open, and water flowed out.
22 “There is no safety for sinners,” says the Lord.
Today’s Key Verse: Isaiah 48:17b
“I am the LORD your God, the one who wants to teach you for your own good and direct you in the way you should go.”
Reread verses 17-21. How would the Israelites have fared if they had listened to God’s commands? Now that they have been set free, what are they told to do? Do you ever find it hard to listen and follow God’s commands? Have you ever experienced consequences as a result of failing to listen to God?
Almighty God, teach me to listen for your voice and heed your commands. Teach me for my own good and direct me in the way I should go. I will “shout the news gladly” about your salvation and your steadfast love. Amen.
Isaiah 62:1-12: The prophet speaks words of encouragement.