Declaring the End…
Isaiah continues his preaching of the one true God in our reading today from Isaiah 46.
As he does in several places, Isaiah contrasts idols with the living God. Idols are things that people make, and the supposed power behind them are just made up gods. But the God of Israel is different, and, in this chapter, He is presented as the one who doesn’t just see into the future; He controls it.
Prophecy, and God’s foreknowledge, isn’t like someone looking into a crystal ball, seeing what’s going to happen, and writing it down in the Bible. In verse 9-10 He says through the prophet “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning”. That doesn’t say “knowing the end from the beginning”; God declares it. What that means is we can have absolute confidence in the purpose of God. The first word of the Bible is “beginning” and the last word “Amen”, but we could have said “Amen” in Genesis 1:1 instead of waiting until Revelation 22:21, because that’s how sure God’s purpose is.
Prophecy, and God’s foreknowledge, isn’t like someone looking into a crystal ball, seeing what’s going to happen, and writing it down in the Bible.He continues in verse 10 by saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”. God isn’t caught off guard by things happening in the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, for example, He didn’t have to scramble and come up with a solution. He didn’t go back to the drawing board and think up another plan now they had messed it up. God is in control. His counsel and purpose cannot be frustrated.
And look at the sort of things God uses – “calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country.” He uses nations, like in the context here the nation of Persia, moving the people of the world around to bring about the fulfillment of His purpose. Plus, He orchestrates everything while retaining the principle of free will. What an awesome God!
Verse 11 continues, “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” That reminds us again of Genesis, when God spoke, and amazing things happened. That’s the power in God’s purpose. When God says something, whatever He says happens.
This majestic portrayal of God in Isaiah is such a comfort for us. We make plans for the future, and also plan B, C and D in case they don’t work out. We then worry and fret about how things will pan out. When things don’t go according to plan, we scramble around trying to come up with solutions. But we serve a God who isn’t like that. He is in control. While we’re scurrying around trying to sort out messes, God’s purpose is being worked out to completion. Our temporary plans for this life ultimately don’t matter because the eternal plan of God is going to come to pass regardless of anything else.
Our temporary plans for this life ultimately don’t matter because the eternal plan of God is going to come to pass regardless of anything else.However, our worries and anxieties about the future betray the fact that we find difficulty in trusting in the power of God’s foreknowledge. Perhaps that’s why the prophet ends the chapter with the admonition – “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness” (v12). Stubbornly refusing to let go and let God direct our lives, not aligning ourselves with His purpose, is folly. Nothing is going to frustrate God’s plan and so the prophets ends with the words “I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.” (v13). We need to stop being so caught up in the busyness of today and look with eyes of faith to that glorious future, a future that is surer than even our most determined plans.
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