Israel Refined for God’s Glory
Hear this, O house of Jacob,
who are called by the name of Israel,
Judah should take notice at this opening statement. God identifies His people as the house of Jacob – the name Jacob essentially meaning “deceiver, cheater” – and says they only have the name of Israel, not the character of Israel, which means “governed by God” . . .
and who came from the waters of Judah,
The second statement of Isaiah 48 isn’t any more complimentary to the southern kingdom of Judah. God reminds them of their tribal ancestor, Judah, who was noted for his cruelty (Genesis 37:26-27) and immorality (Genesis 38). The Lord speaks to His people and says, “You come from your father Judah.” It’s hardly a compliment . . .
who swear by the name of the Lord
and confess the God of Israel,
but not in truth or right.
God exposes the sin of His people. They take His name, and identify with the holy city, and give appearance that they lean on the God of Israel. Yet it is only image, not reality, and God sees through the image to the reality.
2 For they call themselves after the holy city,
and stay themselves on the God of Israel;
the Lord of hosts is his name.
3 “The former things I declared of old;
they went out from my mouth, and I announced them;
then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
4 Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass,
5 I declared them to you from of old,
before they came to pass I announced them to you,
lest you should say, ‘My idol did them,
my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’
Judah was without excuse. They knew the greatness and power of God, yet they still lived with only a religious image, without a spiritual reality.
6 “You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known.
7 They are created now, not long ago;
before today you have never heard of them,
lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’
8 You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel.
9 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
Amy Carmichael asks:
Are we willing to be put into any furnace of God’s choosing if only we may be made fit for His use? We cannot choose our furnace. But there is always hope. We are in His hand, and no one can snatch us from His grasp.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
The Lord’s Call to Israel
12 “Listen to me, O Jacob,
and Israel, whom I called!
I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last.
13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I call to them,
they stand forth together.
14 “Assemble, all of you, and listen!
Who among them has declared these things?
The Lord loves him;
he shall perform his purpose on Babylon,
and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
15 I, even I, have spoken and called him;
I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way.
16 Draw near to me, hear this:
from the beginning I have not spoken in secret,
from the time it came to be I have been there.”
And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.
17 Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
18 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;
How to obtain peace: pay attention to God’s commandments!
19 your offspring would have been like the sand,
and your descendants like its grains;
their name would never be cut off
or destroyed from before me.”
20 Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it out to the end of the earth;
say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!”
21 They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock and the water gushed out.
22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
How to lose peace: do not follow the Lord’s instructions and end up being wicked.
From verse 21: he split the rock and the water gushed out.
Fanny Crosby used this text for one of her hymns: “A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, A wonderful Savior to me. He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, Where rivers of pleasure I see.”
HERE is Guy Penrod (formerly of the Gaither Vocal Band) singing this old classic.