Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. “Isaiah 38-55: The Book of the Servant” “D. The Great Deliverance (44:24-48:22)” Loc. 10096-10946.
Motyer treats Isaiah 44:24-48:22 as one unit, with a parallel in 49:1-53:12. In this unit cyrus will be the agent doing God’s will (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10096). He begins with a thematic outline showing that the progression of ideas is in the same order in the two passages. The people of God, who have been captive in Babylon, will be released both from the nation and from its idols, though they will not wish to leave the idols behind (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10121).
The passages opens by declaring that God is the only redeemer of Israel (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10151). He is the creator of all. He is ever-present. He has only one purpose, that of redeeming his people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10188). Motyer notes the bias which would assign a late date of composition since 44:28 names Cyrus, not even born at the time of Isaiah. Predictive prohecy, though relatively uncommon in the Bible, is certainly assumed to exist (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10200). Isaiah 45:1-8 discusses the relationship between God’s purposes and those of Cyrus (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10210). Cyrus is presented as an instrument of God. Motyer wishes that Cyrus had believed the true God (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10272). Even though Cyrus does not seem to know God, God knows him (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10282). God is shown as the one who knows all things and can govern them all. Motyer recognizes this as a comfort (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10306).
Isaiah 45:9-13 addresses objections to God’s sovereign activities (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10354). Just as a shard of pottery does not question the potter, God’s people do not criticize God’s use of a Gentile to deliver them. God’s actions are not open to debate (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10391). He does have a coherent plan, described in 45:14-25. Those who follow idols will be brought to Israel’s God (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10416). This applies regardless of national origin. The salvation of God, then, brings glory to God in Israel (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10451). The Gentiles come to Israel to find God. The idols, who need to be carried around, cannot save anyone (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10487). God, however, is the one we can look to for rescue (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10519).
Isaiah 46 develps the author’s chronology. Though the people of Babylon are threatening and though Israel is rebellious, God is determined to crush his enemies and care for his people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10535). In verses 1-2 the gods people have made become a burden t o them. Motyer briefly describes the known Babylonian gods (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10550). While the false gods are a burden to those who carry them, the God of Israel actually carries burdens in verses 3-4 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10572). Verses 5-7 compare God to the idols. Motyer sees that there is no real comparison (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10583). He is the one who has actually made things, as seen in verses 8-11 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10588). The coming restoration of Israel will be under Cyrus the king. Motyer notes, “There will be a return without freedom or sovereignty” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10611). Yet verses 12-13 show God as the one who does save his rebellious people.
Chapters 47-48 deal with Cyrus’ triumph. Motyer finds a strong chiasm in the chapters (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10626). He details it as he continues, using it to unify thematerial. Babylon, having been overly proud, is destined to fall. God will take retribution as he protects his people Israel (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10652). In 47:1-4 Babylon is to be humbled forcefully. It will fall for Israel’s good (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10662). In speaking of hte atrocities of war, Motyer notes this is surprising. The Old Testament has no place for ignoring morality in a time of war. Atrocity remains atrocity. It is unexpected to see people treating their enemies in the way Babylon does (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10684). In verses 8-11 Babylon realizes that there are moral consequences for their actions (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10689). The are going to receive exactly what they had given to other nations. Verses 12-15 show that all the punishment is related to Babylon’s religion. They used various types of sorcery. Babylon was observant of a religion but was not looking to the real God (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10723). Once Babylon has fallen, Cyrus liberates his prisoners. They are clearly stubborn and treacherous (ch. 48). However, God arranges for them to return home (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10745).
In Isaiah 48:1-11 it is clear that Israel has forfeited any claim to divine favor. Yet God, even by his very name and identity, is the one who keeps his covenant (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10786). He is going to care for his people. Motyer does note that the time of fulfillment is not specified. Yet it is ceratin (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10807). God will do this, in verse 11, for his own sake. God’s rescue of his people is proof of his reliability (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10855). With this said, God, in verses 12-22, reminds the reader that he will keep his word in the future as well (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10866). As we approach the end of Isaiah 48, Israel has been rescued from captivity. God has kept his promises. Yet the people do not have peace due to their sin (Motyer 1993, Loc. 10915).