Blogging the Bible 191 – Isaiah 40-44 – A New Hope, Not a New God

I know it’s not the title of the latest Star Wars film, but ‘A New Hope’ seems to sum up the start of the second part of Isaiah.

Now a new prophet (whose name we don’t know, so who’s often referred to as ‘Second Isaiah’) sees the coming fulfillment of Isaiah’s hopes from the first 39 chapters of the book. After years of exile, God’s action is near, and the people will soon be free to return to their land.

This is all part of the faithfulness of God, and it leads to the restating, time and again, of the truth that ‘I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your king.’ The words vary, but the idea is consistent. The LORD has been quiet while his people have been in exile, but they have been shaped and changed by exile and now he is ready to act in power.

The LORD contrasts himself to idols, to the gods of the nations who have conquered Israel and Judah and have deluded themselves that their gods are therefore stronger than the LORD. On the contrary, Isaiah proclaims the truth which is now understood by Israel more than before the exile. There is one true God, who is behind the judgement of Israel as well as her blessing, and whose plan includes all nations, not just Israel. If Israel was defeated it was not because the LORD wasn’t strong enough to defend her, but because she had fallen away from him.

Even God’s forgiveness (see chapter 43) has more to do with him than with those who are forgiven. They do not deserve forgiveness, and have not asked for it – but the LORD will act out of his faithfulness and his promises.

Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one. (Isa 44:8)

It’s not about the LORD boasting. It’s a statement about the way the world is. There is one LORD, and he is our God.

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