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Old Testament Theology in a Verse
If we read Isaiah like a novel or a school assignment, we will miss the way the prophet compressed vital information into small spaces. Verses 14 and 15 are prime examples of powerful truths of his communication skills.
Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
For your sake I will send to Babylon
and break down all the bars,
and the shouting of the Chaldeans will be turned to lamentation.
I am the Lord, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King. (Isaiah 43.14-15)
Four terms describe God in these verses. John Oswalt observes that these four terms are a summary of the theology of the Old Testament in one verse.
(1) The Lord – Modern translations of the Bible place “Lord” in small caps when it refers to “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” God’s sacred name is written in Hebrew with four consonants, “YHWH.” Christian authors have guessed at the vowels in the word, and have come up with Yahweh or Jehovah.
The Lord or YHWH is the name God gave Moses at the burning bush.
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”
He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations. (Exodus 3.14-15)
(2) The Holy One – God is holy in that he is completely distinct from all of creation. He is not part of creation, as was believed by the religions of Israel’s neighbors. He is the Creator and exists beyond creation.
God’s holiness contains a moral quality. God is righteous, just, and loving because he is holy.
(3) The Creator – God is the Creator of everything. When God finished creation, he said, “It is good” (See Genesis 1).
There are no accidents in God’s creation. If you ever wonder about your worth, remind yourself that God thought well enough about you to bring you to life.
One Catholic saint put it like this, “God loved me enough to give me life. Then, he loved me so much that he gave his Son on the cross, so I could have eternal life.”
(4) Your King – Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6.10).
God is the King of heaven, and his will is perfectly accomplished in that realm. As subjects of the King of all kings, we follow his guidance.
As our King, God oversees the welfare of the citizens of his kingdom. God redeems his people and grants them his well-being.
God’s New Work
God’s people were able to look back to their deliverance from Egypt and praise God for their redemption. However, God wanted them to also look forward.
Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
The people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise. (Isaiah 43.18-21)
It is easy to live in the past and to fail to notice what God is doing in the here and now. As great as was the Exodus in Hebrew history, God had something new for his people.
With the Exodus, God turned the Red Sea into dry ground. Isaiah prophesied a time when God would turn the desert into a river to provide for his chosen people.
God’s actions – past, present, and future – cause people to declare his praise.
God is not an egomaniac who must have the praise of an adoring crowd. He desires that people see him for who he is worth. When we recognize God’s character, we will desire to know him more.
We can’t hold onto our idols and live with God at the same time. He reveals his nature to us, so we will cast away our idols for a life with the One True God.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.
I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.
Please email your prayer requests to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.