I Have Chosen You

Isaiah 41:8-9. “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art My servant: I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”

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Following His description of the Gentiles trying to seek their gods to defend and protect them against Cyrus, God turns His attention to His people, Israel. He tells them again that they are His chosen ones, descended from His friend, Abraham.

I have pondered many times on God’s use of the word  friend  as God applied it to Abraham.  The Hebrew word, ahab, denotes having a strong affection for, or love for, someone else.  To be a friend of God is to have strong affection for Him, to love Him especially compared to any other relationship one may have.

Many times, Israel has been blessed as a nation because of their relationship with such men; men who loved God above all others.  Abraham  and David have both been especially named by God as friend and man after God’s own heart. Not only has Israel been blessed for the sake of such men, but indeed the whole world.  It was from the line of David that Jesus Christ was born.  He was the instrument of our salvation, available to Jew and Gentile alike.

It is no light thing to be named as the friend of God.

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Union of the Isles

Isaiah 4:5-7. The isles saw it, and feared: the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. They helped every one his neighbour: and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with mails, that it should not be moved.”

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These verses picture the various countries fearing Cyrus and uniting against him. The isles (maritime countries) and the far off parts of Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor saw this coming struggle and, in fear, they came together in a federation to fight Cyrus.

In verse 6, they encouraged each other not to be afraid of the invasion of Cyrus. The encouragement here was to make new images for the temples and thus obtain the favor of the gods whom the people trusted to rescue them from Cyrus; so they fashioned idols and set them in their places that they should not be moved.

This is another instance of sinners seeking to avert judgment by becoming religious. Such turning of pagans to idols to avert destruction only shows the futility of such trust.  I am reminded of how American churches filled up for a couple of weeks following  the Islamic terror attacks on 9/11. Until the peak of the terror passed, people were suddenly turning to prayer, to religion, to a form of worship.

It didn’t last very long.  Things settled back into their normal routine, and God was tucked back into His corner until some other tragedy should happen.  I don’t think I had heard  God Bless America sung so often, other than in WWII movies, in all my life.

The truth is, God is not some idol to be called upon only in times of danger.  If we don’t worship Him in spirit and in truth, we have no right to expect Him to bail us out of trouble and then go back into the corners of our lives when the danger has passed.

Omniscient God

Isaiah 41:4. “Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?  I the Lord, the first, and with the last, I am He.”

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This verse claims the omniscient–all knowing–God.  He was First, His is Last. He has called each generation from the beginning of the existence of mankind on the earth.

Jehovah is the Aleph-Tau and the Alpha-Omega of the Bible–the first and the last; from eternity to eternity, the Self-existent, and the Eternal (44:6; 48:12; Rev. 1:11, 17; 2:8; 22:12).

The Word of God is consistent from the beginning to the end  in many references to God calling Himself  I AM.  This is not an easy concept for us.  It’s meaning is that He has always existed, and always will.  He has no beginning, no ending.  He is the beginning and the end of all that He created.  His knowledge so far surpasses ours that they simply cannot be compared.  We would save ourselves a  lot of frustration if we would simply realize that we can never understand God in this life, but that He completely understands us.

This and That

Fridays always take me a little bit by surprise.  My work-week is over, and the homeschool co-op where I teach is also done for the year, so it’s almost like a vacation when I wake up on Friday morning realizing I don’t have to get  up if I don’t want to 🙂

This morning, though, I needed to get some blood drawn so my doctor can check my A1C and a couple of other things.  For those of you who don’t know, the A1C is a sneaky little blood test that can look back and see how much sugar has clung to your blood molecules over the last three months.  I don’t have to check my sugar levels every day–yet–but if my A1C gets too high, that will become part of my daily routine. See, sugar likes to hang on to the blood, and it can do so for three months before is finally dissolves or whatever it does.  So the chocolate binge I had a month ago?  The evidence is still traveling through my veins and arteries.  No fair, no fair.

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Anyway, I got that taken care of, stopped at the grocery store for four things and came out with twenty (normal, right?) and forgot to go to the bank until I was pulling into our driveway. Backed out and took care of that chore. Our bank is only a mile or so away, so I was back home quickly.

You can’t eat or drink  before the blood draw, so I was more than ready for a couple of eggs with my wonderful coffee.  I’m so spoiled.  I order green coffee beans, and have them shipped to my daughter’s house.  They have a coffee roaster, and my grandson roasts beans for me every couple of weeks.  I can get coffee from all over the world through BhodiLeaf.com, and I’ve had a great time trying all different kinds.  It’s ruined grocery-store coffee for me, though.  What I have is ambrosia compared to what I used to drink.  The best part of waking up is NOT  what the rest of that little ditty says!

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I got a brand new desktop computer on Monday.  I’m still so excited about how fast it runs.  My old one  was about 12 years old, which equals 150 computer years.  It was so slow, I’d sit and read a book while I waited for it to load.  Got a lot of reading done!  Now, I click on a site and POW!  It’s there, just like that.  Magical.  Don’t laugh.  You have to enjoy the small things of life 🙂

Terry just left to go do some small jobs down at church, and that means I have most of the rest of the day, until supper time, to myself. This is rare.  I’m not sure how I’m going to spend the time, but I do love the total alone-ness now and then.   Like I said, learn to be thankful for the small things.  For me, having  a few hours of complete solitude is wonderful.

Maybe I’ll go fix another cup of coffee!

 

Cyrus the Great

Isaiah 41:2-3. “Who raised up the righteous men from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings?  He gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. He pursued them, and passed safely: even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. ”

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The word righteous in connection with Cyrus simply refers to doing right in carrying out the will of God in punishing the enemies of Israel and allowing God’s people to return to their own land. Cyrus, who came from the east, is definitely named in 44:28-45:6 and referred to in v. 2, 25; 45:31; 46:11; 2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-8; 3:7; 4:3, 5; 5:13-17;; 6:3, 14: Dan. 1:21; 6:28; 10:1.

In human terms, Cyrus was indeed a great man.  No one seemed able to stand before  him as his armies rolled across the land, conquering the nations with ease.  That was only because it was God Who had called Him for His own purpose.  We need to be careful to not grow haughty and arrogant when God is using us. Whatever abilities and gifts we have are God-given. He can take them away any time He chooses.

Cyrus discovered that.

A Change of Focus

Isaiah 41:1. “Keep silence before Me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength; let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.”

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We return, in this chapter, to prophecies concerning  the near future. This verse starts a section addressed to the coastal islands of Palestine, Egypt, Asia Minor, etc., warning them to be silent and pay attention to warnings of judgment, for Cyrus was coming from the east to overthrow them.

Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the Babylonian captivity ended. In the first year of his reign he was prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that such Jews as cared to might return to their land for this purpose.  Isaiah’s prophecies of this king were made about 150 years before the events described above actually took place.