Don’t Argue with God!

Isaiah 45:9-10. “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker: Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy  work, He hath  no hands?  Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?”

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God says that there will be trouble for the person who rebels against God, or refuses to honor his parents.

A potsherd is a piece of the original pot, broken off and therefore having no use.  Broken pots were tossed into the garbage dump. It would have been silly and useless for a sherd to complain to the potter, “Why have you made me like this?”  If a potsherd is going to fight with someone, let it be with his equals and not his superiors.

No one is superior to God.  In the earthly chain of authority, we are to defer to our parents. To do otherwise brings chaos.

The phrase he hath no hands  is another way to say he doesn’t have the power in his hands to create anything good. That God makes such an emphasis in this passage on the importance of honoring Him, and on honoring our parents,  clearly points to the importance of respecting the authorities in our lives.


Let the Skies Pour Down Righteousness

Isaiah 45:8. “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.”

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This is a poetic, lyrical verse that looks to the far future when Messiah rules from Jerusalem.  I’ve looked at several commentaries, but this one from Pulpit Commentary iis the one that appealed the most to me:

 THE BLESSED RESULTS OF ISRAEL’S DELIVERANCE. The restoration of Israel to their own land will be followed by a great increase of righteousness and salvation. They will be, as it were, showered down abundantly from heaven, while at the same time they will spring in profusion from earth’s bosom. Jehovah, who has caused the deliverance, will also cause these results to follow from it. Verse 8. – Drop down, ye heavens; literally, distilye heavens (camp. Deuteronomy 32:1Job 36:28); or rain down on the thirsty earth your gracious influences. Let righteousness, or God’s law of right, descend afresh from the skies as a boon to mankind – a boon for which they have been long waiting. And… let the earth open. Let earth make due response, opening her gentle besom, as she does in spring (camp. Aprilis from aperio), and blossoming with human righteousness, the fruit and evidence of salvation. To the prophet’s rapt gaze the excellence of the post-Captivity times, when all idolatry had been put away, seemed, in comparison with earlier ages, the reign of justice and truth upon earth. I the Lord have created it; i.e. “I, Jehovah, have wrought the change by the larger outpouring of my Spirit” (camp. Isaiah 43:3).

I often refer to the website when I’m looking for good commentary.  They give you a wide variety of writers, clarifying the scriptures.  You can also find the passage in a wide variety of versions and translations, which is also a helpful feature. It’s a good tool.  If you’ve never been there, you should look at it.

How to Please God

Proverbs 15:8. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

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There really isn’t much commentary necessary here.  If we regard sin in our hearts, all our sacrifices are like the stench of a dead body in God’s nostrils (that’s what the Hebrew word for abomination means).  But when we pray in humility and sincere love for God, He is delighted.

I am reminded of another passage:

Luke 18:9-14

And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

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Four Things God Does

Isaiah 45:7.  “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

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I don’t think any of us have trouble with the first three things God says He does in this verse:  He creates light and darkness, and makes peace.  But then He says He creates evil, and that one stopped me cold.  A little research was necessary, and here’s what I learned.  My Dake’s Study Bible says:

The Hebrew word for create is bara and here it means to bring about; bring into existence. The Hebrew word  for evil is ra. It is never rendered  sin, but evil. (v.7); calamity (Ps. 141:5); adversity (I Sam. 10:19); grief (Nehemiah 2:10); and in other passages, it is rendered as sorrow, trouble, misery,distress, bad, affliction, hurt, or wretchedness.  The idea is that God has made the law of reaping as well as the law of sowing, and evil and bad results will come when men sin. God has decreed that misery, wretchedness, sorrow, trouble, and distress will come as a result of sin (Gal. 6:7-8). Ra is translated evil  430 times and never with the idea that sin is created by God. If men sin and reap for it, the responsibility for both is theirs. God simply made the law and penalties for breaking the law which will always be in force.

I was talking with someone the other day about  a pastor who had an affair. The church is one which is part of a system in which there is an overseeing body for the denomination. That overseeing body left it up to the church to decide whether to allow the pastor to continue, or to ask him to resign.

They chose to ask him to resign. The people I was talking with felt that decision to be harsh, because he had confessed and repented of his sin, and agreed to abide by whatever the church decided.  He has since been replaced in that church, but as I understand it he is pastoring another church in a different location.

The appeal was made to me that since he had repented, he should have been forgiven.

I believe he was forgiven, but being forgiven is only part of the process of restoration. Wherever there is a law, there is a consequence for breaking that law. Boundaries without consequences are useless.  This pastor understood the principle of sowing and reaping, and was willing to accept the consequences of his choice. When you choose sin, you also choose the consequence.  I believe the church chose the wise and correct path.

This is a difficult topic, for sure. A pastor is to be an example of righteousness (I Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6) and especially in areas of moral purity.  I found what I believe to be a balanced and biblical article on this topic here.  If you read it and find it wanting, please feel free to say so in a comment.  Just please be respectful and civil.  I do not believe that just because something is on the internet, it is truth.  I may have missed something in the article that would make me edit this part of my post. I am willing to do that.


Reasons for Helping Cyrus

Isaiah 45:4-6.”For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, though thou hast not  known Me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.”

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Jacob and Israel are used here to indicate that ALL Jews, as a nation, are God’s elect, not just part of them. In the Millennium, they will be united under Messiah.

I have surnamed you:  That is, by My blessing in making you conquer, you have received the title “Cyrus the Great,” though before this you did not know Me.

Many believe that after God’s call of Cyrus he did know God (44:28; Ezra 1:1-6).  It is hard for me to imagine how a man who has been called and used for God’s specific purpose could NOT know that God is real, and that He alone is God.

Power of God on Cyrus

Isaiah 45:1-3. “Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him: and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates: and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”

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God’s Anointed: Cyrus was to be used by God as His shepherd in permitting the Jews to go back to their own land to restore their nation, and rebuild their temple and cities. God would hold Cyrus’ right hand; that is, He would be the strength that would give Cyrus great victories.

Subdue Nations:  Cyrus defeated Cilicia, Syria, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, Phrygia, Lydia, Caria, Phenicia, Arabia, Babylon, Assyria, Bactria, Saca, and Maryandines. His empire was huge. He was the ruler of much of the known world in his day.

Loose the loins of kings: At this time in history, men dressed in large, loose, flowing robes thrown over an under-garment or tunic, which was shaped to the body. This outer robe was girded with a sash when the people worked, went to war, or ran.  Hence, to gird up the loins meant getting ready for action. To unloose the loins meant rest, cessation from war, or feebleness.  Here, it meant that God would weaken the resistance of kings before Cyrus so they would be easily overthrown.

Two leaved gates: Predicting and mentioning the material which gates would be made of, 200  years before the prophecy was fulfilled, only magnifies the infinite power and knowledge of God. Herodotus tells us that the gates of the inner walls of Babylon leading to the river were of brass, and that there were 100 such gates in the outer walls. This would be 25 gates on each side of the city.  The brass gates of Babylon were locked with bars of iron. Even great iron  plates covered them in some places. God’s help to Cyrus was recognized by him as well as by all pagans who  saw the great success of his arms.  Cyrus acknowledged that God had given him all the kingdoms of earth (Ezra 1:2).

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The treasures of darkness:  It was the custom for conquerors to hide treasures taken in battle, and not to use them except in cases of necessity. In Babylon there were many spoils of war, and great riches laid up by the kings who had plundered many nations–Egypt, Assyria, Judea, and others. The gold and silver Cyrus took in his conquests, not counting the jewels, gold and silver vessels, and other precious things, amounted to $353,427,200.00, according to the historian Pliny.

I call thee by thy name: Again, God called attention to the fact that only a Divine Being  could foretell the name of the man who would fulfill this prophecy 200 years after it was predicted.

King Cyrus

Isaiah 44:28. “That saith of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built: and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”

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This is The Cyrus Cylinder. You can read about it here.

This is the first mention of Cyrus in scripture. He was named by God over 150 years before he was born, or about 200 years before he made the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

Cyrus would be used by God to be a shepherd of God’s people; to perform God’s pleasure in liberating the Jews; to decree the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple; and to subdue nations.

The next chapter, 45, will tell us a lot more about Cyrus and his deeds