The last eight verses of Isaiah 45 stress the objectives Yahweh had in the creation of the world. All nations will ultimately learn that He, the God of Israel, is the true God and that all other deities are a mere pretence. Witness to His purpose and Godhead has not been hidden from men, nor will those who seek Him fail to be rewarded. The prophetic utterances of His Word, so manifestly fulfilled in subsequent history, give witness to His claim to be God, and that “there is none else”. In view of this fact all who would be saved must “look unto” Him. An integral part of His purpose is the submission to Him of every knee and tongue, for He is the Judge of all, both Jew and Gentile. There will be no salvation for any looking in any other direction: justification, redemption and glory are to be found in Him alone.

Isaiah 45

45:18–19 The Heavens and Earth were not Created in Vain. Those Who Seek the Creator will Surely Find Him and Inhabit the Earth

Verse 18 “For thus saith Yahweh that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [Heb tohu ROTH ‘a waste’; RSV ‘a chaos’], he formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh; and there is none else.”

“For thus saith Yahweh that created the heavens” “For” is a connecting word showing that the redemption of Israel as recorded in the previous verse is an integral part and consistent with the Creator’s purpose from the beginning. Notice that there are four verbs which describe the Creator’s work: He created (initiated), formed (moulded and fashioned as a potter) until it was made (done), and established it, that is, He imparted stability to His completed work.

“he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited”

Here is a clear statement of Yahweh’s will and purpose; the earth is not to be burned or destroyed as some teach, but to be filled with the Creator’s glory and be populated by the redeemed who will show forth His praises in word and deed (Num 14:21; Isa 6:3; 60:6; Hab 2:14; Zech 14:9). The return of the Lord Jesus Christ will herald the establishment of the Kingdom of God and the consummation of the Divine purpose referred to in this verse.

“I am Yahweh; and there is none else” (‘not another’ RSV)

Such purpose and control has a logical conclusion: such claims could not be made by a pantheon of deities, but they are the distinguishing hallmarks of the Almighty, of Yahweh, Who alone is God.

Verse 19 “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I Yahweh speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth”

These words appear to be an answer to verse 15, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself.” God declares He has not spoken secretly or under cover, so that His Word was not openly available. Indeed the priests of Israel were appointed to teach His people knowledge (Mal 2:7), so that they might know His ways and purpose.

This is in stark contrast with the heathen oracles who uttered their predictions from dark and deep caverns in order to project mystery. Indeed there was calculated obscurity to avoid scrutiny and transparency. The famous oracle at Delphi was a case in point, for Strabo says, “The oracle is said to be a hollow cavern of considerable depth, with an opening not very wide” (Leb 9).

It is notable, too, that Jesus spoke similar words to these when arraigned before the high priest: “I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing” (Jn 18:20). Perhaps the words of Isaiah were in mind when he spoke. See also Deuteronomy 30:11, “This commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.”

“I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain” (Heb tohu).

Loving service to Israel’s God was not and is not a vain and useless exercise. He knows those who are His and will reward them generously. These rewards are appended to the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3–12), and Jesus informs his disciples that it is His Father’s good pleasure to give them the Kingdom (Luke 12:31–32). To Israel God said, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you… thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer 29:11). Paul makes the same point as in this verse when he says that “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).

“I Yahweh speak righteousness, I declare things that are right”

Further to the manner and way God has spoken to His people, He declares that what He has said is truth and righteousness and not intended to deceive. His Word is not puzzling or misleading but will lead men to life and light. In Jesus Christ “the word was made flesh” and when men heard his words and saw his works they learned of the Father. He could say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

45:20–21 Because Yahweh’s Predictions have been Fulfilled, He Alone is a Just God and a Saviour. Worship of Idols is the Result of Tragic Ignorance

Verse 20 “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image [MLB ‘who carry their carved idols of wood’], and pray unto a god [el] that cannot save.”

“… draw near together, ye that are escaped (RSV ‘survivors’; NIV ‘fugitives’) of the nations” Who are these escapees, these fugitives of the nations? They are Gentiles who have responded to the hope of Israel and allied themselves with the God of Israel. From the context it is apparent that they have been drawn to the light of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. Clearly they faced the danger of lingering in idolatry and reaping shame (v16), but have been emancipated by the knowledge of God’s saving grace.

“they have no knowledge that set up [MLB ‘carry about’] the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save”

The tragedy of false religion is that it generates mental blindness as can be seen in 44:19, “And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire …” Reference is also made to the practice of idols being carried about in religious processions marking significant occasions; the fact that they had to be carried and were a burden emphasizes their utter helplessness (cp 46:1–4). And what is the point in praying to a god that cannot hear, let alone save! “They have ears, but they hear not” (Psa 115:6). The words recall the frustration and desperation of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel when they received no response despite their frantic cries (1 Kings 18:26–29).

Verse 21 “Tell ye, and bring them near [RSV ‘Declare and present your case’]; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I Yahweh? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; and there is none beside me.”

“Tell ye, and bring them near [RSV ‘Declare and present your case’]; yea, let them take counsel together”

In these words Yahweh invites men, idolaters or any who would contest His sovereignty, to present their case as in a court. “Let them” is preceded by “yea” (Heb ab). It is as if to say, by all means take counsel together! – as if the defendants suddenly realised the hopelessness of their case and asked for an adjournment so they could get their heads together and make a better attempt!

“Who hath declared this from ancient time?”

What is referred by the “this”? What has God declared from ancient time that is about to be fulfilled, so vindicating His ability to predict? The answer lies in the context. The “escapees” of verse 20 are Gentiles, “of the nations”; so reference is being made to Yahweh’s determination to call men of all nations within the ambit of salvation. Thus by contrast with the idols, He is a God Who can save. Verse 22 confirms what “this” is referring to, for there we read, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Isaiah has many references to the gathering of all nations into the hope of Israel (2:2–4; 11:10; 19:23–25; 42:1–4; 60:3–6), but the most eloquent of all chapters is Isaiah 49 which is devoted to this theme. Though there are numerous references to the incorporation of Gentiles into the Divine purpose in the Old Testament, the essence of the promise was given to Abraham when God said to him, “And in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12:1–3; 22:18).

“Who hath told it from that time? have not I Yahweh?”

Again, the fact that the call of Gentiles was predicted by Yahweh 750 years before the apostles took the Gospel to all nations is proof of His Godhead and power. This shows that His claim that ‘there is no God else beside Him’ is valid and true.

“a just God [El] and a Saviour; there is none beside me”

Not only is God just or righteous because He has done what He said He would do, but He is a Saviour as well. The work of salvation requires the justice of God to be upheld as a condition of His mercy being bestowed. In the death of Christ, God’s righteousness was declared and the flesh shown to be rightly related to death because of its sinful propensities. As a consequence God’s mercy and forgiveness are available to all who believe and are baptised into Christ (Rom 3:25–31).

45:22–25 Yahweh Calls upon All Nations to Submit to Him as the Basis for Justification

Verse 22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God [El], and there is none else”

Here is a call sounding out to the ends of the earth, to all peoples, nations and tongues, to cease devotions to idol-gods that cannot save and to turn to the God of Israel. The outcome is beyond doubt: “and be ye saved”. So the salvation of God will be for those who turn to and call upon the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

A Remarkable Verbal Allusion in a Significant Context

In drawing the conclusion at the Jerusalem Conference that Gentiles were being called by God to salvation, James, the Lord’s brother, makes reference to Isaiah 45:21–22. In verse 18 of Acts 15 he says, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world”, the same thought as “who hath declared this from ancient time” (v21), and remember that the “this” refers to Gentiles being embraced in Israel’s hope; and in the following verse James says, “Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God”. This “turning to God” is the result of God calling and saying, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth…” (Isa 45:22).

There is a fascinating parallel with this event in Israel’s history, for when “everyone”, Israelite and stranger alike, who had been bitten by fiery serpents “looked upon” the serpent impaled on the pole, they lived! (Num 21:8–9; Isa 11:10; Jn 3:14–16; 12:32).

Verses 23–24 “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, in Yahweh have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come: and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed” (MLB ‘unto him shall all men who were incensed against him come and be ashamed’).

“I have sworn by myself”

These words are taken from Genesis 22:16 following Abraham’s “offering” of Isaac, in which context all nations are promised blessings in his seed (v18). Divine oaths are irrevocable and unchangeable; they are the absolute ultimate guarantee (Heb 6:17; 7:21, 28).

“the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness”

MLB ‘the word of truth has gone forth’ God’s word has issued like an emissary from His mouth and will not fail to complete its allotted task (55:11).

“That unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear”

This verse sets out the new criteria for acceptance into the family of God, and it is not national identity. Membership of the Divine Body is based on humble worship, the bowing of the knee; and confession, “every tongue shall swear”. The shackles of the past will be cast aside as men come to realise, learn and accept that Israel’s God, is the one true God.

It is notable that this verse is cited in Romans 14:11 of “the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (cp also Phil 2:9–11). So it is before the Son that all shall bow, so giving glory to the Father.

Verse 24 “Surely, shall one say, in Yahweh have I righteousness and strength”

This is what men shall confess—that righteousness and the strength that flows from it were not found in any other source. All the ways, philosophies and religions of men will in that day be seen for what they truly are, useless, vain and of human origin. The truth then to be appreciated is that salvation can only be found in the one Yahweh sent into the world, who did His will perfectly and laid down his life for the sins of the world. Belief in him, and his name alone, will bring forgiveness, righteousness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Romans 4).

“and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed”

Note the reading of the MLB above. There will be no exceptions; all will bow to the God of Israel and His Son. This will entail a dramatic change of attitude and belief for so many. Locked in the darkness and ignorance that now envelopes the earth (60:1–4), they will have to reassess their beliefs, thinking and lives. It will be a painful procedure for them, but the ensuing blessings of enlightenment and knowledge of the God of love and grace will sustain them and bring forth universal rejoicing.

Verse25 “In Yahweh shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory”

To be “in Yahweh” is synonymous with being “in the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 1:1; Acts 2:21, 38). Forgiveness of sins is exclusively for those baptised into his name. God’s righteous servant knew exactly what His will was, and laid down his perfect life, so opening up the door of faith and salvation for “all the seed of Israel”—both Jew and Gentile (53:10–11; Acts 14:27). Those so redeemed, indeed ourselves, we pray, “glory” in Jesus Christ. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice [boast] in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1–2).