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As parents we have all experienced situations where are exhortations to our children fell on deaf ears. We might repeat the same warning over and over but there is no response. Teachers in the classroom can testify to the same frustration. They might as well be speaking to the wall. Sometimes people just don’t seem to have ears to hear. That was certainly the case for God’s people back in the days of Isaiah. They could be characterized as Hearing Deficient. Chap. 48 concludes this first of 3 sections in the final 27 chapters of Isaiah. [this section began in Chap. 40] Each section ends with a similar warning to those in Israel who remain stubborn in their refusal to turn from their rebellion and trust fully and only in their God: “’There is no peace for the wicked’ says the Lord.” (57:21; 66:24)

Look at how often words associated with hearing and listening and paying attention are used in Chap. 48. Isaiah is trying to grab the nation by the throat and shake them and tell them to wake up and pay attention to God’s Message before it is too late. Remember how the Lord Jesus characterized His disciples on many occasions as being hearing deficient. Sadly the same can be said of all of us at certain times in our spiritual journey. Hopefully this message will help clean the wax out of our ears and open up the auditory passageway to receive God’s message of truth.





A. (:1-5) Pay Attention to What God Said in the Past –

Addressed to the Hearing Deficient in 2 Key Areas:

1. (:1-2) Religious Hypocrites in Terms of Pedigree (Lineage) –

Not acting in Truth or Righteousness

a. Fortunate Ethnic and Religious Identity

“Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are named Israel

And who came forth from the loins of Judah,”

Descendants of the patriarchs; good blood lines (cf. horses from the Preakness race yesterday)

Motyer: The most striking feature of this chapter is the severity of its diagnosis of Israel

b. Failure in Practice to Live Up to Their Calling – No Allegiance

“Who swear by the name of the LORD and invoke the God of Israel,”

But not in truth nor in righteousness.”

Cf. indictment of the Pharisees by Jesus in Matt. 23 – you hypocrites

Parunak: Third Commandment – don’t take the name of the Lord in vain

c. Futile Profession of Allegiance

“For they call themselves after the holy city,

And lean on the God of Israel;

The LORD of hosts is His name.”

Lean, rest, support – happy to lay claim to the God of Israel – quick to check the box “Christian” when asked their religious affiliation

Profession of faith is not the problem; big talkers; use all the right vocabulary; perform the external rites and rituals

2. (:3-5) Stubborn Idolaters in Terms of Learning Lessons

a. (:3) Track Record of God = Accurate Prophecies Fulfilled in History

“I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.”

Tone shifting – Lord is now speaking

b. (:4) Track Record of Israel = Stubborn Rebellion

“Because I know that you are obstinate,

And your neck is an iron sinew,

And your forehead bronze,”

cf. Jer. 3:3 harlot’s forehead

Is. 46:12 “Listen to Me, you stubborn-minded”

cf. message of Proverbs – a fool won’t respond to correction

Motyer: Stubborn means brusque (1 Sa. 20:10) or cantankerous (1 Sa. 25:3), i.e. temperamentally difficult. The neck of iron is one incapable of bowing in submission, indicating self-assurance; a forehead of bronze indicates an opinionated person with a set mind

Oswalt: The imagery the author uses here, which occurs elsewhere in the Bible, is that of a stubborn animal that digs in its heels, stiffens its neck, and refuses to be led in a way it does not want to go.

(see Exod 32:9; Deut 9:6, 13).

c. (:5) Purpose of Predictive Prophecy

“Therefore I declared them to you long ago, Before they took place I proclaimed them to you, Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, And my graven image and my molten image have commanded them.’”

Oswalt: This perversity of heart means that we refuse to see the normal signs that point to the existence of a God beyond time and space who is not subject to our control. To admit his existence would be to admit his right to rule our lives, an intolerable conclusion. Therefore we, even after we have experienced his intervention for good in our lives, like Israel, would still rather thank the works of our hands, indeed, ourselves, for whatever has been accomplished in our lives.

Remember incident of the golden calf — Ex. 32:4 “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt”

(:6a) APPLICATION: should go with the end of vs. 5 – talking about things they have already heard and are able to look at the results and should be faithful witnesses of God’s great acts

“You have heard; look at all this. And you, will you not declare it?”

Motyer: the former things include the Cyrus-plan (the fall of Babylon and the release of the captives), the new things are the servant events (the coming of the Spirit-endowed one)

B. (:6b-8) Pay Attention to What God is Saying About the Future

Addressed to the Hearing Deficient in a 3rd Key Area

1. (:6b-7) Purpose of Predictive Prophecy

“I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known.

They are created now and not long ago; And before today you have not heard them,

Lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’”

Constable: God directed His people to consider carefully what He had just revealed, and they would have to admit that it was true. It was important that they come to a clear understanding of His ways because He was making other predictions about the future (i.e., Cyrus, return from exile, the coming Servant). They needed to know that He is in charge and that He is dependable. What He revealed was hidden, in that its time and method of fulfillment were not specific, but the content itself was clear enough, having been revealed generally before (cf. Gen. 15:18-21; Deut. 30:1-5).

Motyer: Created (bara) is used of things so great or so novel that they demand God as their agent

2. (:8) Addressed to the Hearing Deficient = Treacherous Rebels

“You have not heard, you have not known. Even from long ago your ear has not been open,

Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously; And you have been called a rebel from birth.”

Motyer: Treachery means to renege on a known obligation (1 Sa. 14:33), to prove to be a disappointment (Jb. 6:14), to go back on one’s word (Is. 33:1), and is used of family disloyalty (Je. 12:6) and spiritual harlotry (Ho. 5:7).

Illustration: TV test of emergency broadcast system – loud blaring sound to get your attention

Application: Are we paying more attention to what the world is saying than to what God is saying?

Don’t be a hypocrite; don’t be stubborn; don’t be a treacherous rebel


A. (:9) Delays His Wrath to Glorify His Name

“For the sake of My name I delay My wrath,

And for My praise I restrain it for you,

In order not to cut you off.”

Great danger in misinterpreting God’s patience and forbearance – leads to false sense of security and delusion that you are under no accountability

Principle of divine irrevocable choice

B. (:10) Disciplines His People to Glorify His Name

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;

I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Image of fire is not always that all consuming fire of God’s wrath that burns the wicked in hell for eternity; also used of the refining fire of God’s loving discipline upon His own children;


– “but not for silver” – of His own accord; not because He was paid to do this; refers to the paying of a price

– Silver did not result from the process – did not end up with a pure nation at this point in time

God uses affliction to build our character and to test us; don’t try to shortcut the process and pray that you would escape all affliction

C. (:11) Defends His Interests to Glorify His Name

“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act;

For how can My name be profaned?

And My glory I will not give to another.”

God is a jealous God; would that we had such an interest in seeing the reputation of God upheld

Shows why pride is so insidious – robbing God of His glory; that is why God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble

Application: We would not have so many problems with accepting what God is doing in our lives if our chief goal = promoting the glory of God


A. (:12-14a) Impressive Credentials — in 2 Key Regards

1. (:12-13) As Creator

a. (:12a) Listen to God = the Ultimate Initiator

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;”

When the key speaker is introduced at any large public event, there is always a glowing presentation of their credentials

They had tried to call themselves the children of God up above in vs. 2 – here we see the true divine calling by way of divine initiation

b. (:12b-13) God’s Creator Credentials

“I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.

Surely My hand founded the earth,

And My right hand spread out the heavens;

When I call to them, they stand together.” Is. 40:26

Tremendous I AM statement – picked up and amplified in gospel of John

Paranuk: there is no other God – 5th and last occurrence of this expression in Isaiah – used as absolute statement — all in Isaiah chaps. 41-48 and in Deut. 32:39; Greek translation = ego eimi

Motyer: As first God was not pressed by any external agency into what he initiated; as last he stands unchallenged by any what he started. At the start, there was his uninhibited freedom to do as he chose; at the end, the untarnished gold of his completed work.

2. (:14) As Predictive Prophet

a. (:14a) Listen to God

“Assemble, all of you, and listen!”

b. (:14b) God’s Prophetic Credentials

“Who among them has declared these things?”

B. (:14b-15) Impactful Sovereignty —

Instrument of God’s Wrath Controlled by Sovereign Hand of God

1. (:14b) Sovereign In Judgment

“The LORD loves him; he shall carry out His good pleasure on Babylon,

And His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.”

Near term and far term fulfillment in these verses

MacArthur: The pronouns refer to Jesus Christ whom the Lord will anoint to defeat the final Babylon at His second coming and bring Israel to her land and kingdom. “Lord loves him” = too strong to refer to Cyrus

2. (:15) Sovereign In Blessing

“I, even I, have spoken; indeed I have called him,

I have brought him, and He will make his ways successful.”

C. (:16) Incarnate Revealer

1. Intimate Access

“Come near to Me, listen to this:”

Constable: The speaker of the last part of this verse is unclear. God appears to have been speaking in the first part of the verse, but now we read that God sent “Me.” This may be Isaiah speaking. If so, the point is that God and His Spirit had sent Isaiah to communicate and to confirm the truthfulness of what God had just said. Another view is that Messiah, the Servant, speaks (cf. v. 12). The point then would be that the Messiah would testify to the truth of what God had just said—empowered by the Spirit. A third view is that the speaker is an unknown leader. I prefer the second view. The Servant speaks again in 49:1-6. Since the speaker in the context is the Lord, it seems more natural that a member of the Godhead would say these words than the prophet. If true, this is one of the clearest Old Testament intimations of the Trinity.

2. Irrefutable Track Record

“From the first I have not spoken in secret,

From the time it took place, I was there.”

– public predictive prophecy

– personal involvement and full knowledge

You can hear intimations of John 1 here – “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

3. Incarnate Mission

“now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

61:1-7 reference to Messiah speaking here

Close link to the Messiah and to the Holy Spirit


A. (:17-19) Blessing Promised for Obedience

1. (:17) Prosperity Taught By the Lord

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel;

‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit,

Who leads you in the way you should go.’”

True prosperity gospel —

2. (:18-19) Prosperity Tied to Obedience

a. One Condition = Obedience

“If only you had paid attention to My commandments!”

Don’t want your life to be one of regret; great potential but missing out on the blessing of God

b. Three Consequences

1) Abundant Prosperity and Righteousness

“Then your well-being would have been like a river,

And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

2) Abundant Progeny

“Your descendants would have been like the sand,

And your offspring like its grains;”

3) Abiding Perpetuation

“Their name would never be cut off

or destroyed from My presence.”

Constable: Israel could also have enjoyed the blessings promised to Abraham more fully, and sooner, than she has. Israel’s identity as a nation among other nations ceased because of her sin, but her identity as the chosen people of God did not. This verse does not teach that the future fulfillment of the promises to Abraham was contingent on Israel’s obedience. God gave those promises unconditionally (cf. Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 15:5; 22:17). It does reflect that the present enjoyment of those benefits depended on her obedience (cf. Deut. 28—29).

B. (:20-21) Blessing Experienced in Exodus From Babylonian Captivity

1. (:20) Missionary Proclamation

a. Command to Flee Captivity

“Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans!”

Remember Lot’s wife did not obey the command to flee Sodom and not look back

Illustration: Reference the song The Gambler

b. Command to Trumpet Redemption

“Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this,

Send it out to the end of the earth;

Say, ‘The LORD has redeemed His servant Jacob.’”

2. (:21) Miraculous Provision

“And they did not thirst when He led them through the deserts.

He made the water flow out of the rock for them;

He split the rock, and the water gushed forth.”


“’There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the LORD.”

Constable: God’s final word that His people needed to hear was a word of warning (cf. 57:21). For the wicked there is no peace (Heb. shalom, the fullness of divine blessing, cf. v. 18). The wonderful promise just summarized (vv. 20-21) was no guarantee that Israel would enjoy God’s richest blessing if she continued to practice wickedness. The wicked Babylonians would not enjoy His shalom, and neither would they.


Look at emphasis in Book of Revelation – book of future predictive prophecy –

8 times: “He who has an ear, let him hear” – vitally important; chaps. 2-3 in the messages to the 7 churches; 13:9