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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 45



Verse 2

Isaiah 45:2

I. Man must go. Each man is accomplishing a journey, going through a process. The only question is—How? Man may go, either with God or without Him. Whether we go with God or without Him, we shall find crooked places; we had better clearly understand this, lest any one should turn round after he has walked the first mile of Christian life, and say he expected there would have been no such places in all the course. Life is crooked; we ourselves are crooked; there is nothing in all human experience of which we can certainly say, This is perfectly straight. God Himself often inserts a crook in the lot. We should regard the text as a warning. There are crooked places.

II. The text is also a promise. "I will go before thee." God does not say where He will straighten our path; He does not say how; the great thing for us to believe is that there is a special promise for us, and to wait in devout hope for its fulfilment. He who waits for God is not misspending his time. Such waiting is true living—such tarrying is the truest speed.

III. The text is not only a warning and a promise, but also a plan. It is in the word before that I find the plan, and it is in that word before that I find the difficulty on the human side. God does not say, I will go alongside thee; we shall go step by step: He says, I will go before thee. Sometimes it may be a long way before us, so that we cannot see Him; and sometimes it may be just in front of us. But whether beyond, far away, or here close at hand, the great idea we have to live upon is that God goes before us. (1) Let us beware of regarding the text as a mere matter of course. There is an essential question of character to be settled. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." (2) Let us beware of regarding this text as a licence for carelessness. Let us not say, "If God goes before me, and makes all places straight, why need I care?" To the good man all life is holy; there is no step of indifference; no subject that does not bring out his best desires. "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground" is the expression 6f every man who knows what it is to have God going before him.

Parker, City Temple, 1870, p. 4.

References: Isaiah 45:2.—Pulpit Analyst, vol. i., p. 166; Preacher's Lantern, vol. ii., p. 381.

Verse 5

Isaiah 45:5

God has a definite life-plan for every human person, girding him, visibly or invisibly, for some exact thing, which it will be the true significance and glory of his life to have accomplished. What a thought is this for every human soul to cherish! What dignity does it add to life! What instigations does it add to send us onward in everything that constitutes our excellence! We live in the Divine thought. We fill a place in the great everlasting plan of God's intelligence. We never sink below His care, never drop out of His counsel. But the inquiry will be made, supposing this to be true, how can we ever get hold of this life-plan God has made for us, or find our way into it?

I. Observe, first, some negatives that are important, and must be avoided. They are these: (1) You will never come into God's plan if you study singularity; for if God has a design and plan for every man's life, then it is exactly appropriate to his nature; and as every man's nature is singular and peculiar to himself—as peculiar as his face or look—then it follows that God will lead every man into a singular, original, and peculiar life, without any study or singularity on his part. (2) As little must we seek to copy the life of another. No man is ever called to be another. God has as many plans for men as He has men; and therefore He never requires them to measure their life exactly by any other life. (3) We are never to complain of our birth, our training, our employments, our hardships; never to fancy that we could be something, if only we had a different lot and sphere assigned us. God understands His own plan, and He knows what we want a great deal better than we do. (4) Another mistake to be carefully avoided is, that while we surrender and renounce all thought of making up a plan, or choosing out a plan, for ourselves, we do not also give up the hope or expectation that God will set us in any scheme of life, where the whole course of it will be known or set down beforehand. No contract will be made with Him, save that He engages, if you trust Him, to lead you into the best things all the way through.

II. More positive directions for coming into the plan God lays for us may be found (1) in God's character; (2) in our conscience; (3) in God's law and His written word.

H. Bushnell, The New Life, p. 7.

References: Isaiah 45:5.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 204. Isaiah 45:7.—W. Page, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxx., p. 6; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 183. Isaiah 45:7-13.—C. Short, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv., p. 4.

Verse 15

Isaiah 45:15

We have to consider the truth that God's hiding of Himself is in order that He may be better known, and that His great end in all is that all the ends of the earth may look to Him and be saved.

I. This is true of the material universe. Matter in its dullness and insensibility hides God. Its crassness and opacity keeps the thought of God out of our minds. We lose God in the multitudinousness of the forms He presents to us. We are delighted with the picture, and never rise beyond. In the vastness of nature we often seem to lose ourselves rather than to find God. And yet this matter, so often felt as a concealing of God, is truly a revealing, a manifestation, of qualities in God which otherwise would have been hidden from us. How could God's almighty power have been made plain to us except through matter? Space and bulk and force illustrate power, and illustrate it the more clearly in proportion to the denseness, dullness, crassness of the material acted upon. The variety which may seem to hide God reveals the inexhaustibleness of His resources. Minuteness reveals the greatness of His care.

II. It is true of law, which is found everywhere in the material universe, that while it seems to hide God, it yet manifests Him in a higher way. The existence of law does not really hide God. On the contrary, it reveals Him in a grand and elevating way. What lessons it teaches of the Divine love for order, of the unity of God's mind, and His unchangeableness! What an impression it gives of the entire absence of caprice in His nature, and His absolute reliableness! How grandly it shows the subordination of all things, even the minutest, to one vast purpose! What a glory this universal supremacy of law casts over the moral law! And how gloriously it illustrates and harmonises with the Cross of Christ, which is the great vindication and triumph of law!

III. It is true of the means and agents employed by God that in them He hides Himself, yet reveals Himself in a higher way. God hides Himself behind truth and behind man. Yet what a revealing there is of God in this hiding of Himself, in thus keeping Himself out of sight, that truth may have free play, that souls may be trained and disciplined to the utmost, that men may be put to the highest possible use, and may be great and hallowed to each other!

IV. God hides Himself behind delay and disaster, and yet reveals Himself through these in a higher way.

J. Leckie, Sermons Preached at Ibrox, p. 94.

References: Isaiah 45:15.—S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 75. Isaiah 45:18-25.—C. Short, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv., p. 120. Isaiah 45:19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix., No. 508; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 236.

Verse 21

Isaiah 45:21

I. "A just God and a Saviour." The grand truth is manifestly this—that there is in God an everlasting harmony between the just and the merciful. He is just, not in opposition to salvation, but because He is a Saviour. He is a Saviour, not in opposition to justice, but because He is justice seeking to save. Let us ask, What is God's justice, and what His salvation? (1) God's justice is not merely the infliction of penalty; God's salvation is not merely deliverance from penalty. Justice in God is something far grander than the mere exercise of retribution; it is the love of eternal truth, purity, righteousness; and the penalties of untruth, impurity, unrighteousness, are the outflashings of that holy anger which is founded in His love of the right, the pure, and the true. God's salvation is a deliverance from penalty; it is a salvation from the miseries of sin, and the agonies inflicted on the soul by the remorse of conscience. But it is also the deliverance from evil,—salvation from the cruel lusts of wrong; from the bondage of unholy passions growing into the giant life of eternity; from the deep degradation and horrible selfishness of sin. (2) The law, the revelation of justice, came to lead men to God the Saviour. To save men from evil two things are requisite: (i) the sense of immortality; (ii) the sense of sin as a power in life. These the law awakens. (3) Christ, the revelation of God the Saviour, came to glorify God the Just.

II. We infer two lessons from this great truth. (1) The necessity of Christian endeavour. (2) The ground of Christian trust.

E. L. Hull, Sermons, 1st series, p. 131.

References: Isaiah 45:22.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 234; Ibid., Sermons, vol. ii., No. 60; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 277; J. A. Spurgeon, Penny Pulpit, No. 351; J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 3rd series, p. 40; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 116; M. G. Pearse, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxii., No. 372. Isaiah 46:4.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 237; Ibid., Sermons, vol. ii., No. 81.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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