Text: Isaiah 41
1. Who is asking the questions?
Not the nations! – It’s God who is quizzing them, v1f.
God does allow his friends to question him (Abraham, v8, cf Gen 18; ‘Why?’, ‘How long’).
But he will not co-operate with questioning that is motivated by scepticism or idle curiosity. ‘Be silent’, v1. Cf Rom 3:19.
Apply this to apologetics (1 Pet 2:15), much of which is evidential:-
The gospel is not just a proposition to be debated
it is a summons to be believed
a command to be obeyed
The questions God asks of us are more important than the questions we might ask of God.
2. Who is in control?
Looking at today’s news headlines we might ask, ‘Who is in control…is anyone in control?’
Look at vv2, 25. In 44 and 45 this mighty conqueror will even be named – ‘Cyrus’. This Persian ruler became the most powerful man in the known world. He would overcome Babylon, and permit the Jews to return from exile.
But it’s not Cyrus who is in control!
‘Who?’ (v2) – ‘I, the Lord…’ (v4). Little Israel’s (v14) God is in control!
Every world leader – even Satan himself – is on the Lord’s leash.
Rev 6 – the white horse of imperial conquest; the red horse of violence and war; the black horse of famine and hardship; the pale horse of disease and death. They are under the sovereign control of the Lamb. They do not move an inch until they are commanded to ‘come’. They are powerless until they have been given power. It is not that Christ causes these evils, but rather that he bends them to his own purposes. As the Stricken Lamb, he knows well how that works. On the cross God took the very worst evil that men could conceive and turned it into a triumph of grace.
3. Who can be trusted?
A crisis of trust today. In a recent MORI poll
- 4 out of 5 people trust doctors, teachers, scientists, judges to tell the truth
- 2 or 3 out of 5 trust television news readers, clergy, police and civil servants
- only 1 in 5 trusts journalists and politicians
Idols cannot be trusted! vv5ff; 21ff. Modern idolatries include scientism, selfism.
What idols are powerless to do, v22, the Lord can do: his fulfilment of his past promises is the guarantee of what he will yet do.
‘With the first of them and with the last, v4. He has not forgotten his promise to Abraham, v8. ‘I will…I will…I will…I will’. His down-trodden people will be triumphant, 15f, their fortunes utterly transformed, v17ff.
What God has done in the past is the guarantee of what he will do in the future, Rom 8:32.