By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/god-and-israel-isaiah-devotional-2-18/.
Septuagint Isaiah 44 Quick Outline
I. GOD’S PROVISION FOR OLD TESTAMENT ISRAEL Isaiah 44:1-8
II. THE FOOLISHNESS OF THOSE WHO MAKE AND WORSHIP IDOLS Isaiah 44:9-20
III. GOD’S GOOD NEWS FOR OLD TESTAMENT ISRAEL Isaiah 44:21-28
I. God’s Provision for Israel
Chapter 44 distills what the prophet writes up to this point. The text emphasizes God, his relationship with Old Testament Israel, and the foolishness of idols. Despite all Israel’s actions against him, God sticks with Old Testament Israel. He does so for two reasons. 1) First, Israel are the people God has chosen to witness about him to the world (Isaiah 44:8, LXE). 2) Israel is the people through whom God will give birth to his Son (Isaiah 9:6, LXE).
To Whom Do Verses 1-6 Speak?
First, the last verse of the previous chapter speaks God’s displeasure with Israel (Isaiah 43:28). He gives them up to destruction and reproach.
27 Your fathers first, and your princes have transgressed against me. 28 And the princes have defiled my sanctuaries: so I gave Jacob to enemies to destroy, and Israel to reproach. (Isaiah 43:LXE)
The verb “to destroy” is very strong. Elsewhere in Scripture, it means total destruction, as in death (Genesis 19:13; Numbers 16:33: Luke 17:27, 29 and Jude 1:5). Yet, Isaiah again does one of those amazing “flip-flops” (See on this blog, Isaiah’s Flip-Flops). The very next verses in chapter 44 contain phrases such as, “Israel, whom I have chosen,” “beloved Israel” and “Israel, whom I have chosen.” One very possible explanation is that God addresses two different groups of people. One group, the one which will be destroyed, is apostate Israel (the disobedient, God-rejecting Israel). The other group is the faithful remnant. Messiah was birthed into the faithful remnant. Both of his parents were God-fearing people. The disciples of Messiah and his early followers were also loyal to God.
ONE OTHER POSSIBILITY
There is one other possibility, however. It could be that God in verses 1-6 prophetically addresses Messiah Israel, his singular Servant, his Son (see Devotional 2.9 and 2.10.) The love language, promise of the Spirit upon his seed, and blessings upon his children fit this possibility very well.
1 But now hear, O Jacob My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen. 2 Thus says the Lord God that made you, and He that formed you from the womb; You shall yet be helped; fear not, My servant Jacob; and beloved Israel, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will give water to the thirsty that walk in a dry land; I will put My Spirit upon your seed, and My blessings upon your children; 4 and they shall spring up as grass between brooks, and as willows on the banks of running water. 5 One shall say, I am God’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall write with his hand, I am God’s, and shall call himself by the name of Israel. 6 Thus says God the King of Israel, and the God of hosts that delivered him; I am the First and I am the Last; beside Me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:1-6, LXE)
Points of Interest in Septuagint 1-6
1. “Beloved Israel” Verse 2
First, the word “beloved” that appears in Septuagint Isaiah 44:2, LXX does not appear in the Masoretic text. The Masoretic text reads, “Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen” (ESV). “Jeshurun” is a poetic word for Israel, found in Deuteronomy 32:15. It means “upright one.”
“Beloved” however, occurs in Septuagint Deuteronomy 32:15 LXX. And most famously, “beloved” occurs in Matthew 3:17 mGNT, Mark 1:11 mGNT, Luke 20:13, mGNT, and many others, albeit in a different grammatical form. This verse supports the statement that God likely addresses Israel his singular Servant, Messiah, in this set of verses.
2. “Water to the thirsty” Verse 3
Jesus in Acts 1:4 ESV referred to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as “the promise of the Father.“
Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (ESV)
The first occurrence of this baptism occurred on the day of Pentecost, while the disciples gathered together in one place (Acts 2:1-4 ESV). Jesus spoke often of giving water to the thirsty (See John 4:13; 7:38). Isaiah 44:3 is a beautiful description of the gifting of the Holy Spirit.
3. People as Metaphorical Vegetation
Verse 4 speaks poetically of people, comparing them metaphorically to kinds of vegetation that grow in a well-watered land.
3… my blessings upon your children: 4 and they shall spring up as grass between brooks, and as willows on the banks of running water. (Isaiah 44:4)
This point is of interest, simply because it demonstrates that an Old Testament prophetic book can make a prophecy in metaphorical terms.
Verse 6 is powerful and amazing
6 Thus says God, the king of Israel, who delivered him, God Sabaoth: I am first, and I am after these things; besides me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6 NETS Silva)
1. THE POWERFUL ELEMENTS
The Greek identifies God in four clauses, all in a row with no connecting “and.” (1) These four clauses pound, one after another. There can be no mistaking God’s emphatic proclamation of himself alone.
Isaiah 44:6 [thus says God] οὕτως λέγει ὁ θεὸς [the king of Israel] ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ Ισραηλ [the one who rescued him] ὁ ῥυσάμενος αὐτὸν [God of hosts] θεὸς σαβαωθ [I first] ἐγὼ πρῶτος [and I after these things] καὶ ἐγὼ μετὰ ταῦτα [beside me there is no god] πλὴν ἐμοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν θεός (Isa 44:6 LXT)
God identifies himself as 1) God, 2) the king of Israel, 3) the one who rescued Israel, and the God of hosts, commonly translated as “the God of heaven’s armies.” The Greek word “rescued” is an aorist (roughly a past tense) participle in the middle voice. The middle voice indicates a personal interest by the nominative masculine subject. That indicates, that God rescued Israel for himself. He had his own interests in mind.
RESCUED The Greek word “rescued” is not nearly as informative as the Hebrew word in its place. It simply means to deliver, to rescue. It’s used in the New Testament in Matthew 27:4 and 1 Thessalonians 12:10, as well as elsewhere. The Hebrew synonym is “redeemer,” as in “kinsman-redeemer,” (Strong’s 1350). Notice the English Standard Version of verse 6 below.
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. (Isaiah 44:6 ESV)
2. THE AMAZING ELEMENT
The amazing thing about verse 6 is how the New Testament identifies Christ and God Almighty as one. Some Old Testament interpreters say that it’s not fair (not admissible, not correct) to interpret the Old Testament by the light of the New. That is, we as New Testament readers must restrict our understanding of every Old Testament text’s meaning to what an Old Testament listener would most likely have understood. I’ve addressed this at length elsewhere (Isaiah Devotional 2.12). So, I will not do so now. However, if Christ and his Father God are one in the New Testament, then they are also one in the Old Testament. If Christ in the New Testament is “the first and the last,” then he clearly was also the first and last in the Old Testament. God, who inspired Isaiah to write these words, did not have a restricted understanding of his own identity. As first and last, God knew quite well what he was writing. Because some Old Testament folk failed to grasp his meaning is no reason I should. I choose to go along with the Apostle Paul. I choose to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.” (Galatians 5:1 NKJ)
JESUS’S STATEMENTS Here are a few statements that Jesus, Messiah, the Christ made about his own identity.
John 10:30 ESV I and the Father are one.” [Note: Instead of “I am,” Jesus changes the statement to “I…are.” He fills in, “I and the Father one are.” ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. –cmw]
John 14:9 ESV … Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…
Revelation 1:7 ESV Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:17 ESV When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Just as God stood ready to save in the Old Testament, Christ stands ready to save in the New. God is one.
Verse 6 summarizes Isaiah’s argument throughout the entire volume to this point, chapters 40-44.
- First, God is: 1) God, 2) king, 3) redeemer, and 4) the Almighty Lord of Hosts.
- Second, he and Messiah are one, according to the New Testament.
- Finally, there is no other god who saves.
The point of all this is that God in his great love for his own people pleads with them to turn back to him and be saved. His plea still stands for all Israel’s children and for Gentiles, as well.
1 Some Greek manuscripts do contain a connector “and” rather than the article before the verb particle “rescued.” So, literally, some manuscripts write “the King of Israel and [who] rescued him.” Other manuscripts write, “the King of Israel, the one [who] rescued him. I happen to prefer the latter. Silva apparently works from these same manuscripts–those not containing the word “and.”