Fear Not, for I Am with You
41 Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
let the peoples renew their strength;
let them approach, then let them speak;
let us together draw near for judgment.
Who stirred up one from the east
whom victory meets at every step?
He gives up nations before him,
so that he tramples kings underfoot;
he makes them like dust with his sword,
like driven stubble with his bow.
He pursues them and passes on safely,
by paths his feet have not trod.
Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the LORD, the first,
and with the last; I am he.
The coastlands have seen and are afraid;
the ends of the earth tremble;
they have drawn near and come.
Everyone helps his neighbor
and says to his brother, “Be strong!”
The craftsman strengthens the goldsmith,
and he who smooths with the hammer him who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they strengthen it with nails so that it cannot be moved.
But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Behold, all who are incensed against you
shall be put to shame and confounded;
those who strive against you
shall be as nothing and shall perish.
You shall seek those who contend with you,
but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
shall be as nothing at all.
For I, the LORD your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”
Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge,
new, sharp, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
and you shall make the hills like chaff;
you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away,
and the tempest shall scatter them.
And you shall rejoice in the LORD;
in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the LORD will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
The Futility of Idols
Set forth your case, says the LORD;
bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.
Let them bring them, and tell us
what is to happen.
Tell us the former things, what they are,
that we may consider them,
that we may know their outcome;
or declare to us the things to come.
Tell us what is to come hereafter,
that we may know that you are gods;
do good, or do harm,
that we may be dismayed and terrified.
Behold, you are nothing,
and your work is less than nothing;
an abomination is he who chooses you.
I stirred up one from the north, and he has come,
from the rising of the sun, and he shall call upon my name;
he shall trample on rulers as on mortar,
as the potter treads clay.
Who declared it from the beginning, that we might know,
and beforehand, that we might say, “He is right”?
There was none who declared it, none who proclaimed,
none who heard your words.
I was the first to say to Zion, “Behold, here they are!”
and I give to Jerusalem a herald of good news.
But when I look, there is no one;
among these there is no counselor
who, when I ask, gives an answer.
Behold, they are all a delusion;
their works are nothing;
their metal images are empty wind.
Isaiah 41 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The mercy of God is undeserved and unreal. There is no way any of us should receive the extended hand of His grace, reaching down into the mire of ourselves and filthiness of our ways. No. Way.
Yet, over and over again God presents opportunities for us to draw near to Him, come back to the relationship of which He longs for and live under the shelter of mercy. And what is found there beyond the peace is purpose. Yes, purpose toward a higher calling even though we’ve fallen. Even though we’ve brought shame to His name. Even though our ways have been selfish and self-serving. God continues to woo us through the deserts of our lives and calls us to Him.
The promises in Isaiah 41 are absolutely astounding. Beautiful. Just look back through these and see how and what God speaks toward. Consider how He reaches out and longs to lead. Much of the book of Isaiah so far was filled with warning and judgment due to Israel’s waywardness. Not only for them but their neighboring nations who have mocked him. And yes, there are consequences that will affect Israel for 70 years as they live in captivity.
But God extends mercy! God is still working a far reaching plan of hope after their punishment has come. Can you believe it? Seriously!
This is our God. Even in the horror of our sinful choices. In the consequences of our wayward behavior. In the remnant of sin that continues to dog our heels, sometimes prodding us back toward sin – God is offering mercy. He’s offering purpose. And He’s offering a plan far beyond we ever deserve when we humble ourselves and return.
This is our God. This is His mercy. This my friends is His grace none of us deserve.
Isaiah 41 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
In this chapter, God is reminding His people of His promises. The people of Israel would be used to glorify the one and only true God of this world. Even though consequences were coming, God was not going to abandon His people. Even though they would feel hopeless, He would not forget His promises to them.
In verse 2, we read about “the one from the East” who is “raised up.” This undoubtedly refers to Cyrus, Emperor of Persia. As history tells us, Cyrus would be the one who eventually conquered the Babylonian Empire when the Jewish people were in exile there. He would permit all exiles, including the Jews, to return to their homeland. Although Judah would be captured by Babylon, the Lord had already prepared a leader to deliver them.
This is our God. He works ahead of us, even in darkness. He does not forget His promises. We need to be reminded of these truths every single day. Our God works even among nonbelievers to bring about His will. There is nothing He cannot use or alter in order to bring glory to Himself. What kind of response do these reminders trigger within your soul? How does knowing this affect your outlook today?