Isaiah: I Am the LORD.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.    I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:5-7)

Isaiah prophesies an oracle from God that Cyrus the Great, founder of the mighty Persian Empire, would function as His chosen servant. God use of Cyrus would have a three-fold purpose. First, the LORD used the Persians to crush the Babylonians, Egyptians, Ethiopians and other Gentile nations (45:1-3). Second, the LORD also used Cyrus to be a blessing for Israel (45:4-13).  Third, the LORD wanted all to know, Jews and Gentiles, that He is the only God and Savior (45:14-21).

Isaiah 45:1-4 says, “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.”

The prophet instructs us that the LORD may choose to use anyone to accomplish His purposes, even pagan emperors like Cyrus. It is especially interesting that the LORD identifies Judah’s deliverer, from Babylon, by name and many years ahead of the events recorded in Daniel 5. This means that God is not only sovereign but also has the ability to predict and to control future events.

Isaiah 45 is also significant because it strongly affirms the doctrine of God, also known as Theology Proper. All the doctrines, or teachings, found in Scripture have as their basis the doctrine that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). However, it must be noted that biblical monotheism is different from the monotheism of religions such as Judaism and Islam. This is because Christian monotheism is Trinitarian Monotheism. The doctrine of the Trinity is grounded in the truth that there is but one eternal God who has created our universe and that He subsists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20).

Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, Isaiah 45:5 firmly insists that the God revealed in Scripture is the only God. Note that when we speak of biblical monotheism, we are not speaking of deity in some generic sense. We are not talking about a vague concept of God that we arrive at via philosophical speculation, even though philosophy assists us in studying the doctrine of God. Instead, biblical monotheism proclaims that the only God is the One who redeemed Israel from Egyptian slavery and delivered His law through Moses. In Isaiah 45:5, two different Hebrew words for God appear. First, we have the word Elohim, which is often used as a generic term for deity and is translated in our text as “God.” Isaiah 45:5 also features the specific covenant name of the God of Israel—Yahweh—which is rendered in English as “LORD.” Thus, we could paraphrase today’s passage as “I, the LORD of Israel, am the only deity.”

The LORD’s existence as the only, true God is not dependent upon the recognition of His creation. As one author has written, “Yahweh is the only God regardless of whether we acknowledge Him as such.” 

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying that, “It is not enough to believe in a generic God or to affirm any form of monotheism other than the monotheism of Scripture. There are many monotheists who will die in their sin because they believe in God but not in the true God, the covenant Lord of Israel. Salvation is only in His name, so when we proclaim the existence of God and defend it against detractors, let us be insistent that we are proclaiming that the one God is the God revealed in Scripture.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

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