Day 205 (July 24): Idols are merely man-made objects, Jerusalem shall be populated, God empowers Cyrus, enemies with idols are ignorant, God will deliver Israel, God foretells,

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Isaiah 44:6-48:11

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 44:6-8): Several readings back, you said that “other gods” of enemy nations could be fallen heavenly bodies like angels.  Here God is saying, via Isaiah, that there are no other gods.  Is this just something that is unknown?  Or, maybe He is saying that He’s the only One, True God?

A. As I mentioned in that answer, it is speculation what rule the demonic plays in the actions of gods of this era, but your last sentence is surely correct: compared even to these demonic figures, there is none like God!

Q. (44:12-17): Great speech!  (I’m not being sarcastic.)   But, those who are “stupid and ignorant,” as it says in v. 18, rarely change.  I would say mostly because they are self-centered and don’t think about the greater good?  How can Christians open their eyes to God?

A. I suppose it begins with a desire to change.  Part of the reason we are compelled to share the gospel message with others is that it is important for them to see their own great need for God in all aspects of life.  But if people see no benefit to following God, as is often proclaimed among non-believers, then frankly there is no incentive to change.  We must make the need real.  Part of what Jesus spent a lot of His time in ministry doing was talking about how good life is once we decide to follow God: we can be completely different people (primarily because of the Spirit’s guidance, not our own will).  Unfortunately, these passages, such as Matthew 5-7, often get construed as legalism: things that we must do in order to follow God and have Him love us.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth of the Gospel: God loves us already, and if we yield to Him, we can begin to change.

Q. (44:21, 45:4): Who is Cyrus?  I thought vs. 45:4-5 was going to tell us more about Cyrus, but it really doesn’t … to me.

A. Cyrus was an emperor of the Persian empire around 530 B.C., and that’s all you’re getting for now because I don’t want to spoil the story.  But you can look him up under the title of Cyrus the Great if you want to “read ahead.”

Q. (45:3, 13): Why would God give Cyrus treasures? True believers should do God’s work because we want to, not for riches.  Then, v. 13 says he helped God and was not rewarded.

A. Well, God can do as He pleases, and the reasons for doing so will be made clear, so I have the same answer: have patience.  All answers in due time.

Q. (47:13-14): Just a note about the taboo against astrology.  God says it’s all a farce?

A. Yes.

Q. Just a personal question:  The last two Sundays at church I have teared up almost nonstop … pretty much a cry.  Last Sunday, I cried over the thought of Jesus willingly dying on the cross for our sins.  And, me feeling so undeserving.  Today, it was the thought, “Am I good enough,” meaning am I good enough to go to heaven?  Most of me knows the truth, that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are real.  But, my head does the questioning.  Even when I’m asking some blog questions I feel that I am disrespecting God for asking some of them — the ones that question God and His reasons.  Then, I wonder if my heart is strong enough to receive God’s reward of eternity.  And, how do I become stronger and get rid of those doubts?

A. The longer you walk with God in communal relationship, the easier it will be, though very rarely are all our doubts put to rest this side of eternity.  I do not fear doubt, so long as it does not lead us to abandon our faith; it is the very definition of tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

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