These chapters in Isaiah are just the gospel wrapped in exemplary language. Isaiah esteems the exclusive power of God and mocks the idols of Babylon. Listen to the opening verses…
Bel bows down; Nebo stoops;
their idols are on beasts and livestock;
these things you carry are borne
as burdens on weary beasts.
They stoop; they bow down together;
they cannot save the burden,
but themselves go into captivity.
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save (Isaiah 46:1-4).
God doesn’t need the faith of his people to carry out his purposes. He will keep his Covenant promises for his name sake, in spite of the people’s stubborn hearts…
Listen to me, you stubborn of heart,
you who are far from righteousness:
I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off,
and my salvation will not delay;
I will put salvation in Zion,
for Israel my glory (Isaiah 46:12-13).
For Babylon and all those who trust in the salvation of idols will be handed over to destruction…
You felt secure in your wickedness,
you said, “No one sees me”;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me.”
But evil shall come upon you,
which you will not know how to charm away;
disaster shall fall upon you,
for which you will not be able to atone;
and ruin shall come upon you suddenly,
of which you know nothing (Isaiah 47:10-11).
But hear the good news which rings out to all who have sinned and fallen short of faithfulness and righteousness…
For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel.
For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:8-10).
But he has sent someone to rescue us! One greater than the powerful Cyrus. He has sent someone to deliver us both from the hands of this world and from the stubbornness of our own hearts! He has sent his servant!
And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit (Isaiah 48:16).
He comes in the power of the Spirit to rescue us from the darkness in our souls. This is the will of our Lord. He leads us in the way we should go!
Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it out to the end of the earth;
say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!” (Isaiah 48:20).
Do you see the beauty of the gospel wrapped in the history of Israel? It is our story, our salvation story. He is our God, the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!