December 17 in Advent

(If this day is the Fourth Sunday in Advent, please refer to that day

in the list of devotions.)

Isaiah 45:1-25

Israel’s Sovereign God

“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (vss. 5, 18).  This is the theme of this chapter.  And to back up this claim, God (the God of Israel, that is, the One whose name is the LORD, or Yahweh, or just plain, I Am – who is identified in the New Testament as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – that God) presents his resume: He creates light and darkness, well-being and calamity, the heavens and the earth, all the peoples and their ways.  He speaks the truth and declares what is right.  There is nothing He cannot do; indeed, there is nothing that has happened that He has not done.  The Lord asks rhetorically: “Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles?’”  The Apostle Paul takes up this very verse and topic in Romans 9.

The sovereignty of God is a great mystery of the faith.  By “sovereignty,” we mean His dominion and control.  God rules over all.  He decrees what will take place ahead of time.  No, he doesn’t just know what will happen ahead of time; He wills what will happen ahead of time, which makes it certain to come to pass.  This is why there were prophets and prophecies: what point would there be in these if God did not decree what He willed to take place?  Because God is sovereign, the chapter begins with God’s calling and anointing of Cyrus, the Persian king (a pagan to be sure but God can use anyone He wishes) who would allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem.  Here, Isaiah prophesies the event almost 200 years before it happened.

This doctrine of God’s sovereignty is difficult.  Perhaps this is why Isaiah says, “You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”  No, God does not violate our freedom of will; He uses our wills to fulfill His will by wooing or turning us this way or that, according to our natures.  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but Pharaoh was more than willing to be hardened; Judas must betray Jesus to fulfill the Scriptures, but he was willing to do just that.  Though some struggle with it, the purpose of this doctrine is to comfort believers.  We are not to pry too deeply into it, but accept it as given.  I, for one, cannot live in a world of chance, where we are merely billiard balls bouncing off of one another.  This teaching of Scripture lets me know that nothing happens without His will, and as Paul said centuries later: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  And so God can say in v. 23, “To me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear allegiance,” as recorded again in Phil. 2:10.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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