Last week, we looked at the giving of the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Seven hundred years after the giving of this commandment, the children of Israel had drifted into apostasy and idolatry. To a wayward nation stumbling toward darkness and destruction, the prophet Isaiah gave an invitation of light and hope: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). The nation of Israel is called to hearken again to the life-giving truth of the first commandment. Let’s examine each part of this exhortation:
“Look unto Me”
What an amazing condescension, startling in its simplicity! The God of Heaven invites His people to “look unto me.” In the days in which Isaiah the prophet lived, the nation of Israel was looking everywhere else but to God. They were looking to human leadership for protection from foreign enemies. They were looking to Egypt for a political and military alliance against Assyria. They were looking to false gods like Baal and Moloch for rain and agricultural prosperity. But Jehovah calls them to look away from these things and instead to look “unto me.”
“And Be Ye Saved”
With this look of faith, Jehovah promises salvation to these Old Testament believers. Just as some of the children of Israel repented of their sins in the wilderness and with faith in God looked upon the serpent of brass in Numbers Chapter 21, so this new generation must look unto Jehovah for salvation. There is no salvation, no satisfaction, and no hope for eternity apart from the salvation provided by the eternal sacrifice of God’s Son upon the cross of Calvary. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14–15).
“All the Ends of the Earth”
The invitation given is universal in its scope. Isaiah’s call is not merely to Israel. It is a call to all nations. To a world groping in darkness, Isaiah promises light. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1). To a world blinded by superstition, Isaiah offers genuine faith. To a world in despair, Isaiah offers a message of hope.
“For I Am God, and There Is None Else”
God alone is eternally self-existent. He made all things from nothing. Therefore, He is the source of all life and the source of all truth, and He will tolerate no rivals. In a polytheistic world where there are many gods, there is no such thing as absolute truth. This is the state of Eastern mysticism and the reason for the confusion of polytheistic societies like those of ancient Greece and Rome. There was no standard of absolute right and wrong. Instead, truth was relative and ambiguous. Every man was free to follow his own ideas, his own gods, and his own code of ethics. This mentality is spreading currently throughout our own pluralistic American society. Only in God’s universe where His people confess boldly “The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4) can there be a fixed and absolute standard of right and wrong.
Who is your God? What is your source of truth? Do you have a relativistic standard of ethics or an absolute standard of right and wrong? What worldly philosophies have you allowed to turn your mind from the absolute truth of God’s Word? Here in this text, the prophet Isaiah calls you away from all false gods and false ideologies and to refocus your attention in this new year of 2023 upon the Lord God of Heaven.
In our biographical sketch on Thursday, we will consider the life of Elijah the prophet and specifically the stirring account of his showdown with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Confronting the false prophets in God’s power, Elijah called the nation of Israel back to allegiance to Jehovah. We are in desperate need of Christian men who will boldly stand up today and do the same.