In vs. 6-7 God intros to a fresh proclamation, something He hadn't told them before. He says He's doing it like this so the Israelites can't say they knew these things already. He verbally spanks them in vs. 8, saying they haven't heard, they haven't known, they've been treacherous rebels since birth (i.e. since He chose them). And in 9-11 God reminds them why they won't be wiped out completely even in their affliction, and it's a microcosm of the whole of scripture: so He will receive praise/glory, so His name won't be profaned, for the sake of His own name. Dang! God isn't acting, preserving them, because they deserve it, but for His own sake! He calls His people to listen to Him (12) and recounts His greatness that stands alone in creation (13), declares the unknown, and accomplishes His good pleasure through King Cyrus (14-15; also, 45:1). This is interesting here because God is speaking and I think it's best to just let the text speak:
15 "I, even I, have spoken ; indeed I have called him, I have brought him, and He will make his
ways successful. 16 " Come near to Me, listen to this : From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit."
Now, I'm not paying too much attention to capitalization here, but to the words and the follow through of what's being said. IF the text is still talking about Cyrus being God's instrument, as in Ch. 45, then Cyrus is "him" whose ways will be successful, and there may not be a reason to capitalize the "He" in that verse. And since I don't see any reason within the text for the speaking voice to have changed to Isaiah, especially since Isaiah most certainly did not call Cyrus, that means it's likely still God speaking. So I'm going to try to make my train of thought lucid for all of you here: God has spoken, has called and brought him [Cyrus?], calls Israel near to listen to Him, hasn't spoken in secret, was there when it took place, and has sent His Spirit and been sent by the Lord GOD. So since 45:18, the last "thus says the Lord," God has been speaking. And here God says that God has sent God and God's Spirit.
This sounds to me like God, and God's mouthpiece, and God's Spirit. This mouthpiece of God is the same that says "I am the Lord, and there is no one else" (45:18); "there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except me" (45:21); "there is no other" (45:22); that "the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance" (45:23); "I will be the same... bear you... carry you... deliver you" (46:4); that is without equal (46:5); "I am God, and there is no other" (46:9); "for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another" (48:11); "I am He, I am the first, I am also the last" (48:12); and finally, return to the passage and read it again.
When I do that, I see the God that stands alone in power and reality as God, the One who is like no other, and no other is like the One. And that One God speaks as though He is the One true God, sent by the One true God just as that One true God sends His Spirit.
God. One. God's words. One. God's Spirit. One. Together? One God. BOOM! My mind just blew up, but I've got to at least finish this chapter...
In vs. 17-19 God labels Himself as Israel's Redeemer, the one who leads them in the way they should go (i.e. it's the way God goes, hence the leading), and would have prospered them exponentially if they had obeyed. Yet he tells them in vs. 20-22 that their exile will end and they should use it as an occasion to make God's name great by proclaiming His mighty deeds in removing them from the land of Egypt, and quite possibly connecting that earlier provision to what will happen when this exile ends too. The final line in vs. 22 is a condemnation not just to Babylon of the Chaldeans, or the Israelites then and now, but to us as well so I will end there for today, after this amazing chapter:
"There is no peace for the wicked," says the Lord.
The Jews argued that they were the people of God and all those Gentiles and <gasp> Samaritans were icky. And though there was truth to that, the attitude behind the truth derailed them from carrying out the will of God among the nations. They were to serve as witnesses of God's greatness among the nations so that all the nations would come to acknowledge God's greatness and serve Him as well! It wasn't something inherent in their goodness or sparkling behavior that made them the people of God, but God's fashioning. John the Baptist told the religious stuck-ups--I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from--leaders that God could turn stones into true "sons of Abraham." And God has. God has done so with Jews and Gentiles alike who follow and obey and love Jesus. These are the people of God spiritually.
But we cannot throw out the rest of the Bible concerning the Jews as the culturally significant people of God either. He's not done with them yet, even as He is patient with their tendency to ignore and turn from His leading. Just like us. Today, those who follow Jesus call themselves Christians (et. al) and say they're part of the Church--they "call themselves after the holy body" of Christ. Do you see where I'm going here? God rebukes the Israelites because they claim an association without adhering to the truth or righteousness of God. But this is not what saves, not association, but God alone. God saves, and He's told us again and again to rely on that, tell others about that, and do not consider ourselves righteous or "in" apart from that.
Let us not lose sight of the full breadth and depth of God's plan for humanity: namely, to come to Him in faith through repentance. That's means that we align ourselves with GOD'S ways, not configure our own ways and hope that He will bless them in the end, as long as we still say we love Jesus. If we lose sight of the centrality of this message, then we cannot hope to understand how important Jesus is, much less where the Jews and those who follow Jesus fit into the picture.