And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. — Isaiah 46:4
I have had the privilege of working side by side with a number of Gospel veterans over the years, and have been tremendously blessed by their dedication and godly example. Among these pioneers of the faith, one special gentleman stands out in my mind.
Brother Roy was a tall man, though slightly stooped now in his elderly years. Soft-spoken, studious, and kindly, he was quick to jump to his feet and give a “shout for the battle” in our testimony services, even when he was almost ninety years of age! One testimony he gave some years ago made an especially deep impression on me. He said, “More than sixty years ago, over at the end of the altar in the tabernacle, the Lord found a penitent teenager who was sorry for the life of sin he had lived. That day I asked for mercy, and God had mercy. He put a star in my sky and a joy in my life. He has given me many benefits over the years. The Psalmist said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits’ (Psalm 68:19). Sixty years comes to 21,900 days. If God had given me just one blessing a day, that would be many, many blessings, but the Psalmist said the Lord gives ‘benefits’ — plural! I have had more than my share. I could not begin to tell of all the benefits God has given me through the years!”
What an example of today’s focus verse! Brother Roy proved God’s promise through decade after decade. The sixty years he spoke of in that testimony were extended by sixteen years. By my calculations, that adds about 5,480 more benefits to his tally, for I am sure he would have told us that the blessings of serving God continued through every day of his life!
He experienced God’s protecting hand during time of war. He told of working on an airplane overseas when something said to him, “Get out from under this plane.” He immediately obeyed, and had just stepped aside when it fell flat on the ground — about 34,000 pounds of airplane.
In 1973, he suffered a serious affliction in his eyes. He had an ulcer that would affect one eye and then the other. His eyes would be so sore he could hardly see, but Jesus was near. One day, God undertook for that problem and healed him. Brother Roy has never suffered with that problem again.
Another time he had a growth on his forehead. It started small, but soon began to grow fast and become sore. The enemy of his soul told him it must be cancer, but he remembered how many times the Lord had healed him, and determined in his heart to trust God. God did not fail him! God healed that sore, and afterward there is not even a scar to show where it was.
Does it pay to serve God? Does God keep His promise to carry us “even to old age”? Brother Roy could tell you that He does!
In this chapter, Isaiah’s prediction of deliverance for the people of Israel began with recognition of the supremacy of God over the false and impotent gods of Babylon. The idol Bel, which may be the Babylonian pronunciation of the Canaanite Baal, was considered to be the sun god and lord of the universe (the ancient Greeks equated him with Zeus). Nebo, his son, was the god of wisdom — the name Nebo is related to the Babylonian words for “oracle” or “prophecy.” However, these false gods were disgraced; the emphasis of this passage is that the Babylonian religion would fall in recognition before the Lord God.
The mention of the idols being carried by beasts (verse 1) refers to them being carried away in the attempt of Babylonian people to flee from the coming Persian conquest. It was customary after a conflict for the victorious army to carry away the gods of the defeated nation. This was why the Philistines carried away the Ark of the Covenant in Eli’s time, and placed it in Dagon’s temple. Bel and Nebo were not just defeated, they were non-existent. Their images were nothing more than lifeless objects. Far from being able to help others, they could not even help themselves.
On the other hand, God emphasized through the prophet that He would carry His people from birth until death. He is unique; there is no being, much less any object, which is on the same level with Him. Those who worship Him are honoring the only One worthy of worship.
Verse 10 declared God’s omniscience (“declaring the end from the beginning”) and His omnipotence (“I will do all my pleasure”). Israel was challenged not to just remember about Him, but to remember Him in the sense of talking to Him again, getting to know Him again, and repenting of having followed idols. God promised to be merciful and save Israel if they would turn back to Him.
The phrase the “ravenous bird from the east” in verse 11 likely referred to Cyrus of Persia. In his plan to conquer the nations of the Near East, he would come from a “far country” to perform the will of God.
The proclamation that God’s salvation “shall not tarry” (verse 13) conveyed the thought that while from man’s perspective it may seem that the deliverance of God is tarrying (or waiting), according to God’s timetable everything is being done with divine precision.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
A. The promise of deliverance (comfort)
5. The destruction of Babylon
a. The destruction of Babylon’s idols (46:1-13)
(1) The captivity of Babylon’s idols (46:1-2)
(2) The care of God for Israel (46:3-4)
(3) The futility of idols (46:5-7)
(4) The call from God (46:8-13)
Verse four is the basis for a sometimes-omitted stanza of the well-loved hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” It says:
E’en down to old age, all My people shall prove,
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then when grey hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
How encouraging it is to realize that God’s love for us is so enduring that He will care for us every step of the way until we meet Him in Heaven!