Isaiah Chapter 46
1-13: “Bel” and “Nebo” were two of the most prominent Babylonian deities. The
name Bel is derived from Baal and refers to Marduk, the patron deity of
The rhetorical question “To whom will ye liken me?” implies the obvious answer – no one! “I am God, and there is none like me.” Yahweh is the unique and incomprehensible God. His uniqueness is found in His “declaring the end from the beginning.” His singular distinctiveness is His ability to predict the future with complete accuracy. Since He alone knows the future, the “salvation” of the Lord “shall not tarry” (Hab. 2:3; Heb. 10:37). In the timetable of God all things are proceeding on schedule.
Isaiah 46:1 "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages [were] heavy loaden; [they are] a burden to the weary [beast]."
Nebo”: The two most prominent gods in
Bel and Nebo were both false gods worshipped by the Babylonians. They believed in many false gods, of which these are just two. Belshazzar's name was an extension of Bel. Nebo was the false god of learning.
These images were so heavy they had to be carried by beasts of burden. They were probably made of some heavy metal such as gold.
Isaiah 46:2 "They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity."
“Gone into captivity”: When Cyrus came; even the gods were taken into exile. These idols couldn’t save themselves from being laid down on the backs of beasts and hauled away, let alone save the people who worshiped them.
It appears that these figures of the false gods were taken as spoil when the Babylonians are overthrown. As we said above, these idols were many times made of gold and would make them desirable to the captors for the amount of gold in them.
This would, also, make a terribly heavy load for these beasts of burden to carry very far.
3-4: “All the remnant of the house of
46:3 "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of
Hearken means to listen carefully. They must see that these idols are of no help
in time of trouble.
God wants them to learn a lesson in all this. When they are faithful to God, He blesses them. When they follow false gods, He will not protect them.
Isaiah 46:4 "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]."
God will be with them all of their lives. He will never abandon His own. God reminds them again that He is their Maker and He will protect them all of their lives, from infancy to death.
"Hoar hairs" is speaking of grey hair of old age. He is a very present help for His children.
Verses 5-8: The human origin and utter impotence of idols renders them unfit for comparison with the God of Israel (40:18-20). In verse 8, the prophet calls on the readers to recall the impotence of the idols they worship in transgression of God’s law.
Isaiah 46:5 "To whom will ye liken me, and make [me] equal, and compare me, that we may be like?"
alone is God. There is no other. To compare God to an idol, or false god, would
be blasphemy. It appears that some of God's people had wandered into idolatry in
To be unfaithful to God with these false gods is to commit spiritual adultery.
Isaiah 46:6 "They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, [and] hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship."
We have said this many times before, but it is worth repeating. These idols of silver and gold were the creation of man. They are not the Creator. In fact, they have no power to do anything. They are not alive and never have been.
The Creator of the universe, and everything, and everyone in it, is the one to be praised. God is the Creator. The Word of God created everything and everyone, and He alone should be worshipped.
Isaiah 46:7 "They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, [one] shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble."
God lifts the burdens of His people. These idols are a burden to the people who worship them. The greatest example of this that I can think of is when the prophets of Baal were challenged by Elijah. Read with me the story of what happened.
Kings 18:17-39 "And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto
him, [Art] thou he that troubleth
Isaiah 46:8 "Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring [it] again to mind, O ye transgressors."
God is stating that they must be men enough to decide between Him and these false gods. Many of the troubles of these Israelites was because they fell away from God.
Isaiah 46:9 "Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me,"
“Remember the former things of old”: The readers are to recall:
(1) All the past history of fulfilled prophecies, as well as
Miraculous deliverances such as that from
had been shown over and over by God to these faithless people. God proved
Himself, as we just studied above, showing Baal to be nothing. He discredited
the false gods of
They must now look back at their own history and see that there is but One God. He is the I AM. There are no other gods.
Isaiah 46:10 "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"
With God there is no time limitation. He lives in eternity, which has no time separation. The beginning of creation until the end of everything is one eternal day. It is not difficult for God to know what the future holds, because He is the future as well as the present.
He is I AM. Whatever God says is fact. It will happen, if He declared it, because He is absolute Truth.
Isaiah 46:11 "Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken [it], I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed [it], I will also do it."
from a far country”: Cyrus was this man whom God summoned to conquer
called a bird for his swiftness, and ravenous for his fierceness, and victories
over his enemies. The east here means
Isaiah 46:12 "Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that [are] far from righteousness:"
Those who believe in their own strength, have difficulty listening to the Words of God. Their strength will pale by comparison to the power of God. The stouthearted need a Savior the same as all the rest.
Sometimes they are too proud to admit their need. God saves the humble. Even the stouthearted become humble at the presence of Almighty God.
46:13 "I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation
shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in
“Righteousness … salvation in
9:6 "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not
Isaiah Chapter 46 Questions
Who are Bel and Nebo?
Belshazzar was an extension of _____.
Nebo was the false god of ________________.
Why did the captors desire these false god figures?
Hearken unto me, O house of _________.
The remnant had not bowed their knee to ________ _______.
What does "hoar hairs" mean?
To compare God to a false god, or an idol, is _____________.
Verse 6 says these idols are made of what 2 metals?
These idols were the creation of ______.
Who created everything and everyone?
God _______ the burdens of His people.
These idols _____ a burden.
Who did Ahab say troubled
What was the truth about this?
What mount were Elijah and the prophets of Baal to meet on?
How many prophets of Baal were there?
Did Baal answer his prophets request?
How did God answer the prayers of Elijah?
What did the people do, when they saw what God did in answer to Elijah's prayer?
Was there any question who God is?
What does God tell them to do in verse 8?
When was another incident when God discredited false gods?
The beginning of creation until the end of eternity, is what with God?
Who is under the command of God in verse 11?
What is wrong with being stouthearted?
What does "
" symbolize? Zion
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