Isaiah 45:11
Thus said the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command you me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Ask me of things to come . . .—As it stands, the verse calls men to consult the Holy One of Israel, and not the oracles of the heathen, about the future, to leave His works to His own control, and this falls in with Isaiah 44:25-26. A slight alteration of the text gives a meaning much more coherent with the immediate context: Will ye question me concerning things to come, concerning my sons . . . will ye command me! This was what they were practically doing when they murmured against the providence of God.

Isaiah 45:11-13. Thus saith the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker — Israel’s Maker. A preface this which always ushers in some gracious promise: see Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 43:14; and Isaiah 44:6; and Isaiah 48:17. Ask me of things to come, &c. — The words thus rendered contain a concession, and the sense of them may be this: although the potter doth not give an account to the clay, nor parents to their children, yet I will so far condescend to you as to be at your command in this matter, to give you an account of those great actions of mine for which you quarrel with me. Many interpreters, however, prefer rendering the words interrogatively, thus: Do you, or will you, ask, or question me, of things to come concerning my sons? and concerning the work of my hands will you command me? As if he had said, Will you not allow me the liberty which yourselves take, of disposing of my own children and works as I see fit? Must I give you an account of these matters? Which he does in the words following. I have made the earth, and created man, &c. — The earth and its inhabitants are wholly and solely my creatures, and therefore are absolutely at my disposal. I have raised him up — Namely, Cyrus, named before, Isaiah 45:1; in righteousness — Not in a way of absolute sovereignty, as I might have done, but most justly to punish the oppressors of my people, to plead the cause of the oppressed, and to manifest my righteousness, truth, and goodness. And I will direct his ways — Will guide and assist him in all his marches, wars, and battles, crowning all his undertakings with success. He shall let go my captives, not for price, &c. — That is, freely, without requiring any ransom for them, as is usual in such cases. Such an exact prediction of events, which depended on the mind and will of Cyrus, is mentioned here as an infallible evidence of the certainty of God’s foreknowledge, and of his being the only true God, because idols could discover no such things.45:11-19 Believers may ask in prayer for what they need; if for their good, it will not be withheld. But how common to hear God called to account for his dealings with man! Cyrus provided for the returning Jews. Those redeemed by Christ shall be provided for. The restoration would convince many, and convert some; and all that truly join the Lord, find his service perfect freedom. Though God be his people's God and Saviour, yet sometimes he lays them under his frowns; but let them wait upon the Lord who hides his face. There is a world without end; and it will be well or ill with us, according as it shall be with us in that world. The Lord we serve and trust, is God alone. All that God has said is plain, satisfactory, and just. As God in his word calls us to seek him, so he never denied believing prayers, nor disappointed believing expectations. He gives grace sufficient, and comfort and satisfaction of soul.Thus saith the Lord - This verse is designed still further to illustrate the general subject referred to in this chapter, and especially to show them, that instead of complaining of his designs, or of finding fault with his sovereignty, it was their privilege to inquire respecting his dealings, and even to 'command' him. He was willing to be inquired of, and to instruct them in regard to the events which were occurring.

And his Maker - (See the note at Isaiah 43:1).

Ask me of things to come - I alone can direct and order future events; and it is your duty and privilege to make inquiry respecting those events. Lowth renders this as a question, 'Do ye question me concerning my children?' But the more correct rendering is doubtless that in our translations, where it is represented as a duty to make inquiry respecting future events from God. The idea is:

1. That God alone could direct future events, and give information respecting them.

2. That instead of complaining of his allotments, they should humbly inquire of him in regard to their design, and the proper manner of meeting them; and

3. That if they were made the subject of humble, fervent, believing prayer, he would order them so as to promote their welfare, and would furnish them grace to meet them in a proper manner.

Concerning my sons - Those who are my adopted children. It is implied that God loved them as his children, and that they had the privilege of pleading for his favor and regard, with the assurance that he would be propitious to their cry, and would order events so as to promote their welfare.

And concerning the work of my hands - In regard to what I do. This is also read as a question by Lowth; 'And do ye give me directions concerning the work of my hands?' According to this interpretation, God would reprove them for presuming to give him direction about what he should do, in accordance with the sentiment in Isaiah 45:9-10. This interpretation also is adopted by Vitringa, Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and some others. Grotius renders it, 'Hinder, if you can, my doing what I will with them. Thus you will show what you can do, and what I can do.' Rosenmuller supposes it to mean, 'Commit my sons, and the work of my hands to me: suffer me to do with my own what I will.' It seems to me, however, that the word 'command'is here to be taken rather as indicating the privilege of his people to present their desires in the language of fervent and respectful petition; and that God here indicates that he would, so to speak, allow them to direct him; that he would hear their prayers, and would conform the events of his administration to their wishes and their welfare. This is the most obvious interpretation; and this will perhaps suit the connection as well as any other. Instead of complaining, and opposing his administration Isaiah 45:9-10, it was their privilege to come before him and spread out their needs, and even to give direction in regard to future events, so far as the events of his administration would bear on them, and he would meet their desires. Thus interpreted, it accords with the numerous passages of the Bible which command us to pray; and with the promises of God that he will lend a listening ear to our cries.

11. Ask … command—Instead of striving with Me in regard to My purposes, your wisdom is in prayer to ask, and even command Me, in so far as it is for My glory, and for your real good (Mr 11:24; Joh 16:23, 13, latter part of the verse; 1Jo 3:22).

sons—(Isa 54:13; Ga 3:26).

work of my hands—spiritually (Eph 2:10); also literal Israel (Isa 60:21). Maurer translates, instead of "command," Leave it to Me, in My dealings concerning My sons and concerning the work of My hands, to do what I will with My own. Lowth reads it interrogatively, Do ye presume to question Me and dictate to Me (see Isa 45:9, 10)? The same sense is given, if the words be taken in irony. But English Version is best.

His Maker; Israel’s Maker, who not only created him, as I did all others, but made him a new creature, and a peculiar people to myself.

Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me: the words thus rendered contain a concession or permission; and the sense may be this, Although the potter doth not give an account to the clay, nor parents to their children; yet I will so far condescend to you, as to be at your command in this matter, to give you an account of these great actions of mine, for which you quarrel with me. As for the expression, command ye me, though it seem to be harsh, yet there are instances in Scripture of such wonderful condescensions, as when it is said, that the Lord will make his people in heaven to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them, Luke 12:37. But the words seem to be better rendered interrogatively, as they are by some interpreter, Do you, or will you, ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of mine hands will ye command me? Will you not allow me that liberty which yourselves take, of disposing of my own children and works as I see fit? Must I give you an account of. these matters? Will you set bounds to me by your commands, that I shall do this, and not that, according to your good pleasure? This is intolerable boldness in you; and yet I am able to give a good account of my actions. And the account is given in the following verse. Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker,.... He whose name alone is Jehovah, who is glorious in holiness, the Sanctifier of his people, and the Maker of them, both as creatures, and new creatures:

ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me; these words are not spoken to idolaters, or the idolatrous Jews, or those of them that were inclined to idolatry; directing them to ask of the Lord, and not of their idols, things to come, which they were not able to show, and to seek to him for, and insist upon the performance of his promises to them, his children, and creatures; but to the spiritual Israel of God, as the preface shows, directing them to inquire after things future, concerning his children and people, especially among the Gentiles, whom the carnal Jews despised; and to expect, and believe, and even as it were demand the performance of them, being promised and prophesied of: there are some who are the "sons" of God, not by creation only, or by natural birth, or by desert, or merely by profession, but by adopting grace; which is a very great and excellent privilege, preferable to civil or national adoption, or to the highest rank of sonship among men; a blessing which continues forever, and entitles to eternal life: and these become the work of the Lord's hands in regeneration; they are made new creatures; they are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus; whatever is wrought in them is of his operation, faith, hope, love, and every grace, which make up that good work which shall be performed until the day of Christ: first, men are the sons of God by adoption, and then they are his workmanship in regeneration; and the latter because of the former, and of which the latter is an evidence: now there were and are "things to come", concerning these persons; there were some things to come, and which were to come to pass, and did, in the first times of the Gospel, as the incarnation of Christ, and redemption by him; his sufferings and death, and the glory that should follow; the effusion of Spirit, and the conversion of the Gentiles; all which were for the sake of these "sons" of God, and respected them: and there are other things yet to come concerning them, and will be accomplished in the latter day; some things sad and sorrowful, as the giving the outward court to the Gentiles, the Protestant churches to the Papists, and the slaying of the witnesses; and others desirable and joyful, as the numerous conversions of the Jews and Gentiles; their extensive knowledge of spiritual things, and their abundant peace and prosperity; the increase of brotherly love, their purity, spirituality, holiness, and righteousness; their power, authority, and dominion, both in the spiritual and personal reign of Christ, and their ultimate glory. And now the Lord allows his people, and encourages them to "ask" of him these things; to inquire of him by prayer, and by searching the Scriptures, what these things are that are to come; what of them have been accomplished, and what of them remain to be accomplished, "and how long it will be to the end of these wonders", Daniel 12:6, and so Jarchi interprets the word, rendered "things to come in the text", signs and wonders: and they may and should pray for the accomplishment of them; yea, insist upon and demand them. The Lord not only allows his people to put him in remembrance of his promises and prophecies, but to plead for, and, as it were, require the performance of them; and so the words are an encouragement to the importunate prayer of faith. Faith in prayer has great power with God, a kind of command over him; it holds him to his word; it will not let him go without the blessing; nor let him alone till he has made good his promise; nor give him any rest, day nor night, till he has fulfilled the things to come concerning his sons. Some (r) read the words by way of interrogation, "do ye ask or question me concerning things to come?" what I intend to do hereafter? am I obliged to give you an account of my secret purposes and designs? or make you acquainted with future events? "do ye, or should ye, command me concerning, my sons and the works of my hands?" will you prescribe to me what I shall do in my family? am I a father, and must I be directed what to do with my sons? am I the Maker of all men, and must I be told what to do with the work of my hands? what arrogance and insolence is this! but the former reading and sense are best.

(r) So Gataker, and some in the Dutch annotations, and Vitringa.

Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me {n} of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

(n) Instead of murmuring, humble yourselves and ask what you will for the consolation of my children, and you will be sure of it as you are of these things which are at your command. Some read it with an interrogation, and make it the application of the comparison.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The last two verses were probably spoken by the prophet in his own name; here Jehovah addresses the same persons, introducing Himself as the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 41:14) and his maker (Isaiah 45:9). If the text be quite accurate, ask me must mean “ask me, but do not criticise me,” and command me must mean “leave to my care” (as 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 25:30; 2 Samuel 6:21; 2 Samuel 7:11). But Cheyne well observes that these parallels are not exact, the verb being used of a charge laid on an inferior by a superior; and it is doubtful if it could be suitably employed of committing anything to the charge of God. He supposes that by an easily explicable omission of a consonant an imperf. has been changed into an imper.; and his translation is perhaps more forcible than any that can be obtained from the received text: concerning things to come (Isaiah 41:23, Isaiah 44:7) will ye question (i.e. “interrogate” in a hostile sense) me? and concerning … the work of my hands will ye lay commands upon me?

concerning my sons] should (according to the accents) be taken with what follows (as R.V.); but the phrase is irrelevant and should probably be omitted as a gloss based on Isaiah 45:10.Verse 11. - The Holy One of Israel; i.e. he who always does right, and with whom, therefore, it is absurd to find fault. His Maker; i.e. Israel's Maker, who has, therefore, the right to do with him as he pleases. Ask me of things to come concerning my sons. This sentence is wrongly punctuated. The last three words should be attached to what follows, thus: "Ask me of things to come: concerning my sons and concerning the work of my hands command ye me;" i.e. first learn of me what in my designs is to be the course of human events, and then (if necessary) give me directions concerning my sons (Israel), who are the work of my hands; but do not presume to give me directions while you are still in utter ignorance of my designs. In any case remember who I am - the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, One accustomed to give directions to the angelic host (ver. 12). A second and third object are introduced by a second and third למען. "For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I called thee hither by name, surnamed thee when thou knewest me not. I Jehovah, and there is none else, beside me no God: I equipped thee when thou knewest me not; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and its going down, that there is none without me: I Jehovah, and there is none else, former of the light, and creator of the darkness; founder of peace, and creator of evil: I Jehovah am He who worketh all this." The ואקרא which follows the second reason assigned like an apodosis, is construed doubly: "I called to thee, calling thee by name." The parallel אכנּך refers to such titles of honour as "my shepherd" and "my anointed," which had been given to him by Jehovah. This calling, distinguishing, and girding, i.e., this equipment of Cyrus, took place at a time when Cyrus knew nothing as yet of Jehovah, and by this very fact Jehovah made known His sole Deity. The meaning is, not that it occurred while he was still worshipping false gods, but, as the refrain-like repetition of the words "though thou hast not know me" affirms with strong emphasis, before he had been brought into existence, or could know anything of Jehovah. The passage is to be explained in the same way as Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee" (see Psychol. pp. 36, 37, 39); and what the God of prophecy here claims for Himself, must not be questioned by false criticism, or weakened down by false apologetics (i.e., by giving up the proper name Cyrus as a gloss in Isaiah 44:28 and Isaiah 45:1; or generalizing it into a king's name, such as Pharaoh, Abimelech, or Agag). The third and last object of this predicted and realized success of the oppressor of nations and deliverer of Israel is the acknowledgement of Jehovah, spreading over the heathen world from the rising and setting of the sun, i.e., in every direction. The ah of וּממּערבה is not a feminine termination (lxx, Targ., Jer.), but a feminine suffix with He raphato pro mappic (Kimchi); compare Isaiah 23:17-18; Isaiah 34:17 (but not נצּה in Isaiah 18:5, or מוּסדה in Isaiah 30:32). Shemesh (the sun) is a feminine here, as in Genesis 15:17, Nahum 3:17, Malachi 4:2, and always in Arabic; for the west is invariably called מערב (Arab. magrib). In Isaiah 45:7 we are led by the context to understand by darkness and evil the penal judgments, through which light and peace, or salvation, break forth for the people of God and the nations generally. But as the prophecy concerning Cyrus closes with this self-assertion of Jehovah, it is unquestionably a natural supposition that there is also a contrast implied to the dualistic system of Zarathustra, which divided the one nature of the Deity into two opposing powers (see Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, p. 135). The declaration is so bold, that Marcion appealed to this passage as a proof that the God of the Old Testament was a different being from the God of the New, and not the God of goodness only. The Valentinians and other gnostics also regarded the words "There is no God beside me" in Isaiah, as deceptive words of the Demiurugs. The early church met them with Tertullian's reply, "de his creator profitetur malis quae congruunt judici," and also made use of this self-attestation of the God of revelation as a weapon with which to attack Manicheesism. The meaning of the words is not exhausted by those who content themselves with the assertion, that by the evil (or darkness) we are not to understand the evil of guilt (malum culpae), but the evil of punishment (malum paenae). Undoubtedly, evil as an act is not the direct working of God, but the spontaneous work of a creature endowed with freedom. At the same time, evil, as well as good, has in this sense its origin in God - that He combines within Himself the first principles of love and wrath, the possibility of evil, the self-punishment of evil, and therefore the consciousness of guilt as well as the evil of punishment in the broadest sense. When the apostle celebrates the glory of free grace in Romans 9:11., he stands on that giddy height, to which few are able to follow him without falling headlong into the false conclusions of a decretum absolutum, and the denial of all creaturely freedom.
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