Isaiah 48:12
Listen to me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Hearken unto me, O Jacob.—The prophet is drawing near to the end of the first great section of his book, and his conclusion takes the form of a condensed epitome of the great argument of Isaiah 40-47, asserting the oneness, the eternity, the omnipotence, the omniscience of Jehovah.

Isaiah 48:12-13. Hearken unto me, Israel, my called — Whom I have called out of the world to be my peculiar people, to serve, and glorify, and enjoy me; and therefore you, of all others, have least cause to forsake me, or to follow after idols. My right hand hath spanned, or doth span, the heavens — Or, hath meted them out with a span, as the phrase is, Isaiah 40:12; hath stretched them out by an exact measure, as the workman sometimes metes out his work by spans. See also the margin. When I call them, they stand up together — “Nothing can give us a more sublime idea of God than this passage. The idea is taken from servants, who, at the voice of their masters, instantly rise up, and stand ready to execute their commands. The whole creation, at the call of God, arises with prompt obedience, and is ready to execute his sovereign will.” — Dodd.48:9-15 We have nothing ourselves to plead with God, why he should have mercy upon us. It is for his praise, to the honour of his mercy, to spare. His bringing men into trouble was to do them good. It was to refine them, but not as silver; not so thoroughly as men refine silver. If God should take that course, they are all dross, and, as such, might justly be put away. He takes them as refined in part only. Many have been brought home to God as chosen vessels, and a good work of grace begun in them, in the furnace of affliction. It is comfort to God's people, that God will secure his own honour, therefore work deliverance for them. And if God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed. God has formed a plan, in which, for his own sake, and the glory of his grace, he saves all that come to Him.Hearken unto me - This is a solemn call on the Jews in Babylon to attend to what he was now about to say. It is the commencement of a new part of the argument, containing the assurance that he would deliver them, and utterly destroy the Chaldeans. He begins, therefore, by asserting that he is the only true God, and that he is able to accomplish all his purposes.

My called - The people whom I have chosen, or called.

I am he - I am the same; or I am the true and only God.

I am the first - (See the notes at Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6).

12-15. The Almighty, who has founded heaven and earth, can, and will, restore His people.

the first … last—(Isa 41:4; 44:6).

Israel my called; whom I have called out of the world to be my peculiar people, to serve, and glorify, and enjoy me; and therefore you of all others have least cause to forsake me, or to follow after idols. Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called,.... Called before out of Egypt, and now out of Babylon, and who had the name of God called upon them, and who called upon the name of the Lord; so such who are called with a holy calling, according to the purpose and grace of God, by the Spirit and grace of Christ, unto fellowship with him, to partake of his grace here, and glory hereafter, are styled "the called of Jesus Christ", Romans 1:6 and who seems to be the person here speaking, as appears from the following clause: and it may be observed, that Jacob and Israel are described here in a different manner from what they are in the beginning of the chapter, since the Lord had declared his designs of grace towards them, and that he had chosen them, and would save them for his name's sake: which they had reason to believe he could and would do, from the account which he gives of himself: and they are called upon to hearken to him, as follows,

I am he, I am the first, and I also am the last; the everlasting I AM, the immutable Jehovah, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first cause and last end of all things; phrases expressive of the self-existence, supremacy, eternity, and immutability of Christ, Revelation 1:8, and what is it that such a sovereign, eternal and unchangeable Being cannot do?

Hearken to me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; {p} I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

(p) Read Isa 41:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. I am he] see on ch. Isaiah 41:4. I am the first … the last] Isaiah 44:6.

12–16. The substance of the “new things” (Isaiah 48:6) is that Jehovah has called Cyrus to execute His pleasure on the Chaldæans (14 f.), and now openly announces His purpose beforehand (16).Verses 12-15. - THE SECOND ADDRESS. The tone of complaint is now dropped. Israel is invited to reflect seriously on the chief points urged in the preceding chapters.

(1) Their near relation to Jehovah (ver. 12);

(2) Jehovah's eternity and omnipotence (vers. 12, 13);

(3) the superiority of Jehovah to the gods of the nations, as shown by his prophetic power (ver. 14); and

(4) the near approach of deliverance by Cyrus (vers. 14, 15). Verse 12. - O Jacob and Israel (comp. Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 41:8, 14; Isaiah 43:1, 22; Isaiah 44:1, 21; Isaiah 46:3; Isaiah 48:1). The figure is used which rhetoricians call hendiadys. The two names designate one and the same object. My called. "Called" and "chosen" from of old, out of all the nations of the earth (comp. Isaiah 41:9; Isaiah 44:1, 2, etc.); therefore bound to "hear" and to attend. Still more bound, considering who it is by whom they have been called - I AM HE - i.e. "I am the absolute and eternally unchangeable One, the Alpha and Omega of all history" (Delitzsch). The first, and also the Last, "from whom and to whom are all things" (Romans 11:36). But in order to determine exactly what "the former things" were, which Jehovah had foretold in order that Israel might not ascribe them to this idol or the other, we must add Isaiah 48:6-8 : "Thou hast heard it, look then at it all; and ye, must ye not confess it? I give thee new things to hear from this time forth, and hidden things, and what thou didst not know. It is created now, and not long ago; and thou hast not heard it before, that thou mightest not say, Behold, I knew it. Thou hast neither heard it, nor known it, nor did thine ear open itself to it long ago: for I knew thou art altogether faithless, and thou art called rebellious from the womb." The meaning of the question in Isaiah 48:6 is very obvious: they must acknowledge and attest, even thou against their will (Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:8), that Jehovah has foretold all that is now confirmed by the evident fulfilment. Consequently the "former things" are the events experienced by the people from the very earliest times (Isaiah 46:9) down to the present times of Cyrus, and more especially the first half or epoch of this period itself, which expired at the time that formed the prophet's standpoint. And as the object of the prediction was to guard Israel against ascribing to its idols that which had taken place (which can only be understood of events that had occurred in favour of Israel), the "former things" must include the preparation for the redemption of Israel from the Babylonian captivity through the revolution brought to pass by Cyrus. Hence the "new things" will embrace the redemption of Israel with its attendant circumstances, and that not merely on its outward side, but on its spiritual side as well; also the glorification of the redeemed people in the midst of a world of nations converted to the God of Israel, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth; in short, the New Testament aeon (compare עם לברית, lxx εἰς διαθήκην γένους, Isaiah 42:6), with the facts which contribute to its ultimate completion (f. Isaiah 42:9). The announcement and realization of these absolutely new and hitherto secret things (cf., Romans 16:25) take place from this time forward; Israel has not heard of them "before today" (compare מיּום, "from this day forward," Isaiah 43:13), that it may not lay claim to the knowledge conveyed to it by prophecy, as something drawn from itself. This thought is carried to a climax in Isaiah 48:8 in three correlated sentences commencing with "yea" (gam). פּתח signifies patescere here, as in Isaiah 60:11 (Ewald, 120, a). Jehovah had said nothing to them of this before, because it was to be feared that, with their faithlessness and tendency to idolatry, which had run through their entire history, they would only abuse it. This is strange! On the one hand, the rise of Cyrus is spoken of here as predicted from of old, because it belonged to the "former things," and as knowable through prophecy - a statement which favours the opinion that these addresses were written before the captivity; and, on the other hand, a distinction is drawn between these "former things" and certain "new things" that were intentionally not predicted before the expiration of these "former things," which certainly seems to preclude the possibility of their having been composed before the captivity; since, as Ruetschi observes, if "the older Isaiah had predicted this, he would have acted in direct opposition to Jehovah's design." But in actual fact, the dilemma in which the opponents of the authenticity of these prophecies find themselves, is comparatively worse than this. For the principal objection - namely, that a prophet before the captivity could not possibly have known or predicted anything concerning Cyrus - cannot be satisfactorily removed by attributing these prophecies to a prophet of the time of the captivity, since they expressly and repeatedly affirm that the rise of Cyrus was an event foreknown and predicted by the God of prophecy. Now, if it is Isaiah who thus takes his stand directly in the midst of the captivity, we can understand both of these: viz., the retrospective glance at previous prophecies, which issued in the rise of Cyrus that prepared the way for the redemption from Babylon, since, so far as the prophet was concerned, such prophecies as Isaiah 13-14:23; Isaiah 21:1-10, and also Isaiah 11:10-12 (Micah 4:10), are fused into one with his present predictions; and also the prospective glance at prophecies which are now first to be uttered, and events which are now fore the first time about to be accomplished; inasmuch as the revelations contained in these prophecies concerning Israel's pathway through suffering to glory, more especially so far as they grew out of the idea of the "servant of Jehovah," might really be set down as absolutely new to the prophet himself, and never heard of before. Meanwhile our exposition is not affected by the critical question; for even we most firmly maintain, that the prophet who is speaking here has his standpoint in the midst of the captivity, on the boundary line of the condition of suffering and punishment and its approaching termination.
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