Isaiah 43:10
You are my witnesses, said the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
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(10) Ye are my witnesses . . .—These are collectively addressed as the servant of Jehovah. Their calling and election had not been cancelled, and they might yet fulfil it. They, in that restoration from exile which Isaiah had foretold, should be a living proof of the foresight granted to the prophets, and, therefore, of the foreknowledge of Him who alone could say, “I am He,” to whom past, present, and future were as one; and He, the Eternal, proclaims Himself as being also the only Saviour.

43:8-13 Idolaters are called to appear in defence of their idols. Those who make them, and trust in them, are like unto them. They have the shape and faculties of men; but they have not common sense. But God's people know the power of his grace, the sweetness of his comforts, the kind care of his providence, and the truth of his promise. All servants of God can give such an account of what he has wrought in them, and done for them, as may lead others to know and believe his power, truth, and loveYe are my witnesses - They were his witnesses, because, first, he had given in them predictions of future events which had been literally fulfilled: secondly, by his power of delivering them so often manifested, he had shown that he was a God able to save. Neither of these had been done by the idol-gods (compare Isaiah 44:8).

And believe me - Or rather, confide in me.

Before me there was no God formed - I am the only true, the eternal God. In this expression, Yahweh says that he was the first being. He derived his existence from no one. Perhaps the Hebrew will bear a little more emphasis than is conveyed by our translation. 'Before me, God was not formed,' implying that he was God, and that he existed anterior to all other beings. It was an opinion among the Greeks, that the same gods had not always reigned, but that the more ancient divinities had been expelled by the more modern. It is possible that some such opinion may have prevailed in the oriental idolatry, and that God here means to say, in opposition to that, that he had not succeeded any other God in his kingdom. His dominion was original, underived, and independent.

Neither shall there be after me - He would never cease to live; he would never vacate his throne for another. This expression is equivalent to that which occurs in the Book of Revelation, 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last' Revelation 1:11; and it is remarkable that this language, which obviously implies eternity, and which in Isaiah is used expressly to prove the divinity of Yahweh, is, in the passage referred to in the Book of Revelation, applied no less unequivocally to the Lord Jesus Christ.

10. Ye—the Jews, to whom I have given predictions, verified by the event; and in delivering whom I have so often manifested My power (see Isa 43:3, 4; Isa 44:8).

and my servant—that is, the whole Jewish people (Isa 41:8).

believe—trust in.

formed—before I existed none of the false gods were formed. "Formed" applies to the idols, not to God. Re 1:11 uses the same language to prove the Godhead of Jesus, as Isaiah here to prove the Godhead of Jehovah.

Ye are my witnesses; they can produce no witnesses for themselves, but you my people are able to witness for me, that I have given you many plain demonstrations of my certain foreknowledge of future events, by my predictions and promises delivered to you from time to time.

My servant whom I have chosen; either,

1. Isaiah, and other prophets, the singular word being put collectively: or,

2. Cyrus, who is an eminent instance and proof of God’s foreknowledge: or,

3. The Messiah, as not only Christians, but even the Chaldee paraphrast, understands it, who is called by this very title, Isaiah 42:1, who also is the most eminent witness in this cause; and that both passively, as he, and the time, and place, and other circumstances of his birth, and life, and death were particularly foretold by God in Scripture; and actively, as many future things were foretold by Christ, of which we have many examples in the New Testament. I am he; he of whom the present dispute is, or he whom I have affirmed myself to be. That I only am that true God whom we are now seeking in this debate. Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me; the gods of the heathens neither had a being before me, nor shall continue after me: wherein more is understood than is expressed, that whereas the Lord is God from everlasting to everlasting, these false pretenders to the Deity are but of yesterday, and shall shortly be abolished. And withal he calleth them formed gods, in way of contempt, and to show the ridiculousness of their pretence to the Divinity, which are formed by the hands of men. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord,.... The people of Israel, who could testify that the Lord had foretold their affliction in Egypt, their coming from thence, and settling in the land of Canaan, many hundreds of years before they came to pass, and which were exactly fulfilled; and so the apostles of Christ, and ministers of the word, and all Christian people in all nations, are witnesses of the prophecies concerning Christ, his birth, miracles, obedience, sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God, all which are exactly accomplished, Acts 1:8,

and my servant whom I have chosen; meaning either the Prophet Isaiah, or the prophets in general; or rather the Messiah. So the Targum,

"and my servant the Messiah, in whom I am well pleased;''

and who is called the faithful witness, Revelation 1:5, and to whom the characters of a servant, and the Lord's chosen, well agree, Isaiah 42:1,

that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; by which testimonies and evident proofs of deity, from the prediction of future events, and the accomplishment of them, you may have a competent knowledge, a firm persuasion, and a clear perception of this important truth, that the God of Israel, and of all true Christians, is the one only Lord God:

before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me; intimating that idols were formed by the hands of men, and yet none of these were formed before him, and therefore could make no pretensions to deity, or to an equality with him; nor should any be formed afterwards, that could be put in competition with him. In short, the sense is, there is no other god beside him; as the Targum, Septuagint, and Arabic versions render it.

Ye {l} are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my {m} servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me.

(l) The prophets and people to whom I have given my law.

(m) Meaning especially Christ, and by him all the faithful.

10. The gods are unable to meet the challenge, and Jehovah turns to His servant Israel, whose very presence is evidence of His power both to predict and to deliver. The words and my servant are not a complement of the subject (“ye are my witnesses, and [so is] my Servant”) but of the predicate (ye are my witnesses and [ye are] my Servant). The former view would imply some sort of distinction between the Servant and Israel, whether of an individual over against the nation, or of a part of the nation over against the whole. But whatever view may be held of the personality of the Servant, the natural construction of the sentence places it alongside of those numerous passages where the title is applied to Israel. To bear witness to Jehovah’s divinity is one of the functions of Israel as the Servant of the Lord.

that ye may know …] In the very act of bearing witness, it would seem that the mind of Israel is to be awakened to the grand truth of which its own history is the evidence,—the sole divinity of Jehovah, and its own unique position as His servant.

I am he] See ch. Isaiah 41:4.

before me there was no god formed] Strictly, of course, the idea is, “before any god was formed I existed.” The form of expression might be derived from the Babylonian cosmology, according to which the gods were the first beings to emerge from the primeval chaos. The following words occur in the Chaldæan account of creation: “When of the gods none had yet arisen, when none named a name or [determined] fate; then were the [great] gods formed” (Schrader, Cuneiform Inscriptions on Genesis 1:1). It is probably to this origin of the gods themselves that reference is made, rather than to the formation of their images (ch. Isaiah 44:9).Verse 10. - Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord; i.e. "Ye, Israel, are the witnesses that I cite" - ye can prove the antiquity of the historical books of Scripture by the ordinary modes by which antiquity is proved, and also the exact dates of the prophetical sues. Ye can show what clear and unambiguous prophecies have been delivered centuries before the event, as the destruction of Jerusalem by a nation in whom none can fail to recognize the Romans (Deuteronomy 28:49-57), prophesied by Moses; the demolition of the altar at Bethel by a king of the house of David, Josiah by name, prophesied by a man of God in the reign of Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:2); the long continuance of David's progeny upon the throne of Judah, prophesied by Nathan in David's time (2 Samuel 7:11-16); the fairly long continuance of the house of Jehu on the throne of Israel, prophesied to Jehu himself (2 Kings 10:30); and the like. Israel has been at all times, and still is, one of the most important witnesses for God that exists in the world. Like the Church, Israel is the "witness and keeper" of a large portion of "Holy Writ." Her past history witnesses for God. Her continued existence and present condition constitute additional testimony. And my Servant whom I have chosen. To explain this as meaning "and ye are also my servant, whom I have chosen" (Nagelsbach, Cheyne, Delitzsch), is to empty it of all its force. Manifestly, a further witness is adduced, "Ye are my witnesses; and so is my Servant," etc. The "Servant" intended can only be the one true Servant of Isaiah 42:1-7, since faithful Israel is already among the witnesses. The prophet rises above the consideration of the immediately present, or of the single trial-scene which he is setting before us, and has in mind the great controversy ever going on between those who are for God and those who are against him. He sees, on the side of God

(1) faithful Israel: and

(2) Christ, the "Faithful Witness" (Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14), who "came into the world that he should bear witness of the truth" (John 18:37). These are the two witnesses by whom God's truth is maintained in a world of falsehood and delusion. That ye may know. The subject is changed. "Ye" here points to "the nations," or mankind at large. I am he (comp. Isaiah 41:4). Before me there was no God formed. All other gods beside me are "formed" gods - invented, fashioned, made by men. None of them was ever made before me. Ver 11. - Beside me there is no saviour. None but God can save men. Man cannot make atonement for his fellows; "for it cost more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever" (Psalm 49:8, Prayer-book Version). The human "saviours" whom God raises up to deliver his people out of the hand of their enemies (Judges 3:9; 2 Kings 13:5; Nehemiah 9:27, etc.), are "saviours" in quite a secondary and inferior sense. Just as in Isaiah 43:1, kı̄ (for), with all that follows, assigns the reason for the encouraging "Fear not;" so here a second kı̄ introduces the reason for the promise which ensures them against the dangers arising from either water or fire. "For I Jehovah am thy God; (I) the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I give up Egypt as a ransom for thee, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead. Because thou art dear in my eyes, highly esteemed, and I loved thee; I give up men in thy stead, and peoples for thy life." Both "Jehovah" and "the Holy One of Israel" are in apposition to "I" ('ănı̄), the force of which is continued in the second clause. The preterite nâthattı̄ (I have given), as the words "I will give" in Isaiah 43:4 clearly show, states a fact which as yet is only completed so far as the purpose is concerned. "A ransom:" kōpher (λύτρον) is literally the covering - the person making the payment. סבא is the land of Mero, which is enclosed between the White and Blue Nile, the present Dr Sennr, district of Sennr (Sen-rti, i.e., island of Sen), or the ancient Meriotic priestly state settled about this enclosed land, probably included in the Mudrya (Egypt) of the Achaemenidian arrowheaded inscriptions; though it is uncertain whether the Kusiya (Heb. Kūshı̄m) mentioned there are the predatory tribe of archers called Κοσσαῖοι (Strabo, xi. 13, 6), whose name has been preserved in the present Chuzistan, the eastern Ethiopians of the Greeks (as Lassen and Rawlinson suppose), or the African Ethiopians of the Bible, as Oppert imagines. The fact that Egypt was only conquered by Cambyses, and not by Cyrus, who merely planned it (Herod. i. 153), and to whom it is only attributed by a legend (Xen. Cyr. viii. 6, 20, λἐγεται καταστρἐψσασθαι Αἰγυπτον), does no violence to the truth of the promise. It is quite enough that Egypt and the neighbouring kingdoms were subjugated by the new imperial power of Persia, and that through that empire the Jewish people recovered their long-lost liberty. The free love of God was the reason for His treating Israel according to the principle laid down in Proverbs 11:8; Proverbs 21:18. מאשׁר does not signify ex quo tempore here, but is equivalent to אשׁר מפּני in Exodus 19:18; Jeremiah 44:23; for if it indicated the terminus a quo, it would be followed by a more distinct statement of the fact of their election. The personal pronoun "and I" (va'ănı̄) is introduced in consequence of the change of persons. In the place of ונתתּי (perf. cons.), ואתּן commended itself, as the former had already been used in a somewhat different function. All that composed the chosen nation are here designated as "man" (âdâm), because there was nothing in them but what was derived from Adam. תּחת has here a strictly substitutionary meaning throughout.
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