Throughout the book of Isaiah, we see God as the One who controls all history. As such, God is sometimes referred to as “the Mighty One” and “Sovereign Lord,” but most often (60 times) He is the “Lord Almighty” (“Lord of hosts” in NKJV).
When the Assyrian army was poised to capture Jerusalem, Hezekiah prayed, “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth” (37:16). The One who created the heavens and “brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name” (40:26) is certainly qualified to control everything He wants to control.
In Isaiah we see God boldly announcing His goal for Israel and all nations, and exercising His sovereignty to bring about that which He has ordained.
The God Of History Announces His Purposes.
As the Lord Almighty, God can confidently announce the details of His purposes for Israel and the nations. He knows exactly where history is going and how it will get there.
But God’s optimistic picture of how history will end contrasts sharply with the doomsday portrait drawn by non-Christian futurists. Some believe that an asteroid crashed into the earth and wiped out the dinosaurs some 60 million years ago, and they believe that the end for man will likely come as the result of another “deep impact.”
Others see life as we know it coming to an end through a nuclear holocaust, an environmental disaster, an uncontrollable virus, or a series of blunders on the part of scientists trying to play God.
Certainly it’s possible for an asteroid to crash into our planet, or that millions may die from one or more of the causes mentioned above. But history will not end that way! Isaiah made it clear that before God purifies the present earth system by fire (2 Pet. 3:10-13) and ushers in “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21), He will bring about the following:
- A transformed and restored Israel (54:1-17).
- A rebuilt Jerusalem as the center of worldwide worship and the capital city of a government that will secure justice for all and peace between the nations (2:1-5).
- A perfect Ruler who is born as a child and a special gift from heaven called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”—clearly the God-man Jesus Christ (9:1-7).
- A dramatic removal of the effects of the curse pronounced in Genesis 3:16-19. This will affect the animal world (11:6-9), cause deserts to become watered and lush (35:1; 41:19; 43:19-20; 51:3), greatly increase the human lifespan (65:20), and ensure a good life of incredibly long duration to all the redeemed (65:21-23).
These are obviously earthly conditions. The mention of animals, deserts, water, and the presence of death at the end of a long life eliminate the possibility that Isaiah was describing heaven. These prophecies clearly predict a golden age that will exceed our fondest dreams, the much-desired peaceable kingdom. The Lord Almighty has announced its coming—and He cannot fail.
The God Of The Nations Exercises His Sovereignty.
Throughout the book of Isaiah, we see God repeatedly pronouncing judgment on Israel’s neighbors and making bold predictions about their future. The oracles against the nations (13–23)—Assyria, Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Cush, Egypt, Edom, Arabia, and Phoenicia—are a mixture of dire warnings and bright promises of a coming Messiah. The apocalyptic section (24–27) portrays the awesome judgments of the endtimes and the rejoicing that will follow Israel’s repentance and restoration. The next section (28–35) begins with a description of the calamities that will fall on Israel and Judah, continues with a rebuke of Judah for depending on an alliance with Egypt, and closes with bright promises of endtime restoration.
God exercises the control necessary to bring about His plan in at least three ways:
- He blinds the minds of the rebellious by making them slaves to their own pride and self-will,
- He brings into power leaders who knowingly or unknowingly do His will, and
- He miraculously intervenes whenever He chooses.
God blinds the minds of the rebellious by making them slaves to their own pride and self-will.
Isaiah saw the rebellious nation of his day as afflicted with “madness, blindness, and confusion of mind” just as God had threatened in Deuteronomy 28:28, “Israel’s watchmen [spiritual leaders] are blind, they all lack knowledge” (Isa. 56:10). Though they had heard God’s message of warning and were surrounded by enemies, they called out, “Come… let me get wine! Let us drink our fill of beer! And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better” (v.12). Isaiah described the situation this way: “Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes” (59:10).
Rebellion against God always brings spiritual blindness and mental confusion! It did when men tried to frustrate God’s plan by building the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-8). It will in the endtime when world leaders gather in an attempt to dethrone God (Rev. 16:12-14). And it does today.
God used Pharaoh’s stubborn pride to display His power (Ex. 7–11). He used the stubborn pride of the Canaanites to set the stage for their destruction by refusing to surrender to the Israelites even though they knew what God had done to others who had attempted to resist (Josh. 11:19-20). Ahab’s stubborn pride led him to listen to the false prophets rather than God’s servant, which brought about his violent death (2 Chr. 18:1-7).
The God of history has demonstrated throughout the ages that when men rebel against Him He sends them spiritual blindness and mental confusion by letting them become slaves to their pride and self-will.
God brings into power leaders who knowingly or unknowingly do His will.
Isaiah’s amazing prophecy that Cyrus would allow the Israelites to return to their land after a time of captivity (44:28; 45:1) illustrates the fact that the Lord Almighty sometimes controls history by putting into place rulers who will, knowingly or unknowingly, assist in the accomplishment of His purposes.
One of the amazing elements in this prophecy is its chronology—more than 100 years before the beginning of Israel’s captivity in Babylon (586 BC) and more than 150 years before Cyrus became the king of Persia (559 BC). Isaiah had given Hezekiah the bad news that some of his descendants would be taken as captives to Babylon (39:6-7). The next eight chapters proclaim the good news that their coming deliverance through Cyrus foreshadows a far greater deliverance and restoration in the endtime. God referred to Cyrus as His “anointed” through whom He would subdue nations, to whom He would reveal Himself, and by whom the whole world would see something of His power and glory. What’s amazing is that there is no indication that Cyrus ever acknowledged God as the one and only true God (45:1-7)!
God brought him to this place of power and helped him because He could use him to further His plans for Israel. Although Cyrus continued to worship Marduk, he had qualities that fitted him for his role in God’s plan. His polytheism allowed him to hold a high regard for Israel’s God as a powerful deity. He also believed that allowing captive people to return to their homeland was good policy in his empire. He was God’s man—chosen and placed in office to help Him carry out His purposes for Israel.
God miraculously intervenes when He chooses.
The fact that God sometimes intervenes supernaturally in the affairs of nations is stated clearly throughout the Scriptures, but nowhere more clearly than in Isaiah 36–37. This narrative describes Jerusalem as helpless before the Assyrian army that had come to capture her. The Assyrian general sent an insolent letter to Hezekiah, ridiculing the idea that Israel’s God could deliver the city. Hezekiah spread out the letter before the Lord Almighty and prayed. The next morning, the Israelites on the wall protecting the city looked out and saw that except for the 185,000 soldiers lying dead in the field, the camp was empty. God had supernaturally intervened.
Some scholars have suggested that the bubonic plague accounted for all these deaths. This is obvious conjecture, of course. But if true, the timing would still point to God. The fact is that God can supernaturally intervene without performing an obvious miracle. As the Lord Almighty, for example, He can control the weather and make it a significant factor in time of war. After a battle in which heavy rain or bitter cold helps a smaller force to win, only believers would see the hand of God. And even then we ourselves would be unable to determine the extent to which God’s supernatural power was involved. Material events always appear to material beings as having a material cause.
In summary, though all the names of God are used to denote His control of history, the name “Lord Almighty” calls special attention to this truth. God can announce His goal for history and predict the way He will bring it about because as the Lord Almighty He has the wisdom and power to overrule the best laid plans of His enemies and work out His sovereign will.
- In God’s announcement of His plans and purposes, we see His complete control of all things.
- In God’s endtime scenario, we see His goodness.
- In Isaiah’s prophecy about Cyrus more than 150 years in advance of his reign, we see God’s perfect foreknowledge.
- In God’s miraculous deliverance of Judah from Assyria, we see His response to earnest prayer.
- In the response of Israel’s watchmen to God’s warnings (56:10-12), we see the foolish arrogance that resides within all of us.
- In Cyrus’ failure to abandon his pagan worship, even after seeing and acknowledging the power of God, we see the blinding power of false religion.
- In the helplessness of the Jerusalem inhabitants in the face of the armies of Assyria, we see our own helplessness in the face of the powers of evil.
- In the sudden death of 180,000 Assyrian soldiers, we see our vulnerability in the presence of God.