These verses come in a remarkable passage in Isaiah where God predicts the name of the king who will bring the nation of Israel out of their captivity in Babylon. 170 years before the event, God foretold through the prophet that Cyrus, King of Persia, would allow His people to return to their land. This, however, is only a foretaste of what will happen in the future, when the nation of Israel is installed in the Land of Promise, with Jesus Christ as their Messiah and King, and this is what our passage has to do with. Isaiah is doing several things. First, he is maintaining the Godhood of God in the face of the false gods in the nations around Israel. Second, he is showing the folly of worshipping those false gods. Third, he is warning Judah about the sins the other part of the nation, the ten tribes of Israel, were guilty of. Fourth, he is prophesying about the near future, when Cyrus the Persian would come to Babylon and defeat it, thus allowing the people of Israel to return to their land after the Captivity. Fifth, he is looking far into the future, when a more wonderful deliverance would be effected, and Christ the Messiah would deliver His people from a greater danger, and bring in His reign on the earth. So in Isaiah 44:23 the prophet projects himself into the future, when the reign of Christ has begun on earth, and speaks of it as if it has happened. This is often called “the prophetic past”. So certain is the outcome, that Isaiah can with confidence speak of it as if it has already happened. Then he proceeds to tell how that glorious outcome will be achieved. In verses 24-28, Isaiah makes a remarkable set of predictions. Remember he is speaking before Israel were taken into captivity and Jerusalem was destroyed. Yet he predicts that a ruler will arise by the name of Cyrus, who will be so used of God to deliver His people that he can be given the title “anointed”, 45:1. He is so like Christ in this one respect, (and only this respect of course), that this name can be given to him in a lesser sense. So before Jerusalem was destroyed Isaiah prophesied it would be rebuilt, and by whom. Isaiah also predicts that God would “frustrate the tokens of the liars”, and “make diviners mad”, 44:25. This happened when Belshazzar’s astrologers were unable to read the writing on the wall, Daniel 5:7,8. God would turn their wise men backward, and make their knowledge foolish. Much literature from Babylon has been discovered which shows that the astrologers of those times invariably assured the king that he would be victorious. They probably felt that it was too dangerous to say otherwise! God, says Isaiah, would “confirm the word of His servant”, (i.e. Daniel), and “perform the counsel of his messengers”, (i.e. the prophets who had foretold the downfall of Babylon). Then come these significant words, “That saith to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be inhabited’; and to the cities of Judah, ‘ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof’; 44:26,28. Cyrus will perform all God’s pleasure, and will do this by saying to Jerusalem, “Thou shalt be built”, and to the temple, “Thy foundation shall be laid”. The Medo-Persian army diverted the river Euphrates (which flowed through the city), whilst Belshazzar feasted with his lords, or great ones, including, no doubt, the chiefs of the army. Having done this, they were able to march into the city along the river bed, open the gates from the inside, (“I will open to him the two-leaved gates of brass”, 45:1) and the city was taken. God further promises to loose the loins of kings, 45:1, which is exactly what happened, for we read that when Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall, “the joints of his loins were loosed”, Daniel 5:6. So it was that Cyrus and the Medo-Persian empire succeeded the Babylonian empire. The rule over Babylonia itself was given by Cyrus to Darius the Mede, who died two years later. Daniel 6:28 shows that subsequently Cyrus took sole charge of the empire. It was the policy of Cyrus to allow the nations he had conquered to continue with their particular religion. Accordingly, he allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and build their city and their temple. Thus the word of God came to pass. This brings us to Isaiah 45:7. “I form the light” would firstly refer to God as Creator and Controller of the universe, (not the false gods of the heathen), reminding us of Genesis 1:3, “Let there be light”. It would also remind us that He alone is the One able to bring in all that light symbolises, such as hope, righteousness, and a new day. Only God can dispel the gloom of their captivity. He creates darkness also, for He will plunge the kings who resist His will into the same despondency and darkness as they have made His people suffer. Jeremiah 50:29 foretells that God would recompense Babylon for what she had done to Israel. So it is that when Israel returned to Jerusalem, (which name means “foundation of peace), after the exile, they had a measure of peace and quietness, all of God’s creating. But Isaiah looks on to a better day for Israel, when the Messiah shall come, and “the people that walked in darkness”, shall see “a great light”, Isaiah 9:2. A verse quoted by Matthew when the Lord Jesus moved from living in Nazareth to being in Capernaum, near Galilee Matthew 4:13-16. The “way of the sea” Isaiah mentions is the highway from Babylonia that swept down along the Mediterranean coast, then came inland past the Sea of Galilee and went on to Damascus. Matthew probably sat alongside this highway collecting taxes for the Romans, but one day the King of Kings came by, and Matthew immediately left working for the Romans, and followed Christ. Malachi speaks of the “Sun of Righteousness arising with healing in His wings”, Malachi 4:2, and David spoke of the “morning without clouds”, 2 Samuel 23:4. All to come to pass when the Lord Jesus comes to reign. For Israel’s enemies, however, whether in Cyrus’ day or in the future, God will create evil. The word used here is found 640 times in the Old Testament. On 275 occasions the thought is of calamity of some sort. So whereas God brings in light, in the form of salvation and deliverance for Israel, He will bring in calamitous conditions for those who oppose Him. “Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel the Saviour” expresses wonderment at the remarkable way God will intervene in salvation for His earthly people Israel in a future day. As the apostle Paul wrote, “How unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out”, Romans 11:33. The glory of God that will be expressed in Jesus Christ His Son when He reigns, will be so splendid, that it will be as if God hid Himself in Old Testament times. He did not in fact do so, but by comparison, it will be as if He did. He is called the God of Israel the Saviour, because through Jesus Christ He will intervene to rescue His people from their enemies. But more than this, He will save them from their sins when they repent and believe in the one they crucified centuries before. When they see the Lord Jesus coming in power and great glory, they shall look on Him whom they pierced, and weep in repentance, and accept Him as their long-promised Messiah. See Revelation 1:7; Zechariah 12:10-14; John 19:31-37. The reference to idol-worship is very solemn, for before Christ’s kingdom is set up, a time of great tribulation will come upon the earth, and a counterfeit messiah will arise, and demand that men worship him and his image. This will be a great test for the remnant of those who believe in Israel, and the prophet is putting on record beforehand, for their encouragement, that God will see to it that all who worship idols will be judged.