Isaiah 41:21-29

21 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come,
23 tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
24 But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; whoever chooses you is detestable.
25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes— one from the rising sun who calls on my name. He treads on rulers as if they were mortar, as if he were a potter treading the clay.
26 Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know, or beforehand, so we could say, ‘He was right’? No one told of this, no one foretold it, no one heard any words from you.
27 I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’ I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good news.
28 I look but there is no one— no one among the gods to give counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them.
29 See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.

Isaiah 41:21-29 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 41

This chapter contains a summons to the enemies of Christ to come and try the cause between God and them before him; words of comfort to true believers, promising them help, protection, and provision; full conviction of idolaters, and their practices; and is closed with a promise of some great person, and what he will do unto them, and for the people of God. The summons is in Isa 41:1, expressed according to the forms used in courts of judicature. The issue of the controversy is put upon this foot, the raising up a certain person from the east, who it was that did it, which appearing to be the work of the Lord, proves the point contended about, Isa 41:2-4, the obstinate persistence of idolaters in their idolatry, notwithstanding this is observed, Isa 41:5-7, the people of God, under the names of Jacob and Israel, the objects of God's choice and affection, Isa 41:8,9 are encouraged against the fear of men, with promises of help and strength from the Lord, Isa 41:10,13,14 of confusion to their enemies, and victory over them, Isa 41:11,12,15,16, and of spiritual provisions, and great prosperity in their wilderness state, in which they should manifestly see the hand of the Lord, Isa 41:17-20 when the idolatrous nations are challenged to produce their strong reasons for their idolatry, and are put upon proving that their idols can foretell things to come, or do good or evil to men, or own they are nothing but an abomination, Isa 41:21-24,26 and then one is spoken of that should come as a mighty warrior, and tread down the Pagan princes, and a set of Gospel ministers should be sent, bringing good tidings to Zion, to the silencing of idolaters, and the cessation of idolatrous worship, Isa 41:25,27,28.

Isaiah 41:21-29 In-Context

19 I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come,
23 tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
24 But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; whoever chooses you is detestable.
25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes— one from the rising sun who calls on my name. He treads on rulers as if they were mortar, as if he were a potter treading the clay.
26 Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know, or beforehand, so we could say, ‘He was right’? No one told of this, no one foretold it, no one heard any words from you.
27 I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’ I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good news.
28 I look but there is no one— no one among the gods to give counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them.
29 See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.

Cross References 25

  • 1. S ver 1
  • 2. Isaiah 43:15; Isaiah 44:6
  • 3. ver 26; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 44:7; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 48:14
  • 4. Isaiah 43:18,26; Isaiah 46:9; Isaiah 48:3
  • 5. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 46:10; Isaiah 48:6; Isaiah 65:17; John 13:19
  • 6. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 44:7-8; Isaiah 45:3
  • 7. Jeremiah 10:5
  • 8. S 2 Kings 19:26
  • 9. S Isaiah 37:19; Isaiah 44:9; 1 Corinthians 8:4
  • 10. S 1 Samuel 12:21; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 10:5,8,15
  • 11. S Psalms 109:7; S Isaiah 1:13; S Isaiah 48:8; Psalms 115:8
  • 12. S Ezra 1:2
  • 13. S ver 2; Jeremiah 50:9,41; Jeremiah 51:48
  • 14. S 2 Samuel 22:43; S Isaiah 5:5; Nahum 3:14
  • 15. S ver 4
  • 16. S ver 22; Isaiah 52:6
  • 17. S 1 Kings 18:26; Habakkuk 2:18-19
  • 18. Isaiah 48:3,16
  • 19. S Isaiah 40:9
  • 20. Psalms 22:11; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5; Isaiah 64:7; Ezekiel 22:30
  • 21. Isaiah 40:13-14
  • 22. S 1 Kings 18:26; Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4; Jeremiah 25:4
  • 23. S 1 Samuel 12:21; ver 24
  • 24. S Isaiah 37:19
  • 25. Jeremiah 5:13
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