Isaiah Offers Comfort from God the Creator
By Ryan C. MacPherson
Prior versions published in Lightsource (WELS Campus Ministry) 23, no. 1 (Feb. 1999): 1, 4; and, Lutheran Sentinel (Evangelical Lutheran Synod), Feb. 2006.
Isaiah, one of God’s Old Testament prophets, understood how comforting it is to know the grace of God the Creator.
Unfortunately, Christians often overlook Isaiah’s testimonies concerning God’s work of creation. Most of us can recite Isaiah’s Advent prophecy: “A virgin shall conceive ... and you shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). None of us wants to forget the poignant Good Friday prophecy in Isaiah 53: “He was pierced for our transgressions ... and by his wounds we are healed.” In our mission hymn, “Hark! The Voice of Jesus Crying,” we love to sing Isaiah’s “Here am I, send me!” response to God’s call (Isaiah 6:8; ELH #191:4). But when someone mentions the theory of evolution, few of us think to turn to Isaiah for a refresher course on the Bible’s doctrine of creation.
Through Isaiah God filled his people with confidence that he would deliver them from earthly exile in Babylon and save them from eternal exile in hell, just as he “made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry host. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: ... He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free” (45:12, 13; cf. 48:13–14). Like the birth and crucifixion of Christ, Cyrus’s victory for God’s people lay far in the future for Isaiah. Nevertheless, the LORD inspired him to foretell all of these events with startling accuracy. He even called Cyrus by name (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1,3; cf. Ezra 1:2–4).
If God permitted Isaiah to know the future so well, surely God inspired him to speak just as accurately concerning the past. “This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it” (42:5; cf. 40:25-26, 28). “For this is what the LORD says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other’” (45:18).
That last phrase echoes the First Commandment: “I am the LORD your God. ... You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2–3). To have no other gods means we should fully acknowledge God for who he is: our Creator. “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?” (Isaiah 29:16; cf. 45:9, 64:8)
Just as Matthew interpreted Isaiah 7:14 for us (Matthew 1:22–23)—leaving no doubt that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ’s virgin birth—so also Isaiah interpreted Genesis 1–2 and Exodus 20:2–3 for us. According to Isaiah, keeping the First Commandment includes reading Genesis at face-value. For Isaiah, creation was not a matter for scientific dispute, but an article of faith in the one true God (66:2).
God created us, and God stands ready to forgive people who repent of their sinful doubts about his work as our Creator. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). The greatest comfort the Bible gives is that the same God who “breathed into [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7) also “is faithful and just and will forgive our sins” (1 John 1:9)—including an evolutionist’s sin against the First Commandment.
As God told Isaiah, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. I will not accuse forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—the breath of man that I have created” (57:15-16).