Many of us have probably heard or read God’s great call to come to him for salvation in Isaiah 45:22: Turn to me so you can be delivered, all you who live in the earth’s remote regions! (NET). It’s a great text to think about for evangelism. But sometimes we might forget about the context. Right before God’s great call is something like a courtroom scene where Yahweh talks to foolish idolaters and declares their idols to be worthless (45:20-21). At this point, one might expect a word of judgment from the Lord. However, he opens his arms and calls all people – even idolators! – to himself for salvation. I appreciate how Brevard Childs commented on this text:
What now occurs in vv. 22–25 is astonishing and unexpected, going beyond anything so far seen in Second Isaiah. Instead of the disputation with the nations ending in a resounding pronouncement of judgment (cf. 41:21–24), the widest possible invitation to salvation is extended by God: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” The old division between Israel and the nations has been forced to give way before the salvation that God has both promised and achieved. A new world order of righteousness has emerged. The old is passing; the new age is dawning. God will rule and to him “shall every knee bow, every tongue confess” (cf. Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10).
Earlier the nations had begun to sense this reality at least in part (45:14). Now it is confirmed by God’s divine oath (v. 23). However, this invitation to participate is not a blanket offer of universal salvation. There are still those who receive the promise and those who resist. This division no longer breaks along ethnic, national, or geographic lines. Rather, the “offspring of Israel” is now defined in terms of those who find in God their righteousness and strength. They shall triumph and exult, indeed from all the ends of the earth.
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