Isaiah 45:22-25. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength; even to Him shall men come, and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory.
In verse 22 the Lord is calling on all the ends of the earth: “Look unto Me, all the ends of the earth, and be ye saved” – a gracious invitation, followed by a declaration concerning Himself: “I am God and there is none else”. Let us notice:
1. The declaration: “I am God and there is none else“.
2. The invitation He is extending to all the ends of the earth: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.“
3. The invitation will not go forth in vain; there shall be fruit. The fruit of this invitation we have in this confession in verse 24: “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength“. This is the confession of all who look to Him and are saved with an everlasting salvation.
1. The declaration: “I am God and there is none else“. He is the great “I am”, the self-existent Jehovah, God Himself alone, the almighty Creator of the ends of the earth, and the One who upholds all things by the Word of His power. He does according to His will among the inhabitants of the earth. He has foreordained for His own glory whatsoever comes to pass: “My counsel shall stand”. Nothing can thwart His purposes.
At the beginning of the chapter, there is an example of the Lord fulfilling His counsel. The Lord revealed to Isaiah that He was to raise Cyrus for the purpose of overthrowing Babylon. He revealed it to Isaiah 200 years before Cyrus’ birth. It was of the Lord’s ordering that Cyrus was king of Persia – he was the Lord’s anointed in that way. He was the instrument in the hand of the Lord for the overthrow of Babylon although he did not know the living God. The Lord was promising here that He would go before Cyrus and subdue the nations before Him and make the crooked places straight. According to historians the gates of Babylon were of brass and iron, but the Lord would go before Cyrus and these gates would be broken. When Babylon was captured by Cyrus the Babylonian treasures were brought forth. The Lord says that it was for David’s sake – for the good of the Church – that He was to overthrow Babylon. The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. His counsel did stand and Babylon was overthrown. As it was the counsel and purpose and pleasure of the Lord to overthrow Babylon, so it is His pleasure to overthrow the mystical Babylon, the Church of Rome (Rev 18).
In His sovereign dealings – “Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself” – God appeared to be hiding Himself in the day of her distress, in her captivity, and this was her confession. So in Psalm 44: “O wherefore hidest thou Thy face?” There are times when the Lord appears to be hiding Himself; His people are conscious of it and this, therefore, is their cry:
“For poor oppressed, and for the sighs
of needy rise will I”.
Also in connection with this declaration: “I am God and there is none else”, He shall fulfil all His pleasure. In that revelation of Himself, He speaks of Himself as the judge in verse 23. Paul quotes this in Romans and applies the words to Christ. He was appointed to be the judge. He rose and revived, that He might be the Lord both of the living and the dead. “But why dost thou judge thy brother, or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ” (Rom 14:9,10). “So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.” Verse 23 is based on the declaration: “I am God and there is none else”, and it brings before us that God the Son is the judge – a proof of Christ’s Godhead.
The Hebrew believers were judging the Gentile believers with respect to meats; the Hebrews were distinguishing between clean and unclean meats and the Gentiles were not. The Hebrews were judging them – acting uncharitably and making them miserable. The Apostle was telling the Hebrews that it was “a good thing that the heart be established with grace and not with meats.” (Even Peter was sticking to that distinction). Meats were of the ceremonial law and that law was fulfilled in Christ; it belonged to the past. For the Hebrews to be harassing their fellow Christians was to act uncharitably and hence they were rebuked in this way: “Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died”. They were setting the Gentiles at naught.
In the light of the fact that Christ is judge, let us not therefore judge one another any more. He will judge the world in righteousness. “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” The day of our death will be to us as the day of judgement. The fruits of charity, forbearance and longsuffering are required of all to whom the gospel comes. Before we come to the judgement seat we have set before us the throne of grace, and also the invitation based on this revelation: “I am God and there is none else”, “a just God and a Saviour”. In the light of that revelation, He, in His beloved Son, extends the invitation: “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth”.
In the revelation given here, He speaks of Himself as a just God and a Saviour; Christ is a Saviour because He is God the Son. No finite creature could be a Saviour for perishing sinners. When Christ is preached as one who is not the eternal Son of God, He is set forth as a false God. “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh” – not God the Father, but God in the person of the Son, the second person of the Trinity, “the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person”. Christ is not a Saviour at the expense of God’s inflexible justice. He was made under the law that He might, as the substitute of His people, magnify the law and make it honourable, and He endured the curse of the law in His death. By His obedience unto death He met the claims of the law and satisfied them. He was the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. His resurrection, ascension and glorification are proofs that He finished the work and glorified God in all His attributes.
2. Christ is sending forth this invitation: “Look unto Me . . . and be ye saved”. He is the exalted Saviour, able to save to the uttermost, mighty to save. “There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.” The invitation implies that we are lost and stand in need of this salvation that is in Christ. The Word makes it clear that we are lost by nature. On account of the fall, we are “born in sin and shapen in iniquity”. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Nothing holy can come from our nature. There is not a particle of love to Christ in man as he is born into this world, but love of sin and of the world. Where the love of the world reigns in the heart, there is proof of the carnal mind. However honest a man may be, if in his heart he be a friend of the world, he is an enemy of God. “Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” We are condemned already – prisoners on whom the sentence of death has been passed and waiting the day of execution. Nothing can save from the condemnation of the law but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are lost in this respect, that we are on the brink of a lost eternity; there is nothing between us and it but the breath in our nostrils. If death finds us Christless, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, for who can dwell with everlasting flames? It is to sinners who are lost by nature, state, life and conversation that this invitation is sent: “I came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. This invitation is extended to the ends of the earth. None is excluded. It is not based on election, which is hidden, but on what is revealed. The invitation is based on the revelation which the Lord is here giving of Himself as a just God and Saviour. “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” It is extended to all the ends of the earth, and from that we may understand sinners who have gone to the “ends of the earth” in sin – that is, to the very limit, as Manasseh did. What a notorious sinner he was! What lengths he went to in seeking to stamp out true religion in Jerusalem! He caused the streets to run red with blood and offered his children to Molech. He was not ignorant; he sinned against light and knowledge, for he had a godly father. One might think there was no hope for such an abandoned sinner, but he was brought to look to the Saviour. Many notorious sinners since then have, in the mercy of God, looked to Him:
“They looked to Him and lightened were:
not shamed were their faces.
This poor man cried, God heard, and saved
him from all his distresses.”
This invitation is to sinners who are tottering on the brink of the grave but are still in the room of mercy. He is able to save to the uttermost; there is proof of that in the conversion of the thief, blaspheming the Saviour as his life-blood was ebbing away, and a life of crime behind him. One would say that surely he was abandoned but, though he was at the ends of the earth as far as natural life was concerned, the Lord plucked him as a brand from the burning. He said: “Lord, remember me when Thou cometh into Thy kingdom”. And Christ said, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”. What a proof of His purpose to save: “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save”. To say otherwise reflects on Christ’s power.
“Macrath Mhor” (2) said, “You have a warrant to offer Christ to sinners while soul and body are still united”. No one is excluded from this invitation. If Christ were not extending this invitation to you personally, you would not be charged with neglecting it. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” Christ is, therefore, calling on sinners individually when He is addressing all the ends of the earth. They have the warrant of the truth to look to the Saviour for salvation. He is not only offered to penitent sinners but to the greatest sinner out of hell. Christ is offered to you, and that offer is not based on your repentance or your concern or want of concern, but on the revelation He is giving of Himself as a just God and a Saviour. He justifies the ungodly who believe in Jesus. John Bunyan was greatly concerned that he would be cast out. In one of his books there is the following conversation:
“But I am a great sinner, sayest thou. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I am an old sinner. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I am a backsliding sinner. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I have served Satan all my days. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I am a hard-hearted sinner. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I have sinned against light. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I have sinned against mercy. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.
“But I have no good thing to bring with me. I will in no wise cast out, says Christ.”
The exhortation, “Look unto Me and be ye saved”, is based on His revelation of Himself as a just God and Saviour. The late Rev Neil Cameron said at Raasay: “What, sinner, have you got against Christ that you are not receiving Him?” Mr Cameron repeated this twice, and someone in the congregation said afterwards that should Mr Cameron have repeated it a third time he would have got up and said that he had nothing against Christ but that he had this against himself, that he could not receive Christ as He would desire to. The Lord “will accomplish the desire of those that do Him fear”. “For ye were sometimes darkness but now are ye light in the Lord.”
Thomas Shepherd said, “If you have a hope that your soul is savingly enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, you will go to the grave mourning over your ignorance of Him”. That is in accord with the Word of God; even the Apostle says, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection”. God’s people are conscious of spiritual darkness; they often walk in darkness and have no light. They more often find themselves in darkness than in light, which is a cause of mourning to them. “O send Thy light forth and Thy truth”. “But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.”
“Who doth redeem thy life, that thou
to death mayest not go down.”
That promise shall be fulfilled: “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended”. (The Lord here is Christ in all His fulness as Saviour, mighty to save.) Pray that the Lord would give you that faith which would enable you to close in with Christ as He is offered to you in the gospel, and that it would be your cry, that you cannot close in with Him as you would desire. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
3. This invitation did not go forth in vain, but in every age there have been those with this confession: “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength”. It shall take place, for it is the purpose of the Lord. They shall be gathered from north, south, east and west as the fruit of Christ’s atoning death. “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.” This is the confession of all who look and are saved: “Surely, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength”.
Those who have that confession are convinced that no flesh shall be justified in God’s sight by the works of the law. They saw themselves lost, condemned, hell-deserving; they have discovered that they did not have the strength to lay hold on Him. They were enlightened in the knowledge of Him who is the end of the law for righteousness. They were enabled to close in with Him as the portion of their souls – as their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. And this is the proof of it, that they have looked to Him. This is their confession: “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength”, but they confess also that all their own righteousnesses are as filthy rags. The language of their souls is, “That I might be found in Him, not having my own righteousness”. They are fully satisfied with Christ’s finished work; they have no strength of their own. “Without Me ye can do nothing.” They exercise faith in Christ as their Lord and, in laying hold of Him and His strength, He is made unto them their wisdom and sanctification. Their strength is God alone. If one is in a state of condemnation, he does not have this confession. They who are justified in Him give Him the glory:
“Not unto us, Lord, not to us,
but do Thou glory take”.
And they ask, “To whom shall we go, Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
An old Christian once said, when speaking at a Fellowship Meeting: “There are only two classes here today, those who have Christ and those who do not have Him. Those who have Him have their fears until the day of their death as to whether they have Him or not, but those who do not have Him will not know until the day of their death that they are without Him.” “Ye are they which have continued with Me in my temptations.” “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
The gospel shall be preached to all ends of the earth.
“All ends of th’earth remember shall,
and turn the Lord unto;
All kindreds of the nations
to Him shall homage do .”
The promise of the Father to the Son shall be fulfilled:
“Ask of Me, and for heritage
the heathen I’ll make Thine”.
The ingathering of the Jews shall take place in the day when the spirit of grace and of supplications will be poured on them. The gospel of His grace shall not return unto Him void.
Are we seeking to be among those who have this confession on the way to eternity: “Surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength”? “Come, for all things are now ready.” “Look unto Me and be ye saved.” We are to look and cry to Him for salvation, for we are, of ourselves, lost in state and nature and on the way to a lost eternity. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. What a blessing if souls are closing in with the free offer of the gospel! “The Master is come and calleth for thee.” Mary rose in the exercise of faith in the One who gave the invitation and is alone able to give power to make sinners willing. That power accompanied the command:
“O daughter, hearken and regard,
and do thine ear incline;
Likewise forget thy father’s house,
and people that are thine”.
1. Edited from a hearer’s notes. The sermon was preached at Inverness communion on 26 January 1973. Mr MacLean was then minister of Gisborne, New Zealand.
2. Gaelic for “Big Macrae”. John Macrae (1794-1876) was minister successively in Lewis, the Black Isle, Greenock and Lewis again.