Isaiah 49:24 says, “Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce?”
The word “prophet” in most cases is translated from the Hebrew word nabi. Israel’s concept of a prophet was shared by other cultures (cults and worshipers of pagan deities had prophets) and people among whom Israel lived and experienced God.
Among Israel and its neighbors, other words described people who acted in the way that Israel saw its prophets behave. Prophets were know as a seer (ro eh). And at times, “man of God” (is [ha] elohim), and visionary (hozeh).
1 Samuel 9:9 says, “Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, Come, let us go to the seer, because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.”
People who were know to be Divinely inspired were prophets; they spoke out and others listened to them because they proved to be a legitimate spokesperson for the Divine.
In the early period, i.e., the days of Samuel we find we find the concept “the spirit of the Lord” speaks through the individual. 1 Samuel 10:10 says, “When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.”
Later in the history of Israel the preferred terminology was, “the word of the Lord came to” the person. Jeremiah 1:4 says, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying.”
The general idea is congruent throughout the text: the prophet is the one who can speak in the name of God. Isaiah was such a man.
The text selected for this reflection says: “Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce.”
The Lord Says
Isaiah 49:25 says, “But this is what the Lord says: Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.”
King Hezekian, invited the Babylonians into his palace and showed them Israel’s vast store of treasures. Isaiah prophesies that the Babylonians, and their vast and powerful warriors (army) would come back and lute the palace and enslave some of king Hezekian’s descendants. Once in captivity; they would become eunuchs and serve in the palace of the king in Babylon (Isaiah 39:5-7).
The text selected for this reflection is speaking to those who have been carried off and enslaved in Babylon. The God of Israel, prophesies through Isaiah revealing His plans to free and restore Israel from their captors.
Isaiah 44:26-28 says, “who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, It shall be inhabited, of the towns of Judah, They shall be built, and of their ruins, I will restore them, who says to the watery deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your streams, who says of Cyrus, He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, Let it be rebuilt, and the temple, Let its foundations be laid.”
And so, our text echoes the end of God’s punishment; Israel is to be liberated, set free from its enslavers, its oppressors. Isaiah prophesies that God would set the captives free, return them to Jerusalem, and rebuild their homes.
Isaiah 40:1-2 says, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
The God of Israel, caused Babylon to rise up against Israel, destroying Jerusalem and taking the people captive. God’s mercy and grace; his faithfulness to Israel would now comfort them, free them, and rebuild their lives and homes.
Reflection: The rise of chemicals in food and water, the medicine cabinet, with shelves of prescription drugs, opioids, cocaine, heroine, cannabis, alcohol, poverty and violence are all making plunder of human lives. The result is an outcry; human souls and spirits are crying out for wholeness, healing, wellness, and freedom from the isolation, depression, stress, anxiety, paranoia, enslavement of addiction.
Satan is the enemy; he is an invisible being, who becomes visible when he takes possession of human beings. He roams the earth looking for people to enslave. He clouds the mind, plugs the ears, and impairs vision so people cannot see and hear God. People become powerless, lose all sense of right and wrong, good and evil, life and death, temporal life and eternal life. Sin nature dominates their everyday life.
God has intervened, He has entered the earth, in the life of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, human beings have been set free from the powers and addictions of this world. They only need to call on the name of Jesus, and stand on His word. Restored by God’s grace, human beings have been granted a home in the Kingdom of God, wherein they have all the rights and privileges of the Kingdom of God.
No One But God
Again out text says, “Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce?”
Isaiah 49:26 says, “I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty one of Jacob.”
In context, there is a revelation in the text; it foresees the restoration of Zion (the church) and God’s people from spiritual and temporal enemies. The chief enemy, the oppressor holding people captive is Satan. Satan has fostered superstitions, and held nations in darkness, and ignorance for thousands of years.
There was no reprieve, no one to rescue people from the clutches of Satan, and the rulers of the world who were possessed by him.
And so, here in Isaiah, we are given a prophetic word for the church and the people of God. Those in captivity would be delivered. Satan would be subdued, and he and his demons would be cast into the abyss never to be heard from again.
I am reminded of the battle the Israelites fought against the Amalekites. Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses until sunset, and Joshua defeated the Amalekites. To commemorate the victory, an alter was built and named, “Jehovah Nissi” (Exdous17-8-15).
“Jehovah Nissi,” interpreted means “The Lord is my Banner.” The Lord is our banner of victory in battle.
Jesus Christ is the blood stained banner; it Christ who defeats Satan and his army of demon warriors. We can hold the banner of victory high above our heads; it reads Jesus is our Redeemer, the Savior of our souls.
Reflection: The prophetic word of Isaiah tells us that before we were born, God calls us, that from birth He knows our names. The prophetic word tells us that we were formed in the womb to be his servants, servants who would actively play a role in bringing people to the knowledge of God in Christ.
Isaiah 49:22,23 says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will like the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
We have the victory; the victory lives in us because God took on human nature in Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We are the servants of an all powerful God. The power of sin and death has been defeated by God in Christ. So that, in our belief in Jesus Christ, we share in His victory over the reign of Satan and his disciples.
Lord Jesus, like rivers of righteousness, and waves of justice, your love sets us free from the oppressor, from everything in this world that would enslave us. You are our Savior and Redeemer. You are our healer; the Holy One who fights our battles and gives us victory over Satan and his evil plans to steal our live.
Lord, you reached down into the pit of hell and hellish living and pulled us out. Without our help, you and you alone set us set us free. We are so grateful, and thankful that with all our hearts, souls, and minds we praise and worship you. It’s because of you that our days are filled with the joy that comes down from heaven, the joy that is present in our songs of worship and praise. Hallelujah, to you belong all glory and honor forever and ever. Amen