The Helper of Israel: Part 1 (Isaiah 41:1 – 20)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 41:1 – 20

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1. When you were afraid as a child, who would hold your hand?

2. Have you ever won a game when the odds looked like it was impossible for you to do so? How did your opponent act?

3. Having reassured the exiled Jews in chapter 40, who does God address in verses 1 – 7? What do you picture is happening to these nations?

4. The “one from the east” (verse 2) was Cyrus, the Persian king who overthrew Babylon in 538 BC (see chapter 45:1ff). What is God asserting about Himself by claiming that He is the one behind Cyrus’ success?

5. Why was the victory of Cyrus good news for the Jewish exiles in Babylon? (see 2 Chronicles 36:22 , 23) How are the other nations reacting to this onward march of Cyrus’ army (verses 5 and 7)? How is their response different from the one God urges upon the Jews in verses 8 – 10?

6. What terms does he use to address the exiles in verses 8 – 10? What do these terms reveal about God’s relationship with them? About His plans for them? How would these terms calm their fears?

7. Why does God address the exiles as “worm Jacob” and “little Israel” (verse 14)?

8. What is to be the fate of Babylon (verses 11 – 16)? How would you react to these statements as you considered all the power and might of Babylon which was all around you? What would it mean to these humiliated exiles to consider that God was influencing all world history to bring about their deliverance?

9. What type of thirst is Isaiah referring to in verse 17 (see also Psalm 42:1, 2)? How will their situation soon change? Why will the Lord soon restore His people (verse 20)?

10. Of all the people conquered by Babylon, only the Jews maintained their religious, ethnic and political identity. How might this be a witness to the other nations (verse 20)? How does this relate to Israel’s call to be His servant?

11. What world problems today seem to be beyond solution? What forces seem to be in control? Do you react to these problems with helplessness? disgust? hope? cynicism? sorrow? Why?

12. What does this chapter show us of God’s involvement in human history? How should this affect our attitude toward world problems?

13. If God moves heaven and earth to protect and save His people, how should that knowledge affect your prayers? Your worship? Your attitude in hard times? Your priorities and purpose in life? How might meditating upon the picture of God in chapters 40 and 41 help you grasp this truth?

14. What “mountains” and “hills” are there in your life today? If you compare your faith to Israel’s threshing sledge, how “new”, “sharp” and “many” are your “teeth”?

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