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1. Have you ever walked a long distance carrying a heavy load: in a backpack? wheelbarrow? appliance dolly? Describe the scene.
2. Bel and Nebo were the names of the two principal gods of Babylon (verse 1). What burden are they carrying? What happens to them? How does this compare with the Lord (verses 3 and 4)? What do they do for the people who worship and carry them? What things does God say here that “I” have done and will do for Israel?
3. Who are the “rebels” and the “stubborn-hearted” (verses 8 and 12; see also chapter 42:18 – 25)? How does this relate to the promises in verses 3 and 4? What will the people learn once more through the events that are soon to occur?
4. The man in verse 11 is Cyrus. Although Israel is currently “far from righteousness” (verse 12) how will God use Cyrus (whose standard was an eagle) to bring “righteousness near” to them? Why is God doing this?
5. Have you seen people worn out and let down by the very “idols” to which they have devoted themselves? How so? When has this happened to you?
6. By contrast, how have you experienced God as a father carrying you when you were weak? Or as a strong man sustaining you when you were tired? Or as a warrior rescuing you when you were trapped?
7. Isaiah concludes “there is none like God” (verse 9). Based on your sampling of modern idols, what would you say comes closest to, or is even equal to, God (verse 5)? If someone were to observe your lifestyle this past week, what would he think about your answer?
8. How has God brought righteousness near to you (verse 13; see Romans 3:21 – 24; Ephesians 2:13)? Why?