CLICK HERE to read Isaiah 44.
The Lord opens this chapter with a call to those who choose righteousness and serve by leading in righteousness (verse 1; see also Jeremiah 1:4-5; Abraham 3:23; Romans 8:29-30; and Alma 13:3-4). He reminds us again that He has known us since before we were born, and promises that He will help us so we need not fear (verse 2). Like rain to a desert, He will give us the comfort and nourishment we need as we journey through life (verse 3). This is what empowers and enables us to thrive despite our circumstances, the way grass can grow in an irrigated desert (verse 4).
There will be many converts, He says (verse 5). Some will be Jews and/or identified from the twelve tribes of Jacob and others will convert to the Gospel through covenant making in the temple (“subscribe with his hand unto the Lord”) (see also Abraham 2:10).
He reminds us that He is our Redeemer, but we were all together created by Heavenly Father (verse 6). He is the true Redeemer, the one promised, and we no longer need to be afraid – and we can know its truth because we remember it from before we were born on Earth (verse 8).
Compared to this, it is silly for people to worship false gods and rely on idols, for they can do nothing (verse 9). He reminds the people that false gods and idols cannot explain the history of the world or predict the future the way the Lord can because He knows it (verse 7). He calls out the makers of these idols to confess together (verse 10), and tells them that if they do not repent they will all be ashamed later (verse 11). No matter their artistry skills, they cannot make these idols be hungry or thirsty or have live physical qualities (verse 12). Even a carpenter may make a fine figure, but cannot make wood come alive (verse 13). People can plant trees and even water them (verse 14), but wood will still burn like any other wood and it does not turn into a god (verse 15). Different parts of the wood may be used for tools or for fuel (verse 16), and still a foolish person tries to worship a wooden image as god (verse 17).
Those who do not repent will lose the light in their souls, living in a darkness without the spirit of the Lord, even until they can no longer understand truth or comprehend why they struggle (verse 18). These people will become hard-hearted until they no longer remember what they have been taught, or see clearly the things the Lord tries to reveal to them further (verse 19). Instead of nourishing themselves on the Spirit, they feed themselves “on ashes” (verse 20) without substance or life to them.
But those who do repent will be remembered by God (verse 21). He will forgive their sins by the atonement, and guide them back to His presence (verse 22). All will sing and rejoice in this great plan of salvation (verse 23), for the Lord will keep His promises made to us before we were every born (verse 24). The Lord will stop all those who oppose Him, and many will be surprised that they followed false traditions instead of Him (verse 25).
Getting specific, the Lord says that the people of Judah have chosen their consequences and even Jerusalem will fall out of their hands – but that He will still keep His promises, even with all that, and one day rescue and restore them, even to their land (verse 26). He is the creator of the world, with power over the elements, and He is strong enough to deliver His remnant of righteous, the People of Holiness (verse 27).
Getting even more specific, the Lord tells them about Cyrus, who won’t even be born for another 175 years. The Lord tells the people of Judah that they have chosen their consequences, and that the Babylonians will deliver those consequences. However, the Lord will not forget His people, and the Babylonians will be punished for what they do. The Lord says that Cyrus will be used as a “shepherd” to guide the people back to their land, and we know that the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem in 538 BC. The Lord says that Cyrus will even order them to rebuild their temple, which was dedicated 200 years (516 BC) after Isaiah wrote this.
This is what the Lord says: when we choose to be His people, He gets to choose to demonstrate His love for us in a multitude of ways, including provision and protection and prospering.