Isaiah 41


  1. The Lord Challenges the Nations

    1. Isa 41:1

      1. what are the “coastlands” referring to?

        1. the coasts of lands around the Meditteranean Sea and the islands represent the nations [4].

      2. is “let the nations find renewed strength” rhetorical?

        1. yes - it means collect their best arguments to plead their cause before Him [4].

    2. Isa 41:2-3

      1. who is “this one from the east”?

        1. Cyrus - the Persian conqueror; conquered Babylon in 539bc and allowed some of the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. He founded the Persian Empire and ruled from 550-530bc [4].

        2. which “He” are referring to Cyrus and which to God?

          1. The first “He” is God commissioning Cyrus for service. The rest of the “He” refer to Cyrus.

    3. Isa 41:4

      1. God is expressing His divinity and superiority to absolutely everything

      2. ALPHA AND OMEGA — the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This title is given to God the Father and God the Son (Rev. 1:8; 21:6). The risen Christ says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev. 22:13). By calling Jesus Christ the Alpha and the Omega, the writer of the book of Revelation acknowledged that He is the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Final Judge of all things. [1]

      3. I AM Shortened form of God’s response to Moses’ request for the name of the God of the patriarchs (Exod. 3:13–14). The fuller form of the name may be rendered “I am who I am,” “I will be who I will be,” or even “I cause to be what is.” God’s response is not a “name” that makes God an object of definition or limitation. Rather, it is an affirmation that God is always subject, always free to be and act as God wills. The earliest Greek rendering “I am the one who is” or “I am Being” has been especially significant in the development of theology. Jesus’ “I am” response in several NT passages suggests more than the simple identifying “I am he.” The “I am” of Mark 6:50 means “I am Jesus and not a ghost,” but suggests the divine “I am” who alone “tramples down the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8; Mark 6:48–49) and made the waves hush (Ps. 107:28–29; cp. Mark 4:39). John 8:24 makes recognition that Jesus is the “I am” a matter of eternal life and death: “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (HCSB). The Jews misunderstood, thinking it was a matter of identity (“Who are You?” 8:25). That the Jews rightly understood Jesus’ claim “Before Abraham was, I am” (8:58) as a divine claim is evident from their picking up stones to throw at Him. The “I am” of John 18:5 again suggests more than “I am the man you are looking for.” Rather, Jesus is the “I am” whose awesome presence forced the guard back and into a posture of reverence. Here Jesus was not the object of betrayal but the subject who won the release of His disciples (18:8). Though differing in form from the “I am” sayings, the references to the one “who is, who was, and who is coming” (Rev. 1:4, 8 HCSB; 4:8; cp. 11:17; 16:5) are similar in thought. In a context of intense hardship that called into question God’s sovereignty, the writer of Revelation reaffirmed Israel’s faith in the “I am” who is the subject of history and not its victim. [2]

    4. Isa 41:5-7 

      1. The nations are helping each other but it will amount to nothing because they will be defeated (Isa 41:12)

      2. Instead of turning to the Lord when they saw Cyrus approaching, the nations turned to each other for help and made more idols [4]. 

        1. Recall Isa 40:18-20 regarding Isaiah’s description of idols and their makers.

  2. The Lord Encourages His People

    1. Isa 41:8-10

      1. God keeps his covenant. 

      2. “servant” is an honored corporate designation to Israel and “friend” is an even higher designation than “servant” [4]

        1. more about the “friend” designation: John 15:14-15, 2 Chronicles 20:7, James 2:23

    2. Isa 41:12 

      1. God will defeat Israel’s enemies.

    3. Isa 41:13

      1. What does it mean to take hold of the right hand? (see Ecclesiastes 10:2)

        1. tn Heb “a wise man’s heart is at his right hand.” The phrase “right hand” is a Hebrew idiom for the place of protection (e.g., Psalm 16:8; 110:5; 121:5). In ancient warfare, the shield of the warrior on one’s right-hand side protected one’s right hand. Qoheleth’s point is that wisdom provides protection (e.g., Eccl 7:12). 6 tn Heb “and the heart of a fool is at his left hand.” The fool lacks the protection of wisdom which is at the right-hand side of the wise man (see note on “right hand” in the previous line). The wise man’s heart (i.e., good sense) protects him, but the fool is always getting into trouble. [3]

    4. Isa 41:14-16

      1. God makes insignificant Israel defeat her enemies. Mountains represent enemy nations.

    5. Isa 41:17-19

      1. Likewise, God will bless the oppressed and poor by responding to their prayers and quench their “thirst”. Creation itself will someday be redeemed.

        1.  creation will be redeemed: Rom. 8:19–21

    6. Isa 41:20

      1. God will do this for his glory! God does many things for His glory:

        1. Romans 9:20-24

        2. Proverbs 16:4

        3. Eph 1:11

        4. Eph 1:5-6

        5. 2 Tim 1:9

        6. Rom 8:30

  3. The Lord Challenges the Pagan Gods

    1. Isa 41:21-24

      1. God challenges the Pagan gods to prove that they can predict and decree the future with the conclusion that they cannot and their accomplishments are “nonexistent”.

    2. Isa 41:25-29

      1. God sends judgement from the North (Cyrus the Persian) and states that He decreed to Zion what would happen. 

        1. apparently fulfilled in Ezra 1:1–4.


  1. Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

  2. Church, C. (2003). I AM. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 802). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

  3. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ec 10:2). Biblical Studies Press.

  4. MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 1015). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.


  1. Notice how God uses reason -- pointing to the evidence that He is God and challenging the nations to produce evidence for their idols. Believing in God is shown to be reasonable and believing in idols is not. How does the moral relativism of today parallel idolatry in ancient times? Why do people believe in unreasonable things?

    1. Romans 1:18-25

    2. assignment: memorize Romans 1:18-20