40:1–55:13 Isaiah originally addressed these words to the future exiles in Babylon to encourage them to flee from there and return by faith to the Promised Land (e.g., 48:20, 21). The encouragement partially arises from their supernatural character (e.g., 41:21–27). These prophecies, delivered more than a century and a half beforehand (see Introduction: Interpretive Difficulties), astonish their audience by predicting Israel’s (i.e., Judah’s) immediate deliverance from Babylon by Cyrus (e.g., 44:24–45:13), the coming of the suffering Christ to save them from their sins after they return to the land (42:1–7; 49:1–13; 50:4–11; 52:13–53:12), and Israel’s final salvation in the last days (51:6). The near, more remote, and most remote prophecies merge together on the canvas. From Isaiah’s perspective, the restoration after the Exile inaugurates the new age, and this first taste of salvation through God’s servant, Cyrus, coalesces with the greater salvation that the Christ, God’s servant, will bring His people. Today, the elect have even more confidence in words of prophecy because these have been fulfilled in Christ and are being fulfilled in His Church (2 Pet. 1:19).
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