Isaiah prophesies in this passage to “the house of Jacob”–Israel. Although we often think of promises and prophecies as if they apply to us (and some do), we must always remember to whom the promise or prophecy was originally given. In this passage, God speaks through Isaiah to Israel.
vs 9. “For the sake of” can mean “for the purpose of,” “for the good or advantage of,” or “for the personal benefit of.” Any of those definitions could fit here, for God certainly has a purpose for all that He does. Even human beings appreciate the value of a person’s good name, so surely God values His own name and would act for the good of His name. We probably don’t often think of God as acting for His own benefit, but there is no one higher than Him for whose benefit He could act. We act on behalf of others in this world because in doing so, we serve God, but who is God to serve? He is the highest being–so doesn’t that mean He must serve Himself and act for His own benefit, knowing that all of His blessings and riches will overflow to benefit His creatures beyond their wildest imaginations? A person’s name can be thought of as their reputation, for both represent the essence of the person, their character.
So, for His own purpose or for His own good or benefit, God deferred or refrained from His anger against Israel. His anger wasn’t resolved then.
God also says that for His praise He restrains His anger so that He doesn’t cut off or destroy Israel. I understand this to mean that God will receive praise because of the restraint He showed in not destroying Israel. I believe this has indeed happened as people through the centuries have heard Israel’s story and recognized God’s unfailing love throughout it.
vs 10. God refined Israel, “but not as silver.” Does this mean in a different way or that the process is incomplete? Perhaps both. The text doesn’t make that clear.
God says He tried or tested Israel in the furnace of affliction. As we read Israel’s story, we do see God’s testing of Israel, and His faithfulness.
vs 11. In this verse, God makes it clear that He acts for His own sake. He even repeats His words to emphasize this fact. His reason? If He destroys His chosen people, Israel, God’s name would be defiled or dishonored. Remember when Moses pleaded with God not to kill the Israelites in Exodus 32? Moses appealed to God to spare the people for His name’s sake, so that God’s name would not be dishonored. Moses didn’t use those exact words, but that’s the general idea when he said, “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out with an evil intent to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth?'”
Finally, in this passage, God says He will not give His glory to anyone else. If God had destroyed the people, His name would have been dishonored and His glory would have been given to some false god. This passage ends with God’s anger, His wrath, still restrained. The day will come, though, when God’s anger will be satisfied (Romans 2:5).
Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for Your unfailing love and faithfulness toward not only your people Israel, but also toward Gentile believers, toward me. I know what I deserve, but You have chosen to love me and forgive me through the sacrifice of Your Son. I can do nothing to earn Your love and forgiveness, and nothing to repay You for it. So, I ask You to help me to live a life worthy of the Gospel. Mold me into the woman You designed me to be, whatever that entails. I am willing, Father, and in anything that I am not, please make me willing to be willing. You are the One I want to please. You are the One I love. I praise You, Father, for who You are! Amen.
8 But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God didn’t appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Therefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as you also do.-1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 (WEB)