Today’s Reading: Isa 48:1–49:26, Luke 19:11–48, Job 11:1–12
Today’s Theme: The Hope of Israel
Today’s theme looks at the Hope of Israel found in the prophecies of God’s faithful servant the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is through the Hope of Israel that we find our hope and deliverance in Jesus and we serve, driven by the hope of the Kingdoms full consummation by Jesus with the accompanying rewards for faithful and fruitful service.
Confess the God of Israel, in truth
Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and who came from the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the LORD and confess the God of Israel, but not in truth or right. Isaiah 48:1 (ESV)
God calls on the entire nation of Israel in this passage to realise that many were only calling on the name of the Lord in hypocrisy and pretence. Many were born into deeply religious families while in the exile of Babylon so it is conceivable that many have become nominal followers of Yahweh.
Our OT passages today are all quite clearly directed to Israel in particular (either historically or prophetically), but we can learn from God’s dealings with is covenant nation and apply the principles and lessons to our lives today.
In this first instance we need to be careful that we don’t fall into religious lukewarmness, especially if we have grown up in a Christian family, we must not become so familiar with God and the Church that our declaration of allegiance and truth is no longer in sincerity or righteousness.
Be sure to confess the God of Israel as your God today, do so in sincerity.
The God who makes the future
“The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. Isaiah 48:3 (ESV)
God does not just tell the future, he does not make predictions, he has already seen the end because he exist both in and outside of time and so has seen all the days of time from the start to the end already (remember time is a physical, created property of the material universe).
However, God does not prophesy as a passive observer he actively brings his will to pass, notice he says suddenly “I did them”.
In this case the new things stands for God’s astounding announcement concerning Cyrus. God goes on to say he declared the future in this way so the glory could go to no idol or man but to him alone and to deal with the stubborn lack of faith in the people.
We should stand in awe of the God who makes the future, we can pray to God in faith knowing that he will go to work on his own decrees and see all his will and purpose come to pass… This should fill us with unshakable faith as we consider God’s word and pray.
For the sake of God’s name
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. Isaiah 48:11 (ESV)
God has called Israel by his own name and so withholds his anger and delivers them even when they are lacking in faith for the sake of his name.
God’s ultimate purpose is to be glorified, he will not allow his name to be profaned by those who are called by his name and so for the sake of his own glory will deliver his people.
We have seen this throughout the history of the nation of Israel, the fact the nation stands today after so many thousands of years and the attempted annihilation of the people by world powers, Islamic nations or assimilation into other cultures is testament to God’s glory.
The same can be said of the true Church, God preserves us for the sake of his own glory and we stand in the earth today as a testament to God’s glory, for the sake of his name and fame in the earth.
This is a great tool to use when we pray, we can appeal to God on the basis of his glory and for the sake of his name.
Jesus, The First and Last
“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. Isaiah 48:12–13 (ESV)
Here is Old Testament evidence pointing to the New Testament fact that Jesus is indeed God, specifically he is the Son of God the 2nd person of the Trinity.
Jesus declares that he is the first and the last in Revelation 1:17 and again at the end of the bible in Revelation 22:13 where he states “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
God, who teaches you to profit
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17 (ESV)
This goes hand in hand with the parable in our NT reading today, we can ask God to teach us to profit, and lead us by his Holy Spirit in the direction we should go.
Jesus, the ideal Israel
And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” Isaiah 49:3 (ESV)
This chapter looks at the prophecy of the coming Messiah. God called him from the womb which puts to death every case for abortion.
This entire passage speaks about God’s faithful servant, the Messiah who we know is Jesus. This verse speaks of God’s servant Israel, however this is still speaking of the Messiah.
The book of Isaiah has illustrated to us God’s purpose for Israel, which was to be his servant as a light to the nations to lead them to God, however Israel failed in this mission and are themselves in need of salvation because of their own blindness, deafness and rebellion.
God loves his covenant nation and will not wipe them out for falling short, instead he sets in motion the ultimate solution, another will fulfil the function of Israel as God’s faithful evangelical servant, namely the Messiah, Jesus.
Jesus fulfils the function and mission given to the nation Israel today so that Jews and Gentiles can come to know God. Jesus is for Israel and the world what Israel was not able to be, causing God’s salvation to reach to the ends of the earth.
Our compassionate Shepherd
they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. Isaiah 49:10 (ESV)
Jesus as the shepherd of Israel and all God’s people takes pity on us or show us compassion, we saw this throughout the life of Jesus.
Know that God is not indifferent to your circumstances and feelings, he has great compassion on his sheep, he is tender and can be touched by our pain.
One day this promise will come in fullness (Revelation 7:16-17)
God’s commitment to Israel
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:16 (ESV)
God encourages Israel that he will never forget them as a people with the most vivid image, he declares that he has engraved them on the very palms of his hands.
Usually the servant has to bear the name of the master, God shows again his heart which is to condescend to the his people and take on the servant role, this was expressed most clearly when Jesus humbled himself through the incarnation to show God’s love for Israel and the wider world.
Jesus engraved the elect on his hands for all eternity when the nails were driven through his hands.
The Hope of Israel
For thus says the LORD: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:25 (ESV)
This verse had two very literal senses, the most immediate is that Cyrus will defeat Babylon and send Israel home. The prophetic sense is that Jesus the Messiah and servant will defeat sin and bring Israel and the world to God.
We can also stand on verses like this when praying for the nation of Israel or anytime we pray for God’s people around the world. We used this to pray for the school girls in Nigeria that have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Here are two updates from Open Doors to help fuel your prayers:
Serve in hope
And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ Luke 19:17 (ESV)
We are all called to be faithful stewards of the money, time and talents God has given us, we must serve in hope of God’s rewards to be given when the kingdom has fully come (Jesus has returned having received the kingdom).
Pastor Dennis preached powerfully on this today (Sunday 24th Aug 2014). Pastor pointed out the fact that this servant was called good because he did better than the other two and the 10 cities can be seen in a sense here and now in terms of the reach and influence God will give those who serve faithfully.
Serve God in hope of the rewards and responsibilities God will give you for showing faithfulness as God’s servants.
God is merciful
and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. Job 11:6 (ESV)
The context from Zophar is wrong but the truth remains that God does show us all mercy by not exacting from us all that our guilt deserves.