Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 21 September 21:
Isaiah 43:1, 2, 4 — “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…. “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God. Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”
Isaiah 42 is an amazing prophecy of Jesus, God’s Chosen Servant – “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.’” (Matthew 12:15-21)
Jesus is “a light for the nations [see John 8:12], to open the eyes that are blind [see Luke 7:22], to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness [see Luke 4:18].” (Isaiah 42:6, 7; see also Isaiah 61:1)
Isaiah prophesied, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:9) This is the New Covenant through Jesus also prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31) proclaimed by Jesus at the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:20), and explained in Hebrews. (Hebrews 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24)
This New Covenant is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and not by merit, good deeds, or adherence to the Law – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9) As Isaiah describes, “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16) God takes the initiative in our salvation, makes salvation possible, and provides the assurance of our salvation, not because of our faithfulness (which is undependable) but because of His – “I do not forsake them.”
Isaiah 42 is also a prophecy about how those who were called to be God’s servants and messengers would fail to acknowledge His Son and glorify Him on earth — “Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD? He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear.” (Isaiah 42:19, 20)
- Matthew 23:24 — You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
- Matthew 23:26 — You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
- Luke 6:39 — He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
Isaiah explains why those called by God might fail to honor Him as God and proclaim His Son before the world – “But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, ‘Restore!’” (Isaiah 42:22) Isaiah describes a people plundered and held captive by the world, the flesh, and the devil; a people compromised and corrupted, a light covered over, salt which is no longer salty.
“Who among you will give ear to this, will attend and listen for the time to come?” (Isaiah 42:23)
- Matthew 16:2, 3 — He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
- 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 — Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared….
- 2 Timothy 4:3-5 — For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
- James 4:4 — You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Isaiah 43 is a call to God’s people to repent, to trust in Him and His grace, to receive His redemption through Christ, and to honor Him as God – “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears!” (Isaiah 43:1-3, 4, 8)
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 — If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Isaiah 43 is also a call for God’s people to proclaim his glory before the world, to be His witnesses among the nations as they were commissioned and empowered by God to do – “’You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD,’ and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I am God.'” (Isaiah 43:10-12) Notice that Isaiah points out that only when we remove those “strange gods” (idols) can we be effective as His witnesses.
- Matthew 28:18-20 — And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- 1 Peter 2:5 — You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- 1 Peter 2:9 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
- Revelation 1:5-7 — To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
- Revelation 5:10 – and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
- Matthew 5:14 — You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
- 1 Corinthians 10:14 — Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
- Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Paul says, you have been reconciled (made right) with God through Christ, now be reconciled (be right with God)! Experience and enjoy what you have been freely given by God and invite others to do the same. Don’t waste this precious gift of freedom you have received by choosing to remain in the prison of worldly passions, desires, and behaviors. Fulfill your life purpose of knowing Him and making Him known.
- John 8:36 — So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
- John 15:11 — These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 September 21: Today, where you have been captivated by the world and distracted from your calling to glorify and proclaim Jesus before the world, repent; where you have held on to “strange gods”, idols which have compromised your fidelity to God, repent. Accept forgiveness through Christ (1 John 1:9), and recommit to fulfilling the purpose God gave you on earth to demonstrate and share the Gospel, today and everyday. Make the most of every opportunity to proclaim Jesus in word and deed.