Friday, October 28, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 122

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 122

We continue on in Chapter 42 this morning in a Messianic portion of Isaiah. The Lord has been been telling us of His chosen Servant, the One so meek He helps the broken, the One so powerful He rules the nations.

"This is what God the Lord says---the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:" (Isaiah 42:5) We can believe what the Lord is about to say next because of who He is. We must stop to consider the power and authority of the One speaking, for He created all there is. He who is able to call into existence this vast universe is able to send us a Deliverer.

Now the Lord speaks directly to His chosen One, "I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness; I will take hold of Your hand. I will keep You and will make You to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." (Isaiah 42:6-7) I don't think God the Son had any doubts that God the Father would be with Him and help Him, but God made these promises anyway, and Isaiah and the people who heard these words became witnesses to the promises. About seven hundred years later, when Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord, an elderly man named Simeon met them there, because, "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah." (Luke 2:26) The Holy Spirit said to Simeon, "Today is the day!", and he got himself to the temple to behold the fulfillment of the promise. He took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised the Lord. In his praise we find words that echo what was said in verses 6 and 7, "Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." (Luke 2:29-32) 

The people of Isaiah's day get some hints in Chapter 42 of what the credentials of the Messiah will be. He will open the eyes of the blind, both literally and spiritually. In the gospels we read of Jesus' healing ministry, "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor." (Matthew 11:5) Jesus will also open eyes spiritually, "The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (Matthew 4:16) The Messiah will set free those who are held captive by illness and those who are held captive by sin. 

After making these great and precious promises, the One who has the power and authority to fulfill them proclaims, "I am the Lord; that is My name!" (Isaiah 42:8a) The name here is YHWH, usually translated as Yahweh. This is the name the Lord gave Himself when speaking to Moses, when He referred to Himself as "The I Am". The Jews considered this name too holy to speak aloud and they rendered the written version of it without vowels as YHWH, just as they would render the written "God" as G-D. His name is so great and so worthy or reverence that they dared not speak it aloud or spell it with all its letters, lest they make a mistake. After reminding the people of who He truly is, after making marvelous promises, He calls their attention to His ability to make these things come true. He says something like "I am 'The I Am! I was not created and I have no beginning or end. Nothing exists that I did not make. Before I created, there was nothing but Me in My eternal existence. I am fully sovereign and self-existing, needing nothing from outside of Myself. I am the Creator and I hold all creation together without help from anyone. My character is what is has always been and always will be. I do not change. I am complete and perfect and whole at all times and My works are altogether good. I am the Maker of laws and no authority is higher than Mine."

As we were earlier in the week, we are still beholding the proceedings in God's courtroom. He has called the idols before Him to give their defense and they have been unable to speak a word. He concluded they weren't just worthless: they were less than worthless. What are they in comparison to His great glory? What have they ever done for mankind? They were made by human hands, hands created by God. They were made of blocks of wood carved from trees created by God. They were plated with metals created by God. They were fashioned on a world created by God in a universe created by God. What can they say for themselves? They would not even exist if the Creator had not one day said, "Let there be light!" Their very presence depends on the fact that there is a God who existed before anything was ever made. How can the created thing be greater than the Creator? It cannot! It is a lie! 

So the Lord reminds the idolaters who He is. "I am 'The I Am!'" And He goes on to say, "I will not yield My glory to another or My praise to idols." (Isaiah 42:8a) God does not insist upon praise because He needs it. 'The I Am' needs nothing. But praise is due Him because of who He is. It should be the nature of the creation to praise the Creator, for it would not exist without Him. We wouldn't be sitting here right now taking our next breath without Him. We ought to be moved to praise His name because of all He has created and done. But even more importantly than giving God what is due Him, I think He created praise for our sake. We need a God who is bigger than we are! We live in a scary and insecure world and if we are not careful our problems will become bigger in our eyes than our God. Praise reminds us of who He is and of who we are in Him. We serve 'The I Am', the One who can do all things. We serve someone so much greater than ourselves that it is safe to trust our problems to His care. His thoughts and His plans are perfect because He is perfect. God created all that exists and a God who created life is able to handle anything this old world throws at us. Praise is necessary for the Christian. It keeps our hearts and minds settled on the One who performs all things for us (Psalm 57:2), who created the universe and everything in it to support our existence here, who loves us so much He thought we were worth dying for.

In contrast to the inability of idols to predict anything, or to foretell the advent of a Redeemer centuries before His birth, the Lord says of Himself, "See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you." (Isaiah 42:9) Why bow to a worthless idol when we can bow to Almighty God? Why present our requests to wooden images when we can lay them before 'The I Am'?

Below is our worship song link for today.

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