“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’; fear not, for I am with you be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:8-10
So first of all this passage is stinkin’ great, right?! I wish ya’ll could see my Bible right now because this particular section in it is completely marked up, underlined, bracketed etc. Because this passage of God’s Word shows His heart for us, His beloved children.
There are a few things from this section that I really felt lead to highlight not only in my Bible, for myself, but for anyone else who stumbles upon this blog.
First. What God calls us.
In verse 8 we are called both servants and friends of God. Now at first in my reading I only focused on where He calls us His friend, but as I read it over again I realized the irony in being called both a servant and a friend. I don’t know about you, but when I think of a servant I think of someone who is lowly, dirty, poor; someone who has a master who is maybe not the nicest person. But what God is telling us here is that even though we are called to serve and worship Him, He does not look down on us. To Him we are not just lowly, dirty people who only exist to toil so that He can have what He wants. No, that’s not it at all! God doesn’t need us for anything, He has everything He needs. God sees us as His people, His children who, through Christ, bring Him joy and who take joy in serving Him. And that is how He wants us to view ourselves. As ((friends of God)) who take joy in serving Him because of the way He has served and loved us!
Second. Who is Israel?
In verse 8 God addresses this passage to Israel. In the Old Testament the people of Israel were God’s chosen people, the ones whom He loved the most and whom He chose for whatever reason out of all other peoples. But although Isaiah was written in Old Testament times it is also a prophetic book, meaning that it was written for and to predict the future. So while Isaiah was primarily prophesying to and about the Israelites of his time, God was speaking to ALL of His people, throughout time. You can see this clearly in verse 9 when God says, “you whom I took from [[the ends of the earth]], and called [[from the farthest corners]]”. Now I won’t claim to be an expert in world geography, but I’m pretty sure that even back then Israel did not cover the entire earth. So if God was taking people from the ends of the earth and the farthest corners, He was not just talking about the Israelites. That means He is speaking to you and me! All of us who have looked on Christ and believed in Him. We are all God’s servants and friends!
Third. God does not cast off His people.
So God doesn’t stop after assuring us of the fact that we are His people, His friends, but loves us so much that He wants us to grasp the fact that He will NEVER cast us off! He will NEVER EVER get fed up with our sin against Him (because all sin is against God), He will NEVER EVER get bored of constantly having to reassure us, or draw us into Him when we run away (because we are sinners and are constantly running away from Him and to things of this world that can never satisfy). He is in this thing for the long hall. God promised in Genesis 3, when we fell to sin, that He would provide redemption for us in the form of a Redeemer who would smash Satan and our sin forever, and He ((never)) breaks His promises. So in verse 9 God says to us, “I have chosen you and [will] not cast you off”. This reminds me of one of my favorite passages: John 6:35-40. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees here and telling them that He is the Bread of Life and that God has given to him those who would look on him and believe. Jesus promises in this passage to keep those whom God gives to him, His people (us!), to never cast them off and to raise them up on the last day when He returns to bring His children Home. We are God’s forever, no one can snatch us from His hand, nor will He ever throw us away. We are home in Him, forever.
And finally. God upholds us because we can’t uphold ourselves.
So God shows us that while we are sinners, we are also standing in the light of His grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that He will never leave us or forsake us or cast us off like the trash we are. And finally in verse 10 He tells us how that is all possible and that we need not fear ANYTHING. “Fear not for I am with you”. Aren’t those great words?! And even better are, “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” We don’t have to do anything, nor is it even possible for us to do anything to earn this grace and love God has given us! He has already done it! It is finished by Jesus, and Jesus meant it when He said so in John 19 verse 30. Even in the Old Testament we can see God’s redemptive plan for us working itself out. All those years ago God was already telling us through Isaiah, “Hey, I’ve got a plan for you. To redeem you and not to harm you. To give you my Son, my righteous right hand, who is the only one perfect enough to take on your sin, kill it, and rise again. And best of all he is going to take you back home with him when he rises from the grave, he is going to defeat your death! Why? Because I. Love. You.”
God, you are truly amazing! Thank you for speaking to us through your word! Thank you for giving us these sweet promises and for being absolutely faithful! Thank you for giving me the ability to write these words, which are undoubtedly of you, so that I could share them with my friends reading this right now! God please continue opening our hearts to you, to your love and mercy and kindness. Shed light on our failings and let your forgiveness of those failings draw us deeper into your presence each and every day! It’s a journey Lord, and thank you for leading us on it despite the fact that we are constantly running away.
~In your redeeming name I pray
Amen. So be it.