Isaiah 49

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 27, 2000

:1-8 Messiahís mission

isles Ė 'iy Ė coast, island, shore, region. It speaks of all regions beyond the sea. As Messiah will be rejected by the Jews, He turns to speak to the rest of the world (including us).

:1 The LORD hath called me from the womb;

Who is this talking about?

At first itís a little unclear. But as we go along, weíll see that there is only one individual that clearly fits all the things described in this passage. What we are reading are words spoken by Jesus the Messiah, through Isaiah.

While Mary was still pregnant, God sent angel to Joseph Ė

(Mat 1:20-21 KJV) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. {21} And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Even before He was born, Jesus had a purpose. His purpose was to save us from our sins.

Lesson

God has a purpose for you.

Jesus isnít the only one who was called of God from His motherís womb. David wrote:

(Psa 139:13-18 NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. {14} Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--and how well I know it. {15} You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. {16} You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. {17} How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! {18} I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!

You too have a purpose for life, one designed by God:

(Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Illustration

The late C.S. Lewis said that people can ask only three basic ethical or philosophical questions. To describe them, he used the metaphor of ships at sea. When sailing ships leave port to embark on a journey, sailors must determine three things, according to Lewis. First, they must know how to keep from bumping into one another. This is a question of "social ethics." In other words, how do we get along with one another on this journey called life? Second, they must know how the individual ships remain seaworthy. This is "personal ethics," and it deals with the individualís vices and virtues - with character. Finally, sailors must decide where the ships are going. What is their mission and their destination? This last question is the ultimate one for us. What is the purpose of human life? Why are we here?

-- Ed Young, Been There. Done That. Now What? (Broadman, 1994), p. 10.

Illustration

In a Peanuts comic strip, there was a conversation between Lucy and Charlie Brown. Lucy said that life is like a deck chair. Some place it so they can see where they are going; some place it so they can see where they have been; and some place it so they can see where they are at present. Charlie Brown's reply: "I can't even get mine unfolded."

God has a design and purpose for each of our lives. He has made only one you, and He made you with specific strengths and weaknesses, relationships, abilities, giftings, talents, all to be used for a purpose. Sometimes we donít like the idea that we must conform to some kind of purpose in life. Yet we wonít find true fulfillment until we discover that purpose and begin to pursue it.

Illustration

I have here a guitar string. It is free. I twist one end of it and it responds. It is free. But it is not free to do what a guitar string is supposed to do, to produce music. So I take it, put it in my guitar and tighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a guitar string. By the same token we are free when our lives are uncommitted, but not to be what we were intended to be. Real freedom is not freedom from, but freedom for.

Illustration

An American Indian tells about a brave who found an eagleís egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the changeling eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, thatís how prairie chickens were supposed to fly. Years passed. And the changeling eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. "What a beautiful bird!" said the changeling eagle to his neighbor. "What is it?" "Thatís an eagleóthe chief of the birds," the neighbor clucked. "But donít give it a second thought. You could never be like him." So the changeling eagle never gave it another thought. And it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.

- Ted Engstrom, The Pursuit of Excellence

Do you have a sense of purpose in your life? Have you settled for the life of a prairie chicken when God made you to be an eagle?

:2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword

This clearly speaks of Jesus. John records,

(Rev 19:15 KJV) And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron Ö

:2 in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me

The Messiah existed from before eternity, yet as an arrow hidden in quiver, the Messiah was hidden in God until the time came for Him to be revealed.

(Col 1:25-27 KJV) Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; {26} Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: {27} To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

:2 and made me a polished shaft

polished Ė barar Ė to purify, select, polish, choose, purge, cleanse or make bright, test or prove. This speaks of the purity of Jesus.

:3 Thou art my servant, O Israel

What is confusing here is that it sounds as if God is calling the nation of Israel as this special "servant". The Jews have often taken these "servant" passages in Isaiah and applied them to themselves. But in verse 5, the purpose of this "servant" is to bring the nation of Israel back to the Lord, as well as give salvation to the world.

Israel = "God prevails", or "prince with God". The idea here is that this servant, the Messiah, is in a sense the "true Israel", the true Prince with God. Jesus is all that the nation of Israel was intended to be.

:3 in whom I will be glorified.

Jesus brought glory to the Father

Joh 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain

You could make a case in saying that Jesus was a failure in His ministry.

(John 1:11 KJV) He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

Though He attracted multitudes at times, it was the crowd that turned against Him yelling, "Crucify Him" (Mark 15:12-14)

After His resurrection, there were only 120 disciples left waiting for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:15).

Lesson

Jesus understands failure.

He knows what youíre going through.

(Heb 4:15 KJV) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

You may at times feel as if you are the biggest failure in the world. Youíre not alone. Not only have most of us felt the exact same thing, but Jesus knows what youíre going through.

:4 yet surely my judgment is with the LORD

Though others might consider Jesus a failure, He was counting on Godís opinion of Him, not what others thought.

Lesson

Godís standards of failure arenít the same as ours.

Sometimes I think we have our eyes on the wrong things when it comes to godly success.

Illustration

Jeremiah or Jonah?

Which prophet had the greater name, Jeremiah or Jonah?

We think of Jeremiah as being the faithful prophet, yet in one sense he would be considered a great failure. All through his life of preaching and warning, he didnít see a lot of results. Iím not sure you could point to a single convert.

Jonah on the other hand had great results with numbers. When he preached, an ENTIRE CITY repented and came to the Lord. Yet what was he known for? For being the rebellious prophet, the one who ran from God and then argued with God.

God isnít looking at the numbers. Heís looking at faithfulness.

Illustration

The parable of the talents.

We might say that the master rewarded those with the good "numbers", since it was the man who made back five talents that was rewarded. But look for any hint of the reward being for having "big numbers" Ė

(Mat 25:21 KJV) His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

In fact, the master made a point that the man had been entrusted with "few" things.

Even in the parallel parable of the "pounds" (or, "minas"), the Master says the same thing Ė

(Luke 19:17 KJV) And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Be careful about how you are judging your own "success". God is simply looking for faithfulness. Are you remaining faithful to what God has called you to do?

:5 to bring Jacob again to him

The mission of Jesus Christ was to bring the Jews back to God.

:5 Though Israel be not gathered

There is a slight difference in the Hebrew manuscripts here, giving two opposite translations. One says "though Israel be not gathered", the other is the exact opposite, "though Israel be gather".

:5 my God shall be my strength.

In all that Jesus did, He drew His strength from the Lord.

:6 I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles

To God, it wasnít enough for the Messiah to just have the purpose of bringing the Jews back to God, He wanted the Messiah to show salvation to the whole world, including us pagan Gentiles.

:7 to him whom man despiseth Öprinces also shall worship

Jesus was despised at His first coming (John 1:11), yet He will be worshipped at His second coming. (Phil. 2:9-11)

(Phil 2:9-11 KJV) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

:8 In an acceptable time have I heard thee Ö

acceptable Ė ratsown Ė pleasure, delight, favour, goodwill, acceptance; a "time of grace"

for a covenant Ė Jesus brought a new contract, a new agreement between God and man.

(Isa 49:8 NLT) This is what the LORD says: "At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation, I will help you. I will give you as a token and pledge to Israel. This will prove that I will reestablish the land of Israel and reassign it to its own people again.

:9-12 Millennial Kingdom

:9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth

Without Jesus, we are in bondage to sin and death. We are held captive by Satan to do his bidding. Jesus came to set us free. He said,

(John 8:36 KJV) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

:9 They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

This is a picture of prosperity, of people finding food every place they look. I see it also of a picture of how God wants to work in our lives, being able to give us spiritual food in every step we take in life. Is God feeding you?

:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them:

Quoted in:

Re 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

:10 even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

A picture of the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37-39)

(John 7:37-39 KJV) In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

:11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.

Obstacles will be removed, highways raised to go over the valleys.

:12 and these from the land of Sinim

When the land would be repopulated, people would be coming from all over.

Sinim Ė Ciyniym = "thorns". A people living at the extremity of the known world; may be identified with the inhabitants of southern China. We use "Sino" as a prefix for Chinese. Some see it as those to the south of Israel, as in "Sinai".

:13-17 God still cares

:13 the LORD hath comforted Ö mercy upon his afflicted.

God doesnít forget His people, even when they are afflicted. The heavens and earth rejoice about this.

:14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me

Some have suggested that this is what the Jews would be thinking when they had been taken captive to Babylon. This is certainly what we think when we are going through difficult times, isnít it?

:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?

A motherís love for her child is one of the strongest of loves, as illustrated by a mother bear Ė

Illustration

I Wish I Were A Bear

I wish I were a bear.

If you're a bear, you get to hibernate.

You do nothing but sleep for six months.

I could get used to that.

And another thing; before you hibernate,

you're supposed to eat yourself stupid.

That wouldn't bother me either.

IF you're a mama bear,

everyone knows you mean business;

you swat anyone who bothers your cubs.

If your cubs get out of line, you swat them, too.

Your husband expects you to growl when you wake up.

He expects you to have hairy legs and excess body fat.

He likes it.

I wish I were a bear.

:15 yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

There may be times when even a mother may put her natural instincts aside. From time to time we see articles about a mother who has abandoned her child. David wrote,

(Psa 27:10 KJV) When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

God will never stop loving us.

:17 Thy children shall make haste

Perhaps alluding to the people who would be quickly leaving Babylon to go back and rebuild Jerusalem.

:18-23 Israelís restoration

:18 thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament

The people coming back into the land will be as decoration to the country.

:19 shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants

A picture of Israel growing in size.

Zec 10:10 I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and [place] shall not be found for them.

:20 The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.

strait Ė narrow, tight

Israel will go from being a nation that was mourning the loss of so many people, to being a country with not enough room for all the multitudes coming back.

:21 Who hath begotten me these

Where did all these people come from?

:22 they shall bring thy sons in their arms

The Gentile nations will help in restoring Israel to itís land.

I wonder if this isnít a picture of what happened in 1948?

:23 for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

If you are trusting in the Lord, He wonít let you down. You wonít be ashamed.

:24-26 Vengeance against enemies

:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?

"Can the prey be taken from the mighty man, Or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?" (NAS)

:25 the prey of the terrible shall be delivered:

(Isa 49:25 NLT) ..the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved

Nothing will keep God from rescuing His people. Thatís what Jesus did for us on the cross Ė

(Col 2:13-15 NLT) You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. {14} He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross. {15} In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ.

:25 for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee

God promises to fight with those who are fighting against you.

(Zec 2:8 KJV) For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.

:26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh

A picture of internal strifes in a country.

:26 and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine:

They are made to drink blood because they shed the blood of Godís people Ė

Re 16:6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

sweet wine Ė `aciyc Ė sweet wine, wine, pressed out juice. This was wine that hadnít fermented much, practically still grape juice. It took a lot of this stuff to get drunk. The idea is that much blood will be spilt because it would take a lot of sweet wine to get drunk.

:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

graven Ė chaqaq Ė to cut in; to cut in or on, cut upon, engrave, inscribe; to trace, mark out

One commentary suggested that the Jews had a custom of puncturing on their hands a representation of their city and temple, in token of zeal for them (JFB), or perhaps even the idea of tattooing a picture of Jerusalem on the hands.

I have wondered about the nail prints in the hands of Jesus. They will forever be a sign to all of His love for us.

Lesson

God hasnít forgotten you.

(Heb 13:5 NLT) Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."

Itís during the tough times that we struggle most. Itís then that we wonder if God still loves us.

Illustration

Listen to a teacup tell itís story:

"There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out "Let me alone " but he only smiled and said, "Not yet". And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. "Stop it Iím getting dizzy," I said. The master only nodded and said "Not yet" Then he put me in an oven, Iíd never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said "not yet." Finally the door did open "whew", and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. "Thatís better" I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, "Not yet". And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled , and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, "not yet, not yet . And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldnít make it . I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out an he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said "Look at yourself". And I did. And I said, "That canít be me, Iím beautiful "

If God loves me, will He keep me from times when Iím uncomfortable? No. In fact, those are some of the times He has purposed specifically to help you grow and become more useful. Heís got His eye on the timer and the thermostat. He knows just what you need. He hasnít forgotten you.