God Redeems His people…
The Transforming Power of Sacrificial Love
Ernest Gordon tells a story in Miracle on the River Kwai about Scottish soldiers forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad.
Under the strain of captivity they had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened.
“A shovel was missing. The officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else.
When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot… It was obvious the officer meant what he said.
Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death.
When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check.
This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point.
“The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others!… The incident had a profound effect.… The men began to treat each other like brothers.
“When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors… (and instead of attacking their captors) insisted:
‘No more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.’”
Sacrificial love has transforming power
(adapted by Don Ratzlaff, Christian Leader).
Isaiah climaxes his prophecy by describing the servant of the Lord.
His description has sent Bible students scurrying to discover exactly who the prophet had in mind.
The question has been asked at least from the time of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:31-34).
Among the multitude of Old Testament figures nominated as Isaiah’s Suffering Servant are Moses, Joshua, David, Hezekiah, Uzziah, Jehoiachin, Zerubbabel, Sheshbazzar, Cyrus of Persia, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or a person among the exiles unknown to modern readers.
Others look back at earlier Servant Songs in Isaiah 40-55 (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11) and decide that Isaiah consistently refers to Israel, or at least a remnant within Israel as the servant.
More traditionally, conservative scholars have seen Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as a special piece of literature giving the most explicit prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.
As we wind our way through the most exquisite of Old Testament passages, we will have to see how mysterious the prophet wants to be in describing the Suffering Servant.
God’s zeal for His people is revealed as He sends His Servant to suffer and die for their sins.
(52:1-2) The prophet became a commander ordering his troops into action.
First, he had to wake them up and get them in parade uniforms ready for the great festival procession.
God’s people could junk their mourning clothes forever and put on their Sabbath-go-to-meeting clothes.
On this holy day they must march to the holy city. No longer would they be bothered with the torments from their unclean, uncircumcised and defiled captors.
They could rise from the dust of mourning, sit instead on Jerusalem’s throne, and free themselves from the captive chains.
God had commanded His people to “leave Babylon” (48:20).
Now they should be on their way back to the holy city to again assume God’s calling.
(vv. 3–6) Israel had not been sold as a slave for monetary gain; she will be redeemed without money as well.
The Israelites went down at first into Egypt as guests; but subsequently they were abused.
Later the Assyrian oppressed them without cause, but not for monetary gain.
Now once again God’s people are being tyrannized by oppressors who make no payment to the Lord.
The overlords are delighted, and God’s name is blasphemed.
But He will show Himself strong on behalf of His own, and they will know that He is all that He promised to be.
(vv. 7–10) The next verses picture the return of the Jews from their worldwide dispersion.
As the exiles travel over the mountains… to Zion they are preceded by heralds who proclaim the good news of the Messiah’s reign.
The watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem sing with joy as they see … the Lord returning at the head of the multitude.
Jerusalem itself is summoned to celebrate the Lord’s mighty deliverance.
(vv. 11-12) The exiles are urged to leave behind the pollutions of the land of captivity as they bear the temple vessels back to Jerusalem.
They will not leave in panic or fright; the God of Israel will be their protection both before and behind.
The people did not have to leave in fearful haste because Cyrus, God’s anointed (45:1), decreed that the Jewish exiles could return safely to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-4).
They had the king’s approval and his guaranteed protection.
More important, the Lord would go ahead to point the way and be behind to protect them.
(v. 13) The servant, as the term is used here, is a reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
He would be highly exalted because of His sacrifice, described in Isaiah 53.
(vv. 14-15) This servant, Jesus Christ, would be terribly disfigured by His suffering; however, through His suffering, He would cleanse the nations (Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:2).
Though sinless and perfect, He would be beaten beyond recognition because of our sins.
[NOTE: The closing verses of chapter 52 really belong to chapter 53. They trace the history of the Servant of Jehovah from His earthly life to the cross and then to His glorious appearing.]
Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…
Isaiah introduced the purpose of the Servant-Messiah.
Isaiah reminded the Israelites of God’s previous rescue of them and of the Messiah’s future saving work.
God has a long history when it comes to being faithful.
He has kept His people safe for thousands of years.
Christ takes away your sin, and in doing so, He takes away your commonness.
No longer need you say, “No one knows me.”
God knows you. He engraved your name on His hands and keeps your tears in a bottle (Isaiah 49:16; Psalm 56:8).
“LORD, You have searched me and known me,” David discovered.
“You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thoughts afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. . . . You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:1–3, 5).
God knows you. And He is near you!
How far is the shepherd from the sheep (John 10:14)?
The branch from the vine (John 15:5)?
That’s how far God is from you.
He is near.
See how these four words look taped to your bathroom mirror:
“God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).
And His kingdom needs you.
The poor need you; the lonely need you; the church needs you . . . the cause of God needs you.
You are part of “the over-all purpose He is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11 MSG).
The kingdom needs you to discover and deploy your unique skill.
Use it to make much out of God.
Get the word out. God is with us; we are not alone.
(From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)
Meditate on the things God has saved you from: hell, drugs, despair, alcohol, sinful habits, hopelessness, restlessness, and selfishness.
Thank God for this most wonderful gift of redemption.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Tuesday, July 19
The Spirit Filled Believer
Written by Dick Mills
“For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight.”
— Isaiah 52:12
The two key words here are HASTE and FLIGHT.
They need to be defined because both words speak volumes to us in understanding the Lord’s leadings and dealings with us.
Haste is a word that implies compulsive action.
It suggests being on the run due to guilt, fear, or anxiety.
A verse that describes the impulsiveness and impetuousness inherent in those who act hastily is Proverbs 28:1:
“The wicked flee when no one pursues.”
You and I, being led by the Spirit of the Lord, never have to make decisions or take actions motivated by guilt or fear.
The way our loving Father leads us is by the reassuring words from His book and by the calm and encouraging workings of the Holy Spirit.
Flight is easily understood by adding a “y” and changing it into flighty.
Webster defines this word as “given to flights or sallies of fancy, caprice, etc.; volatile; frivolous; slightly delirious; light-headed; mildly crazy.”
A flighty person is unstable, always trying to escape reality by trips into the world of the imagination or wishful thinking.
Led by the Lord, you and I will never have to go anywhere motivated by guilt, fear, or nervous unrest.
Isaiah tells us that we will go out with joy and be led forth with peace (Isa. 55:12).
What a difference there is between going with fear, anxiety, or capriciousness and going forth with joy and peace.
Our choice is the latter! I know it’s your choice too!
Source: The Spirit-Filled Believer’s Daily Devotional by Dick Mills
Come join the Adventure!