Series: Thru the Bible
Because you are precious to Me, I will hand over nations for your life
The last few chapters we covered in Isaiah, God began to foretell and declare future comfort to His people who were to be in bondage and exile in Babylon.
These next few chapters will emphasize and make use of ALL of these predictions which wouldn’t occur for another 200+ years.
So God is proclaiming their comfort and deliverance – 200 years BEFORE they ever went into bondage and exile.
The two previous chapters as well as the next 3 have prophetic mentions of Israel only true and future deliverance which would come in the form of a Deliverer – the Messiah Jesus.
“(1) Here is My servant Whom I support, My chosen One in Whom I take pleasure. I have placed My Spirit on Him; He will make just decrees for the nations. (2) He will not cry out or shout; He will not publicize Himself in the streets.
This is one of the examples we have of and in Christ. God was the One Who promoted Him. Jesus did NOT promote Himself! Self-promotion is a sin and one of the most grievous. It places no trust in the providence of God, but becomes its own herald. Even Jesus said, “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not true.” – John 5:31
This also leads nicely into the next statement about Christ which testifies to His gentle and redemptive strength.
“(3) A crushed reed He will not break, a dim wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully make just decrees.
These have become somewhat famous words and they can be understood as meaning many things. Let me be clear – there is an immediate and obvious meaning to the words in this context which refers to Christ and His ministry. That having been said, there are also secondary meanings which, though they are not the immediate and context driven intended meaning, they are nonetheless true and proven to be so when looking back on the ministry of Christ Jesus.
The intended meaning is not so much external – meaning what He will do for and with others, but what He will not fail to accomplish Himself. To properly understand these words they MUST be read with the next verse – together.
“(4) He will not grow dim or be crushed before establishing justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait in anticipation for His decrees.”
So what is being said of Jesus is that though He is gentle and will not draw attention to Himself or act in His Own strength to accomplish His goals, He will nevertheless, NOT fail to accomplish what He was sent to do.
Jesus’ life was in His Own hands – according to His Own words no one could take it from Him – He had to lay down His Own life of His Own accord. Jesus’ enemies were many and His Own physical abilities few. He did not defend Himself or threaten in response to adversity. Nonetheless, He did not allow Himself to be crushed or snuffed out UNTIL He had established justice through His death and resurrection.
Now, is it not also true that He Himself will not crush another who is weak, wounded and bruised? Of course!
Is it not true that a smoking flax He would not extinguish? Of course.
Reeds were themselves weak and gentle objects which, if cut and hewn, could be used to play beautiful music as a pipe or flute. These reeds were also easily bent and bruised and then they were useless things.
Flax was used as the wick for lamps, but only with the aid of oil. If oil ran out, leaving the flax to burn alone, the house would be filled with a foul smelling smoke. It was the typical duty of wifes to keep the oil in the lamps so this did not happen. If a woman failed in this duty not only her husband and family, but the neighbors would know and it was to a housewife of that day most embarrassing. However, those who either belong to Christ or were honest seekers of Him, who from time to time might labor in their Own strength in order to honor God and the law – they too spiritually gave off the most awful smell and their failures were typically obvious to all around – yet, Christ would not extinguish them in embarrassment, but would pour oil over them that they might be conduits for the flame, rather than it’s fuel.
All of this being true, the meaning of these words have their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Himself – Who did NOT become His Own publicist. He did not trumpet Himself before men to draw attention to Himself – but placed His trust in God.
He did not let the opposition define or set the limits for His ministry, but fully trusted Himself to God and by faith, fulfilled His calling of vanquishing separation and bringing justice to light and His work will effect and bless the whole world!
All of this was accomplished for and through Him by the Father which the next words prove out…
These next words were no doubt a point of continual reflection for Christ in His ministry. An unfailing source of comfort and assurance.
“(5) This is what the true God, the LORD, says – the One Who created the sky and stretched it out, the One Who fashioned the earth and everything that lives on it, the One Who gives breath to the people on it, and life to those who live on it:
(6) “I, the LORD, officially commission You; I take hold of Your hand. I protect You and make You a covenant mediator for people, and a light to the nations, (7) to open blind eyes, to release prisoners from dungeons, those who live in darkness from prisons.
(8) I am the LORD! That is My name! I will not share My glory with anyone else, or the praise due Me with idols.”
God draws attention to the proven nature of His predictions
“(9) Look, My earlier predictive oracles have come to pass; now I announce new events. Before they begin to occur, I reveal them to you.”
(10) Sing to the LORD a brand new song! Praise Him from the horizon of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and everything that lives in it, you coastlands and those who live there!
(11) Let the wilderness and its cities shout out, the towns where the nomads of Kedar live!
Let the residents of Sela shout joyfully; let them shout loudly from the mountaintops.
(12) Let them give the LORD the honor He deserves; let them praise His deeds in the coastlands.
(13) The LORD emerges like a hero, like a warrior He inspires Himself for battle; He shouts, yes, He yells, He shows His enemies His power.”
Unlike Jesus Who would be in flesh and therefore in a place of subjugation and weakness fitting for a created being – God, DOES shout. He does yell – He does draw attention to Himself.
(14) “I have been inactive for a long time; I kept quiet and held back. Like a woman in labor I groan; I pant and gasp. (15) I will make the trees on the mountains and hills wither up; I will dry up all their vegetation. I will turn streams into islands, and dry up pools of water.
(16) I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never traveled. I will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground. This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.
(17) Those who trust in idols will turn back and be utterly humiliated, those who say to metal images, ‘You are our gods.’”
(18) “Listen, you deaf ones! Take notice, you blind ones! (19) My servant is truly blind, My messenger is truly deaf. My covenant partner, the servant of the LORD, is truly blind.
(20) You see many things, but don’t comprehend; their ears are open, but do not hear.”
These things He said regarding His covenant partners – in particular this mostly applied to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, but also to all those who loved the praise of man more than the praise of God. Their eyes were blind and ears were deaf. They had substituted God for idols.
“(21) The LORD wanted to exhibit His justice by magnifying His law and displaying it. (22) But these people are looted and plundered; all of them are trapped in pits and held captive in prisons. They were carried away as loot with no one to rescue them; they were carried away as plunder, and no one says, “Bring that back!”
(23) Who among you will pay attention to this? Who will listen attentively in the future? (24) Who handed Jacob over to the robber? Who handed Israel over to the looters? Was it not the LORD, against Whom we sinned?
They refused to follow His commands; they disobeyed His law. (25) So He poured out His fierce anger on them, along with the devastation of war. Its flames encircled them, but they did not realize it; it burned against them, but they did not take it to heart.”
This is still the case today. God is the One Who hands us over into our enemies hands when we continue in rebellion against Him, but we often do not even notice. So often there is such a large gap between the onset of our sin and its consequences that we fail to see the connection between them.
Though He punishes them, He will not forsake them!
“(1) Now, this is what the LORD says, the One Who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are Mine.
(2) When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you.
(3) For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your deliverer. I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price, Ethiopia and Seba in place of you. (4) Since you are precious and special in My sight, and I love you, I will hand over people in place of you, nations in place of your life.
This is and has always been true. We today, like these Israelites of that time, do not see and recognize the hand of God when it comes. He warns, He judges, He heals and through it all we often remain blinded to Him in most of His actions and near to all His intentions.
As we have said many times, the church is NOT peripheral to the world – the world is peripheral to the church.
What God does in the earth today – He does for and because of His people. He will rise up one nation and cast down another for the sake of His beloved. Either for their protection OR judgment.
Judgment means separation – but for the child of God, our separation is NOT from God, but from those things which serve to separate us from Him. We are NOW ONE with the Beloved. There is no separation! The Word of Jesus has been accomplished – Who vanquished separation once and for all in and through His flesh. So God does what He does to purify His bride.
Judgment BEGINS in the house of God!
Once we leave, God’s judgment of the world begins and that is what is called the great tribulation – where His wrath is poured out!
As the Spirit said through Peter,
“(12) Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. (14) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. (16) But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.
(17) For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?
(18) And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners?
(19) So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.” ~ 1Peter 4:12-19
God predicts the future of His people – not only in their deliverance from Babylionian exile but also their future restoration to their own land for the reign of Christ on the earth.
“(5) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. From the east I will bring your descendants; from the west I will gather you.
(6) I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’ and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’
Bring My sons from distant lands, and My daughters from the remote regions of the earth, (7) everyone who belongs to Me, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed – yes, whom I made!
(8) Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes, those who are deaf, even though they have ears!”
God now compares His foretellings with the false prophets of pagan gods and idols.
“(9) All nations gather together, the peoples assemble.
Who among them announced this? Who predicted earlier events for us? Let them produce their witnesses to testify they were right; let them listen and affirm, ‘It is true.’
(10) You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may consider and believe in Me, and understand that I am He. No god was formed before Me, and none will outlive Me.
(11) I, I am the LORD, and there is no deliverer besides Me.
(12) I decreed and delivered and proclaimed, and there was no other god among you. You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “that I am God.
(13) From this day forward I am He; no one can deliver from My power; I will act, and who can prevent it?”
(14) This is what the LORD says, your protector, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I send to Babylon and make them all fugitives, turning the Babylonians’ joyful shouts into mourning songs.
(15) I am the LORD, your Holy One, the One Who created Israel, your king.”
(16) This is what the LORD says, the One Who made a road through the sea, a pathway through the surging waters, (17) the One Who led chariots and horses to destruction, together with a mighty army. They fell down, never to rise again; they were extinguished, put out like a burning wick:
(18) “Don’t remember these earlier events; don’t recall these former events.
I wish I had a dime for every sermon titled after this next verse which often was used to stir lethargic church members into a false sense of revival as if God was going to do something quantifiably new in their church – something never before done.
Such proclamations are in effect, doing what we read earlier Jesus would NOT do for Himself. God does not need to do anything newer than the New Covenant which has already been accomplished and ratified over 2,000 years ago and stands ever new. It will not grow old, fade away or go obsolete! The New things God is going to do -he has already done in Christ – once and for all!
(19) “Look, I am about to do something new.
Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it?
Yes, I will make a road in the wilderness and paths in the wastelands. (20) The wild animals honor Me, the jackals and ostriches, because I put water in the wilderness and streams in the wastelands, to quench the thirst of My chosen people, (21) the people whom I formed for Myself, so they might praise Me.”
(22) “But you did not call for Me, O Jacob; you did not long for Me, O Israel. (23) You did not bring Me lambs for your burnt offerings; you did not honor Me with your sacrifices.
I did not burden you with offerings; I did not make you weary by demanding incense. (24) You did not buy Me aromatic reeds; you did not present to Me the fat of your sacrifices.
Yet you burdened Me with your sins; you made Me weary with your evil deeds.
(25) I, I am the One Who blots out your rebellious deeds for My sake; your sins I do not remember.
(26) Remind Me of what happened! Let’s debate!
You, prove to Me that you are right!
(27) The father of your nation sinned; your spokesmen rebelled against Me. (28) So I defiled your holy princes, and handed Jacob over to destruction, and subjected Israel to humiliating abuse.”
“(1) Now, listen, Jacob My servant, Israel whom I have chosen!”
(2) This is what the LORD, the One Who made you, says – the One Who formed you in the womb and helps you:
“Don’t be afraid, My servant Jacob, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen!
Jeshurun is another name for Israel which means “upright one”.
As you will see, this is prophetic regarding the New Covenant and the Spirit being poured out on His people.
“(3) For I will pour water on the parched ground and cause streams to flow on the dry land.
I will pour My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your children.
(4) They will sprout up like a tree in the grass, like poplars beside channels of water.
(5) One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD,’ and another will use the name ‘Jacob.’
One will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and use the name ‘Israel.’”
(6) This is what the LORD, Israel’s king, says, their protector, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies:
“I am the first and I am the last, there is no God but Me.
(7) Who is like Me? Let him make his claim!
Let him announce it and explain it to Me – since I established an ancient people – let them announce future events!
(8) Don’t panic! Don’t be afraid! Did I not tell you beforehand and decree it? You are My witnesses!
Is there any God but Me?
There is no other sheltering rock; I know of none.
(9) All who form idols are nothing; the things in which they delight are worthless. Their witnesses cannot see; they recognize nothing, so they are put to shame.
(10) Who forms a god and casts an idol that will prove worthless?
(11) Look, all his associates will be put to shame; the craftsmen are mere humans.
Let them all assemble and take their stand! They will panic and be put to shame.
(12) A blacksmith works with his tool and forges metal over the coals. He forms it with hammers; he makes it with his strong arm. He gets hungry and loses his energy; he drinks no water and gets tired.
(13) A carpenter takes measurements; he marks out an outline of its form; he scrapes it with chisels, and marks it with a compass. He patterns it after the human form, like a well-built human being, and puts it in a shrine.
(14) He cuts down cedars and acquires a cypress or an oak. He gets trees from the forest; he plants a cedar and the rain makes it grow.
(15) A man uses it to make a fire; he takes some of it and warms himself. Yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
Then he makes a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.
(16) Half of it he burns in the fire – over that half he cooks meat; he roasts a meal and fills himself. Yes, he warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm as I look at the fire.’
(17) With the rest of it he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships it.
He prays to it, saying, ‘Rescue me, for you are my god!’
(18) They do not comprehend or understand, for their eyes are blind and cannot see; their minds do not discern.
(19) No one thinks to himself, nor do they comprehend or understand and say to themselves: ‘I burned half of it in the fire – yes, I baked bread over the coals; I roasted meat and ate it. With the rest of it should I make a disgusting idol? Should I bow down to dry wood?’
(20) He feeds on ashes; his deceived mind misleads him. He cannot rescue himself, nor does he say, ‘Is this not a false god I hold in my right hand?’
(21) Remember these things, O Jacob, O Israel, for you are My servant. I formed you to be My servant; O Israel, I will not forget you!
(22) I remove the guilt of your rebellious deeds as if they were a cloud, the guilt of your sins as if they were a cloud.
Come back to Me, for I protect you.”
(23) Shout for joy, O sky, for the LORD intervenes;
shout out, you subterranean regions of the earth.
O mountains, give a joyful shout; you too, O forest and all your trees!
For the LORD protects Jacob; He reveals His splendor through Israel.
(24) This is what the LORD, your protector, says, the One Who formed you in the womb:
“I am the LORD, Who made everything, Who alone stretched out the sky, Who fashioned the earth all by Myself,
(25) Who frustrates the omens of the empty talkers and humiliates the omen readers,
Who overturns the counsel of the wise men and makes their advice seem foolish,
(26) Who fulfills the oracles of His prophetic servants and brings to pass the announcements of His messengers,
Who says about Jerusalem,
‘She will be inhabited,’
and about the towns of Judah,
‘They will be rebuilt, her ruins I will raise up,’
(27) Who says to the deep sea, ‘Be dry! I will dry up your sea currents,’
(28) Who commissions Cyrus, the one I appointed as shepherd to carry out all My wishes and to decree concerning Jerusalem,
‘She will be rebuilt,’ and concerning the temple, ‘It will be reconstructed.’”