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God's Plan For God's Servant (Isaiah 49:1-6)

Coastlands, listen to me; 
Distant peoples, pay attention.
The Lord called me before I was born.
He named me while I was in my mother’s womb.
He made my words like a sharp sword;
He hid me in the shadow of His hand.
He made me like a sharpened arrow;
He hid me in His quiver.
He said to me, 
“You are My Servant, Israel; I will be glorified in him.”
But I myself said: I have labored in vain, 
I have spent my strength for nothing and futility; 
Yet my vindication is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.
And now, says the Lord, 
Who formed me from the womb to be His Servant, 
To bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel might be gathered to Him; 
For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is my strength.
He says, “It is not enough for you to be My Servant 
Raising up the tribes of Jacob 
And restoring the protected ones of Israel.
I will also make you a light for the nations, 
To be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
-Isaiah 49:1-6 (HCSB)

God has a plan!

Here is what we learn for Isaiah 49:1-6:
  • God has a plan.
  • Preparation is needed.
  • Israel's promises are fulfilled in Christ for God's glory.
  • We might feel futile, but God has a plan he will fulfill.
  • God's initiative to restore to Himself.
  • God has an "above and beyond our dreams" (Eph. 3:20) plan.
God has a plan
Vs. 1: Coastlands, listen to me; distant peoples, pay attention.  The Lord called me before I was born.
God not only had a plan he was initiating for Israel, but God has a world-wide plan.  God called Isaiah in a dramatic way, but Isaiah is seeing ahead to someone else.  He is speaking "present-future".  God speaks about our future, to us today, and we look different in the future.

Preparation is needed
Vs. 2: He made my words like a sharp sword; He hid me in the shadow of His hand.  He made me like a sharpened arrow; He hid me in His quiver.
Here, Isaiah begins to speak of this one, called before he is born, about what he will become.  All of us go through a time of preparation, becoming who God has called us to be, so that we can do what God has called us to do.

God protects us and hides us, even in obscurity during our preparation times.  There is a time between calling and commissioning.  God made Jesus while he hid Jesus.  Hidden and made, in plain site.  The same principle and process applies to Jesus followers.

Jesus had to grow up and become ready:
The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
-Luke 2:40 & 52
Jesus set an example.  He had to be made ready.  We do too.  We grow up in God.  The effort is just to be intentional.  We abide in the Lord and he gives the growth and the fruit (John 15).

Jesus spoke of us being like him, saying that "a slave (or servant) is not greater than his master" (John 13:16, 15:20; Matt. 10:24-25).  We must serve as he served (like washing feet) and we will be persecuted as he was persecuted.

Jesus trains us up as his disciples, to become like him:
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
-Luke 6:40
This powerful principle teaches us that we become like our teacher.  Our children will do what we do and learn to live the way we live.  We learn to live like Jesus by letting him disciple us.  That is the Christian life.

Our words matter.  Our words are a barometer of our heart's condition.  The words we speak reflect our life and if we speak bad words, they pollute us (Prov. 4:23, Matt. 12:35-7, 15:18; Luke 6:45).

Jesus is transforming our hearts.   Jesus prepares us for life through our hearts.  The Christian life is about trusting God.  The Bible says, "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding", in Proverbs 3:5.  Jesus makes our hearts like him and our words become like his when we have his heart.

Israel's promises are fulfilled in Christ for God's glory 
Vs. 3: He said to me, “You are My Servant, Israel; I will be glorified in him.
God's promises to Israel are fulfilled in Christ, to the ends of the earth, among the Gentiles.
For every one of God's promises is "Yes" in Him. Therefore, the "Amen" is also spoken through Him by us for God's glory.
For I say that the Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written: Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and I will sing psalms to Your name. -2 Corinthians 1:20, Romans 15:8-9, Psalm 18:49
God has had a plan for Israel.   Messiah or Christ will fulfill the calling or assignment that God has always had for Israel.  God had a plan that he shared and began to implement in the past.  God has a plan at the time of Isaiah, for his people.  And God has a future plan that stretches to today and into the future.

Israel was to be God's servant, but there will be a servant who is The Servant of the Lord, who will fulfill God's promises for Israel and restore Israel and also give glory to God among the Gentiles.  This is all about God's will, what God will do, what God wants and will get.

God glorifies himself in Christ and God wants to glorify himself in Christ, in You, and in me:
God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
-Colossians 1:27
I dropped in on a class once, and the teacher was giving a thesis that the glory of God is in the center of God's will or plan.  Christ is right there in the center too because Christ brings glory to God.  God is glorious and God is glorified through Christ.  That stuck with me and I think about it when I see the word glory or glorify.  God glorified himself in Jesus and his plan is to glorify himself through Christ Jesus in our lives.

We might feel futile, but God has a plan he will fulfill
Vs. 4: But I myself said: I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and futility; yet my vindication is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.  
I like what David Guzik wrote about this verse:
When we consider what - and who - the Lord Jesus had to work with on this earth, we certainly must believe that one of the great temptations He faced was discouragement. This passage shows that even though He ministered in difficult and discouraging circumstances, He never gave into discouragement, but always put His trust in the LORD.
There is an issue or challenge we face of fighting futility.  But this brings me back to my thesis that the Christian life is about trusting God.  If Jesus learned obedience (Heb. 5:8), we must also.  For some insights on living with or fighting against futility, I remembered a book by David Wilkerson, called, "Have You Felt Like Giving Up Lately".  

He says that everyone suffers disappointment, heartbreak, and various and sundry hurts in this life.   Every Christian is called to the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.  
Notes from Wilkerson:
  • You will never arrive
  • Jesus never forces a cross on us, but my cross is a sign of his love.
  • God alone is the source of all happiness and contentment.
  • Never limit God's forgiveness.
  • Don't be afraid of failure.
  • Keep moving forward, despite failure.
  • Worship, even though you failed.
  • Don't try to "make things happen", but walk in "the way" that is Christ.
  • God delights in using failures.
  • Being a failure is different than being an unrepentant, sensual person.
  • The sin of Christians is unbelief.
  • The path of holiness is humility.
  •  When you have unanswered prayer, it might be that God is trying to prepare you for a bigger answer than you can imagine.
  • God has not forgotten you.
A famous Christian wrote, "O Lord, deliver me from the lust of always vindicating myself".  God vindicated Jesus and God will vindicate us, if we get out of the way.  The "Jesus way" of life is to trust God.

God's initiative to restore to Himself
Vs. 5: And now, says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel might be gathered to Him; for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is my strength
God is the great initiator.  God is not passive.  God was there before we were and has had a plan that we are discovering.  Israel got into all sorts of trouble, but God initiated a plan to restore them.

The Bible is filled with God's initiative among humankind's blunders.  God does not run out of resources or provision.

God has an "above and beyond our dreams" (Eph. 3:20) plan
Vs. 6: He says, “It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel.  I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
God wanted to do more than just restore Israel, when they came back from Babylonian captivity.  He wanted to bless, save, and redeem the whole world.  It is the same today.  We want to feel better or get refreshed, while God wants to do something beyond our wildest dreams.

Do you dream with God?  I think there is something to being a servant in the servant, which leads to a life above and beyond what you hoped, desired, or even dreamed of.  What is God's plan for my life?  I know he wants me to be a servant, his servant, a servant in Christ.  Going deeper into that, I believe will lead to his plan, his way, and his glory.

Jesus is The Servant and his followers are going to be servants also.  This is God's plan.



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