Verses 6 & 7 bears the mention of one further thought. Jehovah here reveals the importance of the Redeemer’s task. The restoration of the people of God back into relationship with him as paramount. But it was a small thing compared to being the light to all men.
It was far more important that the message of Redemption be spread to the ends of the earth. (Note Mat 28:19,20; Acts 1:8). It is to this end that believers in Christ are commissioned, called, to “Go and make disciples.” Lord, there could be no higher calling than to be a witness to others of the redemption story of Christ.*
Jesus, my redeemer–friend, wonders in his humanity at the outcome of his earthly work and ministry, as perhaps ineffective. (He also stopped and prayed three times over the certainty of God’s plan in the garden before his crucifixion – Mat 26:36-47.) He has no hesitation in trusting his life’s work into the hands of Jehovah God (v4). Isaiah 49:5-7 explains why.
Our Redeemer is confident in the source, strength and certainty of his life call and work (v5).
He is assured that nothing he did on earth will be lost. It will ultimately be used to point ALL men to God (v6).
Finally, he is assured that “rejection,“ or apparent failure, is not the measure of success in God’s eyes. God is faithful (v7 & 25:1).
Lord, I can learn lessons from Jesus in trusting you completely with the outcomes of the work to which you call me.
I have often wondered at the success of my call and work when everything around it may seem to have failed – at least according to the measure of men; when things fell short of my expectations. Well, here I learn that my friend and Redeemer – Jesus, felt the same way about his ministry. He says, “To what purpose have I come Lord? My work seems useless. But, I leave it in your hands Lord, Jehovah.“
Jesus’ mission, ending in a criminal crucifixion, may have seemed like a failure by men’s standards. However, Jehovah God was/is pleased with Christ’s work. But for a much different reason. His work would ultimately bring salvation to all men. Lord, my acceptance with you is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross and my faithfulness to your call on my life.
If you need me Lord, I’ll be here at my sentinel’s post as ordered.
Every now and then one has to stop and take stock of all God is doing; take into account the bigger picture. It enables the prayer sentry to pray with understanding. I had one of those days yesterday. Here is what God showed me.
The story of Israel, the Jewish race, is the story God’s redemption. God chose to reveal himself to mankind through the Jewish race. They would be the chosen seed, the chosen light pointing men to God. However, they failed to do that as a people. They were persistently disobedient and rebellious toward God. Yet, God seems somehow to always be the protective father, letting his favored child continue in disobedience. Why does God continually protect them? I find myself wondering, “Why does God seem to always put up with Israel’s waywardness and incorrigibility?” “Why did he choose them?”
The Old Testament reveals that God does discipline his chosen people throughout the course of their national life. But Israel, as a whole, never seems to get it. They just seem to be a constant disappointment to God. At one point God does seems willing to start over. But then Moses steps in to protect them. He asks God not to destroy Israel completely and God relents (Exodus 32:1-14).
The questions to me seem to be: why did God choose Israel? Would there not have been another people group who would have shown themselves to be more faithful? The answer to that questions is, “Probably not.” Why did God find it necessary to choose some outlying race of people anyway?
Certainly, greater minds than mine have pondered these questions for, no doubt, ages. But here is my simple and feeble assessment. I think the answer to why God chose Israel, the Jewish race, as his chosen people, lies in the omniscient plan, character and love of God. In the beginning God set out to redeem mankind from their fall into sin. God’s omniscient plan called for a Redeemer and a sacrifice for sin. This is seen in the first blood sacrifice of an animal out of the Garden of Eden. God performed the first sacrifice. Instead of killing Adam for his sin (for the wages of sin is death-Rom 6:23), God took the life of an animal (shed its blood as a substitute, propitiation for sin) and used the skin as a “covering” for Adam and Eve. Thus, God covered the sin of man (Gen 3:21).
Back to the nation of Israel. God didn’t choose the Jewish people because of their superior moral character or their religious devotion. In fact, God never chooses any of us because we are so righteous or so good. In fact, to the contrary, Scripture says there is no one righteous, not one (Rom 3:10). But I digress.
The Jewish race was chosen because God is sovereign not because they were superior. He could have chosen any people group. Through this chosen seed, God would institute and implement symbols of worship, sacrifice and redemption. This structure in the Jewish sacrificial system would be, has been and is, sufficient to forecast or foretell God’s Redeemer and the sacrifice for sin. This sacrifice would be the ground of redemption for all who would believe.
Israel was and is no different from any other people group. They were, we all are, sinners. But what God needed was a human ancestry, a lineage, a seed from which a Redeemer-sacrifice would emerge, from which his GRACE would extend to all men. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was that Redeemer–sacrifice. Jesus would be the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption. He would be God’s sacrifice, God’s instrument of GRACE to all men for their sin. The Jewish nation was selected by the sovereign plan of God to bear witness to and be the seed and instrumentality of that redemption. She was not selected not because she was perfect but because God is sovereign.
Further, God chose the Jewish race knowing full well in advance that they would be prideful, disobedient, obstinate, stiff-necked, rebellious and hard hearted. God knew in advance that this people would break his heart over and over again. God would discipline and or punish their sinful rebellion, but he would not completely destroy the ancestry, the lineage, the seed from which his Redeemer would eventually emerge. In fact, God would go to extravagant lengths to protect his people…even if it was only a small remnant.
So, the story and history of God’s chosen people is really the story of all men. Just as God showed mercy and grace to a sinful, stubborn and rebellious people of Israel, so he shows mercy and grace to all people. The story of God’s longsuffering with me is reflected in the story of God’s longsuffering with Israel. They deserved nothing. He gave them everything. So, it is with me as well.
All men everywhere are indebted. Not indebted to the Jewish race, but to God, for choosing a people (a people like me, no different from me) to reveal his Redeemer, Jesus Christ. There were no perfect people from which to choose. There are still no perfect people. Never has been. What we do have is a perfect Redeemer, Jesus Christ, whom God was pleased to sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Just as Israel was chosen by GRACE, sustained by GRACE and saved by GRACE, so we to are chosen, sustained and saved by GRACE.
There are none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
But God demonstrates is own love for us, in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
Next time you think that God is unfairly and forever longsuffering with the Jewish race, his seed of redemption, think about how longsuffering he has been and is with you as well. So we should be towards others.
Though the people of God were promise breakers, stubborn, obstinate, stiff-necked and hardheads (v1,4), still, God was gracious. Though they were indifferent to God and often ignored him, God was gracious. Though they did not listen when God exposed their idols as imposters (vv5,14) and revealed himself as far superior (vv12,13,17), still, he was gracious.
No matter the rebellious state of his people, still he was gracious. For the sake of his name he would deliver them, set them free to a future and a hope from captivity in Babylon (v11). God is the consummate loving Father. God has and always will, stand by his people, as a father with his children (vv20,21). He stands by me in my failures. But for those whom he does not know, there will be no peace (v22). Lord, the heart of this old sentry sings of his gracious Redeemer.
Isaiah chapter 48 could be summarized, “You did not listen.“ A theme that is repeated often in God’s word is “listen” to what God is saying. That is not the same thing as hearing. I may hear my father speak, but not “listen.” To listen implies understanding, acknowledging and obeying. If you hear an authority figure give an instruction and you say, “Whatever!“, then you’re not “listening.”
Israel’s problem was she was not “listening” to God; she was like, “Whatever!” The result was devastating – 430 years in Egyptian captivity, 70 years in Babylonian captivity. Had Israel listened and obeyed, verses 18,19 say much grief would have been avoided. Father God, give this sentry a heart to listen and the determination to carry out your instructions. Yes Lord! “Hooah!” *
* According to Stars & Stripes (military news paper) – “HOOAH” (or “huah”) is unique to the Army [“OORAH” – Marines]. Some say it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.” It is shouted by a troop following an order given. It expresses determination to act as ordered. It expresses the Army spirit. (See also Jan 8, 2021 post, “HOOAH!”, this blog)
I’m a retired minister; past the 3/4 century mark. I’m a member of a great church with a truly missions and discipleship heart. I heard a young minister preach not long ago in our pulpit. He closed his message with a terrific illustration having to do with sports. He said that many sit in the boxed seats and stands and cheer their team on. But they are not in uniform and they are not in the game.
For some time now I have been sidelined for reasons I shall not get into here. They are things that have committed me to be at home pretty much 24//7. While I’m happy to fulfill this particular call, I have felt at times like I’m not in uniform, not in the game like I used to be. So, as the young minister was closing the service with his sports illustration, I struggled with what he was saying. I was thinking, “Lord, I’m unable to play the game (carry the ball, run the bases, interact with the players) like I used to do.” I felt conflicted.
Then the Lord reminded me that I have had, for many years, a heart for intercession (this blog speaks to that). The Lord spoke to me and said, “Dude, you’re still in uniform and you’re still on the field, in the game. You’ve been carrying the water in prayer for decades. That desire has intensified in recent years. You’re carrying the water in prayer now more than ever.” I felt affirmed by the Lord.
My final thought in that service was this: Every team has a “Waterboy.” The waterboy is in the game, part of the game and he wears the team jersey. He carries out his role like the rest of his teammates. What the Lord was saying to me was this: I, like the waterboy, am carrying the water (intercession) for my team (God’s team). I’m in uniform and faithfully doing the job I was asked to do.
I walked out of that service thinking, I am on the field, honored to be a waterboy. No box seat for me. I’m still in uniform and in the game. So, “Thank you Lord, for my job. I’m honored to be Carryin’ The Water.”
What brought down a 40 year old 12 story apartment building in Florida killing over 100 sleeping victims? The “core corrosion” of its foundation.
Isaiah prophesies that a once jeweled nation (Babylon) will be shamed and brought to ruin. Why? Her “core corrosion.” Having been used of God to chastise his people, Babylon was arrogant toward God and his people. She concluded that she was unstoppable, and without shame for her brutality and rejection of God. Any nation or people blessed of God who prostitutes that blessing and tramples on God‘s grace will come to ruin.
There is not a single god, not might, power, fame, wealth or any magic bullet that will save a corrupted nation or person. Like straw in a fire they will be unable to save themselves from God‘s judgment. Every friend and ally will turn a deaf ear to their cries for help. So says the “Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the Holy One of Israel.” Lord, press upon me the need to always be casting and eye toward heaven for affirmation of my walk before you.
* How can America do a much needed check on her “core?” She must come one by one, neighbor by neighbor, church by church, leader by leader to a place of humility before God. She must humbly cast an eye towards heaven for affirmation or conviction of her walk before God. She must humbly seek God’s forgiveness for her individual and collective “core corrosion.” It starts with me. May the Lord lay bare the heart, the core, of this old sentry. Start with me Lord. Revive me first, then my neighbors, my church, the leaders of my church, the leaders of my community, state and nation. Revive me Lord. Revive and awaken my beloved nation Lord.
The God of Israel, which is to say, the God of our salvation, has no equal (vv3–5). The Babylonian gods, “Bel and Nebo“ (v1), are harmless against the God of Israel (Bel, chief domestic god; Nebo, god of wisdom and learning (47:10), are man-made gods (lies) that deceive men to think that they know more than God). The arrogant Babylonians will learn this lesson the hard way.
The gods of this world (power, fame, wealth, might, knowledge, et al.) lead men away from dependence upon the one true God. That is a sure fire way to lose the blessing of God. If America is to know the blessing of God once again, she needs to deny those deceitful gods of this world and return to him. Lord, deliver my heart from a “know it all” attitude. Deliver my beloved country from prideful dependence upon anything but you.
These final words in Chapter 45 are all at once magnetic, arresting and captivating. These words draw us inescapably into God‘s plan of mercy and righteousness.
Whom God chooses (here, the Persian king, Cyrus) he empowers for the task (v14). God moves in powerful and mysterious ways (vv15-17). What God says and does he does out loud, for all to hear and know. Following God is not the result of some “secret path.” He has said, “If you seek me, you shall find me“ (vv18,19). What God says he will do (vv20,21).
All men will look to him for eternal salvation. His promises are true and every knee will eventually bow before him. All will confess him and give praise to him. Those who have worked against him will be ashamed. His followers will boast in him alone (vv22–25). God’s plan of redemption is visible for all to see. Lord, I commit to remain open-eyed to all you say and do.
Men with fleshly attitudes will always rail against God’s plans. It is true from time immemorial. Man stood in opposition to God in the garden and in the days of the Kings of Israel. They stood against Christ in his birth and in his life. They stood against the spread of the Gospel. They have stood, times without number, against revivals led by the Holy Spirit. How’d all that work out?
Men of the flesh act like clay in the potter’s hands telling the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing. Your hands have no skill.“ No matter, God continues his program of mercy and Redemption. There will be no refuting God’s work among men. Those who refute God will be dishonored. “The Lord of Heaven‘s Armies has spoken!“ Lord you are my Creator, my Deliverer, my redeemer. Mold my life according to your will – I yield to your skilled hands.
What happens when God delivers men from a drought of blessing, goodness and righteousness? What happens when revival comes, when awakening comes? Having lost their sense of worship for God in captivity, what would deliverance mean for Israel? What would it look like for us today.
The heavens will open wide with showers of blessing pouring down on the people. The skies open up and rain down righteousness on all men. Just as a parched land is watered and renewed, so the parched souls of men will sprout forth the beautiful fruit of salvation and righteousness. Such is the deliverance of Israel from her captivity. Such it will be for all men who repent and put their trust in God. Lord, pour down revival and awakening in our day on the parched souls of humanity.
“I [God] create good times and bad times.” Am I to understand here that God is the author of evil in the moral sense of sin? No! No! No! This statement is made in relation to the providences of God. He raises up prosperity, peace, pure religion and the like. He also calls forth adversity, calamity, ignorance, et all…but not evil, in the moral sense of sin. He gives us light. Darkness ensues because the light is withdrawn.*
When God withdraws his hand, bad things happen. But when God puts his hand of blessing on something (as here with Cyrus) good things happen. God’s point here is his complete and absolute superiority over all the things in heaven and on earth. He providentially works in the affairs of men. This is as true today as it was in the days of Cyrus.*
America may not want to hear this, but God says, “[I am he who] builds up nations, and [I am he who] destroys them. [I am he who] expands nations, and [I am he who] abandons them” (Job 12:23 NLT – see vv 13-24 for context https://bible.com/bible/116/job.12.13-24.NLT).
Lord put it into the heart of every prayer sentry to seek truth and learn from you in the good times and in the bad times. May every sentry standing on the wall speak with conviction and with compassion. May your Spirit not be withdrawn from our midst.
God clearly explains why he summoned, called and equipped the Persian, Gentile, pagan king, Cyrus. Because he knew his people would need 1) a deliverer from the coming Babylonian captivity, 2) a hope in the midst of tragedy and darkness (God is the God of both dark times and good times – v7) and 3) he would use this prophecy to later reveal himself as the One who fulfills his redemption promises. The entire world would know that he is God.
Lord, it is clear to me that you are always working behind the scenes on my behalf. Nothing happens by accident. You give me hope when all hope seems gone. I am never without hope.
Here is seen one of God’s most incredible prophetic accounts. God declares through Isaiah, by name, that “Cyrus,“ the Persian, shall be God’s “shepherd“ king, “anointed one,” to deliver Israel out of Babylonian captivity.
Why so incredible? Because this prophecy was delivered by Isaiah 150 years before Cyrus was born. Further, he is the only pagan, Gentile king referred to by God as “anointed one.“ Cyrus is, in this sense, a type of the greater Anointed One, Redeemer of Israel and of all men, Jesus Christ. God chooses whom he chooses for his work of redemption. Lord, you alone are mighty to save. I put my trust in you.
Someone has said, “When you pray, pay attention to what happens next.” In other words, God will answer. Be alert to circumstances around you. Don’t be oblivious. The same is true of prophecy, the prophetic word of God. When God’s prophets speaks, pay attention to what happens next.
God says, “Pay attention, O Jacob.” Your sins are swept away. God has paid the price to redeem you. “Return to me,“ the Holy One says. Shout for joy…break into song, for it is done. The Lord predicted it. He says, “I will rebuild my Holy city. I will restore the ruins.” The prophets of God do not lie. Father, knowing your history of redemption, knowing the price you paid at Calvary for my sins, I have every reason to be secure in your future redemption.
Idols: they are, at once, both ironic and absurd. Men forging idols out of wood or metal to worship, are incongruent, contradictory and nonsensical. The Lord scoffs at those who create idols with their own hands. They manufacture images to be worshiped out of wood and metal that the Holy one created.
Crafters cut down trees, use them for fire wood to cook or warm themselves. Then, with what’s left over, they carve out images to prize and worship. Really? Is that not foolish, absurd? None of these handcrafted idols can reveal, redeem or restore anything. But the Holy One, he can and he will. Lord, I come with assurance to the Holy One of Israel. I trust no other.
Sad to say, though God makes his case for his love and mercy, still Israel rejects his call to return to him. Do the words RECALCITRANT, DELETERIOUS, mean anything? Instead of offering sacrifices of praise to honor God, they offered the best of their sinful trash. They flaunted the worst of their disobedience before God. Shameful. Am I any better Lord?
Yet, still, God offers his absolute mercy and forgiveness for sins committed against him. Why? For his own sake. For the sake of his name, his love. God says repentance (getting rid of the trash) will lead still to the pouring out his Spirit on Israel’s descendants and his blessing on their children. The people of God will once again be proud to claim God’s name over them. Lord, put within this aged sentry a surrendered and willing heart.
“O Israel (O America), do not fear.” When judgment comes upon her, God will not destroy her completely. God will ransom his own, call them by name to himself. Through deep waters, difficulties and oppression, God promises to be with her (1-4).
“Do not fear.“ God will deliver his wayward people through the fire of judgment. Those who have trusted, as well as those without understanding – all will see that I, the Lord, I am able to deliver from captivity (5-13).
God says, “I am about to do a new thing” (v19). My chosen ones will be refreshed (see also Acts 3:19). They will once again honor God. Lord, through tears (of repentance) may I seek times of refreshing from you, I have everything to gain.
America – can we not see with our own eyes and hear with her own ears what is right? How long shall we refuse righteousness and ignore what is right before our own eyes and ears?
If God did not withhold judgment on his own people, Israel, how will he not withhold judgment on the nations that reject and ignore him? America has turned her back on God. She, like Israel of old, is the target of God’s fury…yet she refuses to understand. She refuses to learn her lessons.
Consider just the past 18 months: COVID pandemic, “George Floyd “– riots, grotesque racial division among us, out of control forest fires, inflation that threatens our economy, earthquakes claiming thousands of lives, inept national leadership foisted upon us and the demise of our national/international honor, pride and global influence.
Father, open the eyes of this great nation to your love, mercy and forgiveness. May she repent while there is still time and turn back to you. Begin by breaking the heart of this old sentry, Lord!
Such a beautiful picture of the Lord’s Messiah (vv1–9). He will bring justice. He will not crush the frail reed or snuff out the last flickering light of a candle. He himself will be a light to guide the nations. He will open blind eyes, deaf ears and set free captives held in bondage to the enemy, the evil one.
God’s chosen Messiah, Jesus, is worthy of praise (vv10-17. He will lead blind Israel on a new path, smooth their road. He will not forsake them, though they have failed him time and time again. Lord, you deal justly with my sin, but you do not crush me. Though I so often fail you (vv18-25), you never fail me. Grace is greater than all my sin.
As Judah flaunts her foreign gods and idolatrous practices, the God of all providence challenges. The God of Israel predicts their future in a conquering king from the east who would defeat their captors, Babylon (promise no. 1) he would then release God‘s people from their captivity (promise no. 2). God will redeem his people. They will be strong and victorious again.
Fountains and rivers will spring up and flow in the desert (vv17-20). It is predicted. It is miraculous. What idol, made by man, can do this? But God, the Holy One of Israel, does this to prove his worthiness (vv26-29). God has made his case. There is no rebuttal (v26). There is no God like Jehovah-God. Lord, render my heart wholly abandoned to you.
Having announced the great redemption of God for his people, his majesty in the heavens and in the earth is extolled. This Sovereign God has no equal. He is incomparable to any man-made idol. Knowing his vast knowledge, understanding and power, knowing his compassionate love for his people, how can one say that he ignores those he loves.
Our God is everlasting. He never grows weary. He gives strength and power to the weak and the powerless. Trust in him and you will soar high like an eagle, run and never faint. Lord, give this old sentry a heart to trust you fully every day to supply whatever I may lack.
This sentry continues along a path of renewal and restoration. I have immeresed myself in Isaiah 40-66. Restoration, redemption and the future glory of Israel and the Church.
August 4, 2021 – Isaiah 46-48
Expect God to work. Expect him to work in the most unlikely of ways.
The false gods of men (in Israel), were conceived in their own creative imagery, fashioned by their own hands. They offered nothing. No wisdom, no protection, no magical charms; predictable, safe, powerless.
Your captors have bound you. You are tested by fire of suffering. Yahweh says your captors will flee before another pagan king (Cyrus) of his anointing (an unlikely source). The Holy one of Israel predicts it 150-200 years before it happened.
Then, the Holy one will restore you and you will sing of his glory.
I WILL SING OF MY REDEEMER (Philip P. Bliss, 1878)
The Lord is calling me to temporarily step away from my post as a prayer sentry.
For many years I have come daily to my Morning Watch post, to read God’s word, to consider His ways and his message. Then to write, to journal my thoughts and to pray in earnest for the many souls in my books of prayer.
“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” – Psalms 45:1 NKJV
Although I struggle to set aside the duty of my post, the Lord reminds me that he himself had to take times away from the crowds to find refreshment. “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”–Luke 5:15-16 . This is not the first time the Lord has led me in such a way.
When I served in Vietnam it was required that every soldier take a time of respite. So a short leave from the rigors of battle was not just granted but required. The purpose was to refresh and renew.
So for the next month or so I will take this sabbatical time to seek the Father, to refresh my soul in Him who loves me and to find renewal for my sometimes weary heart.
I will not quit praying for my family, my friends and my country. I’m just temporarily stepping away from the regimens I normally follow.