Isaiah's Message to The Church
8 "But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)
This passage is about the church, not just about the nation of Israel in Isaiah’s time. Many passages, especially in the prophets, have this two-fold meaning, a double fulfillment. His message to both is that God has chosen us and has not rejected us.
Who are the true descendants of Abraham? Paul says we are. Those of us who trust the Lord are the true Israel. Look at two passages in His letter to the Roman church.
28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God. (NIV)
11 And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (NIV)
Paul is saying that Abraham was God’s friend because Abraham put his faith in God. Abraham’s true descendants are those who also put their faith in God. We are not the natural children of Abraham, and we are not proselytes to the Hebrew faith. We are children of Abraham, because we, like Abraham have put our faith in God.
If you do not know that you are one of God’s people we invite you to become one, or to speak to us about your relationship with God and we will help you to know what you need to do to be sure that you are circumcised of heart, that you are indeed born again.
As we recognize that we are the true spiritual descendants of Abraham, those who are now referred to as the church, we can look at messages from the prophets and recognize that God has a message for us in those writings.
So picking up again in Isaiah 41 let’s look for messages to us from God.
Isaiah 41:11 "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (NIV)
Do you see God’s message here? Our enemies will be as nothing, they will perish. We win, if we are on God’s side. We know the eventual outcome of life. God’s people will prevail. Those of us who have put our faith in God win in the end. Even our enemy ‘death’ will not be the ultimate victor. We will rise again and go to live with God for all eternity.
Other enemies of the faith will also eventually be required to bow before the majesty and Lordship of God. The world will not win. The world is basically any society that does not put God first, that is not living with God as Supreme Ruler and Lover of our Souls.
The world tries to tell us how to live. They seek to set standards for themselves. We seek to follow God and live by His rules and standards. We have His Spirit living in us to guide us and teach us. The world cannot follow God because they have not been circumcised of heart. They have not accepted God’s love and lordship.
The devil is a spiritual being who rebelled against God, but God tells us all our enemies will perish. Even the devil will eventually wind up in the lake of fire for all of eternity. He is a defeated foe.
A third enemy is our flesh. The part of us that lives like the world lives, not trusting God. We are to put off the flesh and walk in the Spirit. This part of us needs to die, sometimes every day. The sooner the better. God is working in our lives to help us learn how better to love and trust God. If we listen to the flesh, we are stunting our growth in the Spirit.
When we say we are not perfect, we admit we sometimes live out of the flesh instead of the Spirit. One day, we will live perfectly in tune with God if we hold on to our faith, and keep listening to Him instead of to the flesh.
All our enemies will eventually be put to death. As Isaiah put it in verse 11, "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.” (NIV)
We need not fear, for God promises to be with us. He will lead us if our faith is in Him and not in ourselves or someone else.
The next section of Isaiah’s message is interesting.
15 "See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. 16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel. (NIV)
This reminds me of an episode in the life of our Lord Jesus.
35 Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." (NIV)
The Samaritan woman has left Jesus and His disciples at the well where He had asked her for water. She has gone back to town and is bringing people from the village out to meet Jesus. She had said to them, John 4:29 "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" (NIV)
Winning people to faith in God and Jesus, the Christ, is what reaping is all about for the church. I believe Isaiah was foretelling these things that would be fulfilled as the church spreads around the world. We are reaping a harvest of souls, even as Jesus told his disciples to look upon the fields, where potential believers were coming to meet Jesus.
The last section of Isaiah 41 that I want us to focus on also has its fulfillment as pictured in this same story that John told about Jesus.
17 "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. (NIV)
When Jesus met the woman of Samaria at the well, he told her of living water that He could give to her. God created the earth and everything else. Nature pictures for us the spiritual world. Even as God provides water for the plants and trees, He provides living water for those in the world who are thirsty for His Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Presence of God. He is the living water that springs forth from within us. He is the life of God who comes to live in us when we accept God’s love and lordship.
Isaiah has given God’s people a picture of the care of God in defeating our enemies, in leading us to share the good news with the people around us and lets us know that we have His Spirit living in us.
When these things are shared with the world He does all these things, as Isaiah put it in verse 20 “so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it. (NIV)
God is working in the world. He is working in the church. He is working in our church to lead us to become what our community needs so they will have the opportunity to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.
People need to see and know that the Lord has done this. This is the task given to the church when Jesus told his followers to go and make disciples. Disciples are people who have accepted His Love and Lordship and are learning to live out these truths day by day.
Have you accepted Him? Are you following Him? Are you seeking Him daily? If you need to move up in your relationship with God in any way, the altar is a good place to start.