Isaiah 47 -- 51
It appears that the few Israelite captives who had remained faithful to the Lord were often overwhelmed with sorrow, saying: The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me (Isaiah 49:14). We naturally expect judgment upon the ungodly, or perhaps even upon the backslider, but many think it is strange when seemingly bad things also happen to the most sincere Christians. However, this reaction is a foolish lack of faith caused by an insufficient understanding of the Word of God.
We who have experienced His faithfulness can confidently say with the Prophet Isaiah: Who is among you that fears the Lord . . . who walks in darkness (deep trouble), and has no light? let him trust in the Name of the Lord (50:10). The Lord cannot fail to be true to His Word. The Creator was very near and was still speaking a message of compassion to His people, who were oppressed and suffering as captives in Babylon, saying: I, even I, am He who comforts you: who are you, that you should be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; And forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth? (51:12-13).
The Lord was reminding the Israelites that they were still His people as He had assured them earlier: Can a woman forget her nursing child? . . . yes, they may forget, but I will not forget you (49:15). Through the prophets, the Israelites learned that their suffering, trials, and great loss were necessary to deliver them from their worship of false gods and to prepare them for a much more glorious, eternal kingdom. God also reminded them of His faithfulness in the past and gave assurance of His continued love.
Each of us either has had or will face testing from the Lord as well as temptation from the forces of evil; so do not be dismayed if one day it suddenly seems that your whole world has crumbled. When hope after hope is shattered, plan after plan is crushed, and trial after trial confronts us, we need to remember that the sovereign God is still in control. We also need to remember Isaiah's prophecy of the perfect Son of God, who could say: I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to those who plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me (50:6-7; compare Matthew 26:67; 27:30). We are also encouraged by faith to look to Jesus . . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). If we suffer (as a Christian), we shall also reign with Him (II Timothy 2:12). Our Lord has taught us to expect suffering, saying: The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above His Lord (Matthew 10:24).
Knowing this, we should not be surprised when we face difficulties in this life. We also need to remember Isaiah's assurance to the sufferer: Let him trust in the Name of the Lord. To doubt the loving concern and wisdom of God to care for us is to assume that He is unable to keep His Word. Furthermore, such an attitude would mean that man and Satan have more power to defeat us than God has to defend us.
The final outcome, however, is up to us as we see beyond a self-centered cry of "Why me, Lord?" to express confidence in the Creator, who controls all world affairs. God can bring blessings out of brokenness and triumph out of tragedy as He did with Job, who suffered more than any man recorded in the Scriptures other than our Lord Jesus. But Job's victories were the result of his faith that God was in control. He testified confidently even while he was suffering intensely: When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).
As the light of the nations (Isaiah 49:6) to bring the light of salvation to all the nations of the earth (Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47).
47:8 carelessly means securely; 47:11 put it off means avert, avoid; 47:15 quarter means own way; 48:2 stay means rely; 48:10 refined thee means tested you; but not with silver means without finding character as silver, but worthless; 48:19 the offspring of your bowels means your children; 49:20 strait means small; 49:21 removing means wandering; 49:23 nursing means guardian.
Government Official: Rep. Charles Pickering (MS) · BPM Staff: Barbara Jean Jackson · Pray for Bible & Literature Missionary Foundation and Dr. Bob Lemmon, Director · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast sponsored by Dorothy Williams · Country: Albania (3 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Albanian and Greek · Newly opened to evangelism · 40% Muslim; 11% Albanian Orthodox; 7% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pray fervently with others (Romans 15:30).
Memory Verse for the Week:
II Thessalonians 1:8