Let Us Be Light

Photo by Jonathan Petersson: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-and-green-grass-field-during-sunset-1237119/

Isaiah 49:6b … I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

This was the focus of the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. We stopped frequently throughout the Convention to pray that God’s Holy Spirit would move on us, on our churches, and on our nation. The theme of our convention was:

Across the Streets
Across the States
Across the Seas

The Convention Scripture is the one we started our message with today, a portion of Isaiah 49:6. So I thought I’d preach on that tonight, and on the faithfulness of our God.

We Must Not Be Discouraged, For God Is Faithful

Isaiah lived in a particularly bad time in Israel’s history, some 700 years before Christ would be born of the Virgin Mary. Israel has divided into Northern and Southern Israel. The Ten Northern Tribes of Israel has established their own worship system apart from the Temple of God in Jerusalem. As Israel drifted away from the Word of God, she began to worship false gods and goddesses, contrary to the command of God their Savior.

Isaiah was raised up of God to do His will, to preach repentance to a people that would not repent. Yet God wanted Israel to know that He was not done with His people. But before He could assure Israel, God had to assure Isaiah. Isaiah’s ministry was very discouraging. The words we see above are not addressed to Israel, but to Isaiah. Though the TBC {Tennessee Baptist Convention} only quoted part of the text, let’s read the WHOLE text:

Isaiah 49:6 And {God} said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Word Study: Isaiah had begun to wonder if there was any hope for Israel, any hope for his ministry. But God told Isaiah It is a light thing that God raised up Isaiah. This is the Hebrew qâlal, {kaw-lal’}, which means “something very small and insignificant, a trifle, a feather’s touch”. The Lord told Isaiah, “What I did when calling you was so simple. If your calling was so simple, then I certainly can use you to reach the remnant of Israel”. What did God do in calling Isaiah? Isaiah said:

Isaiah 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

God needed Isaiah to be His Prophet to Israel, and not just to Israel, but to the Gentiles. It was God’s plan to reach the Gentiles through Israel. This is what God promised Abraham, the Father of faith. He told him:

Genesis 12:2-3 … I will make of thee {Abraham} a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God would, from Abraham, make a great nation or Israel. This was God’s promise. God is not a man, that He should lie”(Numbers 23:19). Not ONE of ALL the Lord’s good PROMISES to Israel failed; every one WAS FULFILLED” (Joshua 21:45). The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago” (Lamentations 2:17). God’s Word will always come to pass regardless as to the conditions of mankind. Isaiah was becoming depressed, discouraged. But God tells Isaiah, and tells us:

Galatians 6:9 … let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

It was not Isaiah’s mama and daddy that made him a prophet to Israel. It was God. God called Isaiah to be a prophet to Israel before the sperm met the egg. He called Isaiah to be a prophet to Israel before his mama and daddy’s parents were even born. Isaiah is in the mind of God from eternity, and God’s will will be done.

Isaiah 49:2 And {God} hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me;

When God called Moses to go to Pharaoh with the message, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness”, Moses told God:

Exodus 4:10 O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

God told Moses,

Exodus 4:11-12 … Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

It is God Who raises up the Prophet and the People. It is God Who will give Isaiah the Word to speak. God did not want Isaiah to fear man, but to trust Him. In the shadow of His hand hath He hid me.

Isaiah is to be AVAILABLE to God, resting in God’s hand.

Isaiah is but an ARROW, something to be pulled from God’s quiver, and notched on God’s bow. Isaiah could not control the direction he was to be shot, nor the target that he would hit. Isaiah’s responsibility was to allow God to speak, allow God to use him, allow God to place him. Isaiah struggled with his worth. We see the struggle in:

Isaiah 49:3-4 And {God} said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. 4 Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.

Every servant of God struggles with self worth. The Apostle Paul, blessed man of God, wrote:

Romans 7:22-25 I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Struggle is part of the Christian way of life. God needed Isaiah to trust Him, and to do as He asked, to speak the Word that was given him. God told Isaiah that his calling was not in vain. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 49:5 And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.

Isaiah said that he would trust not what his eyes saw, but what His God said. What does the Scripture say that FAITH is?

Hebrews 11:1-2 Now FAITH is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

FAITH must believe that GOD is, and that GOD is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith follows God, trusting His will. We will not always see the harvest of what our faith planted.

Abraham never saw Israel, though he was promised Israel.
Moses never saw Israel take the Promised Land, though God promised they would.
Daniel saw the mouths of lions stopped, but never saw the Promised Messiah.
Isaiah will not see the restoration of Israel, but will be put in a hollow tree,
and sawn asunder under the orders of evil King Manasseh.

Isaiah’s name in Hebrew, yᵊšaʿyâ (pronounced yesh-ah-yaw’) means “Jehovah has Saved”. His promises are sure!

I had a dear pastor friend who years ago preached revival at a Church I shepherded. One thing he said stuck in my mind. He said, “When you do not understand what the hand of God allows, trust in the heart of God”. God loves His people. God loved His Israel in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, and loves His Church today under the New Covenant. God tells Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:8-10 Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

God had a long range plan in place. God was going to keep Israel from total destruction so that the Messiah could come to the world. The devil would do – and will do – all that he can to stop the plan of salvation. But God’s will will be done. The Apostle Paul would quote a portion of this passage in Isaiah to the Church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 6:2 (For {God} saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

God preserves His people so that we can share the glorious Gospel of Salvation through Christ Jesus. We are not preserved for our sake. We are preserved for the sake of the Gospel. God wanted Isaiah to know that – though it looked bleak – the Messiah was going to come. God was going to fulfill His plan of salvation.

God Will Not Abandon His People:
We Are Graven On His Hands

God will bring all of His Children home. His Children are not those who are just Jewish by blood, but His Children are those who look for and believe in the Messiah. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 8:42-44 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. … Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do…

Those who belong to God’s True Israel love Jesus. They, like Abraham before them, saw Jesus as Messiah and rejoiced
(John 8:56)

True Israel believes on and follows God. The true Church believes on and follows the Lord. God tells us that they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). Being born a Jew will not save you. Being born again by faith in God WILL save you! God will call His Israel back to the land. He will bring Messiah through His Israel. He tells Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:12-15 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. 13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. 14 But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. 15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

In our day many women murder their children through abortion, which is a sad truth in our “me too” America. I look for America to codify abortion into law, a truly abominable thing! Yet God will never forget His people. Though His people wandered away from Him, He loves them still. God will regather Israel. God will triumph in His Church!

God prophesies of the Messiah.

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Word Study: God told Isaiah, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. The word “” is the Hebrew châqaq, (pronounced khaw-kak’), which means “to cut in, to scribe, to cause a scar, to inscribe”. Verse 16 begins with Behold, a word of astonishment.

All of Heaven and Earth would not be astonished to see the name of God engraved on the palms of His hands, for His Name is Holy (Psalm 103:1). God is righteous, and God is right.

We would not be astonished to see the names of Michael the Arch Angel, or Gabriel the Arch Trumpeter of Heaven written on the palms of God’s hands. These angels, unlike Lucifer, have been faithful and true.

Yet the Lord has not written His own Name in His palms, nor the holy angels, but behold, He has written the names of those who have believed in Him in that wondrous place. Can you imagine that? When we compare ourselves with God we must say along with Bildad:

Job 25:4-6 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? {5} Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. {6} How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?

We are nothing, yet our little faith causes Infinite God to do the unimaginable. Behold, I have graven thee. Note that we did not do this great thing, but God – in His infinite mercy – did this. It was not our goodness, our rituals, our prayers, or our tears that put us on God’s hands. It is merely that we did as He said. We REPENTED, and gave our broken lives to Him. We BELIEVED what God told us about Jesus.

Dear Christian, we live in some of the darkest days of America. And yet, do not give up. Trust in Him. Believe in Him! God loves to see the soul saved. Doesn’t the Scripture say:

Luke 15:7, 10 Joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repententh. There is joy in Heaven in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repententh.

In the history of eternity there has never been a time when God has forgiven an unpunished violation of His Law. Never! Never! Look in the palms of His hands and what do you see? Nail scars! Nail scars!

Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: {14} That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

These terrible wounds, these graven marks cry out to you and to all the angels and saints of Heaven “It is finished”. You are graven in the palms of His hands. The holes there remind you that He paid your debt. He paid all of your debt. All that is you is in the palms of His hands. Your person, your works, your temptations, your weaknesses, your wants, your everything is graven in His hands. There are those who believe that a Christian may be saved one day, lost the next – what utter foolishness! It was God Who engraved you on the palms of His hands. It was Infinite and All Knowing God Who engraved you – knowing all about you – on the palms of His hands. It was infinite and never changing God Who engraved mortal you on His immortal hands. The Scripture tells us:

Hebrews 1:10-12 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: {11} They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; {12} And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

Illustrate: The works of God’s hands shall perish when He Himself remains. And you, dear believer, are graven in the palms of His hands. Make a fist with me. What is protected? It is the palm of your hands. We are graven on God’s palms. One day Jesus shall return to rule and reign on this earth. He will smite the enemy with His fists, and we shall be with Him. Yet as He smites, we are protected. God’s Children by faith are always protected.

The three Hebrew Children were protected, though cast in a fiery furnace.
The Shepherd David was protected, though he charged a giant with a rock and a sling.
Gideon threshed wheat in hiding, yet God used him and 300 men to defeat the enemy.

When the Church came together and preached the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, it was not the strength of the Apostles nor the power of the 120 in the upper room that led many to salvation. It was that God’s people went into that upper room and prayed until the power of God came upon them. I’ll close with this text:

Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Let us not be discouraged, but trust in God and His power. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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