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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2019.03.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 44:1-8

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 ▫ Read Isaiah 44:1-8
Questions for Littles: What does the Lord call Jacob in Isaiah 44:1? What does He call Israel? What does He command them to do in this verse? Who made Israel (Isaiah 44:2)? Who formed them from the womb? To whom does Jacob belong as servant? Who chose them as Jeshurun (the one He makes upright)? What command appears in this verse? What will the Lord do to thirsty one with water in Isaiah 44:3ab? Who does this Water turn out to be in verse 3c? What does it turn out to be in verse 3d? Who are the ones that are parched for the Spirit and blessing of God? What will be the result of the Spirit being poured out upon the descendants of God’s people (Isaiah 44:4)? How does this new life show itself in their words in their understanding of themselves in Isaiah 44:5a? Verse 5b? Verse 5c? Verse 5d? Whom does Yahweh declare Himself to be to Israel in Isaiah 44:6a? Whom does Yahweh of armies declare Himself to be to Israel in verse 6b? What does He declare Himself in verses 6c-d? What relationship does the Word of God have to history in Isaiah 44:7-8? How does He command them to respond in verse 8 (cf. Isaiah 44:2)? 
In this week’s Old Testament reading, we have one of the great passages of the hope of Israel. When the gospel introduced John as the way-preparer of Isaiah 40, they would have very much had in mind chapter 44 as well.

There had always been a true, spiritual Israel within outward covenant Israel—a remnant of the saved within the church (cf. Romans 9:1-13). But God had promised a day when He would pour out His Spirit like water to make a dry and dead and thirsty people into a people who are characterized by vibrant spiritual life (cf. Ezekiel 36:22-29, ff). Those great passages from Ezekiel 36 and Isaiah 44 were part of what was known as “the hope of Israel,” for which the people were waiting (cf. Luke 2:25, Acts 26:6, Acts 28:20). This is also why Jesus expresses shock that Nicodemus doesn’t understand what it means to be born of water and the Spirit (cf. John 3:5-10; John 7:37-39).

And we can understand why Jesus would be astonished. Aren’t these wonderful statements? The Lord takes us into His own service. He brings us as if “from the womb” as His own children. He makes us righteous ones (Jeshurun). He chooses us. He pours out His Spirit upon us like water. He is our Helper. He is our King. He is our Redeemer. And the One who is all these things to us is the only true and living God, the First and the Last, the One who ordains the end from the beginning, the only Rock from whom gushes rivers and floods of living water.

What is the result of the Lord’s declarations about who He is unto us, and what He does for us? What is the result of His pouring out His own Spirit upon us? Spiritual life that makes us to recognize ourselves as His. “I am Yahweh’s,” we say (Isaiah 44:5a). “I am the true Jacob,” we say (verse 5b). “My very identity is to belong to the Lord” (verse 5c). “I am a true Israelite,” we name ourselves (verse 5d).

This is the Spirit’s work within us, and this is our response to baptism, which has been announced since John as the pouring out to which they looked forward in Isaiah 44 and Ezekiel 36. God directs our confidence not to what we are or what we do, but precisely because in baptism He points us to His declaring us as His very own, so also in baptism, He directs us our confidence to be entirely into who and what He is, and what it is that He has done and promised to do!
In whose identity does your baptism tell you to find salvation? In whose work does it?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”

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