Wednesday, February 14, 2024

2024.02.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 42:18–43:21

Read Isaiah 42:18–43:21

Questions from the Scripture text: What problem do the nations have in Isaiah 42:18? But who also has that problem in Isaiah 42:19-20? What is YHWH pleased to exalt in Isaiah 42:21? Who are not exalted in Isaiah 42:22? How does the Lord call the nations’ attention to this in Isaiah 42:23? Who punished Israel, so that they could not help the nations (Isaiah 42:24-25)? What had Israel done with the Lord’s Word (Isaiah 42:24d–e) and the Lord’s discipline (Isaiah 42:25d–f)? What solution is there for this helpless servant (Isaiah 43:1)? Who had created and formed them (verse 1a–b)? Why shouldn’t they fear—what else has He done (verse 1c)? How do verse 1d–e communicate the intimate/personal nature of this redemption? Through what will the Lord accompany and protect them (Isaiah 43:2)? Why, Who is God to them (Isaiah 43:3a–b)? And what has God done for them (verse 3c–d)? Why did He do this (Isaiah 43:4)? How is this a solution to their punishment (Isaiah 43:5-6)? For which Israelites, specifically, will He do this (Isaiah 43:7)? In light of this salvation for Israel, what does the Lord now say to do to the nations (Isaiah 43:8-9)? What are they unable to tell? Who alone can tell it (Isaiah 43:10a–d, Isaiah 43:12d–e)? Why only they—what other god is there (Isaiah 43:10e–f)? What other deliverer (Isaiah 43:11Isaiah 43:13)? What other evangelist (Isaiah 43:12a–b)? How will this become a solution for the exile (Isaiah 43:14-15)? When has He exerted power like this before (Isaiah 43:16-17)? What will the past redemption be matched by (Isaiah 43:18-20)? With what future result (Isaiah 43:21)?

Who can bring salvation to the nations? Isaiah 42:18–43:21 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these twenty-seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that only the God Who saves Israel can bring salvation also to the nations. 

A spiritual pandemic. The blind and deaf in Isaiah 42:18 are in the plural, referring to the other nations that are as ignorant as their gods (cf. Isaiah 41:21–23, Isaiah 42:17). But Israel, God’s servant (not to be confused with the future Servant of Isaiah 42:1ff), is also blind (Isaiah 42:19). They had God’s Word and works (Isaiah 42:20), but sinned against Him and disobeyed (Isaiah 42:24). So, the Lord has honored His law (Isaiah 42:21) and punished Israel for breaking it (Isaiah 42:22Isaiah 42:24-25). Now the nations are summoned to pay attention (Isaiah 42:24) to how it is not Israel who can save them but only Israel’s God.

A divine cure. God formed Israel out of redemption, when He brought them out of Egypt (Isaiah 43:1), and His future work will be similar. There are those elect ones whom He calls by His Name (Isaiah 43:7), and they are the object of His companionship and protection (Isaiah 43:2). Even when the nation as a whole is destroyed and exiled, the Lord never loses track of them, and gathers them to Himself in adopting love (Isaiah 43:3-6). As we hear Him say this, we mustn’t forget that this is an object lesson for the nations. For indeed, as we have been learning in Romans, God has elect among all the nations. And, His work in all of history is focused not upon the stumbling of those who are perishing but upon the riches of His mercy toward His elect, whom He is saving (cf. Romans 11:11). 

So, once again, the Lord summons the blind and deaf nations (Isaiah 43:8) and asks them if they can declare good, true news of salvation (Isaiah 43:9). Of course, they cannot. But Israel, who do have the word and redeeming works of YHWH, are witnesses of that good news of salvation (Isaiah 43:10a–d, Isaiah 43:12. He is Alpha and Omega (Isaiah 43:10e–f; cf. Isaiah 41:4, Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:17, Revelation 22:13). He is the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11).

The evangelistic duty of the healed. It turns out that the reason that the Lord had saved Israel in the manner that He had when He brought them out of Egypt (Isaiah 43:16-20, n.b. through the sea, path in the wilderness, water in the desert, protection from beasts) was that He had future work to do that would be similar (Isaiah 43:14-15). 

So long as the Lord’s redemption is not yet completed, we ought not to pine for past days of past redemptive work (Isaiah 43:18) but look forward to the new days of God’s ongoing, redeeming work (Isaiah 43:19). Ultimately, the Lord is redeeming for Himself a people who will worship Him (Isaiah 43:21). That is the story of all human history. That is your story, dear believer.

The world cannot tell themselves the good news of the one, true God, Who saves a people for Himself and His praise. You, who know Him, who have been saved by His might and His mercy—you are His witnesses. There is no other god, no other salvation. If the church is blind and deaf to the glory and gospel of God, then who will tell the nations? 

Praise be to God that He makes Himself the solution to her blindness and deafness. Even now, as we study this portion of Isaiah, may His Spirit renew our vision and our hearing to know Him Who saved us for Himself. And, may He loosen our tongues to speak His praise in worship to Him and in witness to the world!

Whom do you know that does not know where healing and salvation come from? But where do your own healing and salvation come from? So, who can tell those whom you know? What opportunities do you have to do so? Why should we expect great things for the future?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for our hard-heartedness to be forgetful of Your salvation. When we live in hopelessness or disobedience, we act as blind and deaf as the lost world. But You have mercifully and mightily redeemed us. Forgive us for how we have failed to witness about You to the world and to worship You for Your glory and Your gospel. And restore us to such witness and worship, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story” 

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