Wednesday, March 27, 2024

2024.03.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 49:14–50:11

Read Isaiah 49:14–50:11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who now speaks in Isaiah 49:14? What does he (they) claim? By what comparison does the Lord refute this in Isaiah 49:15? How constantly and intensely has He held them (Isaiah 49:16)? In what manner will the exile end (Isaiah 49:17)? How does Isaiah 49:18 describe the new ingathering of the sons of Zion? What is the land like at the time of the complaint (Isaiah 49:19a–b)? But what will it be like after that (verse 19c–d)? And what new complaint will Zion hear (Isaiah 49:20)? With what question will she react to this (Isaiah 49:21)? How does the Lord YHWH say the sons will come (Isaiah 49:22, cf. Isaiah 11:12)? Who will be their adoptive fathers (Isaiah 49:23)? And their wet nurses? In what manner will they join (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:25)? Why does Zion think this is so difficult—what ability and right do their captors have over them (Isaiah 49:24)? But how will this contest conclude (Isaiah 49:25-26)? By this deliverance/victory, what three things does YHWH display about Himself (Isaiah 49:26d–e)? What is the implied answer to the rhetorical questions in Isaiah 50:1? How does YHWH imply that their condition is not final? But how many have responded to His calling them back to Himself (Isaiah 50:2a–b)? What do they believe about the situation (verse 2c–d)? What should they have remembered (Isaiah 50:2-3)? Who is now speaking in Isaiah 50:4-9 (cf. Isaiah 50:10b)? How did He come to speak rightly/effectively (Isaiah 50:4-5)? How is His response to His suffering and humiliation different than Zion’s (Isaiah 50:5-6)? In addition to submissiveness, how does Isaiah 50:7 describe Him facing what He must suffer? In what is He confident (Isaiah 50:8-9, cf. 1 Peter 2:23)? What group is addressed now in Isaiah 50:10a? What do they do (verse 10b)? Even in what circumstances (verse 10c–d)? How (verse 10e–f)? What are others trusting in to turn back their darkness (Isaiah 50:11)? How will this end for them?

What is the solution to Zion’s lack of faith? Isaiah 49:14–50:11 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these twenty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God answers His people’s lack of faith with His own faithfulness and the perfect faith of the Servant, their Substitute. 

Wretched Unbelief against Wondrous LoveIsaiah 49:14-16. Against the backdrop of the plan to glorify the servant in redeeming Jacob and the nations (Isaiah 49:1-13), Zion’s self-pity (Isaiah 49:14) is revolting. But rather than crush, condemn, or even chasten them, behold the outpouring of love in the verses that follow. God’s love is more constant than that of a mother nursing her child (Isaiah 49:15). What v16 describes is not tattooing, but the imprint that God has made in His “palms” for (or perhaps “by”) the continual holding of Zion. 

An Inexplicably Large FamilyIsaiah 49:17-23. The Lord’s continual care for His people brings an end to the exile in Isaiah 49:17b–c. But, there’s such a focus on supplying Zion with her new children that first mention of it in verse 17a  precedes the deliverance in verse 17b–c. And these children are the main theme of Isaiah 49:18-23. The land that is empty and alone in the exile is pictured as bursting at the seams (Isaiah 49:19-20) with beautiful (Isaiah 49:18) children. The bereaved and barren (Isaiah 49:21c) mother doesn’t understand how it’s possible. And how  it is for the church as a whole is just how it shall be with you, dear Christian: blessedness beyond what you can imagine, opposite what you deserve—the ultimate display of the power and love of God.

And that display of power and love comes in the Servant (cf. Isaiah 49:1-13), the King Who draws all nations to Himself (compare the standard in Isaiah 49:22 with the banner in Isaiah 11:12). He’s the One Who gathers kings and queens of the nations into His people as guardians and nurses, glad to be lowly servants on their faces if they can be among the people of the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:25).

Stubborn Unbelief, Isaiah 49:24–50:3. Astonishingly, Zion questions whether they can be delivered from an enemy that has the power (Isaiah 49:24a) and the right (verse 24b) to hold them. The Lord asserts Himself against all of His people’s enemies (Isaiah 49:25-26). This is His chosen way of displaying Himself as the Savior, the Near-relative, the Mighty One. Israel is treating their alienation from God like it is final, but only God could have made it final, and He didn’t (Isaiah 50:1). So, when no one answers His call to be restored to Him (Isaiah 50:2a–b), He treats it as a denial and rejection of the power and sovereignty that He has displayed at events like the Exodus (Isaiah 50:2-3). 

Persevering FaithIsaiah 50:4-11. The song of the Servant stands in stark contrast to Zion’s halting, shrinking unbelief. The Servant submits to God’s Word, making His own mind and words righteous and effective (Isaiah 50:4, cf. Luke 2:52, Psalm 40:6, Hebrews 10:5–9). Rather than self-pity, He submits Himself perseveringly to whatever trial glorifies God (Isaiah 50:5), even suffering torture and the most shameful humiliation (Isaiah 50:6), because He trusts that the Lord will ultimately vindicate Him (Isaiah 50:7-9, cf. 1 Peter 2:23). He is exactly the opposite of how unbelieving Zion have conducted herself throughout this passage. 

Christ is the Man of perfect faith, and when we believe in Him, He and His faith are counted on our behalf (cf. Hebrews 2:13). If we fear YHWH (Isaiah 50:10a) and obey Jesus (verse 10b), then  even in the midst of darkness where we cannot see the light (verse 10c–d), we must trust in the Name of YHWH (verse 10e) and rely upon Him (verse 10f) in conformity to Christ. The greatest folly is to hope in any of our own doing (Isaiah 50:11).

What situations seem most dire to you? But what must the Lord be doing for you, in them, based upon His character and His promises? What hope is there for people whose faith is weak like ours is? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have inscribed us upon the palms of Your hands, and You make all things work together for our good. But we have wickedly thought that we were forsaken and that our predicaments were too difficult. When You call, we are slow to answer because we do not esteem Your saving power like we should. But Christ has perfectly submitted Himself and trusted You in our place. Forgive us for His sake, and count Him as our righteousness, we ask, through His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP40A “I Waited for the LORD” or TPH352 “Man of Sorrows, What a Name”

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