1. A Light to the Gentiles
Throughout his writing, Isaiah says many incredible things. He prophecies the future and relays God’s message to the entire region. But one section stands out even among all of these amazing feats.
“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." -Isaiah 42:6-7
These two particular verses are so extremely important because the “you” God is directly talking to isn’t us. In fact, it isn’t even Israel. The “you” he is directly speaking to is the future messiah: Jesus.
When God says “to be a covenant for the people”, He is talking about the promise that Jesus will take on the sin of the entire world and die, so others may live. In doing this, Jesus will “free captives from prison” and “release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
2. Cartoon Song.
In Isaiah 43, Isaiah tells Israel to get ready and prepare their courage because he was going to take them from Babylon back to their home. While this would seem to be a cause for celebration and praise, to many Israelites this was an intimidating prophecy. In between the land of Babylon and Israel lay hundreds of miles of wilderness filled with wild beasts and danger!
Isaiah goes on to address this fear by relaying God’s message:
"The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise." -Isaiah 43:20-21
In these two verses, we can pull out two separate messages. The first is a very practical and relevant message to Israel. It was God saying, “Yes, you will have to go through the wilderness, but I created the wilderness and I control the wilderness. You will be safe.”
This was God directly addressing what was on the hearts of many of His people. However, there is another message that I believes carries more of an enduring weight. Verse 20 speaks of how the animals honor God. By this point in Isaiah, it has been made clear that we cannot say the same thing about God’s people. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Not only has Israel not honored God, but they have rejected him, placing idols and false gods before Him.
God points the paradox of this out in verse 21 when He hammers home the point that Israel is “my chosen” and “people I formed for myself” so “they may proclaim my praise.” How upside down is this? The wild beasts are honoring God, but His chosen people who He uniquely created to honor Him don’t!
This reminds me of a song from my childhood, “The Cartoon Song” by Chris Rice. The entire song is linked below, but to briefly summarize the plot, Rice uses all kinds of cartoons and children’s characters to sing hallelujah to God. In the closing lines Rice sings a message that is directly related to these verses:
Now, there’s a point to this looney-tune
I’m not an Anamaniac
But there’s a lot of praisin’ to do
And cartoons weren’t made for that
It’s our God
So, let’s sing hallelujah!
3. A Most Amazing Prophecy
Prophecies are amazing things. When you read through the book of Isaiah, you come across countless numbers of them. Some of them have come true. Some of them have yet to pass. Some of them can be explained away as predictions made by observations of the time. However, some prophecies are truly astonishing.
While other prophecies may be more important (I mean, how can you top prophesying about Jesus), perhaps the most jaw-dropping prophecy in the Bible comes in Isaiah 45 and speaks of a man who will lead Israel out of Babylon and back home.
"“This is what the LORD says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut” -Isaiah 45:1
So God is telling everyone that this king is going to be awesome, great, and free Israel from Babylon. Great right? But how is this possibly the most astonishing prophecy in the Bible? Skip down to verse 4 and read on.
“For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me." -Isaiah 45:4
God is calling Cyrus by name to do this! Still not impressed? What’s the big deal with God saying Cyrus’s name?
What if I told you this prophecy was made over 200 years before it came to pass?
Let that sink in. God prophesied about this king 200 years before the events actually happened. He not only stated what would happen, but who would do it.
And just to add sprinkles on top of all of this (because sprinkles are for winners!), Cyrus wasn’t even an Israeli. He wasn’t one of God’s chosen people. He would become the King of Persia. God chose to anoint and pour out his spirit on the Persian king. God chose to bless him and wanted Cyrus to deliver His people to freedom.
There! Now you can be impressed.
What did you think? What stood out to you this week during your time in The Word? Let us know!