Day 119 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Isaiah and Psalms.
Isaiah 42 – This passage is commonly referred to as the first “Servant Song” in Isaiah (42:1–9), and other such “songs” follow in 49:1–13; 50:4–11; and 52:13–53:12. In these texts, one who represents and sacrificially serves others emerges. Here, the suffering servant is most directly associated with Israel, but in a representative way (the entire nation represented in her king), the image can also point to an individual who is meant to represent the whole. The king was expected to represent Israel, and Israel was intended to be a blessing to the nations. Though far too often this had not been the case.
Filled with the Spirit, able to heal, and deeply concerned about justice, Jesus is recognized as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s expectation for God’s “servant.” Matthew picks up on Isaiah 42:1–4, making a direct link with Jesus (Matthew 12:17–21). Gentle yet powerful, this Servant is unflinching in His mission, and Matthew reminds us that He “brings justice to victory,” not by destroying the nations but by becoming the very hope of the nations.
Unfortunately, Israel too (and not just the nations) is “deaf” and “blind,” so how can this people be God’s representative servant? They are themselves “hidden in prisons”, so how can they set the captives free? How can Israel reveal God’s glory and deliverance when God’s people themselves have ignored what has been given them?
Only the promised Messiah, ultimately revealed in Jesus, the true servant of God and King of Israel, is able to overcome the predicament. Jesus stands in for God’s people, fully identified with them yet with one crucial difference: He is without any sin of His own (Hebrews 4:16).
Isaiah 43 – “Fear not, for I am with you.” The Redeemer extends His grace by self-identifying with His people even as they walk through their frightening trials: He is their Savior and their God. Israel was to serve as His “witnesses” that all gods and foreign powers stand under, not over, the Lord and their Savior. Israel’s Holy One is not simply the Maker of the world but “the Creator of Israel,” and thus He alone is their King.
Like God’s people in exile who heard this message, we need to be reminded that God can make a way when there is no way, “doing a new thing” so that all will sing His praise. In Jesus God is indeed (beyond anything Isaiah would have imagined) with us. His very name is Immanuel—“God with us” (Matthew 1:21–23).
Sadly, God’s patience and grace can be ignored or taken for granted. While God did not weigh the people down with religious requirements, they themselves “burdened” Him with their sins. God alone is the one who can wipe out our sins, but instead of repentance and faith, the people risked hardening their hearts and facing God’s chastisement. We guard against the same mistake, by reflecting on His unspeakable grace in the gospel, allowing our hearts to be refreshed, calmed, and softened.
How are you reminded to continue to turn to the Gospel for refreshment?
Isaiah 44 – Why turn to idols, which are mere human creations unable to defend themselves? Their designers are finite, themselves dependent on the true Creator. There is no god but Yahweh, who alone is “the first and the last” beyond all created things from which idols come. He knows and controls what they cannot. And so, He alone is the Rock upon which His people must rest, the refuge enabling them not to be afraid. Amazingly, this God has “chosen” and “formed” Israel, promising to sustain and bless her through the generations. God’s promise thus rings through the silence of exile: “O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.” The coming of Jesus Christ 700 years after Isaiah is proof of this.
There is a significant pattern here of redemption and return: “return to me, for I have redeemed you.” God promises remembrance, renewed righteousness, and redemption prior to Israel’s return from wayward paths. Undeserved deliverance, not mere command or conditional love, fuels repentance. As with the exodus preceding Sinai, here again God’s grace is extended to His people in their state of need, reminding us of the grace that is ours even before we return to Him—a grace that enables us to repent and rest in His deliverance. As the redeemed, we are liberated to follow our Lord’s commands. Our response does not secure God’s favor but flows from heartfelt gratitude for the provision of His grace.
How do you see God’s grace flowing through you?
Psalm 119:1-32 – The written Word of God stands as one of the greatest and most precious of all of God’s gifts to his people! Psalm 119 celebrates the wisdom, truthfulness, clarity, grace, direction, and power of this written revelation of God.
How do you see Jesus in these verses?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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