In today’s passage there are two significant patterns intertwining. First, you’ll notice that there are quick scene changes between the LORD, the prophet, and the people – as though the three of them are taking turns on a stage, the spotlight shifting rapidly among them. At times the LORD is giving the words to repeat to Israel, as when He chastises them for their unfaithfulness: “Thus says the LORD:” in chapter 50, “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away?” At others, Israel responds back to the LORD, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”
And there are still other occasions when the prophet himself is speaking. Initially the prophet grieves to the LORD: “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity…” He later affirms His restoration, boldly proclaiming his commission to the people: “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word those who are weary… The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced… Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me…”
A second significant pattern is the interweaving of temporal concerns and what seems to be a more universal salvation. To Israel the LORD compares His love to that of a mother: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?” Furthermore, Israel’s restoration is no overwhelming task for the LORD: “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.”
But there is something yet more, for to the prophet the LORD declares: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to bring back the preserved of Israel. I will make you a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Something bigger than even the restoration of Israel is coming, and in time her borders “will be too narrow” for her inhabitants.
Our verse for this week is Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Isaiah 49 through 51. Now let’s read it!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”