Isaiah 49 – Love Saves

Isaiah 49 Bible with Justin's White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Yesterday’s ChocolateJustin’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Yesterday’s PassageIsaiah 49

I obviously had a little trouble digging something to share out of Isaiah 49. It’s easy enough to summarize: God will use Israel to bring light and salvation to the whole world, and he hasn’t forgotten his people in their time of suffering and struggle. But you could get that from reading the chapter itself, and if that’s all I’ve got, you might as well read the chapter and skip my blog post. So I considered making a case that it’s a messianic passage. I could argue that the “servant” throughout the passage is an individual fulfilling God’s purposes for Israel, a representative of God’s chosen nation, not the nation itself. But I go looking for commentaries to jump-start my own commentary here, and, prefacing an exegetical outline from David Guzik, I find this quotation from Alan Redpath: “This chapter is full of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the words quoted could not possibly have their complete fulfillment in any other save in our Savior.” Consider your audience, Jackson: how many of ’em do you think are gonna contend that this passage doesn’t refer to Jesus Christ? Besides, we’ve been there already.

It’s hard to get in sometimes. But yesterday evening it occurred to me: if it really is all about love, if God is love, if the central message of the Bible is love, then what do we get when we read this passage in light of God’s love? We see the thread of salvation weaving through it. It’s a passage for “those who are bound…those who are in darkness” (49:9), those who live in “waste and desolate places and…destroyed land” (49:19), and having read the preceding forty-eight chapters of Isaiah, we know that’s Israel. And for Israel, God’s got a promise of relief: “They will not hunger or thirst, nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down” (49:10). There’s that theme of relieving the afflictions of the wasteland again, where the desert dehydrates but God overcomes the desert’s power and quenches thirst.  And it’s like that all through the passage: God overpowering his people’s bad spaces and bringing them good things. It’s salvation motivated by love.

On my second read-through today, a verse stuck out to me: “I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (49:6). To me, it reads like an echo of God’s covenant with Abraham, his promise that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Isaiah uses a different vocabulary to express it, “nations” instead of “families,” no explicit use of the word “blessing,” Israel as a light, God extending salvation over the face of the globe. But it’s the same idea wearing the words. God didn’t choose Israel to be the top of the heap, best race, kings of everything. He chose them to deliver something good from God to all of humanity. And I’d argue that, ultimately, that good thing is Jesus Christ.

 

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