Like a Sharp Sword
Isaiah 49:1-4 ESV
“Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
But I said, ‘I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.’”
Generally speaking, this passage of Scripture in Isaiah is understood to be one of the prophecies with regard to Jesus Christ as the Messiah. It has similar wording in it to Isaiah 42, 53 and 61, all of which are about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Much of the book of Isaiah is about Jesus Christ.
But this is not confined to just applying to Jesus Christ, but it applies in many ways to all of us who are his by faith in him, because he lives within us, and he lives his life out through us as we yield control of our lives over to him, and as we walk in obedience to his commands.
Jeremiah also wrote that the Lord called him from the womb, as did the Psalmist David, who wrote Psalms 139. And the Scriptures teach us that before God laid the foundations of the earth that he called us, and he chose us, and he predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Jesus’ mouth was made like a sharp sword, which is the Word of God, for since he is God, he spoke the very words of God. He is the living Word. And what he said cut through people’s hearts, and it convicted them of sin, and it called them to repentance and to obedient faith in Jesus Christ.
And that is why he was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows who was acquainted with suffering, because he confronted people in their sins, and he called them to leave their lives of sin behind them, and to die to their old way of living to follow him in obedience to his will and to his ways.
[Rom 8:29; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Eph 1:3-4; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11]
A Light for the Nations
Isaiah 49:5-6 ESV
“And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
‘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 as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”
Since Scripture teaches that we who are followers of Christ were formed by God in the wombs of our mothers, and that all the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came into being, and that God called us and chose us even before he formed the earth, we can safely say that God formed us in the wombs of our mothers to be His servants, too.
What Jesus was called to do in so many ways also applies to us. Yes, we are not called to die on a cross for the sins of the people of the world, but we are called to lay our lives down to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and to love others as Jesus loves us. And when we share the gospel, as Jesus shared the gospel, we are giving our lives to see others go free from sin.
Jesus Christ not only came to bring God’s people back to him, but he came to be a light for all nations, that God’s salvation might reach to the end of the earth. And, as followers of Jesus, we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to share the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.
And God calls us to encourage one another so that we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. And we are to speak the truth in love one to another to build one another up in our walks of obedient faith so that we are not led astray by deceitful workers who try to get us to follow after false teachings, and so that we will all reach maturity in Christ and unity in the faith.
[Matt 5:13-16; 1 Pet 2:29; Heb 3:13; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 5:11; Eph 4:1-16]
Isaiah 49:7 ESV
“Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
‘Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’”
Just as Jesus Christ was, so should we be. And if we are emulating him in walking in his footsteps, we will also be hated and despised and mistreated as he was, too. But God will use us for his glory because we will also be sharing the gospel and ministering to people in the name of Jesus.
And even if it feels sometimes like our work is in vain (see v. 4), it isn’t, for God’s word will never return void (empty), but it will accomplish that which our Lord purposes, and it shall succeed in the thing for which he sent it. So, even if we are not seeing much fruit for our labors, we must keep doing what our Lord did and what he has called us to do.
People will turn their hearts to Jesus Christ. People, even rulers, will bow down before him. Although they may not all do so now, hearts will be changed. Our labors will not be in vain. So, yes, we may have to endure suffering now for the sake of the gospel, but God will use it to bring people to faith in him. We just have to keep believing.
The Great Redeemer
Lyrics by Francis Foster, 1915
Music by Samuel W. Beazley, 1915
How I love the great Redeemer
Who is doing so much for me;
With what joy I tell the story
Of the love that makes men free.
Till my earthly life is ended,
I will send songs above,
Then beside the crystal sea
More and more my soul shall be
Praising Jesus and His love.
He has purchased my redemption,
Rolled my burden of sin away,
And is walking on beside me,
Growing dearer day by day.
That is why I sing His praises,
That is why joy is mine,
That is why forevermore
On the everlasting shore
I shall sing of love divine.
Glory be to Him forever!
Endless praises to Christ the Lamb!
He has filled my life with sunshine,
He has made me what I am.
Oh, that everyone would know Him,
Oh, that all would adore!
Oh, that all would trust the love
Of the mighty Friend above
And be His forevermore.
He is everything to me, to me,
He is everything to me,
And everything shall always be;
I will never cease to raise
A song of gladness in His praise;
Here, and in the world above,
My soul shall sing of saving love;
Life and light and joy is He,
The precious Friend who died for me.
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