Reader: “You will be a light to guide the nations.”
Response: “You will open the eyes of the blind.”
Scripture: Isaiah 42:5-9
God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out.
He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
“I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to anyone else,
nor share my praise with carved idols.
Everything I prophesied has come true,
and now I will prophesy again.
I will tell you the future before it happens.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In light of the events of yesterday’s passage, Isaiah’s words are particularly interesting. In this section, Isaiah is referring to a servant even greater than Moses. Since Moses was the greatest, this reference to a greater one yet must be the Messiah, God’s servant. The earlier part of the psalm establishes this identity. This part of Isaiah’s message appeals to the very beginning of time: God, the creator of all that is in existence, the vastness of the heavens, the wonder of earth’s creation, and the gift of breath and life to all peoples. This same covenant making God has given his servant to guard and guide his chosen people, Israel. Now to the connection with yesterday’s passage.
Israel needed to see that their God of the Covenant was to be revealed to the rest of the nations [Gentiles]. They were to recognize and follow God’s servant as he shone the light of God to the rest of the whole world. He would open the eyes of the spiritually blind and free those spiritually imprisoned by sin. God offered redemption through this servant. The glorious God was sovereign!
What is interesting to me is that Peter and the other disciples and the other first Jewish believers missed this. The First Testament clearly teaches that the God of Israel was to be a God for all the nations. For example Psalm 67 couldn’t be clearer. “May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you, O God.”
The great truth escaped their minds because the thinking was one needed to become a Jew first before following Christ. Circumcision, following the law both the dietary and ceremonial were necessary precursors to embracing Messiah in the Hebrew mind. Discussions, meetings, and councils dealing with this question took place in the book of Acts (21). The Cornelius/Peter encounter was part of the evidence in the discussions as the Jewish leadership began to grasp the growing dynamic understanding of the mission of God’s kingdom on earth.
And once again we ask the question, where does this passage fit into your life today? I have to wonder in what way are we like the first Jewish Christians in that we fail to see the full impact of the scope of the kingdom of God. What parts of the Christian faith do we misunderstand? Are there certain kinds of people or groups of individuals we ignore because their values or life-style are repulsive to us? Without trying to lay guilt on us, I wonder who the “Romans” or “Samaritans” are in our lives. I’m not saying we have them; I am saying it would be remarkable if we had a perfect perspective on who our neighbors are. Our faith was never meant to be static. The Lord continues to nudge his children off center throughout the Scriptures. That hasn’t changed. Where are you being nudged?
Music: “Psalm 67” by Charles Ives BBC Singers A little unusual!
This psalm is known as the “missionary” psalm. In this musical setting, the women are singing in the key of C major and the men are in the key of g minor at the same time! In my mind, this is a musical expression to convey the breadth of God’s calling of all the nations of the world to embrace his everlasting kingdom.
Gracious Lord, all too often I am captive to my own perceptions of you. I’ve walked with you for years and find it easy to slip into a spiritual “neutral.” Truthfully, I’m not sure how often I actually listen for your voice. May I not become a stubborn or dull “Israelite.” Whether I have a vision or not, Lord, let me be ever tender to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Please keep me off center and trusting in you. The times we live in these past months have certainly shaken things up. Open my heart to see more clearly as you see. And give to me the courage to do what you show me to do. Draw me close Father, and may I learn to be very content in uncertainty, knowing you live in me. These things I pray in the name of Jesus, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp