Reader: “I have set my face like a stone,”
Response: “determined to do his will.”
Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-9a
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
and I have listened.
I have not rebelled or turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me
and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face
from mockery and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.
He who gives me justice is near.
Who will dare to bring charges against me now?
Where are my accusers?
Let them appear!
See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side!
Who will declare me guilty?
Reader: “This is the troubling word of God.”
Response: “Lord, have mercy.”
These have been and are tumultuous times. Since I write these devotionals well ahead of the day you actually read them, I’m always a little curious if the problems that are apparent today will be solved by the time you read this. My guess is not! I sense there is a fair amount of fear among the people around us due to so many uncertainties in regard to the health situation and political unrest. Isaiah has a great input for our hearts and minds.
He uses the words “Sovereign LORD.” Supreme rank, power, authority or monarch are words used to describe sovereign. Isaiah knew that no being was higher than the Sovereign LORD. (Note the letters of LORD=YHWH). What Isaiah pens that follows are God’s words of wisdom and comfort for the weary and also words for people in our day. How many times have you heard or felt, “I’m so tired and weary of all this anger, rancor and vitriol. What’s wrong with people? Can’t we have some peace?” The answer may surprise you, but Isaiah spells it out. “Morning by morning he [the Sovereign LORD] wakens me and opens my understanding to his will! Have you ever thought that it is God who wakes you up in the morning? To gain perspective on reality, try this every day. When you wake up, before you do anything else say, “Good morning, LORD.” . . . as opposed to “Good Lord, it’s morning!” Then ask the Lord to “open your understanding to his will for you today.” When you start the day in dialogue with God, everything else comes into focus, and you gain God’s perspective. The next sentence underscores this truth. The Sovereign LORD speaks; this is a two way communication. (This is also the reason the emails go out at 5:00 AM. I’m hoping you are interacting with the Lord through these devotionals the first thing in the morning if possible.)
This section of the book concerns the suffering servant, Isaiah, but the parallels with Jesus’ own experience are too close to be coincidental. The beating, the pulling out of his beard, the mockery and spitting upon him are all a description of Jesus’ experience at the hands of the Romans.
There is also the powerful phrase “I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will.” Some translations use the word “flint” instead of “stone,” the idea being something extremely hard, immoveable, unbreakable. The same phrase was used of Jesus’ determination as the time drew near for his return to heaven (Luke 9:51). We see in Isaiah and later in Jesus, the absolute commitment to doing the will of the Father and the complete assurance of complete vindication. Their greater concern was in doing the Father’s will. In Isaiah’s words, “I have not rebelled or turned away.” And “Who will declare me guilty?” Answer? No one. My enemies are destroyed.
Here again we have in the First Testament a prophetic description, an Isaiah shadow, which finds complete fulfillment in Jesus Christ. “Truly, truly,” I say unto you, the Scriptures are a unified book with one glorious message from the Sovereign LORD who wakes us each morning wanting to talk about his plans for our day. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
Music: “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted” Fernando Ortega and Quintessence Ensemble
Bonus: “What Wondrous Love Is This” Chelsea Moon and Franz Brothers
-Appalachian folk hymn
What wondrous love is this,
O my soul, O my soul
What wondrous love is this, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this,
That caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse
for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life―to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth…I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message…Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!―Jesus praying for us, from John 17