(5) And now this is what YHWH says,
He is the one who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
To restore Jacob to him,
And gather Israel back to him.
I will be honored in YHWH’s eyes,
And my God will be my strength.
(6) But he said,
“It’s too small a task for you to be my servant,
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And return the survivors of Israel.
I have also appointed you a light to the nations,
To carry my salvation to the ends of the earth.
(7) This is what YHWH, Israel’s redeemer and Holy one says,
To one who is deeply despised,
To one that the nations abhor,
To the slave of rulers:
“Kings will stand up when they see you,
and princes will bow down to you,
Because of YHWH, who is faithful,
The Holy one of Israel, who has chosen you.” — Isaiah 49:5-7
We’re in the season of Lent now, and I’m focusing on the way in which Jesus transforms things. What looked like something terrible becomes something great, what looked hopeless becomes hopeful, and what looked pitiful and useless becomes the most important thing around.
Isaiah 49:7 talks a bit about Israel. Despised, abhorred, slave. Not exactly the set of characteristics you’d put on your resume. â€œDespised, abhorred slave seeks position as world coordinator, giving orders to presidents, prime ministers, kings, and princes. Currently in exile, has no country, lost the last one to invasion because of malfeasance in office.â€ Nope! That’s one of the resumes that hit the circular file by the desk. We need someone with a proven track record of ruling large countries, diplomatic and military experience, and ability to get along with others.
But here’s Israel, God’s servant being called. Now as Christians we believe that parts of these prophecies are fulfilled through Jesus. Some of them will yet be fulfilled at his second coming. But the people who are being addressed at this point are the Israelites, and specifically Israelites who are in exile at the moment, without country, without leadership, without hope.
But I left one thing off of that resumeâ€”they have God, the Holy One of Israel. They may be despised and look useless. They may have no other claim to fame. But God chose them, formed them from the very start, and God is going to make use of them now. â€œIt’s too little,â€ he says, â€œfor you to restore Israel. You’re going to be a light to the entire world.â€
I’m going to revisit this topic in another devotional to talk about some attitudes that are necessary, but right now that is the one thing that we need to take to heart. All things are possible with God. But even more, when we have found the impossible thing, and convinced ourselves that God can do it for us; we need to listen for God’s idea of what can be done.
Listen for the voice of God today. Is he telling you that not only can he do that impossible thing you’re asking, but that he has even greater plans?