Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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What I like the most about this chapter is what it says about my two sons and one daughter, all young adults today. Perhaps the best known Isaiah verses claimed by parents around the world on behalf of their kids are Isaiah 49:24, 25. But I have resolved Isaiah 44:5 must be a close second. A morning not long ago, up early and concerned about one of our own, I happened to open my Bible to this chapter, and God spoke to me again about our three: “I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring” (v.3), and “one will say, ‘I am the Lords’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob;…by the name of Israel, and “another will write with [or on] his hand, ‘the Lord’s’” (v.5).

Years ago, I have written next to each of these three statements their names. Our oldest will say “I am the Lord’s.” Our middle son will call himself by the name of Jacob, which of course, is Israel, “the overcomer,” and our daughter will write that she belongs to the Lord. How often I claimed these statements on their behalf by the merits of Jesus Christ!

Even the rare expression Jeshurun, in verse 2, should speak to parents. The word refers to Jacob, and means straight or upright. The ending “un” is a diminutive of affection, like “my little Jacob.” It is not hard for us to envision a young mother turn to her sleeping baby and long for her to become an upright young woman. Neither it is difficult to imagine a middle age father on his knees till they ache, praying earnestly for his children, now away from home, imploring that they become people of integrity. This is how God Himself longs for us, His children, to turn out.

But there is more to Isaiah 44. This same God who promises to pour out His Spirit on our offspring clearly states that there is no one like Him (v.6), and one proof He gives is His ability to tell the future. “Who can proclaim as I do?” says God, “the things that are coming and shall come” (v.7). So specific is God about future predictions that a century and a half before the fact, He anticipated the role of Cyrus, the Medo-Persian general, in the take-over of Babylon, and the fact that Jerusalem would be inhabited again and the cities of Judah rebuilt once again! (vv.26-28).  More is coming on this point, tomorrow.

This is why it makes no sense to God that we could even think to turn away from Him, and worship idols. The description in verses 9 to 20 may give us a false sense of satisfaction. The Christian of today certainly would not shape an idol or mold an image to bow down to, to pray to, and to worship.  But don’t we? Today’s equivalent may be in the form of sports, or movies, or fantasies, or food, or drink, or any other accessible means of escape from the sometimes painful realities of life. To what or whom do we turn to when discouraged or depressed or defeated? Whatever is our source of comfort or escape has become our god-equivalent, our modern idol. And the Lord reminds “those who make an image,” that “all of them are useless” and amount to nothing (v.9).

However, it is out of nothing that God created this world. He is not only our Creator but also our Redeemer (v.24). He is here to help us. Let us lean on Him today and bring to Him our heavy hearts—all our burdens and cares. He made the universe. He can certainly deal with our problems.

Ron E M Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and Theology
Andrews University Seminary