Updated: Jun 8, 2022
The Holy Scripture means what it says. It is accurate at the time it is written, and for all eternity it will remain accurate. By study and observation, we learn that God is always the same and that human nature doesn’t change. Revelation chapter one verse 8 reads, “ I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come.” Each word God gives to mankind is like tossing a pebble in a pond. The prophetic Word of God ripples across our hearts and minds and allows us to see the pattern of God’s grace and the cycles of man’s rebellion over time and through varying events. Starting where the rock lands, the ripples reveal to us the lessons of greater and more severe judgments that follow over generations. People will say that the Bible is an ancient book and not relevant to our circumstances today. As students of God’s Word, we recognize that the Bible is a timeless book, and its Holy Spirit inspired pages are applicable immediately in every time and circumstance. King Solomon said,” there is nothing new under the sun.” With each passing generation, the same sinful nature and the same strife of living apart from a dedicated relationship with God continues. God remains loving, merciful, patient, and long-suffering to his creation. His promises never fail and his plan of salvation always works.
In our last lesson, we discussed how the Babylonian nation was used by God to carry out punishment on Israel by taking them captive and by the destruction of Soloman’s Temple. Although God used the nature and disposition of this empire to accomplish His will, He would also punish them for their willing and evil actions. It’s a hard concept to understand, God does allow evil nations and evil men to commit sinful acts, and, incomprehensibly, He uses their behavior to bring about the good He will accomplish in the world. God never causes anyone to do evil, but He works all things, including the actions of the wicked, to the good of those who love and serve Him. In God’s economy, nothing is wasted, redemption is always the plan, and judgment always follows disobedience.
In this week's lesson, God reminds us that the only hope for true deliverance comes through the Messiah yet to come. This promised Deliverer and Savior of Israel will set things right, and bring redemption to all captives and freedom through faith. God does not choose to do this because the nation of Israel is better than any other nation. It is not because they are smarter, stronger, or more special. All of this is done to show the greatness, goodness, and loving-kindness of God. He desires to restore us to a right relationship with Him. Prayerfully study with us and see that the promises made over 100 years before the captivity of the Kingdom of Judah/Israel, were fulfilled completely and exactly as they were prophesied. Also, as the ripples continued through the ages, God sent his Son, “when the fullness of time had come,” to conquer sin, hell, and the grave and to rescue all who would put their trust in him from captivity in sin. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever more.”
49 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
It had been a long time since Adam and Eve strolled with their Creator in the cool of the evening. Years of building separation and sin had hidden His face from them. Not only is this announcement being made to the scattered people of Israel, but He’s also calling all mankind living in the farthest reaches of the Earth. The announcement of the coming of the Messiah was first made known to a single individual, Mary. At His birth, all the hosts of Heaven gathered on a hillside to proclaim the good news of His arrival. As He grew the Father thundered from Heaven on more than one occasion that “this is my beloved Son.” Jesus, the great redeemer, was God long before His birth. God speaks to the nation of Israel to tell them that He has hidden nothing from them and has declared from the beginning His plan to send a redeemer. In Genesis, the promise of redemption is first made. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3: 14-15)
The Lord did in fact identify the Messiah from the womb. His name was announced well before his birth. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
In other scriptures, it is called a sharp two-edged sword that is able to cut to the very intent of one’s heart. The imagery is of surpassing weaponry, but also of power that is hidden. Jesus had all the power of the godhead in bodily form, and yet all that power was kept under perfect control. When He came to Earth, He came for one reason, Calvary. He didn’t surrender His authority, He didn’t stop being God, but He was mindful of His mission. Phillipians chapter two states, Philippians
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’
When he was 12 years old Jesus was separated from His parents and in the temple about His father’s business. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (Luke 2:46-49)
Nothing much scripturally is said about His early years other than he grew in favor with God and Man. In the shadow of God’s hand, protected, and somewhat hidden, He grew until His time was right.
3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. There is speculation as to why God calls him Israel. Through the line of Jacob, whose name was changed by God to Israel, which means “Triumphant with God” or “governed by God,” Jesus would be born. Through God’s chosen people, the word of God was given on Mount Sinai, and through God’s people Israel the Word of God in fullness was born, our Savior Jesus Christ. The genealogy in Matthew makes it clear that had the nation been right with God and secure in its power, Jesus would have been born the rightful King of Israel, on the throne of David. As a matter of fact, when He comes again, that’s exactly the place that He will choose to reign because He is the King, whose kingdom will never end.
4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.5 And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Is it possible that the Messiah, Jesus himself, could have become discouraged in His work during His ministry? We should remember that He was in all ways tempted as we are yet without sin. Many commentators do not think the “labor in vain or strength for naught” refers to Jesus. However, It would make sense that he might at times have gotten discouraged, and yet Jesus did not give in to that discouragement or allow it to keep Him from His mission. For example, He wept because of the unbelief at Lazarus’ grave. How do I know that? Because the scripture tells us that (John 11:42). Think of how many times He said to His disciples “Oh ye of little faith” and when He taught in parables but they could not grasp what He meant. Think of having to rebuke Peter as Satan because He obviously did not understand that the cross and resurrection in three days was necessary.
Jesus is always obedient to God the Father and it has always been the heart of God that Jacob (the deceiver) and all of His descendants physical and spiritual be restored to God. He is a light to the Gentiles. This redemption is for all people. All have access to salvation through Jesus Christ. For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11: 25-27) Note that the gentiles needed salvation and light. This messiah would not only bring light, belief, and faith in His name, but salvation.
7 Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
Did we read this right? Man will despise Him and nations will abhor Him? Rejected? A man of sorrows? These verses were confusing to the Leaders of Israel. How could anyone reject the Messiah? He was promised to be triumphant and save His people from the afflictions of other nations; not be despised and abhorred. Jesus is both. In His first coming He shows us the Lamb, “slain before the foundation of the world.” There is a day to come when He shows us the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. In the end, the Messiah is worshiped by all. “ Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.” For now, not only does the world, those who operate in power on the earth who disregard the Lordship of Christ, hate Jesus, they hate His followers, as well. You stand between them and their plans for ruling the world by their own will.
8 Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves.
In a darkened jail cell awaiting execution, John the Baptist shouted questions to His followers that He wanted them to ask Jesus, and Jesus answered his cries. Matthew chapter 11:
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Yes, He is the one. The Messiah had arrived. He freed prisoners of sin and sickness. Gave sight to the blind and cast out demons. As the people with leprosy had to show themselves to the high priest to be declared clean, all those touched by Jesus show the world that He can make diseased men well and dead men alive for all eternity.
9 They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
With regard to the return of Israel from Babylonian captivity, God says He will see to their needs, provide water, protect, and guide all that want to return to Jerusalem. We know from other scriptures that not all that went into captivity would choose to return. Some died in Babylon. Some married and assimilated into the Babylonian culture. Some left but did not travel back to Jerusalem; they set up houses in other countries. Here is a ripple on the pond… this text is a picture of people from all over the earth coming into the Kingdom of God. We’re told in scripture that Christ will come back to rule for 1000 years on this earth. Another ripple, this is what it will be like when God allows us to live with Him in a New Heaven and a New Earth for all eternity.
13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.14 But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
Israel’s question is an ironic one. They want to know if God has forgotten them, in fact, it is they that have forgotten God and rejected Him. It is human to entertain the thought that God is not with us, God does not care about us, If God was good He wouldn’t allow this..etc. Such graceful, heartfelt, and powerful words are given in response. He has not forgotten, we are His children, and our names are written in the palms of His hands. His protection surrounds us. This is a choice section of scripture. He still loves Israel, He loved them before, during, and after they received the inevitable consequences of their actions. He extends mercy and promises comfort to them. He does the same for each of us. He asks an interesting question. Can a woman forget her unweaned child? As unthinkable as it is, she can. But God never will. The promise is that God will not forget the nation He has brought forth. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our own. Mankind will fail you. God will not. The most loving words in this lesson are that He has their names graven upon the palms of His hands. He has conquered all the wrongs, paid for all the sin, and set the record straight with the nail marks in His precious hands.
It takes very little effort to find yourself spiritually miles away from God, to focus on yourself, your problems, your fulfillment, and your abilities, and ignore the word of God. Just stay home from church, after all, you are really busy. You don’t have time to pray, you’ll be late for work, and, after all, God knows all about it anyway. Follow this recipe to find yourself miserable, powerless, and your life in ruins. You might even find yourself calling out, “God have you forgotten me?” God is faithful. We are unfaithful. Set your priorities straight. When God is your first relationship, your first interest, your first love, all the other overwhelming and looming demands of our lives have to bow in surrender to His authority. Lay it all down, and put yourself in the hands of the one who has written your name there.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!