Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.” Isaiah 49:1-4 ESV
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him. Psalm 22:22-24 ESV
Karen had one goal in life, and she had had it since she was a little girl. She wanted to be a teacher, and she wanted to teach children who lived in a poor neighborhood. These children might not have money for extra classes and activities, and sometimes they might not have nice clothes to wear or even enough good food to eat. But Karen knew that if she could help them get a good education, they would be able to have better lives when they finished school. So she worked very hard to teach them, but it wasn’t easy. Some of the kids had a hard time learning, and some were hungry or tired when they came to school and couldn’t concentrate. They also were quite often disrespectful or disobedient, and Karen had to work hard to teach them how to behave in school. She got very discouraged sometimes because she didn’t know if she was making much of a difference in their lives. It was only years later, when a few of her students came back to her and thanked her and told her how much she had helped them that she knew that her hard work had made a difference.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of a servant of the Lord, who would work hard to do what God had called him to do, but yet not always see if his work had made any difference. Isaiah spoke of God’s people Israel as the servant of the Lord, people that God had chosen long ago to do his work, and had prepared for their special place in the world. Isaiah compared them to a polished arrow and a sharp sword who might do great things in God’s hands. But God’s people felt discouraged, because they had become very weak and powerless. They didn’t know if they had accomplished what the Lord had meant them to accomplish, and all that they could do is leave things in God’s hands and let him work out his own purposes through them.
God used his people Israel to bring the promised Savior into the world. Jesus is God’s promised Savior, and he is the true servant of the Lord. Jesus came to bring us back to our Heavenly Father, but when he was put to death on the cross, it might have seemed as if everything he had come to do had been in vain. But Jesus knew that when he was dying on the cross, he was paying for the sins of the whole world, and he could leave everything in the hands of his heavenly Father. Jesus came out of the grave on the first glad Easter, and through him God accomplished his purpose to defeat sin and death forever and bring us into his heavenly kingdom.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working out your purposes for us through Jesus and his death and resurrection. In HIs Name, Amen.