October 12 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” ~Isaiah 49:6

OLD TESTAMENT

While God’s people are getting an earful from the prophet about their immediate future, they’re also privy to staggering prophecies that paint a picture of a bigger, better, and brighter tomorrow than they can imagine. When Isaiah tells of events in the distant future, he’s speaking into a future still centuries and millennia in the making. The distant future is anytime after Isaiah’s time as prophet ends until Christ returns in glory. That means that the prophet is speaking your future too. God has a story to tell, a wonderful salvation drama that is still playing out.

God’s story started with creation. Then came chaos (the fall), but God refused to give up on creation. He called a people to be his own, and He chose Abraham to be their patriarch. He formed them into a community called Israel, which ironically, means “to struggle with God.” However, this community failed miserably. They were stubborn and rebelled from birth (Is. 48:8). This is where Isaiah entered the story with his prophecies, but we already know many of the details about what happened next. God still refused to give up on His community. He disciplined them using Babylon’s hand. And then, when they repented, He gradually began to restore them.

Thanks to the goodwill of Cyrus of Persia, many Israelites returned to their homeland under Ezra’s leadership beginning around 538 BC. Amidst the rebuilding of both city and culture, an unexpected restoration continued to play out. A child with the heritage of ancient and revered Israelite kings was born in Israel. As predicted, He was called Jesus (Savior), and He changed the story and made it bigger. “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6).

God formed a new, bigger community combining Jews and Gentiles. It is called “the church,” the called out people. We hail from all over the world, Jerusalem and Japan, Nairobi and New York City. Paul called us the new “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16.

Every time someone comes to Christ, a little more of Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. However, complete restoration and fulfilment will happen at the New Creation, when God’s beautiful autobahn stretches from sea to shining sea, through mountains and over valleys (note the language in Isaiah 49:11), straight to a new capital city—“the New Jerusalem,” where the “new Israel of God” will enjoy God together forever.

Until that day comes, we are preserved by God’s mercy for God’s glory! “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this [discipline you without destroying you]. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another” (Is. 48:11). He could declare Himself done with His stubborn people, including each of us, but He does not. Instead, He is patient, shows us mercy, disciplines us for our good, and then delivers us forever. Let us pause today and give Him praise. Let us petition Him for restoration both now and forever. Not because we deserve it, but because He is good.

NEW TESTAMENT

Paul concludes his letter to the church at Colossae by asking for prayer. He wants an open door for the proclamation of the gospel. What a prayer! A wide-open space for the gospel to pour through is something for which we should all pray. Pray that for your pastors. Pray it for your missionaries. Pray it for your church. Pray it for yourself. We must take advantage of every opportunity God sends our way to proclaim that good news, and we should respond to every person who opposes us or asks us questions with grace and goodness. God forbid that the way we handle opposition should discredit the faith we proclaim! We are a light to the nations. We must let the light shine brightly!


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.