God’s Inclusive Plan
As you pray, give God your sincere thanks that he has included you in his family as his beloved child.
Read Isaiah 49:1-26
 Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.  He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.  He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”  But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  And now the LORD says- he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength-  he says: “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 my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  This is what the LORD says- the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel- to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”  This is what the LORD says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,  to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.  They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.  I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up.  See, they will come from afar- some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan.”  Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.  But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”  “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.  Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.  Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.  “Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away.  The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’  Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these-where have they come from?'”  This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.  Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”  Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives be rescued from the fierce?  But this is what the LORD says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.  I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow does God express his great love for his people (15,16)?
The people of Israel had changed address, but they had not yet changed allegiance. They had been brought out of Babylon (48:20) but they still needed to be brought back to God. The first six verses represent the words of one we’ll call the Servant of the Lord. We have heard of the Servant previously in Isaiah 42:1-4. With our 21st-century perspective we know that the Servant is Jesus himself. What we are reading here is Jesus’ own account of his commission from God. Stop for a moment and consider how amazing it is that we are able to read this. The first part of the Servant’s job is to restore the people of Israel to their relationship with God (5). But it doesn’t end there. God also wants the Servant to call all the people of the world back to him (6). That includes Gentiles–people like me, who were not originally part of God’s chosen people. The remainder of the passage is a glorious description of the restoration of God’s people: families will be reunited (22); barren fields will produce food (9); mountainous problems will turn into expressways of possibility (11). It’s a reassertion of God’s inclusive promise.
Thank God that, in his love, he has so graciously included everyone in his amazing plan–even you and me.
O Lord, how very loving and gracious You are! I thank You for Your Son, Jesus, who achieved our great salvation.