Lord, enlarge my capacity to hear and discern Your voice.
Read ISAIAH 51:1–16
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
4 “Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
Instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.
7 “Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
or be terrified by their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
my salvation through all generations.”
9 Awake, awake, arm of the Lord,
clothe yourself with strength!
Awake, as in days gone by,
as in generations of old.
Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,
who pierced that monster through?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?
11 Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
human beings who are but grass,
13 that you forget the Lord your Maker,
who stretches out the heavens
and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;
they will not die in their dungeon,
nor will they lack bread.
15 For I am the Lord your God,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord Almighty is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth
and covered you with the shadow of my hand—
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears” (Isa. 50:4,5).
What is the message the servant hears from God and conveys to the faithful remnant? It is a threefold call to intentional listening (1,4,7) to the voice of their Sovereign Lord, not to the noisy, popular but misguided voices around them.
First, those who are discouraged because only a small number are faithful to God are told to listen to the God of their past (1–3). What does history teach them? When God called Abraham and Sarah they were childless and even in the end they had only one son in whom to rejoice. However, God promised he’d make that one man a great nation—and so he did. Small beginnings do not prevent great futures.
Second, those who have lost confidence in their God-given role in the world are told to listen to the God of their future (4–6). If only they’d lift up their heads and look beyond their present circumstances, they’d see the remarkable and surprising future God has in store for them. They themselves would soon be rescued and would again become agents of instruction and enlightenment to the world. Righteousness and justice would radiate globally from them. They are far from being pensioned off.
Third, those suffering because of their loyalty to God are told to listen to the God of their present (7,8). Seen from God’s viewpoint, their tormentors are as vulnerable as our garments are to the ravishes of hungry moths and starving worms; they wouldn’t last. Only God’s salvation “will last forever.”
The message of the servant inspires them to pray urgently for God’s intervention, so they plead for him to “Awake, awake” (9) and repeat the mighty acts of salvation he’d done “in days gone by” (9–16). That’s still worth praying! The best prayers always arise when we listen to God first.
What does it mean in practice for you to listen to God? How much do you do so?
Lord, we look to You to repeat for us the wonders You did in times past. As You comforted Zion (3), comfort us, too.