“Have I no power to deliver?” (Isaiah 49-53)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 49-53

The focus of today’s devotional commentary will be Isaiah 49; however, permit me a moment to highlight the other chapters in today’s Scripture reading.

Isaiah 50 promises the LORD will not abandon His people. Isaiah 51 is an exhortation for God’s people in Babylonian captivity to remember God’s covenant promises made by the LORD (51:1-2). Although the Jews were captives in Babylon and the city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, God had not forgotten His people or His promises (51:3-23)!

The prophetic setting for Isaiah 52:1-12 is the Babylonian captivity. Isaiah prophesies how the LORD will stir the hearts of His people to return to their homeland. Isaiah 52:13-14 gives us a prophetic portrait of the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Isaiah 53 continues the portrait of God’s suffering “servant” that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s sorrows (53:1-3), suffering (53:4-9), and sacrificial death on the cross (53:10-12).

Isaiah 49 – God’s Love for His People

I believe the prophetic setting of Isaiah 49 is the Millennial Kingdom after Christ’s Second Coming and it is He who speaks to the “isles” (a metaphor for the Gentile nations – 49:1).

What are some things we learn about Christ in Isaiah 49?

Before the Messiah would be born, His mission was determined by the LORD Who called Him by name when He was yet in His mother’s womb (49:1b). The LORD would put the Word of God in His mouth that would be like a “sharp sword” (49:2; Revelation 1:16). He would be the LORD’S servant to Israel for the purpose that God might “be glorified” in Him (49:3).

The Messiah would come first to the Jews (49:5; Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; Acts 3:25-26). Christ would then turn to the Gentiles (49:6b; Acts 13:46-47; Romans 1:16).

The coming Messiah would be despised and rejected (49:7a); however, when He comes a second time, He will be honored as one that “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” (49:7b).

God will not forget His chosen people and the heavens will rejoice and the people will be comforted (49:13). Many will despair during the Babylonian captivity and will say, “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (49:14).

Isaiah describes God’s enduring love for Israel in three portraits (49:15-15:1).

The first portrait of God’s love is a mother’s love for her nursing son (49:15-23). Like a loving mother who will surely not forget her infant son, the LORD promised, “they [a nursing mother] may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (49:15). The LORD assures Israel, I will not forget you for “I have graven thee [lit. engraved you] upon the palms of my hands” (49:16a).

Isaiah 49:17-21 describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people. Many will die in the overthrow of Judah and the captivity; however, the Jews will remain a distinct people in Babylon. When the time comes for the people to return from captivity to their homeland, the number who return will be so great they will need more land (49:19-21).

Isaiah 49:22-23 is a prophetic picture of the latter days before Christ’s Second Coming. The twentieth century witnessed the beginning of this prophecy when Israel was reconstituted as a nation (1948), and the Gentile nations of the world were stirred to transport the Jews to their homeland (49:22).

Isaiah 49:22 – “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring [carry] thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried [borne; taken] upon their shoulders.”

The second portrait of God’s love for Israel is that of a mighty, courageous warrior (49:24-26).The LORD will save His people (49:24), cause their enemies to turn on one another (49:25), and will be their LORD, Savior, and Redeemer (49:26).

A loving, forgiving husband is the third portrait of God’s love for Israel (50:1-3). Under the law, a husband was permitted to divorce an adulterous wife (50:1). Israel and Judah; however, had broken their covenant with the LORD, and it was they, not the LORD, who sold themselves as slaves of sin (50:1b). God had not divorced or put away His people.

In spite of their sins, the LORD promised He had not forsaken them and He had the power to redeem them (50:2-3).

Lesson – The same God who had the power to “dry up the sea” (i.e. Red Sea – Exodus 14:1-13) and “clothe the heavens with blackness” (50:3; Exodus 20:21) asks: “Have I no power to deliver?” (50:3).

There are times we feel as though the LORD has forgotten or abandoned us. We begin to feel unloved, downcast, discouraged, and alone. Be assured, the LORD has not forgotten or forsaken you! He asks, “Have I no power to deliver?” (50:3). He is waiting for you to turn your thoughts to Him.

Isaiah 43:1b – “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith