The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study
Chapter 49: The Messiah's Mission
by I Gordon
 ↩ People talk about faith just being a 'leap in the dark'. But it is not a total leap in the dark for God has given proof in His word. He has given proof of His word, His nature and His salvation by these prophecies. He has given us clues throughout His word written hundreds of years in advance! My friends little girl has a board game called 'Guess Who' - you probably all know this game. You have a board full of different characters and you have to determine which one your opponent has picked by asking different questions. As you progress on you can eliminate them all by the questions that you ask until only one character is left. You narrow down all the options until you know who the true identity is. Well, God has given clues right throughout His word as to who the Messiah is. And if you follow those clues you too will find that there is only one candidate - you can know His identity! In this passage in Isaiah 49 we shall see some of those clues and get a glimpse once again of Jesus' character and ministry... 700 years in advance!
 ↩ Jesus means 'Yahweh is Salvation'. Gabriel went on to say 'For He will save His people from their sins'. This was in fulfilment of the Isaiah verse before us - that 'From the body of my Mother, He named Me'.
 ↩ I remember when I first started reading the Bible before I was a Christian. It was my first year at university and I started reading in the book of Matthew. And the words of Jesus especially just cut right to my heart. There were certain things that stood out. I remember reading that 'If you look at a woman with lust after her you have committed adultery in your heart '. That just really got me. I remember reading 'He who is not for Me is against Me and He who doesn't help gather, scatters'. That was like a sword to the heart! I couldn't say that I was for Jesus as I wasn't a Christian at that time but those words of Jesus were actually telling me that if I wasn't for Him, I was against Him and I didn't want to be against Him! I remember reading 'What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul'. Up until then all I had really known about life was to try and be the best sportsman I could be, to study hard at university I guess - sort of mixed results there!... To get a degree, a good job and make a lot of money. That's all I knew. But as I read the Word and heard what Jesus said, He was saying 'What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul'. I knew that it wouldn't profit at all! Yep, Jesus' words were like a sharp sword!
 ↩ Growing up I knew a little bit about bows and arrows. I guess that having Fraser as a brother it made sense for me to carry a weapon as a six or seven year old. I basically grew up with John Wayne cowboy movies. In fact my hero at that time was George Armstrong Custer... Colonel Custer. I even got a pocket knife out at one stage and engraved his name on my bedroom dressing table. Mum, just like Custer found, was very much on the warpath after that. But that's another story! We used to go round to where some bamboo grew and we would try to find the straightest bamboo to make bow and arrows out of it. Now some arrows you could basically shoot around the corner. They would start off straight but then deviate because they weren't straight. But if you found a really good piece of bamboo then it would go exactly where you aimed it and do exactly what you asked of it. Now the Messiah Jesus was God's ultimate arrow. He was perfect in everything that God asked Him to do. He was a select arrow. He was hidden in the quiver until the right time! Think about it. God had had some pretty impressive arrows in His quiver over the centuries. When you think about Abraham, or Joseph, Moses or David - these are men of renown who in the large part walked by faith. And yet each of these men made mistakes at some point in their lives. They were human and had a sinful fleshly nature. And yet the Messiah Jesus was the select arrow of God that never missed (not once!) what the Father asked Him to do. He was the perfect select arrow that always hit the target!
 ↩ So it's no surprise when you turn on the television and you watch the network news and see that Israel is again the focus of the world's attention! It is no surprise because this key mission of the Messiah to bring Israel back to God is still going on and Jesus will fulfil that. Israel as a nation is getting more and more isolated. They have fewer and fewer friends and this is all part of what the Bible said must happen. Before they will return to God and look to Jesus as their Messiah, there will be a time when all turn against them. Maybe we are going off the topic a little bit but just to bring up one other prophetic passage, in Ezekiel 38 it actually mentions the nations that will come down in the last days against Israel and it talks about nations that are basically the modern day Russia, Iran and Turkey. And up until recently Turkey was the one of the only 'friendly' Moslem nations that Israel had. But in the last few weeks we have seen those deaths on the aid ship and Turkey basically saying that if Israel doesn't apologise then they will break off all ties. And we have seen Turkey becoming more and more Moslem as a nation and moving from the West and becoming more Moslem. And that has to happen. Ezekiel 38 says that has to happen. So one of the key things that has to happen is that the Messiah has to bring the nation of Israel back to God and that is still being fulfilled. And all of prophecy and current events are heading in the direction to make that happen!
 ↩ And salvation will reach every tribe and tongue as we read in the Heavenly scene from the book of Revelation - ' After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes.'
 ↩ Who do you think, at the time of Jesus, really understood that Jesus' mission was not just to Israel but that He would also be a light to the nations and to Gentiles? Who also understood that He would be despised and rejected? There was only one person that I thought of... well one and half. There was another so I will give half points for one other person. Let me tell you who the half pointer is. The half pointer is John the Baptist. The reason I say that is because when Jesus came to be baptised John saw him and speaking through the Spirit he said 'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world'. So John saw two things... One that He was the 'Lamb of God' meaning that He would be a sacrifice for sin just as the lambs had been sacrificed on the day of Passover throughout Israel's history. But also He saw that the sins that the Lamb of God would take were not just the sins of Israel. He knew the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world! Now from that you would think that John had a good idea of Jesus' ministry. The only reason I am giving him half points is because when he was in prison and things didn't seem to be going as he thought they would, he actually got one of his disciples to go to Jesus and say 'Are you the one or shall we expect someone else?' In this time of pressure, in this time of uncertainty, John being human had his doubts. So that's why he gets half marks! But I want to look at someone who really did know. He really understood what this Isaiah passage is teaching us today. And that's a man by the name of Simeon!
 ↩ I was once sent a scripture from a friend that really spoke to me and it is one that I try to remember quite often. It is Heb 6:10 'God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.' What that means is that as you minister to others in God's name, you do it unto Him. And He will not forget that! None of it is in vain!
 ↩ Earlier this week I went to a funeral of a family friend... a dear old faithful Christian man. I actually suggest that you go to a funeral every few weeks. You have probably heard of wedding crashers. Maybe to be a funeral crasher is a better idea because it helps you focus on the things that really matter. It helps you to focus on eternity. When we went to the funeral one thing that really stood out to me was that no one was saying 'Stan had a wonderful job, had a wonderful house, or a great boat or fantastic cars!' No one talked about the 'things' that we often spend so much time concerned about! All they were talking about was his faithfulness to the Lord, his love of his wife and family, and the people he had helped. I guess I just wanted to bring that up because when we do the things that matter, when we help people, when we encourage people, when we talk to people about the Lord, when we try to teach someone something about the Lord... these are the things that last for eternity. These are the things that really matter in this life and none of them are in vain. God sees them all and God rewards them!
When I was little we used to play a board game called 'The Game of Life'. You start off and you pick a little car, a skinny little blue man (or pink lady!) and start moving around this board. As you go about you can choose your job, choose to get married, and start putting these smaller children in the back of your car as you move to the end where you get to retirement. I think it's called 'green acres'' from memory. And at the end of the game all you do is add up how much money you have got and whoever collected the most amount of money is pronounced the winner! This game was made to mimic real life. And for the non-Christian it probably does! All they have is this life and many think that getting to the end and having lots of cash is what life is all about. But that is not why God created us! God created us to be in a relationship with Him and to follow and to do His will. That's what life is about. So I just want to encourage you as we come to the end of this, just to remember to focus on the important eternal things because they are not in vain.