Isaiah 49-50: Not Forgotten
September 19, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
I have often thought when looking at these momentous chapters of Isaiah, “Who is equal to these things?” Well is Isaiah often said to be the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.
Chapter 49 deals with the disappointment of God’s people, their fear that he will forget them or no longer use them. But God says, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (49:6). “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (49:15). It is hard to imagine a mother forgetting her nursing child—surely not! And yet even if that were possible, which it is at least highly unlikely, it is simply impossible that God will forget his people. It cannot happen. Not ever. Never.
But how can this be, given Israel’s sin? This is the question that hovers over chapter 50. “Behold, for your iniquities you were sold” (50:1). The answer is this suffering servant, the one who will take the punishment that we deserved, the suffering servant that Isaiah, under God’s inspiration, is “seeing” and “proclaiming” and describing with words that are given to him. “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (50:6). The servant’s atoning sacrifice is beginning to be revealed.
Be encouraged, then, O Christian! You fear that God has forgotten. You fear that your ways are hidden from him. You fear that he has turned his back on you. But consider, says Isaiah, consider: could a mother forget her nursing child? Surely not, you say. Well if that is the case, how much more is it impossible that God would forget you, his child. He cannot forget you.
But you say—or the devil whispers in your ear—what about my sins?! What about all the things that I have done wrong, or the things that I have not done that I should have done?! What about my secret sins, my shameful sins, my disgusting sins? The ways I have disappointed myself, let alone disappointed and offended my God? If God cannot forget me, then surely nonetheless he cannot simply forgive me! How could it be possible? But see, says Isaiah, this suffering servant who will bear your reproach and take your punishment.
Take comfort then, O Christian. Your ways are neither hidden from God, nor are your ways under God’s condemnation. For in Christ you find the highway to salvation and the route to holiness that comes out of gospel peace and joy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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