God can use Anyone to Accomplish His Purposes.

“It was finished upon the cross”. (Singing). Those words Jesus spoke on the cross are the most powerful and world-changing words. ‘Tetelestai’ – is is completed, it has been accomplished, the whole purpose of my mission here. The word comes from ‘teleo’ which means purpose. This was the purpose God sent Jesus to accomplish. I think of the ‘Nike’ slogan “let’s do it!” But Jesus says, “I have done it, now go out and live in that power!”

“Yes Ian that act was the ultimate act to bridge the gap between you and My Father. I have bridged that canyon and made it possible for you to have peace with Me and My Father, so that we are all on the same side. You must understand that the greatest difficulty that I needed power for on your behalf on the cross, was not so much My physical death, but facing off against all the forces of evil gathered against Me. Being prepared to take separation from My Father as punishment for your being on the side of ‘evil’. That battle has been won – it is complete, yet I have Allowed Satan room to move – because you need to be constantly faced with choices between good and evil. I put all the power of My word and My Spirit at your disposal, but you nevertheless need to continue to make the right choices so that you live for Me and My kingdom. So go out an do it, because I have already done it.”

Not wanting to rush through Isaiah my reading today is Isa 44:25 – 45:13. Once again it is as if Yahweh gathers His breath and blurts out in the full power of His word who He is. Just look at those vv 24-27. He, is the one who has created everything, allow your mind to wander through that statement again. Everything from the highest heavens to the smallest atom. That One formed you in your mother’s womb. He Chose you (Ephes1:4) to be ‘in Jesus”. To be part of His almighty plan.

Around you he makes fools of all those who think they are wise, who think they can conjure up the future. Who dare to set themselves against Him. Then He declares His immediate purpose which focuses here on the restoration of the cities of Judah. But, of course, the cities only represent the people who live in them. The interesting vs 27 where He speaks of drying up the sea and rivers, probably is the reminder of the Red Sea crossing from Egypt and the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land.

Now comes the mind-blowing bit: He is going to use Cyrus, an evil King, to accomplish His purpose. He even calls him “My shepherd” and further says He has anointed him. (45:1). God says he is firstly going to show him who He is. That He is Yahweh, the God of Israel. That there is no other God beside Him. Then He makes this astounding statement twice in vs 4 and 5: “though you don’t know Me”. Nevertheless He wants Cyrus to know that He is God.

Let us explore that a bit. God is dealing with His people who are being totally disobedient to Him. Because they are not responding, he chooses a total pagan king to accomplish what He wants to do. Which is to restore the cities of Judah. In His endeavour, He is revealing Himself to his ‘servant’ to the extent that this man must come to know that Yahweh is the Lord 45:3ff However, He twice makes the point that Cyrus does not know Him (personally). vv 4 and 5.

Now I find this interesting indeed. God is saying He will accomplish His purposes even if He must use someone from outside of His people to do it. But this does not necessarily mean that this man will come to know God personally. Mmmm So God will accomplish His purposes. If you and I are not hearing Him and obeying Him, He will find someone else to do what He wants. In fact, how many people out there know intellectually that God exists, but don’t know Him personally, yet are doing His work for Him?

Now comes the rider. Will His people be angry about this? He pre-empts this with His statement about them daring to argue with Him about what he chooses to do and how, in vs 9. In fact He reminds them of His souvereignty and that he can use anyone for His purposes, since He has created them and therefore they belong to Him. Vss 9-11. (Shades here of Romans ch 9).

For my bucket of information, it reminds me of the fact that God does not create puppets. He wants each one of us to make the right decisions willingly, in our walk with Him. Nevertheless He will accomplish what He wants done, irrespective of any situation where His people are not doing that.

The God who Speaks.

I see my life this morning like a huge container filled with my personal agendas, failures, fears and plans. So I make the firm decision to pull the plug out. I can see all these things draining away. “I am empty now Lord, fill me with your desires for me, give me your hope for my life. I am quiet and wait on you”.

The song “Because he lives I can face tomorrow”, is ringing in my ears and heart.

“There is only one Reality and that is Jesus. Go outside and breathe the fresh air, touch the trees and the flowers, look out over the bay – that is not reality – that is going to pass away – it is here and it will be gone tomorrow. The only Reality that will last into eternity is Myself. You are scurrying around to see that your plans, your agenda is carried out. Stop fretting. The great plan I have includes the plan for your life – even the so-called insignificant details. Relax and trust Me. Stop trying to influence outcomes and rather know the security of being ‘In Me’ – and because I live, you need not fear tomorrow. Be a Mary and sit at My feet.”

Reading Isaiah 44:1-23 today. Firstly a timely reminder for myself and our blog. The opening vs admonishes Israel (He calls him Jacob, the weak unregenerated Israel), with the command “And now listen”. Then he reminds the people “this is the word of the Lord”. A refreshing reminder it is exactly because what we are reading is God’s word, that we should listen. Not superficially but in our hearts. To practice meditating on it and reminding ourselves that what we have heard God saying is personal, so that it becomes part of our lives.

Now, He addresses Israel (Jacob) in the most tender way, reminding them of His care for them and their intimate status as His servant. He desires to bless them and promises His Spirit upon their descendants. But perhaps the most potent word is in vs 5, His promise that there will be a time when they will know Him in a personal and intimate way. This refrain is picked up again in vs 21 where He adds His promise of forgiveness of their sins and an invitation to return to Him so that they can rejoice abundantly. This acts as a sort of bracket to include everything in between.

I am sure you can all see that this description goes way past the nation of Israel and embraces much of God’s promise of the New Covenant.

In the next few vv He once again presents Himself, as we have seen several times in the preceding chapters. After that there are 12 vv in which He mocks and ridicules the idols that the people have been worshipping.

I want us to focus on just two things He says about Himself here. vs 7(a) “Who like Me can announce the future?” Now, in that culture prediction of the future was huge and usually associated with special spiritual powers. God’s statement reveals that He not only has the foresight of the future. It is far more than that. He holds the future in His hands. He is the future. Everything that is going to happen in this world is part of the plan he has already prepared. Now friends, let me ask you, “What about us, how much do we want to know what the future holds?”. I want to suggest that much of our sense of security lies in “knowing” the future. Yes? What about our daily weather forecasts, political predictions, sports results, outcomes of relationships, family and babies, stock markets, oil prices? The list is endless. We live in a society which is half embedded in the future. Because these are so uncertain, we can easily live in the twilight of the “What if’s”. Do our lives reflect our understanding that we don’t need to find our security in predictions? Our security lies solely in the one who holds the future.

The other point I want to show you is in vs 9. Here God starts a mocking contrast of idols to the description of Himself as “The Rock”, steadfast and unmoving, in the previous vs (8). Once again we may shake our heads and laugh at those who trust in idols. But we don’t, do we? Well I suggest you reflect on how much time of your day you spend, excluding the Lord from your thoughts and plans. Worship is reflected by the time you spend in someone’s company and the importance you attach to them. How much of your future planning and thoughts involve in a total trust in the Lord.

I find it is easy to speak on these subjects, but when I examine my own mind and heart I realize how little I trust Jesus for the everyday part of my life. I continually want to control the outcome of what is happening. Do I cut a piece of wood and have a braai with half while I fashion a figure from the rest, so that I can worship it? Of course not. The devil is far more subtle than that. “Did God really say?” That is why we must keep listening in the right way to the Lord.

God’s Purpose for His People.

I sit at the feet of Jesus, like Mary. Waiting on Him, just receiving and enjoying His presence. I am a little frustrated by the lack of joy I feel for much of the time. The words of the song “Let there be dancing in the darkness” are going through my mind.

“You have already received all I want to give you. I have given you every blessing in the heavenly realms. I have lifted your burdens, as I have promised. What you need is to see that with the eyes of faith – Yes the world is in darkness, but you are living in a blinding spiritual light. You just need to see it by faith and trust in it, then you will feel like shouting, ‘Jesus is alive’. So don’t allow your inner doubts and Satan’s voice to take away the source of joy, by filling your mind with negative thoughts. Here I am, all of Me – you have Me, appreciate Me and your joy will be complete”.

As we enter Ch 43 of Isaiah, we can pick up a pattern in these chapters with some repetition. As the prophetic voice of Yahweh continues, He presents “His people” to the listener. The way He presents His case is once again pictured as a judicial court. cf vv 9b-12. So what is He trying to prove? In v 7, after presenting the people He created to be His own, he clearly declares His purpose in doing this. Can you see it?

“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed an made”. Rounding off this case He once again underlines this purpose in v 21. “The people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise.

Even in His argument in the “court case”, He is “proving” who He is. See what you can pick up there from v 11-13. I am the Lord, There is no other Saviour. I have revealed and saved. I am God, declares the Lord. I am the ancient of days. I not only speak, but I act and when I do ghat no-one can reverse it.

God is unashamedly presenting Himself as the center point of history. The sad thing is that the very people whom He rescued from Egypt and whom He promises He will once again rescue them from the Babylonians v14. Those people to whom He is promising that He is going to do a “new thing” v 19, to whom He is going to give “streams in the desert” v19. That very people, who have the inside lane, as it were on His love and care, are the very ones of whom He says “Yet you have not called upon Me…” v 22.

So He ends the chapter, challenging them to argue otherwise in the light of what history reveals. He goes right back to Adam, since “your first father sinned (V 27) …… They have no leg to stand on, so He declares His judgement in v 28 – final destruction on Jacob and Israel.

Food for thought. How do we see this applying to us? What does Jesus say today? I think it is pretty clear from this passage and the rest of Isaiah, that God wants us to recognize that He is the center-point of history. When he created and still creates, He does it unashamedly for His own glory and wants us to recognize that by, amongst others praising Him. Yet there is more to that. We must recognize every aspect of His nature and appreciate what He is doing, especially as Saviour. We must recognize that He does not only make promises or threats, but that He is a God who acts. Whose will and actions are irreversible.

How are things different for us? Well there is a glimmer of that in the words of the promise of doing a “new thing”. That must surely be a prediction of the coming of the new era of the New Covenant. So we have the benefit of vs 25, forgiveness of sins. We also have the Holy Spirit to help us to glorify Him. Yet, and this is where I sit up and take notice. It is not something that happens automatically. We need to constantly keep in mind what His purpose for each of us, is and make the decision to honour that. This is not a once-off decision, it is a moment by moment way of life.

I find it so encouraging to see how my reading in the scripture ties in with the word I receive when I sit at His feet. He wants us to have joy, but that will only come when we place Him central in our lives and glorify Him, not only with our lips but our whole lives.