COLLINS COLUMN: Walking in Obedience

Published 10:00 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

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Israel was in exile. Their holy city was in ruins. It appeared that David’s line and legacy were in question. How could this be? Where was God in the middle of all this? God sent a word through the prophet Isaiah that what God was doing was bigger and not yet visible to the people of Israel.

Isaiah 42 opens with assurance that God had indeed chosen one who would bring about the restoration that was needed, and his servant would also bring justice. Man’s longing for justice and restoration run throughout all human history. Isaiah 42 reveals that God has a chosen path through his chosen one, Jesus.

The early hearers of Isaiah 42 of course would have to cling to the promises of God, even though it would be centuries before the world would see the one Isaiah spoke about. Who comes to mind when you read these words from Isaiah?

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”

Isaiah’s description of Jesus rings clear to us because we have been given more information than Isaiah was given. You might wonder why God didn’t give Isaiah more details to share with Israel. I suspect that every human since the time of Adam and Eve would have agreed that if God would just outline the steps and the process he has in mind for what he wants from us, it would be extremely helpful!

Our loving Heavenly Father knows what we need far better than we do. While you and I struggle to understand the unsearchable knowledge of God, things work best when we act in faith and follow him obediently. Isaiah, ancient Israel, the early disciples, and you and I all had and have what we need to follow his path.

As followers of Jesus, we have far more than Isaiah. Not only do we have the reliable written testimony concerning the birth, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, we also have the Holy Spirit living inside of us to guide us in all truth. (John 16:13)

As we read through Isaiah 42, we not only see the description of Jesus and what he will do, we also see promises Jesus keeps, even now. Consider these historical facts and how they apply to us now:

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you.”

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

“The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.”

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”

Through the Holy Spirit living in us we experience God taking us by the hand and keeping us. We watch daily as our former ways of sin fade and our new life in Christ emerges as we submit each day to the lordship of Christ. We experience Jesus’ victory over sin and death and his protection and defeat of the enemy when we draw near to him, humble ourselves, and look for the way of escape that the Spirit provides in every encounter with the enemy (1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 5).

Isaiah and his early listeners could not fully see all that would happen in God’s grand redemption and restoration plan, but they trusted and rested in the promises they were given. We, too, never see the details of how God is working all things out for the good of his creation, but we certainly have seen enough to know that God is always working and that we can trust him because of the reliable testimony of scripture and because his Spirit guides us as we walk in obedience to his plan.

Father, today we surrender to your plan for our lives. Thank you for the testimony of scripture that records time and time again when you did exactly what you promised to do. Thank you for sending Jesus, just as you promised you would. Now, because of the grace and mercy of Christ given to us through the cross, we surrender again to your perfect plans for us. Use us today to extend your kingdom through our words and needs. Increase our faith that we might trust you to accomplish your purpose in us and through us today. In Jesus’ name, amen.