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27/05/2009 / Test All Things

A Study Of Isaiah 41:8-14

Isaiah 41:8
But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

Who is God speaking to in this chapter?

To begin with God is speaking to the islands, which is a reference to the islands in the Mediterranean. But in a broader sense, God is speaking to all the nations of the then known world which were grouped around the Mediterranean Sea.

What was the message of God to the nations?

The message was that Judgment was to come upon all the nations that know not God. But then, beginning in verse 8, God has some comforting words to say to only one nation. God says in verse 8:

Isaiah 41:8
But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

Isaiah 41:9

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:11
Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.

Isaiah 41:12

Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.

Isaiah 41:13

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Isaiah 41:14

Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

I have read to you this entire passage to show you the peculiar language God is using. To us it sounds peculiar, because we know the language of the New Testament. For example, in verse 8 God uses three descriptions of the same people: “Israel, my servant”, “Jacob, whom I have chosen”, and “The Seed of Abraham, my friend”. From these three superlatives we ought to understand to whom God is writing these words.

Let’s start with the last one, the Seed of Abraham.

Who are?

The Seed of Abraham? (Isaiah 41:8, Galatians 3:16, Galatians 3:29)

Whatever ideas about the Seed of Abraham you might have had in the past from the reading of the Old Testament, you must bow to God’s Word as written in Galatians 3:16.

Let’s see what God says.

Galatians 3:16
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.

God says here in no uncertain terms that the promises made to Abraham were in the first place made to Christ, who is called the Seed of Abraham. In the second place, those promises were also made to those who belong to Christ, because they were in Christ when these promises were made.

Galatians 3:29
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Now, that sheds a different light on this entire passage. The latest revelation carries the greater weight. Therefore, we must always interpret Old Testament passages in the light that the New Testament revelation brings.

Then God says in verse 8: “Jacob, whom I have chosen”.

Who does this Jacob represent?

I Have Chosen Thee (Romans 9:13, Romans 9:8, Isaiah 41:8-9)

Now, we know that, whom God has chosen, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son. God does not choose people unto salvation and then leaves them in their sins. When God saves us, He gives us repentance, He turns our life around and He gives us faith, so that we have in ourselves the evidence of salvation.

If Jacob, in verse 8, refers to the blood descendants of Jacob, then where is the evidence of their repentance?

Already in the wilderness, coming out of Egypt, God speaks of them as a rebellious congregation, who could not enter into God’s rest because of unbelief. The following generations were not much better. For example, right after the glorious years of the reigns of David and Solomon, both the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah were following their kings all the way into idolatry. In fact, all throughout the history of the 13 tribes of Israel only a tiny remnant was actually saved. Therefore, when God says in verse 8, “Jacob whom I have chosen”, our mind is inevitably drawn to the words of God in Romans 9:13,

Romans 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Even before the children were born, neither having done any good or evil, God wrote these words: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”.


How long before they were born?

God says: Before the foundation of the world God chose Jacob, and He bypassed Esau. But in that same passage of Romans 9, God explained why He brought up the example of Jacob and Esau. God says in Romans 9:8,

Romans 9:8
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Who are the children of the promise?

Jacob was a child of promise, Jacob was in Christ, and therefore he was counted for the seed of Abraham. Jacob is a picture of all those of us who are in Christ, and are also counted for the seed of Abraham, according to Galatians 3:29.

You see, Romans 9 is a New Testament passage, which lays out God’s plan of election and reprobation for New Testament people, and it is no different than it was for the Old Testament people. That is why God says in Romans 9:6, “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel”.

That is why God says in Isaiah 41:8, “Israel, my servant”. Blood descendants of Jacob who are in rebellion against God are not called God’s servant. Only those who repent and turn to Christ in faith are called God’s servants.

Now we have harmony between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Isaiah 41:8 speaks of God’s elect in three different ways. First: “Israel, my servant”, secondly: “Jacob, whom I have chosen”, and thirdly: “The seed of Abraham, my friend”. Now we can understand why God says of His elect in verse 9,

Isaiah 41:9
Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

God is not speaking of the nation of Israel, but God is speaking to the nation of New Testament believers who are His elect, taken out of all nations and kindreds and tongues from the ends of the earth.

Why would it be necessary for God to elect people unto salvation?

Could He not wait until people voluntarily turn to Christ?

NO!

God could not wait for that. God says in Romans 3: “There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God, there is NONE that doeth good, no, NOT ONE.”

Therefore, If God wanted to save a people for Himself He had to do all the work of saving them. If God did not choose some people unto salvation, then nobody would be saved. But God did not elect everyone of the human race. God chose some, and He passed by others. That is why we read in Isaiah 41:11-12 about the condition that could have been ours:

What Could Have Been? (Isaiah 41:11-12, Romans 9:17)

Think of it. These words could have been written about us, if God had passed us by. God says in:
Isaiah 41:11

Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. (The wrath of God abides on them.)

Isaiah 41:12
Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. (They shall be in Hell.)

This was our basic condition before we were saved. By nature we were at war with God and we were at war with all those whom God calls His servants. Therefore, by nature we were children of wrath, even as others. The whole human race is in rebellion against God. But God was not frustrated by our rebellion. God took notice of our rebellion, and God was not going to let our rebellion frustrate His plan. God made it part of His plan.

For example, God foresaw that Pharaoh, king of Egypt, did not want the children of Israel to leave the land of Egypt, and therefore God made it part of His plan, and God said in Romans 9:17,

Romans 9:17
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

This is a terrible place to be in. When we are under the wrath of God, we find ourselves fighting against God, and we find ourselves reviling Christians and saying all manner of evil against them. It is a terrible thing if we are at enmity against our Christian brothers and sisters. It may be a sign that we have not repented of our sins. It may be a sign that we are still under the wrath of God.

Let us remember how we came into the world: As helpless babies, but as babies who were already at enmity with God.

Who do we think we are?

In the eyes of God we are no better than worms, as despicable as worms. Look at a baby. It has the intelligence of a worm. God says in Verse 14,

Thou Worm Jacob (Isaiah 41:14)

Isaiah 41:14
Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob”.


Remember whom Jacob represents here?

Jacob represents us. Jacob represents the ones from the human race whom God has chosen to become sons of God. But our initial condition was like that of a worm: A despicable worm. Like a worm is blind and deaf, so we in our natural state are blind and deaf to the Word Of God, which could rescue us from our desperate condition. A worm is food for the fowls of the air. Frequently, in the Bible, the fowls of the air are a representation of Satan and his demons. Satan is the prince of the power of the air. In the same way, we humans are no match for Satan and his demons. No human being can claim that he can outsmart Satan. That is why we were enslaved to Satan from the day we were born. Like the children of Israel were born as slaves in Egypt, and they were enslaved to Egypt, and they had no chance whatsoever to escape this slavery in Egypt, so the human race is born enslaved to Sin and Satan, and they remain enslaved to Sin and Satan without a chance to escape this slavery. Is it then not amazing that God says to us:

“Fear not thou worm Jacob, ye men of Israel”.

“I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away”.

In other words, “Listen to me you people, you who can hear my words and believe it. I have good news for you! I have chosen you to become the sons of God. I have not cast you away”.

Furthermore, God says in this verse: “I will help thee, saith Jehovah, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” It is significant that God here makes Himself known to us as more than one person: God Jehovah, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. The word and is really present in the Hebrew. He makes Himself known as God Himself and Christ, who is our Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. This is no surprise to us. We have learned from clear language in the New Testament that God has made Himself known as three persons in the God-head: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

God says in this verse: “I will help thee”.

How then is God going to help us?

First of all, He will help us to get out of this slavery to Satan, by being our Redeemer, our Kinsman in the flesh. The word Redeemer actually means Kinsman. For example, Moses acted as redeemer. Moses, who was the kinsman in the flesh of the children of Israel, took the children of Israel through the Red Sea, which was a representation of Hell, and so Moses delivered them from Egypt. In like manner Christ became our kinsman, He took on a human body, and He took the sins of all those elect who were in Him, with Him through the cross experience, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell which Christ had to endure, and which we experienced in Him and through Him. This is how our sins were washed away. There is no other way sins can be forgiven. None of the Old Testament sins were forgiven by animal sacrifices. Sins have to be atoned for by the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Think of it when you ask God tonight to forgive you just one sin of this day. That sin can only be forgiven by an atonement, which is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. When you pray: “Lord please forgive me that sin”, then you are actually asking God that He may have let Christ endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for that sin also. That is how He was our Redeemer, our Kinsman in the flesh.

This was the first step in how God was going to help us. But secondly, God says, “I will help thee; I will hold thy right hand throughout this life”, because God says:

I Am Thy God (Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 41:13-14, Philippians 2:13)

How did He become our God?

When we were in an unregenerate state, we served idols.

How did this switch occur?

It happened in three events in the history of this universe. The first event took place before the foundation of the world when God the Father chose us and wrote our names in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This was the 1st time God has sanctified us, set us apart.

The second event in history was when Christ, God the Son, who had our sins charged to Him, stood before the Judgment throne of God, and he had to pay for our sins the penalty that God’s Law required for the sins that He bore, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. The Lord Jesus paid that price, beginning Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane, and ending at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon on that Friday. That is when our names in the Book of Life of the Lamb were sealed in Christ’s blood. This was the 2nd time God has sanctified us, set us apart.

The third event in history was on some day in our life, that some of us do not even remember. It was on a day in 1970 that I heard the Gospel call for the umpteenth time, but this time it was as if someone whispered in my ears: “Is it real? Is it real? Am I being sucked into a cult, or is it real?” It was from that day on that I was interested to read and hear more of that Gospel. The Bible teaches that when Christ paid for all of our sins, it was guaranteed that God the Holy Spirit would at some point interrupt our life, and would regenerate us, so that we would have eyes to see the written Word, and ears to hear the Gospel call, so that we could believe the Good News that we have become heirs of God & heirs of eternal life. This was the 3rd time God has sanctified us, set us apart.

In these three events all three persons of the triune Godhead were intensely active in drawing us to Jesus and in converting our souls. This is how God became our God. Before we were regenerated, before we became born again, we served idols, and we were by nature children wrath, even as others, because our unconverted soul was an abomination in the sight of God. It insulted the righteousness of God. But since we were made born again, God says to us “I am thy God”, “I will help thee”. (Isaiah 41:10)

Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

And again in verse 13 God says: “I am thy God”, “I will hold thy right hand”,

Isaiah 41:13
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

And again in verse 14 God says “I will help thee”, “I am thy Redeemer”,

Isaiah 41:14

Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Why is God repeating this message three times?


What is God communicating to us in these repeated messages?

This is the message: After God has saved us, He makes us strong in our right hand, so that we will do the work that He has laid out for us to do. God says in Philippians 2:13,

Philippians 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

After God has saved us He says to us:

I Will Strengthen Thee (Isaiah 41:9-10, Isaiah 41:13, Colossians 3:1)

Let’s begin with verse 9.

Isaiah 41:9
Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

“Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth”, literally reads in the Hebrew:

“Whom I have made strong from the ends of the earth”.
That is why we are called His servant. God is speaking to His elect people. God is speaking to us, and He said:

Isaiah 41:9
Whom I have made strong from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

God makes us strong for the work He has for us to do.

What work?

Again God says in Verse 10,

Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I will strengthen thee; I will uphold thee with my righteous right hand. We know from Psalm 48:10 that symbolically God’s right hand is full of righteousness. Paraphrased God says, “I will help you. You are not alone. My grace will make you strong against evil”.


God says in verse 13,

Isaiah 41:13
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Literally the Hebrew text reads: “For I the LORD thy God am making strong thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee”.

Isaiah 41:13 (LITV)
For I, Jehovah your God am strengthening your right hand, who says to you, Do not fear I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13 (YLT)
For I, Jehovah thy God, Am strengthening thy right hand, He who is saying to thee, ‘Fear not, I have helped thee.’

God will give His children to be right with God through Christ, who sits at His right hand, because Christ successfully atoned for our sins. God says in Colossians 3:1,

Colossians 3:1
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

This is the work for which we must be made strong. It is the work for the furtherance of the Kingdom, having our eyes on those things which are above, where Christ is. This is the work of being ambassadors for Christ. This is the work for which we must have no fear. Three times God says:

Fear Not (Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 41:13-14, Matthew 5:10)

Let’s begin with verse 10,

Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Then in verse 13,

Isaiah 41:13
For I the LORD thy God am making strong thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Then in verse 14,

Isaiah 41:14
Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

For what do we need to be made strong?

We fear those who are incensed against us, or who are angry with us.

Who is angry with us?

What is their anger about?

First of all, the preaching in our church is a two-edged sword. It is the sword that cuts us deeply and convicts us of our sins, or it is the sword that cuts people off because they do not like to be reprimanded of their sin.

Secondly, the arguers that strive with us, think that we are an elite group who have elevated ourselves above them. We cannot change their minds. Let them revile us and say all manner of evil against us. We will not defend ourselves, because God is our defender.

Thirdly, they that war against us for various reasons are at war against us because we have joined their enemy. But this is to be expected. The Lord Jesus says:

Matthew 5:10
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Don’t worry about what they can do to us. Just think of what will happen to them if they die unsaved. That should be sufficient motivation for us to witness to them. Our goal is always: How can we more faithfully spread the fragrance of Christ.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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