Major Prophets – Isaiah 49-51

Listen to me, you islands;
    hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
    from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
    in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
    and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant,
    Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
    I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
    and my reward is with my God.”
And now the Lord says—
    he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
    and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
    and my God has been my strength—
he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
    to restore the tribes of Jacob
    and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
This is what the Lord says—
    the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
    to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
    princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
    the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
This is what the Lord says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
    and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
    and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads
    and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
    nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
    and lead them beside springs of water.
I will turn all my mountains into roads,
    and my highways will be raised up.
See, they will come from afar—
    some from the north, some from the west,
    some from the region of Aswan.”
Shout for joy, you heavens;
    rejoice, you earth;
    burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
    the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me.
Your children hasten back,
    and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
    all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the Lord,
    “you will wear them all as ornaments;
    you will put them on, like a bride.
“Though you were ruined and made desolate
    and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
    and those who devoured you will be far away.
The children born during your bereavement
    will yet say in your hearing,
‘This place is too small for us;
    give us more space to live in.’
Then you will say in your heart,
    ‘Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
    I was exiled and rejected.
    Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
    but these—where have they come from?’”
This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I will beckon to the nations,
    I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
    and carry your daughters on their hips.
Kings will be your foster fathers,
    and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
    they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
    those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
Can plunder be taken from warriors,
    or captives be rescued from the fierce?
But this is what the Lord says:
“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
    and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
    and your children I will save.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
    they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
    that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
    your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

  • Isaiah 49:1-26

This is what the Lord says:
“Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce
    with which I sent her away?
Or to which of my creditors
    did I sell you?
Because of your sins you were sold;
    because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
When I came, why was there no one?
    When I called, why was there no one to answer?
Was my arm too short to deliver you?
    Do I lack the strength to rescue you?
By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea,
    I turn rivers into a desert;
their fish rot for lack of water
    and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with darkness
    and make sackcloth its covering.”
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
    I have not been rebellious,
    I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
    from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
    and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
    Who then will bring charges against me?
    Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
    Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
    Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
    the moths will eat them up.
Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
    and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
    and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
    You will lie down in torment.

  • Isaiah 50:1-11

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
    and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
    and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
look to Abraham, your father,
    and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
    and I blessed him and made him many.
The Lord will surely comfort Zion
    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
“Listen to me, my people;
    hear me, my nation:
Instruction will go out from me;
    my justice will become a light to the nations.
My righteousness draws near speedily,
    my salvation is on the way,
    and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
    and wait in hope for my arm.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
    look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
    the earth will wear out like a garment
    and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
    my righteousness will never fail.
“Hear me, you who know what is right,
    you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
    or be terrified by their insults.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
    the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
    my salvation through all generations.”
Awake, awake, arm of the Lord,
    clothe yourself with strength!
Awake, as in days gone by,
    as in generations of old.
Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,
    who pierced that monster through?
Was it not you who dried up the sea,
    the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
    so that the redeemed might cross over?
Those the Lord has rescued will return.
    They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
“I, even I, am he who comforts you.
    Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
    human beings who are but grass,
that you forget the Lord your Maker,
    who stretches out the heavens
    and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
    because of the wrath of the oppressor,
    who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
    The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;
they will not die in their dungeon,
    nor will they lack bread.
For I am the Lord your God,
    who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
    the Lord Almighty is his name.
I have put my words in your mouth
    and covered you with the shadow of my hand—
I who set the heavens in place,
    who laid the foundations of the earth,
    and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
Awake, awake!
    Rise up, Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord
    the cup of his wrath,
you who have drained to its dregs
    the goblet that makes people stagger.
Among all the children she bore
    there was none to guide her;
among all the children she reared
    there was none to take her by the hand.
These double calamities have come upon you—
    who can comfort you?—
ruin and destruction, famine and sword—
    who can console you?
Your children have fainted;
    they lie at every street corner,
    like antelope caught in a net.
They are filled with the wrath of the Lord,
    with the rebuke of your God.
Therefore hear this, you afflicted one,
    made drunk, but not with wine.
This is what your Sovereign Lord says,
    your God, who defends his people:
“See, I have taken out of your hand
    the cup that made you stagger;
from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
    you will never drink again.
I will put it into the hands of your tormentors,
    who said to you,
    ‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’
And you made your back like the ground,
    like a street to be walked on.”

  • Isaiah 51:1-23

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Isaiah 49:1-57:21 ‘Suffering of the Servant of the Lord’: “This section defines the Messiah/Servant’s prophetic and priestly functions, His equipment for His task, His sufferings and humiliation, and His final exaltation. The word servant occurs about twenty times in this portion, which magnifies Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who was slain to redeem God’s elect.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 49:1 ‘from the womb, from the matrix of My mother’: “The whole world, including Gentiles (‘coastlands,’ ‘people from afar’) are called to recognize two significant points: (1) the Messiah/ Servant will be a human being, born as others are of a woman, yet virgin born (cf. 7:14; Luke 1:30—33), and (2) He will be an individual as distinct from a personified group such as the nation of Israel, which has also been called the Lord’s servant (41:8, 9; 49:19; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21, 26; 45:4; 48:20; 50:10).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 49:2 ‘My mouth like a sharp sword’: “The Lord has given power to His Servant to speak effectively and thereby to conquer His enemies (11:4; cf. Ps. 2:9; Rev. 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15). His Word is always effective (55:11; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12) hidden Me. Messiah, before His appearing, was hidden with God, ready to be drawn out at the precise moment (cf. Gal. 4:4, 5).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 49:4 ‘in vain … for nothing and in vain’: “At His First Coming, the Servant met with rejection by His nation. It may have appeared to some that His mission was a failure because of the suffering and rejection He endured (cf John 1:9—11). The last two Servant Songs also emphasize the Servant’s suffering (50:4—11; 52:13~53:12). Although rejected by men, the Servant expresses His strong assurance that He is doing God’s work and will be rewarded with complete success.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 49:6 ‘raise up the tribes of Jacob … My salvation to the ends of the earth.’: “The Servant’s goal is the salvation and restoration of Israel for the fulfillment of the covenant promise. Not limited to Israel, He is to function as a light, bringing salvation to the Gentiles. Israel’s mission had always been to bring the nations to God (19:24; 49:6). Finally, she will do this very effectively in the Tribulation after the conversion of the 144,000 witnesses (Rev. 7:1—10; 14:1—5) and when she is restored to her land at the Servant’s return to earth. Cf. 9:2; 11:10; 49:6; 45:22; Luke 2:32. Paul applied this verse to his ministry to the Gentiles on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:47).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 49:7-11 ‘The Servant of the Lord’: “Isaiah’s favorite term for the Messiah is ‘Servant,’ and there are a number of ‘Servant of the Lord’ passages throughout his book, mostly in relation to the first coming. Some of these prophecies include second coming claims (which the Messiah agonized over in the Garden of Gethsemane). According to God’s plan, the Messiah would be rejected by Israel at His first coming, and as a result of that rejection, He would become a light to the Gentiles. Eventually Israel will accept Jesus as the Messiah (verse 7), and that will result in Israel’s final restoration (verse 8). God will also remove all obstacles to the return (verses 9-11), and the final worldwide restoration will prepare for the blessings of the kingdom.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 49:13 ‘being in awe of God’: “Fascination with God must necessarily have an element of adoration.  You must ask me for a definition of adoration in this context. I will say that when we adore God, all of the beautiful ingredients of worship are brought to white, incandescent heat with the fire of the Holy Spirit. To adore God means we love Him with all the powers within us. We love Him with fear and wonder and yearning and awe.
“The admonition to ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart … and with all thy mind’ (Matthew 22:37) can mean only one thing. It means to adore Him. I use the word ‘adore’ sparingly, for it is a precious word. I love babies and I love people, but I cannot say I adore them. Adoration I keep for the only One who deserves it. In no other presence and before no other being can I kneel in reverent fear and wonder and yearning and feel the sense of possessiveness that cries ‘Mine, mine!’ “

  • A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?

Isaiah 49:13 ‘God’s greatness expressed’: “Isaiah’s joy was too great for him to give adequate expression to it with his own solitary tongue, so he called on the great mountainous masses of inanimate nature to express the greatness of God’s love and tender mercy in comforting his people. And, when we come to think of it rightly, we see at once that it is a theme for wonder, worthy of the consideration of heaven and earth that the infinite God should stoop so low as to comfort finite and fallible creatures such as we are. Were there no more worlds to be created? Were there no other deeds of power and glory to be performed so that he must come to this poor earth to comfort the sick, the sad, and the sorrowing? The Lord is great in the majesty of his power, but he is equally great in the condescending character of his love and compassion. After Jehovah’s great creative works were done, the creation must not be slack in its music when his condescending works are done also—when from the highest heavens he stoops to those in deepest woe to lift them up from their sins and sorrows by the power of his eternal compassion. In looking simply at these six words, ‘The LORD has comforted his people,’ we see, first, that the Lord has a special people. The children of God are his people in this sense that they enjoy his special love. Second, they are a people who need to be comforted. You never find God giving any blessings that are not really necessary, and his people have great need of his comfort at many times in their lives. And third, the Lord gives them the comfort they need.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 49:22 ‘nations … shall bring your sons … and your daughters.’: “The promise will find literal fulfillment as the nations of the world assist the faithful remnant of Israel to return to their land (14:2; 43:6; 60:4; 66:20). At the outset of the kingdom when this regathering takes place, all the Gentiles will be believers in Jesus Christ who, by faith, escaped the wrath of the Lamb on the Day of the Lord and entered the kingdom (see notes on Matt. 25:31-46). Nations and leaders that have oppressed Israel will humble themselves before the redeemed people of God’s covenant, and Israel will know that waiting on the Lord will not disappoint (8:17; 40:31).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 49:25-26 ‘feed … with their own flesh … drunk with their own blood’: “Strong language against Israel’s enemies reassures her of eventual deliverance from her exile. The angel of the waters draws on this terminology in celebrating the third bowl judgment in Revelation 16:6. The destruction of Israel’s enemies, led by Satan in the Tribulation (cf. Rev. 12:15, 16), also fulfills this pledge.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 50:1 ‘certificate of your mother’s divorce … My creditors.’: “Though the sufferings of Judah were the necessary result of sin, no certificate of divorce or sale to creditors occurred because Zion’s separation from the Lord was only temporary. In fact, God gave the non-Davidic northern kingdom a certificate of divorce (see note on Jer. 3:8). However, the unconditional promises of the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7) precluded such a divorce for Judah, although there would be a time of separation (cf. 54:6, 7).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 50:2 ‘’Why?: “God asked why no one was willing to believe and obey Him, even after everyone had seen His redemptive power in Egypt when He dried up the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21), opened the river Jordan by turning it into dry land (Josh. 4:23), and killed the fish in Egypt (Ex. 7:18-21). The Lord’s power to redeem was indisputable (59: 1). He proved it by His deliverance of the Jews from Egypt (43:16, 17; 44:27; 46:9; 48:3, 21).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 50:6 ‘Jesus suffered for us’: “This is Jesus the Messiah, the peerless sufferer. And this one who suffered, on whom men spat, was the eternal God. One might ask, ‘Did God really die?’ No, for God cannot die; yet he who died was God. He who was a prisoner in Pilate’s hall, accused of sedition, was the King of kings. He who was taken from that hall and covered with an old red cloak and knelt before in mockery, he who had a reed put into his right hand, was none other than the almighty Lord. And he on whose sacred shoulders fell the cruel flagellation of the Roman scourge until the whip made deep scarlet furrows down his blessed back, he was the God who created and who still sustains the heavens and the earth and all things that exist or ever have existed. He was a suffering man, but at the same time he was the Son of God—and he is the Son of God today—and God the Son too. As you think of his pain, couple with it the thought that he bore all that agony voluntarily that we might be saved. No man could have scarred that blessed back of his unless Christ had been willing, out of mighty love, to suffer in this way for his people. None could have plucked Jesus’s hair unless he had put himself into the position to have it plucked, in order that he might redeem us from all our iniquities. God’s people often suffer for the cause of Christ because they cannot avoid it. But Jesus was spit on, and he could have withered into nothingness all who stood about him had he so chosen. Blessed be the majesty of that omnipotence that controlled omnipotence so that mighty love could prevail and not rescue the suffering Savior from the cross so he could redeem wicked sinners.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 51:6 ‘heaven will vanish … earth will grow old’: “This begins to take place in the time of Tribulation (cf. Rev. 6:12-14; 8:12, 13; 16:8-10, 21), setting the stage, along with the earthly judgments on land, sea, and fresh water (cf. Rev. 6:14; 8:6-11; 16:3—5), for a renewed earth during the Millennium. The actual ‘uncreation’ or destruction of the present universe, of which Peter wrote (2 Pet. 3:10-13), occurs at the end of Christ’s millennial reign on the earth, when a new heavens and a new earth will replace the present creation (2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 21:1).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 51:12-13 ‘near or far – which is the greater influence?’: “Objects often influence us out of proportion to their value because of their nearness. For instance, the moon is a small, insignificant body compared with the sun, yet it has far more influence over the tides and many other matters in the world than the sun has simply because it is so much nearer to the earth than the sun is. The life that is to come is infinitely more important than the life that now is, and I hope that in our inmost hearts we consider that the things that are seen and temporal are mere trifles compared with the things that are not seen and eternal. Yet it often happens that the less important matters have a greater influence over us than those that are far more important, simply because the things of earth are so much nearer to us. Heaven is infinitely more to be desired than any joy of earth, yet it seems far off; and, therefore, these fleeting joys may give us greater present comfort. The wrath of God is far more to be dreaded than the anger of man, yet sometimes a frown or a rebuke from a fellow creature will have more effect on our minds than the thought of the anger of God. This is because the one appears to be remote, and while we are still in this body, we are so near to the other. It sometimes happens that a matter though more remote, ought scarcely worthy of the thought of an immortal spirit will fret and worry us from day to day.  There is some oppressor, as the text puts it, whom we dread and fear continually, yet we forget the Almighty God who is on our side, who is stronger than all the oppressors who have ever lived and who has all people and all things under his control. The reason we act this way is because we think of God as if he were far off, while we can see the oppressor with our eyes, and we can hear with our ears his threatening words. We must turn our thoughts away from the distress of the present to the joy and comfort that, still to be more powerful over the mind and heart because of real intrinsic greatness of the remote. Further, we often find that many fears entertained by good men and women are really groundless, and some fears would die at once if we dared simply to question them.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 51:16 ‘My words in your mouth.’: “Israel had been the unfaithful depository of divine revelation (cf. Rom. 9:1—5), but the time is coming when God will put words into the mouths of His future faithful remnant (59:21) when He sets up the kingdom of Messiah in Zion on a renewed earth. Cf. 51:6; 65:17; 66:22.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 51:17-18 ‘O Jerusalem, you who have drunk.’: “Jerusalem experienced the Lord’s anger through her extended subservience to foreign powers with no human to deliver her (v. 18), but the punishment will end (v. 22; 40:1, 2; cf. 29:9). On the other hand, Babylon will drink from the cup of His anger forever (Rev. 1418-11; 16:19).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 51:21-22 ‘drunk but not with wine’: “Jerusalem was drunk through drinking the cup of God’s wrath (63:6). But in contrast to Babylon which drank the fury of God’s wrath to the last drop (v. 17; Rev. 18:6), Israel will have the cup removed before all the wrath is consumed. It will be handed to Israel’s oppressors for them to drink the full fury (49:26; Jer. 25:15, 26, 28; Zech. 12:2).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 51 ‘challenge’: “I must confess as a pastor and minister that I have had to say ‘Goodbye’ to people in some instances when they have said: ‘We cannot worship here. You are too strict. Your standards are too strict for this day and age. Your message is too strict!’
“My only apology is that l am still not as strict as the Bible is. l have to confess that l am still not up to the standard of the Scriptures. l am trying, but l am not that strict. But, occasionally, we have to say farewell to someone who says they have to find a different kind of church, an easy-going church, a church that majors in relaxation.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks II


My Thoughts

Isaiah introduces the Servant of the Lord, one of the many names that he gives the Messiah.  The image of the mouth like a sharpened sword should be familiar, since Jesus appeared to the Apostle John with a tongue like a double-edged sword, and then the vision of Jesus’ return showed the same image.

But the servant was first despised.  Thus from Isaiah 49:7 to 49:8 we have a transition from the prophecy of Jesus’ first coming to the second coming of Christ.  A remnant returns from all the corners of the earth.  A mother would not forget her child, but even if she did, God will not forget the remnant.  And it will be surprising to many where this remnant appears.

I have wondered about the ten northern tribes.  If they had intermarried with other nations, this remnant might be our next-door neighbors.  Many might be the Gentiles that Paul, Barnabas, and Silas, and the other missionaries reached to give the Good News.  It would surprise all of us in seeing these people come forward, not knowing that their family line goes back to the sons of Jacob.

But why were they in exile?  It was their own sin that put them there.  But God is merciful.

God opens our ears.  The Holy Spirit guides us as we read, we understand, and we speak and write.  God is merciful and helps those who obey His Servant.

And for those who pursue righteousness, righteousness lasts forever.

But the Spurgeon comment about what is near and what is far, Isaiah says that human beings are but grass, yet we forget our Maker.  It is so easy to pursue what we see, and yet, God is closer than we could ever imagine, if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear.

But Isaiah 51 ends with a reminder that the oppressors had no limits in their oppression.  A gentleman might place his coat over a puddle so that a lady will not get her shoes muddy, but the oppressor makes the oppressed lay prone in the mud so that the oppressor walks on them as if they were pavement.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“Isaiah 49:1-7 The Servant of the Lord 1. What examples can you think of in Jesus‘ life when his speech was gentle (as in 42:2)? When it was cutting like a sword? Why the difference? When is it best to speak gently with people? To be strong and cutting?
“2. Jesus said that believers were ‘the light of the world’ ( Mt 5:14). From this passage, what did he mean by that image? How might the promises in this passage apply to you when you feel as though your efforts to follow God have little effect on others?
“3. Which of these traits of the servant seem beyond you? Which are within your grasp?
49:8-26 Restoration of Israel 1. Emotionally and spiritually, what does it mean to be a forsaken captive? What can cause you to feel that way? Right now, do you feel more like that or like a person coming home to a long-awaited reunion? Why?
“2. Jesus‘ mission was unique, yet it sets a pattern for ours as well. Did the Lord ever use another person to extend his ‘covenant of the people’ (v.8) to you? How? How might you be part of this process to someone else this week?
“3. Although we normally think of God as ‘our Father’, what insight do you gain about him from considering the image of God as a mother (v.15)? How have you experienced this type of maternal care from God?
“4. How does verse 25 illuminate Jesus’ comment about ‘binding the strong man’ (Mt 12:29)? How have you been ‘retrieved from the fierce’?
“5. ls the freeing of the exiles from Babylon by Cyrus (vv.22-23) at all like what Jesus has done for you? How so?
“6. What is one thing that convinces you that the Lord, and not some other god or force, is indeed the one you can trust?
50:  1. How would you describe your current relationship with God: (a) Casual date? (b) Going steady? (c) Engaged? (d) Married? (e) Divorced? Why?
“2. What would it mean for you to start your day by listening to God? How might you do so?
“3. Recently, has the voice of Jesus to you been one that sustains you when weary (50:4a), or one that cuts like a sharp sword (49:2)? Why? How is that related to your attitude of love and obedience to him?
“4. Have you ever been verbally or physically abused because of your faith? How did you respond? What did your relationship to God feel like at that time? How does Paul apply verses 8-9 to us in Romans 8:31-39? In what situation do you need to lay hold of that confidence now?
51:1-16 Everlasting Salvation for Zion:  1. When have God’s promises seemed to you like mere words? At those times, what forces seem to be stronger to you than God‘? When you feel like that, how might the faith of Abraham, who waited 25 years to see one child born, encourage you?
“2. If you were an exile, what would it mean to you to realize that God’s promises are more enduring than the stars or the earth around you? How might meditating upon the lesson of the stars give you a new perspective on the problems that you face today?
“3. When feeling discouraged, what event in your personal history can you look back upon and call on God to do again?
“4. What promises of God especially encourage you to keep on following him even when things get hard? Why do they mean so much to you?
51:17-52:12 The Cup of the Lord’s Wrath: 1. The rulers of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon only saw themselves as working to build up their power, yet they were actually accomplishing God’s plan to reach all types of people. Do you think it is legitimate to view political movements and upheavals in our day from a similar perspective? Why or why not? What examples might you use as evidence for your position? What cautions need to be observed?
“2. What does Paul say about the ‘beautiful feet’ of verse 7 (see Ro 10:14-15)? When you share your faith with others, what image fits best: (a) Messenger clicking your heels? (b) Messenger dragging your feet? (c) Operator of travel booth just passing out information? (d) Doomsday prophet?
“3. If your ‘feet’ were judged in a ‘gospel beauty contest’, how would they appear: Full of warts? Well-calloused? Smelly? Shapely?
“4. When have you sensed and conveyed real joy and peace in witnessing? How could you experience more of the ‘good tidings’ of the gospel next week?
“5. When is it helpful for a non-Christian to be confronted with a portrait of how he appears to God? When might it be harmful? What can we learn from this passage about proclaiming the gospel?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

Isaiah 50 has one set of questions.  Isaiah 49 and 51 (plus most of 52) have two sets of questions as noted above.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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