In chapter 49, the Jews were accusing God of abandoning them. Of forsaking and forgetting them. The Lord reassured them that He could not forget them.
But they continued in their doubt of God's love. Now, they are claiming to feel like an unloved wife, divorced by her husband.
But God says, "Hey? If you're gonna claim to be a divorced wife, where's the certificate of divorce? I didn't give you one. It's a poor analogy, people. In reality, your feeling of abandonment is your own doing - your own sin is what sold you into bondage."
Now, that's not to say that God is not open to divorcing an adulterous wife. He'd already "divorced" the northern kingdom of Israel. He said through Jeremiah,
Jer. 3:8 "And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also."
A lot of people think that God somehow can't relate to the struggles of marriage and divorce. But remember, God created marriage the way it was supposed to be. And, He's been through divorce, as well as having an adulterous spouse.
It makes you wonder why God would go through it all over again with another marriage. But He has. Paul wrote to the church,
2Cor. 11:2 ...I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
The church is the bride of Christ. In the future, that wedding will take place, as we read in the book of Revelation,
Rev. 19:6-9 ..."Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he *said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”...
Since God hadn't divorced them when being sent off into the Babylonian Captivity, they might again ask why it was happening. God says that it's not for His lack of power. In fact, He could have delivered them if He wanted to. He's the One Who dried up the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21). He's the one who gathered the waters of the Jordan (Josh. 3:16). He's the one who brought the plague of darkness down upon the land of Egypt (Exo. 10:22).
No, He didn't rescue them because He chose not to. This reminds me of the actions of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. When the cohort came to arrest Jesus, His disciple Simon Peter arose and swung his sword, cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest.
Matt. 26:52-53 Then Jesus *said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?"
Point being, when God doesn't act, it's because there is a purpose in Him not acting. He certainly always has the power to act powerfully in any situation.
Once again, Isaiah takes us to hear the voice of the Messiah. Jesus, speaking of His Father, says that He has been given the tongue of disciples in order to sustain the weary.
Jesus was able to sustain the weary with a word. As He encouraged us,
Matt. 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Interesting how in this prophetic passage, we ourselves are given an instruction: the tongue of a true disciple sustains the weary. Sadly, the tongues of many Christians wear me out. People talk too much, too loud, too negatively, too abrasively.
But we're supposed to master the art of sustaining the weary. Notice how it's "with a word." Not "with an hour of words." Let's learn to be brief encouragers and edifiers.
The disciple also awakens every morning and listens to the Lord. Jesus of course set this example for us.
In Mark chapter one, we read that huge crowds were coming to Jesus to be healed.
Mark 1:32-38 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and *said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You.” He *said to them, "Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”
He'd worked late into the night, but Jesus still arose early in the morning while it was still dark. He was praying and seeking the Father's will. And it was made clear to Him that healing was not the main focus of the ministry. It was preaching. He got the Father's direction for the day, and by the time others found Him, He knew what to do.
I'm a musician, and the classic excuse for musicians is, "I'm just not a morning person." But I've found that getting up at 5am is just as easy as getting up at 11am or 2pm. It's just a matter of planning ahead, setting the alarm, and starting the day in the Word of God.
The opening of the ear is making reference to the act of a servant becoming a bondservant. In the Old Testament law, God made a provision that Hebrew slaves were to be set free after six years of servitude. But sometimes, working for your master was a better prospect than being out in the world. Exodus 21 says of that situation,
Ex. 21:5-6 "...if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently."
And thus the servant became a bond-servant - someone who had willingly committed to serving his master for life. The apostles called themselves "bond-servants" of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as Jesus had become a bond-servant of the Father.
The Father directed His Servant Jesus every step of the way. And even when those steps were taking Him to Jerusalem to face torture and death, He was not disobedient to God's direction...
God directed Jesus to allow Himself to be placed into the hands of the Jews and the Romans. They treated Him brutally:
Luke 22:63-65 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, "Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?” And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming.
Matt. 26:67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him
Mark 14:65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
John 19:1-3 Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, "Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face.
They whipped Jesus, beat and slapped and punched Him. They tore out His beard, and spit on Him.
Amazingly, Jesus knew all of this was coming. He'd told the disciples,
Luke 18:31-33 ..."Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.”
But in spite of knowing what was coming, Jesus submitted to His Father. As difficult as it was to face, He set His face like flint, not turning away from Jerusalem.
Even when the disciples said,
John 11:8-10 The disciples *said to Him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
Jesus had set His face like flint. He was not going to turn to the left or to the right, even knowing what was coming.
And He determined not to be ashamed, even though a horribly shameful experience was about to befall Him. The writer of Hebrews says that we should be...
Heb. 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
So, you can suffer shameful things, but not be ashamed. Even as Paul wrote,
2Tim. 1:12 ...I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus always applied the principle that Paul would later write,
Rom. 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Whether it was Jesus' brothers; the scribes, elders and Pharisees; or the devil himself contending with Jesus, He always had confidence that His Father was standing with Him.
And as the chapter draws to a close, He asks us to decide which side we're on...
Who claim to fear God and to obey the voice of Jesus, but walk in darkness. This is is a dichotomy that the apostle John wrote quite a bit about in his first epistle. Jesus simply says, "trust in and rely upon God."
But those who set traps will be themselves caught in them, incurring the judgment of God upon themselves.