A daily devotion for February 18th
Israel the Chosen
44 “But now listen, Jacob, my servant,
Israel, whom I have chosen.
2 This is what the Lord says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.
5 Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and will take the name Israel.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah 44:3)
Chapter 44 opens with a beautiful promise, spoken by God through the prophet: Here is pictured the refreshment of spirit that God gives to those who are thirsty, those who recognize the dryness of their lives and who come to him for supply. Notice that the promise extends even to their offspring. Here is a great word for families: God will bless them as they take the place of a suppliant and bring their need before him.
As is true many times in Isaiah, all this is to be ultimately true of the nation of Israel. We must never steal these promises away from the Jewish people. God will fulfill them literally one of these days. But this is also applicable to those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, have become sons and daughters of Abraham. These promises, that God will pour water on the thirsty, and streams on the dry ground, are made to us, as well. This is one of the most remarkable paradoxes in the Scripture. What man could ever devise a plan that if you fail, you win, if you lose, you will succeed, if you are broken, you will be lifted up? But that is God's plan. He always deals realistically with us. He will not force us to be humiliated, but he wants us to face the whole picture. He is totally honest. He knows exactly who we are and what our problem is. The folly of man is that he seeks to smooth that over and to pretend to be something he is not. All this is remarkable proof that the Bible is a divine Book, for no man would ever come up with a program for success that starts with an admission of failure.
I was talking with a seminary professor and he told of how he went to a county jail one day to spend a few hours helping some of the prisoners with their spiritual problems. As he was eating alone in the cafeteria at lunch time, he met a man, a lawyer, who spends a whole day each week helping prisoners in the county jail. But he did not use his legal expertise to counsel them. He sought instead to help by reading the Scriptures to them and aiding them in spiritual matters. The professor said to him,
Don't you find it rather depressing, working with these losers all the time? The man replied,
I don't look at them that way. To me there are only two kinds of people in the world: the forgiven and the unforgiving. These men and women are locked up physically. You can find a key, open the door and let them out, but no one yet has found the key that opens their inner life except God.
That is a beautiful expression of what Isaiah is saying. If you are locked up inside yourself, prisoner to your own pride and self-sufficiency, God can open the door and let you out. This is what he promises to do and has done for centuries.
Father, I thank you that my own thirst can become the occasion for receiving from your refreshment that is like a running stream on dry ground. Thank you for the freedom I experience when I let go of my own pride and self-sufficiency and trust you to lift me up.
Life Application: Are we polluting the heritage of our descendants by our pride and arrogance? Christ humbled Himself so that He could liberate us from our illusion of self-sufficiency. Will we choose this path to wholeness?
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Daily Devotion © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.