“I will…make you to be a covenant for the people.” Isaiah 49:8 (NIV)
The context of our verse today is a prophecy about the Lord’s Servant, Jesus Christ. The verses around this statement describe the Servant as One who would not only save Jews but also Gentiles from the ends of the earth. The coming One would accomplish much for the people of God. As we read the imagery and details of this prophecy we recognize easily that only in Jesus can all this be accomplished.
In verses 8-9 we are told that those who are God’s people will benefit in several ways from Jesus’ work. The things spoken about are restoration, inheritance, liberation, and satisfaction. All of these things are found in Jesus who gains these treasures for His covenant people.
The idea of restoration is fairly straightforward for most of us. Some people restore cars, furniture, houses and so on. What is meant is to take something that has fallen into a non functioning or poorly functioning state and recreate it into what it was originally. It means to take something broken and possibly useless and fix it so that it looks brand new.
Those who are truly children of God are those who have been brought to the end of themselves. They are a people who have concluded that in the sight of God they are a mess, they are useless and cannot fulfil their created purpose. The doorway into God’s presence is low and if you would enter you must bow in humility in order to come in. It is also narrow so that you cannot bring in any of what you would call your good works.
A wonderful old hymn by a man named Toplady has two lines that go like this:
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
We cannot offer to God the things we do as something to please Him. We can only offer to the Father His Son Jesus Christ in order to have favour. Only Jesus can restore us into something acceptable to God.
Then there is an inheritance spoken of and that means God Himself. In Psalm 16:5 the writer says “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.” (KJV) Those who come to God and receive His work of restoration are satisfied to have only God as their inheritance. They find wealth, fame, and other things of no interest, they want to know and be with God Himself.
The third thing about Jesus is this matter of Him setting His people free from their enslavement. Scripture says the world is enslaved to sin and there is no way of obtaining freedom other than through the liberating work of Jesus Christ. Some people do not feel enslaved to any particular vices, they think they live rather clean lives. But our Creator’s judgment is the final word in the matter. If you do not wish to die in the sins you have committed you must come to Jesus and seek liberty from Him.
The final thing about Jesus in the context of our verse is that He provides satisfaction for His peoples’ needs. Deep down in the heart of every one of us is the nagging idea that we are not complete, we have something missing, that what life offers is not enough. God speaks to our hearts and makes us aware of His presence. We can see God’s works in the wonders of creation. There is evidence for God that we either embrace or ignore.
What is Jesus to you? Have you come to see that you cannot make yourself good enough to be acceptable to God? It is clear from Scripture that we cannot earn our way into God’s favour. If we could, then Jesus’ death and resurrection were unnecessary. There was no need for Easter.
Do you find yourself unable to cope with the issues of life? Well, there may be a message in your fruitless struggles. Perhaps the idea that you cannot make it on your own suggests that divine intervention is needed. Or you may have messed up somehow and there is no way for you to recover. God takes broken lives and makes them beautiful again. The thief on the cross had done more to ruin his life than most but a simple prayer, “Remember me when You come in your kingdom.” He had already admitted his guilt and now asked to be made a part of Jesus’ kingdom.
Whatever your issue, Jesus will come to you and liberate you from your sins, give you an inheritance, restore you and satisfy you forever. You must come. Will you come?