Isaiah 49:6 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 you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
This chapter is so absolutely glorious! I’ve written on several verses from it over the years, as well as preached on them, and reading it again just now makes me want to do it all over again! However, there are limits to what I can do right now, so I will restrain myself – I think – to this one verse. This verse completely blows holes in the feeling some Jews even today have that they alone are objects of God’s concern and salvation. The whole chapter is obviously Messianic, speaking of the One who would come to fulfill God’s purposes on the earth, and that could be why so many Jewish leaders, in particular, in the 1st Century and following, opposed the idea that Jesus was indeed the prophesied Messiah, because this verse proclaims that the Messiah would open up God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. The irony in that attitude is acute, because if we know what the work of the Messiah is, wouldn’t the best thing we could do be to cooperate with that work? The same may be said of any Christian who is satisfied to limit their efforts to their own immediate circle of family and friends. Not every believer is called to go to some faraway place to proclaim the Gospel, certainly, but our hearts are to be open as instruments of God’s love to all mankind, no matter where they are or what they look like. Limiting our hearts to I-my-me-mine totally misses the heart of God.
Obviously, as a missionary and the son of missionaries, with a grandfather who taught missions in a seminary, this is in my bloodstream. At the same time, I am ambivalent about calling myself a missionary, since I minister in the country where I was born and raised. However, since I look different from the local population and am generally treated as a foreigner, I guess the label is OK, though I have no sending/supporting organization. As my wife said, when we were being rejected by an American “mission board,” I’d rather be “Lord sent” than “Board sent.” In this Information Age of the Internet I am aware of the situations in many countries around the world, and I do regularly support an organization that helps the Persecuted Church. Reading those reports I am sharply aware of how easy I have it, ministering in Japan! I too must not be satisfied with material and/or spiritual luxury, but pray actively for my brothers and sisters around the world, as well as seek actively for those physically close to me to open their eyes and see and receive God’s salvation. The challenges are unending, but God is still God, and I must never forget His heart, as Isaiah expressed it.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s good to have this to lift my eyes off of our current situation, since that can be rather consuming. Help me never forget that as much as I am aware of Your love for me, I am only one of countless multitudes for whom You care, and keep myself available as Your instrument of blessing to others, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!