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Isaiah 42:1-9 1
1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” 5 This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. 9 See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

Background 2

Israel was abandoned to its enemies: How could God allow this to happen? Had God abandoned them? Removed from access to their temple and to their land. Were they still God’s people? Was God still God? In exile they could only conclude that God had withdrawn favor and allowed the Babylonians to punish them for Israel’s sins and disobedience.

Into this crisis comes Isaiah, the prophet reminding the people who God is and how God works. He draws their attention from this particular, historical moment, to the larger purposes of God. By reminding Israel of who God is, how God works, and what God is doing by sending a servant, Isaiah expands the frame of reference, re-locating Israel’s circumstances to the wider framework of God’s eternal perspective.

God is the God not of Israel only or even of Babylon, but the one who “created the heavens . . . and stretched out the earth” (verse 5). This is the God of creation, who made everything that is, and who dwells in this wide, open cosmic space, not contained by the cramped space of Israel’s exile. This is the God “who gives breath to the people upon [the earth] and spirit to those who walk on it” (verse 5). God’s breath animates not only the people of Israel, but every living, breathing creature on the planet. And finally, this is also the God who has reached out to create the particular people called Israel, to call them to righteousness, and to keep them (verse 6). This is the God of the expansive universe and the God of these very particular people.

Isaiah proclaims our God acts in particular ways.

  • First, God sends a spirit-filled servant not a conqueror or tyrant — (“a bruised reed he will not break,” verse 3). This agent of God is to be a liberator who will bring justice, not domination.
  • Second, God works to bring justice “in the earth,” that is, to bring it to all, everywhere. God sends this servant to persevere until justice is done all the way “to the coastlands” (verse 4).
  • Third, God defines the mission of God’s people, to be “a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (verses 6-7). God calls them to righteousness not for themselves alone, but for the nations. Isaiah reminds this exiled people that God has not abandoned them but is indeed at work among them, restoring them to be a blessing.

This is good news! God is still God and people are still God’s people. They have a purpose that extends beyond themselves to all the earth.

Items for Discussion

  • What can we learn about God’s character from Isaiah?
  • What are we asked to do and what does this mean to you?
  • Based on God’s character, what do you think we as Christians should be doing? What is our mission?
  • How can we affect the hearts of those in our society and world?
  • How are we doing?

 

Acts 10:34-43
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Background

This is a wonderful summary of the faith of a Christian. Peter summarizes the entire Bible for us right here.

Acceptance by God cannot be obtained on any other ground than through His mercy and grace. This is done through the work of Christ.  God accepts us without regard for our denomination. The fear of God and works of righteousness are the substance of true religion. These are not the cause of a man’s acceptance, they just reflect it. Whatever we may not understand about faith  will eventually be shown to us.  Why, because Christ started it and finished it.

People knew, in general, the gospel, which God sent to the children of Israel. They knew the purpose of God’s Word, that God published the good tidings of everlasting peace through Jesus Christ. They knew the facts relating to the gospel. They knew about the baptism of repentance which John the Baptist preached.

This message was that Jesus Christ, by whom peace is made between God and man, is Lord of all as Mediator. All power, both in heaven and in earth, is put into His hand, and all judgment committed to Him. God will be with those who Jesus anoints. He will be with those to whom He has given His Spirit.

Peter then declares Christ’s resurrection from the dead as proof. The Christian faith is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, on the testimony given by them. We are all accountable to Christ as our Judge; so every one must seek His favor, and to have Him as our Friend. And if we believe in Him, we will all be justified by Him into Righteousness. The remission of sins lays a foundation for all other favors and blessings, by taking that out of the way that which hinders the bestowing of these favors. If sin be pardoned, all is well, and will end well for eternity.

Items for Discussion

  • What would the “fear of God” look like?
  • Why do you believe the Apostles and Witnesses of Scripture?
  • The threats of eternal damnation don’t seem to change the world’s behavior for the better. What message would you give the world that might have an influence on a new and better direction?
  • What does having Jesus as a “friend” mean to you?

Discussion Challenge

  • How can we reflect the happiness and peace of Christ without ever quoting the Bible?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1938
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