International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending January 2, 2011
Purpose: To recognize God's power to redeem today by remembering God's acts in the past.
Scripture Text: Isaiah 44:21-26 (NRSV)
(21)Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you, you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. (22)I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. (23)Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel. (24)Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth; (25)who frustrates the omens of liars, and makes fools of diviners; who turns back the wise, and makes their knowledge foolish;(26)who confirms the word of his servant, and fulfills the prediction of his messengers; who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be inhabited,” and of the cities of Judah, “They shall be rebuilt, and I will raise up their ruins”;
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I am going to include in our study the final verses of chapter 41, verse 27 & 28, which says: (27)who says to the deep, “Be dry— I will dry up your rivers”; (28)who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose”; and who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”
The reason I have included these two additional verses is if you think, as I do, that the Book of Isaiah was written by one writer some 200 years before Cyrus was born. It sort of proves God's prior statements in this chapter about being the one and only true God who makes other gods look foolish. None of them as ever made a statement like this one God makes at the end of the chapter, not predicting, but telling how things will play out a quarter of a century later. And not only predictions about Cyrus whom God names and anoints, but how Babylon would fall when the Persians enter the city on the dry river bed and open the gates from the inside.(see 45:1)
Our printed text gives those in captivity, as well as us, real hope. Notice in verse 22 how God has removed our sin and redeemed us, even when we were still living in sin and did nothing on our own to deserve His redeeming grace. How often have you heard someone say, “They were not good enough to be a Christian?” That is a true statement, none of us are. But notice God redeems us before we “return to Him.” I think the returning to Him is an important act, and it justifies God's act of redemption. Most of us do not repent or change our lifestyle until after we realize what God has done for us by His declaring us His own and redeeming us from a life of sin and self destruction. Repentance and turning toward, or returning to God is an important part of our salvation, just as it was for those that Isaiah was prophesying to.
How many foolish predictions have you heard from those supposed intellectual's or even some bible scholars of today? It is hard to turn on Christian television today and not hear
some prophesy of doom. It can also be said of mainline newscast.
I think the difference is explained in verse 26, only God, “confirms the word of the servant or prophet.” Only God can foretell of a restoration prior to destruction. Only God can declare us redeemed, prior to our repentance. Thanks be to God for remembering, forgiving, redeeming, and restoring His people.