Today, our scripture reading from Isaiah 50 is a conversation between God and Israel. To be more specific, it is Christ the Son of God who speaks, and His words reflect His divine ministry when He became incarnate. There are two verses that caught my attention and prompted further meditation.
The first is verse 4: “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” I think of the compassion of Christ who felt every sorrowful experience we encounter. Whether the sorrow is physical, mental, or spiritual, Jesus knows the exact words to speak that comfort our hearts and lift our spirits. I am reminded how difficult this is for me when I speak to the desperately ill and those who are dying. I am often without perfect words and am left in silence. And yet I know which words are not helpful and are of no comfort. I am aware that some things said are not helpful and may be taken wrongly.
For example, it is hard to criticize the attitude of those who are sick. When people have extended illnesses, they often become despondent and depressed. Perhaps we believe Christians should never come to this state, but if they didn’t the Lord would never say He knew how to comfort the weary. He realizes this human frailty. I don’t remember reading any passage in scripture in which the Lord rebuked the sick for a less than stellar attitude in their illness. I see the apostle John and the Lord’s brother James calling for love and compassion and prayer, but never chastisement. To hear God’s word and to know people pray for you are the means God uses to lift the spirits of the weary. Be cautious how you deal with the distressed. They do not need to be driven to deeper despair.
The second verse that caught my attention is verse 7: “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” This is the determination of Christ to do His Father’s will. Despite the criticisms and forces of hell that would deter Him, He soldiered on. He set His face like a flint—that is with steadfast determination not to quit. It is the hardness and resoluteness of hard rock to continue though humanly everything told Him He should not. Imagine Satan offering Him the kingdoms of the world in exchange for the shame of the cross. How does He withstand except the Father gave His Spirit to help Him?
The cross was not only a cruel way to die, it was utterly shameful. Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree. It was an abomination to the Jews and shouted the worst criminality to the Gentiles. Yet, Christ knew He would not be ashamed. He would be vindicated by the Father’s promise. He would be raised from the dead and restored to His throne in heaven.
Isaiah 50 is a wonderful picture of Christ. “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (v. 50). Always trust God. Who has suffered by obedience and has not been rewarded abundantly? Take heart that following the Lord with all its difficulties will end in the ease and peaceful rest of God’s sabbath in His heavenly kingdom.
Pastor V. Mark Smith