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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Servant's Choice

Isaiah 53 (Amplified version)
Who has believed (trusted in, relied upon, and clung to) our message of that which was revealed to us? And, to whom has the arm of the Lord been disclosed?
For the Servant of God grew up before Him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He has no form or comeliness [royal, kingly pomp], that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.
He was despised, rejected, and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains of punishment, yet we ignorantly considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God as if with leprosy.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement needful to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him we are healed and made whole.
All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, yet when He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken to His death, for the transgression of my [Isaiah’s] people, to whom the stroke was due?
And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He make His life an offering for sin and He has risen from the dead, in time to come, He shall see His spiritual offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself, which He possesses and imparts to others, shall My uncompromisingly righteous One, My Servant, justify many and make many righteous, for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt with the consequences, says the Lord.
12 Therefore, will I divide Him a portion with the great kings and rulers, and He shall divide the spoil with the mighty, because He poured out His life unto death, and He let Himself be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore and took away the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors (the rebellious).
God puts us into situations and relationships; it is our responsibility to make sure we follow Him, His principles, and precepts. If we think God’s Word is not pertinent to a situation, then we should not continue in that situation but pull back to the point at which we knew He and His Word applied. We should follow God out of the situation. If God is being overshadowed by a relationship, we should get out of that relationship. Not all situations in which we find ourselves are God-ordained, but have come from our choosing a way that did not follow God’s will.
In Isaiah 53, we see the story of the suffering Savior. Isaiah prophesied about a thousand years before Christ’s birth that the Savior would come and would choose to be stricken with grief, sorrow, pain, and separation from Yahweh. Yahweh and He were in agreement on this necessity and the LORD made is come to pass. He “has put Him to grief and made Him sick” (vs. 10). God purposely made the Savior sick in His body and in His spirit by choosing to allow the Son to experience being the sacrifice for the sin of all humanity, which separated Him from Yahweh, and by allowing nails to be hammered into His hands and feet and a spear pierce His side. Christ took on grief in body and spirit when He chose to be THE sin offering. Jesus was able to foresee the children of His love and chose to be killed so that we all may believe He is the Son of God sent to take away our sins so that we may have a perfect relationship with the LORD. 
Later in history, Jesus is explaining to the disciples that what He experiences, they will experience and more because that are His followers. In John 15:20, Jesus tells them, “Remember that I told you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they will also keep and obey yours.” Yahweh did not make Jesus’ path always painless and easy. Fortunately, He made it similar to ours so that He could relate to our human lives and so that we could gain a godly example of how to walk in this life as a follower of Jesus. As the LORD chose to allow grief and pain occur to His Son so that humankind could see Him, relate to Him, and receive forgiveness of Sin and eternal life with Him, He also allows, even puts us into situations which allow grief and pain. Not everything in a Christian’s life is going to be easy or pain free. How we approach the situations and choose to handle and process it will determine who we will become. If we look to God’s Word for guidance and use it to lead us through the difficult times, then we will grow within ourselves and in our relationship with God. If we find that there is nothing in the Word that is pertinent to the situation and rely upon our own understanding, then we will walk away from God. (Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6). If there is at any time a place where this is the case, then we have walked away from God. God’s Word is pertinent to all of the life of His children because He created the universe and because His Son chose to walk as a man and experience everything as we do. When we reach the place where it seems God’s Word is not pertinent, we have two choices. We can step out on our own understanding or we can back up on our journey and find out where the last place was that we heard God’s voice, where His Word was pertinent to our walk. This place is where we left the path of God. Let me reiterate this, if we get to a place in our spiritual journey where we feel the Word is not pertinent and we are not hearing the voice of God, we have strayed from the path He wanted us to take. This is true for situations and relationships. If you are putting more emphasis on a relationship with a person than on God (God is being overshadowed), you should not be in that relationship; it is taking your eyes away from the LORD. You must get out of that relationship and return to the last place in which God was primary in your life, where you last heard from the LORD. 
In Isaiah 53, he continues his prophesy by stating, “When You and He make His life an offering for sin and He has risen from the dead, in time to come, He shall see His spiritual offspring…” (vs. 10). Jesus was rewarded for the pain and grief He bore with spiritual children. He chose to put His comfort aside so that others would see and know Him, experience His love for them and, by this, come to be His followers, His children. Others in the Bible also were told they would have offspring in the future; consider Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. People followed their example and became believers in Yahweh. Without this complete giving over to the LORD’s will and way, there would not have been believers in Yahweh and in Jesus the Christ. Abraham chose to believe and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3). Jesus chose to go through the pain of His crucifixion and the anguish of being separated from Yahweh for those brief few days, so that we could be cleansed and made right with God, so that we could be followers of Him. For both of these men, their concern was about eternal rewards. They were considering us, their hoped for spiritual children. If Jesus had not done this, we would not be His children. It is conditional. When He sacrificed Himself, then He would see spiritual children. It is the same with us. When we look back over our life when we are nearing the end of our mortal life, we will see our spiritual children, those who chose to follow the way we walked with the LORD. They came from watching us choose to follow God even when we had to get out of a situation or relationship. They saw us struggle with situations and relationships and saw us choose to seek God even if that meant moving backwards in our life journey. They saw the LORD was more important than any person or circumstance. Or did we? 
We can choose to crucify ourselves by remaining obstinate and standing firm in a situation God would have us leave or a relationship from which He would have us remove ourselves. Alternatively, we can allow our desires to come second to God’s will, way, and love. We will experience difficult times. We will have to remove ourselves from people and situations. It is the journey of life, for a believer in Jesus, which is important. Our decisions determine our journey. Will we choose God and His ways over our desires and circumstances? When we do, people will see. They will see our journey, our faith walk. Some people may come to follow Jesus because of seeing our faithfulness to Him. It is all about our willingness to be in a loving obedient relationship with Him. Do you have this kind of relationship with God, a relationship that turns seeking Him when you have not heard His voice in a while and when the Word no longer seems pertinent? We must each choose, as Abraham and Jesus did, to seek and follow the LORD. When we do, not only will we be blessed by our relationship with God and gain eternal life, but also we will be blessed with spiritual children who have arisen because of our faith walk. What is your walk like today?