For My Name’s Sake – Isaiah 43:6-7

“I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Isaiah 43:6-7

In setting up what God has laid on my heart, there are several other passages I am including that He brought to mind before giving me what I have written below. As you read through them, I pray He will use them to prepare your heart for what He desires to show you today, as He used them to prepare mine.

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD,
‘and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.’”
Isaiah 43:10-11

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.”
Isaiah 48:9-11

“For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the LORD your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.”
Isaiah 60:9

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.”
Romans 11:36

It is for His glory. All of it. None of it is ultimately about us. Yes, the Lord loves us greatly and purely and more powerfully than we can know. Yes, He saves us, and the act of making a way for us came at great cost to Him. But the core, the foundation of it all is not us – it is Him.

His glory.

His astounding grace, power, righteousness, justice, love – which all points to Him, not to us.

God’s salvation of us shows that He is worthy, not us. That is why Revelation 5 focuses on praise of Jesus our Lord. His glory is magnified. That is what it all points to. God’s salvation of us, His refining and perfecting of us, His making us beautiful, His creation and calling of us – it is all, ultimately, for His glory and praise.

Our God is good, and He is love, and He is strength and hope for the weak. He mends the brokenhearted and captures each tear in a bottle. He draws us to Himself and reveals the truth of who He is for us. He is compassionate and merciful. He is powerful and nothing is impossible for Him. And all of this, every moment, highlights the glory of our God, to the praise of His glorious grace.

So may our praise resound this morning, captivated by the wonder and glory of our God, allowing His Spirit to fill our hearts with all the fullness of God as we fall before His feet in worship. Rejoicing that it is all for His name’s sake, because He is glorious, magnificent, and worthy of all praise.

“And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

‘Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.’

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.’” Revelation 5:5-14

Advertisements

The Lord Your God – Isaiah 41:8-10

“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, ‘You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off’;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:8-10

The Lord has just spoken in this passage of a king (Cyrus of Persia) coming from the east, “whom victory meets at every step,” making other kings “like dust with his sword” and stirring fear among all people. In His description, the Lord makes one thing clear: He is the one who has determined these events. “Who stirred up one from the east whom victory meets at every step?…Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last, I am he” (Isaiah 41:2,4).

After describing the response of those in other nations who seek to help and strengthen each other in preparation and fear, the Lord speaks verses 8-10. Beginning with, “But you, Israel.” There is a difference here. A difference between those who are the Lord’s and those who are not. This difference changes the response from one of fear to one of confidence and security.

Because the Lord who stirred up the king from the east, the Lord who is in charge of all these events – He declares that He is with them. He has not abandoned them for this other nation. No, they are His. His servants. His chosen. Those whom He called to Himself from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners. Assuring them in His calling that they are still His, that He has chosen them and has not cast them off.

So they have no need to fear. No need to be dismayed. For He is their God. And He will strengthen. He will help. He will uphold them in righteousness, with all the great power He has.

In further assurance, He tells them, “Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded…You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’” (Isaiah 41:11-13).

He is the one who helps them. He, the ruler of all things. He, the one who stirred up this king and has given nations into his hand. He is with His people. He is for His people. He will never abandon, never fail to strengthen or help them. He has chosen them and will not go back on His word. Nor will He ever want to.

This is the God who has called us to Himself. These promises are not just for those in the nation of Israel all those generations ago. Because the God who issued these assurances never changes. His faithfulness is just as certain, His actions for His people are just as sure, and He rules over all things as powerfully and unquestionably as He always has.

We see this faithfulness in Jesus’ words in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out,” and in John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

Let us have confidence today, for the God who rules the nations, who holds all creation in His hand and purposes all things according to His will and the plans of His heart – the heart of the One who is light and in whom is no darkness at all – this God is for you. He is with you. He strengthens you, helps you, and upholds you with His righteous right hand. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself’” (Acts 2:39).

He Who Created the Stars – Isaiah 40:26

“Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.”

Isaiah 40:26

There seems to be a built-in wonder in the hearts of people at magnificent displays of creation. In a movie I watched a few weeks ago, there is a scene in which the lead characters are standing outside captivated by the night sky and the countless stars visible away from city lights. They grow quiet for a moment, then one of them begins quoting Shakespeare. Reading this verse in Isaiah, I perceived that response in a new light.

In that moment, it’s as if there was something compelling her to speak, to respond to the wonder of what was before her. How often do our hearts feel that way? When beholding great beauty, something stirs within us to respond. And it strikes me how far short the response in the movie fell. Because the focus of those words, even written by one so renowned as Shakespeare, was earth-bound.

How much more fitting are these words from Isaiah. Elevating the focus beyond even the stars in the heavens to magnify the glory of the One who created them, who brings each one out and calls them by name, highlighting the greatness of His might and His power that keeps every star in its place, ensuring not one is lost.

The only response that truly satisfies and fills our souls when beholding the wonders of creation is praise of the Creator. The infinite, living God who is greater than all and fit it all in place, who is even now holding all things together. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). It is all designed to point us to Him.

May our hearts be filled with wonder today at the greatness of our God, at His might, His wisdom, His glory that fills the heavens and the earth, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, and His great love. Particularly in this Christmas season, may we feel the wonder that this God is the One whose birth we celebrate, the One who chose to come to earth, stepping into time and His creation to walk among us, show us His heart, lead us to truth, endure great suffering, and give His life to make a way for us to know Him. “For in [Jesus Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). This is the God who draws us to Himself. Let us respond in praise of the only One to whom praise is due.

“Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.”
Psalm 147:1-5

Wonder in a Name – Judges 13:17-18

“And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD,
‘What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?’
And the angel of the LORD said to him,
‘Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?’”

Judges 13:17-18

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

Whenever the Old Testament speaks of the angel of the LORD, I look for clues as to whether it is an incarnation of the Lord Himself or if it is simply an angel sent with a message. In this passage in Judges, the messenger’s avoidance of giving a name, highlighting the wonderful, incomprehensible nature of it, strikes me as indicative that perhaps this visitor is more than a mere angel.

The Hebrew word for “wonderful” in Judges 13:18 has the same origin as the word used in Isaiah 9:6, both referring to wonder, beyond understanding.

My focus this morning is not so much on whether Jesus appeared to Samson’s parents in Judges 13; rather, it is on what it means that His name is wonderful. Beyond our ability to comprehend.

It highlights for me the reverence of the name of Jesus. And how discrediting it is to use this name, to speak it, in vain. Without the wonder of Him. The name – the only name – by which we are saved (Acts 4:12). The name of the One who is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. Who upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

Oh, may I see new wonder in the name of Jesus. The name before which every knee will bow, including mine, at the majesty, glory, and dominion He holds (Philippians 2:9-11). At the wondrous salvation He brought to us through His willing sacrifice on the cross and victorious resurrection. Salvation for sinners, those whom He loves and came to earth to save.

He came down from heaven to bring salvation to the world, to all who would believe in Him in their heart. And upon my receiving Him, upon surrendering to this Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, He poured His Spirit directly into my heart (Romans 5:5). He came down to me, and He is here with me always. The wondrous God of all. So personally near. In perfect love, drawing me, and you, to Himself, revealing His glory to those who are His, and showing His glory to the world through each vessel of clay whom He is molding into the breathtaking beauty of the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:7, Romans 8:29). The One whose name is wonderful.

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife,
for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:20b-21

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name
under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:11-12

To His Purpose – Romans 8:28

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

I have been – I am – called, according to His purpose. His, not mine.

To conform me to the image of His Son, Jesus. To make me beautiful, among those whom God has made His people, that He may be glorified.

A chosen race, a holy nation, set apart to declare His magnificent light (1 Peter 2:9-10).

For the good works He has prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus ransomed me for God (Revelation 5:9). I was not ultimately ransomed for me. God is at the core. It is for Him. The joy is ultimately His. The aim is His glory, His purposes.

From Him, through Him, to Him are all things (Romans 11:36).

Filling me with peace and the fullness of His joy, leading me into abundant life, giving me wisdom and shining light on my path – it is all ultimately for Him.

How amazing is my God, that He chooses to be glorified in this way. In grace. In love. In hope. In joy. In comfort. In restoration. In faithfulness.
Showcasing the magnificent, matchless, holy beauty of His perfect character.

Let us worship Him today with hearts full of wonder at this God who chooses to be glorified by saving us, and who went to the cross to ransom us for Himself, that we could live out eternity in the holy light of His glorious presence.

To See More of Our God – Psalm 119:16

“I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.”

Psalm 119:16

This verse compelled a specific prayer of my heart: Lord, may I delight in Your statutes.

Not just obeying them because I know I’m supposed to – although we are to exercise discipline to obey even when we don’t “feel” like it – but seeking to delight in them.

Including the very difficult ones. Those we don’t understand. Those that seem impossible. Those that quite honestly can hurt to follow.

Like forgiving someone who appears unapologetic and unrepentant, with no indication of turning. Who has cut so deeply. May I delight to forgive, even under these circumstances.

Delight not because it is fun or easy, and not because of pride or self-righteousness (which would be sin on my part) – but because it shows me more of the Lord.

Delight because as I feel the deep hurt and wrestle with the decision to forgive, to love, I gain a deeper understanding of my God’s character.

Because this is who our God is. And isn’t that amazing? This is what the Living God, Creator and Ruler of all things – this is what He does. This is what He chooses.

He forgives. He loves. Even at great personal cost. He went through such pain, such suffering, to forgive sinners who had rejected Him and given Him no reason to show mercy. Let alone to show favor, to offer to bring them in as beloved children.

When I am hurt and offended, when I am faced with the command to forgive, to bless, to show compassion, I gain a glimpse of my Savior. Of His choice. Of His greatness and the greatness of His love. The power of it to overcome any desire for retaliation. That He would desire forgiveness and restoration, that He would choose patience in order to give so many the choice to reconcile instead of delivering the justice so rightfully due to them – so rightfully due to me (2 Peter 3:9, 15).

What great, powerful love. What astounding character. What strength to choose forgiveness when it demands so much. This is our God. This is the Savior by whose name we are called. The name above all names, because of what He accomplished on the cross.

We grasp that more deeply when we walk through a situation that brings us even an inkling of His suffering.

This is the delight I see within the statutes of our God, within the commands of how we are to walk through this life…it isn’t just some list of rules. He didn’t outline them in order to make our life difficult. It is insight into who our God is. There is purpose in each command, and it is all for our good and to display His goodness and glory and salvation to the world. So they will see Him.

O Lord, may I delight in Your statutes, delight to follow them, because they show me more of who You are. More of Your character, which is holy, righteous, blameless, faithful, pure, steadfast, and filled with powerful love. May I delight to see You here, and delight to know more deeply how holy and wonderful You are as I follow in Your footsteps. Requiring Your strength to walk in Your ways, because they are so far above my broken, fallen capabilities. Highlighting the great beauty of You and stirring renewed wonder at how You are molding me into Your character, to reflect that beauty in this vessel of clay. So may I delight. Delight to see You. Delight to walk with You in the light, experiencing You in the process, realizing the choices Jesus made as one who was fully human and fully God, and delight to know You more as a result.

Sacrifices – Hebrews 10:11-14

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

Hebrews 10:11-14

Reading through the beginning of this chapter, I wonder if there was a certain comfort in the consistent demonstration of sacrifice of bulls and goats under the old covenant. Because in a sense, it gave people a way to actively work for their forgiveness. When guilt from previously confessed sin plagued someone, they could offer another sacrifice. Because doesn’t guilt from past sin sometimes compel us to try to do the same thing? Even if we’ve repented and asked for forgiveness before, the reminder of who we were can get stuck on repeat in our minds and cause us to feel like more is required of us to truly be forgiven.

But in Christ, no more sacrifices are needed. “Where there is forgiveness of [sin and lawless deeds], there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18). Forgiveness is already ours when we confess our sins to the Lord and trust in Christ. No other offering is needed and no other sacrifices could be sufficient. If Jesus wasn’t enough, we have no hope.

But He was. He is.

The sufficiency of Christ, of His work on the cross, is declared with His words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His sacrifice was enough. We don’t have to keep trying to make up for our wrongs. We choose to trust His work, His salvation, His forgiveness. Our God made salvation entirely dependent on Him so He would get the glory.

And that is wonderful news for us. Because in this sacrifice, the only sacrifice needed, the only one that could be enough to cover us, we are able to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22).

Hold fast to the confession of your hope, believer. He who promised is faithful. To save, to forgive, to cleanse from all unrighteousness, and to see you safely home to dwell in His glorious, joy-filled presence forever (John 3:16-17; 1 John 1:9; 2 Timothy 4:18; Deuteronomy 33:27a).

“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the LORD:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,’

then he adds,
‘I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.’”
Hebrews 10:15-17