“And now the LORD says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD,
and my God has become my strength—
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Throughout the Old Testament, we see God seeking to draw His people back to Himself. Calling them to turn from their rebellion and return to Him with all their heart, to love and serve and worship Him and take refuge in the Almighty God who is for them.
His heart is seen in that faithfulness, in Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 32:9-10, ““But the LORD’s portion is His people, Jacob his allotted heritage. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.”
Recognizing the powerful, steadfast love that God has for His people Israel, this passage in Isaiah 49 captures my attention. The Messiah is sent “to bring Jacob back to Him; and that Israel might be gathered to Him.” Yet the Lord does not stop there. The God of Israel does not only want to gather Israel in—His purpose is that His salvation “may reach to the end of the earth.”
God declares that His Promised One will be a light to the nations, not only to Israel. It is not a statement that Israel didn’t matter—much to the contrary, it is meant to highlight how great a salvation is being offered and how magnificent is the glory of His grace that God sent His Son into the world to save us all.
The God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of the Hebrews—He is my God as well. I have been grafted in. And it was not based on anything I have done, anything remarkable in me. It is all because of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Light for the nations. The One who, shortly before He would be beaten and nailed to a cross, declared, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” All people. Any race, any language, any age, any gender, any background.
There aren’t any qualifications we must meet. We simply must believe. God takes those of us who don’t seem to belong anywhere, and He gives us a place to belong. He grafts us in as His people. He draws us into His family. He becomes our God who is for us, the One who fights for us, leads us, and looks out for us. We are not alone here. There is hope, because there is a Savior who has come for all the world.
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood,
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD
and serve him with one accord…
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.”
Zephaniah 3:9, 19
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…
For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
Romans 10:9, 13