Monday Reflection – August 26, 2019

In God’s Time

Thus says the Lord, “In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you.” Isaiah 49:8

Today’s Watchword is in the context of the second of four Servant Songs in Isaiah 42-53. The servant is God’s agent to do his work in the world. The songs are about God’s servant who will, among other things, bring justice to the nations, raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the preserved of Israel. Furthermore, God says, “I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth” (49:6b). It is clear that the servant will exercise considerable power on Yahweh’s authority.

In today’s text, Yahweh promises to bring his children home. This is intended to encourage the exiles who are having trouble believing that Yahweh will soon free them from their exile and lead them back to their homeland. God is about to liberate them. Yet, such will be on God’s terms and at God’s determined time. Notice that God says, ‘in a time of favor’ and ‘on a day of salvation’. Further, God promises that he will preserve them and give them as a covenant to the people. God is reminding them of the covenant he had established between them, a covenant between a superior (God) and an inferior (humans). God initiates these covenants and dictates their terms, and in every case the terms are favorable to the humans.

Thus in the context of the people’s inability to recover on their own and bring about their own future, God promises their restoration. God uses language that is akin to that of a mother to emphasize his promised care. For example, in 49:14, the people complains that God has forsaken and forgotten them. God responds in verse 15 by asking, if it is possible for the actual mother of a child to forget her child, even her nursing child, and if it is possible for the literal mother of the child to show no compassion for a child she has borne. Even if this were possible, God declares that it is not possible for him. “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” God is faithful and this means that God’s options are limited; God will not, indeed cannot forget Israel. This is an act of divine self-limitation. In fact, God says that Israel is inscribed or tattooed on the palms of his hands. Israel has become a part of God’s identity. God is mother in a way that no earthly mother can be.

What a word of assurance for God’s people today! When we face life’s challenges, we have a mothering God who will always remember us. We are tattooed on the palms of God’s hands, never to be forgotten, but marked by him. We have a faithful God who will raise us up and cause us to thrive bountifully. Our journey may be through the wilderness, but we shall not be in want of food or water or protection. God himself will be our provider, guide and shelter. Yet God acts in his own time and day, as he bestows favour and salvation upon us.

Until next week, let’s trust God’s timing and actions.

Jermaine Gibson

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