Do Not Fear – Part 1
“‘But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend…’” (Isaiah 41:8 NIV)
Isaiah the prophet was lamenting the backsliding of God’s people but was also looking forward to the time when God would restore and bless them. Wanting to encourage those who were keeping their trust in him no matter what was going on around them, God addressed them through the prophet, saying, “But you, oh Israel, my servant; Jacob, whom I have chosen….”
What is unusual about this is that Israel was the name of the nation, but it was first mentioned in the Bible when God changed the name of Jacob, and he became Israel. So God was about to comfort his people through the prophet, but wait a minute! The name Jacob means “deceiver.” It means “one who grabs at the heel.” It means a used car dealer from whom you don’t want to buy a car! Jacob had cheated his own brother out of his birthright and blessing, yet here was God saying, “Jacob, whom I have chosen.” You’d almost want to say, “No, God, leave Jacob’s name out of it! Just say, ‘Israel, whom I have chosen’!”
There’s a mystery here for every believer, for before you ever chose God, he chose you! I don’t understand it. In fact, no one can fathom it, because God does it without ever violating our free will. Were he to do so, the concept of choice would not mean anything, would it? If you were forced to love someone, what would that love mean? It would mean nothing. No, love has to be free in order for it to be love. But on the other side of that coin, and in the mystery of God’s sovereignty, God said, “I have chosen you.” Again, we would want to say, “Yes, God, but don’t choose Jacob; he’s crooked!” And God would answer, “I know, but I have chosen him; because in the end, he’s going to put his trust in me.”
Truth be told, aren’t we serving God, not because of our faithfulness, but because of his faithfulness? Why has he been so faithful? Why has he kept his promises? Hasn’t he done things for us that you and I have not deserved and that we could not even imagine he would do? Why does he do it, then? There is no person among us who has always been a strong Christian, is there? And even the strongest Christians have messed up at times. Haven’t you ever felt unworthy when God has wrapped his arms around you and blessed you in spite of your failures and weaknesses? Isn’t it true that some of the choicest blessings God has given us have come not when we’ve been at our best, but rather at our worst? Does God wait to bless us just when we’re doing well, or does he continually shower grace and mercy and blessings on us?
God said, “Jacob, whom I have chosen… You are my servant.” Yes, you and I are serving him today because we’ve put our faith in Jesus; but in another way, God has chosen us. And there is something he wants to tell us…
To be continued…
Read Isaiah 41:8-9.