Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Isaiah 49:1-7 (NRSV)
Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The LORD called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the LORD,
and my reward with my God.”
And now the LORD says,
who formed me in 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 sight 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 restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Thus says the LORD,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,
“Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Israel was in exile. Prophets had foretold the loss of national independence, but kings, priests, and people had persisted in idol worship and injustice to the poor and powerless. Now, though they were far from their homeland, the Lord their God did not forget them. Prophets arose to assure them of deliverance.
Isaiah 49 promises a servant leader who will restore Israel to God’s favor. Today’s reading is a conversation between that servant and God. The servant senses that he has been called even before birth to lead God’s people, and he can hardly wait to begin his mission of restoration. Yet God has more in store for this servant than simply leading Israel.
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6).
The servant is often identified with Jesus, who indeed became “a light to the nations.” The mission of the servant Jesus is now our mission, a mission to share God’s good news with all people.
Holy God, we thank you for those who are called to lead your people in servant roles today. Cleanse our hearts and minds and show us whom you would have us serve. Amen.
Go with God.