Isaiah 49:1-26

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 49:1-26

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK
Isaiah 49
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. — Isaiah 49:15

When I was five years old, our family lived in a small town in Siberia. One Christmas, we received an interesting gift — two oranges. In Siberia, you do not usually see oranges in the winter, so this was a very special gift. Even if you love oranges, you cannot enjoy them as we enjoyed those oranges! As my mother peeled them, we savored the special fragrance. We were a very large family, so my mother cut the slices apart and gave each child a slice and a half. She did not take one for herself, and we asked her, “Don’t you want a slice?” She said, “I like the orange peel better.”

After our family moved to America, my dad brought home a bag full of oranges one day. We all rejoiced as we peeled and ate them. Each one of us took the peel to our mother, but she said, “No, no, I would prefer the oranges.” We were shocked because she had convinced us that she liked the peel.

My mother’s self-sacrificing actions with those two oranges have always seemed to me an excellent example of how a mother loves her children. Yet God is indicating in our focus verse that He cares even more than a mother cares!

In this chapter, Isaiah began to describe the character of Israel’s future deliverer. God was conveying His deep love for this lost nation. Though they had forsaken Him for idolatry, He would not forsake them. He could no more forget them than a mother could forget her child. God in His great mercy would reach out to them through His Servant. God’s promises to Israel were fulfilled, not only in the eventual return of the Jews to their land, but also in the coming of Jesus to bring spiritual deliverance.

God had a plan for the salvation of the Jews and of the whole world. He had His plan in mind from the beginning of the world and was willing to share some of it with Israel many years before it happened. This reminds us that God knows exactly what He is doing and has a plan for our lives, too. Whatever our circumstances, God has not forgotten us. He loves us more than a mother could.

We need to pay attention to the promises that God so freely shares with us and keep our lives committed to Him, so that we can remember those promises and believe them.

BACKGROUND

Isaiah looked ahead to the time when the people of Israel would feel that God had deserted them in Babylon, but Isaiah pointed out that God would never leave them. This prophetic consolation has many passages where the role of the Messiah (or the Holy One) as a suffering Servant is revealed. These Scriptures, like other such passages in Isaiah, combine a message of comfort and deliverance by the Servant Deliverer, along with predictions of His rejection by His own people.

This chapter consists almost entirely of poetic passages, and these verses are prophesies of the future. They deal with the coming Babylonian captivity and ultimately with the coming of Jesus Christ. The two events are connected because, even though the Jews would return from Babylon long before Jesus’ first coming, they still would be under foreign rule during Jesus’ lifetime — a foreign rule that would be nearly uninterrupted from the time they were carried away to Babylon.

The first six verses describe the Servant’s call. A number of features in this passage point to the identity of the Servant:

  • His mouth is like a sword. This description is also made of Christ in the Book of Revelation, and to the Word of God in Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17.
  • He is identified as Israel, but cannot be the nation of Israel because in the same passage, He is called to raise up the nation of Israel. This shows the Servant is the fulfillment of the law and history of Israel.
  • His first mission is to raise up Israel, and then to be a light to the Gentiles.
  • He is a covenant to the people, referring to the New Covenant (or New Testament).
  • He is despised by the nation and the people.

Here, and also in the following chapter, Zion (or Jerusalem) that Jesus referred to as “the city of the great King” stands for the nation as a whole. While the captivity will make Jerusalem feel forsaken by God, the following promises are given:

  • The hungry and thirsty will be cared for.
  • The dispersed refugees will be gathered back.
  • Their hearts will be comforted.
  • There will be deliverance from oppressors.
  • There will be a restoration of the land.
  • The Gentiles, even their kings and queens, will look up to Israel.

The passage ends with judgment of Israel’s enemies, but the final word is universal knowledge of the One true God and their Savior.

AMPLIFIED OUTLINE

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
      B.   The person of the deliverer (redemption)
            1.   The mission of the servant (49:1-26)
                  a.   The commission of the servant (49:1-6)
                  b.   The humiliation and exaltation of the servant (49:7)
                  c.   The restoration by the servant (49:8-13)
                  d.   The comfort of the servant (49:14-26)
                       (1)   His faithfulness to Israel (49:14-21)
                       (2)   His judgment on Israel’s foes (49:22-26)

A CLOSER LOOK

  1. Why did God have Isaiah prophesy about the return from captivity before Israel had been taken captive?

  2. What characteristics of Christ are revealed in this passage? 

  3. What did God promise to accomplish through his Servant?

  4. What circumstances in life might cause us to wonder if God has forsaken us? How can we find encouragement?

CONCLUSION

Even though we may try, we cannot comprehend how much God loves and cares for us. Today, take courage in His concern for you!