"You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.Isaiah 43:10(NASB)
Isaiah moved from warnings of imminent punishment for the unrepentant masses of apostates and blessings for a believing remnant in chapters 1-39, to future prophecies of comfort and hope, with deliverance and national restoration for those who believe in chapters 40-66. The second part of Isaiah looks into the distant future with promises of a coming Saviour, while the earlier chapters deal mainly with the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles.
The first 39 chapters of Isaiah focussed on Israel's near future. It called for God's rebellious nation to repent of their sin and warned of imminent judgement for both Gentile nations and God's unrepentant people. From chapter 40, we are propelled into the two advents of Israel's Messiah. FIRST... when He came as the suffering Servant and Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world - when He was initially despised and rejected by His own people, and SECOND... when He returns with power and great glory as the Lamb on the throne, (the Lion of Judah), when peace like a river will flow throughout the land.
Israel were God's covenant nation whom He chose to be His witnesses to the lost world of fallen humanity. They were to tell pagan nations the good news of God and bring them into the camp of salvation. They were to be a light to the Gentiles. They were to teach them about God and warn them that idols are lifeless and powerless. "You are My witnesses," the LORD declared. "You are My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me."
Israel was God's special servant who was created to witness to the world and proclaim the gospel of God's coming kingdom to godless, idol-worshipping nations. They were to testify of the goodness and grace of the Lord to those who were dead in their sin. They were the people of God who were to tell of the coming kingdom of God. However, the rebellious nation did not heed the Word of God and brought upon themselves their justified punishment.
Isaiah and other prophetic voices had warned for centuries that the apostate kingdoms of Israel and Judah would be punished for their sin, forcibly removed from their homeland, and sent into exile if they did not repent. Nevertheless, words of comfort and hope were given to a faithful remnant 'the Israel of God' as Paul calls them. "Do not fear, for I am with you in the storm," were the Lord's reassuring words, to this tiny remnant. "I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'do not hold them back.'"
Despite both Israel and Judah being carried away into exile, prophecies of comfort abounded for God's little remnant and later chapters in Isaiah are filled with promises of future deliverance. Although restoration of a remnant occurred after Judah's return from Babylonian captivity, we know that a second restoration will take place at the time of the end, when God's faithful people are gathered from the far corners of the earth by His holy angels.
Whether it is promises of judgement for disobedience or blessings for faithfulness, God always fulfils His promises. He brought back some of His faithful people from the Babylonian dispersion and at the appointed time, God sent His Son into the world to save His people from their sin. But when their Messiah finally arrived to establish His kingdom, they crucified Him, and the apostate nation was once again scattered throughout the earth - and still remain in unbelief.
It is not because of Israel's great goodness that God remains faithful to them, but because of HIS great goodness and never-ending kindness. When God chose Israel and made Himself known to His people, they covenanted to be His witnesses to the nations... and although they rebelled against Him, God purposed that they would complete the task for which they were called. They would believe in Him and understand that besides Him there is no God. And they would be His witnesses to the world, for the Lord Himself declared, "You are My witnesses. You are My servant whom I have chosen - so that you may know and believe...."
Apart from a small remnant who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel is still in unbelief. Though many have returned to the land, many remain scattered across the earth - in unbelief. But in His grace, God rehearsed His promises to His people Israel through the lips of Isaiah the prophet... and His Word is unbreakable. "You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "You are My servant whom I have chosen, so that YOU may know and believe Me and that YOU understand that I am He - and before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me."
Today, the Church has been called to be God's witnesses to a world of lost sinners. We have been commanded to go and make disciples of all the nations. But a day is coming when Israel will once again be handed the baton of witness and they will complete the task for which they were called - to be a light to the Gentiles and God's witness to the lost... and then they will preach the gospel of the kingdom throughout the earth.
In that day, Israel will know and believe and understand that Jesus Christ is Lord and that before Him there was no God formed and there will be none after Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness to Your people Israel who for so long have been a nation living in unbelief and in rebellion to the truth of the gospel. Thank You for Your long-suffering mercy and the assurance that they will one day fulfil the work that You have called them to do - to be Your witnesses to a world that is lost in sin and to know and believe that You are the Lord. Thank You that in Your grace You called out of the Gentiles a people for Your name, to tell forth the good news of the gospel of grace until the day when Israel proclaims the gospel of the kingdom and acknowledges Jesus as their Messiah and Lord, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.