Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God. Behold, all you that kindle a fire, that encircle yourselves with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that you have kindled. This shall you have of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow. (Isa 50:10-11 KJ2000)
Many of us have known lives filled with disappointment, rejection and sufferings. I want you to know that as you have given yourselves over to God, it is all in His plan for you and that there is His light waiting for you at the end of the tunnel you have been in. I dedicate this teaching to you.
Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no stately form nor splendor; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isa 53:1-5 KJ2000)
Verse one in the above passage in the Amplified Version reads, “WHO HAS believed (trusted in, relied upon, and clung to) our message [of that which was revealed to us]? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been disclosed? (Isa 53:1 AMP). This is a great question that proceeds a great passage about our Savior and His great sufferings on this earth spoken by Isaiah the prophet. I think Isaiah was skeptical that anyone could hear his message about the Messiah. Yes, just WHO will believe and trust in the cling to a Saviour such as this? A tender plant? A gnarly root on top of the ground with no beauty about Him for men to see? Rather they rejected Him and He had no honor in His own home town or among His kin. The despised Him so much that they sought to kill Him more often than not. If today’s evangelists came to us in this form would we receive their gospel messages? Would we treat them any different? Yes, who will know the arm of the Lord in their lives? Who will know the power of His might, first to save them and then to refine them through sufferings into the sons of God? Ours is a Hollywood gospel that appeals to our flesh, spoken by smooth talking, handsome men in three piece suits wearing expensive shoes who time their messages by their Rolex watches. Isaiah had none of these in His description of Jesus and it was not receive back then either. To whom then is the arm of the Lord then revealed? David wrote, “The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psa 34:18 KJ2000).
“The arm of the Lord” also refers to His power to do the miraculous. Many Christians come to Christ and want His power, but that power only came to Jesus as He was obedient to His Father and did HIS will, not His own. Satan often tempted Him to take the power He had to Himself for His own purposes. “You are hungry, Jesus, turn this stone into bread.” “Prove to all in the temple you are the Son of God and leap off its pentacle in front of them. Doesn’t the scripture say that your Father will bear you up with His angels?” Or how about the temptation that came out of His disciple’s own mouth when He told them about how He had to go up to Jerusalem and suffer and die at the hands of the leaders of the Jews? “Be it far from you, Lord! Spare yourself!” To which Jesus responded, “Get behind me, Satan! For you desire the things of men and not the things pertaining to God.” If He had listened and put first the things pertaining to His life and comfort we would all be lost because that is exactly what Satan did that brought about his fall. He sought power over the kingdom of God without obedience to Him.
This chapter in Isaiah is all about Jesus and what He went through to be fully formed into the manifest Son of God on this earth. He learned obedience by the things He suffered. In Hebrews we read,
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Heb 5:7-9 KJ2000)
Not only was Jesus made perfect through suffering, but so are we. It was because of Him loving not His life even unto death that He had power. He moved in that obedience as the Son of God, only doing what He saw His Father doing and only speaking what He heard His Father saying and the demons trembled! Because of His great obedience, His was the arm of the Lord. It is no different with those of us who are being conformed into Christ’s image as the sons and daughters of God. Before power can come through us, God has to break us and pour us out for others as He did the Son. Paul wrote, “For just as Christ’s [ own] sufferings fall to our lot [as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them] abundantly, so through Christ comfort (consolation and encouragement) is also [shared and experienced] abundantly by us” (2Co 1:5 AMP).
Many want the power of God to flow through them, but they don’t want to pay the price by which it comes. In those last hours that Jesus was with them on earth the disciples asked if they could sit in seats of power at Jesus’ side in heaven, but there was a price to pay for that to happen…
“When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left.” Jesus told them, “You don’t really know what you’re asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized?” (Mar 10:37-38 CEV)
Why did Paul have power over sickness and demons? It was because He wanted ALL that Jesus is in His life. Power is only part of the package and the cup of suffering is not optional. He wrote,
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Phi 3:7-10 KJ2000)
This man not only wanted Christ’s power and authority, but He wanted ALL of Christ! He counted all his former life and his very Jewishness and rabbinical accomplishments as rubbish as well as everything else that he once held dear that He might attain all that God had for him in Christ. Most of us read the above passage and narrow it down to part of one verse, “That I am know… the power!” We all want resurrection power. We want to stand before men and heal the sick and raise the dead and would love to get the attention that goes with it or we want to rule over the lives of the saints of God when Christ is the Head of the church and is the ONLY Mediator between God and man. We like to take things out of context like this passage…
Therefore he says, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men… And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers…” (Eph 4:8-11 KJ2000)
But Paul goes on and tells us the purpose of this empowerment from God…
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive; (Eph 4:13-14 KJ2000)
From what I have seen those who have the so called “five fold” use it to keep aloof and above the saints of God, maintaining the false clergy-laity separation instead of demonstrating in all lowliness the UNITY of all saints, great or small. Didn’t Jesus say that those among us who would be the greatest must become the least and the slaves of all? There is no division in a perfect body. For it to work it must be unified in every way with each member having no less a part in that perfection than another. It is this dis-unity brought about by a hierarchal system in todays visible church that is why we so often are tossed about by every wind of doctrine and sleight of men with their cunning craftiness and deception. Paul warned it would end up that way (See Acts 20:29-30) and could see it starting already before he died.
After prophesying all the sufferings that Jesus would go through, Isaiah ends by saying,
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:10-12 KJ2000)
Yes, Isaiah 53 is about Jesus and HE is the Savior, but the context says it is also about those “to whom the arm of the Lord is revealed,” as well. His sufferings and righteous obedience to His Father was so that we also could overcome in our sufferings and know His righteousness in us by His sacrifice.
What does this mean, “when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand”? When did Jesus see His spiritual offspring and prolong His day on this earth? It was after He suffered and died! The will of His Father prospers in His hands through those of His offspring who “live and move and have their beings” IN Him! We who are the sons and daughters of God because of what our Brother Jesus has done are His offspring. It is by living out His resurrected life in us that He is prolonging His days here on earth. Didn’t Paul say, “…but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phi 1:20-21 KJ2000)? It is in hearts like this that the will and power of the Lord prospers in Christ;s hand.
The power that Paul demonstrated by Christ in Him was also constantly accomplished with suffering just as Jesus said it would in their first encounter, “…he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Act 9:15-16 KJ2000). Oh how we would love to be so respected that we would stand before kings and presidents, but for Paul that also came with much suffering.
I once was moved to tears as I watched a movie called “The Green Mile.” It was about a simple black man with no shoes and in bib overalls who was falsely accuse of murder who just wanted to take away the sufferings of those around him and somehow he had the power to heal and take their sufferings into his own body. As I watched the movie I wept and asked the Lord if He could trust me with His healing power like this man. He answered me in a very personal way by casting that role of John Koffee in an actor named… Michael Clarke Duncan. I wept so hard upon seeing this in the ending credits that it was a good half hour before I could drive home. He had my name! Later my wife who was with me looked up “Duncan” in a book about the Scottish clans and the slogan on their family crest is, “Learn to Suffer.”
“And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.” ~ Jesus of Nazareth
Ian, In Psalm 42 it says, “Deep calls unto deep.” Feel free to share your deep with us.
“We who are the sons and daughters of God because of what our brother Jesus has done are His offspring. It is by living out His resurrected life in us that He is prolonging His days here on earth”
Excellent words and insight Michael.
To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? To you, to me and to those who see and embrace the value therein. Just as each rose has it thorns, so do our thorns (through the cross) produce blessing here and an eternal weight of glory there. There is always opportunity at hand to serve, but each mans effectiveness is to the degree that he or she is “willing to die.” This you know well.
Thank You for your dedication in words, but much more by example. Our brother John once said, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” It is not merely the truth itself we need but the living out of that truth which convicts the hearts of sinners and encourages the faintheartedness of the saints.
Awesome testimony Michael. I love how our Father answers us in such detail as his sons and daughters on occasion. May it be according to His truth, your desire and His answer to your prayer. Herein is a soul found worthy of all you seek.
Living out the truth in the economy of God is more important than studying the truth or writing about it. Jesus told a lowly Samaritan woman that it is not about the place we worship, but that God seeks worshippers that worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus called His Spirit the Spirit of Truth. Another word for truth is verity… truth within. If we are of the NEW Covenant we have His Spirit within us and God makes sure that His truth abides there in a new heart that is also a part of being in His New Covenant (See Jer. 31:31-33 and Ezek. 36:27) with His laws inscribed upon that heart. In the kingdom of God there are no intellectual ivory tower Christians, but ones who have taken up their crosses and have gone on to fellowship in Christ’s sufferings. “Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord…” His sons and daughter are rebuked and chastened by God that the old Adam nature in them will not prevail because our Father loves us. Jesus’ true disciples take up their crosses and follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They have His truth worked deep in their hearts. Yes, let us love not only in word, but in His deeds working in us and as we abide in Truth, the very life of Jesus will shine forth.
Thank you Michael. This is so true and so appropriate for now in our lives and we are beginning to see the light again after 2 years of total spiritual and emotional blackness and all that entails. Decades ago I was given a word that God creates diamonds in darkness and under intense pressure and over a long period of time. The rest of the word was that He is making us into ‘treasures of darkness’, precious stones to be laid as the new foundation of the New Jerusalem.
Our only real contribution to the process was to continue to believe and cry out to God and seek His face and breathe. Sometimes ‘breathe’ was all we could manage!
Sandra, so true. Just like Jesus, we are the Father’s treasures formed in obscurity and darkness. Isaiah said of Jesus and those in Nazareth, those who dwelt in darkness have see a great light. Arise and shine for the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. When I was in my deepest and darkest pit, my wife prayed and Father gave her his very promise that my darkness and depression would not last forever. I can tell you that there is no darkness in God, but there is no darker place than under the shadow of His wings and that is when He is the closest. “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God.”
(Isa 50:10 KJ2000). Darkness and pressure (the meaning of the word translated “tribulation” in the Greek) are only part of the process that make us jewels in His crown and it is worth it.
Thanks again Michael. A couple of weeks ago I awoke to hear the words “This will pass’ and it was this thought that got me on the path up agaIn. When we are really in it, the thoughts that it will never change and never end are the hardest to live with. Lies of course, but even knowing they are lies did not seem to help me get any perspective until I awoke that morning knowing it was God speaking.
Yes, I know what you were feeling. My 14 years in God’s wilderness seemed like it would never end. I had no idea how long it would last while in it. God wanted to make sure that all that was of religious “Egypt” that was in me was dead before He could take me into HIS New Covenant vision for all who are of Christ’s body. Part of that NEW Covenant walk is learning to hear our Shepherd’s voice as members of HIS flock and not the flocks of the hirelings. Glad you heard His voice, dear sister.
14 years is a long time Michael. Our time has been long as well but we are beginning to get glimpses of having passed into a different season in the Spirit. I think the getting Egypt out of us is vital and also what God has changed in us in the hidden time. We are both better people now than before the experience!!
This is a very powerful truth and hard to receive by many. Eating the Lord’s body and drinking His blood is more than just taking communion in church. It’s the willingness to live His life and suffer with Him as you so eloquently stated. Thanks Michael for sharing!!
Thank you, Mike, for going the distance and letting Him be formed in you by the crucible of afflictions that He has taken you and your wife through since we first met 42 years ago. It is in and through His sufferings that we have come to know true fellowship. Jesus asked the disciples, “Can you drink the cup that I must drink… you will surely drink of it…” A servant is not greater than His Master, but it is enough that we become just as He is. “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” This promise alone makes what we have been through worth it all.