Our Covenant and God’s Plan
“You are my hope, Lord”
Today’s readings: Is 49:1-6; Ps 71:1-17; Jn 13:21-38
Isaiah 49:1-6 is the second of the four “Servant of the Lord” oracles. Again it speaks about what is involved in God’s covenant with His people.
First, God acts according to His eternal plan. “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (Is 49:1). To be given a name is to be designated for a special office or task or purpose. God calls according to His eternal plan and purpose. God knows from all eternity what He intends to do, and does it at the appointed time.
Second, God raises a servant people, whom He can use to accomplish His purposes in the world. “You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.” (Is 49:3). In using His people to do His work, since it is God’s work, then it will manifest His power and majesty. It will show His glory.
Third, since His servants are just His instruments, then they stand in His place. Thus the glory of God shines forth through them, and the strength of God empowers them. “And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength!” (Is 49:5c).
Fourth, because this is God’s work, and God’s purposes for the world are necessarily grand and awesome, and that is, to restore the whole world to Himself, then the work of His people cannot just be a little work, but it has to be a work of worldwide proportions. “It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6). God raises a people as His servants in order to use them for the work of worldwide evangelization and renewal.
Finally, God’s people simply work and leave the results up to Him. They will face difficulties, obstacles and challenges; they will have seeming failures; they will feel frustration or even think themselves useless. But their conviction is always that God will reward them as faithful servants. “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.” (Is 49:4). That is the only thing that matters. We just allow God to use us as His servants and instruments, and it is up to Him to provide the fruit. We look to no earthly reward, but simply to the crown of life that awaits us.
Now if we are to be God’s people, if we are to be His instruments to renew the face of the earth, then we have not only to love God, but we need to love one another. This is why God gives us a covenant that is a covenant of love—God’s love for us, and our love for each other. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35).
Such fraternal love is the very love of Jesus himself. It is a unilateral, unconditional, self-sacrificial love. Jesus has already shown the way. He gave his life for us even when we were sinners. We are to love as Jesus himself loves. In fact, this will be our distinguishing mark as a Christian. The world will know that we are indeed followers and servants of Christ, if we have such love for one another.
Action: Consider how God already knew, from all eternity, that He would call you to Himself and bring you to LCSC. Consider how God intends His very own glory to shine in and through you. Finally consider how God intends to use you to be among His instruments for renewing the very face of the earth. Is that not awesome? Consider how your response has been. Has your response done justice to what God has done for you?
Prayer: “In you, Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue and deliver me; listen to me and save me! Be my rock and refuge, my secure stronghold; for you are my rock and fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of the violent. You are my hope, Lord; my trust, God, from my youth. On you I depend since birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength; my hope in you never wavers. I have become a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge! My mouth shall be filled with your praise, shall sing your glory every day. ….. I will always hope in you and add to all your praise. My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, day after day your acts of deliverance, though I cannot number them all. I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord; O God, I will tell of your singular justice. God, you have taught me from my youth; to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.” (Ps 71:1-8,14-17). Amen.
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)