Summary: Chapter 51 is an exhortation, a call to the faithful remnant to listen to God. It is a message of hope, of joy, of salvation to the righteous, to those who seek the Lord. Even in difficult times, listening to God & remembering our history with Him renews
ISAIAH 51: 1-8
LISTEN TO GOD!
Chapter 51 of Isaiah follows on the heels of what is known as “the third Servant Sermon.” In chapter 50, we heard the Servant speak of the suffering, pain, humiliation, and death He would suffer in order to bring light to the world.
Now, at the beginning of chapter 51, we hear an exhortation from God. It is a call to the faithful remnant, to those truly of Abraham, to listen to God. It is a message of hope, of joy, of redemption, of salvation to the righteous, to those who seek the Lord. Even in difficult times, listening to God and remembering our history with Him renews our confidence in His promises and His eternal salvation. Hearing God instills hope for the future.
I. LISTEN YOU RIGHTEOUS, 1-3.
II. PAY ATTENTION WORLD, 4-6.
III. HEAR YOU KNOWING, 7-8.
[THE RIGHTEOUS SEEK THE LORD] In verse 1 we learn the identification of the righteous listeners are those who are seeking God. “Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.
With emotion Yahweh cries out, “Listen to Me (50:10).” The Lord is now speaking to those who pursue righteousness (Deut. 16:20; Prov. 15:9; Mt. 5:6) and seek Him. (The Hebrew term tsedeq with its related term tsadiq and tsedeqah refer to loyalty and faithfulness which bring benefit -to a community of people. Righteousness indicates right behavior. Righteousness is what brings about well-being for the world (Bulter, Isaiah, 287). The Lord is addressing His faithful servants, the remnant that truly seek to obey and follow God’s will.
The believing remnant in Israel is to think back, reflect on their background. God is calling them, not to look at their present day situation and give in to despair, but to remember the promises that He made to their forefather Abraham. Look where you came from, who you came from. Find encouragement by looking back in to the beginnings of their history. God brought them forth from those who remained faithful. God will also keep His promises to those who remain faithful.
Those who are seriously pursing God, those seriously pursing righteousness, are person particularly prone to discouragement. Those whose hearts are hardened (46:12-13) are not troubled by the slowness with which God fulfills some of His promises. They never expected Him to fulfill them in the first place. For those though who trust God, who seek Him, delayed promises can be a hard trial.
The figure of the rock from which they were cut is explained in verse 2 as Abraham and Sarah. “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain. When he was one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him.”
God started with only Abraham and Sarah, the ”founders“ of the nation. It seemed physically impossible that they would have child but they believed God (Gen. 15:6). God thus blessed him and made him many [that is, gave the patriarch many descendants as He had promised (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:5-6; 22:17; Ezek 33:24).] If the hallowed ancestor could accept God’s promise and trust Him through all the long wait, how much more should you who have seen the fulfillment of the promise believe this new message of hope.
These people are to believe Him too. Though they have not yet seen the fruition of God’s promises about Israel being a nation in the land (Gen. 15:18-21) they do have His sure word that God’s kingdom will be established on the earth.
God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. God blessed him, and from one, he became many. He promised him that he would become a multitude, a great nation, then made Abraham and Sarah wait until they could no longer conceive children before He ever gave them one child. Even that child he was asked to sacrifice. God promised him Canaan and Abraham never received it. Yet his descendants had become a great nation and inherited the promised land, They had lost the land and many blessings, but the remnant had not lost God. He said that I would be their God and they would be His people. Remember, “Listen to God…”, because regardless of your current circumstances, you, as His faithful remnant will be lifted up. You will be restored.
The remnant faithful to God felt so alone because they were so few. God reminded them of their ancestry, the source of their spiritual heritage. Abraham was only one person, but much came from his faithfulness. If they, the faithful few, would seek God, even more multiplication would come from them. If we Christians, even if we are a faithful few, remain faithful, believe that God will also do great things through us! [Application Bible, 1257]