"Who hath believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1).
Our First Need
You are in need. I am in need. We are in need of Jesus. If we don't have Him, we need Him, and if we do have Him, we need Him more. If you don't breath, you will die. You must have air in order to live. Why? Because that's the way you are made. And if you don't receive Jesus you will die. Why do you have to have Jesus in order to live? Because that's the way you are made.
The Bible tells what we are like, although these aren't often our favorite verses. Isaiah 1:4-6 serves as reminder:
Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Most directly, this is an application to the nation of Israel in the time of Isaiah. But unfortunately, it describes also our own situation. We are a "seed of evildoers," we are descended from Adam and Eve, the original human evildoers. No, we aren't guilty for their sins--not for a moment. Our issue is our guiltiness for our own sins, leading us to be lost unless we let God intervene.
How would we do on our own? Will we somehow begin to get better and better? On the contrary, the report of Scripture in this passage is that "ye will revolt more and more." There is no soundness in us from head to toe. Now let's get this straight:
We are sick unto death.
We cannot heal ourselves.
Therefore, we are in need. And what do we need?
We need Jesus.
His name is salvation. That's who He is. The Bible says that "in Him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). And we are men. We are humans. We are made of the dust and to dust we will go unless healed, changed, and given life.
The problem is not that He's slow to give us life; it's that we're slow to receive it. In Isaiah 53:1 hear the prophet's cry. He asks two important questions: "Who hath believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
"In Him was life and the life was the light of men," yet Isaiah looks round himself and can only ask "Who has believed our report?" The situation in Isaiah's day was in general one of prosperity. The people were well fed, the nation was prosperous, everything seemed peaceful and safe. Yet the prophet of God saw with a different perspective. Around him he saw a deadness in the spirituality. It was plain to Isaiah that for many in his day, "the whole head" was sick.
So Jesus--"salvation"--worked for His people. He sent His prophets. He called Isaiah. And what did Isaiah see? He saw the Lord "sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1). And when God asked "who will go for us" to proclaim the truth about God to His people, he could only answer "Here am I. Send me."
It was as if even the day when Messiah would finally come in the flesh could not contain His glory and His life--as if Heaven could hardly keep itself from giving a preview of the One who would bring the last hope to man. Jesus was always our first need, and our last hope. Only God could solve our dilemma, and Jesus was God.
But curiously, only a man could solve our dilemma too. Only a man could die. Jesus was God and the value of His character was infinite. It matched the value of the law. Only the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit could equal the law, because it was simply the reflection of the immeasurable brightness of their character. But God "only hath immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16), and couldn't die without making some significant adjustments to His situation. So Jesus came to this planet as a human being, as human as we are, although He was still God. He layed aside His divine power, but He still was Jesus. Remember, He had to become human in order to die; more than this, He had to become human in order to identify Himself with humanity--to be a valid representative and a valid offering on our behalf. He joined our fallen family. He never sinned. But He became as human as we are. He took our flesh and blood. What kind of flesh and blood? "The same" (Hebrews 2:14).
Our Final Hope
Jesus asked whether, when He returned, He would find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)? Oh yes, there is "faith"--faith in some supposed spark of innate goodness within humankind. This was precisely the kind of faith He was not asking about. Although there is no evidential basis for faith in ourselves, there is a hearty dose of it spread through the culture we are stationed in, for the simple reason that such a "faith" is the only other option when you rule out faith in God. That is, since it is the only alternative to belief in a Creator-God, then it is understood to be true by default. This was not the kind of faith Jesus was probing for.
The kind of faith Jesus was calling out in us is willing to recognize both our depth of need and our impossible position apart from Him. He is not only our first need, but our last hope. There are no other alternatives on the horizon that lead to eternal life. There is no other way we can climb up (John 10:1). Our adversary thinks there is one; he has flexed all of his vast intellectual muscle in an attempt to "ascend above the heights of the clouds" (Isaiah 14:14). But he is bankrupt.
Our last hope is one outside ourselves. It is Christ. But that's the very thing that so often we don't particularly wish to believe. We want a byline in salvation somewhere, and the devil takes full advantage of that. Satan has built the track of presumption right alongside the track of salvation. He has had great success in leading many of us to misunderstand the role our actions are to have in the salvation process. First he tries to get us to take credit, but if that doesn't succeed, he tries to lead us to think that if we do anything we have somehow added something to our salvation. He knows that faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26). So he silently tells us with all of the spiritual subtlety and solemn piety he can muster that if we think of "cooperating with God," of submitting to an inward work of God that will make us "perfect," we're being legalists. It is only a lie calculated to lead us down the primrose pathway of dead-faith boulevard.
Jesus came to the earth and lived His life here as a man. He became as human as we are so that we could become as obedient as He is. He came to destroy the works of the devil. And the devil came to earth and tempted men, and told a pack of lies that would put a subtle spin toward destruction on our thinking if he could. And here we are. Our Father has given us a Bible chock-full of truth about who He is and what He's like from front to back, and showing us the wonderful news of how He purposes to save us.
But Isaiah was led to ask the searching question, "who has believed our report?" Oh yes, the way of salvation is really just too-good to be true. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Him. And when we come to the Father and ask for Jesus, He gives us Jesus: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27-29). It is not Christ outside of us--not that alone--that is our hope of glory, but rather Christ in us along with His sacrificial offering on the cross that is our last hope. The last hope is not a cheap plastic covering on the outside that hides spiritual darkness on the inside, but a salvation "from" sin (Matthew 1:21) that is unbreakably linked with the crucifixion. He became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3) in order that we might become a people of joy and acquainted with His overcoming power. He longs to be in us, that we might no longer live in bondage to the fallen nature, but break free alongside with Him in us to the glory of God the Father.
Oh yes. Isaiah knew something about this beforehand; being a prophet has, along with its disadvantages perks too. Read the book--the gospel--of Isaiah. You'll see. He knew where this was going. But to the question "who has believed our report," he added "And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
Has the arm of the Lord been revealed to me?
You know it has.
Remember when you first came to know Him? How your life was charged with joy and hope and newness? How you couldn't be quenched? People saw you. They saw an undefinable sparkle in your eye. They knew without voicing it that this was not something evolution could account for. You were changed.
You had been with Jesus.
The arm of the Lord had been revealed to you. God reached out through His Spirit and gave you life. Since then, you and I in our individual experiences have had some ups and downs. Satan ever lurks in the background, waiting for a moment of weakness to try to drag you (whom he considers his prey) away. But because you are a child of God, Jesus has been protecting you. You have some wounds and scratches and spiritually skinned-knees, but He has prayed, time after time, that your faith would not fail. Today, you are still standing but you know its not in your own strength. You'd have been dragged away into the underbrush and consumed by the lion if you had trusted in you. That's just the fact. In high times and in low times, you've trusted in Jesus for salvation.
To you the arm of the Lord has been revealed.
You know the answer to Isaiah's question.
We know today that Jesus is our first need and our last hope. And we do eat this bread and drink this cup until He come.
Therefore brothers and sisters, let us rejoice today in our Lord Jesus Christ. We're not what we're going to be, but thank God we're not what we once were. And it is all because of Jesus. It is all because of Jesus. It is all because of Jesus.
Today let us believe His report.
Moab UT SDA 2000-01-22