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Isaiah 42:1-9, Light to the Nations

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
— Isaiah 42:8-9

NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, December 16, 2018

Light to the Nations.

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff

Main Idea: God promises a gentle, yet strong blend of qualities in the coming deliverer.

Israel has been exiled and is pleading with God for deliverance. Isaiah speaks for God, who promises that a deliverer is coming. These are the qualities of the deliverer.

  • God delights in them

  • God’s spirit lives in them

  • they do not mourn or lament

  • they tread lightly upon the earth

  • they will bring forth justice

  • they will have stamina to carry out the task

It is interesting that the qualities of the deliverer are not what we might imagine a deliverer would embody—power, force, command of armies, vengeance, domination. Instead, they will possess qualities of strength, but also of gentleness, peace, justice, and delight. The deliverer will be grounded and connected with God. Not passive, but also not violent. They are neither bully, nor doormat. They bring light and hope, and they stand up for those who need an advocate.

When I consider the kind of person I admire, these are the qualities that stand out. When I consider the kind of person I want to be, the qualities are the same. As a minister, I saw a lot of ugly things, and came to believe all people and all families possessed some level of dysfunction. Rarely did I encounter people or families that truly possessed the kinds of qualities described in this text. But there was one family that walked the walk. When the patriarch died, I observed the family as they came together. They spoke of the faith their family member and they had cultivated, and how it would see them through this difficult time. They spoke to each other with gentleness and all of them were as concerned about each other as they were about their own grief.

This family has become a model for me of the kind of person and family I want to become. Like the qualities of the deliverer, I desire to be just, peaceful, grounded, delightful to God, compassionate, selfless, and strong. In this season, while we wait for the ultimate and eternal deliverer to be born, we can consider the unique blend of qualities God lifts up, and the unique qualities we bring to God’s world.

Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:

Isaiah 42:1-9: Light to the Nations

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
   my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
   he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
   or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
   and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
   he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
   until he has established justice in the earth;
   and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord,
   who created the heavens and stretched them out,
   who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
   and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
   I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
   a light to the nations,
   to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
   from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
   my glory I give to no other,
   nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
   and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
   I tell you of them.

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