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Week 01


Freedom vs. Captivity

Have you ever felt like an unpleasant situation was hopeless? Where is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel? “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12, AMP)  The Israelites experienced heavy oppression under the Babylonian captivity due to their rebellion against God and their spiritual adultery. (Isaiah 50:1-2) However, glimpses of renewed hope appear in the prophet Isaiah’s inspired writings, vision and ministry.  Isaiah’s message brings news of Israel ’s eventual freedom to return home and of the future Messiah. We’ve all been touched by the captivity of our sins’ consequences. Our sin-burdened world needs a Savior bringing living hope, not wishful thinking. Like the Israelites, each of us has a choice to seek Jehovah, follow His ways and Him. We’ve an opportunity to be set free from the bonds of sin and to walk in the abundant life paid for by the sinless servant – the Man of Sorrows. Are you ready to follow Him? It will cost. The eternal rewards are unbelievable! He has come to set the captive free!

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)   In Isaiah 41, there is a courtroom scene in which God summons people to come to speak to Him for judgment in regard to worshipping false idols. In verse 2, the “one from the east” is the Persian king Cyrus. Note the questions pertaining to whom raised Cyrus up in verses 3-4.  In 41:4, what is God’s answer? The Lord appointed Cyrus to rule over Babylon and ultimately permitted exiled Israel to return home to Jerusalem . (see chapter 45:1-13; 46:11; Ezra 1:1-4) It seems as though the message of Cyrus’ future conquest was so frightening that even the idols were fastened with pegs so that they would not totter! Not very reliable false gods, right?

In 41:21-29 and 44:9-19, what is Yahweh’s judgment of idols? How do they compare to the only true living Almighty God? What spiritual disaster occurs to those trusting idols as in 42:17? Notice the mercy offered to those who turn from idols and follow the true living God as noted in 42:8-16.

Reflections: In 41:8-20, Israel is defined as the Lord’s servant. He gives them comfort and hope, calling them “My servant.” “My” signifies a relationship and personal ownership. And they’re His chosen ones to be His witnesses, a priesthood nation! (Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 43:12) Although great Jehovah’s discipline was severe, He didn’t forget Israel , reject them, or cast them away! Though uncertainty and dismay at God’s hand working their future rescue could be fearful, His servants heard reassuring words from the Holy One of Israel. Just as surely as Yahweh’s presence and aid was with ancient Israel , so it is for the believer today. In verses 8–20, note God’s instructions to Israel , His “I will’s” and God’s purpose for His help towards them.


Instructions to Israel

God’s “I will”

God’s Purpose



Recently someone experiencing a bad day asked me, “Have you ever felt like God has forgotten you?”  What lie did the enemy hurl at this discouraged one? (See Isaiah 49:14-15; Hebrews 13:5b)

How could the above verses encourage someone who is disheartened? Will you ask God what He might have for you through these passages today?

Here Is My Servant

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:1-4, NIV)

In Isaiah there are many “servant” references.  The first four verses of Chapter 42 surely point to Jesus Christ – the Elected One. While Cyrus is the Lord’s anointed to deliver Israel physically from Babylon , there is a greater deliverance from which all mankind requires – the bondage of sin and the kingdom of darkness. In Matthew 3:16 and 12:15-21 how is this Servant of Isaiah 42:1-4 identified?

Reflection: God, Creator of the earth, is called the Servant for special redemptive and salvation purposes. From verses 42:5-7, list the holy purposes for the One called as a covenant to the people.

For the believer, God has rescued us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son he loves. What truths impact you in these verses: Isaiah 49:1-7; John 8:12, 12:46, Colossians 1:9-14? God will not share or yield His glory to another. Will you respond to Him with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for your rescue from the bondage of sin and darkness?

“Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you. To whom will you liken Me and make Me equal and compare Me, that we may be alike?” (Isaiah 46:4-5)  These verses follow descriptions of the false gods of in 46:1-2. God exposed their futility. Notice the burdens of the false gods that are placed upon their worshippers! Yikes!! Who would want to carry such a heavy weight causing one to be weary, of no help, and even going with them into captivity?!

Reflections: In the Believer’s Commentary, William McDonald quotes James S. Stewart, “Ever since Isaiah, men have been aware that one of the vital distinctions between true religion and false is that whereas the latter is a dead burden for the soul to carry, the former is a living power to carry the soul.”  Page over to Ezekiel 14:3-12 for a description of an idol that is not from carved wood or metal. Name some heart idols common to people today. What does God have to say about them?

The Ultimate Retirement Plan

In Isaiah 46:3, 12, twice God instructs: “Listen to Me…” How often do parents say, “LISTEN TO ME!!!”? God has a vital message, not for idle ears. Listening has the idea of hearing, heeding and obeying. What did God want Israel to hear? When God speaks, are we listening? “He who has ears, let him hear!” says Jesus.

Reflections: As a tender, caring Father, the Lord reminds the remnant of Israel that He upheld them from birth, carried them from the womb – even to their old age! From unborn to white-haired people, we are precious to the Father! Even when we can’t muster up the strength to go on, Father God will carry His precious children from the womb to old age and deliver them. After reading Isaiah 46:4-5, I happily phoned my ill, downhearted elderly Mother. “Mother, here are some encouraging words for you!” Her reply, “I could use them; let me write the verses down.”  I asked her to ask God what He might have for her in those verses. His purposes will be accomplished and His Word will not fall to the ground. Jehovah reminds us, “I care about you and carry you!” What an exciting wonder that there is no equal to Him! He knows the beginning from the end and all the in-between times! Unlike idols burdening their worshippers, the true living God carries our burdens and us! Where do you cast your cares? Recall the kind of problems God carried for you. What difference does it make in your relationship with Him? The writer of Psalm 71 reflected on his life up to his gray hair season. His trust lay in a faithful God who redeemed his soul. All the more reason for this senior citizen to sing unto the Lord! “I am as a wonder and surprise to many, but You are my strong refuge.” (Psalm 71:7, AMP)

Obedient Unto Death

“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.” (Isaiah 50:4-5, NIV)  In contrast to Israel ’s sin noted in 50:1-2, this special servant of the Lord is obedient and has an instructed tongue (wisdom and knowledge) from the Sovereign Lord. In the morning is the time we’re usually refreshed to tune in to the Father’s instructions. Who awakens the servant? The servant obediently responds to God – not a speck of rebellion drawing back from Him.

Reflections: Turn to John 8:28 and read the account of Jesus’ relationship with the Father. How does Jesus know how to instruct the weary? By being with the Father, listening to Him and acting out of complete obedience. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him. How can modeling the example of Jesus in John 8:28 deepen your relationship with God? Have you been wakened from your sleep with holy thoughts:  tell someone about Jesus… forgive…trust Me this way...spend time with Me...hug your kid…go to seminary… phone your parents…pray for someone…a song or Scripture.  Hearing His voice, will you respond with “Speak, for your servant is listening.”? 

Reflection: “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:6-7) As the obedient Servant, Jesus offered—willingly gave—His life as atonement for our sins. The plucking of His beard, the mocking, spitting, and beating, He purposely did not escape. The horrendous suffering born on behalf of our sins by the sinless Messiah would bring glory to Sovereign Lord. The servant will be honored ultimately. We need a Savior; our sin burden is too much for us to carry and impossible to unload ourselves.  Refer to
Matthew 26:67, 27:30, Luke 9:51 and John 19:1. How is Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled in these verses? 

“He set His face like flint.” (vs 7) Not deterred – fully determined – Jesus passionately went to the cross for you, the world and me. Luke 9:51 records Jesus “resolutely set his face to go to Jerusalem .”  My mind cannot conceive such an incomprehensible holy love for the Servant to take on my shame, my guilt and my sin burden and punishment. The reason he did this? “For the joy set before Him” …so we could be at peace with God. 

In Philippians 2:5-11, we read about how Jesus’ humbled Himself, coming from His glory in heaven and taking on the very nature of a servant. He is described as being OBEDIENT to death-even death on the cross.  “God exalted him to the highest place.” What awesome event will happen according to verses 9-11?  To whose glory? Doesn’t that inspire you to fall on your knees and confess the name of Jesus right now? Glory to His name!

Take a moment to read of the suffering sin-bearing servant in Isaiah 52:1-15

Reflection: The inhumane treatment inflicted upon the sin-bearing, suffering servant whom Isaiah prophesied has been referred to as “the gospel of the Old Testament” and points to Jesus. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” depicts an inkling of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf. As I watched the movie, some of the all too real tortuous scenes took my breath away when I saw the depraved torment He vicariously bore in our stead. Through his death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus won victory over death’s sting caused by our sin. Slowly read Isaiah 52:13-53:12. As you do, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s great love poured out for us through Jesus’ suffering for our sins. Next, what will you do about Jesus the Lamb of God – the Man of Sorrows familiar with suffering?

“Man of Sorrows…familiar with suffering.” (Isaiah 53:3)  Jesus understands how it feels to experience sorrow, suffering, and rejection. Verse 53:4 states He took on our infirmities and carried our griefs. He is there for us when we have anguish, pain and afflictions. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
(Hebrews 4:15, NKJV)

Sheep need a shepherd. Wandering aimlessly from the flock, they go their own way, leading to danger, hunger, even death. We are like lost, straying sheep needing a shepherd – Jesus. Max Lucado wrote in Traveling Light, “We humans want to do things our way. Forget the easy way. Forget the common way. Forget the best way. Forget God’s way. We want to do things our way. And according to the Bible, that’s precisely our problem. ‘We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way.’ ” (Isaiah 53:6, NCV)

We need a Savior to save us from our sins. We can’t pay the high penalty of our sins against God. There is nothing good enough on our own merit to earn God’s forgiveness. He KNOWS that and planned a way for us to be reconciled back to Him, even before the foundation of the world! (1 Peter 1:18-20;
. We need Jesus the good shepherd who literally laid down His life for us at Calvary .

In Psalm 100:3, the writer beautifully acknowledges that God made us, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. The Lord takes the greatest care of His sheep. We can’t make it alone on this pasture Earth. Compare Jesus’ descriptions of the good shepherd’s, the stranger’s, and hired hand’s relationships with the sheep in Luke 15:1-7, John 10:1-30 and John 14:6. Jesus spoke about one lost sheep being found, “Come and celebrate with me,’ he will say, ‘for I have found that sheep of mine which was lost.’ I tell you that it is the same in Heaven - there is more joy over one sinner whose heart is changed than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need for repentance.” (Luke 15:7, PH)   The only way back to the Father is through the resurrected Savior Jesus! Heaven celebrates when a lost sheep repents!

“Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.”(Isaiah 55:6-7, MSG) Have you come to the spiritual place in your life where you recognize you’re a sinner in need of the Savior Jesus? Have you received Him as Savior and Lord? If not, please turn to this booklet’s back cover page or go to to clearly know how to receive God’s gift of eternal life and enter a relationship with God.

God bestowed marvelous favors of mercy, grace and forgiveness offered to us, paid by His son Jesus Christ, the sinless, suffering, obedient Servant.  Read Isaiah 61:1-3 and Luke 4:16-21; what will you say the Lord has done for you? Beloved, get a reason to praise God for the display of His splendor! We don’t have to wear clothes of despair when He’s provided a garment of praise. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7, NIV )

Prayer:  Lord God, I worship You with thanksgiving and praise because so high are Your thoughts and Your ways, unlike mine. I am humbled because when I, like a sheep, had gone astray, Jesus carried my grief and sorrows. Jesus was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities; yet, He intercedes for me. And by His stripes I have been healed.