Bible Scripture – Isaiah 49:1-7 NIV Bible:
Coming up with this week’s title, “Me And My Arrow”, was an epiphany I received from a song by the same name by Harry Nilsson and… from the TV Movie, The Point. [Footnote [i] ].
It was an animated movie about a boy and his dog, living in a land where every one thing was “pointed”, including the boys dog “Arrow”–except for the boy. He didn’t have a point! His name was Oblio:
I can hear catching tune in my spirit of Harry Nilsson’s theme, running constantly through the movie plot:
Me and my arrow
Straighter than narrow
Wherever we go, everyone knows,
It’s me and my arrow.
(I’ll leave out the “Do do do’s”)
I’ll try later to tie this all in, In the meantime, my study in Isaiah 49 –
A Little Background of ISRAEL’S History –
Troubles, troubles, and more Troubles…
To help in understanding God’s Word in the referenced scripture, I thought first, I would look back in history of Israel:
Beginning with 900 years before JESUS’ birth, king Solomon dies, and his sons can’t decide who will lead in his place.
So, the KINGDOM becomes divided in two…a church split.
Nine tribes form the Southern Kingdom known as JUDAH, and the remaining three tribes for the Northern Kingdom known as ISRAEL.
They enter a time of great stress and fighting amongst themselves–the one great nation of ISRAEL…has now been split…TROUBLE!
Fast forward a few years, we see Egypt’s rise to power…starts conquering land. Assyria rises to power and IT begins conquering land. You have the Babylonian Empire rising in power and conquering land.
Trouble…trouble…and MORE trouble!
This leads us into 700 BC…(200 years after the death of the great King Solomon); the great Northern Kingdom…the nation of ISRAEL…is fallen! Leaving just JUDAH…TROUBLE.
600 BC…JUDAH falls.
This begins what is known as the Babylonian Exile.
ISRAEL & JUDAH are destroyed and all its people are scattered like dust in the dry desert wind.
You now have the setting where our Scripture Text lives and breathes.
Scripture Given by the Prophet Isaiah…
ISAIAH is writing in response to all the “TROUBLE”…he writes to his people–exiled…completely defeated and destroyed after all the conflict. He writes to his people, and he begins addressing the exiles back in Chapter 40…and his first words are this:
“Comfort, O Comfort My people Israel,
says my God”
That’s how Isaiah starts…and it keeps going on for 20 more chapters, addressing the people who’ve been destroyed.
In my first reading of the verses, I wondered what the people were hoping for. And then, there it was, right in front of me. They were looking for a savior! A savior to rescue them and deliver them home. And that’s what Isaiah gives them. Here, in beautiful language…Isaiah gives them the SAVIOR they hunger for.
Knowing now the CONTEXT behind all this, read along with me in ISAIAH 49:1-7 NIV BIBLE:
“ Listen to me, you islands;hear this, you distant nations; Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has mention of my name.  He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
Now pay close attention to this next part–
“he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver…[v. 3a] He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel…”
The people have been kicked out of their homeland; they’ve lost the war; their armies decimated; they’re down and out, shouting and shaking their fists at the LORD, and saying…
(Verse 4 a.)
“I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing…”
AND NOW THE LORD SAYS–
“He who formed me in the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel to Himself ” (verse 5)
(Here he’s talking about bringing them BACK HOME!)
“…for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength–“
He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my SERVANT (“servant” – Here he’s talking about his servant JESUS and ISRAEL together) to RESTORE the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept…”
(If God was going to bring them home, that’s fine…but God wants them to know that He has MUCH LARGER PLANS FOR THEM!)
God continues, “I WILL ALSO…
make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
(verse 7) This is what the LORD says–the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel–to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers;
(Again, He is talKing about JESUS…which is somewhat odd, because they want a savior–a conquering king–to take them home and here Isaiah is talking about the Savior who is despised, abhorred, who is a SERVANT!)
“Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Things are getting even more interesting all of a sudden…
All the verses are filled with a ton of great stuff…all the words of advice to a fallen people.
The FIRST thing I want to focus on, takes me all the way back again, to Verse 2: “He made me into a polished arrow.”
“A POLISHED ARROW”
Imagine, if you will, the finest ARROW made from the finest wood, with absolutely the straightest feathers, and the sharpest steel…and then you polish it…and polish it.
This is a “polished arrow,” and they did this for a valid reason:
- So the ARROW would FLY FASTER…
- FLY FARTHER…
- And, FLY STRAIGHTER than any other arrow.
AN ARROW WITH A SPECIAL PURPOSE
Now hold on to that descriptive narrative and take it back to VERSE TWO…
ISRAEL is talking to the LORD at this point and says,
“[God] made us into a polished arrow, and He CONCEALED us in His quiver.”
You make us into an arrow…not just any arrow…but a POLISHED ARROW, and then you put us in Your quiver.
That’s how Israel feels:
- A polished arrow…
- With All That POTENTIAL…
- All of That PURPOSE…
- All that God has been preparing them for..
And God just tucks them away.
ISRAEL is feeling frustrated…they want to FLY, isn’t that what an arrow is for?
“We want You to use us for the purpose that you made us for! You are WASTING us in Your quiver.”
Frustration Expressed (verse 4):
“I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing”
Israel is getting a little whiney here I think. “WE ARE THE ARROWS…” “WE GAVE YOU EVERYTHING…” and “NOW WE ARE SITTING ON THE BENCH!”
That’s the people of Israel…that’s their situation.
Boy, I sure have. We feel like a polished arrow…ready and waiting to FLY…but put back into the quiver.
A little…OK, a lot, of FRUSTRATION emerges.
It’s here that the prophet FLIPS IT! – (verse 4 (b))
“Yet what is due me is in the LORD’S hand, and my reward is with my God”
Remember, we just got done whining in at the beginning of verse 4:
“YET”…there’s the “yet”…”Yet what is due me…”
“And now the LORD says–He who formed me in the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel to Himself…”
Remember, Isaiah is talking about bringing them BACK HOME!
When are we going…BACK HOME!
We go from whining to a PROMISE. Your time will come!
But, Some Things Are Gonna Have to Change First…
THE LORD wasn’t prepared at this point in time, to bring the nations back…Isaiah has all the way until Chapter 60 before he gets to the “CELEBRATION!”
We will get to see it…the celebration DOES happen, but understand where we are…the celebration HASN’T happened…the HOPE of a nation is still WAITING to be fulfilled. This is still the sad whiney time.
Let’s Kick Up the Narrative A Notch…
“Just going home?” That is what you are whining about? You just want to go home? That’s it? You want a leader to rescue you and just go home?”
Guess what…that is too small a thing.
You are a polished arrow!
Just going home is too small a thing.
You have a very SPECIAL purpose.
To just send you hoe is too small a thing!
It would be like taking a polished arrow and shooting a gopher!
“When your time comes…”
Isaiah lets the people know that when their time comes…they won’t just go home…but they will ALSO begin the process of opening the door of SALVATION to EVERYBODY!
(verse 6): “He says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be My servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
The people are whining about going home, and Isaiah lets them know that their day will come, but in the meantime, they need to remember they ARE a polished arrow.
They need to understand the PURPOSE of a polished arrow.
What Are You Aiming At?
What kind of target do you save a polished arrow for?
You don’t wanna hit a small target…you want to hit a BIG target!
“Me And My Arrow” – (verse 7):
Thus says the lord, the Redeemer of Israel, Israel’s Holy One, to him whom man rejects and despises, to him who nations abhor, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see you and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, Who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen you. (AMP. bible).
Isaiah wraps it all up; identifying Israel’s purpose: You are going to have to introduce the entire world to Jesus Christ!
They are a POLISHED ARROW, God is aiming them at a BIG TARGET and that is SALVATION for everyone!
Our PURPOSE Today As Christians–
Do you feel like “POLISHED ARROW”? Because guess what, every single one of us that make the confession of a disciple (a “follower”) of JESUS…is a POLISHED ARROW!
God has been working on you, polishing you for a special purpose. He has made you to FLY straight, FLY true, FLY far, and hit your target.
BUT unfortunately, we haven’t seen our OWN potential. We’ve spent our energy and spent our purpose aiming at small targets…shooting gophers!
We AIM at small targets, keep our HOPES small, keep our VISIONS small, keep our AMBITIONS small…and the WORD for us is…that is too SMALL a thing.
You are a POLISHED ARROW. Think about what that means.
Maybe, just maybe, NOW is the time…
Time to take aim at a bigger target. Let the LORD draw you back, and LET YOU FLY!
God is telling the CHURCH…”Me And My Arrow” (s)…you are polished arrows…you were meant to fly…you were meant to hit a BIG TARGET. One day, I’ll bring you back home.
Footnotes & Credits:
FOOTNOTES: Footnote [i] – The Point, the Movie; Wikipedia @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Point
PHOTO CREDITS: Google Images.
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: NIV (New International Version) – [Note: I capitalized words in referenced to God within the text]; AMP (Amplified Bible).