“Me And My Arrow”

ISAIAH 49:2
ISAIAH 49:2

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!

Continued 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.

Trouble…trouble…trouble…trouble!!!!

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”

“Comfort…O Comfort”…

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:

“[1] 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.  [2] 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–“

(verse 6)

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”

isaiah49-21_web

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:

  1.  So the ARROW would FLY FASTER…
  2.  FLY FARTHER…
  3.  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.

1771893902_2f6883341dDo you ever feel like a “polished arrow”; put back into a quiver…just waiting?

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?

Target

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).

 

Our Destiny Is Clear!

Making Excuses For Bad Behavior

BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF:

After reading Chapter One in Romans this morning, I breathed a sigh of relief for one moment. Thinking, “Wow, I’m glad I’m not THAT bad!” 

I’m sure those in Rome, maybe even those who might be reading this blog study in The Book of Romans (Chapter 2:1-10), might be thinking… “Yep, others, sinners, unbelievers, backslidden people really, really, REALLY are bad…BUT not me.”  BECAUSE…

I go to church.  I’m good.  I give my tithes to God.  I’m certainly not one of them!  I’m a real good & moral and upright person!”

We are real good at making EXCUSES for our own BAD BEHAVIOR.

Have you noticed how easy it is, to see bad behavior in others, but really think the best about ourselves?

“For by grace given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him”  (Romans 12:3 AMP).

There Are Always:

1.  Excuses.

2.  Reasons.

3.  Explanations.

4.  Justifications.

AN EXCUSE:  (‘to grant an exemption OR to release from’.)

They are often OUR RESPONSE from conviction and confrontation:

–YOU are a GOSSIP!  (NO I’m not, I’m just trying to help.)

–YOU just LIED!  (NO I didn’t, I just stretched the truth a little.)

–YOU STOLE that!  (NO I didn’t, I just borrowed it for a time.)

Much of Our Potential Falls By the Wayside with EXCUSES.

So much of what God wants to do in our lives, disappears with an explanation of why it can’t happen.  It seems like the easy way out…the quick fix!  And yet, JESUS is looking for the man or woman who will RISE ABOVE…excuses, the reasons, the exemptions and the justifications:

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him”                (2 Chronicles 16:9).

King David’s Anointing to RULE & REIGN.

1 Samuel 11 opens with David at home…he sees a woman bathing, request her, commits adultery with her, a baby is produced…thus begins the cover-up.

Bathsheba was the wife of one of David’s mighty men…so the king recalled the man home so he might sleep with his wife to cover…

Then king David sends him back into battle with orders to put him on the front lines…where he died.  All of David’s detailed planning was to cover up…and for a time, all seemed to be going well.  It seemed as if he had covered his sin and continuing to RULE & REIGN; giving leadership and judgement in Israel as if nothing had happened.

Then suddenly and seemingly…out of nowhere, NATHAN shows up!

It’s EASY to become angry and judgmental at other people’s misgivings (sins) and very explanatory of our own.  That’s where the apostle Paul is in his opening of Romans 2…

He’s addressing the MORALIST, the person who thinks he’s okay with God.  Comparing himself with others, even though the Bible teaches us…

“Not that we [have the audacity to] venture to class or [even to] compare ourselves with some who exalt and furnish testimonials for themselves!  However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely”  (2 Corinthians 10:12 AMP).

Truly the MORALIST lives in a mist of hypocrisy.

NO ESCAPING GOD’S JUDGEMENT:

ROMANS 2:1-3:  [v.1]  “THEREFORE YOU have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another.  For in posing a judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce].  [v.2]  [But] we know that the judgment (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and in accordance with truth upon those who practice such things.  [v.3]  And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgement and elude His sentence and adverse verdict?”

ROMANS 1 ended with a list of horrendous sins and yet it’s easy to look at them and the sinners that commit them…  But ROMANS 1:32 isn’t the KEY…because the ISSUE is not just outward, but it’s really inward!   You don’t have to do them personally in order to be guilty of them…all you really need to do is to APPROVE THEM!

This is where Christianity meets the HEART of a person.  It’s all about our own hearts; what we approve of (movies, television, homosexuality, politics, etc.).  “IT’S OKAY, I’M OKAY” philosophy.  “Society is okay with it, so I am too.”

THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD:

Notice ROMANS 2:2, it’s according to TRUTH!  God’s judgment doesn’t come…democratically by a vote.  God’s judgement doesn’t come…by popular opinions of the day.  God’s judgement doesn’t come…to others and not us.  It simply comes by TRUTH.

Denying Our Guiltiness.

In doing my investigation, in God’s Word this past week, I found 4 different ways that we conveniently AVOID our guilt:

#1.  We simply IGNORE them.  “I’m not guilty because…what I’m doing isn’t wrong.”

#2.  We make EXCUSES by renaming our sins.  The THIEF is now a borrower; the GOSSIPER is now a helper; “I’m not LEGALISTIC, I’m just living out my convictions!” (I know THAT excuse personally.)

#3.  We are BLINDED toward many of our own faults; not aware of them.  We don’t SEE in ourselves what we so easily pinpoint in others.  We ALL have ‘blind-spots’.

#4.  We quickly FORGET our wrongs.  We may have been aware of our sins at one point, but we quickly assume we’re Christians…God loves us and He will forget and since He does forget, we’ll let it go too.  That is not repentance!

TWO FINAL DESTINIES OF MAN (Romans 2:5-10):

In Trouble!

So the person that thinks they are OK with God because they live a good, moral, and upright life…is that person you?  If that’s what you think…you’re in TROUBLE!  Why? Because it is not enough to be just good.  We need to be PERFECTLY RIGHTEOUS before God!  No security can be found in our GOOD WORKS, only in Jesus Christ.

Flip over in your bible to Romans 3:10:

“As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one.”

If you want to live by works, you’re gong to have to do it PERFECTLY.  God wants us to REALIZE… we are spiritually bankrupt!

If you are MORALLY SAVED, then you must be PERFECTLY MORAL.  But none of us, not one of us qualifies!  So God intervened…He entered into our lives.

JESUS came into the world and God the Father punished Him for the wrongs that we did!  The WAGES of sin and death…JESUS took that DEATH.  The GIFT of GOD is eternal life through…Jesus Christ our Lord!

EVERY OTHER RELIGION ON THE PLANET…

They tell us to TRY HARDER, WORK MORE, SERVE MORE, GIVE MORE…  Finally, you toss your hands up and say “I can’t do it anymore!”

The good news of the gospel is…?  GOD DID IT FOR YOU!  Jesus died and ROSE AGAIN from the grave and IF you put your FAITH, TRUST in Him, you don’t have to trust your MORALITY to save you.  YOU ARE TRUSTING GOD to live His life through you!

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God.  Who loved me and gave Himself up for me”  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

But if you REFUSE…your heart gets unrepentant…instead of drawing closer to God, you treasure up for yourself more and more wrath and one day that treasure box will be opened.

“[7] So be subject to God. Resist The devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.  [8]  Come close to God and He will come close to you.  [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts”  (James 4:7-8).

The author of Hebrews describes believers as…

“But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.  [39] But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery and are utterly destroyed, but we are those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39 AMP).

SO, THE 2 DESTINIES OF MAN ARE CLEAR:

#1.  INDIGNATION; wrath, tribulation & anguish.  OR…

#2.  Glory, honor, and [heart] peace!

Those two destinies is why I saved verse 4 for last…

“Are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience?  Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to REPENT (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will?”

Here we have a PATHWAY to REPENTANCE…to the open door of change, the opportunity to have a REAL LIFE…God’s goodness!  I know that sometimes God gets a bad rap for being mean, distant, uninterested… but the Bible is clear, and in my own personal experience, I can attest to it…GOD IS GOOD!  ALL THE TIME!

AND so how can we DESPISE GOD’S GOODNESS?

#1-  We can DESPISE IT WHEN… God’s goodness is shown to others.

Our hearts become covetous & jealous seeing others BLESSED and we DESPISE God’s goodness in them and with those feelings, we are surely going to see fruitlessness in our own lives (Galatians 5:16-26)!

#2-  We can DESPISE IT WHEN…God’s goodness is taken advantage of.

This is where we think God is asleep or winks at our own sins.  And when judgement doesn’t come as we expected, hearts continue on the road to rebellion and rejection of God’s love.

“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set to do evil”  (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

#3-  We can DESPISE IT WHEN…God’s goodness is extended to others.

GOD’S LOVE & GRACE goes out even to the most hardened sinner.  We can become impatient with God in demanding justice!

“TRULY GOD is [only] good to Israel, even those who are upright and pure in heart.  But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped.  For I was ENVIOUS of the foolish and arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked”  (Psalm 73:1-3 AMP).

#4-  We can DESPISE IT WHEN…God’s goodness is ignored.

Sometimes things are so heavy and hurtful in our lives, we actually have the potential to turn against God in anger.  “Why me Lord?”

Steps to Your Destination is Clear:

But the TRUTH IS that God’s goodness…(kindness & fairness); God’s forbearance…(temporary suspension of wrath); God’s longsuffering…(self-restraint, patience, putting up with); they are ALL tools that will lead you and I to REPENTANCE!  Our Destiny Is Clear!  STOP making EXCUSES on the way to your destination!