KODIAK — Isaiah 49:1 — “Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.”
Isaiah 49:2 — “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.’ But I said, ‘I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.’”
I used to work as a warehouseman when I first got saved. I came in early, stayed late and worked Saturdays — often alone.
One of the unknown benefits at that time was that I had the opportunity to listen to the radio while I was working. The fact that I worked in a warehouse limited the stations available. I do remember the odd sounding preacher named J. Vernon McGee and his show, “Thru the Bible.”
To be honest, I tried over and over to find a different station — any station!
I was newly saved, converted to the Christian faith, but I was in my early 30s and not tamed or quieted enough to want to listen to an old guy with a strange accent preaching about things I didn’t know about and definitely didn’t understand.
Allow me to say this: Thank God
God allowed me to be placed in a position to be blessed. McGee’s radio Bible studies were a great asset to me in those early days. Often, because of my circumstances, I wasn’t able to attend Bible studies, Sunday School or even services.
Some of it had to do with work but most of it had to do with changing my lifestyle. Yes, I wanted to believe; yes, I wanted the new life in Christ I had heard about; but the old ways were comfortable, hard and exacting, but familiar.
There I was in a position to be blessed and I had no idea I was being blessed.
Our opening scripture has to do with prophecy. The way McGee puts it: “Beginning with Isaiah and continuing through the Old Testament, there is a section of Scripture which is called the prophetic portion of the Bible.”
For sure, what he was teaching in regard to the book of Isaiah and prophecy was definitely over my head. What I didn’t know then, but I know now is seeds were being planted.
From McGee’s commentary for Isaiah 49:1 it says: “Christ is calling upon the nations of the world to hear. He was given the name of Jesus before He was born, and this name is to be proclaimed throughout the world because it is the name of the Savior, and the world needs a Savior.”
I would say the most popular time to hear the prophecies regarding the first coming of the Savior would be during the Christmas season. For example: Isaiah 9:6-7 – “For unto us a child is born...” Matthew 1:18-25 – “This how the birth of Jesus Christ came about…”
Allow me to share this: Biblical prophecy isn’t the same as fortune telling.
“The will of God is usually the major part of prophecy. Why He will do something, or why something will happen.”
Fortune telling is normally concerned with specific individuals. Prophecy is normally concerned with the big picture of God’s plans.
Yes, there are specific individuals identified in prophecy, but generally they are identified because of the effect or the way they will fulfill God’s will within the greater picture.
For example, in Luke 1:26-38, the Scripture mentions the angel Gabriel and the virgin Mary. Verse 30: “But the angel said to her. ‘Do not be afraid. Mary you have found favor with the God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you will give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’”
If we continue to read through this passage, we come to verse 36: “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
These examples may seem to be contrary to what I had mentioned earlier regarding the difference between Biblical prophecy versus fortune telling. But these individuals are mentioned individually because they have a part in the bigger part of the prophecy.
An example of prophesized and proclaimed is the Scripture of Acts 4, which I highly recommend reading.
Allow me to focus on Acts 4:10-12: “Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
I like the way J. Vernon McGee puts it:
“There is nothing to correspond to this remarkable discourse of our Lord Jesus Christ in the religions of the world. Here is One who is looking at a world, and he is looking at it as a savior of God, who has come as confined to an ethnic group or to several ethnic groups. Generally, they do not move beyond the borders of their tribe, a people, or a nation, so that most deities are local deities. However, the Deity in the Word of God is the living God, the creator of the universe and the redeemer of mankind. This fact makes the discourse before us remarkable indeed.”