Scripture: verse 8
He said, “They are indeed my people,
children who are not disloyal.”
So he became their Savior.
Observation: I don’t know where God got the idea that Israel wouldn’t be disloyal. Israel ignored Him and rebelled against Him over and over again. But the passage isn’t about Israel’s loyalty. The passage is about the abundance of God’s steadfast love, which is apparently undeterred by all the idiocy that Israel has already gotten up to.
God is our Savior. He sets us free and defends us. He gives us a new identity and a new safety, and keeps re-giving them as often as we mess up. He loves us, just like I will always love my children, no matter how many times they cut their own hair or spread yogurt all over the table or leave plastic bricks on the floor to be stepped on. They are mine. I am His.
Application: Trust in His love. Lord knows we can’t trust ourselves.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because you became my Savior when I wasn’t interested. I praise you because your love is bigger than ever mistake and every wrong decision I make. Thank you for defending me. Help me to trust you. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 2
you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
Observation: It’s not like the names God’s people already had were especially bad. The verse before uses “Zion” and “Jerusalem” which mean “landmark” and something like “peaceful hills,” respectively. The name “Israel” isn’t especially clear, but when it was given in Genesis it was accompanied by the description “you have struggled with God and man (or possibly gods and powers, the Hebrew is complicated) and have prevailed” so that name is probably a good one too.
But God has a new name planned for His people, one which He will give when the time is right. A new name and a new identity and a new understanding of who they are.
He has a new name for me, too. The names my parents gave me are also pretty good – my English first and middle names mean “judged pure by God,” and my Hebrew names mean “bride” and “little bird.” My current identity and my current sense of myself are pretty good. But God has a better name waiting. He wants to teach me a whole new way of seeing myself, one that I only get hints of now. His truth about me is way bigger than mine.
Application: Seek His truth about yourself.
Prayer: Father, I praise you because you made me who I am. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I will take it on faith that your work is marvelous. Thank you for having new knowledge for me. Help me to trust that you understand me better than I do. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 5
…another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord‘s’…
Observation: The passage is about the future redeemed Israel, and how the people will identify themselves as belonging to the Lord. It’s interesting that I got this verse today, because today I also prayed for a friend who is going through a difficult time and is questioning her self-worth. And the word I got for her was very similar: that she would go into her meeting with God’s name on her brow and his brand on her heart.
Our first identity is that we belong to the Lord. That means that He is the only one who can judge our worth: neither my friend’s supervisors nor my own self-doubts have any say over who we are and how we are doing. They make their opinions known, of course, but their words are just words. God’s words are eternal.
It also means that we take His glory when we take His name. The hymn says that “God the Just is satisfied/to look on Him and pardon me.” Accusation and criticism could attack me easily enough, but as long I am wrapped in Him, they can’t get to me. They bounce off Him, because I bear His name.
There’s no guilt here, no condemnation. He matters so much more than I do.
Application: Take His name. Rely on it.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for finding me and giving me your name. I praise you because all power and all consolation and all glory flows from you and in you. Please help me to hide in you when I am not enough in myself. Amen.