KEY TEXT: Isaiah 44:Isaiah 44:6, 8 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god...Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any."
KEY THOT: The Lord of hosts is the "King of Israel and his Redeemer". He is both King and Redeemer. As King, He is sovereign and everything is under His control. And as Redeemer, He comes to save us from self-destruction and He also transforms us from sinners to saints, from sickness to wholeness, from slavery to sin and Satan to freedom in Christ.
And He is also the "first and...the last." He was there at the beginning of Creation and he would there at the end of it, when the new heaven and a new earth will replace the old. No other god has made such astounding claim: to be first and last. While some other gods may assert that they were also there at the beginning, none has claimed to have descended to earth to redeem His people, except the God of Israel.
And this Lord of hosts, this King and Redeemer of Israel who is the first and the last is now identified as Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour: "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty... Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:8, 17-18).
This almighty God is none other than Jesus Christ who "died and, behold I am alive forevermore". No other God is like the God of Israel who not only declares himself to be King but also Redeemer. He is not a God who remains "up there" as King but who also comes "down here" as our Redeemer. No other god has made such claim--to have taken on human flesh to dwell on earth so that He could die for our sins to save us.
And now this Lord, the only God, has called us to be His witnesses: "Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses!" (Isaiah 44:8). With such an awesome God, how can his witnesses be other than awesome? In fact, Scripture describes His witnesses as "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). And if we are witnesses of this "one and only" God, we are called to be winning warriors, not whining worriers.
Complainers and whiners are not winners, but losers. And the devil wants us to believe that we are losers, always struggling to win. But the truth of the Gospel is this: since God is our King and Redeemer, we cannot lose--we can only win because Jesus Christ has already won the victory for us at the Cross. And we simply execute that win over sin and Satan to release all captives of sin and Satan from their slavery through Jesus Christ. What a glorious and great opportunity to be His witnesses--to bear witness to His glorious presence and power in our midst.
God has called us to greatness because He is a great God: "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2). And so we declare, "To God be the glory, great things He has done!"
Abba-Father! Deliver us from small-minded faith, fearful of offending others by stating categorically that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. Transform us by renewing our minds so that we may be great, not just good, believers. Amen.