October 23, 2017 • Life for Leaders
[The LORD] 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 my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
This verse from Isaiah is doubly shocking. First, given how much of Isaiah has focused on the ultimate restoration of Israel, it’s surprising to read that God’s Servant will do more than “restore the tribes of Jacob” (49:6). The original language of this verse could be translated more literally: “It is too light or easy a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob.” Restoring Israel, however important that might be, is not nearly enough for God’s Servant. That’s unexpected!
The second surprise of this passage elaborates upon the first. The Lord says to his Servant: “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (49:6). God is not satisfied merely to save Israel. Ultimately, the whole world will experience the saving power of God. His work with Israel is not for Israel’s sake alone, but also for the sake of all nations.
When we read this passage as Christians, we rightly see a pointed prophecy of the ministry of Jesus, the ultimate Servant of God. He came, not just for Israel, but to bring God’s salvation to the world. Moreover, we are reminded by this passage from Isaiah that we have been saved, not only for our benefit, but also to benefit those around us. Like Israel, we are to be a channel of God’s grace to the world, beginning with our neighbor across the street or the woman who works in the office next to us. For us, it is “too light a thing” merely to enjoy our own salvation. Rather, we are reflections and expressions of God’s salvation throughout the world, wherever we are: at work or in the voting booth, coaching soccer or feeding the homeless, buying our groceries or giving generously to worthy organizations. God has saved us by grace through faith that we might live each day as his new creations, walking in the good works he has for us to do (see Eph 2:8-10).
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Are you living as a light to your neighbors? How?
What might you do today that would reflect the love of God to others?
How could you embody the salvation of God in your daily work?
Gracious God, as a Gentile, I am grateful beyond words for the scope of your salvation. Thank you for including me among your people.
Lord Jesus, today, I honor you as God’s Servant, the light to the nations. In you, we see God. Through you, we receive the salvation of God.
Today, I am also reminded that I am to live as a light to the world. May your love, truth, and grace shine through me to others. May I be a reflector of you in my workplace, in the community, among my friends, in my family, and wherever I am in the world. Amen.
Photo by Tom Sodoge on Unsplash.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: A Light to the Nations
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.