06/15/T – God’s Work and God’s Workmanship

Isaiah 41:17-42:9; Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalms 67:4-7; Proverbs 17:7-8

OT: ““This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is my chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations. He will not cry out or shout or make his voice heard in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not put out a smoldering wick; he will faithfully bring justice. He will not grow weak or be discouraged until he has established justice on earth. The coasts and islands will wait for his instruction.” This is what God, the Lord, says — who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk on it  — “I am the Lord. I have called you for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand. I will watch over you, and I will appoint you to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:1-7‬ ‭CSB)

The Servant that Isaiah prophesied was understood by the Jews to be the Messiah, God’s chosen and anointed man to bring about God’s vengeance and justice to the world. Most people of the Jewish faith expected the Messiah to be some sort of superman – a mighty warrior empowered by the anointing of God to overthrow the physical governments that oppressed God’s people. However, this prophecy of the Messiah painted a much different picture. Here the Messiah was not portrayed as a strong and victorious warrior king, but a weak and lowly servant. This Servant would not be loud and brash, but would do His work quietly. He would not be harsh and reckless in His approach, but would take care to not roll over those who were weak, or drive to exhaustion those who were weary. Though He would be a weak and lowly servant, God would strengthen Him and put His Spirit in Him so that the Servant would be able to endure until God’s work and purposes were completed.

What was God’s work? Yes, it was to bring and establish justice – but it would not be done by overthrowing the political powers of the day. It would be accomplished by establishing a new covenant with the people through the Servant. It would be accomplished by opening blind eyes, liberating captives and bringing light to those who sat in darkness. Jesus Christ wasn’t the Messiah that the Jewish people expected, but He was the Messiah that Isaiah prophesied some 700 years before. He was God’s servant, who was filled and empowered by God’s Spirit to bring sight to the blind, liberty to the captives, and light to those in darkness. He accomplished that work by allowing His life to be the basis of a new covenant of grace to anyone who would believe on Him. Jesus endured through God’s strength until all that was needed for the new covenant was accomplished – and now Jesus sits on the throne in heaven, empowering those who are redeemed through Him as He awaits the time for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan.

NT: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift —  not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-10‬ ‭CSB)

According to Paul, as revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, all who come to faith in Christ and are redeemed through the blood of the new covenant become God’s workmanship. The Greek word that is translated as ‘workmanship’ is the word poiema. It is the same word from which we get the English word poem. A poiema is a carefully and purposefully crafted work of art –  not something hastily thrown together to serve a need. There are no misfits or mistakes in the Body of Christ. All who are in Christ are carefully, lovingly and purposely crafted to accomplish the calling that God has had for our lives since the dawning of the age.

What exactly has God done to lovingly craft us, you may ask. Well, Paul listed a few thing here at the beginning of Ephesians 2. Before coming to faith in Christ, all of us were dead in our sins, enslaved to the purposes of Satan, incapable of living righteously, helplessly living according to our carnal nature, and deserving of God’s wrath. That is the state of every human before coming to faith in Christ. But look at what God has done… because of God’s great mercy and love toward us, He made us alive with Christ, saved us by His grace, and seated us with Christ at His place of honor in heaven. God did all of that freely, as a gift, as we placed our faith on Christ. Why did He do that? So that we would be a display of God’s grace, love and kindness to the world. Through the life, death and resurrection of His Servant Son, God established a new covenant of grace with us. When we place our faith on Christ and appropriate the new covenant, God rescues us from death, makes us a new creation in Christ, calls and equips us for good works, and transforms us from glory to glory as we live in Him.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that in Christ, I am no longer dead in my sins and purposelessly living according to my carnality. As I have come to faith in Christ and remain in Christ by faith, You have made me a new and lovingly crafted creation that has been set apart and called for Your good and eternal purposes. I thank You for all that You have done and continue to do to craft me more and more into Your image. Here I am, Lord – fulfill Your purposes in me and through me for Your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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