The Voice of the Father
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." ()
I frequently see a sign “John 3:16” held up at sporting events. For those of us who know John 3:16, this has some meaning, but what about those who do not know what John 3:16 says?
John 3:16 tells us of God’s love for the world, and how He demonstrated that love. However, many people have not read or heard John 3:16, and for them the sign held up with just the words “John 3:16” printed on it could be confusing. If these signs were the only testimony or voice people ever heard of God’s love, then people would be lost and without hope.
However, these signs are not the only testimony or voice that speaks to people. God has spoken and He is not silent.
We have been looking at the voices of Advent. So far, we have considered the voice of Mary, a young woman, the voice of Zechariah, an old priest, the voice of Simeon, a teacher, and the voice of a few wise men. Each of these have spoken to us giving testimony to the great salvation that God is working on our behalf. However, these are not the only voices. There are many voices that point us to the Savior.
Today, we are going to consider the voice of the Father.
Hebrews 1:1 tells us:
From this passage we can understand that God has spoken in many ways over many years. I am not going to try to cover all the ways that God speaks. Rather, this being the Christmas season, I am going to consider the message of God’s love that He speaks through Christmas.
As we quoted, Hebrews 1:1 says, “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways through the prophets.” However, God has not stopped speaking. In Hebrews 1:2, the scriptures go on to say:
We can investigate what the prophets said because we have their words recorded in the Bible. We can use our minds and reason to test and see whether the things recorded in the Bible are true. The same is true of Jesus’ life and teachings. His death, burial and resurrection are well documented history. Therefore, we can be confident that we are not following cleverly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16). One of the unique things about the Bible that makes it so trustworthy is fulfilled prophecy. There are many prophecies about Jesus that were fulfilled at the time of His birth and throughout His life here among us. It is in one of these prophecies that I wanted to look today for the voice of the Father.
In Isaiah 49, God speaks to His servant and says:
And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." ()
God speaks in this passage of His purpose to restore Israel, give light to the nations and to bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.
The voice of the Father says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel.” Here He states His purpose to restore Israel and at the same time makes it clear that His purpose is much larger.
When Jesus was born and later when He preached and taught in the regions of Galilee and Judea, many expected the national restoration part of the prophecy to be fulfilled. When Jesus made it obvious that He had no intention of making Himself a temporal King, many stopped following Him. This same attitude continues to this day.
Among us Gentiles, we see those who do not get the temporal blessings they want or expect and stop following Jesus. They are nearsighted. They do not see that their vision of God and the world is too small. Many want happiness now. Many trade the kingdom of God for the riches of this world. Many want health, wealth and happiness now. God’s purpose is much larger. This is why this passage says, “It is too light a thing...” If the interests of a nation are too light a thing, how can we expect the interests of an individual to weigh heavier than the purposes of God?
God’s promises and word are true, and these will never fail. God will not stop short of His purpose. This is why Romans 11:25-26 says:
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. ()
God’s promises and word are true, and all Israel will be saved. When we say “Merry Christmas,” we use the name “Christ.” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Messiah and Christ both mean “anointed one.” In our greeting and name for the season, we hear the voice of the Father echoing down through history that He has sent the promised Messiah, the anointed one, to deliver the nation of Israel.
However, as we have already noted, God’s purpose is much larger. In Isaiah 49:6 we also see that God sent the Messiah to be a light for the nations.
The light precedes salvation. This is necessary on several fronts. First, people do not know they need salvation. They do not know they are in darkness. Second, they do not understand their guilt and how to deal with their sin. Third, they do not know the truth nor do they understand the way of salvation.
Generally speaking, all people have a conscience and a standard of right and wrong. Furthermore, all people have violated the dictates of conscience and have a sense or feeling of guilt, and have dealt with that guilt in one way or another. Romans 2: says:
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. ()
Jesus did not come to condemn the world. However, the world does not like the light. John 3:19-20 says:
And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. ()
Whenever we say Merry Christmas, the voice of the Father speaks reminding the world of its need for a Savior. The world tries to hide from this by making up stories of Santa Clause and by saying Happy Holidays to avoid being offensive. Saying Christmas is offensive, because the darkness hates the light, and in Christmas the voice of the Father speaks clearly. If there were no sin, the Savior would not need to have been born.
The voice of the Father is not one of condemnation. The message of Christmas is a message of joy. This is the third point the voice of the Father tells us in Isaiah 49:6. He says:
Christmas is Merry because God is spreading His salvation to the end of the earth. The farthest reaches of the globe have heard the message of Christmas. Through the baby in the manger, the voice of the Father speaks to us and says:
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. ()
The voice of the Father tells us of the great purpose of God to save us all, and all who respond to His voice are welcome to His salvation. However, God does not save us against our will, but He does hold us responsible for ignoring His voice. We hear His voice in creation as night after night the stars proclaim His handiwork. We hear His voice in our conscience as day after day our hearts remind us that we need a Savior. We hear His voice in history as we consider both the life of Jesus and the nation of Israel.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we of all people rejoice in Christmas because in Christmas we hear the voice of the Father and see His great purpose for all people.