“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ’My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Isaiah 46:8-10)
What are you about? What drives you? What is your overall reason for living? Are your purposes God’s purposes? God is saying, as noted by Isaiah 46:11, “I make known the end for you.” Do you want to know whether I’m God? Do you remember? Want to know my purposes? Well, look, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. My purpose will stand.” Now notice who this is addressed to in Isaiah 41:8, “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old.” Remember this – fix it in your mind – take it to heart.
Now here He is addressing the people of God, Israel. We might say today, the church members. What’s wrong with you? Here you are flirting with materialism as a god. Here you are going after the god of self-fulfillment. Or finding your life fulfilled in pleasure, or the search for it, or your name being recognized, or being accepted and approved. “What are your gods now?” He says, those are not gods. They don’t even have a purpose. And if they did, they couldn’t fulfill it. Certainly, they couldn’t guarantee it. “I am God …and there no others …and my purpose will stand.” So what should you do? Well, this is a great time to climb up into the grandstands and watch God do his thing; if his purpose will stand and who can oppose him? Well, then, let’s just watch God do his thing: “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
I don’t know what your parents had in mind, but I know what God had in mind; that you were chosen before the foundation of the world. You are redeemed on purpose. Remember what Paul said, he was giving everything, all of his strength to “lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of him. God laid hold of him” on purpose. You were born on purpose. You were redeemed on purpose. You were commissioned on purpose. Isn’t it incredible? This particular passage brings together the most profound problem – the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.
Let’s suppose there’s a fourth dimension. Outside of time and space. Timelessness – spacelessness. If God stands outside and looks down, it’s not altogether proper to say that he foreknows what I’m going to do. It’s all in the eternal now so that he knows what I am doing. So that he doesn’t have to predict what’s going to happen in the future or determine what’s going happen in the future and then incorporate that into his purposes that he fixes up ahead of time if there is a fourth dimension. The Bible doesn’t try to explain to us. It just boldly says I will do all my purpose and I’m going to do it through you.
If you act as if the outcome really does depend on you. If that’s what you act like, so you work frantically and you collapse in remorse when you fail. Then you’ve gone way out. You’ve lost hold of the fact that “My purpose will stand.” If you seek your fulfillment in life, if you do your thing in life. You missed it. You’ve gotten hold of the idea that you have responsible choice. And if you have some arrogant talk about your free will, you are gone.
He started with the truth, that you’re responsible and God’s going to do his work with you, but you’ve taken it out beyond the bounds of Scripture. Or you can go the other direction, depending on your proclivity. You can withdraw into the grandstand of life and presume on God’s capability to accomplish everything without your help. Which of course is true, so no exertion is needed. And you say it’s over to God, it’s up to him. It’s all going to turn out the way he wants it to.
So what is our responsibility? They’re both true. As Isaiah 26:12 says, “all that we have accomplished. You have done for us, oh God.” That really does lift a load. It gives perspective. It humbles to reality, that you are an instrument of God. And that lifts up with destiny. That infuses you with hope. It gives direction, it clarifies vision. He’s got a purpose. It’s going to stand, and you can become identified with it. It’s quite possible for you to become an instrument of his purpose and to be caught up in his purpose and to accomplish what he is desired.
That’s the will of God. That’s his purpose, to provide redemption. “My purpose will stand.” The only question for us today is whether or not He will identify and prosper our purpose, whether we will be caught up in his purposes so that what he promises will come true. You are under summons of the almighty God to accomplish his purposes in the world. You can’t give your life to find fulfillment for yourself. It’s his fulfillment of his purpose. You can’t spend your life and waste your life and dreaming up dreams independent of his purposes in the world. You’re under summons. Is there anything more exciting than to believe that the infinite sovereign God chooses to accomplish his purpose through you?