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Pastoral 2013

He Leads, We Follow


“Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”

—Isaiah 48:17

Why can we trust Him to lead?

We can trust Him absolutely, firstly, because He is our “Redeemer”. Take note that He introduces Himself to us, with all His authority and truthfulness (“Thus saith the LORD”) as “thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel”. He thinks of Himself as our Redeemer. When He declares Himself as our Redeemer, He also reminds us that He is the “Holy One of Israel”. On several occasions, in the book of Isaiah, the Lord was pleased to fraternise with Israel, His people, as their Redeemer. His reiteration that He is their Redeemer actually portrays His eternal love and care for them.

In Deuteronomy 7:8, He said, “But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” There, He plainly talked about the reason behind Him being their Redeemer, which is, His love for them and His faithfulness concerning His promises to keep them as His own people. This truth is again seen in Isaiah’s prophecy—“ For he said, Surely they are my people... In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:8-9). Being their Redeemer, He felt their pain when they were afflicted; so His presence abode with them to deliver them and He carried them all the way.

The more we think of our Lord as our Redeemer, the greater the assurance that He is leading us day by day, moment by moment. His redemptive love will not allow us to perish; but will gently lead us all the way till all is accomplished according to His glorious plan. The Redeemer’s promise is “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4).

The second reason why we can trust Him to lead us is that He is our “God”. Consider what the Lord declared—“I am the LORD thy God.” The Lord graciously redeems us to be His people and then declares Himself to be our God. Later, in chapter 44, the Lord says, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (v. 6). He is the only God, the Almighty, and the Creator! By virtue of His redemption, He becomes our God now and forever. As our God, He is our King and the Lord of hosts. He is our commander-in-chief! He walks before us and leads us through every battle of life; and because He is leading us, we have no cause for worry or fear.

We can certainly say, “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:7). “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14). What great honour has the Lord bestowed upon us when He declared with great delight that He is our God! If the mighty Lord has undertaken upon Himself to be our God, we can have all confidence that He will never fail in leading us lest His power and faithfulness prove to be frail and insincere. He is God, and He shall neither be weak nor unfaithful to lead us all the way.

How does He lead us?

The words of the Lord in Isaiah 48:17 show us two ways in which He leads His people. He leads us, firstly, by His instructions, and secondly, by His guidance.

The Lord has promised to lead us by His instructions. He said, “I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit.” God leads His people by teaching. He never leads His people without imparting to them His truth and wisdom. “Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like Him?” (Job 36:22). God takes great glory in teaching His people that they may progress according to His will. Jesus reiterated this truth, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). God is greatly pleased to lead us by teaching us.

When adverse and trying circumstances come our way, the Lord is still teaching and leading us. Consider Psalm 94:12-15, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.” Afflictions will be used of the Lord to teach us greater things about Him out of His Law. As we yield to His Spirit and the Word, we will be led to greater spiritual enlightenment and experiences.

The Lord also promised to lead us by His guidance. He said about Himself at the end of Isaiah 48:17 that He is a God “which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go”. The grammatical and etymological aspects of the Hebrew word for “leadeth” (Hiphil, Imperfect, Participle) suggest that God will cause His people to go forward continually.

His providence will make sure that the people whom He has redeemed and taught by His Word will walk continually in the way that He has planned for them. The Lord says to His people in Isaiah 43:15-16, “I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters...” The Lord also said at the beginning of Isaiah chapter 43, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (vv. 1-2).

What benefit will we have if we follow Him?

The Lord has promised that He will teach us “to profit”. Following the Lord according to His instructions is greatly profitable. The prophet Samuel warned the people that there is no profit in turning away from the Lord, “Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain” (1 Samuel 12:20-21). But, our text says, if we will follow the Lord, He will cause us to “profit”. Who can imagine the great blessings He can shower us with? The Scriptures say that He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). Isaiah 64:4 says, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” In apostle Paul’s language, this truth is, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Gethsemaneans, God is still leading us, let us follow Him. Circumstances may change, but our God and His good plans concerning us will neither change nor fail. So let us follow Him with greater expectations of greater blessings in the work of the Gospel.

I am greatly delighted that the Lord is still with us by providing us with a venue to worship in this location. Our need for more space is acute. So we must pray for God’s provision to acquire a larger space for our increasing ministries. I call on the church to pray for and work towards a Building Fund of five million dollars by 2015. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).