Isaiah 42:4 “He will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.”
This verse has always been a great comfort and encouragement to me as I have lived and ministered in Japan. Japan has a well-earned reputation as a “graveyard of missionaries.” I’m not sure about the most recent statistics, but a few years ago it had the 2nd largest number of missionaries sent to it, (after Brazil) but far and away the lowest “rate of return” on time, personnel, and resources invested. What this verse says is that Jesus isn’t going to give up until the job is done, and it specifically mentions islands! Spiritually speaking, Jesus finished the job on the cross, and He proclaimed that He had done so. (John 19:30) However, there are a lot of practical details to work out, and He has been doing that for the past 2000 years. This verse says He isn’t going to give up! The Japanese translation of the last part of the verse says “The islands also will wait expectantly (or in hope) for His teaching.” That particular expression of “wait expectantly” is one of the gems of the Japanese language, and it captures a very important Biblical truth. It is used, for example, in Isaiah 40:31. I haven’t found an English translation yet that quite catches the right flavor there. The thing is, we are to rest assured that Jesus isn’t going to give up, and we are eagerly to anticipate His kingdom coming as His will is done, in every part of the world, for His glory.
I will never forget the story my mother told me of my father prostrating himself on the floor, crying out to God, “God, if I am what is in the way of revival in Japan, then take me out of the way!” I certainly identify with that feeling. I need the encouragement of this verse on a fairly constant basis, and it can be a real test of faith. I need to remember the somewhat obscure promise the Lord gave to King Asa through an otherwise unknown prophet named Azariah: “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7) God has not given up, and I must not either. I have been given the vision of Omura again being the foremost Christian city in Japan, actively advancing the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth. I cannot possibly bring that to pass in my own strength, but God can certainly do it, and He can even use me in the process. I need to remember that in heaven it is finished, and wait expectantly for it to be manifested here on earth.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I need it, as the pressures of the season are upon me. Help me take each step in turn, instead of stressing out over the next three or four steps before I’ve taken the one that’s right at me. Help me indeed wait in hope on You so that You may renew my strength, just as You promised, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!