“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.” (Isaiah 43:10, NIV)
There are three surprises in Isaiah 43:10.
Surprise number one: Instead of saying “You are my witnesses and my servants”, the LORD uses a plural-singular combination: “You are my witnesses and my servant.” Perhaps this tells us that we each serve individually as witnesses in different places (offices, schools, homes, etc.) and different roles (parents, students, accountants, businessmen, etc.), but we are together one servant and one body of our one Lord. We are witnesses of God in many different ways, but part of the same united ministry of service to God.
Surprise number two: This verse comes in the light of what was said in a slightly earlier verse (Isaiah 42:19, NIV). There the LORD lamented: “Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one in covenant with me, blind like the servant of the LORD?”
God knows how blind and deaf we servants often prove to be. And yet here in Isaiah 43:10, the Lord declares: “You – yes, you who are often blind and deaf to my ways – You shall be my witnesses!”
This is both humbling and inspiring. Despite our weaknesses and impediments, God says we can serve as His witnesses. Our stubborn streak does not disqualify us from being God’s servant. This is the grace and miracle of God’s ways. None of us is worthy, but God still calls every one of us to be His witnesses.
Surprise number three: This verse says we are witnesses so that we may know and believe that God is truly God! We would have expected God to say that we are His witnesses so that other people may come to know and believe in God. But this verse surprises us, and perhaps in so doing, tells us that it is sometimes in trying to be a faithful witness that we will discover true faith for ourselves.
Like a teacher who, in order to teach a subject, benefits by learning the subject for himself first, so too our blind eyes and deaf ears may be opened as we accept the call of God to be His witnesses.
We are many, but one servant of the one Lord of all.
We are blind and deaf, but still chosen to be God’s witnesses.
As we try to be God’s witnesses, may we see, hear and believe more clearly in the God of surprises.
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong –
was re-elected President of The Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) in 2016 for a second quadrennial term, but is primarily grateful to God for the gift of his wife Lai Foon and two children Deborah and Jeremy.
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