Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 147

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 147

We begin Chapter 51 today and it is titled "Everlasting Salvation For Zion". It contains the promise of return to the land from captivity and the rebuilding of the nation. The Lord reminds the people what He has done for them in the past and, since His character has not changed, He can be counted on to do great things in the future.

"Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many." (Isaiah 51:1-2) The people feel discouraged and defeated in a foreign land. They have lost many sons to war. How can God make their numbers great again? How can they ever again be the mighty people they once were? The Lord reminds them their nation began with only one man and his wife: an elderly man and his elderly and barren wife. Yet look what God did with one couple who had the faith to believe He was capable of doing what He promised! Is He not still the same God as He was to Abraham and Sarah? Can He not do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine"? (Ephesians 3:20) We so often limit Him in our minds because we view Him in human terms. For us it is impossible; for God all things are possible. 

As surely as the Lord gave Abraham the promised son of his old age, "The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." (Isaiah 51:3) This is a prophecy for a time both near and far. It involves the setting free of the captives and their return to rebuild their land, but it also involves the restoration of Israel in the kingdom of Christ when He claims the throne of David and rules the earth. 

As in yesterday's passage, it is still the Messiah who is speaking. Up til now Isaiah has presented Him as the Servant of the Lord, but today we find He is something more than a mere mortal Servant. He speaks with authority. He makes promises in the name of the Lord as if He and the Lord are one and the same. He speaks of His own justice, righteousness, and salvation. A mere man cannot speak this way, unless He is delusional. But the Son of God can speak this way, for He speaks the truth. "Listen to Me, My people; hear Me, My nation: Instruction will go out from Me; My justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, My salvation is on the way, and My arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to Me and wait in hope for My arm." (Isaiah 51:4-5) Perhaps most surprising of all (to Isaiah's nation) is the revelation that the Messiah will be the hope, not only of Israel, but of the world. The Gentiles are included in His plan of salvation; they are invited to come and warm themselves by His fire. Somehow He is going to draw to Him the nations who, at the very time Isaiah is making this prophecy, are bowing down to useless images and making sacrifices to false gods. Who could have imagined such a thing? Could God's chosen nation have ever conceived He would bring the Gentiles to salvation, that He would make the pagan nations the same offer of salvation He made the children of Abraham? Who could accomplish such a mighty act? What kind of intelligence gave birth to such a thought? The Lord alone is able! And He makes it clear in our passage above that all this will be accomplished in His power. He says, "It is My justice, My righteousness, My salvation, and My arm which does these things."

In a world that frequently appears to have gone mad, there is one thing we can always count on. There is one firm foundation we can always stand on. Our Redeemer lives and His word will never fail. Nobody can take from us what we have in Christ. Wars may come, kingdoms may rise and fall, earthquakes may shake the earth, the mountains may crumble and the seas may roar, but our Redeemer is faithful. "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But My salvation will last forever, My righteousness will never fail." (Isaiah 51:6) 

We've heard a lot of campaign promises this year and we are experienced enough to know that no political candidate ever does all he or she has promised (or threatened). But there is One whose promises we can take to the bank. There is One who will make not only America, but the whole earth, great again. There is One who will keep His word to the children of Abraham and to we Gentiles whose forefathers bowed in futility to powerless idols. We may turn on the news today only to find more evidence the world is crumbling around us, but we can also turn to the word of God and reassure ourselves with the fact that God is still in control. "Therefore we will not fear", as the author of Psalm 46 affirms in a bold statement of faith. "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." (Psalm 46:2-3) The psalmist can proclaim his unshakable faith because he knows "The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress". (Psalm 46:7) Because he trusts in the Lord, he has a calmness of spirit and is able to obey the command "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

Be still. He is God. He is bigger than anything that will face us today or any day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment