Thursday, December 8, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 159

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 159

The Lord is promising Zion a better tomorrow. They may not understand how He will accomplish such wonderful things, but they are to take His word for it. "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11) 

God is not speaking empty words to the people. What He has promised He will perform. This year in America we've all heard a lot of campaign speeches full of promises and we know from experience that these promises don't always come true. Sometimes it's not for lack of trying, but no president, governor, senator, or congressman in our nation has absolute power. But God, who formed the heavens and the earth simply by the words from His mouth, is able to fulfill any promise He makes. If He tells the captives they will be set free and that their nation will someday be the center of the world because the King will reign from there, they can take that to the bank.

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever." (Isaiah 55:12-13) When the full redemption of man has come in like a harvest, the earth itself will be redeemed. As the song Joy To The World says, "No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground". Since the day Adam fell from grace the curse of sin has polluted the earth, "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field." (Genesis 3:17b-18) In the kingdom of Christ, the thorn will be replaced by the lovely juniper tree, and the myrtle will replace the thistles. Just as the word of God is never unfruitful, neither will the ground be unfruitful once sin has been banished.

The prophecy in Isaiah 55 is for a day in the near future and for a day in the far future. This was the test of a prophet. If he could not accurately predict an occurrence within the lifetime of the listeners or their close descendants, then his word about far future events could not be trusted either. God is saying, "When you return joyfully to Zion and see My word fulfilled about your release, you will know that My word about your future glory will also be fulfilled." There were probably many days when the captives read from the scroll of Isaiah and doubted freedom would ever come. The reality of their situation caused them, in their human weakness, to have trouble picturing a better day. Discouragement must have been ever with them, yet this God who promised freedom was also the God who gave them freedom from Egypt. If Egypt was no match for Him, could He not also defeat Babylon? 

This has been an upsetting and discouraging week in my household. We found out on Monday that the company my husband works for will be closing their operations here in East Tennessee in the coming year. He and about fifty other people will be losing their jobs, jobs that have provided good steady work with salaries that are sufficient to raise families on and keep households running. Ever since I heard this I've experienced anger, sadness, bitterness, and anxiety. One minute I feel like I'm standing on the promises of God and the next minute I'm angrily asking Him why He let misfortune fall on us. But while I lay sleepless through most of the night last night, I realized how much in the wrong I am, blaming God. Looking back on my life, how many times has He rescued me from the spiritual "Egypts" of this world? How many Red Seas has He parted? How many deserts has He led me safely through? How many promises has He already fulfilled? Why would He stop now? His word is faithful and true. He has promised to supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) And as one of my friends reminded me, I can safely stand on the same promise King David stood upon all his life: the sure mercies of God. "I was young and now am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." (Psalm 37:25) 

Since God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), what glorious thing might He do with my circumstances? Just as the redemption of mankind and the redemption of the creation will be "for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever", the Lord will work out my problems in a way that is for His renown, that will be a sign that He is with me and is for me, and that He keeps His word.

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