Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Book Of Isaiah. Day 129, The Work Of The Lord's Hands

Earlier in Chapter 29 we found the Lord calling the people spiritually blind and spiritually illiterate because they were going through the motions of religion---in a way that suited their weak human nature---instead of worshiping the Lord from the heart and instead of worshiping Him in the ways He commanded. 

But this won't always be the case! A day is coming when they will say something like, "I was lost but now am found. I was blind but now I see."

Chapter 29 ends with words of hope. "In a very short time, will Lebanon not be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of doom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 29:17-19)

Some scholars believe the reference to Lebanon (and in some translations we find Carmel mentioned as the "fertile field") symbolizes a turnaround of circumstances. Lebanon was known for its mighty cedar trees. Carmel was known for its fertile land. In the segment above we see these things reversed: Lebanon is described as a fertile field and Carmel as a mighty forest. This reversal symbolizes the power of the Lord to completely change hearts and lives and to completely change nations. A God who can turn a thick forest into a fruitful field can turn hearts, lives, and nations around.

Part of this turnaround involves ridding the nation of wickedness. "The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down---those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice." (Isaiah 29:20)

The Lord will rid the nation not only of wickedness from within but also wickedness from without. He will cut off the enemies of Israel. He will do this because there will be a turning back to Him. This prophecy has been fulfilled in part, for after the return to the land the people conquered by Assyria and Babylon no longer called upon the names of other gods, but all the commentaries I consulted believe this final segment primarily has to do with the eternal state of Israel under the reign of the Messiah. I see no reason to disagree with this theory; after the Messiah comes as King of kings and Lord of lords, Israel will have peace on every side forever. Never again will any of her people look to anyone except the Lord as their Redeemer and Helper. 

"Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob: 'No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. When they see among them their children, the work of My hands, they will keep My name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.'" (Isaiah 29:22-24)  

These "children"---the great number of descendants of Jacob who believe on the name of the Lord---are called by the Lord "the work of My hands". He is the One who does all the redeeming work on mankind's behalf. Salvation is by faith and not by works, which is why I believe Abraham is mentioned in this passage because the Bible says that his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:1-5) 

These children of God are compared to Abraham who was saved by his faith in the Lord and not by the works of his own hands. Abraham was not free from sin and he counted on the Lord to do for him what he could not do for himself. Likewise, in our text today, we find the descendants of Abraham trusting in the Lord to do for them what they were unable to do for themselves. This is why their position in the family of God is the work of His hands, not theirs. Yours and my position in the family of God was accomplished by the Lord; we simply accepted on faith what He had done for us. Then, just as He did for Abraham, He credited us with righteousness---not a righteousness wrought by ourselves (for that was impossible for us) but a righteousness wrought by His own hands.

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