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It is appropriate to end our study of Isaiah with God’s message of hope for his people.
The book alternated between judgment and salvation, despair and hope. God’s last word for his people is one of hope.
God’s Announcement of Salvation
The salvation that God promises is one that is only possible through his power.
Any woman who has experienced childbirth will immediately recognize a painless birth process as a miracle from God. God’s promise to Jerusalem is the rebirth of the city through his power.
Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard of such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be delivered in one moment?
Yet as soon as Zion was in labor
she delivered her children.
Shall I open the womb and not deliver?
says the Lord;
shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb?
says your God. (Isaiah 66.7-9)
The image in this passage recalls the Fall and the pain of childbearing that came with it.
“To the woman he said,
‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children. . .'” (Genesis 3.16)
The hope that accompanies God’s promise is the reversal of the effect of the Fall. Only our Creator God is able to reverse the effect of sinful humanity.
The work of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52 and 53), who ministry was that of Jesus Christ, is the power behind the reversal of what takes place when humans rebel against God.
Rudy Ross recalls the miracle of Israel becoming a nation in 1948 as another illustration of how these verses have become reality in our world. Rudy has several important insights in our YouTube video today on the Bob Spradling channel.
Rejoice in the New Reality
During his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5.4).
We are able to count those who mourn as blessed when God reverses their situation.
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her. (Isaiah 66.10)
Jerusalem was a cause of mourning for two reasons. First, the city suffered immense pain for centuries through a succession of ruling nations that oppressed the people.
From the days of Isaiah until 1948 the nation experienced continual threats and oppression from powerful nations.
The second cause of mourning was Israel’s inability to live according to God’s directions.
God’s gracious reversal will remedy both of these causes of suffering.
As we apply Isaiah’s message to our lives, we can rejoice that God will give the world a new heaven and a new earth where oppression is no more and peace rules.
A New Glory
Israel, like so many today, was carried away by images of prosperity and wealth.
Isaiah continually battled the nation’s lust for power, prosperity and glory. They were never intended to have these as a result of their own self-sufficiency.
The prosperity of God’s people was to be that which comes from a relationship with the Lord. They were to reflect his glory and trust him for prosperity and wealth.
For thus says the Lord:
I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm,
and dandled on her knees. (Isaiah 66.12)
The human problem is in our unwillingness to trust God for an abundant life. Both Isaiah and Jesus called on people to fully rely on God for life.
Sin in revealed in unbelief that refuses God’s direction and seeks life apart from him.
We rejoice, because a day is coming when God will provide an atmosphere where we will be able to more easily trust him and receive his blessings of abundant life.
Thank You and What’s Next
First, I want to thank Rudy Ross for helping me produce a video that highlights his insights on the Bible. It is a true blessing to meet with Rudy and talk about the Bible.
Second, I am indebted to John Oswalt. His two volume commentary on Isaiah has both enriched my life and challenged me to a deeper devotion.
Tomorrow will begin a study in the Book of Deuteronomy. I hope to connect Deuteronomy to the New Testament message and to daily life in 2021. I hope you will join this new study.