Sometimes, in order to keep going forward, you need to look back. To recapture future hope, you need to be reminded of past promises. To set your feet again on solid ground, you need to remember afresh the rock from which you were hewn.
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him. For the LORD comforts Zion; He comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD.”
(Isaiah 51:1-3 ESV)
Isaiah had a tough job to do–and a bit of a confusing message to deliver. His was to call the people to recognize the destruction around them as the discipline of God upon them while assuring them that God had not forsaken them. Confronting them with their unfaithfulness and idolatry, yet seeking to comfort them with God’s faithfulness and intention. Getting them to see the peril of their ways while encouraging them to wait for the Savior of their world . Having them examine their own hearts and acknowledge their own sin while turning their eyes to God’s holy Servant and trusting in His salvation.
And so, though their world had imploded around them . . . literally . . . the LORD, through the prophet, seeks to comfort those of Zion. Casting a vision of the future where their waste places and wilderness are again made like Eden. Where their desert will, one day, be displaced by His garden.
But how could they muster up the faith to believe that it would be so? How could they renew their strength while looking around and seeing nothing but ruin? “Look to the rock from which you were hewn,” says the LORD.
For those who pursue righteousness, for those who seek the LORD, when hope is clouded by current circumstance, we need to look back and remember from where we came. As we endure the discipline and training that comes through hardship (Heb. 12:1-11), we need to cast again our eye to the rock from which we were hewn.
For Israel it was Abraham and Sarah. Called of God that He might bless and multiply them. People of promise who responded in faith and ultimately birthed a great nation; eventually, through their seed, possessed a great land; and would become the source, to all nations, of great blessing. Remember your past, remember the promise, remember your rock.
For the people of God today, our rock is His Son. Our roots established in the finished work of the cross. Our strength sourced in the abiding presence and resurrection power of His Spirit. Our future, just like Israel’s, settled by the unwavering reality of His promises.
Our waste places, too, will be made like the Eden which God originally intended for those created in His image. Our deserts gloriously transformed into a garden where God delights to be in our midst, and where we know His presence in the most intimate of ways as we walk with Him in the cool of the day.
But it can be hard to see the garden, when you’re stuck in the weeds. Hard to believe in Eden, when your running out of energy. So, what’s a weary pilgrim to do? Look to the Rock from which you were hewn.
By His grace. For His glory.