There are those who, in light of current events, say that if ever there was a time for the church to be knee deep into prophecy, it’s now. In all cases where I’ve heard this expressed it’s a call to open the book of Revelation, usually so that we might identify and respond to the signs of the time. Can I respectfully suggest that perhaps Isaiah would be a better place to hang out?
I wrapped up the first of the major prophets this morning. As has been the case for the past few years, I again complete this 25-day fly over of Isaiah with a deep sense that I need to go back and spend more time in the book. Knowing that, while I have tasted of what the prophet offers for understanding any times when the people of God feel like they’re in the end times, there is still so much more to pick up from what’s being laid down.
But here’s my quick, though less than fully thought out reasoning for thinking Isaiah may be the prophetic word we need in these days.
- The ancient people of God were in an unprecedented time of trouble. Sure, it had been bad for a long while, but the heat was being turned up and God sent someone to help them make sense of it.
- The ancient people of God had been playing games with God for a long, long time. Honoring God with their lips but with hearts far from Him, they went through the motions of worshiping God while worshiping so many other things as well — things which should not be worshiped. Time for a word from the LORD. Time to repent.
- Though a patient God, He was also a God who demanded holiness and justice — a couple of things in rare supply in ancient Israel. Thus, He would use the situation around them to refine their hearts and remove the dross from within them. And for those who responded to the heat being turned up, for those who feared the Lord, those with a contrite and lowly spirit, He promised revival — first individually, then corporately. He assured them He would not contend forever.
- Though a God of justice and holiness, He repeatedly opens His heart to His people as a God of compassion. A God who, for His own name’s sake, will be true to His promise, and to His people, and to the place where His glory would dwell. Hope exudes throughout Isaiah even as warnings abound and hardship persists.
- And in the center of it all, “My Servant.” A glorious future secure because the arm of the LORD has been revealed. A confidence of right relationship with God because of the sacrifice of a Lamb. The sin problem dealt with through the finished work of a suffering Savior.
- And at the end of it all?
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.”
(Isaiah 65:17-19 ESV)
Isaiah’s got everything the people of God need for seasons like this. A reminder of a God who is always at work behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes and fulfill His promises. A repeated warning by God about the sin which can be at the root of societal suffering. A call to return to God, for His people to repent with hearts bowed low and eyes lifted high. A reassurance from God that He really is working all things for our good according to His purpose. A refocus from God that heaven won’t be found on this earth, but will be realized in the creation of a new heavens and a new earth. All leading to a renewed spirit from God as we trek through this hard season staying focused on making Him known.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)
That’s my vote for the prophecy we’d benefit from at this time. Just one man’s opinion.
Saved by His grace. Trying to figure out how to walk in this season for His glory.