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Saturday, April 19, 2014

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The result of the saving ministry of Jesus spoken of in Isaiah 53 is seen in this chapter, and the next. In this chapter, God speaks to those who know Him; in the next, to those who don’t.

The language in Isaiah 54 is simply beautiful. God is our Creator, Redeemer, Husband, and Teacher. But the predominant language is of Him as our loving Husband. See the richness of verse 5, for example. “For your Husband is your Maker.” He is not just anyone, He is the Creator of the universe! He is the one who formed you and made you. This is your Husband! His name is “the Lord of hosts.” In some cultures, when a woman marries she takes the last name of her husband. How would you like to be known by the name of God? Would you inspire immediate respect from those around you that you belong to God? 

There is more. God has not proposed for us to be His wife because of our beauty, talents, or intelligence. We were, in fact, “like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit” when He found us, or even, “like a young wife” when she is “rejected” (v.6).  And after He made us His, we failed at the most important role a wife played at the time. We were “barren” and “have not labored with child” (v.1). In Bible times, there was no greater disgrace for a woman than not being able to bear children for her husband. And yet, says Isaiah, our Lord still loved us. We are not the forsaken woman!

This is why the prophet says “Sing, O barren one,…break forth into singing, and cry aloud” (v.1).  Shout for joy because you, who could not get pregnant, will have more children than the one who’s had many. You’ll have to enlarge your tent to make room for them (v.2), and “your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited” (v.3). You will forget “the shame of your youth” (Israel’s wilderness experience), and “the reproach of your widowhood” (their exile to Babylon), v.4.

The Babylonian captivity is what God referred to when He said that “for a brief moment I have forsaken you.” But, counteracting any necessary pain He may have allowed for their good, God’s promise is clear: “with great mercies I will gather you…with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you” (vv.7-8). The mountains may disappear, but My kindness “shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed” (v.10). He assures Israel, His wife, that instead of warfare, precious stones shall surround her, and her children will be taught directly by Him, the Lord (vv.12-13). Never again will she be assailed (vv.9, 14). “No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” He promises, for “this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord” (v.17).

God had great plans for post-exilic Israel, but even though they no longer delved in idolatry after their Babylonian captivity, they became self-righteous and stubborn, leaving aside the humility due before their Maker. The promises from this chapter are ours as well. Let us remain faithful to our Husband, Jesus, and humbly walk by His side, and the promises of prosperity, joy, and peace will be ours today.

Ron E M Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and Theology
Andrews University Seminary