|RPM, Volume 20, Number 49, December 2 to December 8, 2018|
How will you respond when you are invited to make a joyful celebration in the midst of failures that you are experiencing in life?
This is the challenge that the people of God were facing during the time of prophet Isaiah and the same challenge can be true to us at present, especially as the month of December is fast approaching. A continuous and repeated failure in relationships, career, studies, or ministry can sometimes discourage us to participate in the joyful occasions surrounding us.
But the Word of God in Isaiah 54:1-10 is a sweet reminder on looking at our failure in a way that will not cripple our future. It says in v. 1, "Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy.…"
This statement was originally addressed to God's people during the later period in their Babylonian Captivity. Like a barren woman, Israel is totally a failure (failure before, during and even after their series of captivity from various nations). They were totally unfaithful in their calling as God's people. And yet, God calls them to a great and joyful celebration- a celebration not on account of what they have accomplish but rather on account of what God is going to accomplish for them, a celebration not on account of their attitude towards God but rather on account of God's attitude towards them.
In the midst of past and present failures in life and ministry, we can still face the month of December with joy and peace because of God's unfailing love.
According to verse 10, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of love be removed", says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
His love for us is not dependent on the greatness or smallness of the circumstances that strikes us. Regardless of what is bothering your heart and mind right now, regardless of what is happening in your personal life, your family, your career, your ministry, your church and your community, his love for you never fails.
How does our passage show the unfailing love of God in our life and ministry as His people? God's unfailing love is demonstrated in our passage by His faithfulness to His promises.
Despite the unfaithfulness of His People, as indicated by their rebellion and idolatry, He remains true to his original promise to Abraham of countless descendants. Way back in Genesis 15:5 when Abraham was worried about his failure of having descendants, the Lord took him outside and said, 'Look up at the sky and count the stars-if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.' From the very start, God wanted to emphasize to his people that it is his faithfulness to his promises that determines our future and not our failures.
Here in vs. 1-3 of our passage, the same commitment is being emphasized. The undeserving can still experience growth and development because God is faithful to his promises.
1. Inward growth is still possible in the community of undeserving. According to v.1, the barren and desolate woman will have many children!
2. Outward growth is still possible in the community of undeserving. According to v.3, the undeserving Israel will spread out to the right and to the left; their descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. How can this be possible? This will lead us to the second point.
His undeserved promise of unfailing love is possible only through a redeemer.
1. To redeem us from our shameful condition (v.4)
2. To redeem us from the absence of ministry partner (v.5)
3. To redeem us from the emptiness of life (vs.6-7)
4. To redeem us from the surge of His anger (v.8)
Because God is faithful to His promise of a redeemer, you will not remain in your barrenness, in your shameful condition, in the emptiness of life and as object of God's wrath. There will always have a bright hope for everyone whom God have given a redeemer. What we are celebrating in this month is actually the fulfillment of this particular promise. Jesus is given for us to experience the new quality of life-a life that is founded in the unfailing love of God!
Finally, God demonstrated his unfailing love through…..
"To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.
In order to savor the sweetness of this verse, take a look first at Gen. 8:20-21 where Isaiah draw his analogy.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[a] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
The promise of everlasting peace is on account of a substitute sacrifice for our sins. Because of this substitute sacrifice…
1. He will never judge you again.
2. He will never be angry with you again.
3. He will never rebuke you again.
Jesus Christ is the substitute sacrifice for our sins. He said, ' Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14.27). What a wonderful blessing and experience to have peace in life!
The assurance of God's unfailing love for all His people is founded and fulfilled in Christ alone.
What difference does it make now that we know the undeserved assurance of God's unfailing love for us?
1. It should make us joyful in all circumstances (v.1)Your joy does not depend on what you have accomplish but rather on what God have accomplished for you in Christ.
2. It should make us zealous/ passionate in declaring the Kingdom of God (read vs.2-3). Before you will ever take a step in evangelism, the battle was over because God have already accomplished your victory in Christ.
3. It should make us courageous in facing unfavorable circumstances in life (v.4-6).
a. Barrennessdisciplineto humble us
b. Widowhoodwithdrawal of ministry partnerto make us totally dependent on God Israel was very disappointed when Egypt as their ally was not able to help them in their battles against Assyria.
Withdrawal or unfaithfulness of a ministry partner can be alarming and even distressful but it should never paralyze us in doing the ministry because God himself have promise to be with us even in the most trying moment in our life.
ISAIAH 31.1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.
|This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor. If you would like to discuss this article in our online community, please visit the RPM Forum.|
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