In Isaiah 52 and 53, the church of God is suffering. Within her walls, she is greatly troubled by unrepentant idolaters. Without her walls, pagan enemies are lining up to do her harm. Around her is a malicious devil crouching like a hungry lion with demonic followers eager to the chosen ones. And above it all, stands the Almighty God who is justly but mysteriously discipling his church, fulfilling his mission, and exalting his name.
Can you feel their pain? Is not Israel’s situation similar to yours?
- Are you not inwardly tormented by your sinful, fleshly, thoughts and desires?
- Are you not constantly called to compromise by a pagan world hating Christianity?
- Are you not spiritually targeted by devilish foes wishing to take you down?
- Is not all of this transpiring under the all-seeing eye and almighty hand of God?
Well, my friends, in the midst of Israel’s holy war and season of painful discipleship, the Lord sought to give them hope. He promised them a Savior, and whether or not they ever made it out of Jerusalem alive, to Babylon in good stead, or back from Babylon in one piece, God’s elect children were to know they had a bright future because of the always-loving, unbelievable-gracious, covenant-keeping, and incredibly-mysterious God. Though they were struggling greatly in this world, redemption was over the horizon, and hope was theirs to have.
Fellow believer, the same is true for you. I don’t know who is reading this blog today. I do not know the nature of your particular struggle. However, know this, whether or not you make it out of your season of oppression, exile, and disaster on this side of glory, you too can rejoice in your future hope.
Therefore, I hope to help you find Gospel-comfort as you read the “adjusted” text below. As you cry today, know that it is the Almighty God who is ordaining, ordering, decreeing, planning, allowing, causing, governing, orchestrating, overseeing, and using the pain in your world. But never believe for a moment that he has abandoned you. He has already come the first time to redeem you from your sin. He is coming again, and at the sound of the trumpet he will fully and finally rescue you from this cursed world of sin. Therefore, for all of you who are in Christ Jesus, while you are oppressed, suffering, and crying today, you can have hope. A bright future is ahead for you. God has promised. Jesus is coming, and this is Gospel truth.
Adjusted scripture in italics
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Christian; put on your beautiful garments, O Church; for there shall no more come into you those who hate and defy your God.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Christian; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Christ.
For thus says the Lord: “You were worthless and sold for nothing, but you shall be redeemed without money.” You shall be redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
For thus says the Lord God: “My people dwelt as exiles in the corrupt world, and the enemies of God eagerly oppressed them for nothing.
Now therefore what have I here,” declares the Lord, “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing … and continually all the day my name is despised?
Therefore my people shall know my name.
Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.”
How beautiful is the pastor, teacher, evangelist, Christian, or Gospel-herald who brings such good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who reminds the troubled believer, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your ministers —they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for they clearly see the coming return of the Lord to his bride.
So, break forth together into singing, you who feel wasted, worn-out, exhausted, abandoned, and desolate, for the Lord has promised to comfort his people; he has determined to redeem his children. The Lord will flex his holy muscle before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
When he comes, he will give the call, “Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who are God’s sacred temple; you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” And when he comes, you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
What else can be said regarding the coming Lord who promises to redeem his people and give her a future?
Behold, the Almighty Lord and Redeeming Son, my servant, he shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. This is who he is from all eternity. This is how he sits enthroned in heaven above right now.
But do you remember his stoop of humiliation and self-sacrifice. Do you recall how many many were astonished at you in your day of humiliation?
The Almighty Son of God — his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind … He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He became as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised; he was esteemed not. But, with radical love and commitment, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was … stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted; … he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; our condemnation and chastisement was placed upon him and he brought us peace; … with his wounds we are healed … the Father laid on him the iniquity of all his children. Jesus was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so the Humbled King of Kings opened not his mouth. He was arrested, mocked, beaten, blasphemed, and crucified; he was cut off out of the land of the living, he was stricken for the transgression of his precious people? … And all of this, regardless of the fact that he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Father to crush him … to put him to grief as his soul made an offering for guilt.
However, despite the onslaught of the world and the devil; despite his being crucified, buried, and cut off from the land of the living … he shall see his children; he shall live forever; the will of the Lord will forever prosper in his hand. Because of the anguish of his soul he shall see his beloved bride and be satisfied … she will be accounted righteous because he bore her iniquities. And then comes the glorious day of reunion and inheritance. … His inheritance will be divided with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with those made strong.
And all of this because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors.
All of this because he bore the sin of many, and continues to pray and intercede and watch over his beloved transgressors.
He has honored his promise and come in humiliation the first time. He is honoring his promise and is interceding for you in the mean time. And one day, he is going to keep his word and come again to further glorify his name and his church. You are his bride. You are the apple of his eye. You are his beloved. He is fulfilling his mission, advancing his cause, growing the number of his worshipers, and humiliating the devil. Yes, he is confusing and mysterious, but he is always good and loving to his own. But rest assured, one day he will put an end to your oppression and suffering, and this will be forever and ever. Therefore, even while you cry today as saints in exile, you can have hope. Jesus always keeps his promises. He never fails. His inheritance is over the horizon, and so we cry, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”