There’s never been a time when families and children were more under attack than today. Or has there? Israel lost control and contact with their descendants and family members as they were conquered by their enemies and carried away into slavery in a foreign and idolatrous land. Is there anything more terrifying than being unsure about the safety and future of your children? Even in those times of confusion, pain, and powerlessness, God reminded the nation of Israel that He was still in control, and no one was lost to Him. Often we say, you have to trust God, and it is very true, but there are times when you have no other choice and God will be enough when we have absolutely nothing else to hold on to.
18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
Imagine a vision of your family brought back together and back to God. The beauty of that scene compares to the beauty of this vision that God gave Isaiah of the restoration of Israel. God is calling to those who have been judged and who are expecting the consequences of their actions to fall, allowing them to have hope and faith in Him and to trust that the times of trouble that are coming will not last forever. God is saying "Lift up thine eyes." The bible is full of encounters where God tells His people to look up. To Abraham, he asks for him to think bigger than just himself. To us, he asks that we ponder God’s calling and consider how He will bless those that follow Him into unknown territory. To Moses, God speaks the same way, commanding him to believe in the land that He will give to His people and to not lose heart at their disobedience. It will be just like He promised (Deut 3:27). We also, hold on in faith, that even if we don't live to see the salvation of those we've prayed for, that God will hear us and pursue them after we are gone. God through the prophet Jeremiah tells His people to lift up their eyes to see the false gods and evils they have been involved with (Jer 3:2). He also asks us to focus on Christ, and relinquish the empty and deceitful things of this world in order to have a vision beyond this life.
In this lesson, God through Isaiah is asking all of us to lift our thoughts higher than ourselves, to see past the pain and into the peace that trusting Him allows. Let's lift our eyes up, and see more than just what is apparent, let's keep our eyes on Jesus our conquering King and our eternal hope.
Do we believe that God is able and that He is in control? Jesus Himself told us that when wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, etc., began to happen around us, to look up and lift up our heads because "our redemption draweth nigh (near)”. We spend way too much time looking at our current circumstances when what we need is vision. He is our strength. He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. His ways are beyond understanding. His plans are for our benefit and He works all things together "for good to those who love and serve him. “ He is salvation and redemption. Does that include struggles and situations that I can’t find a purpose for? Yes. I can trust that He knows the heart of the matter. In life, nothing ever stays the same except the person, purpose, and plans of God. We continue to either move forward to a better understanding of Him or fall back to relying on our own wisdom. The only certainty we have is that God is God and He never changes. The pain that we go through here will count as nothing when He adorns us with His glory as part of his bride. Look up and behold!
When did he break his promise?
When did his kindness fail?
When did he lose his power?
When did his mercy change?
Never has, never will my God is still the same.
(My God is still the same - song by Sanctus Real)
19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. 21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
God’s judgment scattered Israel’s families and separated loved ones. One of the hardest situations we ever face is the worry of parents and grandparents over lost children and grandchildren. The burden of watching those we love wander farther and farther from the Father is agonizing. When we are powerless to reach or help or ease the pain of those we love, God is more than able to do all that is required. We can trust Him to always be faithful, always be able, to always hear, and answer our prayers.
The places that Babylon decimated during the years of captivity and laid waste beyond use, would be rebuilt. Although, as we discussed in previous lessons, all the people taken into Babylon did not come back to Jerusalem. Isaiah is saying God has not lost track of any of them. The nation will be rebuilt and will overflow with many people, almost more than the land can contain. God can be trusted to do what is right in each and every situation. He will not forget His promises.
What has God promised the church? That the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. The mystery of the church age will be fully revealed. Although it may seem impossible today, the enemies of God and those who torment His faithful will be removed. There is an eternity ahead of us. To quote C.S. Lewis, “ there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” There is a new heaven and new earth coming where all of the redeemed will be reunited. We will have forever with those we loved and lost in that new heaven; much more time than we ever had here. We are to comfort one another with these thoughts. The greatest thing we get when we come to Christ is Christ himself. Far beyond any temporal or spiritual blessings, is the access we have to the Creator of the Universe, who has made a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him.
22 Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. 23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
All of you have seen patriotic art portraying American soldiers standing under or raising the American flag while bombs shatter in the background and smoke rises all around from the battle. Similarly, God is raising a standard, a flag, that his children will rally under. God loves our lost children and straying family members even more than we do. He is pursuing them, He offers them grace and forgiveness, and He proved His dedication at Calvary. All believers have been called into a battle for the cause of Christ. It isn’t a battle against people, it’s a battle for the redemption of people through the promise of Christ. Isaiah is speaking to Israel. God will end the captivity and bring their nation back together triumphantly. He will also incorporate the Gentiles into His redemption plan as the spiritual seed of Abraham. He will raise his banner over all believers who have put their faith in God, we are under His protection, under His provision, under His authority. We are engaged in a battle, a battle to bring our families, our communities, and our country back to God. If we stand on God’s side, we fight in prayer, we fight in love, and we fight with truth. Know certainly, that if we stand with God we will never be ashamed or disappointed in that choice. God is true to his word. The moral of the story is in the end, those on God’s side win. We have no need to be ashamed of who He is or what He says in His word, both will prove true. Some day, no one will be able to deny that God is God and that there is none else, but if you put your faith and trust in Him now, you will live and reign with Him forever.
It feels like the whole world has lost its mind. It is terrifying to have children and know that they will have to navigate a world system that hates everything that God stands for and purposefully seeks to destroy anyone that stands in their way. My peace comes from the fact that God is good, He keeps his Word, and Christ will be victorious over all. I can trust my children with Him. I can trust my future to Him. I can trust my faults and failures to Him, and He knows how to handle me. I’ll stand under His flag, and do my best to follow Him into the battle He has called me to, and remember that He has already won.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!