I’m reading through the book of Isaiah right now with the Daily Audio Bible. One of the longest books of the Bible, and often, it seems, one of the driest. So much cursing. So much prophesy. But what I’m hearing today… there is always hope. Not a hope that everything will get better. Not a hope that one day our circumstances will get better. Not even a hope that the people around us will change. A hope, a promise, that God Will Intervene. That He Will Step In. In the midst of the deepest darkness, where there is no way out, even by scratching, crawling, or sacrificing our very lives to escape, He will show up for His children.
Like this passage in Isaiah 27, in the midst of curses, curses, curses, and sin, sin, sin:
For the fortified city will be deserted,
pastures abandoned and forsaken like a wilderness.
Calves will graze there,
and there they will spread out and strip its branches.
When its branches dry out, they will be broken off.
Women will come and make fires with them,
for they are not a people with understanding.
Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them,
and their Creator will not be gracious to them.
On that day
the LORD will thresh grain from the Euphrates River
as far as the Wadi of Egypt,
and you Israelites will be gathered one by one.
On that day
a great trumpet will be blown,
and those lost in the land of Assyria will come,
as well as those dispersed in the land of Egypt;
and they will worship the LORD
at Jerusalem on the holy mountain.
On That Day. When things are at their worst. When cities are deserted, when the pastures have become wilderness, at the very time the people are not being treated with compassion or grace by their Maker… On That Day, The Lord will step in. He will gather his people together, one, by, one. He picks me up from the mud. He drags you out of the pit. He holds the hand of that man/woman over there and walks her home.
This passage went well with what I read in Galatians today as well:
Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law.
[The Law] was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.
Were it not for the Law, for God setting some standards that no man could ever achieve, we would be without hope. Because we’d know God’s standard, but could never live up to it. But God, in his infinite plan, already had a plan to give us the life He knows we need, long for, and desire. The law was added… until the Seed… would come. Jesus.
Father, I thank you so much for your infinite plan. For your foreknowledge, compassion, and even judgement. For without those things we would truly be without hope. We’d be lost in our own resourcefulness, in our own failures, and in our own guilt. I‘d be lost. I’d have nowhere to turn. These feelings of uselessness, inadequacy, bitterness, and failure would rule me. But they do not have to. The only rule they have is what I give them. You have paid the price for me to be pure. While the New Testamant and the New Covenant and the new Way actually raise the standard of purity (Ephesians 5, for example), the point is finally brought home that we can’t do anything about it on our own. We need a mediator. We need someone to stand in the gap for us, to stand before us, to take our charges upon Him, and to say, “I’ve got this.” I’ve bought you. I’ve ransomed you.
And then, and this is the sweetest part, Jesus steps aside, after standing in our place of judgement. The father looks down on me. I see the warm smile curving on his lips. He looks at me as his eyes gleam. “I know you,” He says. “I love you. You are my child. Welcome home.”
Father, let me live like that. Let me live in the reality that I am bought with a price, that my sins do not hold me captive, and that I am free to become the man you’ve made me to be. Mature my faith and cause growth in my life, in my family, in my church, in my circle of influence… wherever I go, may I carry the banner of the Kingdom proudly. Not hiding behind it as a shield, but raising it high as a standard. As a sign to those around me – in front of, behind, or beside – that we are on the move. That we are fighting together, a worthy battle, and every soul we “capture” is welcomed home, just as we were.
Thank you, Jesus…
I heard a song last night at a church service that hit home with me. In the midst of doubts about myself and uncertainties, even compounded by knowing several of my friends are facing similar and even more perilous fights, even in the midst of that, where it’s easy to lose hope. I heard these words. And they reminded me…. There is ALWAYS hope.
I stand accused, there’s a list a mile long
Of all my sins, of everything that I’ve done wrong
I’m so ashamed, there’s nowhere left for me to hidethis is the day,
I must answer for my life
My fate is in the Judges hands,
But then he turns to me and say’s
I know you, I love you
I gave my life, to save you
Love paid the price for mercy
My verdict, Not guilty