Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A reversal of fortunes: Is 60:10-22

Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, and in My favor I have had compassion on you… Whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, a joy from generation to generation… The smallest one will become a clan, and the least one a mighty nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.” (Isaiah 60:10, 15, 22)
Life for the people of God had not always been milk and honey. While there were times of great blessing for the nation of Israel, there were also times of great sorrow and suffering. Not long after Isaiah’s prophesies, the people of Israel were to go into exile into a foreign land, among a people who spoke a foreign tongue, and who served foreign gods. God was about to punish the nation of Israel out of His wrath, but He would again turn to them with compassion and restore them to glory.

Because we are mortal it is hard for us to look beyond this mortal life. It is easy for us to become consumed with our current state in this life. We judge ourselves, and others, by the quality of life we live now and often forget about the life that is to come. When Jesus taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives, He taught them that life was more than what we have in the here and now, but life also has eternal rewards. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10) What Jesus is trying to show us is that our blessedness is not based on what we currently have but rather on what we will have later on. The blessing on those who morn is not because they morn but because they shall be comforted. In each case, Jesus shows us that a person’s blessings are determined by what they shall receive in the life to come. This is the same lesson Jesus teaches us in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.’” (Luke 16:25) Consider some of the future blessings outlined in this scripture.

“Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you.” (Isaiah 60:10) God will appoint and send us those who will build up the Body of Christ and not destroy it. God will give to His Body everything it needs to grow up into the full stature of Christ.

“Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night.” (Isaiah 60:11) There will be no fear of the destroyer or for loss. We will not need to hide out and “wait for the Lord to return.” God will protect us as we go about and do His business.

“The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, and all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; and they will call you the city of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 60:14) As Christians, we often live incognito. Who we are in the spirit is hidden from those in the world, but there will come a day when God will reveal us for who we really are, the children of God. “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)

“Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver, and instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron.” (Isaiah 60:17) In every area of our lives there will be increase. We may beset with weaknesses but we shall inherit strength. We are mortal but we shall put on immortality. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

“Your sun will no longer set, nor will your moon wane; for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over.” (Isaiah 60:20) While God never changes there are times when He seems very far away. There are times when it is hard to find God, to know His will, and to hear His voice. Often our flesh acts as an attenuator for the presence of God, but there will come a day when we will always see His face. In that time we will remain in His presence and bask in His glory.

“Then all your people will be righteous.” (Isaiah 60:21) In this life, sin is the order of the day. As we grow closer to the day of His return, Jesus warned us that sin would only increase, but there is coming a day when sin will be expunged and righteousness will reign. “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

David Robison

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