I love the book of Isaiah. There’s plenty of prophecies about the coming Messiah and when you think that this book was written at least 700 years before Christ was born, you have to consider the amazing vastness of God! Even when you think that He knew you and I before the foundation of the world, (Ephesians 1:4) before He created anything, He knew you would be born and all about your life. But I digress. What I love about this book is that it’s filled with comfort, with God’s tender promises to His people. There are also a fair amount of warnings. Every good parent knows this is necessary, to keep their children from harmful or wrong behavior.
I once knew a stubborn 5 year old who placed the palm of his hand on top of a red hot stove. Do you think he had never been warned? Of course he had, many times. He probably had had his hand smacked when he got too close. But he wanted to see for himself and as soon as heads were turned, he did it. He suffered a serious burn (which fortunately healed nicely) and severe pain. How often we can be like that 5 year old! We’ve been told which way is best but we want to do it our way.
I recently read Isaiah 50:10-11 and it jumped out at me:
Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.
This is a warning to the stubborn 5 year olds among us: when you’re in the dark and don’t know where to go, you must trust and rely on God. Don’t do it your way or try to figure it out for yourself or you will suffer the consequences. God’s way is best, He wants us to come to Him and do it His way, not our own.
And then He speaks tenderly to encourage us:
- He feels our pain: Isaiah 63:9 In all their distress he too was distressed…
- He comforts us: Isaiah 51:12 I, even I, am he who comforts you.
- He takes care of us, calls us His own: Isaiah 51:16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand—I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’
- He has compassion on us: Isaiah 49:9-10b-13 He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up. See, they will come from afar— some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan. Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
- He will satisfy us: Isaiah 49:23 …those who hope in me will not be disappointed.
- He saves us, frees us from bondage to sin Isaiah 49:8-9 “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
- He promises to lead us and that His way produces wellness and peace Isaiah 48:17-18 This is what the Lord says —
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.
So if you’re struggling to forgive or do something else that seems impossible, remember how our Savior warns us that His way is best and then tenderly comforts and encourages us. He will provide, He will give us the strength we need when we run to His arms. He is our compassionate, loving Father.