Day 4. Twelve Days to Christmas
Isaiah 51:9 – 52:12
Please do read Isaiah 51:9 to 52:12
Be Encouraged People of God!
In the first few verses of chapter 51 that I didn’t read, we see that faith is nurtured by listening and hearing. People are encouraged to look back and see what God has done with just one man, Abraham! How from him came an entire nation! This bodes well for the future when all history is consummated – have faith in your God who will lead you into the next world! But for now, don’t be afraid of what other people will do – stay close to God, have faith in Him, trust Him patiently and live obedient and righteous lives. For as verse 6 states “my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”
Then we come to a mounting anticipation with baited breath. Quickly the phrase “awake awake” is repeated, as if to give a sense of urgency. The exodus from Egypt, an event remembered well by the nation of Israel and alluded to in verses 9 & 10 of chapter 51, will be surpassed by a new age of righteousness at the end of time. All those “ransomed by the Lord”, those set free by God will enter the city of God with joyous singing which will be their crown! Sorrow and sadness will no longer exist! Gladness and joy will be triumphant! Alleluia! Despite many obstacles in the way, the Lord God will reign triumphant. His Messiah, His Servant will deliver you. His Servant will be triumphant.
Note that the people themselves are to wake up, not the Lord God or His Servant! All that will be fulfilled is not waiting for God, but waiting for people and their spiritual inertia! It’s their unwillingness to be obedient to God that is stopping the fulfillment of history! While Isaiah is clearly eager, it seems the nation of Israel is not – they have forgotten about their awesome and Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth! So Isaiah shouts out “Wake up!!” I am your God and you are my people is to remind Israel of the covenant that exists between themselves and God! It is a covenant that signifies relationship, care and commitment! Israel may have forgotten this, but God had not! God is in the relationship, He is trustworthy and faithful, so therefore there is no need to fear! God’s commitment is faultless and worthy of obedience! This commitment deserves active obedience on the part of the people of Israel and not their overwhelming spiritual laziness. While overwhelming fear inhibits and destructs, the love of God frees. Isaiah urges them to live an active and obedient life worthy of their freedom and not a life of spiritual inertia and rebellion.
One last time, Isaiah urges action when crying “Awake! Awake!” in 52:1. Salvation is nearing and coming quickly, are you ready? Be alert, people of Israel and live as if you are the freed people of God and not as if you are rebellious captors. Be ready, just as your ancestors were the night before the Exodus from Egypt commenced. Be expectant and ready. One difference to note. With the exodus, the Israelites took what they could from the Egyptians – gold, silver, jewelry and clothing. This time, everything will be left behind.
All this bears in the mind the Servant. The Servant, who as a King dispenses justice and as a Prophet speaks for God, will usher in this new period. When Isaiah writes in 52:11 “Depart, depart, go out from there”, he must be urging people to respond to the Servant. Respond by living a holy and righteous life of obedience to God as one who is on a lifelong pilgrimage. Stop rebelling against Him and love Him who first loved them.
Where is Jesus in this?
Jesus during his earthly ministry always urged people to be active in obedience to God. Jesus comforted the lonely, oppressed, the weak and the poor. He urged people to come back into relationship with God. With a sense of urgency, He told people to be ready and alert for the day when history will end. Jesus urged his listeners to be spiritually awake. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus who remarkably stated in John 8:34-36 “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”. When Jesus Christ the Servant King comes back, He will come back like a thief in the night – with surprise! But for those who love and trust in Him, it will be a day of gladness and joy because their King will have returned to gather them. This Jesus who in Mark1:15 issued these words “”The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Truly we concur with Isaiah when he wrote in Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, through whom is salvation alone.