From recognition of my many sins to the image of Beulah Land, through the land of despair and discouragement, today’s reading was a challenge for me for deep personal reasons. God is so faithful as I read this morning. I hoped He would speak to me in these verses and then it happened–nearly the last verse. I end this blog today with wonderful memories of worshiping Him some 25 years ago. I even remembered the names of the leaders, a wonderful couple: Udell and Janet Meyers. I count this as a blessing with the assurance that I will one day worship with endless joy, so I may as well start with joy this morning.
Isaiah 59: Sin, Confession and Redemption
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
The mirror doesn’t lie, my sins are ever before the Lord, clear as day, my iniquities are many.
The blindness is frustrating,
Like the blind we grope along the wall,
feeling our way like people without eyes.
But God was not satisfied to see people lost and lonely. His creation, those he endowed with eternal spirits were too precious to leave in the darkness, so He himself provided a new light:
He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Hear the Gospel proclaimed hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus!
“The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the Lord.
Repentance is available to all. No sin is too great. But the world closes eyes to iniquities and makes us believe in our own self-righteousness. God will not be fooled. In our short time on earth, we make choices. I pray we would choose wisely.
Isaiah 60: The Glory of Zion
The very thought of this sunrise is captivating:
“Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
The Lord has arisen and all nations come to him. Hearts throb and swell with joy as Jesus is honored above all else.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
I can’t lie, I am looking forward to the day when sorrows will end. Some days are just difficult.
Isaiah 61: The Year of the Lord’s Favor
Isaiah continues to paint the picture of a glorious future, this is the hope I’m holding onto:
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
Everlasting joy, that’s a wonderful promise. Truthfully, I’d take a day full of joy right now! It’s hard to imagine such a time as this when all of God’s goodness is restored.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
My soul will be refreshed, will delight like never before. Moments of joy flutter by in this day and age. The future Isaiah speaks of is worth waiting for and worthy of telling others about. Lord, help me to sense this joy deep inside my heart so it shows in all that I do. Pour joy into my soul this morning. Let your light radiate for others to see.
Isaiah 62: Zion’s New Name
No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
Years ago, while serving the Air Force in England, we worshipped with a missional community out in the countryside rather than the base chapel (I hardly remember the details), but I do remember Udell and Janet Meyers who lead the ministry for a while there. A godly couple, wonderful people, good times. When they were reassigned (somewhere), we had a musical send off that included the song Beulah Land, by The Gaither Vocal Band. I’d never heard the term Beulah Land before, so I asked Udell. His response was classic: “look it up.” His ministry was more about teaching people to fish than it was about feeding us, though he certainly did both. “But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah.” We sang the song mostly a cappela, five of us with Udell taking lead and I sang low bass. The imagery was wonderful. The memory precious.
Joy filled the hearts of all present that afternoon and for a few hours we smiled at the thought of being homesick for a land we’ve never seen before, a land we’ve only heard about through the words of Isaiah. Thank you Lord for your amazing words through your great servant Isaiah.
Receive today’s benediction, words far better than any I could create:
They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.