Wednesday, April 24, 2024

2024.04.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 54

Read Isaiah 54

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is commanded to sing (Isaiah 54:1a)? Even though she hasn’t done what (verse 1b)? What sort of singing (verse 1c)? Even though she hasn’t done what (verse 1d)? How do her offspring and joy compare to whose? Who says this? What will she have to do for her growing family (Isaiah 54:2-3)? What will they inherit (Isaiah 54:3b)? What two things is she told not to do (Isaiah 54:4a–b)? Why, what will be taken away (verse 4c–d)? Whom does she have now for a Husband (Isaiah 54:5a)? What is His Name (verse 5b)? Whom does she have for nearest of kin/Redeemer (verse 5c)? What else is He called (verse 5d)? Who has called her (Isaiah 54:6a, d, Isaiah 54:8c)? From out of what condition (Isaiah 54:6b–c)? How long was she in that condition (Isaiah 54:7a)? How will the mercy into which we brings her compare (Isaiah 54:7b, Isaiah 54:8b)? How sure is His promise to do this (Isaiah 54:9-10)? What is her condition now (Isaiah 54:11a–b)? But how does the Lord describe His adorning her (Isaiah 54:11-12c)? What blessings will her children have, in addition to being many (Isaiah 54:13)? How secure will she be in her new, righteous condition (Isaiah 54:14)? What will the enemies still do, but what will happen to them (Isaiah 54:15)? Why won’t any weapons succeed against His people (Isaiah 54:16-17c)? To whom does this heritage belong (Isaiah 54:17d)? How will they come into it (verse 17e)? How can we be sure (verse 17f)?

What does the Servant secure for the church? Isaiah 54 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these seventeen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Servant secures for the church an age in which He Himself is her Head, and the Lord deals with her accordingly. 

Flourishing joy for the currently barrenIsaiah 54:1-3. Israel, in the time of her exile, is forsaken. But the seed that the Servant (Christ!) secures by His labor (cf. Isaiah 53:10d), now produce a multitude of children for her that she did not even bear (cf. Isaiah 49:18–23). This historical metaphor is often lived out by particular church members. That which is true for Israel as a church is true for barren (cf. Psalm 113:7–9) and eunuchs (cf. Isaiah 56:3–5) among God’s people, who receive church-family as a super-natural blessing that they enjoy especially on the Lord’s Day, with a view toward eternity. We get a taste of the family-forming power of Christ when we are more than compensated at church for the emptiness that barrenness, singleness, or bereavement have brought to the home. This is the proper way for converted Jews to feel in the largely gentile church: sing (Isaiah 54:1a)! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud (verse 1c)! You are the seed who are inheriting the nations (Isaiah 54:3b)!

Affectionate love for the currently forsakenIsaiah 54:4-8. As conveyed so poignantly in the contemporary book of Hosea, Israel are desolate and alone because she has forsaken her Husband. But the Servant who has atoned for her sins (cf. chapter 53) has brought her back into her marriage to YHWH of hosts, her Husband (Isaiah 54:5a) and closest of kin (e.g., “Redeemer,” Isaiah 54:5c, Isaiah 54:8c). His chastening her has been momentary (Isaiah 54:7a) and measured (Isaiah 54:8a) in order to bring her into immeasurable compassions (Isaiah 54:7b) and eternal covenant love (Isaiah 54:8b).

Faithful covenant blessing for the currently sinfulIsaiah 54:9-10. When God promises that the waters shall never again cover the earth (cf. Genesis 9:15), it is in the context of noting that even with Noah’s household as the only remaining humanity, it was still true that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (cf. Genesis 8:21). Now in the wake of the Servant’s work, the steadfast love (Isaiah 54:10c), covenant of peace (verse 10d), and compassion (verse 10e) of YHWH are secured to His church forever. We know that particular congregations may be disciplined (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30–32) and even forsaken of God (cf. Revelation 2:5), but when the church comes into the age of the Servant, she comes into an age in which corporately, as a whole, she is always being built and always under the shining of God’s love like the sun rising until it is at full strength (cf. Matthew 16:18; Proverbs 4:18; 2 Samuel 23:1–5). With Christ as our Head, even those who live in times and places of apostasy and dreadful chastening of the local churches may cling to the Servant and know they are part of a broader church that is still being built under the smile of God.

Fearless peace for the currently attackedIsaiah 54:11-17. In this final section, Zion is more than just built up; she is beautified. The word picture of the gems, sapphires, rubies, (Isaiah 54:11) crystal, and precious stones (Isaiah 54:12) takes our minds right to Revelation 21:18–21. The greatest beauty, however, is the character of the bride (cf. Revelation 21:2), presented here as the children obtained by the Servant for His church. They are not just plentiful, as we saw in Isaiah 54:1-3, but peaceful. As those taught by YHWH (Isaiah 54:13a, cf. 1 John 2:27), they have the peace (Isaiah 54:13b) of those who don’t fear (Isaiah 54:14) even when enemies are gathered against them (Isaiah 54:15). The God Who so affectionately loves them (Isaiah 54:4-8) is the Creator of swords and tongues and everything in between (Isaiah 54:16-17b). The Lord is their portion (Isaiah 54:17d), because from Him is their righteousness (verse 17e), even as He has said (verse 17f). 

Who is the Head of the church? What has He secured from God for the church on earth? What will she be like when He is done with her? How do you experience the life, love, and mercy personally that He has earned for the church corporately? Who has been attacking you? Why don’t you have to be afraid of them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we are those barren who are ashamed of our inability and our sin, knowing that You have been right in all of Your chastening us. But You have made us to flourish much; forgive us for not seeing how great this mercy has been! When we look at ourselves, we are ashamed, but we have failed to see how You have removed this shame as our Husband, our Warrior, our Redeemer, our Holy One, our Sovereign God. Grant that we would be quick in repentance, turning from ourselves to You. We know that You will build Your church; give us to live in joy and hope and devotion to You, as part of Your whole church in the earth—even when we sometimes must grieve and be humiliated over what happens locally. 

Suggested songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH404 “The Church’s One Foundation” 

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