Isaiah 25-26, 1 John 4
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. – 1 John 4:17 NLT
While a large part of the book of Isaiah is about the coming judgment of God on His people for their sin and unfaithfulness, it also contains powerful reminders of God’s long-term plans for them that were to include some pretty incredible blessings. One of the things God kept trying to tell them was that, while their love for Him was imperfect, fickle and unreliable; His love for them would prove to be unfailing. He kept reminding them of “that day.” Their assessment of their current circumstances was to always include His future dealings with them. God continually reminded them to keep their eye on the prize – the end times – when He would complete His plans for them as His people. There was a day coming when they would be able to say, “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (Isaiah 25:6 ESV). In that day, they would be able to say with confidence and from personal experience, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV). When God completes His plan, they will be able to look back and see that He was an everlasting rock, a stronghold for the poor, a shelter from the storm, shade from the heat, and a righteous, reliable God.
What does this passage reveal about God?
There was much that the people of God in Isaiah’s day did not know. Like most human beings, their focus tended to be somewhat myopic and short-sighted. They had a hard time seeing past their current circumstances. But God is eternal and is not limited by the constraints of time. His perspective is everlasting and because He is omniscient, He is fully aware of all that has and will take place. He knows how the story ends. Even during the days of Isaiah, God knew that He was going to send His Son one day. It was all part of His plan. He had told Abraham that He would bless all the nations through Him. The ultimate fulfillment of that promise was going to be the Messiah – Jesus Christ, the God-man who came to earth, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death on the cross in order to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind and satisfy the requirements of a just and righteous God. God revealed to Isaiah future events that would include the people of Israel. There would be a great banquet – “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6 ESV) – for all people. At that time, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth” (Isaiah 25:8 ESV). There was much that had to happen before those days could take place. In fact, there is still much that must happen before the final phase of God’s plan is completed. And none of it was going to be possible without the coming of His Son. John reminds us, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14 ESV). Jesus had to come. But He also had to die. Then God raised Him from the dead, as a testimony to the acceptable nature of His sacrifice. And because Jesus rose again, He is also going to come again. His first coming will be followed by a second coming. The events portrayed in Isaiah 25-26 were all dependent upon Jesus’ first arrival on earth as an innocent baby, but they were also dependent upon His second coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).
What does this passage reveal about man?
John gives us a great word of encouragement as we strive to live with a future-focus in the midst of our current circumstances. He says, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ESV). His readers were facing difficult circumstances. They were under tremendous pressure, from the outside, but also from the inside. They were being tempted to doubt the promises of God. They were struggling with assurance of their own salvation and wondering about the reality of eternity. So John had to remind them to keep their minds focused on God. He knew that difficult times and pressing circumstances were going to distract them. So he pointed them back to one undeniable truth: God’s love. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 ESV). It is an awareness of the love of God that must constantly compel us. It is an understanding of His love for us that motivates our love for one another. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11 ESV). How easy it is to forget just how much we are loved by God. We can find ourselves focusing on how difficult things seem to be in this life, and forget that God has provided us eternal life through His Son’s death on the cross. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
The hard thing for us to do is to recognize God’s love when things are not going so well. It is so easy to become distracted by the cares and concerns of this life and lose sight of what God has in store for us in the future. Isaiah gives us the key: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV). We have to keep our minds focused on God. We have to constantly remind ourselves of His steadfast, unfailing love. He sent His Son to die for us. And one day He is sending His Son to come back for us. We don’t have to fear the present or the future. We don’t have to doubt God’s love for us. Like Isaiah, we should be able to say, “O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them” (Isaiah 25:1 NLT). God has done great things. He is doing great things. And there are great things yet to be done. But we must never forget that all of God’s plan are reliable and based on His unfailing love. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:16-17 ESV).
Father, help me to truly believe that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ESV). Continue to help me trust You, rely on You, and see You as my rock, fortress, stronghold, Savior and faithful God who will accomplish all You have promised – in this life and in the one to come. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men