The Salvation of Our God.
Isaiah 51-52, Revelation 9
The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. – Isaiah 52:10 ESV
Repeatedly in chapter 51, God pleads with His people to listen. He tells them to give Him their full attention and hear what He is saying. He calls them to get their eyes off of the world and their circumstances and to look to heaven from which the salvation they long for will come. In spite of all that had happened to them, God was reminding them that He was not yet done with them. He tells them, “My salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed” (Isaiah 51:6 ESV). God was going to do something incredible. He was going to do for them what they could never have done for themselves. Yes, in the short term, He would return them from captivity in Babylon and restore them to the land of promise. But God had an even greater salvation in mind. He had a much more long-term plan in store for them. And it will involve a Savior like none they have ever had before. He will be a King, but not like any other king they have ever known. He will be greater than any judge that ever delivered them in the past. He will be wiser than Solomon, more righteous than David, and He will bring about the salvation of God in a way that the people of Israel could never have imagined or anticipated.
What does this passage reveal about God?
How often God had to remind His own people, “I am the Lord your God” (Isaiah 51:15 ESV). He seemed to constantly have to remind them of His role as creator and sustainer of all things. They kept forgetting and forsaking Him. They lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety even though they enjoyed a unique status as God’s chosen people. Which is why God accused them of having: “forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy” (Isaiah 51:13 ESV). Nothing had changed about God. He was still in control. He was still all-powerful. He remained in His place in heaven, completely sovereign over all things and was prepared to reveal His power on behalf of His people. The problem lay not with God, but with the people. He calls them to “wake yourself, wake yourself” (Isaiah 51:17 ESV) and to “awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion” (Isaiah 52:1 ESV). They were like a man who had fallen asleep and found himself in the midst of a bad nightmare. So God called them to wake up to the reality of His sovereignty, majesty, power, and ever-present faithfulness. “I am the Lord your God,” He declared. God remained God whether or not they treated Him as such. They remained His people, whether or not they acted as such. God was going to bring salvation in such a way that they could no longer doubt who He was or question His ability to save. “Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am” (Isaiah 52:6 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
God’s people, whether Old Testament Jews or New Testament saints, have been regularly marked by doubt and disobedience. And the same holds true today. Our faith in our God can be so fickle at times. We intellectually know that He is all-powerful, all-knowing and in control over all things. But when it comes to everyday life, we have our doubts. We fully believe He created the universe and sustains it on a daily basis, but we somehow doubt that He can handle the daily affairs of our life. We wonder whether He can save us from our particular circumstances or deliver us from the trials in which we find ourselves. But even worse than that, we fail to trust that He can provide us with what we need to make the most out of the time we have on this earth. So we turn to other things to bring us satisfaction and fulfillment. We decide that there is more to this life than a relationship with Him. We know that being His child comes with some great benefits when it comes to the future; but when it comes to the present, we seem to believe God’s will is somehow insufficient or unacceptable. We find ourselves lulled into a kind of spiritual stupor, sleep-walking our way through life, content to seek our hope and satisfaction from the things of this world. We live within the realm of the temporary, while God would have us focus on eternity. So He issues us a wake up call. These words of Paul are as appropriate now as when he first penned them to the believers in Rome: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11 ESV). Paul issued another wake up call to the believers in Ephesus: “‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
We are to live with an eye on the future. The danger is that we might be lulled into a kind of false sense of security and complacency, living as if this life is all there is. The salvation of the Lord is not yet complete. His work is not yet done. The return of the Jews to the land of Canaan from their time in captivity was not to be the final chapter in God’s redemptive story for them. He still had far greater plans in store. He was going to send His Son and He was going to be rejected by His own people. Not only that, He would die a criminal’s death on a Roman cross with the shouts of the people of God ringing in His ears, “Crucify Him!” But God had this to say of His Son: “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isaiah 52:13-15 ESV). God’s Savior would be rejected. He would be despised. He would be murdered. But He would be successful in accomplishing the will of His Father and His obedience would result in salvation for all mankind. But He has one more thing to accomplish. God’s plan of salvation is not yet complete. Jesus’ work on the cross was finished. His atoning work for the sins of man is complete. But God is going to restore His creation. He is going to put an end to sin and death once and for all. He is going to judge all those who have rejected His Son’s offer of salvation and permanently eliminate Satan as the ruler over this world. “And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:10 ESV).
Father, in the book of Revelation You remind us that Your work is not yet done. But You have a plan in place that You will enact at just the right time. You will complete what You have started. You will restore what was damaged by the fall. You will redeem what was rightfully Yours from the beginning. The damage done by sin and Satan will be repaired. The injustice that mars Your world will be made right. The indifference toward Your Son will be eliminated and all men will know that You alone are God. May that day come sooner rather than later. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men