Lord God, I praise You today for burdens lifted, sins forgiven and hope restored.
Read ISAIAH 4:2–6
2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
New International Version (NIV)
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Here we have a beautiful picture of a world where sin no longer plays any role. But to belong in that world, all of us probably need to do some recalibration of our lives.
We have come full circle from the glorious vision of Chapter 2 through Israel’s pride and self-confidence back to future restoration. As I write, refugees, having lost homes, loved ones and livelihood, pour into Europe with the hope of a new beginning. The human heart longs for prosperity and security but, as we have seen in Isaiah, achievements can falter and human control crumble.
Although our passage describes material comforts and safety, these are secondary to the heart of the message: a restored relationship with God. Yes, there will be fruitfulness, but it will be about Israel’s changed attitude, taking pride in God’s blessings rather than in her own accomplishments. If the “Branch” (2) alludes to the Messiah (though “branch” may simply be a parallel to “fruit”), then his coming indicates a move from abusive leadership to a just and righteous king (cf. Isa. 3:14,15; 11:1–4; Zech. 6:12,13). However, transformation will require costly cleansing and judgment; only a remnant will come through. For those renewed, God’s presence will be as real in protection and guidance as it had been in the Exodus: a cloud by day and fire by night (Exod. 40:34–38).
After the Exile, the Jews continued to endure hardship, and Christians do not experience ultimate immunity from trouble either. Nevertheless, we do have a foretaste of what is to come, because in veiled form God’s glory appeared in his city through his Son, though the prophet could not have imagined exactly how it would be. Jews and Gentiles coming to Jerusalem and hearing the Gospel at Pentecost echoes aspects of Isaiah 2:1–4 (Acts 2:1–12). Those who believe in Jesus Christ can know the presence of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the temple built without stones—his people (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).
We have not received all that was promised and we live by faith (cf. Heb. 11:13). May we look to God to fulfill our deepest longings and seek him above other things.
Is there any area of your life about which the Holy Spirit is convicting you? However painful it may be, allow him to have his way today. To do so will certainly be less fearsome than to face the Lord’s judgment later!
Jesus, Master Carpenter, wield Your tools. I know I am rough-hewn and need to be fashioned to greater holiness by Your hand.