Friday, February 19, 2010

Promises for those who've blown it

Isaiah 40 is so familiar to many Christians because of how often its many wonderful promises are quoted. Remember this one?... "They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). Or how about... "He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; he will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young" (Isaiah 40:11)? And then there's... "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

But how well do I remember that this chapter was written to a people who were living in exile as punishment for their idolatry? These verses weren't written for the faithful but for the chastised. They weren't intended for those who had been working hard for the Lord but for those who had been disciplined hard for their sins. Do I realize that the wonderful promises of Isaiah 40 were meant for the miserable rather than the mature?

That's why it begins with "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned" (Isaiah 40:1-2). No Christian who has been in God's dealings due to their sins should feel unworthy of the promises of this passage. It was written specifically for such people! Isaiah 40 was written to help repentant sinners to see that there is hope.

So as God has seen fit to address a persistent sin in my life this past week, and as that has left me discouraged and tempted to feel like a failure, it's really worth remembering that those who "mount up with wings like eagles," and those whom God helps to "run and not be weary," are the very same people God came to comfort after they needed some serious discipline for their sins! For He may bring us low, but only so that He can lift us up!

© 2010 by Ken Peters


John I. said...

Excellent point. Material like that has been the only way that I can keep perspective on myself and not fall into deeper depression.

God sees as we are, and yet still tells us that he loves us, and he acts on that love.

Ken said...

Absolutely. What a wonderfully amazingly merciful God!