Learning from Isaiah 32-39
32:1-20 - ‘Abandoned... deserted... a wasteland...’ (14). Can such a desperate situation be turned around? Yes! When ‘the Spirit is poured upon us from on high... the wilderness becomes a fruitful field’ (15). We must not lose heart. We must keep on calling upon the Lord. We must believe that God is able to turn things around. When the situation seems hopeless, we must put our trust in ‘the God of hope’. We must pray that God will send His blessing: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ (Romans 15:13). ‘Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name! In works of sovereign power, come, shake the earth again... Restore, O Lord, in all the earth Your fame, and in our time revive the Church that bears Your Name’ (Mission Praise, 579).
33:1-24 - ‘O Lord...Be our strength every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble’ (2). We are not to pray to the Lord only ‘in the time of trouble’. We are to pray to Him ‘every morning’. We are not to keep God at a distance, calling on Him only when things are going badly. When we keep God at a distance, our life tells its own sad story - ‘O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear - all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer’. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and everything becomes very different - ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!’ (James 4:8; Mission Praise, 746). Let God’s ‘love’ come to you ‘new every morning’ - ‘fresh as the morning , as sure as the sunrise’ (Lamentations 3:22-23).
34:1-17 - God calls us to ‘draw near’ to Him. He wants us to ‘pay attention’ to Him. We must ‘listen’ to His Word (1). God’s Word is not always what we want to hear. It will always be what we need to hear. ‘The Lord is angry with all nations’ (2). We don’t like to hear about God’s anger. We prefer to be told ‘You’re doing fine’. We need to hear about God’s anger. We need to hear about how far we have wandered away from God - ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us turned to his own way’. We are sinners. We have turned away from the Lord. We have chosen our own way rather than His way. We must hear this ‘bad news’ before we can really appreciate the ‘Good News’ - ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Jesus’, ‘Christ died for us while we were still sinners’, ‘Christ died for our sins’ (53:6; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
35:1-10 - What blessings are given to those who draw near to God - ‘Your God... will come and save you’ (4). The Good News of Christ comes to us as a call to faith - ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot remain the same. We are called to live a new life. We must travel on the Lord’s ‘highway’ - ‘the Way of Holiness’ (8). This is ‘the Way’ which leads to ‘everlasting joy’ (10). This ‘Way’ is so different from the world’s way. The world has no time for those who seek to live a holy life. This is what Jesus says about the world’s way of life: ‘the gate is wide and the way is wide that leads to destruction’ (Matthew 7:13). Whatever the world may say, we must never forget this: ‘Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14).
36:1-37:20 - Hezekiah is facing a very powerful enemy - ‘Sennacherib, king of Assyria’ (36:1). Hezekiah prays for deliverance - ‘O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand’. He prays for salvation - ‘O Lord our God, save us...’ (37:20). We face an even more powerful enemy - Satan, ‘the ruler of this world’, ‘the god of this world’. We must pray for deliverance. We must look to the Lord for salvation. We must pray with faith in Jesus Christ. Satan ‘has no power over’ Jesus. When Jesus was ‘lifted up from the earth’ (crucified), He won a mighty victory over Satan. Jesus died for us so that Satan, ‘the ruler of this world’ might be ‘cast out’. Satan’s power is broken when ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ’ shines ‘in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (John 14:30;12:31-33; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
37:21-38:8 - Sennacherib has no power over God’s people. They are protected by a superior power, the power of God - ‘This is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here... By the way that he came he will return...”’. This is God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer for salvation - ‘I will defend this city to save it’ (33-35). What a great God we have! He is the God of our salvation. He will answer our prayer for salvation. God loves us: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...’. Christ died for us: ‘God made Him who knew no sin (Christ) to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’. Christ promises to receive all who come to Him for salvation: ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’ (John 3:16; 6:37; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
38:9-39:8 - ‘The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our life in the House of the Lord’ (20). Some people say, ‘I can be a Christian without going to Church’. Here, we have something very different. Believing in the Lord leads to worshipping the Lord. It doesn’t make sense to say, ‘I believe in the Lord but I’m not interested in worshipping Him’. We believe in Christ. We are saved by Him. We receive a new Spirit of worship: ‘God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Father, my Father!”’ (Galatians 4:4). Let’s have none of this ‘believing without worshipping’ - ‘Abba Father, let me be Yours and Your alone. May my will for ever be evermore Your own. Never let my heart grow cold, never let me go. Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone’ (Mission Praise, 3).