Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Isaiah 12: 1-3

Thanksgiving Expressed

1 Then you will say on that day,
“I will give thanks to You, O Lord;
For although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away,
And You comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.

For all of the changes I have made in the blog schedule since we started Isaiah, I have to say that I'm thrilled to have two blogs of Thanksgiving wrapped around Easter Week! Not something I could have planned, I'm tellin' ya....

Isaiah Chapter 12 is a response of thanksgiving to God's restoring the remnant of Israel into His people, gathering them from the "four corners of the Earth" (11:12), across the "highway" (11:16) He created from the land and water to Zion. "Then you will say on that day, 'I will give thanks to You, O Lord....'" (12:1) For thousands of years, God's chosen people have been, once again, wandering in a wilderness. Separated and scattered across the nations. Ruled over by opposing factions. Unable to return home. Not that He had ever left them completely, nor would His promises to them ever be reneged. But, He was angry.

"For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning."

--Psalm 30: 5

Now, in that time of perfect peace, God's anger is "turned away" and He comforts His own. In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes, "even the turning away of his anger is a comfort to them." Think about that. We are quick to see the restoration of blessings as a sign of God's comfort. When we turn away from our sins--those things that make God angry with us--are we comforted by the simple, amazing truth that God's anger toward us is turned away? His favor is for a lifetime, and He waits patiently for us to turn toward Him in all things.

Such is the case with His people, Israel. Who has delivered them as He promised? God! More specifically, in verse 2, the "Lord God," or in the King James Version, "Lord Jehovah," meaning Israel's God. 

"God, furthermore, said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you." This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.'"
--Exodus 3:15

The God who delivered them out of Egypt is the one and the same who delivers them into eternity. There is no more fear as to who is in control of their lives. He has again become their "strength and song." If that phrase sounds familiar, it directly echoes the song of thanksgiving from Moses and the Israelites following the redemption of their lives from the slavery of Pharaoh and the destruction of his armies in the Red Sea.

"'The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;

This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will extol Him.'"
--Exodus 15:2

Though the Lord was their strength in that victorious moment and the song of their lives, it wouldn't be long before those same Israelites would lose that melody and wallow in their own ways and desires. This would be--and is--the circuitous pattern taken by sinful man. Even when we acknowledge the Source of salvation, we do not turn to Him. So, it's no wonder that God is confused, frustrated and angered. 

What a perspective God gave the Apostle Paul! Jewish to his Pharisaical core, Paul received the mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles. Yet, he passionately tried to reach his brethren throughout his ministry. No doubt, he probably continues to pray from the heavenly realms for true salvation to come to the Israelites. "...My heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.... For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness of everyone who believes." (Romans 10: 1 and 4)

This is what the world needs to understand about salvation. It's not just deliverance out of bondage, or deliverance from enemies or persecution, or deliverance from the Law or deliverance from ________. The salvation of God is a saving TO! A saving to God Himself, forever. Salvation, as Paul said, is available today for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ! This is the Easter message: Christ died that we might be delivered to eternal life, united with our God, forever. What all of Israel and the rest of the world will not understand until the Day, God continues to make known through his disciples today:

"'Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,

Awesome in praises, working wonders?....
In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;
In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation....'"

--Exodus 15: 11 and 13 
As God's people recognize their Savior, they will "joyously draw water from the springs of salvation." (vs 3) Knowing with full trust and reverent fear that Israel's God has saved them would certainly elicit joyful praise. It is the ultimate homecoming, after all. How much more sweet to know those springs of salvation now, that we might draw from the living water of our Savior in those times we we fear losing our strength and our song?

"Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water."'"
--John 7: 37 and 38

"Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! 
 Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! 
 Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia! 
 Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
 King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia! 
 Everlasting life is this, Alleluia! 
 Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia! 
 Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!"
--Christ the Lord is Risen Today, lyrics by Charles Wesley  

The inhabitants of Zion shout for joy.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Isaiah 12: 4-6

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).