Gladness and Joy

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 7:48 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The King is Coming.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 51:1-11 (NASB).

Look to the Rock (vv. 1-3)

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
“Look to Abraham your father
And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;
When he was but one I called him,
Then I blessed him and multiplied him.”
Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.”

Jesus Christ, our Messiah and Lord, is the promised seed of Abraham: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.” “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” “It is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (See: Gal. 3:16, 29; 4:22-31; Ro. 9:8). So, we who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives are Abraham’s offspring. We are the children of promise, of the free woman, not of the slave woman. We are the Jerusalem that is from above, not of the earth.

Through the promised seed of Abraham, who is Jesus Christ, ALL nations on the earth are blessed (See: Gen. 22:18). When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died for the sins of the whole world. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (Gal. 5:21). When he died, Jesus redeemed us, i.e. he bought us back for God with his blood. Through faith in Jesus Christ the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death. Amen!

One of the things Jesus accomplished through his death is that he destroyed the barrier that stood between Jew and Gentile. Jesus’ “purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility… For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:14-18). What this means is that the Jewish nation is no longer the children of promise. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we be heirs of the promise. The division is no longer Jew and Gentile, but it is Christian (saved) and non-Christian (lost). The Jewish nation is now no different from Arab nations in that they are both of Hagar (Gal. 4:25).

So, our Rock from which we were hewn (fashioned) is Jesus Christ, the promised seed of Abraham. If we seek after God, we are to look to Jesus and to his righteousness for our consolation. He is our only hope of salvation. Only through his death and resurrection, and through God-given faith in him, can we be delivered out of slavery to sin and enter into God’s eternal kingdom. We who believe in Jesus Christ are Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, his temple. He will comfort us with his mercy and grace. Whereas we were once dead in our sins without hope, God made us alive in Christ. He forgave us our sins, and gave us new birth unto a living hope. Through faith in him we now are filled with inexpressible joy.

Pay Attention (vv. 4-8)

“Pay attention to Me, O My people,
And give ear to Me, O My nation;
For a law will go forth from Me,
And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples.
“My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth,
And My arms will judge the peoples;
The coastlands will wait for Me,
And for My arm they will wait expectantly.
“Lift up your eyes to the sky,
Then look to the earth beneath;
For the sky will vanish like smoke,
And the earth will wear out like a garment
And its inhabitants will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not wane.
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
A people in whose heart is My law;
Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.
“For the moth will eat them like a garment,
And the grub will eat them like wool.
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation to all generations.”

God’s people now are those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile by physical birth. We are his nation: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We who believe in Jesus with God-given faith – which is persuaded as to God’s will for our lives – have been given the gift of salvation from sins. Yet, our salvation is not complete until Jesus Christ returns for us and he takes us to be with him forever.

While we live on this earth we will see much wickedness and we will experience much sorrow. We who follow Jesus Christ with our lives and who bear witness to his gospel of salvation, as taught by him and his NT apostles, will be hated, persecuted, ill-treated, falsely accused, rejected, despised and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel. Although it is our joy to serve our Lord as his ministers on this earth, our time here will have many trials and tribulations, and we will often long for our heavenly home, and for the time of our Lord’s return.

So, this is an encouragement to be faithful, and to be steadfast in faith and in hope, knowing that the time when our salvation will be complete is not that far off. There is a time coming when God will judge this earth, and he will put an end to sin and to suffering. What we are going through now is temporary. Also, we must understand that our Lord is absolutely sovereign and completely in control over all things. So, we should never fear humans or what they may do to us. They can kill the body, but they can’t kill the soul. And, one day God will put an end to their injustices and their rebellion against him. Yet, our Lord, His Word and His Salvation will be forever!

Arm of the Lord (vv. 9-11)

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord;
Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.
Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces,
Who pierced the dragon?
Was it not You who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
And everlasting joy will be on their heads.
They will obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This is a call to the Lord to fulfill his promises, and to deliver his people out of this sin-sick world and to take us home to be with him. Yet, it is also a call for him to work miracles in our lives while we still live on the face of this earth. The call acknowledges that our God is the Almighty God, our creator, who is all powerful. It calls to remembrance all the many ways in which he delivered his people in times past, which includes all the many ways in which we, individually, have seen him work miracles of grace in our lives, too.

On the basis of what we know of God, and of his history with humankind, and on the basis of his promises given to us in His Word, we can pray for what we know is according to his will and his purposes for our lives. We can believe him for daily deliverance from the evil one, from giving into temptation to sin, and from the fear of opposition from sinful humans. And, we can trust him to be with us, to not forsake us, and to lead us through troubled waters while still filling us with his perfect peace and joy.

And, we can rely on the strength of the Lord and the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit within us, as well as his guidance, to lead us through every difficult circumstance and to make a way for us where there often seems to be no way. Nothing can touch us but what God allows it, and that he has a purpose for it, and that he will bring good out of it. We have to keep remembering that. We have to keep trusting, and not be afraid. One day he is going to return for us, and all the hardships we have gone through in this life will fade away, and will become no more. And, we will live in peace and safety with our Lord forever, and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

The King is Coming
(Bill Gaither)

The King is coming, the King is coming
I just heard the trumpet sounding and soon His face I’ll see
The King is coming, the King is coming
Praise God, He’s coming for me

I can hear the chariot’s rumble, I can see the marching throng
And the fury of God’s trumpet spells the end of sin and wrong
Regal rolls are now unfolded, heaven’s grandstands all in place
Heaven’s choir is now assembled, start to sing “Amazing Grace”…

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