God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, March 26, 2008
19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
Sometimes we need a guide in the front, and sometimes we need someone urging us on from behind. Here Isaiah tells us that the teacher is both in front and behind. The teaching is just the same that a parent gives to a small child: “This is the way, walk in it.”
This passage, however, does not tell us that God whispers into our ears, telling us what to do. In fact, what is said here would fall completely within the Bible’s teaching about the conscience, the little voice God has given to each of us, pricking us when we deviate from God’s will and God’s law. The conscience is mentioned 29 times in Scripture (11 of these are in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:12, 4:2), and as a voice of the law, it does serve us as a guide.
God’s law has three uses: as a curb, a mirror, and a guide. As a curb, it holds society together and prevents anarchy and chaos. As a mirror, it causes us to grieve over our own sinfulness and working with the gospel it leads us to repentance. As a guide, it shows the Christian a godly path to walk so that “we have a clear conscience, and desire to live honorably in every way” (Hebrews 13:18).
Knowing our God’s mercy, we will certainly want to discard all our sins, and Isaiah’s graphic picture of a woman throwing out her menstrual cloth speaks for itself. It was only after such a cloth was discarded that a woman could be declared clean once again and reenter the temple for service (Leviticus 12:2, 15:20, 18:19, 20:18; Ezekiel 18:6). We discard our sins, because with them on our heads, we do no service for God at all. But instead we will want to walk in God’s path so that “my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live” (Job 27:6).
23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted. (NIV)
Blessings, blessings and blessings! Blessings are what God promises to his people. Very often when the prophets talk about blessings, they talk about blessings in terms of harvest: “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10). “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him” (Psalm 67:6-7).
Here the blessings bring us right to Judgment Day itself, the “day of great slaughter.” Although that will be a dark and terrible day for God’s enemies, for us it will be a day of light—light so bright, that it will be seven times brighter than anything we’ve known. Since seven is number that represents God’s holiness in many figurative parts of the Bible (such as prophecies about the end of the world, like this one), we can see that God means that the light—the first element of the creation—will once again be restored to its perfection, just as when God first made it, and it was “good.”
In that sense, the Last Day will be a new birthday for everyone who has ever lived. We were born into the world, we were reborn in Christ at our baptism, and on the Last Day, we will be renewed once again as the earth itself delivers us up to our Savior who loves us, and who has given us rebirth into eternal life.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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