I have been meditating on God’s name, His honour and what that means to me.
“Yes My name is all important. From the very beginning I have chosen a people to carry My name, yet time and again they have abused it – that is why I punished them repeatedly. You now carry My name – because you are in Jesus – so part of the heavenly blessing which you have received in Him is that you now have My name. Yet, even as you carry My name as a blessing, it carries a responsibility. You are always representing Me, wherever you go. Whatever you do or say will and does reflect on My name. But don’t let that be onerous – draw near to Me as your Father and walk with Me in step with My Spirit and you will carry My name in honour. Just be aware that every angry word, every time you mutter and complain or say something bad about someone, that has a negative effect on My name. just draw close to Me. Every prayer, every desire you have when you walk close to Me will be fulfilled because they will align with My desire for you.
The 23 chapters of Isaiah, from Ch 12 to 35 carry a number of oracles which basically repeat the same message. God will judge. His own people first and His enemies, which He uses as an instrument of Judgement next. There is the theme of a “Remnant” which occasionally speaks of a king. Then there is the recurrent theme that God will save those who trust in Him. I have decided to jump to ch 35 which is a comforting picture which ends that long section of judgement.
Please read Ch 35 and meditate on what is being said. What exactly is being promised? When will this happen? Has it any relevance for me?
When I was in Israel in 1972, they told me they were busy fulfilling this prophecy. They had laid on huge pipelines, carrying water from Lake Kinneret right through the country. It had transformed this “desert-like” landscape into a green oasis in many places. There was never any mention of the hand of God being in this transformation, however. So, could this be what Isaiah prophesied?
There are some faint shades here of the promises God made to His people when He brought them out of Egypt. Those people were promised a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet, here 300 years later the people were being attacked from all sides and the future looked really grim.
Well, there were certain aspects of this promise which would be fulfilled when God brought His people back from 70 years of exile in Babylon. The redeemed, those saved from the exile, did return with singing to Zion. But what a homecoming. A ruined city and a devastated temple waited for them. Poverty and hardship seemed more prominent than streams in the desert.
Over the years the people have tried several times to recreate this scene on their own, missing the point completely. The problem lay in their inability to trust in Yahweh. They wanted to do it their way and get the glory for themselves. This passage lays the bed for the expectation of the last part of Isaiah. How will God fulfill this prophecy? Will we ever see it it here on earth?
There are certainly aspects of this prophecy which are being fulfilled now. Vs 3, is mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews 12:12. Then there is this picture of a “Way of Holiness”. “The unclean will not journey on it, it will be those who walk in that Way.” This sounds very much like the “Narrow Way” which Jesus used to describe our journey on the way to heaven. The use of the term “The Way” to describe this journey reminds one of the name that the early Christians gave to their new-found faith. These are all pictures relative to this world.
Some others are maybe more symbolic. Like the water gushing forth in the desert. Perhaps this describes our new life in Jesus, but we are also reminded of the streams of living water which Jesus promised, would flow forth from HIm
Ultimately though, we must accept that the full picture still lies in the future. It is the “hope of the Christian”. We can see ourselves as the “redeemed returning with singing unto Zion. Where everlasting joy will crown our heads”.
Underlying all this is the constant reminder that this is only for those who trust in the Lord. Of course from our perspective today, we can see the key role of the One who we have met earlier as the Son and the Stump of Jesse. The King described as carrying the government on His shoulders.
The question I ask myself, as I listen to Jesus is. Do I see this picture unfolding symbolically around me as I continue to follow the Way through the desert? The narrow, difficult Way. The Way that has been made by Jesus. But also a reminder that for my part, I need to strengthen my feeble hands and weak knees for what I may face.