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Isaiah 12: Our Response to the God of Our Salvation Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 November 2008

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We can learn a lot about a person by observing their response to certain events. Their response is often a good indicator of how they truly feel about what is happening. I saw an example of this just last week. I watched the speeches of both presidential candidates following the results of the election. For the most part, they said what was expected: one was a gracious winner and the other a gracious loser. What I found interesting was the crowdís response. Some cheered for the victory of their candidate, while some booed that same victory. Some cried for the loss of their candidate, while others cried for the victory. Some were extremely excited and others not so much. Even if I had not known who had been elected, just by watching the response of the people I could have figured it out. I could have reached the conclusion that Senator Obama will be our next president and that Senator McCain will not. Also, it would have been clear to me that this election meant a great deal to people on both sides. The responses were telling.

In Isaiah 12, we see the future response of Godís people to His saving work in their lives. This chapter brings the first large section in the book to a close. As we have seen, God is going to judge His people for their rebellion and lack of trust. Isaiah has been given the commission to tell them as much. Yet, at the same time, the promise of a future remnant, a future salvation, has run through the text as well. In these chapters we have seen the promise of a coming day of salvation. Isaiah is not given all the details, but he knows that involves the coming of the Messiah, Immanuel, who will reign on the throne of David forever.

What we see in chapter 12 is Isaiahís prophecy concerning how Godís people will respond on that day. Just like Moses responded to the Exodus with a song (see Exodus 15), so we see the response here in the form of a song. Of course, we should note at this point that much of what Isaiah from a distance, we have seen come to pass. We know that the Messiah is Jesus Christ our Lord. We have seen the beginnings of the ingathering of Godís people from the nations (see 11:11ff). Thus, as those who are in a real way participating and longing for the future Day of salvation through Christ, how should we respond to our God who has secured such a Day? Letís answer this question today from Isaiah 12.

First, we should respond with thanksgiving because His anger has turned to comfort (v.1).

We have already seen that God is going to judge Israelís and Judahís sin. Isaiah knows that such judgment will be righteous for the peopleís sin and lack of trust has been blatant. The anger of the Lord against His people is a holy anger. Yet, here he speaks of that anger being turned away. Look at verse 1. How will the Lordís anger be turned away? The Lordís anger is turned away when the penalty for sin has been paid. This is what is alluded to when Isaiahís sins are atoned for in chapter 6. We might conclude that the Lordís anger turned away after the Exile, or judgment of Israel and Judah, which is partially true. However, ultimately a greater penalty had to be paid. Someone had to pay for all of the sins of Godís people. The righteous wrath of God must fall in order for His anger to be turned away. So how has this ultimately happened?

We do not find the answer until the coming of Christ. Christ came to bear the sins of the many. Isaiahís calling pointed to the need of atonement for sin. We know that it is Christ who has ultimately atoned for the sins of Godís people. At the cross, He bore the punishment that we deserved. He has propitiated, or turned away, the wrath of God. In this way, Godís anger has turned to comfort. We do not have to fear Godís wrath against our sin because we know that Christ has taken it in our place. One of my commentators says it this way: ďThe basic situation facing the sinner is the wrath of a holy God (6:3ff.). This plight cannot be remedied unless that wrath is somehow allayed, what the Bible calls Ďpropitiationí. Reconciliation is not our willingness to have God but Godís willingness to have us.Ē Such truth should greatly comfort us as Isaiah says. The Lordís righteous anger has been righteously turned away at the cross.

Needless to say, we should be thankful for such a transition. As we are comforted by the truth that Godís anger has been turned away, we should respond with continuous thanksgiving. Likewise, we are not just thankful that our sins are forgiven, which is a lot to be thankful for, but we are also thankful that our sins have been forgiven justly. Our great and glorious God has not compromised His character in redeeming sinful men. He has always been and will always be holy, holy, holy, even in our redemption. This is truth that transcends circumstances. No matter what is going on in our daily lives, we can offer heartfelt thanksgiving to God because He has justly turned His anger to comfort through Christ. May we respond to Him with thanksgiving.

Second, we should respond with trust because He is our strength and song (v. 2).

Last week we looked at the Lordís call through Isaiah for Ahaz and Judah to trust Him. Unfortunately, Ahaz did not listen to Isaiah and out of fear for Israel and Syria, turned to Assyria for help, a decision which would cost him and the people of Judah greatly. Yet, on the coming day of salvation, Isaiah tells us that Godís people will indeed trust in Him. Look at verse 2. Do you see the great contrast here between Ahaz and the people of Judah and Godís future people? They will not fear the threats of kings. They will not fear, even if their candidate was or was not elected. They will not tremble before their enemies. No, they will rest secure. How can this be? Isaiah tells us: I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song. Ahaz just could not put His trust in the Lord. He had to have a back up plan with Assyria. But true trust in the Lord does not need a backup plan because it knows that the Lord is able to save. He is able to accomplish all of His purposes and plans. As we said last week, He is trustworthy. He will be the strength and the song for any who will trust in Him with all of their heart.

As those who have seen the first coming of Christ and heard more of the future Day of salvation, we should trust the Lord. We should have no fear of men, none. After all, as Jesus pointed out, what can man really do to us? The strength of all the men in the world will never be stronger than our God. In fact, the only strength that men have has been given to them by God. Such fear is to some degree illogical. It does not make sense for us fear man in light of our fear of God. It is like a soldier in war being more concerned about a paper-cut than the bullets and bombs that are falling all around him. What man can do to us (even at his worst) is nothing compared to the greatness of our God. Thus, we can trust in the Lord and live without fear. Again, this is a truth that should impact our daily lives. As we are constantly confronted with threats on ever side, from politics, to economy, to job security, to whatever else it is that might cause you to worry and fear, we should lift our eyes to the God of our salvation. Let Him be your strength. Let His power drive out your weakness. Let His faithfulness drive out your unbelief. May you respond to Him with confident trust in His strength.

Third, we should respond with joyful proclamation because of who He is and what He has done (v. 3-6).

Isaiah shifts in verse 3 from addressing an individual to addressing the community. Look at what he says in verses 3-6. After we draw from the wells of salvation, which pictures its continual supply, we will give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Salvation is not just a gift that we hoard and keep to ourselves. No, we are to tell others. In fact the great news of Godís salvation is to go to the nations. What are we supposed to tell them? First, we tell them of our great God. We tell them who He is and that his name is exalted. We make it clear that He is the only God and all praise and honor and glory are due His name. Second, going along with the first, we tell them of the great things that the Lord has done, namely provided salvation for all of those who will repent of their sins and trust in Christ. We are to make known his deeds among the peoples and tell them that he has done gloriously. We do this because we know that great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. Thus, we respond to the God of our salvation as His people with joyful proclamation of who He is and what He has done. As the song says: ĎWe will shout to the north and the south and the east and the west that Jesus Christ is Savior to all.í

So let me ask you a tough question: do you shout for joy in your telling to others what God has done for you? Is the greatest joy you have in your life the fact that God has become the God of your salvation and have given you the glorious privilege of proclaiming such good news to any and all? I mean if I asked your kids or your spouse or your parents how they would describe your proclamation of the gospel of Christ, what would they say? What if I asked your extended family, your neighbors, or your co-workers? Is it obvious to them that your God is great and that He has done gloriously? In light of who we were before Christ and who we now are in Christ, nothing should compete for our affection for Him. When we understand who He is and what He has done for us, joyful proclamation should spill out of our lives. If it is not, then we need to spend more time meditating on who He is and what He has done for us (as revealed in the pages of Scripture). I pray that we would be a Church, a people, who cannot help but joyfully proclaim the greatness of our God and what He has done for us in Christ.

I was watching a college football game this week and when the home teamís quarterback threw a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, the fans went crazy. They were jumping and shouting and cheering. Now I know that such a comparison has often been made, but when I read this passage and think about our response to God, I cannot help but wonder: what does our response say about God? Why is great rejoicing appropriate for minimal happenings (sporting events), while minimal rejoicing is expected (or demanded) for Godís work of salvation? We have received the greatest news of all time: your sins have been justly forgiven and Godís anger has been turned away by Christ at the cross. Do we respond to such news appropriately? Has our joy grown stale because of familiarity or neglect? Are we too dignified to give ourselves to the praise that is due His name? Of course the real question is: how can we not respond with sustained thanksgiving and trust and proclamation? How can we not respond with shouting and singing for joy? How can we not freely give our lives for His glory? I encourage you, meditate hard on who God is and what He has done for you in Christ. So hard, that you cannot help but respond to such glorious truth appropriately. Amen.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 November 2008 )

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