Friday, December 31, 2010

Experiencing Redemption

In giving comfort to God’s people, Isaiah 44:21-26 revolves around three (3) words: remember, redemption, and restoration. The prophet Isaiah encourages the Israelites upon their return from their seventy (70) year Babylonian captivity of the promises and blessings of God. They were tired, full of fear, and had lost hope. Many had died and many were born during the captivity. This was a new generation of Israelites.

The Babylonian idol god(s) had become the god(s) of many of the Israelites during the captivity. God, through the prophet Isaiah, fully analyzed the making of graven images from Isaiah 44:9-20. He explains how much work the blacksmiths and carpenters do in order to make the graven images, going without food or water themselves during the process. They cut down good trees that the Lord has seen fit to grow and nurture. No one understands that it takes the One and Only God for them to be able to make their little gods. Then out of the same wood of which they make their little gods, they cook and make bread and warm themselves. Isaiah reasoned it did not make sense. How can it be that the same little god can protect them if it came from the same wood that keeps them warm and feeds their hunger? Yet they worship these idols and had no understanding of the powerless nature of the false prophets.

God delivered them from such sin. He delivered them from the Babylonian captivity. He wanted them to remember that He was the One who created them. He was the One who formed them from nothing. They were His servants and that made them special. He wanted them to remember Him and did not want them to serve other masters (idols/false prophets). He had not forgotten them and they would never be forgotten. He just wanted His children to return to Him.

Isaiah 44:22 indicates that God has blotted out the Israelites’ transgressions and sins, as a cloud, for He has redeemed them. God pardoned their transgressions and sins and, just like a cloud would disappear after a storm, His light shines through. God caused the clouds to disperse when He redeemed the Israelites. He was their Redeemer. Redemption is an element of salvation to express deliverance from bondage. God provided the release from their Babylonian captors. They were free to serve Him and proclaim His Name above all others.

God has revealed His glory in the act of redeeming Israel from bondage. When God blesses, it is appropriate that all nature praise Him for His mighty acts. Isaiah 44:23 speaks of the universal joy for the whole of creation from the heavens to the lower parts of the earth singing and rejoicing about the redemption of the Israelites. He reminded that it was He alone who formed them from the womb and made all things of the universe. It was He alone who stretched forth His Hand to create the heavens and spread abroad the earth.

God destroyed the miracles/signs of the liars, deceivers, and false prophets by making them appear foolish when their events did not correspond with their prediction. Their prediction was against the outcome of the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity. He put the wise men to shame and made their knowledge foolish. He confirmed the predictions of His messengers/prophets that Jerusalem shall be inhabited and the cities of Judah shall be rebuilt.

God kept His word. He raised up Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, as His instrument and to perform His pleasure. It was prophesied by Isaiah before His birth. The city and Kingdom of Babylon were destroyed restoring the Jewish captives to their homeland. Through an edict of Cyrus the Great, Jerusalem was rebuilt, the temple was rebuilt, and the cities of Judah were rebuilt.

Isaiah also prophesied of another Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He came to give us the opportunity to have eternal life if we believe in Him. He redeemed us and set us free from the bondage of sin when He allowed unbelievers to hang Him on the cross. He died, stayed in the grave for three (3) days, and then He rose. That act of grace was for you and me, the Church, the Spiritual Israel. That act of mercy merits all of creation to sing and shout with a triumph of joy.

We have been redeemed! We are the servants of the Almighty! He will never leave us or forsake us! Happy New Year and May You Have Many More.

Written by Deborah Davis

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