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In the first half of verse 1 says,「“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy,」(Isaiah 54:1 NIV) “Barren woman who never bore a child” refers to Jerusalem, which has been abandoned and no one lives there. Therefore, It should not be understood and taken literally. It speaks to Jerusalem, the abandoned city, where there was no one to live in, to sing for joy. That is because the work of redemption on the cross was completed. Those who were taken to Babylon was also going to be redeemed and the work of recovery was about to begin. The second half of verse 4 says,「“You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”」(Isaiah 54:4 NIV) By the work of Christ’s redemption, we are free from sins and suffering from the past. For the Israelites, it is a promise of liberation from suffering and insults they have experienced as captives. In verses 5 and 6, it is prophesied that the relationship between the Israelites and the LORD Almighty will be restored. The work of recovery comes because of God’s love. Just as the married relationship is restored, the restoration of God and the Israelites will take place.
Let’s read the following verses 7-8,「“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.」(Isaiah 54:7-8 NIV) What a beautiful expression! Jerusalem was certainly struck by God. But the restoration of Jerusalem and the liberation of the Israelites from captivity was going to come because of God’s eternal love. It’s the same in our lives. When we look back on our lives, we might have a moment feeling like we are abandoned by God. Often things don’t go well as we expected. However, as it is written here, it was only for a brief moment. God never abandons each one of us. Let us trust and believe that God’s love will never change, and His grace and mercy will never end.
Let’s look back on God’s promise again. Verse 10 says,「Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.」(Isaiah 54:10 NIV) The background of “covenant of peace” in verse 9, is the covenant with Noah that God promised to never destroy humanity by flood again. As you know, the rainbow is a sign of the covenant. (Reference; Genesis chapter 9) God’s love for each of us will never change, even though the circumstances change. Just like God promised not to destroy mankind with flood anymore, we will be saved by the work of redemption accomplished by Christ. This salvation is also given to the Israelites. This love of God will never leave us nor abandon us. This promise will never change.
Going back to verses 2-3, it says,「“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.」This passage gives challenge to those who know the joy of the gospel. Just like verse 1 says, to shout for joy, we would like to sing and shout for joy. And with the message of the gospel, we go out into the world. Enlarging the place of our tent, spreading out to the right and to the left, and possessing nations, all of them is a big challenge. But let us look around. Someone around us is waiting for our voice of joy. God works through us for the gospel. Since we got saved by the cross of Jesus, we would like to have this vision of spreading Gospel. Let us proclaim these messages boldly that God’s love will never change, Jesus is living and walking with us, and God prepares for restoration of our lives. And let us expand the place of our tent together.
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