Today's Reading: Isaiah 51:9-16
And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, 'You are my people.'" (Isaiah 51:16)
Throughout the Old Testament, the story of God’s people is one of ongoing promise, sin/unfaithfulness, consequences/exile/judgment, revelation, repentance, restoration, calling, and renewal of promise and faith. And for those who are honest, it is easy to see our own lives and faith mirrored in the life of the people of ancient Israel.
What is supernaturally and inspirationally consistent is God’s character and faithfulness. God’s promise to Abraham to name and preserve a people shines fiercely throughout periods of great darkness.
Here, Isaiah is writing to a people long exiled. Generations have lived in darkness, far from home, without their Temple, and with God’s promises to Abraham seeming like a distant memory. Yet, here is hope for exiles. Isaiah first recalls the ancient promises to Abraham and Sarah – that God would be their God without condition and they His people. Their children would have a home and be a multitude through whom the nations would come to know the Lord. Isaiah writes to remind these discouraged and shadow-dwelling people of God’s bright promise.
We go through tough times in our lives; we do things against the very faith we profess; we allow outside influences to dictate our actions and our direction; we, in many ways, are just like Israel. Here's the deal: God knows what we are and where our heart is, just as He did Israel.
Also like Israel, we deserve nothing but God's punishment for our sins against God and our neighbor. And yet, what we deserve is not what we get from God. We are the ones of Matthew 22 who have no right to be in the wedding hall, but by the gracious invitation of our Lord and Savior we have been given a place at the feast.
Each Sunday we gather to hear God's Word and receive His precious Body and Blood. We are, in a sense, hearing our Lord say to us, just as He said to Israel, “You are my people.” And you know something--that is exactly what we are. We are God's redeemed people, made that way by the precious blood of Jesus, our Savior.
A feast of love for us You are preparing; We who were lost, You give an honored place! Come, eat; come, drink, and be no more despairing—Here taste again the treasures of My grace. (LSB 612:3)