There is a hope

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Throughout Isaiah, among all the warnings of judgement and desolation are scattered promises of salvation and restoration for God’s people. In the early parts of the book, the theme of judgement is the one that dominates but there is light in the darkness with the calling of a messenger, glimpses of God’s glory and the sign of Immanuel. When we get to the second part of the book, it is the light that dominates as the focus is placed fully on the obedient servant who suffers for his people and ushers in God’s jubilee.  Isaiah finishes with a vision of a new creation, populated by God’s people with a new Jerusalem central and God in the midst of his people.

The end of Revelation revisits this vision.  The new Jerusalem is of course, the Church, the bride of Christ.  This means that to some extent, fulfilment is already happening. The future is breaking in. The new Jerusalem is here, the bride is being made ready for the wedding feast. However, the bridegroom is still to arrive, the feast is yet to come. We live in “the now and the not yet.” There is still hope to look forward to, what John Piper calls “Future Grace.”

Applying Isaiah must take account of these truths.  We live in “the now and the not yet.”  There is a greater future hope to look forward to.  If we are to place ourselves in the storyline of the book, then we find ourselves in the latter chapters but not at the end.  We live knowing that the words of comfort in Isaiah 40 have been fulfilled and our sin has been paid for.  However, we are not yet at that point where the new creation is fully realised. The lion does not yet lie down with the lamb. 

We might see ourselves as identifying with those returning exiles.  We are in Isaiah 43, there are still the dangers of fire and water ahead but we do not need to fear them.  This means that we are also in Isaiah 35, the future is breaking in, the desert begins to bloom in response to the Gospel.

This means two things. First, that we pray “your kingdom come” and we work towards that.  We live as God’s people now, showing the world what it means for God to be present with us.  This will include a commitment to social justice and to wise stewardship of creation.  Most importantly, we must be messengers of good news who call others to arise and shine. We point people to Jesus as the one who was “pierced for their transgressions.” We proclaim freedom.  We call people to prepare the way for the Lord’s imminent return.

Secondly, it means that we keep looking forward in hope.  We do not need to fear the last danger of death.  We will go through that water and arrive safe on the other side with Jesus.  Even more, we long for Christ’s return and cry out “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

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