The worth of any promise depends on the character, power, and intentions of the maker of the commitment. A pledge is of little value if any of these things is lacking. The most sure word that we could every hear is a promise from God. He has the best character, the greatest power, and the most wonderful intentions toward His own Name and toward His beloved people.
In Isaiah 43 God makes a great promise to Israel. His words are full of love and commitment. He will be with them. This was His determination for ancient Israel and it is still true for all who call upon His Name today. Israel would face deep waters and flames, but the floods would not overwhelm them and the fire would not consume them. Egypt might be destroyed, and Cush might fall, but God would save His chosen nation. She was precious in His eyes and the object of His great love. The church has inherited these good words of hope as the New Covenant community. We are treated as the special people of God. He will take us through suffering to victory.
God would do a marvelous work of gathering the exiles of Israel from far-off nations. There were several levels of fulfillment to this powerful announcement of grace. First, after the exile to Babylon, many of God’s people would eventually be restored to the land under Ezra, Nehemiah, and others. Second, in the first century when Christ came and the Spirit was poured out upon the church, people of faith would be gathered to the Lord in an amazing way. Finally, the most complete work of gathering is yet to come in the Lord’s eternal kingdom when Christ returns to bring His people home for good. The sons of God will be finally revealed. He has not only created them physically, but they are also alive spiritually. The partial fulfillment of the Lord’s promises is encouraging, but those who truly hear His Word are eager for the fullness of His presence. We long for that day when we can say that all that was promised we now fully possess.
This ultimate time of gathering at the return of the Lord Jesus will not only be for blessing but for judgment. The God of Israel is the real God. It is certainly wise to surrender to Him now while there is yet time. He has made a way home for us. Jesus is that way, and heaven is our desired destination. He can save us from the wrath that will fall upon His enemies. No army can stop Him when He has determined to bless or when He has decided to express His vengeance.
If God chooses to bless, if He determines to do “a new thing” in the lives of those who once rejected Him, His merciful plan will not be stopped. We who believe have eternal life because the Lord’s mercy and justice met so perfectly in the atoning death of Christ so long ago. God’s wrath against us has been satisfied through the cross of His Son. There is no remaining obstacle against us that can keep us from the fullness of His blessing.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O Lord, You have redeemed us. Through water and flame, through every fiery trial, You are still with us. You call us Your sons and Your daughters. You love us and protect us. We are Your witnesses throughout the earth in Your Son Jesus Christ. There is no other Savior. There is no other Judge. You are the Holy One, and You are the King. You are doing a new thing, and You will not be stopped. Forgive us our sins, O Lord. We sinned against You in Adam, and we have sinned against You in our own days. You forgive us. You discipline us. You love us.