Remembering to Move Forward (Isaiah 51:1-3) Pastor Josh VanLeeuwen
Isaiah is often regarded as the greatest of the writing prophets. He served during a stormy period in Israel’s history, when the Assyrian empire was rising and Israel was declining. His words were a source of warning and judgment, as well as comfort and encouragement. In this passage he acknowledged the current plight of the Israelites and reminded them who—and Whose—they were. “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” Remember your heritage; remember your history.
We also can take comfort from these words. Although our nation is not in ruins, it has its problems. Daily we are reminded that even for those who pursue righteousness and seek the Lord, life can be difficult. When we begin to believe that we have little control over what happens to us, we can feel helpless. How can we move forward when we feel weighed down by all the darkness and evil in the world? How can we make a difference for those who are truly oppressed? Where is our hope?
Remember, Isaiah would say to us. Look back at how God rescued his people, not just once but many times. Remember your heritage. God brought his people out of slavery in Egypt and led them to the land he had promised Abraham. God delivered his people from Babylon. Even though Israel repeatedly failed to honor and follow God and he was forced to judge and punish them, he still treated his children with mercy and compassion. When the world was lost in sin and darkness, he sent his son to die in our place, a final sacrifice for our redemption. Remember that he is a just God and that all will be set right at the time he has appointed. Remember that he is a trustworthy God, a God who honors his promises. A God in whom we can be confident. A God who restores and renews.
Do not lose hope. When we remember who—and Whose—we are, we can move forward, continuing the work he has prepared for us to do: shining his light into the darkest corners of the world and sharing his message of salvation to everyone, everywhere.