After working in the yard all day long in the hot sun, there is nothing more refreshing than a hot shower to ease the aches and pains while cleansing our sweaty bodies with sweet smells of fragrant soaps and shampoos. Randy and I enjoy creating new forms of landscape in our yard. We are always rearranging, planting something new, as we build a place we can enjoy in peace and gratitude for God’s creation. It takes a lot of work, but the work is rewarded by flowers and trees with a few veggies produced at harvest.
There is one bush that simply amazes me. As it goes to rest for winter, all the leaves are gone and the plant looks like dead, brittle twigs at the beginning of the next season. We almost pulled it out of the ground until we noticed—one small remnant of what was left behind! It had life after all! It was still growing! A small sprout of green trying to make it’s way through the dead twigs of winter. So, we waited. After a couple of months of watching and watering, it slowly became a large thriving bush once more that bloomed and flourished by the end of summer—its own, specific growing season.
We are challenged in our lives with times of growth through times of stagnation. It is in the waiting, that seems to be a stuck period in our lives that we realize that God is doing His greatest work in what remains deep inside us—God Himself! God is preparing us for the next season, the next work with remnants of what is still in us after troubles, challenges, setbacks, and brokenness. God is amazing like that!
In our passage today, remember God’s People have been taken captive by the Babylonians. Isaiah speaks for God and tells them how precious the “remnant” left behind really is and what He will do in and through them. There will be a cleansing and purging of evil that brought them down and dirty to this time in their lives. God will take the remnant and provide a Messiah through the line of what is left behind, once called “rejects and discards”. Wow!
Oh, dear friends, do you relate? Have you ever been bruised and broken followed by a stagnant, stuck period in your lives? Did it seem like you were walking through months of muddy thoughts that clouded your thinking and made you feel less than, unimportant, insignificant, and rejected? Well, guess what, God is not finished, He is doing His best work in us in those specific times when we think we are but brittle sticks without the energy to bloom.
Yes, God does it again and again in and through his people today! The Promised Messiah, Jesus came to earth to save us and to teach us who God really is. And friends, who did He call upon, share a meal or talk to in the marketplace? Who did He heal, help, and use in His Kingdom work? It was the remnant–the despised, rejected, abused, broken, and oppressed, that’s who!
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He came so that we might have life, but not just any life, but a life filled with His peace no matter what is happening around us—“the abundant life” here and later with Him in paradise where He is now preparing a room for each one of us who believe! Let me let Jesus explain…
“Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep rustlers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10, MSG
Isaiah 4, The Message
That will be the day when seven women
will gang up on one man, saying,
“We’ll take care of ourselves,
get our own food and clothes.
Just give us a child. Make us pregnant
so we’ll have something to live for!”
2-4 And that’s when God’s Branch will sprout green and lush. The produce of the country will give Israel’s survivors something to be proud of again. Oh, they’ll hold their heads high! Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as “holy”—alive and therefore precious. God will give Zion’s women a good bath. He’ll scrub the bloodstained city of its violence and brutality, purge the place with a firestorm of judgment.
5-6 Then God will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Warren Wiersbe comments on the state of the nation of Israel at this time…(and in our time).
“So many men would be killed there wouldn’t be enough husbands to go around. One of the “unintended consequences” of godless living is societal chaos. Disastrous wars can remove a healthy balance of males from society. We also have contemporary examples of nations seeking to control population growth through selective childbirth and abortion only to discover that the majority of rejected (killed) pregnancies are little girls, eventually causing the same kind of societal imbalances. Sin destroys lives, but it also destroys nations.”
The prophet looked beyond the day of the Lord to that time when the kingdom would be established on earth. “Branch of the LORD” is a messianic title for Jesus Christ, who would come as a “shoot” from the seeming dead stump of David’s dynasty. (See also Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12).
God will indeed cleanse His people, restore the fruitfulness of the land, and dwell with them as He did when He led them through the wilderness. Not just the temple, but every dwelling will be blessed by the presence of the Lord! Unlike in Isaiah’s day, “in that day” (Is. 4:1) the people will be holy (set apart), and the land will be beautiful and glorious once more.
What a day that will be…I’m reminded of an old hymn whose composer is thinking about when Jesus comes back to claim his own who truly believe and follow Him. The Lord still “looks over the earth and seeks hearts who are completely committed to Him”. (2 Chronicles 1 6:9)
What a day that will be
When my Jesus I shall see
And I look upon his face
The one who saved me by his grace
When he takes me by the hand
And leads me through the Promised Land
What a day, glorious day that will be
So, our response? Say yes to Jesus! Even if we think we are the only ones left in the world; know that He sees, hears and is with us who call out to Him with a committed, no turning back, YES! May the glory of the Lord be with us!
I believe in who you are and what you say. I believe there are more like me than the enemy would have us think. So, may this encourage all of us who believe to encourage each other in your work, to build each other up with your love working in and through us—even when we feel rejected and bruised. Remnants are precious in your thinking. What a blessed thought! Help us to continue on, moving forward in your love, mercy and grace.
In Jesus Name, Amen