Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Thursday, May 14th
Reading: Isaiah 49-51
Isaiah is written as a call to courage for those stuck in captivity. It extends an offer of deliverance for those who have been defeated. We must be careful to not unwittingly allegorize it by jumping too quickly to the ways that we feel a form of captivity and a sense of defeat in our own lives. It certainly applies to that, but mustn’t be forced to with flippancy or haste. This cheapens it and reduces its power. We would do well to remember that Israel was experiencing an actual physical captivity and had lived through a tangible defeat the likes of which most of us have never and will never see. It is written to a people under immense pressure, and it calls those under pressure to fix their eyes on what God is doing when you cannot see Him doing anything.
This is the call once again in Isaiah 51, when the prophet says,
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.
— Is 51:6 (ESV)
God, through Isaiah, is reminding Israel, that what they are going through, though it is terrible, is also temporary. Their suffering, though significant, will vanish like smoke, and so the call is to fix their eyes on things that will last forever.
Salvation. That’s forever.
Righteousness. That’s an unstoppable gift of God.
The way that this eternal blessing would be secured is made clear in Isaiah 51:22. It says,
Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering;
the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more;
— Is 51:22
The short term hope for Israel was that the cup of God’s wrath was going to be given to their enemies to drink. The hope for us today is that the cup of God’s wrath was handed to our King Jesus. Our hope lies in the fact that even though He knew the terrible cost of drinking from that cup, He drank it dry.
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
— Mt 26:39.
And so friends, as we are subjected to a captivity of a sort, in this world, which is burdened and battling, lift your eyes to the eternal gifts of salvation and righteousness. Remember that the cup of God’s wrath isn’t being poured out on us right now, not because God gave it to our enemies, but because He gave it to our ultimate friend. And He drank every drop.
Courage, dear friends.