Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lead, Inhabited, and Followed

Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, o Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, o Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, o captive Jerusalem; loose yourself from the chains around your neck, o captive daughter of Zion. For thus says the LORD, "You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money." For thus says the Lord God, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside there; then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what do I have here," declares the LORD, "seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?" Again the LORD declares, "Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, 'Here I am.'" How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion. Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. Depart, depart, go out from there, touch nothing unclean; go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the LORD. But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:1-12, NASB)

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When chatting with a good friend the other night, she mentioned a verse that God had impressed on her mind. She quoted the text “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of (her) who brings good news …” and I did a quick search of one of my favorite sites to find the reference. I spent the next few minutes reading the rest of what Isaiah wrote that we have in our Bibles as chapter fifty-two. I was familiar with what Cathy quoted, but the rest of the passage is what made the impression on me.
God is making three distinct promises to His people. He declares Himself faithful and that He will take up their cause and fight for them. His “holy arm” is bared in a show of strength and power. He is not going to let what has gone on (throughout history in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, etc.) go without notice and without being avenged. He is going to restore Zion and be a comfort.
In restoring Zion, He is promising to dwell with His people once again. While He will go out and fight for them, it is what He will do in providing peace and safety at home that will have the greatest impact. What has been laid to waste will be raised up again and the nation will be made whole as He originally intended. God has spoken and will continue to speak on Israel’s behalf.
Finally, as God leads them out, He also promises to be their “rear guard” as they go forth. He commands them to stop mourning, purify themselves, and go forth in freedom, no longer as bound slaves. God “has their back” and they have no need to fear anymore.
So, how about us today? Do we really experience God leading, inhabiting, and following us? He still does, you know. He is providing in miraculous ways every day, even though it looks just ordinary to us. The God of all Heaven has already sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin and redeem us out of bondage. He has gone before us and fought our unwinnable battle. He indwells us in the person of the Holy Spirit, giving us the ultimate sense of peace and joy and communion with Him. He not only leads us, but He follows after us, protecting us from anything or anyone who may try to overtake us from behind and try to destroy us.
As we travel our Crooked Path, we have a God and Savior who is intimately and passionately involved with us! That thought alone ought to make us break out in a joyful song of praise. No, our path isn’t easy all the time. But we do not walk alone … we always have a Leader to follow … and He follows us to pick us up if we stumble as well. I’d say that is news worth spreading.
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  1. Are you still looking at your chains, wondering why they seem like they are still locked? Do you feel bound and alone, even though God has declared you free?
  2. What does the concept of having a “rear guard” mean to you? Is it a comforting thought to you knowing that somebody is watching behind you, so you can focus on what is ahead?
  3. Are you ready to go shout out the Good News of a personal Redeemer who is in the business of restoration? Your God reigns … what keeps you from acting like it?

NASB - Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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