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I belong to the Lord. (Isaiah 44.5)
I am thirsty.
I am dry.
I am worn out.
I see no rest in sight.
No one cares.
No one pays me any attention.
No one wants what is best for me.
I am a no one…
… and I belong to no one.
Not so fast, says the Lord. Listen, he says.
If you have ever felt some of the emotions above, Isaiah 44 may be just the passage for you. It opens with the Lord speaking to his servant, Jacob, and his chosen one, Israel. We may be quick to say: Well, he is not speaking to us, but doing so would miss the point. God is speaking to the one’s he calls and that is you and me. He wants us to hear this message. In fact, I would maintain that the reason this passage even appears in the book of Isaiah might have as much to do with an enduring message to generations of people to come as it does to the literal nation of Israel.
To his people, God says these things:
I formed you.
I will help you.
I will water you.
I will pour my spirit on your offspring (think: I not only guide you, but I will guide your children and children’s children.
And when I do, God says, they will recognize that they belong to the Lord.
If you are like me, there are very few things that give me more pride and joy than hearing someone speak well of my children. While I recognize they may not be perfect, to hear someone tell me that in the future good things will come their way reassures me.
It helps me breathe a little easier.
It makes me worry less.
It causes me to realize that the dryness I may feel does not mean there is no good to come.
My children … and I … belong to the Lord.
If you finish the rest of Isaiah 44 (vv. 6 and following) you discover this. If God is the one to whom we belong, if he is the one who has created the world and us in it, seeking idols is the wrong path. To whatever degree our despair may cause us to think of things beyond God, he is Lord and does not forget us.
Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this;
shout aloud, you earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel. (Isaiah 44.23)
Have you ever been so discouraged that your feelings of sadness made you lament not only your own position in life, but also your children’s, as well? How comforting is it to hear Isaiah describe God’s blessing (here told as water and springs for a dry land) for generations to come?
Following idol is a theme we often encounter in Old Testament prophetic writings. For them, the idols may have been tangible objects, even as those objects were symptomatic of hearts far from God. For us, we are more likely to follow after non-tangible items. What are some of the idols we chase and how do they pull us away from God. Compare a life that has “The Lord’s” written on his or hand versus a life chasing idols? How do we prevent the latter while seeking more of the former?
What song would you sing, similar to 44.23 to celebrate God’s provision for you? Pick a song of praise you are familiar with or perhaps you may want to write your own lyrics that communicate the praise you have for God.