In Isaiah 24, things were bad. Like a forest fire searing the landscape, God’s judgment left the Earth in ruin—desolate (24:1), empty & plundered (3), mourning, withering & languishing (4), etc. Watch the following clip and pay special attention at about 1 minute and 40 seconds.
From their birth among the ashes, seedlings transform into 300-foot-tall groves. The promise we see in Isaiah 25 is birthed among the ashes of destruction and judgment. Our passage today, in Isaiah 26, we hear the song of the people as they enter the Land of rest and peace.
The song begins with reference to the “strong city,” Jerusalem from which the Messiah will establish his throne. It is here that the gates will open and the “righteous nation” shall enter into “perfect peace.”
While the nation is a reference to Israel, righteousness and faithfulness are God’s standard for salvation. People may disagree about how the end-times play out, but nobody can disagree that God’s standard is perfection—His standard is Christ. Thankfully, although God demands perfection, He makes a way for us to be perfect.
As I read this passage, verse 13 sticks out. In this song, the people say, “O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name.” The name of God is a theme in Scripture, especially the Old Testament. It is the exaltation of God’s character—the recognition of His greatness. Although we have experienced various authorities in our lives, as well as the things we have allowed to rule us in sin, only God is worthy of praise. We quickly offer our allegiance to fleeting things, and yet, our first allegiance must be to the Lord. Only He is eternal. Only He is good.
This song is on the heels of great tribulation. Sin increased to a peak and the Lord intervened. This passage not only shows us the praise that will be sung on the day of deliverance but, as one commentator points out, also a paradigm for dealing with sin in our own lives. When experiencing the consequences of sin and suffering, we can: “(a) confidently look to God in hope, waiting for him to smooth out one’s path (26:7–8a); (b) maintain a strong desire to see the name of God glorified (26:8b–9a); (c) request for God to discipline the wicked and zealously intervene on behalf of his own people (26:9b–11); (d) recognize God’s sovereignty, admit past failures, and realize that God acts to bring himself glory (26:12–15); and (e) confess past sins and lament the agony of divine discipline (26:16–18). This is a practical theology of suffering that honestly faces the causes for discipline, the consequences of being disciplined, and the hope that God provides to overcome divine discipline. No one should forget the way back to God.” (New American Commentary).
Take a moment today and review this list. What points of your life can you look back and find confidence that God is at work? What can you do today to elevate the name of God in your life? For whom are you praying that the Lord would intervene? What sins do you need to confess?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate