Here’s a cool one:
Remember this and consider; recall it to mind, you transgressors…Isaiah 46:8
God starts off pretty strong here – “you transgressors!” I feel like if I started a sermon calling everyone transgressors, they might not listen, but this is how this short section begins. Of course, this is a section within a section, and if we started earlier, this line would have made a little more sense, but here we are.
So, what are the transgressors supposed to remember?
…remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the outcome from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done…Isaiah 46:9-10a
Basically, they are supposed to remember that God is God and there is no other. In fact, there is no one quite like God. Why? Well, for one, God gave birth to Israel, carried them from the womb, and would be the one to carry them even when they turned old and grey – kind of like the mom from the “I’ll Love You Forever” story our moms used to tell us.
And this God can do something gods of silver and gold, or maybe even silver and gold itself, can not or will never be able to do: “I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 49:4).
But what makes this God really special is declaring the outcome from the beginning. In other words, before things happen, God knows. Now this brings up a lot of questions about life and death and sickness and natural disasters and loss – all of which we think the world could probably do without. So what is it that this God knows? Let’s see…
…saying, “My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,” calling a bird of prey from the east, the man for my purpose from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have planned, and I will do it.Isaiah 46:10b-11
So what God knows is that the plan thought up from the beginning would be executed; it would be accomplished. I love this line: “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have planned, and I will do it.”
Does God get what God wants? Absolutely. No questions asked. Which means that all of this stuff I mentioned earlier, as awful as it is, is somehow part of the plan as well. Nothing is wasted in the Divine economy, what we might call the kingdom of God.
Or as Paul wrote,
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.Ephesians 1:7–10
I hope you’re clapping right now because, according to Paul, all things are summed up or gathered up or recapitulated in Christ. That means that all the parts of the story that seem dark or make us pessimistic can also be owned, retold, and reimagined by Christ. This is makes God pleased, and through Christ, God lavishes us, and this is all because of the Divine’s rich grace.
And since this is true, it means that all things belong to you… and to me… and to your neighbor. Whether it is life or death and or things present or things to come or height or depth or Apollos or Paul or Daniel or whoever or whatever, ALL THINGS belong to you (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
But what about…
But this passage over here seems to say…
Stop trying to debunk this and read the next passage.
Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from deliverance: I bring near my deliverance; it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.Isaiah 46:8–13
You think, “God’s deliverance is far away.” Okay, well buckle up because God will bring it near.
You think, “This is taking too long.” God says, “My salvation will not tarry.”
God will, Isaiah promises his readers, put salvation in Zion.
Not might, not possibly can, not if they accept the message it could happen.
Now, bringing this back to you and me, let me remind you of something.
Yes, God’s promises were fulfilled In Israel’s day through Cyrus and the reconstruction of the temple, but God’s promises were ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, so Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15).
Just as God promised when Isaiah wrote that salvation and deliverance would come near, Jesus said the kingdom had arrived. Salvation is available to us. We have an abundance of grace and peace and love and mercy available to us, and in the Divine economy, nothing is wasted.
Yes, life can be unimaginably hard, but the blessings and grace of God are beyond imagination as well, and these things are eternal, unlike the suffering and rejection and pain we face right here.
No wonder Paul could do all things through Christ who strengthened him because he served a God who declared the end from the beginning and guaranteed to accomplish all of the purposes and plans put in place from the beginning.
“All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” Julian of Norwich
That, my friends, is good news.
Grace, Peace, and Love,