In discussing the wilderness over the past couple months, we have focused on how God uses the wilderness to shape the hearts of leaders. We did a mini-series on those with addictions and how their life choices cause them to live in the wilderness. Today, with a brief overview of Isaiah 59, we will see how some people get themselves lost in the wilderness.
When I first entered the wilderness, I thought, “God is using this to stretch me. I will come out of this. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I know I will come out, and when I do, I will be all the better for this experience.” As a Christian leader who is devoted to the Lord and his people, I expect there will be suffering in my life. I have come to expect difficult experiences, if for no other reason than looking to the life of Christ. I understand that I am being transformed into his image (Rom. 8:29) and even he, during his life on earth, learned obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:8). And so it is no different, with me or you. During our Christian journey, we will suffer. We will go through wilderness experiences as part of our transformation process.
On the other hand, there are those who live in the wilderness as a result of sin. This thought came to mind again as I am reading through the book of Genesis. In Genesis, we observe this reality early in creation. By the third chapter of the first book, Adam and Eve sinned and as a result, God removed them from paradise and sent them to wander the earth. We notice it again in chapter four where Cain murders his brother. As a result, God makes him as a restless wanderer on the earth.
In spite of sin and through confession, God offers redemption to lost wanderers. We see his grace with the promise God makes in Gen 3:15 and the sacrificial offering and covering provided to Adam and Eve in Gen 3:21. We see his grace with the mark of protection placed on Cain in Gen 4:15. These children all left the presence of God. The same picture is painted of the children of Israel in Isaiah 59.
The sins of the Israelites were great. God looked around for a just person and there was no one to correct them (16). They destroyed the people who said “Stop it!” and upheld the standard of God. So God sent a prophetic word through Isaiah:
Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; So his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; He put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak (v 15-17).
This is the redemptive hope and promise offered through Jesus. Isaiah is saying, “Before the end, Jesus will be the light in the midst of this darkness. Jesus will uphold the standard of justice and you will not destroy him. Jesus will fight these spiritual battles of evil and wickedness against the devil.” Very similar language is used in Ephesians 6:10-20.
Isaiah is saying, “Since you are too messed up to fix yourself, Jesus is on the way. He is your way out!” But the first step is acknowledging your sins (and Isaiah 58 is filled with them) and repent (v 20). Repentance is not simply saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance means turning away from your sins and having the same opinion of sin as God does. No only is he a way out, the redemption of Christ also provides a promise for you, your children, and your descendents (v 21). What a wonderful hope, prayer, and bright future for you and your family.
I love how the whole Bible points to this Jesus. Don’t you?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012