5–11 November 2017.
In Isaiah 12, the writer shares with us two wonderful hymns of thanksgiving and praise, giving thanks to God and celebrating his great love and compassion.
In Isaiah’s day the Israelites had suffered so much. They were attacked by foreign countries, and they watched their cities be destroyed and their people taken off into exile. Over and over, the prophets told the Israelites that these disasters represented God’s punishment for all of Israel’s sins. That was a frightening idea, and the last thing people wanted to hear while they were in pain. After all, won’t the Israelites always be sinners? So does that mean God will always be angry with them?
In v. 1 Isaiah straightaway comforts the Israelites and tells them that no, God will not always be angry. God will turn away from his anger, and he is going to reach out to the Israelites again to comfort them and save them. Why? Because God is not a monster, God is not evil, and God’s plan was never to destroy and kill the Israelites. Instead, like a Father, God loves his children, and has mercy on them. As the Bible tells us over and over again, God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, but abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:5,15). So in the middle of all these disasters, Isaiah holds tight to this truth about God that he will not always be angry. That’s why in v. 2 he can say something so wonderful: “I will trust God, and I will not be afraid”. There is hope for the future, because God does love us so much.
What a great reminder this is for us too. Even though none of us are Israelites being punished by God, don’t we also have stresses and problems in life? Don’t we also face so many worries and challenges every day? Sometimes it can feel like our lives are over, and that there’s no way to go on. But that’s not true. God is a God of hope, a God of mercy, grace, and steadfast love. He will never leave us. So we too can look forward to the future with hope and say, together with Isaiah, “I will trust God, and I will not be afraid.” When problems come, we don’t need to just trust in ourselves, we don’t have to face our troubles alone. Instead, with courage and hope we can remember that God is here for us, here to support us and encourage us. Because I have that promise of God’s love, therefore I can say: “I will trust God, and I will not be afraid”.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis