Isaiah writes, “Yet it was our weaknesses that he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down, and we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins. But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole; he was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own, yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
All of this was so he could bring us grace. “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief, yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants, he will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied, and because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous. For he will bear all their sins” (Isaiah 53:10-11).
Jesus came knowing all of this was going to be done, and he didn’t back away from any of it. He went through with the Lord’s plan so he could bring us grace, and he invites us to come and find peace with him.
He was innocent, yet the people brought many false charges against him. The Roman official couldn’t find any reason to charge him, so he gave the people a choice. Who did they want released? The innocent or a known murderer were the options, and the people shouted for the murderer to go free.
The trial came, and he remained silent. He offered no defense or accusation against his accusers. He was silent through it all: the trial, the verdict, and the punishment. He was innocent, but he remained silent for us.
Why did he remain silent?
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream, but he was struck down for the rebellion of my people” (Isaiah 53:7-8).
His silence was a gift to us. He was innocent, but no one else was, so Jesus exchanged places with the guilty; Jesus exchanges places with all of us so we could find peace with God. He did this all for us.
He came from the Father full of grace and truth. He was full of mercy and love. His compassion ran deep, and his actions for us were bold. For us, his love was immeasurable, and he did what only he could do.
For us, he carried weaknesses and sorrows that did not belong to him. They were ours, but he carried them for us (Isaiah 53:4).
For us, he was beaten so we could be whole; he was whipped, so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5).
For us, he was pierced and crushed (Isaiah 53:5).
For us, he was unjustly condemned (Isaiah 53:8).
He is Jesus, and his love for us compelled him to help us by doing what only he could do. He took our guilt so we could have peace.
Many people will be at the store the day after Christmas exchanging gifts. It is normal to receive a gift that is the wrong color, wrong size, or in some cases, just not desirable. Making these exchanges has become part of the Christmas tradition. Stores may even have extra staff to ensure the lines at the return counter do not become too long. Gifts can go back, and we can leave the store with something even better. There are many things in life we may desire to exchange, especially from the past couple years.
Gloomy is a description of many events from the past couple years. From global headlines to personal tragedies, there has been much in the way of bad news. Absorbing it all is burdensome and weary. It leaves us longing for rest just like the Israelites in Isaiah’s day.
Isaiah was delivering the Lord’s message to people amid much gloom and despair. They were toiling physically, probably spent emotionally, and struggling spiritually. Amid it all, the Lord sends Isaiah to bring hope of rest.
In chapter 9, Isaiah reminds the people this gloom will not go on forever. A different day is coming; a rest like none other is coming. Verses 6-7 say, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders, and he will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s armies will make this happen.”
Though these words were spoken hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, they point directly to him. Israel was on the lookout for a political messiah. Someone who would establish rule and slam their enemies to the ground, but God had a different plan. God was working to establish an eternal rest. This would not be a rest just for the Israelites, but it would be a rest for you and me. This rest would not be temporary but eternal, and on Christmas day, the child that brings this rest arrived.
His arrival was not in a grand fashion, but he sure made a grand difference.
As you read this today, you may feel like the Israelites. Physically, you are toiling and don’t know how you are going to have the strength to continue. Emotionally, you may be spent, and your spiritual life is a constant struggle. As Isaiah says, the Lord offers rest to you. Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, invites us to exchange all of this weariness for his rest and peace. Allow this exchange to happen. Trade your gloom for peace, your despair for hope in Jesus.
It may be the hardest thing we do, but it can also be the most rewarding. It may be made even more difficult by our life experience. Our heartbreaks suffered by trusting other people may have taught us we shouldn’t trust anyone, yet the Bible helps us see we can trust the Lord.
Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”
Unlike others, the Lord is our eternal rock. He is unshakable, unmovable, and unchangeable. He will not lead us astray or walk out on us, so we can trust him and count on him to be there for us. We can trust him to be there, keeping his promises, and doing what he says he will do. “Trust in the Lord,” Scripture says, and…
You will have peace as the Lord can provided peace in Christ Jesus that goes beyond human understanding.
Your paths in life will be straight as the Lord guides your steps and directs your movements.
You will have a fullness of life that can only be found in Christ Jesus.
You will have an eternal place prepared by Jesus. He says, “I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I prepare a place for you, I will come back to take you with me so you also may be where I am.”
It may be hard, but it is certainly rewarding to trust in the Lord.
Have you been waiting? This can be one of the most difficult parts of life. We live in a super connected world, so if we have to wait longer than 10 seconds for anything, it is hard. Yet, our lives sometimes take us down paths that require us to wait.
We have to wait to see if we’re going to get our dream job. We have to wait to meet the person we desire to marry. We have to wait as we’re trying to have a family. We have to wait on our prayers to be answered.
The people of Israel also had to wait. They find themselves in a hard time. Their bondage has been harsh, and they have suffered immensely. They are needing and wanting the Lord to work, but they have to wait. As they wait, Isaiah brings encouragement, and it is still encouragement for us today.
Isaiah 64:4 says, “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!”
Hang in there if you’re waiting. Psalm 27:14 encourages, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” The Bible promises the Lord is working on your behalf.
Perhaps it seems odd, but we share some thoughts with ancient Israel. The Israelites found themselves in captivity, and they were wondering if God had totally left them. Feelings of loneliness and thoughts of abandonment were prevalent. Where was God? Why was he not answering?
We may find ourselves asking these same questions as we look at our circumstances. The political landscape is stressful. There are marriages on the brink of disaster. Finances are operating paycheck to paycheck, trying to stretch every penny farther than it was designed to go. The pressures of life are heavy, and as we start to buckle under the weight, we relate to the Israelites. Where is God? Why is he not answering?
Thankfully, the Lord sent Isaiah to offer encouragement to Israel, and we too can find encouragement in his words. In Isaiah 40, the prophet offers 3 keys to remember amid hard times.
First, the Lord is all-powerful.
Isaiah asks in verse 28, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”
It’s as if Isaiah is saying, “Don’t forget…”
“Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.”
Psalm 90 proclaims, “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” There’s never been a time without the Lord, nor will there ever be a time without the Lord. Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.
“Don’t forget the Lord is the creator.”
Genesis 1:1 reminds us God created the Heavens and the Earth. He was there before anything existed, and he is the one who spoke everything into existence. Remember, God is the creator.
“Don’t forget the Lord never loses strength.”
Jeremiah reminds us the Lord’s strength is always there. In chapter 32, he says, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” Nothing is too hard for God. There are things that are too hard for us, but not for him; he carries the heaviest of loads with ease. The pressures of life which cause us to buckle, don’t even cause him to flinch. Jesus says what is impossible for man is possible for God; his word never fails. Keep in mind God does not lose his strength.
“Don’t forget his wisdom is immeasurable.”
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways,” states Romans 11. Don’t forget there is no end to the Lord’s wisdom.
Remember, God is all-powerful. It may seem are struggles hold all the power, but God holds more. Amid a difficult season, Isaiah reminds us of God’s power.
Second, the Lord desires to help us.
Isaiah says the Lord wants to help us. In verse 29, Isaiah exalts the Lord by saying he gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. The Lord is willing and able to help us.
Third, the Lord will get us through.
It is in our weakest moments it seems the Lord does his best work. He sure did for Israel. The Lord delivered the Israelites from captivity, and he rebuilt their nation. They were wondering where God was; why he wasn’t answering, but he pulled them through the hard time.
As we are wondering where God is; why he is not answering, we need to remember the encouragement of verses 30-31:
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Amid the hard times in life, we need to remember to trust in the Lord. He will pull us through. The stresses and pressures of life are no match for the Lord. His strength will get us through.
The next time you find yourself buckling under the pressure of a hard time, remember, Isaiah’s 3 keys:
The Lord is all-powerful, and can handle anything that may come.
“God, why is this happening?” This is a question Job asked poetically. He couldn’t understand, and he wanted to hear from God. Job’s older friends offered solutions, but they were incorrect. Job himself tried to conclude what was happening, but couldn’t find a reason. Job’s youngest friend, Elihu, offered an idea, but wasn’t completely right. As they were talking, God interrupted their conversation and began asking Job some questions.
Job 38 records God answering out of the whirlwind with a series of questions. Obviously, Job knows none of the answers, and one question may have been enough to grab Job’s attention, but God uses a long series of questions. Not to incriminate the questioner, but to help him develop a clear perspective of God’s almighty power. When God gives Job an opportunity to speak, Job does not have an answer. He fully realizes God is the one in control. In the midst of his storm, God answered Job.
Amid storms, God answers many of us. Not to incriminate us, but to give us a clear perspective. We may not always understand what is happening. Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
While we may not fully grasp what is happening, we can rest assured God is in control.
The Lord stayed with Job through his pain and suffering, and he promises he will stay with us as we may endure pain and suffering. The Lord says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Much fear has gripped many people over the past few months, and recent events are still causing many folks to battle with fear. Scenes of recent events startle us, and headlines provoke the natural emotion of fear to enter our lives. Individuals are fearful of what is happening around them; they are fearful of the days ahead. If you are saying, “That’s me,” you are not alone. There are a lot of people finding their way through a fearful season right now, and the Bible offers a suggestion.
David had fearful seasons in his life, and he writes these words in Psalm 56:3-4.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
We can find encouragement a few times in David’s words.
David says, “When I am afraid….” Fear is natural and comes into life occasionally. Though he experienced fear, David was still a person after God’s own heart. Being frightened does not make us a bad person. It is how we handle the feelings of fear that make all the difference.
Take note of how David handles his fears. He remarks when he is afraid, he trusts in the Lord. The Lord can deliver him from his fears.
At the end of verse 4, David asks, “What can mere mortals do to me?” He recalls God is more powerful than the circumstances causing him to fear. The Lord says in Isaiah 41:10, “10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
When we are afraid, the Bible suggests we look to our trust in the Lord for strength.