We are studying the great prophecy of Isaiah. Presently, Isaiah is declaring the glorious gospel message of how God will send a servant who will bring about the forgiveness of sins. But God wants us to appreciate this salvation message. God says that he is the only God. “There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior” (Isaiah 43:10–11 NLT). In Isaiah 43:2 God promised to be with his people when they pass through the floods and flames of life. Now God describes our condition.
Weary of God (Isaiah 43:22-28)
But the people did not call on the Lord. The people did not look to the Lord to be their God in their lives. Instead, they are weary of God. They did not want to bring sacrifices to God and they did not want to give honor to the Lord. They did not want to give their money or bring their gifts to God. Their worship was not centered on praising or honoring God. This is the whole point of worship. Instead, the people thought God was exhausting. It is just so exhausting and a weariness to honor God. Yet God asks why the people feel burdened and wearied (43:23). This is the only God who says he will help us and carry us through life. Yet we listen to this offer and say that we are exhausted by God. God says I am here to help you, love you, and save you. But we look at God as a weariness.
Notice that God says that is anyone is wearied and burdened, it is not us but God (43:24). All that we have brought to God is our sins. We have not brought him the honor that he deserves. We have not given him the worship that the only Sovereign ought to receive. Instead, we brought the enormous weight of our sins.
But notice that God says he can handle those burdens. Listen to the promise God makes in verse 25. “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” First, notice why God will blot out the sins of the people. He does so for his own sake. We offer nothing that God deserves or demands. Instead, we have offered God our sins. But for his own sake God promises to wipe away our sins. Second, God will not remember your sins. All that we have given to God is our sins. God says he will not remember those sins. God is going to act for the sins of the world so that those sins will not be remembered. The forgiveness of our sins cannot be based on our lives (43:27-28). We have no case before God. We should be judged for our actions. We are guilty of these sins. All have sinned and continue to sin. All are worthy of judgment and judgment is coming for sins.
God’s Renewal (44:1-5)
But God says to not fear. Though judgment is coming there is no reason to fear. Why? Why should the people not fear? God says in Isaiah 44:2 that yet again he will help. Verse 3 describes what God is going to do.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah 44:3 ESV)
God promised this in Isaiah 32:15-16. God brings this imagery back to the minds of the people. God is going to bless his people in such a way that it will cause a great reversal of their condition. We observe again that the pouring out of the Spirit in this prophecy has no reference to miracles. Notice the parallel in the second clause. “My offspring” is the same as “my descendants” and “my Spirit” is the same as “my blessing.” The pouring out of the Spirit on the people is the same as God pouring out his blessings on the people. God uses imagery like that of refreshing rain in a dry, hot place. Our rains in West Palm Beach are often very refreshing, cooling us down from the heat of the afternoon sun. God is refreshing and renewing his people. This is what means for the Spirit to be poured out. God will bless his people which will lead to their refreshing and renewal.
Notice verse 4 continues this image. When the Spirit has been poured out, “They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.” God is going to pour out his blessings so that we will be like trees growing among the grass next to flowing streams of water. Do you see the renewal that would happen? The crushed will become trees. The devastated will be renewed. People broken by sin are given the offer of new life that is greater than what existed before. Instead of being scorched grass God will plant us as trees. Verse 5 describes the result. People are going to say to others, “I am the Lord’s.” They will have the mark on their hand, “The Lord’s” and be called as one belonging to God’s people, Israel. These people will belong to God and to God’s community of saved people. Consider that before the people were weary of the Lord (43:22). Now God’s people will claim to belong to God and want to belong with his people.
This is describing what we as Christians are supposed to be. Isaiah is prophesying about when Christ would come and bless the world with his sacrificial death and resurrection. Jesus ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all flesh (Acts 2:17-21, 32-33). Christians are not people that sound like those in Isaiah 43:22-23. Rather, Christians are people who sound like those in Isaiah 44:4-5. Isaiah is picturing what we are able to experience in Christ now. Those who have experienced the grace of God are those who lives are owned by the Lord and find their identity with Christ and his people. To put this point another way, notorious sinners will become notorious believers. God’s grace will break into the lives of people with renewing power. This is amazing! Our sins are not too much for God. God does not walk away from our wretched sinful condition. God says that he will no longer remember our sins and renew our lives so that we can belong to the Lord and be part of his group of saved people. But the thought goes further. God’s grace is strong enough to change your thirst and your desires toward him. God’s grace is great enough to no longer see the Lord as a weariness and burden and now see him as a joy and an honor. God is able to cause a radical transformation of the dry, parched heart and make it fertile and fruitful for God’s glory. Please notice that God’s grace does not mean that our sins are overlooked and we keep sinning. The arrival of God’s grace means there is going to be a renewal of the heart and reformation of lives so that we will want to belong to him. The pouring out of the Spirit, the pouring out of God’s blessings of grace, will cause a radical transformation.
God can take our burden of sins and overwhelm those sins with grace. You don’t have to be a good person to come to Christ. Here is the secret: no one is a good person (cf. Romans 3:12). You do not come to the Lord with your righteousness. You come to the Lord with your sinfulness. God promises to wipe out those sins because of his own righteousness and goodness, not ours. Where are you in your relationship with the Lord? Is the Lord a burden to you? Does giving him honor weary you? God tells us that we are missing out on something if that is the case. We are not seeing what God wants us to see if we see the Lord as a burden. We have not experienced God. We have experience religion. We have experienced ritual. We have experienced duty. But we have not experienced the Lord.
When we experience the Lord, then we will want to be owned by the Lord. We will see the Lord as our master and we will let our lives by marked by his name. We will identify ourselves with God’s people and worship together with them, honoring the Lord in our words and actions. When we experience the Lord, there will be radical life change. We will want to change. We will not look at the laws of the Lord as a burden. We will desire the transformation because of the grace of God that we have experienced. This is the pouring out of the Spirit as our hearts are transformed by God’s work of grace. The result will be seen as God takes our broken, damaged lives and plants us by the streams with strength and renewal. How different is your life now that you have experience the grace of God? How has God changed your life since you have Jesus as your master? Do not stop experiencing that grace. This is not a one time act, moment in time, never to be experienced again. The grace of God changes us every day to be honoring God and not ourselves. Listen to how Paul explained this very picture:
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14 ESV)