The apostle Paul ended a glorious section of his inspired writing in Romans 8:31, “What shall we say to these things?” Isaiah comes a similar conclusion at the end of this great theme of how God will send a new David, who will not rule like the kings before him, will bring reconciliation for the people to God, and call for the nations to come and inquire of the Lord. Isaiah speaks about what will happen “in the day.” In particular, Isaiah is prophesying what people will do once the Davidic ruler arrives to lead Israel and the nations to Zion and establish his kingdom of justice and peace. We noted in our last lesson from Isaiah that Isaiah is speaking about the coming of Jesus the Messiah and King. We also noticed that the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 in Romans 15:12 and makes the point that this prophecy had been fulfilled in the first century because Jesus had come, conquered death, and was ruling in his kingdom. Therefore Gentiles and Jews alike are called into this kingdom as one new body. In particular, “in that day” would have its nearest connection to Isaiah 11:16 where we see Isaiah declaring that there will be a highway for remnant to come to God, like when God led Israel out of the land of Egypt. There is going to be a new exodus as God will lead his people out of slavery from sin and hostility to God and bring them into his glorious resting place (11:10). Knowing that God is going to do all these things for the world and that only a remnant will belong to the Lord, Isaiah now presents for us those who belong to the remnant will do.
Before we move into this song, there is another note of parallelism. When Israel was led by God out of Egyptian slavery in the glorious exodus, Exodus 15 records the song of the people, also called the song of Moses. Isaiah has predicted the new exodus of God’s people from sin’s slavery, and Isaiah 12 records the song of the people, the song of Isaiah. So what shall we say then since God has sent his new David to rule the world?
I Will Thank The Lord For Grace (12:1)
The first picture he gives of what his remnant people will do is they will offer thanksgiving. The “you” in verse 1 is singular. He is speaking to one individual of the saved remnant and declares to that person what he will do. You as an individual believer, this is what you will do. You will offer thanksgiving to God because his anger has turned away. We saw this pictured for us in the sixth chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah is taken into the throne room of the Lord in a vision where he is able to see the glory of God. The reaction of Isaiah was that he was completely ruined because he was a man of unclean lips and lived among an unclean people. We cannot be in fellowship with God because of our sins. We are ruined and utterly lost. We are deserving of the anger of God for our disobedience. But now the Lord’s anger is turned away. Recall the repeated refrain in Isaiah 10-11: “his anger is not turned away; his arm is still outreached.” This pictured a continuing judgment against the people for their sinfulness. But verse 1 of Isaiah 12 gives us precious words of comfort: “your anger turned away that you might comfort me.” We learn something very valuable from Isaiah: reconciliation is not about our willingness to have God but God’s willingness to have us. Deserving wrath is turned to undeserved comfort. There is no reason for God to make this change. What had Israel done in Egypt so that God would save the people and deliver them from the Egyptians? Absolutely nothing. They had done nothing but God acted in their favor. This is the idea of propitiation that we read about in the New Testament (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Jesus is the means by which God is able to show us undeserved comfort. Jesus is our propitiation so that we do not receive the wrath we deserve but receive the comfort we do not deserve. Each person that belongs to the Lord will say words of thanks for receiving comfort rather than anger.
I Will Trust In The Lord (12:2)
The second thing the individual who belongs to the Lord will do is trust the Lord and not be afraid. The believer in the Lord has nothing to fear and has every reason to trust. But is this true of us? Isaiah is going to tell us how we can have this. He begins with the declaration: “God is my salvation.” This is why the individual will trust in the Lord. God has saved me so I will trust in him. I didn’t deserve that the Lord would do anything for me! Since the Lord has acted on my behalf, I will trust in the Lord. Listen to how Isaiah describes what trusting in the Lord looks like.
“I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” This is the same words that Moses and the people sang after the exodus. Listen to the similarity of their words of praise to God.
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:1–2 ESV)
Notice the same three words: strength, song, and salvation. These are the three things we will have so that we will trust in the Lord and not be afraid. To sum these things up, Isaiah is saying that the Lord will be everything to us. To every individual in this relationship with God, the Lord will be everything to him or her. God is my salvation. He is enough. He is all I need. Listen to these three characteristics.
The Lord is my strength.
The people of God find their strength in the Lord. Listen to what the apostles taught for Christians to be.
Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:11 ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10 ESV)
God’s people are not people who are strong in themselves. They are not people who rely on themselves. They are not people to trust in themselves. We are able to live, breathe, teach, serve, act, and move through the strength that God supplies. Our strength is found in God’s grace to give us comfort rather than wrath. Now I am free from fear to love and serve. My strength is found in God’s goodness towards me.
The Lord is my song.
Do you feel that this is out of place in the list? I can understand the Lord as my strength and salvation. But the Lord is my song? The scriptures frequently speak of his people bursting into song. Exodus 15, which we have been looking at as a parallel, was a song. In Revelation 14 we see the sealed of God, the redeemed of the earth, singing a song around the throne of God. In Revelation 15 they are singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. We even have a song in our songbook proclaiming how we will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. The spiritual beings in heaven sing a new song in Revelation 5 when the Lamb takes the scroll to open it. The prophets repeatedly describe God’s people singing songs of praise and thanksgiving. In fact, there is a whole book in the inspired scriptures that are exclusively songs, 150 of them. What is going on with all of this singing?
Singing comes from joy welling up within us. It is not that God wants music to make a differentiation in our worship. It is not that words are insufficient so God wanted our words put to music. Singing is the outward flow from an inner joy. Is this not why when God speaks of singing he says that it is to be “making melody in our hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19)? God’s people will see his salvation and be moved with an inner joy to express to the Lord. Singing is tied to the heart of the people rejoicing. I think it is important to consider the words of the songs that we sing, that we are not bound to singing songs only about us. We want to sing about God and about what he has done for us. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 tell us that we are teaching one another when we sing. So what are we teaching each other? I hope we are teaching each other about God and how awesome he is and how I need him. When we sing, God is not asking for you to be musically inclined. Many people are not musically inclined nor are moved by music. But what God wants is those words, in whatever tune you carry, to pour out of the heart. Take your eyes of the songbook. Don’t worry about the notes. You know the words to most of the songs we sing. Let your heart pour out your words.
The Lord has become my salvation.
The third way we trust in the Lord is recognizing that he has become my salvation. The Lord has rescued us from death. He has rescued us from wrath. The Lord without any obligation or necessity besides his own love and goodness has rescued. I will give my everything to him because he has rescued me from disaster.
These are the reasons that we will not be afraid in this life. My family does some pretty extensive road trips. Last year we drove all the way to California and back. April and I take turns driving and napping on these kinds of trips. Why is it that neither of us panic when we hear thumps while driving? You know that when you change lanes you hit those bumps that sound like you are going into the shoulder. Or why is there not panic when the cars suddenly slows down? The reason is because I trust the driver and she trust me to drive. There is no fear because we know who is driving and have put our trust in that person. How is it possible to not fear what tomorrow holds or how the problems of today will be resolved? The answer is because we know who is in charge and are totally relying upon him for what we need. We have had a disaster with Grace and her medicine that she needs for Prader-Willi syndrome that last four months or more. Why are we not panicking about the insurance problems and doctor issues? I do not fear and do not grow anxious and I will not worry because I know who is in control and I will rely on him.
We Will Draw Water From The Wells of Salvation With Joy (12:3)
In verse 3 there is a shift from the individual to the group. The “you” in verse 3 is plural. Isaiah now speaks of the community of God’s people. We are going to joyfully draw waters from the wells of salvation. The context of Isaiah’s prophecy is useful in this imagery. In Isaiah 7 we read about Ahaz not trusting in the Lord but trusting in himself by checking the water supply as he prepared for the invasion of Syria and Israel. In Isaiah 8:6 God declared that the people had rejected the gentle waters of Shiloh. The image is that the people did not find their hope or their satisfaction in the Lord. Isaiah says that the new community of people will find all their satisfaction in the Lord. Their thirst will be only for the Lord. They will not try to satisfy their thirst by the world’s broken cisterns. David said it like this:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 ESV) This will be the heart of the new community that God will create.
We Will Make Known God’s Deeds To The World (12:4-6)
God’s people will embrace their mission to make known the ways of the Lord to the world. This is a quote from Psalm 105:1. We will tell each other and the world to give thanks. We will tell each other and the world to call on the Lord. We will proclaim the glory of the Lord, celebrating with joy like Israel and Miriam did after the exodus. The apostles reflected this very message. As they preach, they identify Jesus as Lord and then connect the need to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation (Acts 2:21,33; 3:13-16; 22:16). The whole world must know what God has done and his name must be glorified throughout the earth. Therefore the apostles and the first century Christians are recorded as proclaiming the name of the Lord Jesus throughout the earth. Verse 5 amplifies this truth. “Let this be made known in all the earth.” What should be made known throughout the earth? The Lord has done glorious things. That is why we are singing praises to the Lord and why the Lord must be known throughout the earth. The Lord has done wonderful, glorious things.
Listen to the greatest thing the Lord has done: For the Holy One of Israel is among you in His greatness. (Isaiah 12:6 HCSB) The Lord has come to his people. The Holy One of Israel is in your midst. The pardoning grace of God brings so many blessings. But the greatest blessing is his presence with his people. God will be with his people, no longer separated and no longer hostile toward his sinful creation. The Gospel of Matthew declares that Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). The Gospel of John declares that God became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). Give thanks, shout for joy, sing praises, and put your trust and hope in God because God is with us and has come to comfort his people.
We began our lesson by quoting the apostle Paul and we will end with the very same quote: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31–32 ESV)