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There are many times in life when our labor seems to be in vain. We can’t see the value of our work. We can feel discouraged and hopeless. In these times, like Israel, we find peace and hope when we entrust our efforts to God. Rather than focusing on what has gone wrong, we present ourselves and our work to God as worship.
When we walk in God’s ways, God’s work is done through us, not just in our “religious activities,” but in all we do. God is honored and glorified through our obedience and through the fruit of our labors. But when God teaches us, and when we follow his instruction, we benefit as well.
Suffering has a way of refocusing our minds and hearts. When we’re in pain, be it physical, emotional, or relational, we stop caring about little things that don’t matter. Our hearts yearn for what is truly important: the love of family and friends, the assurance that life has meaning, justice for all people, and, the transformational peace of God.
The bulk of Isaiah 47 consists of God’s taunting condemnation of Babylon. But verse 4 is an interjection by the prophet, speaking on behalf of Israel: “Our Redeemer—the LORD Almighty is his name—is the Holy One of Israel.”
Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to remembrance. We are to bring to mind God’s wondrous works in the past so that our faith might be renewed in the present… For Christians, the focal point of our remembrance is the cross, by which God delivered us from slavery to sin and death.
We worship the triune God through bowing before him, offering our whole lives to him in humble worship. This worship happens not just in church, but in the world, as we serve the Lord each day, at work and at home, in our jobs and our hobbies, among our neighbors and our friends.
In the context of Isaiah, God is the potter and Israel is the clay. God is molding Israel according to his plans and purposes. What was once true of Israel is also true of us. God is the potter and we are his clay. He is in the process of shaping us, so that we might be everything he has created us to be.
Through Isaiah, the Lord made known his plans to use Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. Of course, this meant that the Israelites would be subject to Cyrus… not exactly the kind of restoration they would have wanted. Surely it was tempting for them to question God’s plans, to doubt his wisdom or goodness. Yet the Lord points out the folly of such arguments.
God is not limited to using those who recognize him to do his bidding. In the majesty and mystery of his sovereignty, God even works in and through those who are ignorant of him and his plans. Such is the unique greatness of our God! How much more would God want to use those of us who do know him and are committed to him!
Just when we think we have God all figured out, he does something completely unexpected. Often, God chooses to use people whom we might write off because we don’t think they are good enough or Christian enough or whatever enough. Yet, in his sovereign wisdom, God can and does use all people and all things for his purposes.
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